Outdoors: Deception, lies and bad ideas

Outdoors: Deception, lies and bad ideas

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Over the years, I’ve developed an intense dislike of misleading messages, deceptive advertising and politically spun half-truths.

The corporate willingness to spend lives in pursuit of revenue is still best illustrated by the tobacco industry’s classic message that cigarettes did not cause cancer. That playbook is still popular; witness the oil and gas industries’ claims that fracking is not poisoning groundwater or causing earthquakes. More recently, as is typically the case, their claims have been modified to include the phrase “There is no proof … ,” a gag-reflex expression if ever there was one.

Speaking of gag-reflexes, the statement “There was no collusion …” in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, makes me wonder if our freedom has also become negotiable for power and profit.

Less impactful, but still egregious, are advertisements that promote dangerous or unethical behavior while still maintaining plausible deniability. Check out the most recent television advertisements for high-powered cars, growling engines pushing the cars to obviously dangerous speeds on obviously public roads. Or videos of All Terrain Vehicles grinding across unroaded terrain and through mountain streams.

In this category I also place a recent advertisement for new long-range ammunition produced by Barnes Bullets, which touts the VOR-TX LR bullet, capable of extreme accuracy and dependable killing impact out to 700 yards. A little context here: Barnes Bullets has long been the corporate example in the outdoor world of doing the right thing for the right reasons. They pioneered the use of solid copper bullets, which not only were remarkably accurate, but also eliminated the lead core of traditional bullets.

That lead, which gave bullets density and weight and provided a soft core that mushroomed on impact, also left pieces in the animals’ organs and flesh. Those particles were found to have caused lead poisoning and death in carrion eaters. The most clearly affected, probably because they have been most studied, were California condors, but bald eagles, golden eagles, coyotes, wolves and essentially every other bird and mammal that occasionally feeds on carcasses, also ingest bullet lead.

Humans are not immune. X-rays have found a frightening number of lead particles in meat from deer killed with lead bullets. Obviously, careful butchering of game can minimize the presence of lead in meat, but some fragments are too small to see. How much ingested lead is safe? A good question with regards to your children.

So, why am I disappointed in Barnes’ willingness to embrace the extreme long-range hunting fringe? Because hunting is one of the few remaining ties to our primitive heritage and has historically required a level of skill and woodsmanship to succeed. Shooting at 700 yards severs our connection to our true hunting heritage. It’s like killing from a drone. Because most hunters do not have the weaponry or the skill to make a shot at that range or the optics to mark its impact and effect. Because shooting an animal from so far away it can’t see or smell you is not hunting, just murder. Because killing is not the same as murder — or it should not be.

Because for every animal killed with a great shot at 700 yards, there will be five or more that are wounded and lost because extreme distances magnify every deviation. It doesn’t matter how great the bullet is if it hits the animal’s gut.

But most of all I’m disappointed because Barnes Bullets stood for something good. Now they’ve joined the ranks of those willing to foster unethical conduct in their search for profit.

Look for Pat Wray’s new novel, Gift of the Grenadier, online beginning Wednesday, November 22. Signed print versions can be ordered by e-mail at patwray@comcast.net.

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