In one corner a team that, at its worst, is extraordinary for its sentimentality, at its best, for its passion. A mixture of red and blue, give it up for Team Purple:
WEAKNESSES: It occasionally satisfies you to arrange birds you’ve killed into the letters P, E, T, and A. This behavior dishonors your quarry, is juvenile, stupid, and reeks of the hypocritical righteousness you abhor in anti-hunting zealots. Take Ted Nugent. Those familiar with his oeuvre know of his ability to sustain a guitar fart for a really long time. In spite of being excellent to the max, this talent is no excuse for Nugent being a rotten ambassador for your sport.
STRENGTHS: Pursuing wild creatures in their native habitat promotes the only practices and philosophies that can save humanity from itself. From hunting and fishing we learn about death and grief, compassion, respect, mercy, wonder, forgiveness, humility, and most of all, love.
BAIT AND LURE FISHERMEN
WEAKNESSES: You do not clean up after yourselves very well. The fish you hook happen to die in large and frequently illegal numbers. Also, all commercially-produced baits and most homemade ones taste like crap.
STRENGTHS: Circle hooks enable catch and release bait fishing, and in one Behnke-cited study, treble hooks caused less mortality than single barbed or barbless. You have an enviable ability to wake up, see a pretty day, and get out in it with your toes in the water and your fingers around a can.
WEAKNESSES: Not only do many of you confuse catch and release with the moral high ground, but you are too often averse to sharing. All it takes is you believing your favorite spot is a secret (which is rarely, if ever, true), and suddenly nobody but you has a right to go there. You behave as though you invented rivers, if not water itself. Anyway, lots of people find you arrogant, often for good reason.
STRENGTHS: Not to say releasing most of your catch is a bad thing. And you love rivers, need them in fact. If not for rivers, you would go insane.
OTHER OUTDOOR RECREATIONISTS
WEAKNESSES: You take too much for granted, figuring that since you and your friends love skiing, birdwatching, and mountain biking so much, your favorite mountain can’t get hurt by anyone, including you. Many of you seem to think that wildlife and trails exist due to the efforts of hikers and mushroom hunters instead of management agencies that operate on the dollars of people who buy licenses and permits.
STRENGTHS: Many outdoor pastimes are expensive to engage in. Affording snowboards for the kids requires a healthy income, which is usually associated with challenging yet stressful jobs. Outdoor recreation, being an easy way to alleviate stress, addicts many highly functional people to clean and abundant wildlands. Addicts get mean when they don’t get their fix.
WEAKNESSES: While trumpeting the high morality of your eating habits, you ignore the cloudy morality associated with not eating animals. By not supporting hunters and farmers who treat food animals with respect, you make it more difficult for natural and wholesome animal products to make the necessary impression on the mainstream palate. As a result, factory farming will endure.
STRENGTHS: Hard to knock people who dedicate their lives to minimizing cruelty and maximizing compassion towards sentient beings. Not to mention, anyone contributing to the global availability of steak, bacon, farm fresh eggs, lobster and butter, sharp cheddar cheese, and pastrami. You consume the world’s muddest tasting foods so the rest of us don’t have to.
SECOND AMENDMENT HUGGERS
WEAKNESSES: Too many of you think that giving your daughter a Glock for her first birthday, a kid being shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer, drug cartel firepower, school mowdowns, household defense, and hunting must all be viewed through the same lens. Your blindness to the color gray manifests itself politically in ways that are needlessly detrimental to society.
STRENGTHS: Guns are used for hunting; hunting is good. Guns are used for personal protection; personal protection is good. The Outlaw Josey Wales is hands down the best movie I’ve ever seen.
WEAKNESSES: For the sake of your definition of pristine, you sometimes stand in the way of healing the land and restoring ecological function. Your righteousness is frequently unearned and unproductive.
STRENGTHS: You’re nasty fighters who never back down. Plus, in this day and age and especially in the United States, being left alone once in a while is really sweet, and pleasant, and quiet, and………..
FARMERS AND RANCHERS
WEAKNESSES: In the mistaken belief that you always act in society’s long term best interest, you sometimes consume too much water, fodder, and land.
STRENGTHS: Land is something you’re particularly good at. You might not want to admit it, but you have a knack for using science to solve problems.
ANIMAL RIGHTS ACTIVISTS
WEAKNESSES: The animal rights you seek come at a cost in animal welfare. For example, pets and feral animals have huge negative impacts on wildlife and natural ecosystems, and you are unwilling to accept aggressive measures to mitigate this. Also, by opposing hunting and fishing, you build walls between children and the outdoors.
STRENGTHS: You love animals. Animals are cool.
WEAKNESSES: Bulls and lunkers, doesn’t matter if they come from pens or the wild, just that they come. Over the last few years, this quantity-over-quality attitude has led to a rash of unnecessary lobotomies being performed in the name of government-funded predator control. It also threatens initiatives to restore sensitive habitats and species.
STRENGTHS: Since quality and quantity aren’t mutually exclusive, it helps to know how upset you’d get if neither standard were being attained.
In the other corner, into which all light is absorbed, and from which none escapes, Team Black:
WEAKNESSES: None, because screw everybody. To you, fish, wildlife and public lands only exist as objects for you to exploit to the exclusion of all, even your society. Seriously, if there was such a thing as the grandmother of special interests, you would tackle her for a crust of bread.
STRENGTHS: You have the ability to divide your enemy into factions that, while enormously powerful when united, fight like cats and dogs otherwise. In fact, you excel at making the segments of your enemy behave as special interests themselves, though without enough muscle to accomplish much of anything. You also use your magic to charm or, as some would say, “own” the referees.
You know the drill. If Team Purple wins, there will be an immediate rematch and another if need be, until such time as Team Black takes the crown. At that point, the whole thing is over.