Some fantastic mainstream news coverage.
After retiring from baseball this autumn with three World Series rings, the former San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Jeremy Affeldt set his sights on another kind of sports trophy: a grizzly bear. But upon calling a hunting guide in Alaska that specializes in trophy game, Affeldt got a surprise: “The first spot I could get was 2017,” he said.
After decades of declines in the number of American hunters, their ranks have inched up this century, according to U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service surveys. But unlike a half century ago, when most hunters made do with rabbits, squirrels and birds, today’s growth is being fueled by one segment in particular: Big game. Especially popular are high-end guided hunts like the 10-day, $32,000-plus pursuit of moose and grizzly that Affeldt signed up for.
Not only do these hunts promise the chance to land a big trophy—a rack of elk antlers for the library wall, for instance—they’re also tapping into the same extreme fitness boom that has fueled rising participation in triathlon and marathon. “We hiked 10 miles a day through the mountains carrying a 50-pound pack—and that weight doubled after we made a kill,” says Graham Hobbs, a New York real estate executive who ran a marathon and lifted weights to prepare for a 10-day Alaska hunt this September.
This development comes at a time when hunting in general, and big-game hunting in particular, has been a target of withering attacks from critics who consider it cruel and sadistic. Last summer when a Minnesota dentist killed a lion in Zimbabwe that was being tracked and studied as part of an Oxford University study—and was known to researchers as Cecil—the reaction on social media was overwhelmingly negative, sparking protests and angry editorials worldwide.
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