Sorry for the harsh words but I feel it necessary. I enjoy creativity just like the next guy. I also enjoy personifying aspects of the world around us when it serves to make the world a better place. While Walt Disney cartoons certainly do have both of those things (creativity and personification) I think his company went the wrong direction when it came to Bambi. The “Bambi Effect” is even a descriptive term used to refer to the objection of killing something that has “cute” or otherwise desirable and at the same time giving not giving the same effect to killing something that is less desirable such as snakes and/or spiders.
Ask any deer hunter you know if anyone has asked, in a serious or joking manner, if they killed Bambi. I seriously doubt that any whitetail deer hunter has not endured the notion at some point in time. I would like to humbly submit to you that Bambi does not exist. Riveting news flash huh? What the person asking such a question means is, “Did you happen to go out and kill the sweet, little, innocent deer’s mother, or its fawn child?” I get it, it is a cute cartoon. I am always fascinated to see how several illustrators (without modern equipment) make a movie from basically a large number of sketches. However, my fascination ends there.
Here are some facts, on why I am suggesting that Walt Disney was an idiot. Disney’s Bambi seemed to indicate that the animal was the only one with emotion and the hunter of the story was a bad guy. I feel strongly that this mindset led us astray in many ways, giving us a false sense of what the truth is. My opinions are based on three premises:
Conservation and Stewardship, Health and Wellness, Family Relationships
Conservation and Stewardship
- Due to uncontrolled market hunting, by the late 1800s, the whitetail population in the lower 48 states dwindled to around 500,000 animals.
- In 1908, 41 states established some form of department of conservation, which served to protect whitetail deer from complete destruction.
- In the late 1950s (about 10 years after the release of the cartoon Bambi) biologists were beginning to perfect deer capture technology such as dart-gun usage and trapping.
People saw the cartoon as not much more than entertainment. Most people still lived close to the land and utilized (by their own hand) the killing of both domesticated and wild animals as a primary meat source. Therefore, a cartoon about an animal and the death of its mother, while tragic from the viewpoint of someone of an immature nature, was still nothing more than fictional account. Not one that demonstrated anything close to realism. As for conservation and stewardship is concerned, law-abiding hunters that hunt within the boundaries of the laws set before them have made incredible progress to both the health and population of whitetails. During the late 1960s and early 1970s when Bambi gained in popularity once more, hunters and biologists were in the high point of their work coming to fruition. Please note:
- There are now somewhere between 20-25 million whitetail deer in the lower 48.
- Due to increased research by wildlife biologists, deer herd health is incredibly good.
- With modern statistical analysis completed by these biologists the deer herd can be intelligently managed for optimal health of the deer as well as minimized encroachment into urban and suburban areas to cause problems (destruction of property, car wrecks).
Health and Wellness
- Venison (deer meat) is a superior protein source to other red meat. Consider that venison has 38% few calories and 80% less fat than beef.
- Venison is 100% organic. Consider that the food sources for whitetail deer is also 100% organic unless they have access to and utilize domesticated animal feed.
- Deer hunting can be an activity that increases the health of mind and body. The health benefits of extended periods of time in the outdoors is unquestionable for improved morale and mind health. Equally so for the hunter’s body who stalks, hikes, scouts and or engages in regular travel in search of deer.
When Bambi came out in 1942 that many people, as I stated earlier, simply enjoyed it and moved on. Most likely not out of a desire for organic food, but mainly because it was a necessity for the population at that time to utilize any available wild game as a protein source. However much later the “Bambi Effect” started to take come into play. This was due in part because we started moving towards a more industrialized source of meat production. One which now causes much consternation for those against such production. Industrialized meat production has directly led to the behemoths that we now know as Monsanto, Tyson Chicken and other huge “manufacturers” of our food. Bambi assisted us in moving that direction by denigrating the hunter into a heartless killer of cute critters and for breaking up families. Even if those families were fabricated deer. Nothing could be further from the truth.
To add a little modern wit to this discussion I am #sorrynotsorry for the enjoyment I have before, during and after deer camp. The annual deer camp is where hunters trade stories, experiences, baby pictures and tales of the family from the year previous. Most often father and sons, and occasionally father and daughters, work together to scout, track, and harvest food for the table. Young hunters see older and more experienced hunters hear what they have to say, grandsons get to hear their grandfathers talk about past hunts that include “the one that got away”, “when I forgot my knife”, and “the big one that didn’t get away” stories, and many others too numerous to mention.
Most importantly the taking of life, when done properly, can connect people together in a profound way. For those that have never done it, that sentence will make no sense. For those hunters that do it right, you know exactly what I mean. While there is certainly agony in taking the life of any animal (which I feel is the way it should be) there is also a sense of accomplishment, when taken care of properly, that a nice healthy dinner is on the horizon.
I am glad you came here to read this piece and I hope you find it acceptable to share with others to help spread some of the positive aspects of hunting. More importantly I hope it emboldens someone, maybe you, to begin for the first time, or begin again the tradition of hunting. In so doing, do so with ethics and fair chase in mind. Practice regularly with your weapon of choice so you can make good shots, not wounding ones. The animals deserve to die a noble death.
Most importantly, know your four rules of gun safety as espoused by Colonel Jeff Cooper (adapt them for use with a bow).
- Consider all guns to be loaded.
- Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
- Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.