Stodghill Says So

An opinionated posting on a variety of subjects by a former newspaper reporter and columnist whose daily column was named best in Indiana by UPI. The Blog title is that used in his high school sports predictions for the Muncie Evening Press.

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Location: Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, United States

At the age of 18 I was a 4th Infantry Division rifleman in the invasion of Normandy, then later was called back for the Korean War. Put in a couple of years as a Pinkerton detective. Much of my life was spent as a newspaper reporter, sports writer and daily columnist. Published three books on high school sports in Ohio and Indiana. I write mystery fiction for Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and others. Three books, Normandy 1944 - A Young Rifleman's War, The Hoosier Hot Shots, and From Devout Catholic to Communist Agitator are now available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other booksellers. So are four collections of short mysteries: Jack Eddy Stories Volumes 1 and 2, Midland Murders, and The Rough Old Stuff From Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine.

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

The behavior of men and other animals

A week or so ago I finished reading a book by a WWII German tank commander, Colonel Hans von Luck (left). Fittingly enough the 1989 book is titled Panzer Commander. Luck's luck was amazing. He survived battles from the invasion of Poland in 1939 to the final defense of Berlin in 1945. In between those dates he fought in France, Russia, North Africa and France a second time.
His is a fascinating story, yet for me the most memorable words were written by another German officer, Gerhard Bandomir. Regarding the huge Allied air raid on the German front line in Normandy he wrote: "Even a wild rabbit fled into our bunker, jumped into my arms, and drank quite petrified out of my coffee cup! He also chewed a hole in my sleeve."
Those words hit home for me. It's no secret that I feel great empathy for all the little creatures. They lead a hard life under the best of conditions. Predators, including humans, are always on the hunt for them. I have written many times about how upsetting it was for me to see how terrified all animals, large and small, were when a battle was taking place in their normally tranquil territory.
One sunny morning after a particularly vicious firefight in a barnyard I stood for a moment watching the tame rabbits in a pen. I did the same thing on other occasions. The rabbits showed no emotion, but were trembling uncontrollably. The exchange of gunfire hadn't bothered me; seeing the frightened rabbits did.
For a while I lay on my back in the warm sunlight thinking how horrible humans can be. Why were we doing this? The firefight had been exhilarating. Seeing innocent and helpless animals caught up in the slaughter for me was demoralizing.
While lying there I vowed I would never shoot at anything incapable of shooting back. Man against man is an even fight. Man against animal is not. That's one vow I have managed to keep all these years.


Anonymous Chet Headley said...

Dick, 29 Sep 09

In 1961 I bought a shotgun for the express purpose of hunting. Hunting day came and off my buddy and I went in search of rabbits. It wasn’t long before I spotted a bunny hopping across the field. I aimed my new 12 gauge at the cottontail and blasted away. The first shot wounded the rabbit. A subsequent shot inflicted additional wounds leaving it struggling as it tried to crawl to safety. A third and final shot finished the job. I walked over and picked up the bunny. As I looked at the bunny and thought about what I had just done it made me so sick I almost smashed the gun. I thought to myself, “Who the hell do I think I am, God? Here is one of God’s creatures hopping along minding its own business and along come I and take its most valuable possession, its life.” That bunny and every other animal’s life mean as much them as mine does to me.

At that moment I decided I would never hunt again. Since I did like skeet shooting I decided against destroying the gun. I went hunting once more with no intention of shooting anything. It seemed like every step I took stirred another rabbit from its hiding place. It was fun knowing they were now safe with me around.

As for what you said: “While lying there I vowed I would never shoot at anything incapable of shooting back. Man against man is an even fight. Man against animal is not.” I couldn’t agree more!!!

Long ago I posed an idea relative to changing the qualifications for obtaining a hunting license. The idea being that one must demonstrate expertise in hunting an adversary who is ones equal. This would require the state to set aside an area of about one square mile (640 acres) as a testing site. Each person requesting a hunting license would have their name placed into a large hopper from which it would randomly be drawn on a specified date. Two names would be drawn simultaneously thereby creating a hunting pair. Once all the names have been paired those selected would be notified of their test date.

The test consists of handing a rifle and three rounds of ammo to each participant. The pair is then taken to the testing area where each is placed at their assigned starting point. The starting points are at opposite ends of the site. Only one of the participants will be awarded a license to hunt. The rules are quite simple; each of the pair hunts the other. Should both survive the hunt, neither will be issued a license. There would be an exemption for any veteran that has been in actual combat. I wonder how many brave souls would apply for a license under these rules?

I do buy a geezer hunting and fishing combo license every year. I still won’t hunt to kill and have no intention of ever doing so. Hunting with a camera is another story, and far more challenging. I fish with hooks that have the barbs removed and release all fish I rarely catch. Most receive a free meal, my treat.

Take care,


1:16 AM  

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