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A humanities professor who hunts

Posted by Christopher Shea  October 7, 2009 11:05 AM

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Amherst professor Jan Dizard, and friend

That didn't used to be a strange combination of traits, but hunting has fallen out of fashion in many quarters over the past few decades--and certainly in the elite academy. When Jan Dizard, a professor of American culture at Amherst joined the faculty, in 1969, he was able to set out to hunt pheasant, geese, woodcock, or quail with a number of colleagues, including the dean of admissions. Now, as far as he knows, he's the last remaining hunter among professors at the liberal-arts college. The fall season is a short one, so Dizard is now scrambling to fit in a few satisfying outdoors expeditions along with course-preparation and paper-grading.

Even within the traditional hunting demographic, the number of hunters has declined, as time pressures on families have risen, and safe hunting grounds grow more remote. (Their ranks would have been depleted even more drastically had not more women begun to take to the sport.) In an interview posted on the Amherst web site, Dizard argues that the death of hunting as an avocation has significant environmental implications:

Most people aren't aware that a huge amount of the money spent annually for habitat improvement and for research on wildlife is funded by a value-added tax on fishing and hunting equipment. That amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars annually. If the number of hunters sinks, then this revenue begins to dry up. Hunters and fishermen and -women have been a major source of funding for basic research and habitat protection.

Do his colleagues ever give him grief about hunting? Yes, occasionally, he admits. But he has an effective return volley. "I invite them over for a pheasant dinner, and that usually solves that problem."

(Photo: Amherst College web site)

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2 comments so far...
  1. sicko on the pheasant dinner

    Posted by monika October 7, 09 03:10 PM
  1. _Why? Philosophical discussions about everyday life_, a public radio call-in philosophy show, did an episode on "The Philosophy of Hunting" about six months ago. The interviewee was Lawrence Cahoone, a philosophy professor who is also a deer hunter. It is tremendously interesting and can be downloaded a s podcast or heard online via the archives.

    Follow the link and scroll down to Episode number 2:


    Posted by Jack October 7, 09 11:17 PM
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