From the Editor | The Wildness of the Human Experience

posted on September 20, 2023
Frank Miniter

You just can’t tell an ideologue about reality. If you tell such a person where their sustenance comes from (sorry vegans, there is blood on your salad) they’ll resent it and will certainly think you’re disgusting and, in their repugnance for you, they’ll block you out. If you tell them about crime and why you carry concealed, they’ll probably think you are an extremist. They might even accuse you of being paranoid. They won't be thinking when they say these things. They'll be following a set of talking points.

They often have what Carl Jung called “wish fantasies” and will project these fantasies ideologically out onto the world. They’ll tell you if only they could ban all guns that somehow violent criminals would become good neighbors—as if everything was so peaceful before the invention of gunpowder.

They hide behind these delusions like so many today who use beautifying filters on Instagram … at least until something or someone intrudes far enough, maybe violently enough, into their life to force them to look at the world through clearer eyes.

But, though I know this, when a woman in line behind me at an airline ticket counter asked what was in a locked case I was holding, I said, “A rifle.” I noticed her face turn to stone, but nevertheless I still said, “I am going to Tanzania to hunt Cape buffalo.”

I would have liked to tell her that going into the wild as a hunter connects me to the natural world. I don’t think that I would have said aloud that the Potemkin front of a life she tries to live behind just does not interest me.

A minute later, however, she was pleased when someone from Air Emirates approached me and my traveling companion to ask if we had firearms. When we said “yes,” she told us they hadn’t been notified. I was confused. I have flown so many times with guns—including to Africa—and this had never happened before. We’d even hired a travel agent who specializes in working with travelling hunters to make sure this kind of thing didn’t happen. She said they needed 48 hours notice. In short, we were told there was no way they would let us on the plane with our rifles.

Frantic phone calls were made and soon our guns were sent home by the driver who’d taken us to the airport and our booking agent for this adventure (Link’s Wild Safaris) assured us Mkwawa Hunting Safaris, our outfitter in Tanzania, had rifles we could borrow.

The thing is, going into the bush for Cape buffalo is picking a fight with a dangerous game animal. You want to be sure of your rifle in such a situation—just as you do in a self-defense situation—and I can flat-out shoot the wonderful Mossberg Patriot in .375 Ruger I’d toted to the airport.

I was upset and that woman saw this and she grew this little satisfied smile, so I said loud enough for her to hear, “Well, at least they have rifles in Africa we can borrow.”

She sneered and walked away.

Two days later I was in the tracks of two Cape buffalo with a borrowed rifle. The wild surrounded us and I spent eight days following those magnificent bulls before I got close enough to an old bull to put one of Hornady’s .375 Ruger DGX Bonded Bullets in its shoulder.

So that night, when we ate meat from my just-killed bull, I knew we were in touch with reality—the wild of which we are a part—and that is honest. As for that person who judged without understanding, I just feel sorry for her.


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