Something Thoreau wrote on February 28, 1856

“How various are the talents of men! From the brook in which one lover of nature has never during all his lifetime detected anything larger than a minnow, another extracts a trout that weighs three pounds, or an otter four feet long. How much more game he will see who carries a gun, i.e. who goes to see it! Though you roam the woods all your days, you never will see by chance what he sees who goes on purpose to see it. One gets his living by shooting woodcocks; most never see one in their lives.”

In the above case extraction of said trout was likely followed by putting it in a frying pan, the original act driven by necessity. Does the same apply when the purpose is sport … simple amusement? Or is the talent in some way devalued?

MG signing off (to detect, and possibly dissect)


Eric English says:

Both men pose hard questions. As to Thoreau, my answer is to “look and you shall see.” Some people are mindful of the beauty all around them. As to the latter questions, I think there was an ascension of blood sport in Thoreau’s time as a “benefit” of the Industrial Age. He certainly would have been impressed with us sharing the fish with others by our catch and release ethic. It does trouble me sometime that I “rip the lips” of beauty.

I have come to question the “catch and release ethic’, wondering if fishing only to satisfy the “purpose” (i.e. fish until you have dinner and then head home and utilize said “beauty”) is not morality’s higher ground.

English Eric says:

Who said anything about taking the high moral ground? It usually leads away from fishable water? Wasn’t it Thoreau who said it “wasn’t the fish most fishermen were after” and that “[they lived lives of quiet desperation]?’ While you and I, and a few of our e-friends may be pondering lofty thoughts, most of our fishing buddies desperately want nothing more than a hard pull on the line… Seriously, I agree, if you take the high moral ground one might have to hang up his tackle since we don’t need to catch fish to survive and catch and release is still a blood sport. Please keep sharing the Thoreau quotes; I was never able to digest his books fully in my early years and I’m enjoying the snippets now.

Modern-day hunters don’t chase game to survive, they do it for the sport. And yet fair chase and respecting the kill are still the prime tenets they abide by.

The series shall continue.

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