My partner went shooting, I am 100% against it. How to deal?
December 6, 2017 12:21 AM   Subscribe

I am super upset that my partner went on a shooting outing during a recent trip with friends. I feel sick about it. Am I wrong?

so i know my boyfriend thinks im a soft touch when It comes to this (although would never day It). He grew up on a farm and semi-regularly shot rats to protect the area.

a free months into the relationship we had a heated debate about wearing fur, where he describes foxes as vermin (they are not classed as such in UK). Eventually I concluded it was ok, as he didnt go shooting himself and said he thought hunting with dogs was barbaric.

Now he returns from a trip in New Zealand where i understood he went target shooting and nothing else. But his mate outed him on Facebook, by tagging him in a video related to possums. When asked he told me had shot some as prey because they are vermin and harmful to the environment. But why did he do this during a holiday with friends? To me thats killing as a sport.

Making matters worse he has returned with lots of warm clothing from 'Hunting and Fishing' which he wears in public when we're out. He also gifted me a possum scarf.

I feel deeply sickened that my partner has been shooting these so called vermin on a trip. Am I wrong? I deeply love my partner - more than I can put into words - but this aspect affects me viscerally.
posted by Willow251 to Human Relations (42 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
He knows your feelings on the matter, you've had an argument specifically about fur and he returns from a trip where he hunted and killed animals (without telling you) and then he gives you a possum fur scarf?

That is some seriously tone-deaf behaviour to put it mildly. It is 100% OK for you to feel upset, by what he does, how he communicates it to and by the act of hunting.

I get that this is a thing he's grown up around and he was able to justify it to himself (and you), but he has then gone on to hide things from you and worse, rub your face in it, with that scarf.

You need to tell him how all this makes you feel and he either needs to stop this shit now or if you can accept this, he needs to compartmentalise it and never get you involved in the future.
posted by jontyjago at 12:42 AM on December 6, 2017 [41 favorites]

You are not wrong. You feel how you feel. This would be a deal breaker for me, because I am opposed to sport killing and this was sport killing. Your boyfriend wasn't working vermin control while he was in NZ on holiday; he shot possums because he wanted to kill animals. And giving you the possum scarf is just sadistic, really.

I think this is an area of fundamental incompatibility. If you believe sport killing is wrong, you are not going to be able to reconcile that with being with someone who does it.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:44 AM on December 6, 2017 [39 favorites]

I was going to be on team partner, since hunting is really necessary for ecosystems. However, he is being a jerk by giving you the scarf, as he knows your fur feelings. His communication is also highly questionable. These two things are huge red flags you should seriously consider.
posted by Kalmya at 12:51 AM on December 6, 2017 [25 favorites]

One thing I have to admit is that i wear leather - not sure if thats just as bad?
posted by Willow251 at 12:55 AM on December 6, 2017

"we had a heated debate about wearing fur, where he describes foxes as vermin"

"One thing I have to admit is that i wear leather - not sure if that's just as bad"

Based on the above, I think you're both in "debate" mode rather than "this is an emotional issue for me and as we're in a relationship together, you cannot ignore this" mode. From what you've described, he's going to consistently try to debate you on the issue and treat it as an intellectual exercise rather than an emotional or relationship issue. It's up to you whether or not the actual hunting is a dealbreaker or not but him giving you that scarf is not cool. It may be that he was caught up in the spirit of everything and everyone else was buying their partners a gift, I don't know. If it was me I would try to reaffirm that this is a relationship issue and he cannot debate away your feelings. Involving you in hunting when he knows it affects you is overstepping the mark.
posted by ihaveyourfoot at 1:07 AM on December 6, 2017 [21 favorites]

I do think he was in the wrong to not respect your feelings but as a little context for everyone reading, possum fur clothing is one of the highest profile tourist items in NZ. Every tourist shop promotes it heavily. It's seen as the souvenir to buy loved ones, especially women. And it's not made clear on labels or in shops that it is derived from dead possums. It's usually a merino-possum blend and in the sections with NZ wool products from sheep.

(And possums absolutely are disastrous to the NZ ecosystem. My family used to trap, shoot, and deliberately run them over. It wasn't until I was an adult living overseas that I thought about that as an ethical issue. It's just what people do. They are kind of seen like rats or roaches there.)
posted by lollusc at 1:21 AM on December 6, 2017 [43 favorites]

Apparently I got the wrong end of the stick and he was only shooting targets, not possums (which is what he told me while there). Other friends did go possum hunting.

Even worse ive been wearing the scarf for weeks! I actually feel bad about the fact i will have to tell him i cant wear it.
posted by Willow251 at 1:40 AM on December 6, 2017

Maybe you guys simply aren't compatible if this issue is a deal breaker for both of you. It doesn't mean that either of you are wrong or either of you should change, but you simply both feel extremely differently about this and neither of you actually needs to change.

As you describe, this issue is incredibly emotional for you. He has proven that he is unwilling or unable to take your emotional needs wrt to hunting/shooting into account (and it doesn't matter what the internet thinks if these needs are reasonable or not, they are your needs). It also doesn't matter if people think he should change or not. He has proven who he is and to me it seems unrealistic to believe that he will do anything differently in the future.

I think you have all the facts you need to evaluate your future in this relationship. Do you accept that this is part of him (a part you don't like)?

Another question... are kids on the radar for you guys? How will you feel when he takes your kids hunting / shooting? This was part of his childhood and it seems reasonable to expect with the information you have that he will also share this with his (your) kids.

Good luck, it sounds like a tough time for you...
posted by jazh at 1:41 AM on December 6, 2017 [7 favorites]

This sounds like the fork in the road for your relationship.
Both of you have valid feelings, but it would be wise to listen to your gut about this. You don't want to fact-check him every time he takes the guns out of the gun safe for a weekend with his friends. And you don't want him to feel like he has to lie to you, even lies of omission.

Don't go out a buy an "I (heart) bowhunters!" t-shirt. Slow down and enjoy each other's company on the terms that are compatible. This may be a good long-term friendship, with a few exceptions honestly acknowledged.
Don't try to change each other. Enjoy what you do have, and respect each other's honesty.
posted by TrishaU at 1:56 AM on December 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

If he didn't actually go hunting (as per your latest update) and the scarf is possum wool rather than fur, that's slightly less DTMFA territory. But it's a good opportunity to sit him down and explain this is an emotional trigger for you that's not up for debate. He can hold his own opinions, but you have the right to set your own limits, which happen to include him not going hunting, expressing pro-hunting opinions in your presence, and expecting you to look at or wear hunting trophies.

Clothes-wise, could it be a compromise that he removes/covers up the labels? Much as I'm anti-hunting (argh we wouldn't need to keep herbivore populations down if idiots hadn't upset ecosystems by removing/introducing species), hunting clothes are usually good quality outdoor clothing. From a quick look-see on the Hunting&Fishing New Zealand site, the logos can be covered by a small decorative or plain patch.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 2:05 AM on December 6, 2017 [6 favorites]

Similar to the other sentiments here, I don't think is a question of who is wrong or right but about compatibility.

The first issue is first and foremost, does he respect your own values and opinions? I would have a calm but serious conversation with him about how you feel about hunting. It is not to be a debate, it's stating your feelings about the topic. And given your feelings, request ways in which he can show he respects your feelings without necessarily compromising his own worldview. For example, if he did go hunting live animals and not dummy targets, would you rather he told you or lied (either outright or by omission?) Do you want him to avoid gifting you with particular animal by-products? It is totally okay for you to be fine with leather and not fine with fur, but you need to be clear about what you prefer.

Then when the question of him respecting your values is no longer in question, you have to do a bit of soul searching whether his hobby/perspective on this issue is a deal breaker for you.

Right now the two issues are a muddled, but the responsibility of one is on him and the other is on you.
posted by like_neon at 2:23 AM on December 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Oh all right, well that seems fine. Look, I think the deeper question is can you trust this person. Just talk to him. Tell him the words you said here.
posted by karmachameleon at 2:29 AM on December 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Well, hang on... if you like the scarf, wear the scarf!

I am surprised that you'll wear leather but not fur. To you, however, there obviously is a big difference, and maybe it's worth thinking about what that difference is. Is it something about the product itself, or about how it's obtained? Does it make a difference to you whether the fur comes from an animal that was farmed or caught in the wild? Is the manner of death important? Is that you simply can't stand the texture?

The possum fur in your scarf is unlikely to have come from occasional hunters, but from people for whom trapping/hunting is a job, so wearing a possum fibre scarf is not in and of itself an endorsement of sport hunting. As lollusc says, it is kind of *the* NZ gift for people who like soft warm stuff. And it's quite possible that what your partner took from the conversation was that you hate hunting, hate pelts... who knows? Like, it's not obviously "fur" like a fur coat and unless your partner is already prone to weird "gotcha" behaviour, it's probably not an attempt to say "nyah nyah, see, you DO like fur so therefore I AM RIGHT!"

I'm not trying to be debatey or argue you out of your feelings. Feelings don't have to be consistent! I'm just saying that maybe the scarf and the hunting are separate, and enjoying one doesn't have to mean wholeheartedly embracing the other.
posted by inexorably_forward at 3:07 AM on December 6, 2017 [18 favorites]

NZ possum fur is about the most ethical animal product that exists - far more so than farmed leather. Buying it is funding a conservation effort.
posted by pompomtom at 5:35 AM on December 6, 2017 [32 favorites]

Apparently I got the wrong end of the stick and he was only shooting targets, not possums (which is what he told me while there). Other friends did go possum hunting.

Even worse ive been wearing the scarf for weeks! I actually feel bad about the fact i will have to tell him i cant wear it.

Colour me confused - he told you the truth and bought you a gift that you like. Why is there still a problem here?
posted by notorious medium at 6:02 AM on December 6, 2017 [21 favorites]

Sounds to me like he's trying to get you to break up with him.
posted by Bruce H. at 6:49 AM on December 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

If you already wear leather then I don't see how a possum scarf is worse?
If you already eat meat then how is that better than hunting for sport?
And if you're been wearing the scarf for weeks, then what's the problem?

I'm not saying these things as a vegan or even a vegetarian. I'm just saying that maybe your feelings aren't related to what your boyfriend did but maybe signal that you want to get more into vegetarianism? If he grew up on a farm then he probably has a different viewpoint than the average city person, but it doesn't mean he's a bad person.

Also, he went on a trip with his bros but was nice enough to bring you back a cool (if confusing) gift! it seems like a nice gesture to me.
posted by winterportage at 6:50 AM on December 6, 2017 [4 favorites]

I haven't read any of the responses, but the first thing that comes to mind for me is a personal example:

I'm a vegetarian mainly due to the horrible welfare standards in the UK (organic meat is the only exception to this rule). KFC is well known for being disgraceful in their animal welfare and not giving a toss about it publicly at the same time. If I was going out with someone and found that they ate KFC, were told about the welfare and then continued eating it, I couldn't be with someone who had such an opposing view to mine with no intention of ever changing.

For the record, if my partner knew I 100% hated shooting/hunting and then gave me a piece of clothing/trophy made of animal fur, I'd punch them in the face and stuff it down their throat (that's an understatement of what should be done with them taking a piss on your feelings on the matter).
posted by sockpim at 6:50 AM on December 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Also maybe your feelings aren't related to what your boyfriend did but maybe signal that you want to get more into vegetarianism? If he grew up on a farm then he probably has a different viewpoint than the average city person, but it doesn't mean he's a bad person. Think about seal hunting. A lot of privileged white celebrities have jumped on the bandwagon saying that Inuit hunting seal is "immoral." But they are completely ignorant of the cultural context, how Inuit rely on seal for survival, and how their hunting practices are far more sustainable than industrial farming. They also show respect for the animal by using every piece of it including the fur. So as a moral issue, hunting possums might be more complex than it seems. If they actually do have a bad effect on the ecosystem, then hunting them for sport might actually be the more ethical (or if not ethical, then at least non harmful) option. If your boyfriend was used to hunting rats, then to him it's probably the same. Maybe he has a more complex view of the issue that you could learn about? ( I guess I'm probably coming across as antianimal rights here but i'm just trying to point out that these issues are more complex than just "Oooh don't hurt the cute animals!")
posted by winterportage at 6:57 AM on December 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

Lots of people draw a line between leather and fur, but it doesn't make that much sense. And I tend to wonder about gender/class issues with that - targeting primarily wealthy women (fur) rather than, say, motorcycle gangs (leather). Google "What's wrong with leather?" if you're interested. I do get having a problem with the idea that killing an animal is fun. But it sounds like your partner went target shooting, so now that you know that, I'm a little confused about what your complaint is. It sounds like you might have some objection to guns in general. That could be a problem if he's into them, especially if, as noted above, you're planning to have children.

The way people draw lines about animal use is almost always arbitrary and weird. It's quite possible he didn't even relate the scarf to your feelings about fur. (I'm vegan, so I'm really used to people just not thinking about why I would object to certain things - and I don't expect them to - it's my thing, not theirs.)
posted by FencingGal at 6:58 AM on December 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

I think there are two things going on:

a) Your Official Position On Shooting And Fur. I think that maybe one reason why things feel so murky right now is because you are coming up on some places where you haven't tested your own position. Which is fine - there are plenty of things about which we all agree on principle, but then there's a nuance that comes up later that we hadn't considered and we all say "hang on."

b) Your boyfriend's treatment of you. Let's put a pin in that for the time being and turn to A right now.

So, I think this is actually a good opportunity for you to reflect on your personal position about hunting/guns/fur/leather/etc. Like you're finding, this is a really nuanced position - you're asking yourself "am I a hypocrite for wearing leather but not fur" and "are guns always bad". Those are questions you have to answer for yourself, though. You need to make up your own mind about it - there are people who would indeed say you're a hypocrite for wearing leather but not fur, and there are those who wouldn't. The best thing is to decide that for yourself.

Some food for thought on that:

* Upthread someone pointed out that possum fur is arguably ethical. Look into that and see what you think.

* Leather products could be a byproduct of the beef industry (when they slaughter the cows for hamburgers, what happens to the cow's hides?). I personally don't know if it is or not, but it's certainly something to look into, and think about.

* Guns can indeed be used for target shooting alone. Someone isn't 100% evil the second they touch a gun - there's a spectrum between "non-gun user" and "Donald Trump Jr.".

I think this is a chance to examine your own beliefs a little and see what you really think. These simply may be angles about your non-hunting policy you hadn't considered before.

....Which brings us to your boyfriend. It's possible that you had your earlier conflict because he was confused - he wasn't clear on where you drew the line on hunting, precisely because you weren't as clear. So he was confused and trying to figure out what your boundaries were. That's one option. Or, the other option is that he listened to you, wrote you off as a bleeding-heart wimp and went ahead and went hunting anyway, and then was waiting to use the "but you wear leather, don't you?" as a gotcha to delcare you a hypocrite.

....Only you would know what your boyfriend's manner was when he discussed this with you - but something tells me that it's the former situation, where he wasn't clear what your boundaries were, precisely because you also aren't as clear. Which is fine- you hadn't had the opportunity to explore this before. But now you do.

And actually discussing these issues with your boyfriend could be part of figuring them out. Getting his perspective could educate you on a perspective you hadn't considered, and will also make him feel like his opininos are being given a fair hearing - which is also good. You still may disagree ultimately, but you've given the matter thorough thought, and he cannot and should not fault you for that.

Good luck.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:59 AM on December 6, 2017 [14 favorites]

Lots of people draw a line between leather and fur, but it doesn't make that much sense.

Possums are an introduced species that cause awful damage to NZ natives. In this case, there is a very sensible line that can be drawn. Farmed leather is far less ethical than possum fur. In addition, the sale of possum fur products supports the eradication of possums from NZ.
posted by pompomtom at 7:01 AM on December 6, 2017 [15 favorites]

[Several comments deleted. Don't use the edit function to change content; it creates confusion when people respond to your earlier version. Please keep to answering the OP's question, not to engaging in a back-and-forth with other commenters. If you think there's a problem that needs mod intervention, flag it or come to the contact form.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:15 AM on December 6, 2017 [3 favorites]

Crikey. Lots of derails here.

OP, you're not obliged to meet anyone else's standards of consistency with any of this. Ethical questions rarely have clear-cut answers - and having one specific belief (e.g. "I'm 100% opposed to shooting animals for sport") never obliges you to hold another apparently-related one (e.g. "I shouldn't wear leather"), no matter what internet strangers may tell you. It's your call. There are a lot of tenable positions along the whole spectrum between trophy hunter & vegan. You don't have to justify where you are on that scale to anyone but yourself.

We're all trying to figure this stuff out as we go along, and part of how that process happens is when we come up against other people whose views & actions diverge from our own. "Debate" on these subjects is very often a thinly veiled way of belittling & shutting down other people's views, but somewhere out there there's a way of talking to open-minded & generous people about why their views might differ from your own in some ways (which they might, and that's cool), and whether you feel like changing your own as a result (which you might not, and that's also cool).

If your partner is such an open-minded and generous person with whom you'd enjoy having that conversation, then you should go for it. You might end up agreeing on some stuff, and you might not. Either way, a certain version of that conversation could be a good way to get it straight for yourself - and your partner gets the same opportunity. If it turns out that there's some stuff that he does or believes that you'd rather not hear about, then it would be kind of him to respect that.
posted by rd45 at 7:54 AM on December 6, 2017 [3 favorites]

It sounds like you have a really iffy communication mode -- was he target shooting, or culling vermin? Is culling vermin the same as sport hunting? (It sure sounds like you jumped to a conclusion here, which is alarming and probably increased the drama factor a bit.)

Is your scarf fur, or wool? If the scarf is wool and not fur (and there's a giant difference!), then the gift goes from tone deaf (or even provocative) to reasonable or even thoughtful, assuming you're not also opposed to wool.

Also, I'm a little baffled at your insistence that he not target shoot on a vacation with friends. Obviously people have their own emotional landmines, but that seems kind of controlling to me.

It's entirely possible you two just aren't compatible here -- but also give some thought both to your reactions here (especially the conclusion-jumping re: target shooting vs. hunting) as well as what your own boundaries are around these issues, because if you aren't sure then this kind of thing is just going to come up again either in this relationship or in subsequent ones.
posted by uberchet at 8:06 AM on December 6, 2017 [7 favorites]

(Y'all, I love possum fur AND wool, but please note that these possums aren't being lovingly combed or shorn for their wool, it's being removed from pelts. That said, where the alternative is "allow possums to decimate NZ's environment," I'm all for killing them.)
posted by fiercecupcake at 8:14 AM on December 6, 2017 [6 favorites]

Honestly I'd be puzzled if I were your boyfriend.

You don't like sport hunting. Ok. He didn't go hunting. No conflict there.

He bought you an ethically sourced possum fur item, which you like. You're conflicted because you don't like sport hunting, but possum hunting - which produced your scarf, but which he didn't actually do - isn't sport hunting in NZ. (It is in fact pest eradication. They are an introduced species and an ecological nightmare. Not killing them means sitting back and letting entire native ecosystems die out.) So no conflict there.

What do you wish he'd done differently?
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:19 AM on December 6, 2017 [17 favorites]

Leaving aside the ethics of any of this, you don't get to tell your partner what his hobbies are. You do get to say "I don't want to be in a relationship with a person who does x." But you clearly do want to be in this relationship, despite his doing X, otherwise you wouldn't have asked the question. You don't even have the moral high ground if you eat meat and wear leather (and the scarf!). So at this point, telling him not to shoot is just controlling behavior.
posted by AFABulous at 8:21 AM on December 6, 2017 [18 favorites]

Getting a fur gift from someone who knows you don't wear fur for ethical reasons is not really explainable away as a misunderstanding. if he thinks you're a hypocrite for wearing leather, that's an argument to be made with words, not with the physical bodies of dead animals. if he really somehow didn't know you felt this way, tell him, but I don't see how he could not know when you've already had arguments on the topic.

however, if you had the misunderstanding about whether or not he actually shot animals himself, I suppose it is possible there was a misunderstanding here too.

if you are willing to be with someone who has to have this explained to him, that is a choice you can make.
posted by queenofbithynia at 8:25 AM on December 6, 2017 [4 favorites]

Regarding the possum scarf: It's hard to tell how much your boyfriend actually knew about your feelings. Your own position on wearing animal products is unclear because you do wear leather, and it sounds like in a previous argument you conceded that some forms of hunting are "okay." It could be anything from a cruel slap in the fact to a honest mistake. Add to that the fact that it's a popular tourist item and it's unclear if it's actually even made with possum, and I'd be inclined toward the charitable interpretation.

That aside, something about your response bugs me and I've tried to put my finger on it. I think it does boil down to how easily you condemn your boyfriend for hunting, while you ask, "I'm not sure if leather is just as bad?"

The fact is that people all around the world kill animals. They do it for a variety of reasons, but an animal always dies. Personally, I don't see much of a moral difference between eating meat, wearing animal products, or going hunting. The vast majority of people living in my society (and yours) don't need to do any of these things to survive; we do them because we want to. We kill these animals for our pleasure, although most of us contract out that killing to professionals who do it on an industrial scale.

I think part of the reason your reaction is so dramatic and visceral is because you think that hunting for sport says something important about your boyfriend's character. It's not just the idea of a possum dying needlessly; it's that the person who killed that possum for pleasure must be a bad person. That's why the mitigating factors--that possums are an invasive species--don't matter much to you.

I'm not saying this because I don't think that you have a right to your emotions. I do think that partners should respect each other and their emotions, and make compromises to help make each other happy and comfortable. However...

(a) Compromise goes both ways. It's not fair for one partner to unilaterally decide that a behavior is off-limits just because it bothers them. The reasonableness of the demand does matter. If I eat meat, and my partner feels viscerally upset by meat-eating, I can respect my partner by not eating meat in front of them and not keeping meat in the house. But if my partner insisted I never eat meat--even when out with friends--then I would consider that too controlling. If they had such a strong moral conviction that eating meat was wrong that they couldn't be with someone who eats meat, then we shouldn't be together.

(b) The consistency of your emotional response does matter if those emotions are causing you to judge someone's behavior. It's fine to have a strong emotional response to fur, but not leather, and those emotions deserve to be respected. No one should buy you fur and insist you like it because otherwise you're a hypocrite; your emotions aren't required to be consistent in order to be worth respecting. But it would be unreasonable for you to judge people for wearing fur, and excuse yourself for wearing leather, unless you had a good reason to believe those are morally different.

Recognizing your own inconsistency can make it easier (and less dramatic) to deal with the fact that sometimes the people you love will have very different opinions on things you feel strongly about. It can also help you draw the line: What is something that is actually a strong moral conviction that my partners need to agree with me on, and what are things that I can compromise on?
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 8:32 AM on December 6, 2017 [12 favorites]

I'll break it down further. I'm from a Province in Canada where hunting is acceptable. How is this any wrong than what you believe? That said, your deal breakers are your deal breakers.

Talk it out with your bf and see if a compromise can be reached. If not, then there isn't much else to talk about.
posted by GiveUpNed at 9:00 AM on December 6, 2017

Talk about both the thoughts and the feelings, because they're both valid. Don't let the ethics conversation stand in for the feelings conversation. Like, if you hate mayonnaise, you don't have to have a huge discussion about whether you're intellectually correct to hate mayonnaise in order for him to not bring you a tuna salad sandwich made with mayo. How could something like this be less of a big deal for him to respect than your mayo preferences?

If you have an ethical problem with the scarf, don't wear the scarf. But it's entirely possible for you to be ethically okay with the scarf, because invasive species and such, and not okay with your romantic partner being the kind of person who does this for fun. On the other hand, it'd also be possible to have an ethical problem with wearing fur generally, but be okay with your romantic partner hunting if you're a person who doesn't have a visceral emotional problem with the issue and you otherwise think your romantic partner is a great person. There are, for example, lots of vegetarians involved with non-vegetarians--and there are also plenty of vegetarians who can't do this. Have those conversations separately. Don't try to back up your feelings with all the reasons you're intellectually right; just be up-front about the fact that you have really viscerally unpleasant feelings about him being involved in this kind of thing and you need him to just roll with that because of caring about you.
posted by Sequence at 9:05 AM on December 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

When asked he told me had shot some as prey because they are vermin and harmful to the environment.

So, he wasn’t just target shooting, and it’s weird that he’s insisting that he didn’t shoot possums after he openly admitted that he shot possums.
posted by delight at 9:50 AM on December 6, 2017 [7 favorites]

In other words, ethics aside, it’s kind of a red flag that he seems to be changing his story. Unless I’m misunderstanding something.
posted by delight at 9:57 AM on December 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

I also think you should research Possum in NZ.

They are not native to NZ & carry disease. They should be culled. It's fine, especially on a scale of "Vegan to Wearing Leather." I'm in the US and have issues around gun control and use of firearms generally, so if there were an ethical issue it would be with that for me. As far as wearing the scarf, you're turning a negative (invasive species population culling) into a positive by supporting the local economy and environment conservation management.

I hope that helps.
posted by jbenben at 10:41 AM on December 6, 2017 [4 favorites]

Look, I actually have no problem with people hunting for food, or for vermin control. I eat meat myself, and I wear leather, and it would be hypocritical of me to oppose it, as people who do subsistence hunting use all the animal and try to make the kill as humane as possible. The animal is not living under factory farm conditions; it's living in the wild and having a good life until the hunter kills it--which they're supposed to do quickly and humanely. They are supposed to use all the animal or as much of it as possible.

The problem you are having is not about hunting. It is that your boyfriend keeps lying (changing his story). The reason I said what I did about the possum scarf being sadistic is not because I think it's wrong to keep the possum population under control, or that it is not ethically sourced. (I trust New Zealanders on this.) I said it because you originally said he initially told you he just shot at targets. Then his friend outed him on FaceBook and your boyfriend then "told [you] he had shot some as prey because they are vermin and harmful to the environment," which he knew you wouldn't be OK with. I said it was sadistic because if he had actually shot possums for fun (I don't really care that others shoot them for vermin control--your boyfriend doesn't need to do that when he is on holiday there), and then gotten you a possum scarf, that is some passive-aggressive weirdness, not that there's anything intrinsically wrong with possum scarves.

But then you updated and said "Apparently I got the wrong end of the stick and he was only shooting targets, not possums (which is what he told me while there). Other friends did go possum hunting."

Like, what?? There is something weird going on here. At the very least you are not communicating well with each other.

I think the hunting and the possum scarf are actually red herrings. You need to straighten out some other things about your relationship.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:02 PM on December 6, 2017 [8 favorites]

I'm married to a recreational hunter/fisher/outdoorsman. You have two choices: agree to disagree or break up. We have agreed to disagree, and really, it's not a great compromise, and has caused a lot of resentment on my part. But that's the choice I made.
posted by cass at 12:56 PM on December 6, 2017 [3 favorites]

As lollusc and jbenben said, possum fur in NZ is an environmentally friendly thing; possums are an invasive species which endanger the NZ ecosystem (for example, by preying on native ground-dwelling birds, their eggs and chicks). It is absolutely unlike the commercial fur trade in which animals are farmed to be killed for their skins alone.

That said, you are the only decider of your ethical boundaries and your relationship to animal products in general.
posted by Pallas Athena at 2:32 PM on December 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

I do get that it's difficult when your partner does something you find absolutely odious. When you love someone they feel like an extension of you. When they do something you think is wrong, it can feel like you've done something wrong, by association. BUT, if it ends up bothering you for more than a few hours, I don't think it's really a sign of healthy boundaries.

It sounds like you're asking - "Am I justified in thinking 'he shouldn't have done that because I made it clear it wasn't ok with me?'. The answer is no. We don't get to forbid our partners from doing things we don't like, even if we find them unethical and lots of like-minded people agree they're unethical.

It can be a dealbreaker for you, definitely. And of course, you're allowed to be upset. But believing you get to control his actions - nope.

emotional needs wrt to hunting/shooting - What does this even mean? (from above, not from the OP)

Anyways, I'm also married to someone who really enjoys hunting. It was kind of uncomfortable for me at first - I'm a city girl who had never seen a gun, never known anyone who owned a gun. But he grew up rurally, and hunting for food and killing pests is part of the culture out there. If he wanted to kill a non-pest animal for fun, that might be a dealbreaker for me. But we eat the meat. Target practice doesn't bother me at all - if you're going to hunt, you want to hit your target. A hunter is going to cause greater pain to the animal if his/her shot isn't lethal.
posted by kitcat at 2:42 PM on December 6, 2017 [3 favorites]

I live in Maine and know a number of hunters. They hunt for sport and food, meaning they love the experience of hunting, and also use the meat. Deer killed by a competent hunter have better lives and deaths than a lot of beef cattle. Deer who live near humans do a lot of crop and garden damage, carry deer ticks/ Lyme disease, and will reproduce to problematic numbers. Maybe do some research - are possums non-native to NZ and possibly a problem? (see other answers) If so, I probably wouldn't be distressed by it, though I understand that you are, and see your point of view. I don't hunt, and do not want to participate in killing deer, though I do eat meat. But I did ask some friends to take me out to shoot guns a few years ago. It helped me understand why some people enjoy target shooting, and also exposed me to some people who are jerks about guns. Maybe go target shooting with him to better understand what he likes about it.

The possum scarf suggests he doesn't understand your point of view. Not sure how to get that across to him. He might need to work on his listening skills.
posted by theora55 at 5:52 PM on December 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm from the UK, living in NZ, and vehemently anti-guns. But the gun "scene" in New Zealand is very different from that in the UK (and as different as it's possible to get from the US). The vast majority of hunting that I know of is done for food (wild boar, thar, and so on) or for the eradication of pests (of which possum is right up there at the top of the list).

I suppose it depends upon your definition of "hunting as a sport". In no way were these guys shooting possums just "because they were there" or "to see if they could". They were performing a useful conservation function. They might have celebrated or competed amongst themselves to see how many they could hit or rib each other about missing one. Does that make it "hunting as a sport"? To me, that's just making a game of the task in hand, which they could have done just as well if they were trying to find invasive plants and kill them.

I have gone four-wheel-driving with friends, and some of those have been hunters, and they've taken guns. I won't have guns anywhere near the kids (I wouldn't take kids on one of these trips for that reason). I wouldn't go along myself if the guns were being used for anything other than killing possums or getting meat that they were actually going to eat with their families.

Possum fur used to be a fair sized industry over here. A friend of mine's wife used to work decades ago repairing and preparing these furs. The job pretty much doesn't exist any more, except on a very low cottage industry level as there's just no money in it and not enough demand. But there is always a possum scarf in every Kiwi gift shop, and I doubt if he put a great deal of thought into the connection between that and your principles.

Hunting and Fishing sell very good outdoor clothing, even if you're not either of those things.

In short, I think that if I were you your partner's story would be at the very lowest level of concern for me because of all the details. If almost anything were different in it (different country, different target, different animal present, if he had guns at home) then I would be alarmed.
posted by tillsbury at 10:19 AM on December 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

Thank you all. I think a post above that said when a partner does something you feel odious it can feel like a direct extension of yourself.

Obviously the fact he didn't shoot the animals did change the thread entirely. He said he had no problem with shooting for food/culling purposes, but that he thought hunting for sport was idiotic. That said, he is friends with people who do hunt for sport, posting their trophy hunts on the internet, and I couldn't befriend such a person. So it does bother me a little that it is not a huge moral deal to him. Where I come from there is not a huge amount of sympathy towards people who hunt animals and I would have to ask him to not wear that hunting and fishing stuff around my family. That said, I accept its cosier/warmer for someone like my partner who works a lot outside in cold seasons.

So...not a dealbreaker, though I wish his viewpoint were slightly different. Then I remember there were values/political outlooks that I thought were 'ideal' in other partners who turned out not to be good for me and who I didn't love nearly as much as this man.
posted by Willow251 at 12:49 PM on December 15, 2017

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