Stange, an authority on women and hunting, is Professor Emerita of Women's Studies and Religion at Skidmore College. Dizard, who now lives in Chico, is Charles Hamilton Houston Professor of American Culture Emeritus at Amherst College, and has written widely on race relations, environmentalism, and hunting ethics.
Their book, "Hunting: A Cultural History" ($16.95 in paperback from The MIT Press; also for Amazon Kindle), part of the Essential Knowledge series, may well change your mind about the importance of hunting.
From prehistoric times, Dizard and Stange note, "the killing of animals, especially large, warm-blooded ones, triggered a volatile mix of emotions that yielded normative practices that absolved the hunter of guilt or remorse"; there have always been "rich myth and lore" around hunting, "elements which persist, albeit in more secular garb, down to the present."
The authors acknowledge that "the fact that hunters, then and now, take pleasure in hunting and find satisfaction in a successful kill has been, and continues to be, the basis for a critique of hunters and hunting more generally."
Sport hunting generates images today of wanton killing; but a century ago, being a "'sportsman/woman' then meant that you hunted by a code of rules that were meant to honor wild game and emphasized the thrill of a fair chase…" which meant "utilizing the kill—including where possible the hide/fur as well as the meat."
Today's environmental efforts have increased the animal population even as wildlands have faced encroachment by humans. "Living with wildlife sounds great," the authors write, "yet it's not a solution to goose-polluted parks and beaches, and it's not a solution to deer densities that exceed the capacity of the environment…."
The danger today? If hunting is increasingly confined to a small group of the affluent, wildlife management will be left to—exterminators.