Some years ago I walked along a river in Canada after snow-melt. The river was all a dance with the great weight of water rushing towards the sea. Over a stony rise I came across a small man sitting on a rock. He had a 306 riffle across his knees.
We talked awhile. He was hunting grizzly bears. He had his eyes across the river on a wide scree slope. Bears came to feed there. With a telescopic sight on his riffle he would be able to drop an animal at that distance. It all seemed so one-sided – the fast-flowing river protecting the hunter from all possible retaliation by the bear.
The small man was intent on a trophy for his wall. Yet looking at the situation the trophy would belie the reality of how it was obtained. It would suggest that the hunter had endured hardship and even personal danger from a top predator to get his kill: yet no more than 100 meters behind us was a busy Canadian highway.
This was ego hunting and nothing more. Visitors to the man’s house on seeing the mounted head on the wall would conclude that the owner was a rugged outdoor type who would readily put his life in danger if need be. And of course the visitors would carry the news further afield, and perhaps, in time, hundreds of others would know of the fearless hunter who confronted bears in the wildness of Canadian forests. Big lift for the man’s ego a thing like that. After all an ego is bestowed upon a person by others.
But what if visitors to the man’s house showed disquiet rather than admiration? Where is the ego benefit in that? Less reason to hunt bears in the future.