Canned hunts constitute a burgeoning industry, in part because old-fashioned hunting in the wild has become more difficult—a consequence of diminishing ranges and herds and the encroachment of suburbia and exurbia. At present there are at least 1,000 canned-hunt operations in the U.S. (if bird preserves—which release birds just in time for the hunter to shoot at them—are included, the number is closer to 3,000).It is also a highly profitable industry. Here’s what the hunter pays: Axis deer, $1,350; Aoudad sheep, $1,500; buffalo, $3,000; elk, $3,500 and up; red sheep, $4,500.
The subject came up before dinner as several sporting writers bragged, over glasses of Scotch, about their expensive gun vaults and the loaded pistols they keep bedside for “home defense.” When everyone had spoken but me, I said: “I keep all my guns in a locked safe to ensure that I cannot reach them quickly enough to hurt my enemies.”
When my wife and I returned home from vacation with a painting of a wolf, noble and forlorn in its expression, I had no idea how strange this purchase would have seemed to our great-grandparents. As the preeminent symbol of disappearing wilderness, wolves inspire awe in my generation.