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"[Killing a Polar Bear] Is My Disney World"

My attitude toward sport hunting has always been the same: I don't understand the attraction of it, but I don't begrudge others who feel differently. Reading this New York Times article on efforts to list the polar bear as threatened may have changed my mind once and for all:

Bob Hudson says he has played in the Rose Bowl, jumped out of airplanes, scuba dived off Fiji and stalked bighorn sheep in the Rockies. But for all the excitement of his 67 years, there was one thrill he still craved: hunting polar bear in the high Canadian Arctic.

He sold his beloved Jaguar XKE on eBay for $26,000 to do it. After heavy wind and snow ruined his hunt in April, he took another $14,000 out of his retirement account for a return trip.

"Life is short," Mr. Hudson joked. "The last check you write should be to the undertaker, and it should bounce."

Mr. Hudson, a McDonald's franchise owner from Oxford, Miss., got his trophy: a nine-foot bear bagged with a single shot from 30 yards...

Hunters say few experiences can compare with the sensation of sighting a bear, then watching the Inuit guides release their huskies to surround and confuse the prey long enough for the hunters to shoot it.

"This is my Disney World," said Manuel Camacho, a 60-year-old urologist from Miami, before he set out on his hunt in May...

For Dr. Camacho, a Cuban exile and Vietnam veteran who has hunted all over the world, his thoughts wandered to his former wife and ex-girlfriends, opportunities seized, opportunities lost.

"One moment I am thinking of medical school, then click off and look at the dogs or an iceberg," he said at the end of one day hunting. "And then click again and my mind drifts to experiences I have had in Central America and Africa."

For the hunter and the hunted, it is a race against time. After waiting several years, Dr. Camacho told his outfitter that he did not want "to wait till I am in wheelchair" to hunt a polar bear.

"It's tickling to think I could be the last American hunter who brings in a polar bear trophy," he said. "I might just squeak by." The very next day, he shot one.

How anyone can look at a polar bear -- one of the most magnificent animals on Earth -- and think to himself that it would be a "thrill", be his "Disney World", be "tickling" to kill it with a high-powered rifle while a pack of dogs surrounds and confuses it is absolutely beyond me. I truly don't understand this mindset, and I never will.


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