Montana Bankers Really into Dead Stuff

Animals

            I was walking my dog after dark the other night before I noticed lights illuminating the entire interior of a nearby bank hours after closing. Unusual shapes in the window attracted my attention, so I changed direction to fulfill my curiosity. A cleaning woman making her rounds explained the lights as she emptied trash cans and dusted shelves. Moonlit snow piles lined the parking lot and it was possible to see every corner of the interior offices. Something soon became evident: the higher your rank in the banking system, the more dead stuff you were allowed to collect. There were caribou, mountain lion pelts, Rocky Mountain Goats and God knows what else wallpapering the side paneling of their offices. I thought Montana banks must hand out skulls and pelts rather than gold watches to celebrate each ascending level of rank. Montana was my adopted home of six years, and I still didn’t really have an edit mechanism for elk legs sticking up from a truck bed parked at Lowe’s, or deer parts strewn around a trash can when they wouldn’t fit in with the overflowing bags. Once, I even saw a fresh deer head with a headband strapped to the rear window of a truck.

Clearly, I’m not in Oregon anymore, but this still doesn’t explain why every bank I’ve spent time in here has created a killing museum celebrating exterminated wildlife. I grew up in a hunting community myself, but that hunting was normally reserved for poorer families looking to supplement their diet with a cheap source of protein. A victory lap for animal domination is foreign to me. Treating nature as an inexhaustible, objectified resource for the pleasure of man is frankly, immature and stupid. I hear apologists refer to a “hunting tradition” as an important aspect of our culture, but I think that is just another NRA advertising ploy to keep guns in the hands of kids. Parading dead stuff seems so 19th century when I live within 10 miles of wild grizzly and wolf, 25 miles from Rocky Mountain Goats and Big Horn Sheep, and 35 miles from the boundary of Glacier National Park. Having lived in Detroit, Phoenix, and Portland, I know that having such a range of wonderful wildlife is both a pleasure and a privilege. Trophy hunting seems to take that privilege for granted, and I hope that we as a culture can begin to address these attitudes so as to preserve the pleasure of wildlife for our grandkids.

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