Gareth Patterson's article titled, "Is Trophy Hunting A Form of Serial Killing?" is over ten years old, but I just stumbled onto it recently.
The article draws a number of interesting parallels between serial killers and trophy hunters. Like serial killers, trophy hunters are compelled to keep a "trophy" from their victims; the killing is addictive and leads to more killings; and they seek fame.
Serial killers and trophy hunters seek fame in different ways, but it is still fame. Or notoriety. Patterson looks at several serial killers who stated that their motivation was wanting to be known or to be important. Simiarly, trophy hunters display their trophies proudly in their homes to advertise their hunting prowess and attempt to get into record books by killing the biggest animals with the largest horns or antlers.
Robert Hansen, a serial killer in Alaska who confessed to killing at least 15 women, was an accomplished hunter. For Hansen, chasing down his human victims was like "going after a trophy Dall sheep or a grizzly bear." After his conviction, Hansen's name was removed from the Pope and Young records - a sort of hall of fame for bowhunters who kill the largest animals. Incredibly, the Pope and Young Club claims that the purpose of their record books is "first and foremost honoring the animal." No, the purpose is to honor the hunters, and that's why Hansen's name was removed from their records. They didn't want to be known for honoring a serial killer. If the animals are the ones being honored, why would it matter who the hunter was?
Although trophy hunting is literally a series of killings, I wouldn't go so far as to say that trophy hunters are serial killers. Trophy hunters are usually within the law, and usually grow up in a family where hunting is an acceptable activity, handed down from generation to generation. Unlike murdering humans, trophy hunting is culturally ingrained like so many other forms of animal exploitation. But the similarities pointed out by Patterson are striking, and I have no doubt that the feelings of power, dominance and fame-seeking in trophy hunters and serial killers are very similar.
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