These longreads are definitely worth the time it takes to read them, and often feature stunning photography.
One of my favorite words of the 21st century is “longreads,” which describes long-form journalism (often over 5,000 words) at its best. These articles are in-depth, well-researched, and profile the stories that are often overlooked in day-to-day reporting. They invoke everything from gut-busting laughter to stomach-churning heartache.
I combed the internet for important stories to bring you in this round up, and was thrilled to find articles that cover a wide array of issues that affect outdoor enthusiasts everywhere. From habitat conservation to the groundswell of women getting into hunting, these articles are thought-provoking exposés of issues that matter to all of us.
1. “Hunting is For Girls” by Richard Grant
Congratulations were pouring in, and hunting friends were posting and texting their own photographs of dead bucks and does. Parents were posting pictures of deer that their small children had killed. On Louie’s Facebook page there was a video of a little girl, 6 or 7 years old, pulling up the ears of a dead doe. ‘I shot it!’ she exclaims. ‘I love it!’ Her father sounds close to tears as he says, ‘I’m so proud of you.’ Her mother commented under the video, ‘My precious baby!’
More and more women are getting into hunting, and are more widely accepted at deer camp, but what does an all-women hunting party look like? Richard Grant profiles three women from Mississippi, at various stages of their hunting journeys, and observes first-hand the reasons why hunting has never been just for the boys.
2. “Who Wants to Shoot an Elephant?” by Wells Tower
Abhorrent as the practice is to most Western, Dumbo-adoring sensibilities, elephant hunting occupies an awkward, grayed-out space in the landscape of conservation policy. Some nonprofits such as the World Wildlife Fund have quietly endorsed it as part of a conservation strategy but decline to discuss their position on record. […] It’s worth noting that I couldn’t find anyone on the anti-hunting side who could convincingly answer this question: If hunting is so disastrous for the long-term survival of the species, why do the countries where it’s legal to hunt elephants have so many more of them than those where the practice is banned?
Elephant hunting was banned in Botswana in September of 2013, but not before two Americans and a journalist went there on a final hunt. Tower makes no attempt to hide his prejudices or trepidation about hunting, but comes to some conclusions that I’m sure many of us have grappled with at one point in our lives.
3. “Animal Traffic” by Jody Rosen
The lab has been described as ‘Scotland Yard for animals’ and ‘CSI’ meets ‘Doctor Dolittle.’ A more accurate comparison might be to the midcentury Bell Labs or to the Sandia National Laboratories. It is a hotbed of research, discovery and innovation. It’s a center of cutting-edge science that does double duty as a makeshift natural history museum. It’s also a crime lab — the place to turn to when you’ve collared a perp whose victims are Mexican fish.
It’s estimated that the global black market trade of animals and animal parts amounts to $19 billion dollars annually, which funds everything from crime syndicates to international terrorism. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Forensics Laboratory in Ashland, Oregon is where many of the confiscated animals end up, and it’s where researchers are combating animal trafficking by looking at the evidence – the animals themselves.
4. “An Ex-Industrial Fisherman Rethinks His Job” by Diane Ackerman
‘I pillaged the seas,’ Bren admits in a conscience-stricken voice. ‘When I look back over my life, I see it as a story of ecological redemption. I was a kid working thirty-hour shifts, fishing around the clock, and I absolutely loved it because I got to be on the open sea. But, you know, we scoured the ocean floor, ripping up whole ecosystems. We fished illegally in protected waters. I’ve personally thrown tens of thousands of dead bycatch back into the sea. It was the worst kind of industrial fishing.’
In an excerpt from her book, “The Human Age: The World Shaped By Us,” Diane Ackerman interviews Bren Smith, an industrial fisherman-turned-aquaculture enthusiast. He explains the ways human fishing habits changed the fish themselves, and why he quit to become a “green” fisherman.
5. “The Boys Who Loved Birds” by Phil McKenna
For forty years, the guns of opposing superpowers had the given no-man’s-land its mandate. A unique ecosystem had flourished because anyone caught inside it would be shot. But when the Iron Curtain fell, Germans on both sides of the border wanted to eliminate all traces of the hideous symbol of division as quickly as possible. In the weeks and months following the border’s opening, fences were torn down, land mines cleared, and guard towers demolished.
The remarkable story about Germany’s “Green Belt” – the former no-man’s land between East and West Germany – and the two birding enthusiasts who helped preserve it as an ecological sanctuary. Both boys risked life and limb to document the flourishing ecosystem in the Green Belt, and are still fighting for Europe’s birds more than 20 years after the fall of the Iron Curtain.
If you are looking for something smart to read, look no further. These longreads are essential to become a smarter sportsman or woman.