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‘In the Blood’: A Movie in Defense of Hunting

January 26, 1990

PARK CITY, Utah (AP) _ Is it a contradiction to love animals and still shoot them dead?

A new movie says no, and depicts hunters as naturalists.

Likely to become one of the year’s more divisive films, ″In the Blood″ is a feature-length documentary arguing that big-game hunting plays an integral role in conservation.

Written and directed by George Butler, a hunter from age 6, ″In the Blood″ takes the position that ″one does not hunt in order to kill.″

It shows hunting as a bonding rite and a fundamental privilege.

The movie, opening Feb. 16 in Houston, was shown Thursday in the documentary competition of the Sundance United States Film Festival.

″I had a tremendously difficult time making this movie,″ Butler said. ″The prejudice against hunting is so powerful in the film industry.″

Butler released his ″Pumping Iron″ bodybuilding films independently because Hollywood frowned upon that topic, too.

″I make films about unfashionable subjects,″ Butler said.

Five years in the making, ″In the Blood″ was backed by 20 investors, including the hunting-wetland preservation group Ducks Unlimited.

In a creative fund-raising move, President Theodore Roosevelt’s Holland & Holland rifle was purchased and resold by the production company to help make ends meet.

Among the more noteworthy organizations not sponsoring the film: the National Rifle Association. ″I’m sure that I could have gotten all the money I needed from the NRA,″ Butler said. ″But I have no association with them. ... They’re a gun lobby, not a hunting lobby.″

Indeed, Butler said he has tried not to arouse undue controversy. He prefers to let the film speak for itself.

Wherever the movie has been shown, a few people have walked out, Butler said.

Although the film does not glorify hunting - it shows a young hunter’s errant shot causing a buffalo to die a slow death - it does state: ″No animal in Africa dies of old age.″ If a bullet doesn’t kill an older lion, something else will.

The film’s premise is that hunting, when well-conceived and well-executed, improves the cycle of life.

In remarks after the film’s showing, Robin Hurt, a veteran hunting guide who appears in the movie, said: ″We have interfered so much in the balance of nature (in the past) that we need to keep interfering to balance the scales.″

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