As writers and lifetime curious learners, Justice Harlow and I often have discussions about human nature and what-if scenarios. She proposed this one, and neither of us have been able to come up with a clever solution. Maybe there isn’t one. Maybe it’s also about defining what “Solution” means.
This is a delicious dilemma, because it’s so hard to decide how to choose….
This situation comes up a lot when women are hunting in the woods…if they are alone or separated from those they know. (that’s why you have to dress like a man when you hunt).
THE HUNTER’S CONUNDRUM
You are a female hunter in the “deer woods”–perched in a deer stand. Another male hunter is there, on the ground, and he keeps approaching, talking to you in a flirtatious way, suggesting the two of you engage in sexual activity.
He has made no overt threats, but you have an overwhelming feeling that he is dangerous. He says “There’s no one out here but us…no one would ever know…Come on down, I’m not gonna hurt you–” and even fires his gun as if you will find this amusing.
He continues to try to get you to come down from the stand as you consider your options.
You know his gun is loaded because he fired it. Yours is loaded too.
You have no cell phone.
You are alone, isolated, a hour’s walk from your vehicle. There have been no other hunters the entire time.
It’s nearing dark, and the temperature is dropping. You had not planned to stay the night in the woods, and have no means to do so; you cannot remain in the deer stand, nor wait it out in any way, or you will risk frostbite or worse, freezing to death–the temperature will be dropping to 7 degrees.
You have to get out of that tree stand to get home. He has not left yet. He is still wandering around below, still making overt sexual overtures to you.
You are running out of daylight.
His advances escalate. He’s like a dog with a bone and he seems more and more sinister with each passing moment.
In order to climb down, you have to shoulder your weapon…
he could do anything, no one out there to know. He was right about that. But “anything” might not be consensual. Your life could be in danger, your safety could be threatened in the very least. Yet you have no proof of that. He has said nothing directly threatening.
You know that any woman who has ever been in a situation where she is at the mercy of a potentially dangerous man, can attest to what happens in her head….the profound fear that wraps itself around your throat like the talons of some demon….
Frightened, You consider your options….
- You could shoulder your weapon, climb down and attempt to walk out of the woods regardless, taking the chance that he will not harm you. But, you understand that there is every possibility that he could shoot you, attack you, rape you, do anything he wants to you for as long as he wants, and you couldn’t stop him. No one would know, and there would be no witnesses.
- You could shoot him in a non-lethal way. But then you’d have to deal with not only having shot a person who may or may not have been a real threat to you, but you wouldn’t want him to bleed to death–you only want to get away from him safely. You’d have to get him help or otherwise get him out of the woods. And there’s no guarantee that when you do wound him, he won’t shoot you back in self-defense. You’re a sitting duck in your position in the deer stand. He can attempt to dodge a bullet and hide behind trees—you can’t. But even if he doesn’t return fire, or can’t, somehow, and you do wound him, and then get him help, he could say, “that crazy bitch shot me!” and then you’ll be arrested for attempted murder.
- You could shoot with a kill shot. No one knows where you are. No one would know who did it. You could then walk safely out of those woods and he would be found and everyone would think it was the usual unfortunate hunting accident, because he was shot with a common hunting caliber. Police could not connect the bullet to your gun because no one signs in and out of the deer woods, and there is no record of you having been there. You didn’t even tell anyone you were going. But you’re not even sure you can kill someone at all, much less, while knowing that they may not be an authentic threat to you.
- You could shoot him, report it to the police immediately afterward, and even say that he threatened to rape you as soon as you got down from the deer stand–even though you know he DIDN’T. (You know you’d probably have to say that to save your own skin, and knowing that he placed you in such a position that you had to think of your own well-being rather than his). It could be proven that he discharged his weapon, after all. Yet, that’s not unusual in the deer woods. So he could completely contradict your story. He could make up some crazy story–say he bought you a drink in a bar one night, and you were insulted or whatever, and say you were waiting for him to walk by and you shot him.
- You could stay in the tree stand all night long, and risk frostbite or freezing to death. You’d take the chance he could shoot you. But you could also freeze to death because the temp is about 7 degrees at night.
- You could warn him to go away since you feel threatened by him, and that if he doesn’t you will shoot him. He might go away. But he could hide and get you later. He could also decide HE is threatened by YOU, and shoot you. You would not be able to do anything but try to shoot back before he killed you. He could escape into the woods and sniper shoot you.
If you decide to kill him, you are killing someone because you are afraid of what his intentions MIGHT be.
Is it ok to kill someone because they may POSSIBLY intend to kill you or rape you?
WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
If i could have gone into that situation with a concussive device that would render someone unconscious from a distance, that would be the only good solution….(perhaps someone needs to market a device like that for women hunters…..but for the purpose of this scenario, i probably wouldn’t have that device).
So….the decision is still almost impossible to make. This is a situation where antagonist and protagonist, if you will, are both equally armed and have no other options for defense. If i TRULY felt he was dangerous to me, i would probably be secretly poised to shoot, engage him in confrontational conversation, hoping to provoke him to say something that was sinister enough for me to feel justified. I would have to have a high degree of fear to kill someone i wasn’t sure was threatening me….Then, when he said just the wrong thing, i suppose i would have to shoot him in the head.)