O MIGHTY American huntress, in your pseudo-Gulf-War combats, bearing your sniper-level high-tech rifle, picking unsuspecting goats off the cliffs of Islay, taking selfies with your bro-friend, grinning over your grotesquely glass-eyed spoils.

The modern Artemis, you ain’t. But what are you, exactly?

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The immediate answer is that Larysa Switlyk, whose Twitter celebrations of her killing spree on the lovely island have triggered pearl-clutching on an epidemic scale, was legitimately hiring a sporting service provided by a local Islay landowner.

This is something we do (or let happen) in Caledonia. That is, we control land, flora and fauna, in order that visitors can spend money blasting away at fat birds, large-target stags, foxes, badgers, white mountain rabbits and God knows what else.

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Well, we now know what else. The towering, ferocious, combative farm goat. What a trophy.

Yet I guess this is Switlyk’s primary sin – parading her bathetic spoils on social media. My own feeds occasionally erupt in outrage at the sight of some midwestern dentist, corpulent executive or Trumpian scion grinning over their slain African giraffe, elephant or lion. Ricky Gervais explodes with c-words, and we all join in.

However, as many have pointed out over the last few days, it ill-behoves urbanites at their laptops to stream their outrage at the lurid violence of hunters. One meat trip to the supermarket implicates us in a system of mechanised carnage and heedless cruelty (you probably shouldn’t look up those “baby chicks fed into a mincer” videos on YouTube) that is barely imaginable. I don’t know about you, but I’m surrounded by Generations of Ys and Zs for whom veganism – moving entirely to a plant-based diet – is at once their practice, their community and even their planetary politics.

I don’t find it at all hard to respect their respect for animal sentience. (Indeed, it’s upped my kitchen game for tasty vegetables.) I won’t eschew meat when it looms before me, but these kids are making me hugely self-conscious about the very systems and practices that bring it to my plate.

As methods of land use and methane production (yes, animal farts) are massive inputs to climate change, I can’t see veganism/anti-meat trends doing anything but intensifying over the next decade or so. However, where I can’t follow my zealous young friends is when they render the appetite for meat itself as “unnatural”. More than 90% of our existence on the earth, as fully-evolved human animals, has been spent as hunter-gatherers.

So much of our contemporary human equipment has been forged by hunting. This includes hand-eye co-ordination, toolmaking, imagining and rehearsing scenarios, social and group co-operation (involving language, skills and tradition).

And straight off the bat, we should detach this from any cliches about male prowess. The most recent Paleolithic research by Kristin Hawkes and Sarah Hrdy notes that both hunting and gathering (of roots, fruits, nuts and tubers) were much more equally conducted by men and women than previously thought.

While studying modern and remaining hunter-gatherer tribes, they discovered that male-dominated hunts were only successful 3.4% of the time. Most of the community’s protein was brought back by grandmothers, leading the dig for roots in the dirt.

And the skills practised during this digging – humans “putting their heads together” socially, in a way that apes cannot really do – are as core to human flourishing as those honed on the hunt. So hunting does have its place in our evolutionary wiring. The point is not to overstate its power – either compared to gathering, or to our modern ability to consciously invent our culture and values. (As the psychologist Steven Pinker once said, we can always tell our genes to go take a jump in the lake).

Some hunting advocates do try to justify the practice as a return to the elemental sources of being human.

It was interesting to hear the Scottish theologian and environmentalist Alastair McIntosh on Radio Scotland the other morning.

The National:

Green spokesman Mark Ruskell

Alastair reminded us of the animal culling – not itself uncontroversial – involved in Highlands land management (and not even Scottish Greens spokesman Mark Ruskell, speaking on STV’s Scotland Tonight, could deny that). But Alastair also spoke of how many stalkers in Scotland he knew had “an ethic”.

He cited hunters who “accord to every kill the respect they’d give a funeral”. Or “tweet thoughtful nature observations from the stalks” they lead. Or whose favourite toast is “to the soul of the stag”. McIntosh cited a gamekeeper who complained that “this ‘hardcore’ hunting from America lowers the threshold of respect for animals”.

McIntosh (and his friends) are here voicing one of the oldest human relationships to nature – animism: a sense of deep connection, even communion, with the creatures around them. And again, the human sciences bear him out. Take, for example, the traditional Koyukon Indian subsistence hunters of northern interior Alaska.

According to Richard Nelson, who has studied them closely, “if you disrespect an animal — by boasting of your hunting skills, using taboo hunting techniques or technology, speaking disrespectfully of the animal or mishandling and wasting meat — you will spoil your entire tribe’s luck when hunting the offended species, until and unless tradition-prescribed ceremonial amends are made.”

We see exactly these forms of disrespect displayed in Larysa Switlyk’s hardcore pictures, and those of other trophy hunters. Is this part of what deeply violates us?

Anthropologists are very useful guides to the subtle judgments you could make around hunting. The right-wing philosopher Roger Scruton is a great justifier of hunting and in particular the foxhunt.

As it marauds wildly across fields and enclosures, Scruton believes the hunt briefly invokes a pre-modern, hunter-gatherer-like joy – a world before agrarian laws and rules.

“You do this in intimate conjunction with an animal, in full and blood-warming empathy with a pack of hounds,” he says.

Yet, in response, anthropologist Hugh Brody has noted that the right to run freely across the commoners’ lands has always been an elite and aristocratic privilege. The silly costumes and tooting horns are its lingering indicator. If land ownership became much less egregious in Scotland, could a hunting culture emerge similar to that in, say, Norway – where the hunt becomes an egalitarian and even communitarian exercise? A celebration of local resilience?

Or should we go with the agenda of rewilding of advocates such as Jim Crumley, who would reintroduce the wolf and its forests into Scotland – not to be hunted, but to support biodiversity and carbon capture.

Just to be clear: I speak as someone who gave up fishing the first day I failed to pluck a hook from a gasping mouth. I will never access the pleasures of hunting. I find absurd the idea that there is any real contest between even the most agile and alert animal, and a human with a 21st-century rifle. The class and elite connotations of hunting in Scotland are abhorrent to me.

And yet, we once did hunt, for millions of years. Both the action, and those hunted, deserve a degree of sacred respect, for how much they have forged our human civilisation.

A respect which our crass selfie-celebrity, tumbling around the cliff tops of Islay with her BF and her carcasses, most certainly does not display.