If you’re a hunter and you’re on social media, you’ve inevitably come across this situation. Someone posts some variation of the question, “Hey, I’m looking to hunt this area. Can anyone tell me where to go?” Then the comment section is mostly filled with people ripping this guy a new butthole for not doing the work themselves.
I admit, I’m as tired of seeing this as most people are, but I have mixed feelings about both the question and the response.
First off, as an adult onset hunter who has depended on the kindness of my fellow hunters for a lot of information, I’m sympathetic to those needing help getting knowledge. You don’t know if the person asking the question is a new hunter or perhaps they’re doing an out-of-state hunt and they can’t come in early to scout. However, I’m also a big believer in doing most of the work yourself. When I have the patience, I’ll respond kindly by suggesting they invest $30 in OnX Maps so that they can see topography, watering holes, possible feeding grounds and other things animals gravitate towards.
Secondly, I’m empathetic to the hunters who are being asked to, essentially, give away their spots. Most of us hunt units that we return to year after year and the last thing we want is more people competing for the same animals or even worse, setting up in our spots. There are exceptions to this, such as discussed on a recent MeatEater podcast where they were hunting a unit that was only able to be drawn every seven years. Some folks had just hunted it and were willing to give some help because only so many people are allowed in each year no matter what.
So, I have the following advice to give…
…to the folks asking the questions:
· Do your homework first. This allows you to ask specific questions instead of “hey, where should I go?”
· Be clear. If you’re a new hunter or coming in from out-of-state, say that. Ask nicely and don’t expect much of anything. Stating your case and saying, “any help you can give a visitor would be appreciated” goes a lot farther than a vague question that implies you couldn’t even be bothered to put any thought into what you’re asking for.
· Expect vague answers. Yes, I know I said to ask specific questions, but don’t expect anyone to give up too much information.
· Build relationships. Instead of asking folks from your group, who are strangers, for information. Say, “Hey, I’m going to be in this town for hunting season, if anyone’s around and would like to get a beer, hit me up.” Maybe after talking hunting with you for an hour over a beer, the person will volunteer some tips to help you have a better hunt and you won’t even have to ask.
…to the folks responding to the questions:
· Don’t be a jerk. This is pretty much it. If you don’t want to offer some kind of advice, just scroll past the post. If no one responds to the post, they will get the same feeling as if forty curmudgeons tell them to “do your own damn work.” If they say they’re a new hunter though, please show some kindness. You don’t have to give up any specific information, but it’s an excellent opportunity to mentor them a bit and point them in the direction of finding things out for themselves. Post a link to a website that sells topo maps, or suggest OnX, or tell them, “post rut, bull elk really look for sanctuary spots, look for those.”
Hunters can be a lot like the identity politics crowd, “yeah you bow hunt, but you don’t know how hard it is for me because you shoot a compound and I shoot a recurve.” Point being, we can be our own worst enemy. Asking for help from your fellow hunters can be a tough thing to do, but I hope people keep asking smart questions and I hope people keep sharing their knowledge with newer hunters. While I fully support having an internal dialogue within the community on a number of topics, we also need to remember we’re all on the same team and, most of us anyhow, want the same thing.