A short message to my fellow hunters…
I got my first anti-meat hate on Instagram the other day. Ironically, it was from someone I met once when she was brought to my house for Christmas Eve dinner. At this dinner, she ate fish, so apparently “taking innocent lives” and being “disgusting” only applies to the things she chooses not to eat, not to living creatures of the sea. When I went to respond to her comments, they disappeared because she had blocked me. This is fine and I do not plan to respond to every piece of hate I get from animal rights activists. People who are willing to engage in conversation with those of differing opinions do not open those conversations with hate and threats of violence. Ninety-seven percent of people eat meat and the hateful folks are (I believe) a minority of that three percent. There’s absolutely no need to engage with anyone who shows you right off the bat they are not interested in a conversation.
Hunters have a responsibility to know the facts. “We’ve always hunted” is not a good argument nor is “my licenses pay for conservation”. We have to know more and we have to do more. We’ve been the stewards of wildlife for a long time but we cannot rest on our laurels. We have to continue to be leaders and understand the complex and nuanced ecosystems we live in and hunt in.
When non-hunters see us, they see hunting as something we do. They think, “Why can’t you just get your meat at a supermarket like a normal person?”. The reality is, it’s not what we do, hunting is who we are. We feel a connection to nature that others don’t feel. Some non-consumptive users will say they’re connected to nature as well, and maybe some are, but most non-consumptive users see themselves as tourists in the wild. They’re visiting. Hunters know we are more than that, we are a part of the environment, just like our fellow predators, just like our prey and just like all the other pieces of our ecosystem. We are not separate, we are not visitors, we are home.
I’m proud to call myself a hunter. I will never back down from that. While there are exceptions, hunters are incredibly well versed with land management and wildlife biology issues and we have an excellent understanding of all the legal components of our lifestyle. We’re as knowledgeable on the things we do as anyone else is on their passions, if not more so. However, there’s still more work to do. Volunteer with a conservation group, take someone new hunting and fishing every chance you get, reach out to those who express an interest and let go of the “I don’t want to show anyone my spot” mentality. In fact, when you take them to your spot, you teach them, “Hey, hunters don’t swipe another hunter’s spot”. Teach them ethics as well as how to field dress an animal.
We have a great message and I think we do a pretty good job of telling the story but we live in a world where people no longer want to listen. It’s time we show them who we are. There will always be those who will hate and who will ignore good science in the name of ideology and false moral supremacy, but there will be a lot of people watching. Let’s show ‘em who we are. The future of hunting depends on it.