This Is Who We Are

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. 

Five Questions for My Vegan Friend

When I started this website, I asked an old friend who is a vegan and an animal rights activist, to have a conversation with me, either on camera or over the phone.  He said he’d “have to think about it” and I haven’t heard from him since.  I’m not going to speculate about his motivation for not agreeing or for not following up with me – I’ve always known him to be a loyal and generous man and I’ll trust he had good reasons.  In spite of our obvious differences, it wasn’t my intention to verbally beat him up, but I wanted answers for some questions and I trusted him to have an open and honest conversation with me.  Since I’m still curious, here are those questions.

1.     Since PETA runs kill shelters and kills thousands of animals every year, by the same logic of killing a few to protect the many, wouldn’t it make more sense to support hunting where the hunter feeds their family, than it would to allow populations to grow to the point cities are having to cull animals, or animals die in traffic accidents (killing humans as well) or dying from starvation and disease?

2.     If everyone went vegetarian, we’d need a lot more land for agriculture; for example, soybean fields for tofu.  How do you justify the animal deaths that would occur due to loss of habitat?  What would you do with the animals who would inevitably come to eat out of those fields?

3.     If Big Ag let all those cows and other farm animals go, they’d need even more land for grazing than we have now.  What happens to those cows, pigs, chickens, etc.?

4.     Hunters and anglers account for over 80% of conservation dollars in this country.  What do animal rights activists contribute now and what would we need to do to support these animals and their habitat in a world without hunting and fishing?

5.     The argument I usually hear from vegans regarding why it’s okay for other omnivorous or carnivorous animals can eat meat, but homo sapiens should not is that we are more highly evolved and can make the choice, they cannot. Considering most scientists agree that our consumption of animal protein is why our brains developed the way they did (and our facial structure and teeth changed) isn’t it somewhat arrogant, or perhaps, unfounded, to declare that we shouldn’t eat meat today? I will allow that some cultures have always been vegetarian and evolved to be so, but for the rest of us descended from omnivores, doesn’t it make sense to eat what our body is designed (through evolution) to eat?

I have no issue if one chooses a plant-based diet, none whatsoever.  Hell, I even admire their conviction, but the argument seems to always be about morality, never about facts, science or the practical issues that surround the issue such as a few that I’ve named above.  If we want to protect animals, we need to have an open and honest conversation about it.  Hunters are just as likely to get emotional in their defense of hunting, and while I understand that, I don’t believe we’re going to prevail with emotion.

Hunting, tradition, and our diet can all be emotional topics because they do intersect with our morality.  We’re never going to agree with vegans or animal rights activists in these areas, but I would like to know how they’d deal with the practical issues if they got their way.  I would also like to know, why when predation is so common in nature, that the predator is always the bad guy?  In the words of John Reiger, former executive director of the Connecticut Audubon Society, anti-hunters “would prefer to condemn the hunter who shoots a dozen ducks every waterfowl season in a swamp that in many cases only sportsmen’s money has preserved from the dragline and bulldozer, rather than (condemn) the developer who obliterates another swamp and takes it out of wildlife protection forever.”*

*Lifted from “The Hunter’s Eucharist” by Chas S. Clifton