We are hunters, ambassadors of our sport. We should be able to hold an open and unbiased conversation with people that are not familiar with hunting. We live in an age where hunter numbers are on the decline and hunting is no longer seen as a necessity to the vast majority of people. When confronted our reaction should not be a defense mechanism but rather an opportunity to imprint an individual or group of individuals who may otherwise never get insight on the sport of hunting.
Most of the time when confronted by a non-hunter it can difficult to stay calm and articulate a justified counter as to why we hunt and effectively communicate our rationale behind harvesting game animals for food. Misunderstanding is what creates the divide between those who hunt and those who do not. Non-hunting groups, certain celebrities, and the media are very vocal as to why hunting is wrong, so it is important that we have definitive information into the positive aspects. We as hunters need to offer a concise and thought out response so that people who have not or do not hunt are left to formulate an opinion of their own.
We as a species have hunted for the entirety of our existence, so the idea of not harvesting our food is a relatively new concept. In today’s society, we have become programmed to buy what we need from others rather than grow or harvest it ourselves. We live in a unique time where the hunter is no longer relied on as a provider due to the availability of food from other sources. As human beings we are meat eaters and denying the idea of where and how we learned to hunt does not fit with our heritage. We as hunters choose to harvest our food as opposed to buying it off a shelf therefore humanly and ethically providing a sustainable source of protein for our family.
Too often when asked why we hunt we are taken off guard and the rebuttal touches briefly on food, conservation, etc. However, by being prepared, we can go deeper into the reasoning behind our love for the outdoors as a whole. If you haven’t been asked why you hunt, you will at some point. It is important to show a more holistic view of who we are as hunters and express a justified rationale as to why we love the outdoors.
1.Explain that hunting is not as much about the kill as it is spending time in the outdoors. It is a common misconception that a hunters only goal is to kill.
2.Treat the opposing person with respect. By presenting a definitive and concise response, we will show that there is more than meets the eye.
3.Why do you hunt, seriously? Realize that many non-hunters have not developed a stance yet and your insight may give them a clear understanding towards what it is to be a hunter.
4.Be truthful, don’t hold back. Yes, we kill animals, but there is more to it than that.
5.Be open to objection and don’t be offended. You can’t make everyone happy.
Most of us have heard it, “You are a hunter? I could never kill an animal.” It can be challenging to find the right words when put on the spot. For me, it is challenge and responsibility, unpredictability, and passion. I hunt because it is challenging, beautiful, frustrating and incredibly gratifying. Hunting reaches deep inside you and forces you to become aware of your surroundings, it strips you of all the necessity and clutter of modern civilization and leaves you at the mercy of the wild. I experience the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, but I never want to quit. It drives me to learn and become better. In a world where things are so scheduled and predictable, it is a view into nature and uncertainty. Yes, I kill animals on occasion and yes I enjoy it, but until you stand over a game animal that you have harvested, you will never understand the raw emotion and purity of mind that goes along with it. Until you wander off into a wilderness with only what you need to survive carefully packed into a backpack, you will not understand self-reliance. We were born to hunt and taking away the privilege to do so would be going against not only tradition but heritage. I hunt because it is natural and it feels “right” to me. As long as there is prey, there will be predators, and it is imperative that our species never lose sight of that. To hunt is to be human.
So I challenge you to think outside the box; put yourself in the shoes of a non-hunter to formulate a response that truly digs beneath the surface of why we love to hunt. Accept that we as hunters are members of a controversial group and do not be offended when someone inquires. Most of the time they are asking out of curiosity, and you may be the one who changes their view on hunters as a whole. Give them the tools to understand and formulate an opinion of their own. Hunter numbers are on the decline, and it is our responsibility as stewards of the land and ambassadors of our sport to keep it alive.
“Despite our ever-changing, ever-indignant world with its growing ignorance of and indifference to the ways of the wild, I remain a predator, pitying those who revel in artificiality and synthetic success while regarding me and my kind as relics of a time and place no longer valued or understood. I stalk a real world of dark wood and tall grass stirred by a restless wind blowing across sunlit water and beneath star-strewn sky. And on those occasions when I choose to kill, to claim some small part of nature’s bounty for my own, I do so by choice, quickly with the learned efficiency of a skilled hunter. Further, in my heart and mind, I know the truth and make no apologies for my actions or my place in time.
Others around me may opt to eat only plants, nuts and fruits. Still, others may employ faceless strangers to procure their meats, their leather, their feathers, and all those niceties and necessities of life. Such is their right, of course, and I wish them well. All I ask in return is no one begrudge me – and all of us who may answer the primordial stirrings within our hunter’s souls – my right to do some of these things myself.”– M.R. James
A favorite photo of myself and one of the greatest mentors I know, Tom Ware. I was 13 when this picture was taken. Tom and my father were the two most influential role models in teaching me how to be an ethical outdoorsman