Our way of life, the sport most of us identify by, is under constant scrutiny. City dwellers who have never stepped foot on land other than concrete take to social media. Calling out those of us that pursue the outdoor lifestyle. Countless high-profile hunters and huntresses around the country have received death threats, vile harassment, and inappropriate accusations simply because they hunt.
Most forms of social media have now started masking images posted of harvests. Even covered a recent photo of a whitetail buck that was simply on a food plot. Which could have one surmise it is simply a matter of time before hunting pictures are no longer allowed.
Without question, our way of life is under continuous attack. And yet, despite this onslaught from the anti-hunting crowds, when visiting popular hunting and outdoors groups on Facebook and IG, it doesn’t take long to read hunters turning on fellow hunters.
The meat-eaters trash talk the trophy hunters – while the archery hunters scorn the high caliber, long-distance-shooting rifle hunters. Trophy hunters who travel state to state and donate meat of the animals they harvest draw criticism – “you should eat what you kill.” And I won’t even try to touch on the predator debate.
At a time when we’re supposed to be united, we seem divided as a collective group. Hunting is a sport of bragging rights and large egos, it’s an alpha dominated past time that requires – in many cases – superior endurance, toughness, an ability to adapt to extreme temperatures and terrain and of course a strong mind to persevere.
When you throw together tough guys and gals with different methods and approaches to the sport – one can completely understand razzing and banter back and forth about methodologies – and which is the toughest. Some of us hike for countless miles in vertical and unforgiving terrain, while others endure wind and frigid temps -unable to move – in tree and ground blinds. Neither method is one of great comfort and without hardship, but unquestionably open for debate and criticism.
But when the friendly banter back and forth amongst groups turns to us versus them within our own hunting populations, that is when the line is crossed, and problems begin.
This growing problem caused Michael Waddell, host of the Bone Collector, to take to Twitter and remind all hunters:
Let’s be honest, long time hunters do not generally look to hunting TV personalities for guidance or direction. But Waddell is one of the exceptions to the rule. If you watch his shows and listen to the sound bites he shares on social media – he is a very down to earth “good ole boy.” His words are weighted within the hunting community, and his Tweet struck home to many hunters.
Everyone arrived where they currently are as hunters because of influences and traditions. Someone helped everyone along the way – passing on their own visions and beliefs about the sport. Learning and following your influences – your foundation and roots are there because of their tutelage. It’s something to be proud of – it sets you and your game apart from others.
I think back on the journey that put me where I am today. The countless tales and spun yarns. Items I was raised to believe and understand, I had no idea they weren’t the rules only suggestions because they were that deeply engrained.
The old guard who hunted the good ole days of yesteryear but didn’t take advantage of the many toads roaming their country because – “you can’t eat the antlers.” My grandfather hunted the iconic high elevations of Utah in trophy country. This was always his retort when I’d ask about the heads of the animals he’d harvested.
My dad’s belief that we should fully understand the animals we hunt – and respect them immensely. “They are tougher than you, they are wiser than you, you can’t beat them in their game – you wait for them to make a mistake and capitalize.” His love, understanding, and respect for the animals we hunt is unequivocally the greatest thing ever handed to me as a hunter – and it has made my hunting journey exponentially richer because of it.
You have your stories – your traditions – your icons and your idols. There’s a reason you do this. There has to be. No one in their right mind climbs to 11,000 feet of elevation in blizzard conditions for the hell of it!
Waddell’s comments simply remind us – it’s not about the person to your left or right and how they do things. It’s about your love and your passion for the sport. Strength in numbers, pass the love you have on to someone else. The only way the other side can win is if we are divided and our numbers fall.
Personally, I could not fathom a life in which I am not allowed to hunt. It’s not something I do – it’s who I am. And I know without question I am not alone.
What others do is no concern of mine – shouldn’t be of concern to you either. There’s no right way and no wrong way – simply your way and mine. You be you; I’ll be me – together we can carry on the tradition we all love so much.