It’s that time of year again – Hunting Season! Big game hunters are out and about filling their tags and their freezers. With the influx of social media platforms, we hunters get to share our adventures and harvests with friends and the world.
Since the world may potentially see what you’ve been up to in the woods, it also means the time of year when hunters’ need to defend themselves is at its peak.
One might think it’s only necessary for hunters to defend themselves against anti-hunters, but we’re fighting another ongoing, ever-growing battle. That is the battle amongst the hunting community itself. Hunters are judging one another, mocking one another and outright slandering one another.
Some say free-range hunting is the only way to go. Others say “Do-it-Yourself” hunting is the only way to go. More say only “___________” (enter your choice of “bow”, “black powder,” “handgun,” “crossbow,” or “rifle” here) hunters are true hunters.
There is inner turmoil amongst the small group as they knock the method of take, the size of animal and part of the country (or world) one is hunting.
Did you know the population of hunters in the United States is relatively small?
Did you also know that there are lobbyists, activists and other groups attempting to ban the sport of hunting?
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are roughly 318 million people who reside in the United States. Of those less than 12% hunt or fish. Look at that number! 12%! Think about it. Although the community is a growing one, it’s not a large one. Why are hunters bashing hunters? Why are some quick to judge other’s legal hunting methods, techniques or equipment? Why are hunters so judgmental of other hunters?
Qualities that should be mutually respected
- Trophies – In my mind a trophy is taken after a season’s hunt. It comes when I connect with my mark and fill my tag. The mounts on my walls are all trophies. Although they won’t appear in any record book, the story behind each one is the trophy. Then there are the record book trophies. These are the ones that score highest and to some, an animal isn’t a trophy unless it DOES make a record book. I appreciate that and truly respect the time and money that goes into tagging a trophy book animal.
- Methods – I choose to spot and stalk hunt. I hunt many public lands and being from the state of Colorado, many hunters in my neck of the woods, generally frown on high fence hunts. Does that mean we should condemn someone who chooses to use his or her hard earned money to pay for a trophy hunt on a high-fenced ranch? NO. It’s their right. Would it be as fun for me? Nope! But if that’s what they choose, so be it. Hunt on my friend.
- Locations – “I’m from the East, and I hunt whitetail. Whitetail’s the best.” “I’m from the West and I hunt the biggest bulls in the country. I’m the best hunter.” Really? Which one is better? Both are hunters. Both pursue animals in their locale because it is what is there. Both should respect one another for their passions.
- Skill levels – To grow the hunting community, increase our numbers and our voice, we have to mentor and introduce new hunters to the sport. That means taking time out to help someone new. Answer questions give tips to those who are willing to accept them and be good examples.
A note to new hunters: It’s a good idea to be open to learning from those who’ve climbed the ropes. An experienced hunter will tell you; you will never know it all. The day you know everything is the day you don’t need to hunt anymore. Don’t bash experience. Learn from it. If you have a new idea, share it. Chances are it’s they’ve been there and done that, and there’s a reason we don’t do it that way. Or, maybe you’ve just stepped yourself up a level, and you’ve become a mentor too. Congratulations on becoming a hunter.
The bottom line is, although our numbers are small, hunters are the largest supporters of wildlife conservation. We must not judge or fight amongst ourselves. We need to have mutual respect. We need to elevate one another. Have enough confidence in what you love, that you can have compassion and curiosity as to other’s methods. Be good examples and make a commitment to encourage others into the sport.
Mia Anstine is an outdoor writer, licensed outfitter, hunting guide, life coach, keynote speaker, and range safety officer, firearms instructor, and archery instructor. She is the founder of MAC Outdoors and Host of the MAC Outdoors Podcast.
Mia Anstine strives to encourage others to get outside, hunt, fish, shoot, and survive life with others in a positive way.
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Ignacio, CO 81137-0031