“How Hunter Infighting Has Single-Handedly Degraded The Outdoor Industry”
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me”
A childhood trope that runs through my mind as I write this article. As someone who doesn’t get easily offended, I do find the irony in writing about bullying and infighting within the hunting community. While harsh words might not hurt me, they might hurt the hunting community.
Social media is arguably one of the best things to hit the hunting community, but it is also a Wild West of toxic behavior from people who can troll and hide behind their screens. It gives hunters access to a large audience of individuals that otherwise would be hard to reach, brings new hunters into the fold, and showcases hunter culture forever. However, this Wild West brings to mind all of the disparaging comments and destructive criticism of hunting. When I think of people attacking hunters on social media, I think of the anti-hunting community. In my personal experience from my 19,000 follower page, I have seen my fair share of anti-hunters attempting to insert their own opinions into my way of life. It now seems that our favorite pastime is under attack by fellow hunters, more so than anti-hunters.
Go to any social media site– YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, etc… and look at the comments section on hunting content. You will see fellow hunters bashing men, women, and even young children who dared to post about their hunts. You will start to see a trend… and it won’t be anti-hunters filling those comment sections. This is how hunter infighting has single handedly degraded the outdoor industry.
Some common things that hunters take issue with are: baiting, deer drives, hunting with dogs, deer size, guided hunts, public land vs private land. Yet a vast majority of hunters do all of these things legally. Overall, hunting in the United States generates $25 billion dollars in retail sales and more than 17 billion dollars in salaries and wages each year. Not even accounting for the near 12 billion dollars annually in federal, state, and local tax revenues. Buying deer feed at the store, accessories for hunting dogs, buying a license and tags to control the deer population, and paying guides to make the most of your limited time, all contribute to that large sum of conservation dollars helping to preserve our way of life. Demeaning these acts certainly does not help bring in the conservation dollars that buy new plots of wilderness management lands or pay for animal studies to ensure herd health. In the great words of Fred Bear, “If you are not working to protect hunting, then you are working to destroy it.”
I consistently see hunters accuse others who have killed a large deer of being a poacher or having paid to kill their trophy behind a high fence, even when that hunter was hunting hard on public land. On the opposite side of that coin, when a hunter kills a small deer such as a spike, I see demeaning comments about how that person is a terrible hunter and doesn't know how to hunt. Who decides what we can or cannot shoot? On the topic of hunters projecting their own selfish, elitist mentality, Ted Nugent says this:
“It’s a failure of mankind, arbitrarily believing they have the authority over someone else’s choice in such a personal endeavor.”
When someone wakes up early, has been practicing with that gun or bow, and sets out to accomplish their goals within their own time constraints, who are we to decide the freedoms of another man acting within legal bounds? Check your opinions at the door. This drives people away from the hunting community and discourages new hunters from finding their happiness in the field. When someone accomplishes the difficult task of killing a deer with a gun or a bow, it’s time for celebration. When it comes to others' choices on what they choose to kill, it is time to shut up.
I know of one page on Instagram dedicated to turning the tide of that elitist mentality, coining the ironic name “The Okayest Hunter”. This page makes it known that a shooter buck is what you make it to be, not what others project. This is the type of page that will help grow the outdoor industry. These are the men and women dedicated to fostering a crop of ethical conservationists that will work to protect hunting tradition.
The most despicable actions I see taken by hunters is the defamation and slandering of other outdoorsmen. Some people take such offense from comments of others that they take to their social media platforms in an attempt to tear down other people; childishly posting screenshots of others and saying things such as “make this person famous” in order to embarrass or degrade their character. I find this as the lowest form of childish behavior and the most detrimental to the outdoor community. We need to treat one another with respect and not deliberately bring down other hunters… We have plenty of adversaries in the anti-hunting and political world that are trying to eradicate our way of life, to be handing them ammo to fuel the fire. This applies to those commenting and those retaliating. The best action we can take is to revel in each other’s successes or not comment at all. There is no room for jealousy in our way of life.
So while words will not hurt me, they will fuel hunter infighting. If hunters continue down this path, I fear that it will slowly eradicate the tradition of hunting and the field to table lifestyle most of us try to live. If this scares you, then you are not alone! Follow me and others out there in striving to bolster herd health and conservation, while making hunting success something to celebrate once more.
"Its your tag. Use it how YOU want to."
Korey McNees Jr
Field to Table Outdoors
- If you are interested, check out Okayest Hunter at their website below. They consistently strive to better our community and are pretty entertaining too!