Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Hunters Are Not Anachronisms

I had to shovel more snow today.
I actually do enjoy living up here and I even enjoy winter but every other day of snow throwing or shoveling can get tedious. There is one thing I do when I shovel snow—I think. Actually what I do is write in my mind. I let my mind start going over what I am working on and then try to solve the writing problems that I am having. Of course, I do that with any sort of repetitive labor project. Right now I am finishing up a three-part series for Whitetails Unlimited magazine and the subject is us, which is “us” as in hunters. Who are we in the new century? Are we an anachronism and about to disappear from the human landscape? Nothing in my research points to that, yet the critics of hunting (and sport fishing) wag their fingers at us and claim we are going away and cite census figures and hunting license sales as proof. In truth, when all the factors are considered we are more than holding our own. There is slippage, true, but we can account for it. What troubles me is the huge number of our own ranks who fall into the critics’ trap and insist that hunting is destined for that dustbin where the relics of history are dumped. Why are some people who are not among the faction that is working so hard to do away with hunting and sport fishing actually succumbing to the illogical rhetoric of that group? What is the attraction to the claim that hunting (and perhaps sport fishing) will no longer exist in less than 50 years?
I believe I have an answer—fear.
I believe that many hunters, at least those who want to think about themselves as hunters (or anglers) buy into the propaganda against hunting and sport fishing because they are afraid the critics are right and that they are the last of the line or at least only one or two generations away from the end. They are afraid of the future. They have become afraid to speak out in their own defense. So often they have faced the rhetoric of condemnation from the family dinner table to national political debates that when they try to explain themselves or their emotions their own arguments seem to lack depth or feeling and they wonder if their love of hunting and fishing has become wrong.
I believe I have an antidote—a mirror self definition.
In all of my research I find that when we (hunters/anglers) begin to draw comparison between ourselves and those who condemn our hunting/fishing/shooting we rationalize our arguments by trying to define ourselves, not by defining those who condemn us. When we begin defining ourselves we immediately set up the boundaries of definition. There are such arguments as “I (we) am a conservationist” but rarely does the argument go beyond that definition to establish the differences between the conservationist and the critic because the critic’s self definition is set up to defeat the hunter’s argument and that includes the conservationist argument, usually by citing failures by individuals (game hogs, slobs) as proof against the argument. These points cannot be ignored and when they are taken into consideration with other points such as the census figures and our own industry’s claims of decreasing numbers who can blame the average hunter from beginning to believe that hunting and sport fishing are doomed. But, when the mirror self definition argument is employed it turns the critics’ arguments back on them because the hunter or angler defines themselves not by their own argument but by the argument offered by the critics. For example: The slob hunter exists but not in the numbers they might have existed in the past because the percentage of the population who hunts is smaller and there is less tolerance for unethical behavior than might have existed in the past. Also, the number of hunters who exhibit a true empathy toward their game is increasing while the per capita percentage of people who are critical of hunting is decreasing as more people who are not hunters or anglers become aware of the positive attributes of both activities.
I believe that when we as hunters verbalize these positive truths about ourselves the force of the velocity of words among the population will force the number of hog and slob hunters down because tolerance for them will decrease throughout the hunting and angling community.
Now, I must shovel the snow from my door. Glg


Mike Spies said...

We are having a discussion on this subject on my nlog - Living with Bird Dogs at: (

My view is that the whole AR argument is based on 'morality' that seems absolute. A urban intellectual conceit that amounts to 'cultural colonialism'. Pierce the intellectual bubble, and the card house comes tumbling down.

Kristine said...

I don't think hunters are going anywhere nor do I think they are anachronisms. In fact, I'm guessing more people will come to see the benefits of hunting as the movement for healthier meat becomes stronger.

I also had to laugh at your description of writing in your head when you do a repetitive task. I do the exact same thing. Some of my best stuff has started out that way.

Galen Geer said...

Mike & Kristine, House of cards is an ideal description of the AR movement.
I agree that hunters are not going anywhere, at least not by choice, that does not mean we can stop being vigilant because there will always be those who will try to stop hunting. glg

Albert A Rasch said...

Great Post!

I may have to quote you!

Albert A Rasch
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
Proud Member of Outdoor Bloggers Summit
Southeast Regional OBS Coordinator