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Article Contributed by Marketing Coordinator S. Buoy.
“You cheat because you can use a feeder!”
“You don’t have to be in shape to hunt!”
“That shot is totally unethical and too far! Real hunters kill them under 20 yards!”
If you’ve been in the hunting community for very long you have heard one of these statements, or something like it. I have to admit, I have even made one or two myself. However doing it in fun, comparing preferences, is different than actual attacks. As a hunting community this is becoming something that we cannot afford. Hunters are under attack enough by the anti-hunting community. We really can’t afford fighting with ourselves. I saw a t-shirt a while back that really hit home. Arguing with an anti-hunter is like mud wrestling a pig. After a while you realize they like being muddy. Meaning, we will never win against the anti-hunter. However, if we look bad in the eyes of the people that are on the fence about hunting, we will lose them as an ally and our hunting rights will erode even further. Here are some necessary steps I think we need to take as individuals. They will help out the whole hunting family.
Stop the feuding: Like I said before, we are a family. Brothers and sisters wanting to live and enjoy the same lifestyle. From my experience sibling fights can be the most brutal, but we truly never want to hurt the other. However if an outsider gets too rough, good luck to the outsider. That’s the way it needs to be in the hunting community. I’ve had similar experiences with hunting buddies of my own. Our main target is our buddy from Texas. We give him a hard time because he sits in a stand all day and hunts over a feeder. Although it gets a little “rough” at times, it’s all in good fun. If anyone we don’t know decides to mess with him we are the first ones at his side. I may tease people about the fact that I killed a deer at 12 yards with my recurve when they think they need to use a release and pins so they can shoot 40 yards. Deep down though IÂ honestly don’t care. People know their limitations, that’s why we practice. If you have done your due diligence, then you’re as prepared as you need to be for that hunt. As long as it is legal where you are hunting, do it how you want to do it. We need everyone on the same side. From the traditional archery hunters at close range to the long range rifle hunters at half a mile. From the whitetail hunter who does the scouting and pre-hunt work, then sits in a stand all day. To the mountain hunter who busts his butt all summer in the gym, then hikes into country unknown for a 10 day escape. Or if your neighbor is a workhorse like Cameron Hanes that busts his butt to be the best hunter that he can be, don’t be jealous and tear them down, offer support and use their success as motivation. In the end we are all on the same side. We have got to quit bringing each other down until we are so weak, those against hunting, get all forms of hunting taken away.
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Join a conservation group:Â There are so many good conservation groups out there. Whether you are wanting to go specific species like the Wild Sheep Foundation whose goal is â€œTo put, and Keep Sheep on the Mountainâ€, or if you love elk and want to join the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Do more than one if you can afford it. There are also groups that cover all angles like the Sportsmenâ€™s Alliance, or Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. Just be sure to find one, research it, and support them so they can continue to support the lifestyle we love.Â They are the leading source supporting our life style. Be it a cash donation or volunteering your time, it is all appreciated.
Police Ourselves: We need to hold each other accountable as hunters. Don’t tear each other down, but support and motivate each other. Make sure we utilize the animal we harvested. If you don’t want it, find some way to donate it. Too often hunters are getting a bad rap for killing for sport, and not utilizing the animal harvested. Make sure we aren’t posting unnecessarily gory pictures. It really doesn’t take much to clean up an animal, and yourself for that matter, before taking pictures. Always remember the anti-hunting crowd doesn’t care, they hate us either way. The person on the fence however, could be a lot easier to persuade. We need to show the utmost respect to the animal we harvested to feed us and our families. Lead by being the example. Be the hunter you want others to see, especially if you are taking kids hunting. They are the future and in a world full of people that doesn’t see the necessity of managing wildlife. The odds are against the next generation, and hunting rights could be lost forever if something is not done.
These are the steps I think we need to follow sooner rather than later, especially if we want to pass hunting down to future generations. Unfortunately, there are people out there that have “created” the bad stereotypes. Let’s fix that. So stop the infighting, join a conservation group and be the best example for the hunting community. We are family. We need to have each other’s backs or soon we will have nothing at all.