With all its television clout, effective marketing, and lovable characters, did Duck Dynasty re-popularize hunting?
Duck Dynasty, the popular A&E show, is the most recent hunting stronghold to earn the furor of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). Last week, PETA vice president Dan Mathews slammed the show for re-popularizing hunting among families, and blamed hunting programs for proliferating a nationwide acceptance of violence.
Mathews even went as far as to say that children who are brought up in hunting households from a young age are “encouraged to disrespect and harm animals,” which in turn leads to the disrespect and harm of humans. In other words, Mathews believes that hunting breeds violent criminals, and that shows like Duck Dynasty are at the root of the problem.
Before we delve into Mathews’ ridiculous assumptions about the kinds of people that young hunters become, we want to take a look at Duck Dynasty and its role in re-popularizing hunting for a mainstream crowd.
Undoubtedly, the show is extremely popular: it broke the 10 million viewer ratings benchmark for both its season three finale last spring and its season four premiere this fall, making it not only the most popular reality show currently on television, but one of the most popular shows period.
The popularity of Duck Dynasty is indeed surprising, and could be seen as representative of a growing respect or curiosity for the hunting sport. The show features the Robertson family, mostly made up of rugged, bearded men who sell duck calls and decoys for a living and enjoy the pursuit of waterfowl hunting alongside other outdoor activities. Still, if the substantial cable audience that Duck Dynasty enjoys hints at a growing support for hunting outside of the sport itself, the show has also become a lightning rod of controversy for ethical questions regarding hunting as a whole. The Robertsons, for instance, have been called “animal serial killers,” and PETA obviously considers their show a glorification of killing.
Whether or not Duck Dynasty has impacted the overall popularity of hunting, it’s safe to say that Dan Mathews and PETA are way off base in their claims about young hunters. Mathews makes it sound like those of us who grew up hunting have nowhere to go but into lives of crime, hate, and disrespect for life.
Not only is such a claim offensive and disrespectful to anyone who has ever called themselves a hunter, it is also completely and utterly false.
Children who hunt from a young age are taught discipline, patience, and a love for nature. They are taught how to handle a weapon in a safe fashion and they are taught to never do anything in the field to endanger themselves or another.
All of these skills translate to areas of life completely separate from the tree stand or the duck blind, and all of them pointedly disapprove of a life of crime or violence.
Sure, we as true hunters kill animals and do it as sport, but we also serve important environmental and economic roles, and we do so in as humane and respectful a manner as possible.
Without a doubt, PETA and its executives are battling against a force that should be viewed positively and respectfully. The ratings aside, Duck Dynasty promotes family wholesomeness and a strong appreciation for the outdoors. That’s what has made it so popular, and if that in turn makes hunting more popular, then we are all for it.