Let's quickly debunk ten of the most common anti-hunting myths.
The next time an anti-hunter throws a clearly bogus generalization at you or another hunter, be prepared to debunk and dismiss it for what it is: false propaganda.
Here are ten myths about hunters and hunting that we hear fairly regularly from the anti's.
1. Hunters don't care about animals. How could you care about animals you want to kill?
Death is a necessary part of the larger pursuit we call hunting, but death and reverence are not mutually exclusive. Death in hunting can mean many things. For some it means connecting with an animal and its environment in a fundamental, "primitive" and honest way that no other activity can.
There is no doubt that hunting offers the opportunity to be a part of the natural world on a richer and more intense level than anything else we can do (sorry folks, but outdoor photography, camping, hiking and the like simply cannot offer the depth of intimacy and involvement with nature that true hunting can...that's not a value judgement or opinion, it's a reality).
Death also, of course, means food. Indigenous Americans understood this melding of practical and spiritual realities. The same reverence and gratitude for life taken to sustain other life, both physically and psychologically, is alive in many true hunters today.
2. Hunters have an unfair advantage over defenseless animals.
Prey animals are VERY good at not getting killed by hunters, or by the other natural predators that pursue them 24/7/365. They have the advantage. The fact is, hunter success rates are much lower than most people would assume. Depending on state and region, deer hunting success rates hover between 50%-80%. Bowhunters generally have even lower success rates (8%-10% in Indiana, for example).
3. Hunters are bloodthirsty psychopaths.
Most hunters are outdoorsmen in several other areas of their lives. They are fishermen, bird watchers, conservationists, boaters, hikers, campers, skiers, etc.. Simply engaging in the great outdoors is the defining characteristic, not bloodlust.
4. Hunters are compensating for their lack of masculinity.
More women are hunting than ever before. In Minnesota, for example, women purchased 72,000 hunting licenses in 2012, and the national trend of women hunting has grown by about 25%.
5. Hunting is a threat to animal species. We should be trying to preserve animals, not push them into extinction.
No species has even come close to extinction from modern sport hunting. On the contrary, sport hunting and the efforts of hunter conservationists have been the reason that so many species from elk and turkey to pronghorn antelope and whitetail deer have strong and stable populations today.
6. Hunting is unnecessary. We can get food from grocery stores.
But is it safe? More people are more concerned about eating quality, hormone-free, natural and healthy food than ever before. There is NO more natural, safe and healthy protein available than wild game.
7. Trophy hunting is immoral.
"Trophy" means different things to different hunters. A hard-earned 6-point buck may be a trophy to one hunter while a massive B&C record elk may be a trophy to another. Trophy is defined by the challenge presented, whether that challenge be in the form of an African lion or a brace of mallards.
Trophy hunting exotic game is also well understood to be vital to ensuring conservation and wildlife management practices of big game in places like Africa. It is those trophy hunting dollars that help ensure the viability and security of many big game species.
8. Hunters only care about big game species.
The number of small game a waterfowl taken each year by hunters exceeds the number of big game species by a large margin. At one point squirrels were the numerically most harvested animal in the country. While the trend in recent years concerning license sales has seen big game licenses outsell small game and waterfowl licenses, many hundreds of thousands of small game and waterfowl licenses continue to be sold to hunters every year.
9. Hunting causes pain and suffering to animals.
This one gets to the heart of why many anti-hunters oppose hunting: their compassion and fear that animals would suffer pain at the hands of humans. No ethical hunter ever wants to cause an animal pain or suffering. The lengths that the hunting community goes to to ensure clean, efficient and as pain-free a death as possible for the animals we hunt is really quite extraordinary.
Thousands of articles, lectures, videos, and conversations deal exclusively with the desire to make a clean and quick kill. Millions of dollars, hours and resources have been spent in research and development to create and improve upon the best, most efficient firearm calibers, loads and ballistics, as well as the most efficient broadhead and bow designs. Hundreds of thousands of hours are spent by hunters honing their marksmanship skills so that they can give an animal a quick and respectful death.
While a completely pain-free death is never a guarantee, death at the hands of a hunter is practically peaceful compared to that which comes from a predator's fangs, starvation, disease, or even - domestically - in a slaughterhouse.
10. Hunters are stupid, drunken rednecks.
Really? I think that Harry Truman, Teddy Roosevelt, George Bush, Ronald Reagan, even Bill Clinton, along with many other former Presidents might disagree with that contention. General Norman Schwartzkopf, singer Blake Shelton, athlete/entrepreneur Bo Jackson, actors Jennifer Lawrence and Eva Longoria, supermodel Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and many other high-brow celebrities, entrepreneurs, businesspeople and Ivy Leaguers who hunt might put the lie to this silly claim.
Sure, there are always a few people of less than admirable character who participate in any activity. But on the whole, hunters are an educated, highly intelligent and socially concerned bunch. Enough with the cartoon characterizations already.
Remember, most of these myths are emotionally driven, so be calm, be respectful and be polite when addressing a confrontational anti-hunter. Sure, they're wrong, and chances are good that whatever you say isn't going to change their opinion, but how you state your point of view might just soften theirs a bit.
After all, if emotion is their starting point, you'll win with an attitude and approach that appeals to their emotion, not their reason.