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Biggest Hunting Stories of 2013

From record-breaking hunting spoils to accidental tragedies, 2013 saw many hunting-related news stories making up the headlines.

Out of the innumerable subjects that made their way into the news this year, picking the "biggest hunting stories of 2013" wasn't an easy task, and we're certain we forgot a few big ones. However, when we sat down to review the news stories that caught our eyes and made us think the most in 2013, these were the five that came to mind. Feel free to share others in the comments!

PETA Tries to Use Bear Attack as an Argument Against Hunting: Look, we respect PETA. Even though the animal rights organization ends up being our adversary in most situations - and the proponent of a lot of the anti deer hunting arguments that many of us have been working to contest for years - working to protect animals is a noble pursuit. However, when PETA sends a letter to a hunter and bear attack victim essentially saying "I hope you learned your lesson," that's the kind of extremist stance we can't respect at all.

But that's exactly what PETA did when a teenaged hunter in Pennsylvania was attacked shortly before Christmas and almost lost her ear. Left in critical condition at a hospital, mercifully alive after the vicious attack, the young girl still couldn't earn the sympathy of PETA. The organization sent the hunter a letter expressing hope that she would now be able to put herself in the place of the animals she was trying to hunt.

PETA's argument was that, as frightening as the bear attack probably was, it is virtually the same as what hunters put deer and other animals through when they head out into the woods to kill. And while the young girl may well be turned off of hunting thanks to this incident, it was not appropriate for PETA to use her near-death experience as a platform for their animal rights messages.

Man Chooses to End Own Life Following Hunting Accident: If you need further encouragement for why you should always exercise the utmost treestand safety, this story provides it. An Indiana man was hunting in early November when he fell 16 feet from his tree stand to the ground. He suffered severe spinal injuries that left him paralyzed, and after considering what his quality of life would be, the man decided to remove himself from life support. Worse, he had just gotten married in August and his new wife - now a widow - is expecting a child. Point is: be careful out there.

The Melissa Bachman Saga: The Internet is full of photographs depicting proud hunters posing with the game they have taken, but when Melissa Bachman shared an image of a large male lion she shot in South Africa, the reaction was taken to a whole new level. After Melissa visited the Maroi Conservancy, where funds generated from the "ethical hunting" trips go towards combating poachers and other land conservation requirements, petitions against Bachman and hunting in general began to emerge with a strong backing from celebrities and other influencers.

Record Breaking Gators: There have been a few record-breaking hunts in 2013, but our favorite is this one about Mississippi gators, which we covered back in October. Three record-breaking gators were hunted down in the state within the first few weeks of the gator season. In case you needed proof that hunting records are still out there waiting to be broken, this story is the place to look.

Women's Hunting is Growing: For those who have been into a hunting store in the past few years, this is probably old news, but it's nice to have some concrete proof. According to the Census Bureau, women's hunting grew 25 percent in prevalence and popularity between 2006 and 2011. Currently, women make up about 11 percent of hunting population in the United States. Expect that statistic to grow into a more controlling stake in the coming years. While you're at it, check out our story on the rise of hunting's popularity within the female demographic.

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Biggest Hunting Stories of 2013