After an online uproar over a legal bear hunt with a spear, we spoke with Josh Bowmar, the subject of the video and subsequent harassment, to get his side of the story.
Less than 72 hours after The Mirror published an article featuring Josh Bowmar's bear hunt, erupting an onslaught of internet attention, we were able to speak with Josh about the article and about the situation unfolding afterward.
Distraught and feeling he did nothing wrong, he and his wife Sarah, who filmed the hunt, are both in disbelief.
"The author and other media outlets have just gone from taking a video, adding a few adjectives like "grueling," "gruesome," and "brutal," and made me out to be a heathen," Josh told us.
The original article, titled: Hunters in sick new low as black bear is stabbed with 7ft spear then left to die, was, according to Josh, published without his side of the story.
The article, which doesn't exactly carry the typical journalistic lack of bias, features perspectives from anti-hunter and animal rights activists, but fails to include anything directly from Josh in its original form.
Josh told us that the author attempted to contact him, and rather than wait for a response, he published the article. The post used words like "bloodlust," "sickening footage," "torn flesh," and "graphic footage," setting the stage for anti-hunters and others to react negatively toward the couple. The communication between the writer and hunter continued, and Josh shared more about the exchange.
"He reached out to me when I was at Sarah's little sister's birthday party and by the time I replied, he had already published his article," Josh said. "He responded to my email saying he may be able to squeeze in my comments, but due to the space restrictions it may not be possible. I looked, he added a few of my comments, but it was at the end of the article and way too late to do me any justice.
"He asked to know my justifications for such a painful death and what I did with the bear afterwards. My reply to him made him understand, I think, but that's really sometimes all it takes: a little education. He seemed thankful that I took the time to explain the hunt and said that no one else had described it to him in the manner that I did. This, of course, came too late as he already ran the article making me out to be a horrible human," Josh remarked.
We had to inquire about Josh's internal thoughts since this eruption began.
"What is going through my mind right now is just utter disbelief," he said. "Anyone that knows animals, they run. When you hit an animal like that, it's going to run a lot further than 60 yards to evade danger. Which means the bear ran until it died. A bear runs roughly 30 mph. That means it runs about 15 yards a second. So with the bear in the fight or flight mode, running at full speed and only going 60 yards he would have made it there within four seconds.
"That bear was dead within four seconds at most, 10 seconds if he wasn't running full speed. But let's go further as to say it was a bear that was capable of running slow and live with it's vitals cut the way they were, there's no way it didn't die within 30 seconds. The animal didn't suffer any more from my spear than it would with a broadhead from an arrow. The author made me out to be unethical and Under Armour is making me out to be unethical as well. This animal ran on adrenaline and died very quickly and humanely," said Josh.
Anti-hunters fell to the rhetoric and began screaming in outrage, which included a petition to have Under Armour remove the Bowmar's contract. Contrary to what the anti-hunters believe, Josh Bowmar was never under contract with Under Armour. However, his wife Sarah was.
In the wake of the response, Under Armour announced they would drop their contract with Sarah Bowmar.
Josh, a huge advocate of Under Armour gear at the time, wore and supported Under Armour for no financial gain. He told us that after the stipend Under Armour gave them, they spent thousands of dollars of their own money on Under Armour gear.
"...we thought that [Under Armour] would have our back. We thought that we could trust them and we were going to be with them forever it just blows my mind and actually just hurts my soul." said Josh.
After they cut ties, Under Armour made this statement on their Facebook page's comments section:
Under Armour is ending it's relationship with Sarah Bowmar. The method used to harvest this animal was reckless and we do not condone it. We are dedicated to the hunting community, support hunting practices that ensure a responsible and safe harvest of the animal, and support hunting that is conducted in compliance with all regulatory laws.
"Why even have a hunt brand if you are not going to stand up for your hunters?" Sarah said in response to the situation. "To infer that Josh and I are reckless and unethical and put ourselves and animals in danger is like, the biggest slap in the face I could ever read from a company. Many people are asking us what are we going to do now, we are going to lose so much money. Like how? They weren't paying us. They were paying us nothing."
There's no doubt Under Armour does not want to be in this position. The fine line between right and wrong can be shadowed over by the louder voice. Today, if many people disagree with someone's beliefs, opinions, or action, they can voice their opinion in unprecedented ways and ruin someone's career.
This hunt, fully legal, has gained so much negativity towards Under Armour and the Bowmars in such a short time. Aside from the many hateful comments and death threats from anti-hunters, the Bowmars are receiving a great deal of support from fellow hunters like Kendal Jones and UFC fighter Chad Mendes, who both showed their support on Instagram.
This really upsets me to see UA not stand behind their Hunter's! We all need to support one another in this industry! Please show my friends @sarah_bowmar and @joshbowmar some love and speak up for what we believe in! If you #standbehindthebowmars let @uahunt know! #repost from @sarah_bowmar love and care about all of you and wanted to let you know that due to recent circumstances and media attention of a LEGAL bear hunt, @underarmour and @uahunt have terminated their relationship with us due to international social pressure from anti hunters. It really breaks our heart, we lived and breathed the brand for years and gave them everything that we had. We will never speak ill of the company. Just wanted to let everything know our current situation and how heartbroken we are when we did nothing wrong. Receiving that phone call was one of the hardest things we have ever went through, knowing a hunting company would rather give in to the pressures of anti hunters instead of stand up and support hunters for what's right and legal. We would love and appreciate all of your support right now
This really saddens me. We as hunters need to stick together. Please show ur support for my good friends josh and Sarah. #repost We love and care about all of you and wanted to let you know that due to recent circumstances and media attention of a LEGAL bear hunt, @underarmour and @uahunt have terminated their relationship with us due to international social pressure from anti hunters. It really breaks our heart, we lived and breathed the brand for years and gave them everything that we had. We will never speak ill of the company. Just wanted to let everything know our current situation and how heartbroken we are when we did nothing wrong. Receiving that phone call was one of the hardest things we have ever went through, knowing a hunting company would rather give in to the pressures of anti hunters instead of stand up and support hunters for what's right and legal. We would love and appreciate all of your support right now
The hunting community is a tight group and more times than not, hunters can be more critical of themselves than anyone else.
Josh added: "We have thousands of hunters and even non hunters showing us support through social media and understand that what we did was ethical, humane and that this article and it's exaggerated rhetoric, has destroyed us and hunting in general."
In closing we asked Josh what he and Sarah will do now and what's next for Bowmar Bowhunting.
"We'll never stop hunting," he assured us. "It's a part of who we are and what we're made of. When I say made of, I speak literally. Anything we hunt, we choose to rebuild our bodies with wild game. It's the closest to organic you can get.
"Every human being alive right now that is writing us every hate letter, every death threat, even the owner of Under Armour himself, we all, if we were to look far enough back into our ancestors, come from families whose survival depended on the spear. Every single one of us is 100% alive because of the spear at one point whether it was to defend their families or to harvest an animal to eat. Every single one of us, if we were to go back, we survived off the spear. It's been an ethical killing machine for years, it's unbelievable.
"We're not bad people like the media is making us out to be. We own a charity and it's called Whitetail Wisdom. We donate meat to needy families and we personally pay for the processing. We've donated in the past 10 years over 30,000 meals. It's painful to hear these people attacking us and hearing the hurtful things they have to say about us when we strive to be upstanding people. No-one cares more or donates more to the conservation and preservation of the outdoors than hunters. We're hurt, we are just hurt."