Here's how you can battle against the hunting stigma.
Have you ever wondered why hunting sometimes gets such a bad rap?
Ever thought about why some of the general public sees hunters as bloodthirsty killers and rednecks hell bent on shooting anything that moves while holding a beer in one hand?
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The stigma that surrounds hunting is so far fetched and off base that you have to wonder if the people who believe in that kind of ridiculousness have ever even met a real hunter.
The ethical hunters of today are smarter, more conservation-focused and are concerned with safety first and foremost. A lot of effort and time has been put into conservation, management, and awareness. Modern hunters understand the benefits of herd management and quality control. Gone are the days of 'good ole boys' gunning down bucks with a beer in one hand and a rifle in the other.
Of course, you can still find poachers and trespassers in every county across the US, but ethical hunters far outweigh those determined to hunt dirty.
The sad thing is that modern hunters are left to defend our sport against those who still believe in the ludicrous stigmas attached to ethical hunting. So, how do we do it? What is the best way to get rid of the public negativity that often follows us to the field?
It's simple, really. There are a few things that can be done to help the general public see the truth behind the scenes in our beloved sport.
Play by the Rules
One of the best things a hunter can do to erase the stigma associated with our sport is to play by the rules. Don't poach. Don't harvest over your limit. Don't break the law. By following the rules, then no one makes the news or local newspapers. When the general public sees a story about a poacher or irresponsible hunter, it just reinforces their opinion that all hunters are bad.
However, when those stories disappear and hunters play by the rules, then the general public has nothing to latch onto as proof that hunters are a crooked lot. It's hard to find fault with a group of conservationists that know how to hunt ethically and with respect. In short, just don't give them an excuse to say I told you so.
Spread the Word
Every time you hear uneducated or misinformed individuals bashing hunting practices, it is time to calmly inform them of the truth. No one is saying pick a fight or start an argument. We suggest a calm, rational discussion where you can tell that person which rumors and stigmas just aren't true. Of course, that means you'll need facts to back up your argument, and it is up to you to be better informed than the other party.
If you want to take a more proactive approach, why not write things down? You could even have a place to do it right here at Wide Open Spaces. The best way to fight ignorance is by incorporating facts and educating the uninformed. It is up to knowledgeable hunters to take a stand against the half-truths and all out lies perpetrated upon us by an unknowing public.
Share the Bounty
Another good way to fight back against the negative stigmas associated with hunting is to give back to the community and let them know hunters are behind the generosity. Doing things like sharing venison with food banks or promoting charity events is a great way to gain positive community support while informing the general public of what hunting is really about.
Instead of allowing your community to assume hunters are only out for themselves, show them that isn't true. By giving back and bringing awareness to the local community, you are taking a huge step toward eliminating false beliefs and concepts regarding hunters.
Teach Children the Truth
Education starts with the young. This is true of hunting and in everyday life.
If you want to completely erase the inaccurate stigmas associated with hunting, the first place to focus your efforts is on the children. A child hasn't yet been exposed to the negative opinions of uneducated adults (hopefully). By catching a child at a young age and properly informing him or her about the value and actuality of hunting, you are eliminating false pre-conceptions in the future.
No matter how you choose to fight the negative attitudes and stigmas associated with hunting, the important thing is that you do fight them. Only with positive actions and efforts will those annoying stigmas go away.
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It is up to us as ethical, responsible hunters to take matters into our own hands. Once we become proactive and committed to the cause, it will be just a matter of time until public opinion is changed.