Non-Hunter Gripes
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What are an Outsider's Biggest Gripes About Hunters? How Can They be Amended?

What are the things that irk outsiders about hunting?

Hunters really do not do enough to think about the public perception of our favorite pastime. I have heard plenty of hunters say they do not care about what non-hunters think. I understand why people do not care about what anti-hunters think, let's face it, those people are never going to be on our side.

However, we should be concerned about the image we are projecting to the non-hunting public at large. Because all it takes is a few too many complaints to close off a public hunting area, or worse, to affect major regulation changes.

Here are just a few of the gripes non-hunters have about the tradition and how we can better represent the tradition. Because we should care about the image of hunting if we really want it to survive for future generations to enjoy.

Trophy hunting.

The non-hunting public at large has major gripes about the taking of certain animals. Especially anything from Africa. I'm not saying you cannot go to Africa and harvest a lion, cape buffalo, or a crocodile. However, I would be extremely cautious if you are going to go on a hunt like that, and I certainly would not post the harvests anywhere on social media. If only because you open the chances being doxed by the angry Internet mobs.

Unfortunately, most outsiders have no idea how the money spent for these once-in-a-lifetime hunts goes to help more animals than it hurts. They have no idea it helps law enforcement fight the major poaching rings that are the real threats to the extinction of such creatures. Nor do they realize many of these funds go to funding wild game reserves that serve as sanctuary for many endangered species.

In recent years, I have even noticed hunters here in the U.S. getting doxed for shooting a big buck or bull if the story goes viral enough. Especially for hunters who are fortunate enough to take a rare animal like a piebald. The public does not understand this is an unwanted genetic mutation that is bad for the herd. They simply think it needs to be "protected" because they rarely see them. Even if biologists say the science shows these genes are not good for the herd.

The solution for the anti-trophy hunting bias is probably to simply go back to emphasizing the meals we get from a harvest over the big antlers. Some non-hunters mistakenly believe hunters only shoot a deer or elk to chop the antlers off and discard the rest. We need to do a better job of educating how you can enjoy both. In the meantime, it might help to back off just a hair from the trophy obsession. At least until people are better educated to the reality of hunting.

Trash in public areas.

For this one I am calling out some of our fellow sportsmen and women. The ones who continually leave their garbage in our public hunting areas. I cannot even tell you how many times I've walked an area to see discarded shotgun shells, food wrappers in makeshift blinds, and tossed bottles of doe pee laying on the ground. You cannot blame outsiders for much of the litter in public areas when it is hunting-specific trash. It's not a good look for hunting and it perpetuates the stereotype of the slob, hillbilly hunter we should really be trying to get away from. We cannot proclaim to love the outdoors and the wild spaces of our world and trash it at the same time.

So, what can we do? Well, do your part. Pick up and properly discard any garbage you run across this year on public land. Maybe get the local sportsman's club together to do an organized clean-up of a hunting area parking lot or boat access. It would do hunters good to show a little more interest in environmental concerns, and it would make hunting look a lot better.

"Hunters are selfish."

I have started to notice this misconception more in recent years. There are outsiders who accuse hunters of being "selfish" for harvesting a wild animal, even if the animals are natural resources that are shared by everyone. Unfortunately, many people have negative connotations with taking hunters taking an animal from the wild where it can no longer be enjoyed by others. Even if we already know these harvests are necessary for the health and stability of the herd. And even if you are using these harvests to feed the rest of your family, many outsiders see taking wildlife as a selfish act.

Probably the easiest way to change this stereotype is simply to emphasize conservation and give back better than you take. This goes hand in hand with the trash clean-up concept. Volunteer to help clean up your favorite hunting area. Volunteer with wildlife habitat restoration efforts. Perhaps the best way to show that hunters care is to participate in a meat donation program where you donate the meat from your extra harvests to people in need. This is a win-win situation. You get to do a little extra hunting, and you get to help hungry people in need. It is hard for non-hunters to argue against that!

The gun culture of hunting.

Hear me out before you send an angry email. I'm not saying you cannot love guns. Nor am I saying you cannot own a lot of guns. Because you can, this is America is it not? However, hunting has always had this negative stereotype of the negligent "Elmer Fudd" type of gun nut. This is not a good look for hunting and does nothing to win outsiders over to our side. I see far too many hunters arguing about guns with non-hunters on social media these days and it usually degenerates into insults and both parties hating one another.

I know some people are going to feel the need to defend the second amendment and that is fine. However, maybe we can do this a little less crudely? Instead of insults, try to have a more engaging conversation rather than just screaming the usual talking points at them. Some people simply do not understand why we own so many guns. Maybe they do not realize the many uses for different types. After all, many hunters have one gun for bird hunting, another for deer, another for elk, etc. Explaining that may help to dispel a bit of the "gun nut" stereotype. I know there are people who may not be swayed either way, but I have long suspected the most rabid of gun owners have scared more people away from hunting than they have recruited when they go heavily on the defensive. That's just my two cents on the matter.


Just so you know, I'm aware that lawfully hunting and poaching are two totally separate things. However, most outsiders to our pastime do not know this and make few distinctions between the two. How often have you seen the phrase "illegally hunting" used in a big poaching story? I cannot fault people too much for this. They simply do not know any better. Many people also mistakenly believe some species are totally off-limits to hunting like lions and elephants, which leads them to believe any hunter who shoots one must be poaching it.

We hunters need to draw a clearer line in the sand between those of us who follow the rules and the criminals who decide wildlife regulations and law do not apply to them. We need to better police our own in this matter too. We need to make it clear we are not on the side of anyone who poaches and steals wildlife from the rest of us. While I do see plenty of hunters who get mad about poaching, I also see others who do not show nearly enough concern for wildlife crime or the negative shadow it casts on hunting. Making it clear we are not on the sides of anyone who illegally kills wildlife will go a long way towards improving hunting's image.

There are many aspects of the culture of hunting non-hunters do not understand and are never going to change. However, with a little thoughtful education, we can make them better understand why it is we do the things we do. We already have the anti-hunters on our back. We need all the allies we can get at this point.

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