Albino animals are often viewed as something special, but four years after this story, why is it still important, and what can we take away from this?
In case you hadn't seen this story when it surfaced back in 2013, here's your catch-up:
A very rare albino moose, which was considered a sacred "spirit animal" by Nova Scotia's indigenous Mi'kmaq people, was killed, completely legally, by visiting hunters unaware of its spiritual significance. As any hunter does when proud of a successful hunt, they then posted the pictures to social media.
The aboriginal communities had been watching and were very aware of this specific animal for quite sometime. Years actually. "White animals" have a very significant role in their culture, as shared by Mi'kmaq hunter Danny Paul:
"We know the significance and we've been teaching that to the non-native population for almost 500 years -- about the importance that this and other white animals played in our lives," he said. "We are not to harm them in any way, shape, or form because they could be one of our ancestors coming to remind us of something significant that's going to happen within our communities."
So, as you could imagine, once the photos spread through the online world, people were outraged. These included both Mi'kmaq people as well as folks who were not associated with them in any way.
The hunters made amends as much as they could by respecting the people and giving the hide to them for ceremonial purposes. There is no law in place to stop the hunting of albino moose and they legally harvested the animal with the proper weapons and tags. These hunters were a group of good guys, enjoying nature and the thrill of a hunt; they were just unaware of their surroundings.
Had they known the significance of the animal, the hunters claimed they would have not taken the shot. So kudos to the men for making the situation right and showing respect to the Mi'kmaq and the animal's significance.
As participation in social media grows, and content and stories travel farther and faster than ever before, it is important we look deeper into the underlying issues in this story. Especially regarding the sport of hunting we love so much, social media makes it easy for anti-hunters and other groups to dissect it from the outside without engaging in meaningful dialogue.
With all that said, now is a good time to touch base on this story and understand why it is important today.
I am the first to admit, I spend the majority of my hunting time seeking what hunters call "trophies." I hunt because I love everything about it. The sights, sounds, memories, and the lessons it teaches. But, I pass young deer every year in search of that big "trophy" buck. A trophy is different in many others eyes, but we all have our own standards.
It is important as a hunting community that we don't focus on this trophy side too much though, because sometimes it can lead to problems like these hunters found themselves in.
Enjoy the hunt for what's worth, and the trophies will come along.
Know the area and culture you are hunting in.
I think this is something that can often get way overlooked. With the amount of time and money we can spend on hunting trips, we often become tunnel visioned on our own wants and satisfactions without taken into effect what is going on around us.
When hunters travel out of state or more specifically out of the country, you become submerged in new things. I think it is important that outdoorsman put in research into the areas and respect the culture they are going into.
Although it seems many details are still un-explained from what I have seen, I think this could have been a big help with the Cecil the Lion incident.
And I know the group of hunters with this moose story would agree too. If they had known the culture and significance and ties to the animal and area from research before, it would have saved them a lot of headache. And I truly believe they would have then let that animal walk on by and enjoyed the majestic encounter just as much.
Just because something is legal, doesn't mean it's always right.
Oh boy... this can go way deeper than just a hunting story. So we will save you from getting all moral here. But, it is definitely something the hunting community needs to think about. This albino moose was taken completely legally. No if, and, or buts about it. The men didn't break a single law along the way, yet they caught an extreme amount of scrutiny for their actions.
The hunting community fought for these men until blue in the face, but the ones they argued didn't budge or change their mind. Because it goes deeper than legality for them.
Ethics go a long way in our sport of hunting. It is crucial that we step back and make sure we are going about the sport correctly. That means even if it is legal "by the book," is it necessary?
Food for thought.
See the other side.
As I mentioned earlier, the hunting community is often under fire from many angles any more because of the media. Stuff that has been going on for decades now gets seen by people at much larger rates because of social media. A hunting clip of a kill can catch a viral trend, and within hours, millions have viewed it. The blood that comes along with hunting seems normal to us, but to someone who has never left the city and the only animal they have laid eyes on is their pet cat... this seems appalling and cruel. Therefore, we are under the gun much more than the generations before. It is important we keep it tasteful and try to EDUCATE the ones who don't see eye to eye.
It is important we take a step back and try to look at it from their view as well. That way we have an understanding of what they are seeing and feeling, to the best of our ability.
Quarreling back and forth will not solve anything when we approach them as "idiots" for not thinking like we do. Unfortunately, you will run into those who view you as the "idiot" and sometimes those conversations are better just left untouched once you have attempted to educate.
From my own personal conversations with people who don't hunt or have never known anyone who has hunted, when I explain how the "hunt" effects me personally, the mission of conservation, and the way you organically bring food to your table, they seem to be opened minded and you can almost see a change in their face and tone on the sport of hunting.
This albino moose story is a small sample size of how situations can be approached. Respect the animal and respect people. When following those two things, good things and conversation can happen.
Old news? Yes.
But, still relevant and important? I believe so.
I give nothing but praise to the way these hunters went about a bad situation they found themselves in. I have never personally seen an albino animal on a hunt. And I can honestly say, I as well would have shot that moose myself if I had went on the hunt, not knowing what I know now.
A lot of thoughts coming out from a hunting incident that happened 4 years ago. Whether you agree with me or not, I think there is a lot to learn from this story and it is important we hunters take this stuff into account moving forward.