Sunday, October 5, 2008

Animal Rights Activists- Are they swaying the public opinion?

As I interact with people at work or socially I am finding that people tend to be misinformed about hunting. Many that I tell about my passion for hunting respond by calling me a killer. They tend to be regular people who eat meat which they buy from a grocery store. But, because they don't have to think of the animal being killed or see the process, they get the sense that somehow it is more humane. These are my friends. They know that I am not a bad guy and they feel comfortable speaking their minds to me and freely do so.

Hunting is not a brutal sport that requires no brains or effort. Much goes into planning a hunt and executing it. Scent free showers, scent free laundry, studying topographical maps and aerial photos for hours and hours, scouting the land for deer sign, setting up tree stands or blinds, monitoring the trails to see if anything is using them, exercising extreme caution coming in and out of the wood to decrease the sound of our foot steps and so on. It takes a tremendous amount of effort to take one single deer. And deer hunting is no sport in my opinion.

Many people tell me that they can't imagine why anyone would want to shoot a defenseless animal. They feel that it is morally questionable. Is it? Guess what: A deer is not defenseless. They hear much better than humans; they notice movement better than we do to. They run much faster than we do and they know the woods better than we do and use them to survive.

When the average person sees deer in their back yards they tend to think that because they can go out and shoot them from their back porch that it must be just as easy for hunters in the woods. Or because they see deer on the side of the road foraging for food that they could get out of their car and kill a deer in a matter of seconds. But, things are much different in the hunting woods.

Deer are very sensitive to hunting pressure and respond quickly to it.
The woods are equivalent to your bedroom. Would you know if someone walked into your room in the middle of the night and kicked something left on the floor? So do the deer. Any sound or smell that is abnormal to the woods is immediately recognized as foreign and evasive action is taken. They take flight long before you ever see them it's as if they aren't even there.

Not convinced? Take a walk in the woods on public land during bow season and see how many deer you see. If you see deer, are they within 15-30 yards? That is the average effective range of archery equipment. Then take a walk on public land during gun season (wear orange) do you see deer that are within 100-150 yards... that is the maximum effective range for most hunters, myself included. I have never been on a hunt where a shot further than 150 yards was possible due to the trees and undergrowth found in the woods. And hunting fields with rifles on public land is a fool's quest in most cases. Deer don't come all the way to the field until it is pitch black.

The point that I am trying to make is that hunting is not as easy as the non-hunter imagines. If the non-hunting home owner takes a shot at the deer what will happen? The deer will come out much later (at dark) and the deer will not stand there when approached by said home owner.

Is it humane to kill animals in the woods? One point that seems to be brought up time and again is that hunters have no reason to hunt. If you can afford to go to the grocery store to buy your meat then do it and leave the deer alone. The fact that I like to hunt for deer must mean that I do it for joy of killing. So hunting for meat isn't justified if you can afford to buy it somewhere else. I take issue with this point because the deer are animals just like chicken, pigs and cows. And letting someone else kill the animal doesn't make you morally superior. Some insist if you can't take the life of the animal that you cook in your oven you shouldn't be eating it. I disagree with that point because some people are hunter/gathers while others are not. But, judging hunters for feeding there families without the aid of a grocery store is dead wrong and morally questionable in and by itself.

The notion that hunting deer is less difficult and morally inferior to walking a domestic cow to a place to be slaughtered is, well, foolish. Bringing fenced animals that have spent their lives being feed and cared for by humans into a place to be killed so that you and I can eat is less fair to the animal than me going into the woods and trying to hunt an animal. Animals in the woods certainly don't trust me like cattle trust humans. And when the animal goes to be butchered, the animal doesn't die quicker and they are no more or less dead.

So how is it morally superior to go to the grocery store to buy the flesh of an animal that was first tamed and then executed for our nourishment? I buy meat at the store too. There isn't anything wrong with this practice, but if we are going to judge which is morally superior: store bought meat or legally harvested deer, I would side with the deer hands down. And if you think about it you would too.

Many agencies try daily to stop hunting: PETA, HSUS (Humane Society), etc. These agencies have misinformed the public and portrayed hunting as a moral issue. Most of the public is easily swayed by the media. If the media publishes information that pulls at the heart-strings and lists falsehoods as facts or simply gives their personal views as the only facts about the issues; the uninformed majority walk away feeling that they have just learned all of the facts. Undoing the harm done by these agencies is an uphill battle, but one that all hunters must fight. We need to inform people about the facts in a non-confrontational way. We have to pass on our hunting heritage to the next generation. Don't have kids? Take someone else's.

PETA and The Humane Society set small goals to start with. As they reach more and more smaller goals people become used to thinking of hunting as a negative "Sport" or a dangerous past time. Once they have accomplished the goal of swaying public opinion they can easily accomplish their ultimate goal of banning hunting. Some examples of the small aspects of hunting they are trying to ban right now are:

  • certain guns,
  • baiting,
  • using dogs to hunt doves, etc.
They will use their successes to open the door to larger concessions. Currently, they are trying to ban "Sniper Rifles". Sounds menacing right? Let's look at what they consider to be a sniper rifle: Every single rifle that a hunter would or could use to hunt deer (ie, 30.06, .308, .270 and so on). If they're successful we will be left with muzzleloaders and archery equipment. And since there are relatively few hunters who hunt with archaic devises, less and less supporters will be available to fight for there right to bare arms and hunt. Then PETA and the Humane Society will start a campaign that makes hunting an act of murder.

(note: I will be discussing the right to bare arms in a future post)

Now, let's consider this: It is extremely hard to learn to hunt effectively. The learning curve for a brand new hunter who has no one to teach them the basics of: scent prevention, proper use of camo, where and how to hunt, identifying deer sign and so on could be as much as 5-10 years. I believe that people adapt to their conditions. They would eventually get it but it takes many years of instruction and practice to become a good hunter. Eliminating the practice would be a mistake for our country.

Many believe that there is no circumstance that they can imagine that we wont be able to get the food we need from the grocery store. So we proudly march on to become more and more dependent on our modern technology and force everyone to accept our way of doing things. We really don't need guns or hunting right?

But wait a minute: what if we lost electricity for an extended period of time through war or some other means? That would cause an immediate panic and a run on all food. The inability to keep our food refrigerated would quickly wipe-out the meat, all perishables and even canned goods (because once we've lost electricity we would lose our ability to can vegetables in a factory), so when the available food was gone we would be left to live off of the land. Do you know how to keep stuff from spoiling when there isn't a refrigerator around? Do you know someone who can make a glass jar for storing food? Me either, but our ancestors did.

We would all struggle to feed ourselves as our modern technology and our society collapses. All of us would be scrambling for anything that was available. Everyone would want to hunt for food but there wont be guns available and if we had banned hunting there may be know one who knows how. The only ones with guns will be the criminals. They would quickly gain control and anarchy would prevail. Who do you think would be the first to whine and complain about the shortage of food? Or the mayhem? That's right: PETA and the Humane Society who wouldn't have enough food for themselves much less the animals that they have worked so hard to protect.

Another point to consider is that to stop hunting would be morally wrong. The deer population would rapidly increase to overabundance. The fragile ecosystem would not be able to sustain the deer population and the deer would die of malnutrition and disease. The number of human fatalities due to animal related car crashes would spike to unprecedented levels.

PETA and the Humane Society may argue to reintroduce predators into the woods. OK... look to Wisconsin for some answers to this question. Predators have been reintroduced and they are so abundant that human and predator interaction is the norm. Do you want wolves in your back yard? I don't. I have nothing against wolves, but my kids are small enough to be a snack for them. And how is it more acceptable to bring in something else to kill the deer then to let hunters provide food for there families.

I can't deny that there are people who are poachers or irresponsible hunters. However, these are the exception and not the rule. I don't personally know anyone that hunts who isn't a wildlife advocate.
  • They leave the woods as clean or cleaner then they found it.
  • They wouldn't shoot an animal if their numbers couldn't support it.
  • They don't use illegal or immoral tactics to harvest animals.
  • They look to provide more habitat for the animals that they hunt.
  • They try to take mature animals to prevent bottle-necking of species.
In the end, we hunters need to get involved and become educators of our public. Our silence indicates to the public that PETA and The Humane Society are right on all of their bogus claims.

Those who don't hunt need to think very carefully about what they are agreeing to when they vote to ban rifles and hunting.
When you punish the many for the few, you will eventually be negatively affected by your decision. To not allow hunting - that will be a problem for everyone... I guarantee it.

God Bless,
Sean Porter


Tracy H. said...

Shouldn't both sides consent to playing a "sport"? What you do is indeed murder.

Sean said...


A sport is something played in competition with others. I don't consider hunting a sport. Perhaps others do I don't. I don't go horn hunting. For me it is about the meat.

As for the rest of your comment. You are entitled to have your very own opinion.

God Bless,

NorCal Cazadora said...

Nice post, Sean.

What field do you work in where you get reactions like that?

Amazingly enough, I'm a journalism professor - yes, I work in academia!, and people rarely give me a hard time. Every time I get a chance to talk about hunting, I see it as a great opportunity to help combat HSUS propaganda and plain ignorance. Very few of my students hunt, but I know a lot of them see it very differently now that they know a hunter.

As for PETA? I don't worry about them - their wackos, and the public knows that, and trust me, the media knows that too. Most people see it for what it is: vegans trying to thrust their lifestyle choice on us.

HSUS, though? That group is a threat, because it takes people who eat meat - and therefore consent to killing on their behalf - and some how convinces them that there's something wrong with what hunters do.

As for Tracy: If you're a vegan, at least you're living true to your beliefs. But if you eat anything that's ever had a beating heart, you might want to rethink your position.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Oops, make that "they're wackos." (Doh! I is a professor...)

Sean said...

Norcal Cazadora,

Thanks for your insight on this subject. Your students are blessed to have a professor who cares enough to pass on the good sense of hunting. Maybe a few of them will become hunters like you. It is never too late to start.

A professor of journalism huh? I better go back and proof this thing real quick. It is full of typos and poor usage. I am sure you can pick the grammar apart here and there. But, if it is at least thought provoking or mildly entertaining I suppose it has done it's job.


NorCal Cazadora said...

No worries, I leave my professor hat at school (as you can see from my own typo).

I doubt I've gotten any of my kids to hunt, but they've told me they see it differently. Now when they hear propagandists like Wayne Pacelle demonizing hunters, they see it for what it is - lies.