How Videos Can Hurt or Help Hunting
by Ron Spomer
A couple of video clips that crossed my monitor today contrast what’s right and what’s deeply troubling about hunters and the internet.
Hunters, like all humans, have always done questionable things, embarrassing things, unethical things, stupid things. The problem these days is that we can, and too often do, expose these faux pax moments via video clips posted to millions. We tarnish the hunter’s image, even jeopardize our right to hunt, in the process.
You can’t fix stupid, but shouldn’t we at least stop shooting ourselves in the foot with these tasteless videos?
One of those “outdoor news” web sites thought it a good idea to feature a helicopter hog-shooting video, hyping it as the “FIRST Ever Compound Bow Kill from a Helicopter!!!”
Really? Arrowing a hog from a helicopter is something impressive, a noble act hunters have been striving to accomplish for hundreds of years? A major advancement in woodsmanship?
What’s next, first ever hog killed by a Mac truck? First pig poked with a pike from a passing Piper Cub? First hog ever killed by a tank round fired from seven miles away using thermal imaging sensors?
To the video host’s credit, he did explain that what he did was not hunting but eradicating an invasive species , which is an important job that benefits the environment. Nevertheless, by glorifying the shot and the kill, the PR damage becomes considerable. The general public doesn’t distinguish between animal damage control and legitimate hunting, and I doubt the video will be shown on the Animal Damage Control channel. Anyone cheering or boasting about killin’ hogs with a compound bow from a helicopter is going to poison viewers against hunters, plain and simple. That tied old “bloodthirsty killer” phrase rears its head.
So, if this isn’t hunting, why is any part of the hunting industry broadcasting this “news?” Celebrating animal damage control work on an outdoor news site that ostensibly covers hunting is conflating the two and pounding another nail in hunting’s coffin.
Contrast that video with this eloquent short film that captures the spirit, passion and humanity of hunters. A film like this elevates hunters and hunting to a position of respect. It helps non-hunters see us as caring conservationists, as protectors of native game and native habitats. Positive hunting videos depict us as conscious carnivores committed to an honest, respectful, one-on-one interaction with the natural world, with the prey that sustains us physically and spiritually.
Hunting is difficult to explain and hard to defend in an age when most people are wholly disconnected from Nature’s reality. Instead of being understood as integral and essential components of the cycle of life, hunting and meat eating are depicted as destructive, even evil. Never mind that Nature invented predation. Never mind that carnivores are critical components in Her system. Never mind that humans have coexisted with Nature as hunter-gatherers for 99.9 percent of our time on Earth. All of that heritage is degraded with videos that celebrate stunt killings from helicopters.
No wonder millions of non-hunters see us as boorish oafs fueled by blood lust.
For the record, I don’t believe that certain animals are “sacred” and others useless vermin. They all have their place or they wouldn’t exist. Those that overpopulate in response to changes humans bring to the world should and must be trimmed. I understand the important job that animal damage control is. I respect those who do it effectively and efficiently. I even appreciate those who make difficult shots and are proud of them. But I don’t think these need to be glorified in videos with wide distribution.
Finally, I don’t believe that hunters must be sad and teary eyed when they succeed. Joy and satisfaction for a job well done are normal responses. Not all hunting videos need to be sober and dead serious, but they should try to portray the nobler incentives that fuel our passions. They should at least try to capture the appreciation and respect hunters feel for the game they hunt and the natural habitats that nurture and support us all.
Hunting, done right, is not a competition with Nature, not an affront or assault on her. It is instead a cooperation with Her, conducted with respect and appreciation for her enduring mysteries.
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