Hunters In The Crosshairs

Posted at 1:08 pm on November 20, 2013 by Craig Jones

I am not a sport hunter, but when anti-hunters began a targeted online smear campaign towards Melissa Bachman, hunters everywhere took notice. Even as someone with no real inclination to hunt abroad, I couldn’t help but feel as though they were attacking all of us. The prevalent feeling among hunters I’ve talked with is that if a hunter can be endlessly slandered and attacked in Africa when they’ve obeyed every game law there, it won’t be long until the same fight comes to our shores.

There is a section of the global population that genuinely HATES hunters. It is not a reasonable contempt or simple disdain, it is a deep seated hatred.

Like this Story? Share it on Facebook!

Their arguments are often rooted in a fundamental desire that no animals be harmed by a human for any reason. They fight with raw emotion and don’t hesitate to insult, demean, and threaten hunters. Things like “I’d rather see him/her dead than that beautiful animal” are as prevalent as their inability to understand their own hypocrisy.

We must make our stance known, but you can’t expect a sensible conversation from someone who is incensed by a hunter legally harvesting a game animal that will feed themselves or someone else, all while they wear leather and eat a cheeseburger.

I would advise hunters to adjust your targets.

SEE ALSO: Don’t Take The Fall

We can’t reach the irrational and hateful, so don’t engage them. Quite simply, there is no point in arguing with them.

Focus on the sensible individuals who have no experience with hunting or simply haven’t decided how they feel about it. Give them the facts they need to make an informed decision. We MUST show them that hunting is more than just a dead animal and a photograph.

The goal for all hunters has to be the propagation of FACTS to combat the malicious fallacies that have become the calling card of anti-hunters. In my effort to assemble as much information as possible I was fortunate to speak with Mara Nel of the Maroi Conservancy and Britney Starr of Starr and Bodill African Safaris. Our conversations confirmed what I already believed to be true.

In spite of the moralistic screaming and self-righteous indignation, hunting is critical to conservation efforts and economic success in Africa.

As in the United States, hunters in South Africa are responsible for the lion’s share (pun intended) of conservation funding. Fees associated with hunting licenses and permits are funneled directly back into conservation efforts. According to Mara, last year the hunting industry generated $6.3 BILLION dollars for local economies and conservation funds. I would LOVE to see how much money anti-hunters contributed to conservation efforts in the same span.

A recent Outdoor Life article estimated that the hunting industry is responsible for employing over 70,000 people in South Africa alone. Revenues from the hunting industry are responsible for funding the protection of OVER 540,000 square miles of habitat. By comparison, 540,000 square miles is TWICE the area of Texas.

Again, how many square miles of habitat were protected by anti-hunter revenues?

Perhaps the most dangerous lie perpetuated by anti-hunters is the myth of wanton waste. They paint hunters as blood thirsty monsters who harvest an animal for it’s skin and leave the rest of the to rot in the African sun.

The truth is that every piece of meat taken by hunters finds it’s way to a table somewhere. Since American hunters aren’t allowed to import their harvest, the meat stays in the community surrounding the conservancy. In some cases it’s used to feed future hunters. In others, it’s donated to community members. I know of one instance where a portion of their harvest was donated to a local orphanage.

What a truly barbaric act it is for hunters to donate meat to townspeople and orphanages!

Conservancies and game farms protect hundreds of thousands of square acres of habitat. Hunting allows this model to be economically viable. Without it, Mara indicates that, “game farms will revert back to commercial produce farms and this will lessen available space for game.”

Hunting revenue protects the habitat that the animals need to thrive. Take away hunting, take away their protected habitats. There is no conceivable way to make that a positive for conservation.

While modern legal hunting has never hunted a species to extinction, there are other factors in play when considering the health of a species. Poachers have no regard for overall herd health or species conservation, and prove a far greater threat than any hunter.

Since losing a section of border fence due to flooding this year, the Maroi Conservancy has lost countless animals to poachers. In just the last two months Mara reported the loss of a pair of eland, four giraffe and numerous other animals. In her words, “These animals get killed by dogs and spears.” That sounds like a far more gruesome death than at the end of a properly-selected big-game hunting rifle.

Melissa Bachman took part in a legal hunt on property where harvesting this animal was perfectly legal, and is being viciously attacked for it from all corners of the globe. If you don’t think that domestic hunters will be soon be facing the same scrutiny, you aren’t paying attention. It is imperative that we educate the general population as much as possible to the economic and conservation benefits provided by modern hunting, both here and abroad.

This fight is coming here, and hunters would do well to prepare themselves for the battle over public opinion. Nothing less than the very future of hunting as we know it is at stake.