Today, with 24-hour news and various forms of electronic communication, image is certainly important. Some people think that upholding a certain standard is frivolous and unnecessary. But is it? Hunters represent a relatively small percentage of the population so the future of hunting will be determined by a large voting population that doesn’t hunt.
Basically, there are a few million hunters and a few million anti-hunters and many millions of people who are neither for nor against hunting. However, if these “independents” are alienated by game hogs and outlaws–and this is the image we allow to be portrayed–the true sportsman will bear the consequences.
The image a hunter portrays and the role he or she plays in how hunting is viewed is extremely important. For some people, all they know are the stories they hear. Let’s look at a couple of scenarios that may cause one to pause and truly think about what they are portraying to the world.
Case 1: Jimmy, the hunter, goes looking for a place to hunt dove. He rides by field after field with “No Trespassing” signs posted in every visible spot. Discouraged, but not deterred, Jimmy spots a farmer out surveying his land and decides it never hurts to ask. To his surprise, the farmer does not mind Jimmy hunting on his property; he has posted the signs to better protect himself and maintain his say about what is and is not allowed on his land, and to protect him from liability. So, they agree on a day that Jimmy can come back and hunt dove.
The day approaches and as Jimmy walks the land, he discovers that he is not the first to have convinced the farmer to let him hunt his land. There are empty shells, beer cans, soft drink bottles, cigarette butts, plastic sandwich bags, and empty chip bags scattered about. Jimmy is incredulous that anyone could take advantage of the farmer’s generosity and can’t help but tell others about his experience.
Case 2: Bill and Bob decide to go deer hunting. As every sportsman knows, deer and other game should be field dressed promptly to properly cool the carcass. So, they do just that–leaving the “gut pile” lying out in the open.
The next people that come through are not hunters, they are birdwatchers. How disgusted do you think they will be at the sight of Bill and Bob’s mess? It would have taken them only a few minutes to properly dispose of the remains, but they didn’t do so.
In these two cases, the hunters are being selfish and disrespectful. Can you see why someone who has never had any real exposure to hunting would hear these stories and think the worst about hunters?
It has been said that the way you can tell when a true sportsman has preceded you is simply that you can’t tell … he leaves no sign of his or her passing. We must take more responsibility for how hunters are viewed.