Sweet September, harbinger of autumn and with it comes the start of our bread and basket hunting seasons. Squirrel and pigeon season is already in full swing and the door is swinging wide open for archery deer hunting season on October 1st.
Before long, social networks will host many funny photos of successful hunts. But do platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram hurt or help when it comes to traditional activities like wild hunting?
Let’s be honest. The majority of our population does not hunt, approximately less than 10%. I am guilty, like most, of scrolling to see what is going on in the lives of others. I don’t spend a lot of time posting about inspirational quotes, political views, new socks you bought, or what you’re having for dinner. But I admit that some of you are amazing cooks.
What I do like to see are special moments of friends. I also like to read about outdoor activities that have a significant impact, that are never forgotten, like a person’s first deer, regardless of their age or the size of the animal. The success stories of fishermen and children, knowing that they will have a positive influence, also catch my attention.
If you are a hunter and you participate in social networks, it is almost certain that you have seen posts flagged or removed because the platform has deemed them “harmful content”. Unfortunately, these platforms are not transparent about what they consider to be harmful.
Even worse is when the hunters turn on the hunters. Some may believe in using traditional bows instead of crossbows, muzzleloaders instead of rifles, the list goes on. Do you ever stop to think that maybe a person’s physical ability relegates them to using a horizontal bow instead of a vertical one? Or maybe someone else uses a high-powered rifle because that’s all he can have? As long as the person hunts ethically and legally, it shouldn’t matter. We are all on the same team.
To me, some of the problems that infect social media are the same problems that plague our society. Things like greed, attention seeking, and egomania. We have all seen it. People who blatantly seek sponsorships and who share posts with lines of hashtags. Do you really care and really care?
As a lifelong hunter and semi-user of social media, it never takes long to find a post that makes me laugh, and not in a good way. For some, the thirst for attention can be so great that they list every sponsor they can think of, when in fact the companies may have no connection to the person. They do so simply because they may prefer your brand of product to that of others. I think they want to give the impression of legitimacy. This may be a slippery slope straight into the sewage lagoon and represent the opposite result of what was intended.
One of my biggest annoyances is when someone who attracts attention steals the joy from a newcomer. I’m sure you’ve seen it. Posts like “should have given that money another year” or “killing a deer with a rifle is not fair”. Talk about throwing an electronic wet blanket over his achievement.
Everyone, even the self-proclaimed Master Hunter, had to start somewhere. Although he may have hunted for decades with a den full of trophies, there is no doubt that he has never forgotten to take that first male. No matter the size or sex of the deer, it was your first trophy. A sacred act that welcomed you to the world of consumptive hunting.
I have always believed that we should be respectful to those who cannot hunt, just as they should be respectful to those of us who can. When it comes to social media, don’t think you’ll ever change the minds of anti-hunters. Non-hunters are another story, as they can be taught the benefits of hunting and all the positive things sportsmen do for the environment, not for fish and game species, but for all forms of wildlife. The greatest conservationists in the country are hunters and fishermen.
From the very beginning, those of us who hunted started with a fair amount of enemies on social media. In today’s world, many are disconnected from the reality of where meat comes from. Dead animal photos are something you may not be used to seeing. I am not saying that our point of view is correct and that they are wrong. Remember what I said about respect for others? But when it comes to posting photos for the world to see, we can show some dignity and class to our way of life.
It takes no more than a minute to rub some dirt on a wound, move the animal a few feet so it doesn’t lie down in a pool of blood or stick its tongue in its mouth.
Please don’t think that I am against social media because that is not the case. Most of us carry super computers in our pockets, giving us instant access to a worldwide platform to share our experiences. Social networks and hunting are here to stay. So let’s use it to our advantage in a positive way. It can do a lot of harm, but it can also bring realistic benefits while promoting our traditional heritage. It connects us in an unfathomable way just a few years ago.
So what if this year we forget about all the self-promotion and leave negative reviews or patronizing comments at the door? Instead, congratulate all the hunters, regardless of their age, sitting behind their little deer or doe. Also, always refuse to add fuel to the fire when keyboard warriors engage in discussions of ridiculous personal opinions.