It's a them-against-us world out there, with the tone of today's political and social discourse often falling down the lines of an, "If you're not for us, you're against us," mentality. For sure, hunting has fallen victim to that mentality from those who surely know what is best for the rest of us, if we would only recognize their unalienable wisdom.
Homegrown like ideological terrorists — if terrorism entailed attacking a lifestyle with ignorance and snobbery simply because you didn't like to do it — in our nation's cities and suburbs, the physical and mental distance between country and cultural center only fan the flames of persistent discord. But sometimes you have to wonder, why all the hating? In the immortal words of Rodney King, "Can we all just get along?"
Well, we think we've figured out exactly why anti-hunters are from Venus and the rest of us are, well, from Earth. Following are eight of the top reasons anti-hunters can't stand you.
1. They're afraid of firearms
By far, the No. 1 reason anti-hunters hate you is because many of us use guns to do it. Our legal and responsible use of firearms undermines every argument they try to make of why American citizens should not be allowed to use guns. Most of them have never shot a gun either. Unfortunately, as with most things, when you don't understand them, you tend to be a little more frightened of them.
People are afraid of things they don't understand. Want to help the cause of hunting? Take an anti-hunter, non-shooting friend out for a day at the range. They'll love it, and if enough of us share our sport with others, we'll probably find a lot of our opponents getting off our case, and at least spending time making our lives miserable in other, less annoying ways.
2. Hunters are self-reliant
Anti-hunters love programs that by nature actually increase reliance on the government — welfare, mandated healthcare and subsidized housing, for example. A hunter is anathema to this concept. With a bow or gun, they enter the wilderness and return with game they harvested by their own hands. They then skin and butcher it themselves, rather than just running up to the grocery store and buying all their meat neatly wrapped in cellophane.
Hunters also do this often sitting in the rain, where others would run for cover, and they scout through the woods for the best places to hunt, where others would never dare wander from the trail. Self-reliant folks just flat-out irk anti-hunters, and no one in our society is more self-reliant than the hunter.
3. They believe animals talk
I'm not like some folks who detest the movie Bambi and blame it for creating a generation of anti-hunters. I actually enjoyed that flick as a kid and am happy to let my kids watch it now. The difference is I know animals don't really talk. I know they don't dance and sing songs. I make sure my kids understand that too.
On the flip side, a lot of anti-hunters actually think animals live like that. Sure, they can be cute and they are beautiful, but it's important to maintain a realistic perspective on the human-animal relationship, as well as develop a basic understanding of population dynamics and the need to maintain a balanced ecosystem. Of course, I admit, if I'm ever bearing down on a wide-racked 10-pointer and he raises up on his hind legs, raises his front ones and screams, 'Hey, don't shoot, ' I'll probably hold off on the shot. But until then€¦
4. They can't kill nuisance creatures when they want
I overheard a guy in a diner one day talking to his friend about how hunters were a bunch of idiots, then in the same conversation confess to snuffing a few geese that had raised his ire by dumping all over his nicely manicured lawn earlier that summer.
I couldn't help but intrude on the conversation to let him know that he had broken a federal law in killing those geese and that, while I sympathized, he might want to be sure he didn't do it again. His face turned ashen as he verbally stumbled from what he had already admitted.
That's the problem with antis. If I'm out hunting something legally that I plan to eat, I'm a goon who doesn't care about other creatures. But if it's a deer, goose or squirrel eating his flowers or fouling his yard, it's perfectly legit for him to juice the creature and dump its carcass in the trash or a wood lot somewhere. That's some bizarre logic.
5. Anybody can be a star on outdoor TV
Millions of young city kids an unemployed college grads yearn to be TV stars who do virtually nothing, like Kim Kardashian and her sisters. Just look at how many people line up for American Idol auditions, most knowing full well they can't sing a lick, but just looking for that two-minute shot in front of a camera.
With at least four networks dedicated to hunting and fishing programming, and a number of other cable and regional networks airing hours of the same type of programs, it sometimes seems like nearly any guy or girl with the money and energy can have their own show on outdoor TV. Nothing works an out-of-work drama grad more than watching someone like Spook Spann or Jimmy Big Time rocking the tube four to five times a week.
6. We have cooler camo
There have been a few periods in my lifetime where fashionistas have rediscovered the trending appeal of the old woodland camouflage that used to be found in military surplus stores. The patterns frequently show up on jeans, jackets, belts, boots, purses and scrunchies. Variations on the green-and-brown pattern have turned up in virtually every color of the rainbow, but when it comes to naturalistic realism, nothing beats the photorealistic patterns kicked out by Mossy Oak and Realtree.
Disagree? Tell you what. Put on some city camo — like a nice blue — and I'll bust out some Break-Up or Max4, and let's hit the wooded paintball range. I'm almost positive I will find you and light you up with multiple splotches, like Predator hammering Carl Weathers in some Central American jungle.
7. We get preferential treatment in parks during hunting season
With the wilderness becoming crowded by more strip malls, town centers and housing developments, deer, geese, bears and other critters have had little choice but to move into our parks and recreational areas where people like to play. And for the most part, they've done a darn good job at adapting to the situation.
But to deal with the conflicts caused by too much human-wildlife interaction, a lot of these parks have turned to managed hunts — which for the sake of bumbling nonhunters who would ignorantly speed-walk right into the middle of a hunt — are closed to everyone but those people hunting at the time. This irks the heck out of anti-hunters, who have to go walk their dogs or play disc golf somewhere else for a day or two. If they're jealous, they're always welcome to take a hunter ed course, toss on some orange and climb into a stand.
8. Hunters have co-opted the word 'outdoors '
Everyone loves the idea of the outdoors, even if they don't really understand it or want to spend time in its purest, most raw state — that is, as an active player in the whole predator-prey relationship.
Don't believe me? Just take a cruise past the entrance of some of our nation's finest and newest golf courses and McMansion neighborhoods, and you'll find names like Hunter's Glen, Deer Chase or Fox Run, for example. City folks love the rugged image of the outdoorsman chopping wood, carving out the land and standing tall among the wilderness, but too many of them only want to experience it in the pages of Southern Living, from the bug-free safety of a screened-in porch or from the climate-controlled interior of a Lexus rambling down a paved road at Yellowstone.
Despite this, it irks them that they can't claim the term 'outdoorsman ' for any of the activities they find acceptable. Whether you camp, hike, kayak or rock climb, you still aren't an outdoorsman. Nope. That term is reserved for a hunter — and our consumptive angling brethren — and nobody else.