I'm starting to feel left out. Sure, I get occasional hate mail from outspoken antis. Some are really nasty, not the kind of thing you'd show your Mom. Every once in a while I'll get one that is beyond that, way off the page, a genuine threat of bodily harm by most unpleasant means.
But we're not talking big numbers: Once or twice a month, a few times a year, often enough to make me think I'm doing my job, but not enough to make me think the world is full of crazies.
But I'm an old guy, and I've done this stuff for a very long time. You would think that I should be a prime target, but maybe they figure I'm a hopeless case. Let me just say that I find death threats because of participation in absolutely legal and generally accepted activities to be somewhere off the edge: excessive, abhorrent, aberrant, downright nutty.
I'm reminded of a great bumper sticker that reads, "Support Mental Health€¦or I'll Kill You." But I get them now and again. What really amazes me, however, is how these things come out of the woodwork when a female hunter steps into the limelight.
The most recent example, of course, is the case of Kendall Jones, 19-year-old Texas Tech cheerleader who went on safari with her parents, posted some photos on social media, and has been subjected to an avalanche of criticism. Petitions are circulating to ban her from, I suppose, the Universe.
Check out Craig's interview earlier this week with Fox News:
Mixed in with righteous outrage are an absurd number of extremely disturbing threats. The jury isn't out on that stuff; the FBI is involved, and there may be a time when people are held accountable for keyboard courage.
I hope so, but let's examine this in a little more detail. First off, Kendall Jones did nothing illegal. Her hunting was not only legally sanctioned in the countries she hunted, but also by the international body, CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species), and by U.S. Fish and Wildlife (in that her trophies are all legally importable into the U.S., given proper documentation). Death threats by the dozen?
The liberal media is partly to blame, because some of her animals were described on national media as "endangered." Untrue; none are classified "endangered" by any competent authority.
It gets worse.
Her leopard was identified as a cheetah. It was implied that a rhino she darted for veterinary necessity had been killed. And so on.
But here is Kendall Jones' greatest sin: She is a woman. We have seen this before. Remember the huge international imbroglio a year ago when Melissa Bachman took a completely legal lion? I've seen it with my wife and my two daughters. I've hunted a bunch more than all of these women put together€¦but I can't come close to matching the nasty emails and threats they have received.
I think our huntresses scare the hell out of the antis, and they should because, thanks at least somewhat to them, we are winning. U.S. Fish and Wildlife's 2011 survey showed an increase in hunting license sales of nine percent, a significant increase and the first upswing in nearly a generation. National Shooting Sports Foundation's 2013 nationwide survey suggests that 79 percent of Americans in general approve of legal hunting, the highest approval rating such a survey has revealed.
Women are the fastest-growing segment of all shooting sports, including hunting. So you bet the antis are scared of them. Some are obsessed enough to say things that shouldn't be said, and I can only hope that none of them are quite crazy enough to put bad words into worse actions.
One theory about this vitriolic response against women who hunt is that they are viewed as soft targets, more easily scared. Anyone who thinks this way doesn't know the same women I know.
There is another theory. While hunting is not about partisan politics at all, serious anti-hunting and animal rights sentiment is generally associated with the most radical ultra-liberal far left. You see this with other social issues: The radical left, for some reason, believes that all women should be in lock-step and in full support of their agendas.
So when a woman does some independent thinking, breaks ranks, and does something traditionally un-womanly such as shooting a crop-raiding elephant, there are some strange-thinking people out there on the fringe who are not only outraged (as they would be if it were a man), but actually feel betrayed because it's a woman.
The younger and prettier the woman, the nastier the response.
Hey, it's just a theory, but I've been wrestling with this since my eldest daughter started to hunt, and there has to be some underlying reason why the most dedicated and irrational anti-hunters reserve a special level of hate for women hunters.
The good news: They are showing themselves for who and what they are, and women who hunt are not so easily dissuaded.
Celebrities Go Naked for PETA
One of the main pushes for PETA the last couple of years has been to co-opt celebrities in support of its cause. At one level this makes a lot of sense — star power sells.
But it's not just that PETA relies on celebrities to make their case — we're talking about photos of naked celebs with a catch phrase like "I'd rather go naked than wear fur" to go with. Since research points out that erotic images send blood away from the thinking part of the brain to, uh, other regions, it's pretty likely a naked picture of Khloe Kardashian or Chad Ochocinco has got people thinking about anything but animal cruelty. If you take a look at the forums where these photos are discussed, this much is obvious. Read more.
Corey Knowlton and the Black Rhino
The fierce and unrelenting attack on hunters around the world found a new target when Corey Knowlton took his black rhino in Namibia, early in 2014. He was initially an anonymous winner of a controversial black rhino hunt in Namibia auctioned off for $350,000 at the Dallas Safari Club Convention, but the anonymity quickly disappeared. Now he's become yet another poster child in the modern hunter's fight against hatred and ignorance.
As you might imagine, it didn't take long for antis to lob digital death threats, forcing Knowlton to employ full-time security to protect himself and his family. Ignoring the facts of the hunt, and very real conservation efforts in Africa, antis went on the offensive.
Contrary to the vitriol spewed by antis, Knowlton's rhino tag in Namibia was at the center of one of the most regulated, most scientifically vindicated hunts that has ever taken place in Africa. Get all of the facts here.
Bach in the National Spotlight
If anyone has earned a reputation for drawing the rage of the anti-hunting fanatics on the Internet, it's Melissa Bachman. Bachman continued her impressive streak when she enraged that same community by posting a picture to Twitter of a lion she killed in Africa late in 2013. Again, antis resorted to online petitioning, attempting to persuade the government of South Africa to ban Bachman from ever entering the country again to hunt.
Efforts like these are laughable in the hunting community. We know the facts, the statistics, and the need for responsible and ethical conservation of Africa's game. National media outlets "reported" on Bachman's kill with discernible disdain readily apparent in their "objective" broadcasts. However, what wasn't reported by most news outlets was the positive support shown to Bachman and the Maroi Conservancy, which hosted the hunt about a month ago. On the Maroi Conservancy's Facebook page, the group acknowledged the high volume of hate mail it has received, but was outspoken about it's mission to promote 'conservation through sustainable hunting. '
Corey Cogdell IS Welcome in Africa
The same social media extremists that upended Melissa Bachman's bid on National Geographic started the Facebook page 'Corey Cogdell Is Not Welcome In Africa, ' in which some less-than-civil criticism was levied against the Olympic shooter for posting a grip-and-grin with a kudu (pictured here). They also attacked the Trump Brothers in the media for a completely legal and ethical hunt in Africa. PETA's efforts to coerce, threaten and downright harass hunters obviously didn't stop with Corey, and their sadistic misinformation campaigns continue to persuade independents that ethical hunting is the enemy.
Melissa Bachman Cut From National Geographic
HUNTING favorite Melissa Bachman saw the full muscle of the attacks by antis in 2012 when over 14,000 people signed a petition started on Change.org to prevent her from taking part in the National Geographic show on Alaskan adventure and survival. Nat Geo eventually gave in to the pressure from groups labeling Bachman — a lifelong hunter who has found great success in recent years as a outdoor TV producer, writer, personality and advocate for women in the field — as a blood thirsty trophy hunter who kills for sport. Get the full story.
PETA Winning the PR Battle?
It seems there is no end to PETA's campaign against hunters. The anti-hunting group raked in nearly $29 million last year, much of it from gullible teenagers and twentysomethings captivated by a variety of ridiculous public relations campaigns. Urging Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream to switch from cow's milk to human breast milk? Gross. How about comparing meat to the Holocaust? Creepy. PETA even undertook a campaign to rename fish 'sea kittens. '
The good news is that while PETA and other anti-hunting groups may be endearing impressionable college kids and lonely cat ladies, hunters are winning the long-term war. America supports hunting by an overwhelming majority. A recent survey conducted by natural resources research firm Responsive Management found that more than three-quarters of Americans supported hunting, with more than half strongly approving. Read more.
Attack of the Drones
When PETA announced it would purchase drones to stalk "slob hunters who think they can get away with murder," most of us laughed and sighed, recalling an incident in November 2012 when a group of hunters shot down an anti-hunting group's drone while it tried to interfere with a pigeon shoot — kind of the wrong crowd to mess with; after all, they do specialize in knocking flying objects out of the sky. Thanks to the PETA decree, most of us accepted this new challenge, daydreaming for at least a minute about firing our Joe Biden recommended double barrel into the sky and knocking down one of those drones.
Not only is it stupid that PETA is willing to waste so much money on a drone to harass hunters in the field, and offer a commercial version for anyone to purchase, it's also illegal. But just like uncle Joe, PETA has no problem suggesting harebrained initiatives that completely ignore the law. As in Michigan, nearly every state has laws like this:
"Hunters in Michigan have the right to enjoy their sport free from unreasonable and deliberate interference from those opposed to hunting as a legitimate use of public land and other natural resources. Michigan law prohibits individuals from obstructing or interfering with the lawful taking of animals."
Bring on the drones, we say. Hunters are an industrious lot, always looking for a good challenge. Just don't blame us when the "warning shot" from our front porch or treestand happens to knock down your pricey toy helicopter. The real question is, what type of shotshell load works best on drones? Let the debate begin. Read more.
The connection between PETA and the use of porn to promote its message is a head scratcher at best. Apparently the logic goes something like this: Show people naked celebrities (or build them a pseudo-porn site) and they'll suddenly come to grips with the horror of killing animals for food or fur. Yeah, still not sure how that works out.
In reality, PETA's policy is to use any method possible to grab people's attention, regardless of the consequences. Ironically, in trying to make people aware of animal cruelty, PETA objectifies women and treats them like a piece of meat tossed to the masses. In a world where women are gang raped and treated like a commodity millions of times a day around the world, it is unthinkably deplorable that PETA would turn women into disposable currency for their own agenda. Read more.