Hunters Are Conservationists

Hunters Are Conservationists

Recently, a debate was held by Intelligence Squared U.S. on the topic: Do hunters conserve wildlife? They asked if we would stream the debate live on our website. (If you missed it, you can watch it here.)

I agreed, even though I thought to myself, "How much of a debate can this be? Of course, hunters are conservationists. How could anyone argue otherwise?"

Well, argue they did. Wayne Pacelle, CEO and president of the Humane Society of the United States, and Adam Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, took the position against the motion, while Catherine Semcer, COO of Humanitarian Operations Protecting Elephants, and Anthony Licata, editor in chief of Field and Stream magazine, took the pro side.

hunters-are-conservationists-featured


When the smoke cleared, 65 percent of the audience did not feel hunters conserve wildlife. Shocking, but there are a couple of factors that skewed the numbers. One, the debate was held in New York City, and it was clear from the applause and questions that the audience was heavily seeded with anti-hunters. Two, the pro-hunting side simply got outmaneuvered.


This is not a slight on Licata, who is one of the best minds in the hunting industry. He is a passionate hunter and someone I consider a good friend. But both he and Semcer have an admirable Achilles' heel: They can't bring themselves to lie.

Some would call the arguments of Pacelle and Roberts disingenuous. Some would call them stretching the truth. Others would simply call it lying.

Both Pacelle and Roberts are highly skilled orators unburdened by the constraints of morality when it comes to debating. Neither had a problem distorting the facts or manipulating the numbers — to the point they were unrecognizable.

It was infuriating to listen to their misleading arguments during the debate, but there is a bigger problem. This goes on every day when no one is around to challenge them. The anti-hunting crowd has gained traction against us because they don't let things like facts, figures, and science get in the way of their arguments based on emotions and distortions of the truth.


So how do we combat this?

Unfortunately, it is difficult, as hunters are an isolated bunch. We tend to congregate with others who share common interests and passions. So we speak to each other in a vacuum. After enough of this, we are lulled into believing that most people think like we do — this is not the case.



"Some would call the arguments of Pacelle and Roberts disingenuous. Some would call them stretching the truth. Others would simply call it lying."


Non-hunters are bombarded by emotional arguments and misinformation — even outright lies and propaganda. It's no surprise they are predisposed to dislike hunting.

But it is more than lies promoted with an agenda of ill will. There is a general, more benign misconception of what hunting is and what it is all about, and it is hard for us to explain the emotional draw it places over us.

Tovar Cerulli, a conservationist communications consultant, examines this widening gap between hunters and non-hunters and asks some tough questions that hunters need to consider.

In short, do we submit to a siege mentality in which there is a constant fight between the antis and us? Do we attempt to convince non-hunters of our respect for wildlife and wild places through our actions, imagery, and language? Do we reassess the way we showcase what we do by censoring ourselves in our social posts? Do we refrain from the trophy photo and instead use

images that promote the experience and our values? Do we stop using certain terms like "sport" and "trophy"?

hunters-are-conservationists

I don't know if better communications or refraining from any activity will ever pacify the antis and sway the middle. I don't know if giving up ground, finding common ground, or being selective in the battles we pick will do us more harm than good.

However, I am willing to think about it, to discuss it with fellow hunters, and to consider all options. After watching the debate, I realized that we have to initiate hard conversations within our community to change this trend. It's no longer about how to "beat" the anti-hunters, but rather how we can do a better job of convincing non-hunters why we hunt€¦and that we are true conservationists.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 10: Snowbound Chamois

Host Brittany Boddington gets more than she bargained for on what turned out to be a grueling, snowbound and extremely physical hunt for chamois in Romania's Carpathian mountains.

Camp Chef at SHOT Show: Elk Venison Slider Burgers Recipe

Camp Chef at SHOT Show: Elk Venison Slider Burgers Recipe

Have a freezer full of ground elk venison from your fall hunting trips? Never fear, the folks at Camp Chef have a great SHOT Show recipe that is lean and mean, easy to prepare, and a crowd-pleasing favorite!

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 16: Cedar Break Bucks

Kevin Steele treks to the cedar breaks and coulees of north-central Nebraska for a shot at a big prairie whitetail.

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 11: Wheelgun Buffalo

Host Craig Boddington lays claim to hunting more than 100 Cape Buffalo over the course of his 40 plus year career, but he never took one with a handgun. That changed in South Africa when Craig faced down "black death" with a magnum wheelgun.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

I have never felt that camping trailers at least the Hunting

The Ultimate Hunting Trailers

WA Staff

I have never felt that camping trailers at least the "house on wheels" variety that most people

What's The Best Coyote Cartridge? .22-250 Versus .223 Ammo

What's The Best Coyote Cartridge? .22-250 Versus .223

Joseph von Benedikt & David Faubion

What's The Best Coyote Cartridge? .22-250 Versus .223

From trajectory to penetration to recoil, we evaluate this cartridge for the big-game use case. Ammo

Is the .308 the Perfect North American Big Game Cartridge?

Richard Mann

From trajectory to penetration to recoil, we evaluate this cartridge for the big-game use case.

Dream of a job in the hunting industry? Here's the inside scoop on some of the most coveted positions in the outdoors. Stories

17 Dream Jobs in the Outdoor Industry

Kali Parmley

Dream of a job in the hunting industry? Here's the inside scoop on some of the most coveted...

See More Trending Articles

More Conservation

As wild horses decimate native rangelands, questions sharpen about sustainable management practices. Conservation

Wild Horse Overpopulation: Should They Be Hunted?

Andrew McKean - October 28, 2019

As wild horses decimate native rangelands, questions sharpen about sustainable management...

Leasing ground is big business, but is it bad for hunting? Conservation

The Impact of Leasing Land on Hunter Participation

David Hart - May 05, 2020

Leasing ground is big business, but is it bad for hunting?

New research reveals the value of connected habitat. Conservation

Big Game Migration from Private to Public Land

Andrew McKean - November 11, 2019

New research reveals the value of connected habitat.

Jim Shockey follows Craig Boddington in winning the 2018 Weatherby Award. Conservation

Shockey Follows Boddington in Claiming 2018 Weatherby Award

Lynn Burkhead - February 12, 2019

Jim Shockey follows Craig Boddington in winning the 2018 Weatherby Award.

See More Conservation

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save.

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Petersen's Hunting subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now