By Mark Kenyon

Over the past year or two there have been a high number of “controversies” surrounding hunting in the main-stream media. You’ve probably seen them yourself on TV or the web. The typical scenario has gone like this; famous hunter posts a photo with a dead animal, animal rights activists have a hissy-fit and post a million hateful comments or start protests and petitions, main-stream media begins to cover the story. We discussed this very scenario with Eva Shockey this week on The Wired To Hunt Podcast, as she had to deal with being put through this whole media storm herself. It’s a serious issue that’s grown to a fever pitch with the rise of social media.

Now, with this being the case, there’s been an increased amount of defensive rhetoric from hunters declaring the importance of standing up for our rights and our tradition, never backing down, never apologizing, etc. There have even been t-shirts flying off the digital shelves promoting these kinds of slogans – Eva’s own shirt included. I think this is a great thing. We should absolutely 100% be proud of the fact that we’re hunters and we shouldn’t apologize.

But if we’re going to be loud and proud hunters, we need to also realize that this comes with an inherent responsibility.

Every one of us, whether we realize it or not, is an ambassador for the hunting community. And our actions, our words, and the way we carry ourselves, it will all reflect back upon hunting and hunters as a whole. In a world where somewhere around 96% of the general public doesn’t hunt, our way of life is a mystery to most folks. So every time a non-hunter interacts with a hunter, it might be there lone glimpse at what this whole thing is about.

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 10.23.19 AM

I recently saw that Kendal Jones, a terrific young woman and hunter who has faced some of the previously mentioned hunter harassment, is releasing a shirt of her own (seen above). I think this is awesome and I’m glad to see her proudly proclaiming that she hunts, cool looking shirts too. My only concern is with the mindset that some folks have, which comes to mind for me when I see the final line on the shirt – “Get over it.”

Whether we like it or not, we are at the mercy of public opinion. If we want to keep hunting for generations to come, we need the majority of the 96% of non-hunters to continue to vote (if it comes up) in favor of our rights. I don’t like that fact any more than you do, but it’s just the reality of the situation. We are a minority.

When it comes to that 96% of non-hunters, we’re not going to win many of them over by flaunting our huge entry wound pictures, whack’em and stack’em conquests, or by boasting the “I’m a hunter and I don’t give a sh** what you think about it mindset”.

I 100% agree, we shouldn’t have to apologize for hunting, it’s a GOOD thing that we’re doing. But some people don’t understand that. Some people have never been exposed to it. Some people have never experienced it. And many of these folks are on the fence, and could be easily swayed either way.

Yes, there are many radical animal rights activists and anti-hunters who aren’t open to any discussion on the topic and I agree, they probably aren’t worth our time. But it’s the much larger number of non-hunters who are wishy washy on hunting that I’m concerned about. And it’s those folks who I want to make sure we’re not saying “Get over it!” to. Maybe instead we should try something more along the lines of “I’m a hunter, it’s a good thing, here’s why …”

When it comes to these folks on the fence, the huge majority of Americans, we need to be that positive light that shines on hunting. We need to be that ambassador who can speak clearly about why hunting is a good thing, why we participate in it, and what it means for our families and our way of life.

So be proud of being a hunter, share your love for the hunt with your friends, and don’t be shamed into feeling bad about what we do. We don’t need to apologize one bit … but we do need to represent. We do need to take responsibility for our actions and our words, and we do need to realize that everything we do and say is a reflection back on the hunting community.

That’s a very, very important responsibility and it’s something we can never afford to forget.