By Ryan Miloshewski
I have officially had it. After watching a hunter on Instagram claiming to pass up a two-year old tom while bowhunting, I decided something needed to be said. It is not the fact he passed it up because there were bigger toms around. It’s the way he said it, referencing letting the “flock mature and have better age structure,” he said. Man, just admit you wanted to kill a bigger bird. It’s fine. We all would like to do it
I mean this with the utmost care and respect for hunting, but I ask hunters–what has the world of hunting come to? I have seen people naming turkeys this spring, and now they are passing up mature toms? Give me a break. It’s time we reevaluate what it means to be a hunter and outdoorsman.
Sadly, this type of social media post is extremely common nowadays. A plethora of half-naked “huntresses,” “Westies” slamming their Mountain Ops protein shakes, and Boomerangs of nightly, sponsored skin care routines is infecting our sport. In his Instagram Story, the hunter went on to say how “we are all on the same team,” and “there is no reason to attack other hunters.” Well, if we are all on the same team, you and others like you are the clubhouse cancers. And it’s probably not even on purpose. Alas, some of the worst things imaginable are done with the best intentions.
It’s time to address these issues and make hunting great again.
If you do not want to shoot a turkey with a small beard, or a buck with small antlers, so be it. Your choice is your choice, and I will support your management strategy as long as it’s valid. HOWEVER, do not go around talking about #wildgamegainz and defending yourself to anti-hunters with the “hunting to eat” argument. “Putting meat in the freezer” can only go so far before the holes are meticulously punched through the idea. If you say every time you hunt you are “grocery shopping,” and are truly only out to harvest meat, why would you ever pass up a legal animal within range? Be honest–you want to kill a big buck or longbeard! Who cares? Just admit it. Stop being fake.
Save for a few, every “celebrity” hunter on the internet has become insufferable. The social media activity/facade continues to rub people the wrong way. And let’s not forget the real reason for most of their social media presence–selling their products. Which, good for them, sell the hell out of ’em–just don’t try and pull the wool over the hunting community’s eyes.
So many people in the hunting industry have a fake persona on social media. It has become all about getting followers and likes. Chris Brackett, Bill Busbice, Adam Greentree and recently Alex Rutledge, have all been exposed in one way or the other who they really are–and that’s just from the top of my head! I’d rather you be who you are in real life while posting to Instagram or Facebook than be fake. If you are a douche, be a douche (see Tim Wells). You would get much more respect from a lot of people.
ADS! ADS! ADS!
I understand contracts and responsibilities, but for God’s sake can we stop the constant barrage of sponsor-laden social media posts? I will never buy a Traeger, Mountain Ops, Scent Crusher, Ozonics, or (insert sponsored product) because of the constant badgering. It’s a grill. It’s protein powder. Scent Crusher and Ozonics is a stupid concept. See this study done with drug sniffing dogs that shows how useless those products can be. Stop tagging them and creating Instagram ad posts. It simply turns the average hunter off.
We need to stop doing dumb stuff with animals we harvest. It’s completely disrespectful and childish. This is the biggest issue, in my mind. I will leave it at that, and let these posts by Make Hunting Great Again illustrate what I mean.
It is honestly baffling how anyone would think those pictures are in good taste. What is wrong with people?
What is with the #bowonly movement? If you hunt #bowonly, great. Glad for it. I like bowhunting. I do it for five months out of the year. But do not talk about how much more ethical it is than hunting with a shotgun or rifle. Sure, you need to be closer to the animal and that requires skill (see luck and preparation) and discipline. But just because you are close doesn’t mean you are deadly. Every deer I’ve shot with a gun has been at 60 yds or less, for what it is worth. You know how many turkeys I’ve wounded and not recovered with a bow? Three. You know how many I’ve wounded and not recovered with a shotgun? Zero. Maybe I’m just a bad shot, but I know how easy it is to wound animals with archery equipment. And it stinks.
If you possess the skill and talent to harvest animals with a bow, keep on doing you. But please refrain from lecturing and looking down on those who use science, innovation and technology (guns) to their advantage because you think you are higher and mightier, and an overall better hunter. (Disclaimer: I know a portion of rifle hunters for deer are a different set of humans, killing everything they see no matter what, and I have a disdain for that as well. But don’t lump us together, and we won’t lump you together.)
The rise of so-called “huntresses” is asinine as well. Plenty of qualified, awesome, skilled women hunt and post on social media. They are different from this group. We have pretty, barely-clothed women posing with dead animals, painting their faces like they’re modeling for Cover Girl, and posing with guns to “support the Second Amendment.” Please–they are looking for likes and fame, and that’s it. Your average anti-hunter may get on social media looking for people to attack. As soon as they see these low-hanging fruits, the battle is already over. You cannot defend those posts. As the kids these days say, they are “thirsty for likes.” A vast majority do not give a damn if they hunt or not–they are brand ambassadors and get paid to look cute and take pics like this.
I used to do this, like most people nowadays, but I’ve been #hitlist free for three years now. Naming animals is just dumb. This is a direct result of social media influence, and it is not even up for debate. When hunters are creating a season-long Facebook-post-laden-quest for “Bucky,” people want to replicate it. This isn’t one of the major issues, but it does irritate me. Naming animals makes the hunt seem trivial and like you have total control over “your” herd. I just don’t like it.
“I Would’ve Given Him Another Year”
You post a photo of a great buck on Facebook. People are congratulating you, liking the pic. Then this guy comes in hot with “good deer but I would have given him another year.” Firstly, nobody cares what you think. Your guessing of age structure is probably wrong anyway. Nine times out of ten the buck is very nice. Secondly, why feel the need to backhandedly comment on somebody’s harvest? If you shoot a deer, great job. Who cares what others think on your property.
The “Brown it’s Down” Crew
Listen, I get this may be contradictory at a glance. I get it. I shoot a lot of does. But I’m not talking about people who hunt to eat. There is a sect of the hunting community that shoots every deer they see, no matter of population status on their property. Often times, these are the same hunters who would willingly poach, as well as waste most of the meat (usually only taking the backstraps/tenderloins) on a deer they harvest. This is not acceptable. If you shoot it, eat it. Also, the “you can’t eat bone” folks need to chill, too. If you had the opportunity to harvest a buck over a doe, don’t act like you wouldn’t do it.
These are just some of the issues I, and others, have noticed plaguing our sport. I know people will disagree, and that’s fine. I want to open up some dialogue. We need to become more cohesive. Unfortunately, the ongoing dominance of social media in our lives is helping divide us. It allows fake hunters to infiltrate our sport, and we need to put an end to it.
All photos are property and courtesy of Making Hunting Great Again’s Instagram page. It is a must follow for those fed up!
Ryan Miloshewski is a freelance outdoor writer and co-founder of Mahoney Outdoors online magazine. To contact him, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.