Boddington: Irrational Antis Reserve Special Hate for Women

Donna, Brittany, Caroline & Craig Boddington with Caroline's first gemsbuck shot at about 280 yards on Caroline's first Safari in the Karoo, South Africa, 2013, with John X Safaris.

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.

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