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

Best Whitetail Shot Placement with a Rifle

Best Whitetail Shot Placement with a Rifle

Craig Boddington breaks down where hunters should aim on a whitetail that provides the best possible margin for error.

Fare Game: Venison Cheeseburger Bites

Fare Game: Venison Cheeseburger Bites

If you're tired of the same old jalapeno and cream cheese poppers, here's a completely different take on the popular party appetizer. Easy to make, and incredibly delicious, these mini cheeseburgers, wrapped in bacon, make the perfect one-bite-fits-all snack for your next tailgate party or hunting camp.

Is That a Grizzly Bear?

Is That a Grizzly Bear?

Kevin Steele and Jason Morton are above the Arctic Circle pursuing grizzly bears in Alaska and put a stalk on what they believe is a good one.

.500 S&W vs. the King of the Beasts

.500 S&W vs. the King of the Beasts

Smith & Wesson's Tony Miele and host Kevin Steele track an African lion across the Kalahari for the ultimate handgun showdown with the King of the Beasts.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Learn what freezer burn is, how it occurs, and how to slow it down with these tips. Recipes

Why Freezer Burn Matters

Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley

Learn what freezer burn is, how it occurs, and how to slow it down with these tips.

Learn how to grill the perfect medium-rare venison steak with these tips and tricks. Recipes

Venison Grilling Tips

Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley

Learn how to grill the perfect medium-rare venison steak with these tips and tricks.

These trail cameras feature the latest wireless technology. Optics

The Best Cellular Trail Cameras for 2020

Tony J. Peterson - July 09, 2020

These trail cameras feature the latest wireless technology.

A new wave of allergies threatens to turn hunters into vegetarians. News

The Ticks Making Hunters Allergic to Meat

David Hart

A new wave of allergies threatens to turn hunters into vegetarians.

See More Trending Articles

More Conservation

Coyote contests are under fire from anti-hunting organizations. Conservation

Anti Efforts to Ban Predator Hunting on the Rise

David Hart - August 26, 2019

Coyote contests are under fire from anti-hunting organizations.

The new requirement is now being enforced statewide. Conservation

California's Lead-Free Ammo Regulations

Andrew McKean - December 11, 2019

The new requirement is now being enforced statewide.

In 2018 the federal government paid farmers to open their gates to hunters. Conservation

Private-Land Access Programs for Public Hunting

Andrew McKean - July 17, 2020

In 2018 the federal government paid farmers to open their gates to hunters.

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.

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