December 01, 2022
Just when I thought people couldn’t be any dumber, this year’s hunting season rolls around and proves me wrong. And not only are some hunters doing stupid stuff, but they’re documenting it all on social media just for the likes. I call it killing for clout, and if it continues, it’ll be the end of hunting as we know it. Read that last sentence again.
Does it sound like a Doomsday prediction? I’m not usually one to make such apocalyptic claims, but man, things have gone from bad to worse recently—way, way worse. Think I’m being a bit too reactionary?
Let’s look at a few examples: A well-known hunting “celebrity” (God, I hate using that word) shot a bull elk with is bow. As the mortally wounded elk stood there dying, the hunter decided it would be a good idea to not only video the bull in its final moments, but to record it in selfie mode, with the elk over his shoulder while he smiled and celebrated. The clip was posted to Instagram where it got thousands of views and plenty of comments from other dumb people exclaiming “Awesome,” “Killer video” and “Sick!”.
Another leading member of a very popular outdoor media brand posted a series of photos documenting the result of a poor shot he made with his bow. Instead of hitting the elk in the vitals, the arrow penetrated the rear ham and traveled through the body cavity to, purportedly, “clip the back of a lung.” The hunter, who has 255,000 Instagram followers, admitted to taking the shot at a steep quartering away angle, but says the bull lunged at the shot. He never once admits that the bull’s subsequent 20 minutes of suffering might be his fault for taking such a low-percentage shot with a bow. Instead, he was widely praised by his 255,000 sycophant followers for being brave enough to blame the animal for reacting to the shot.
Luckily, one of the dumbest things I saw on social media this fall was posted by an unknown hunter with just a few followers. Still, it’s worth noting just how far hunters will go to kill for clout. On a DIY Alaska hunt, this person hiked for nine “grueling” hours to take a 580-yard shot on his first caribou. After starting to pack the backstraps, a front shoulder and the bull’s rack, he realized he may have made a mistake. No, the mistake wasn’t just breaking the law by removing the rack from the field before the rest of the meat. Instead, he was far from camp, in the dark, in grizzly country alone, with no shelter. With “diminished spirit,” he hit the SOS button on his satellite communicator and was promptly “rescued” by the Coast Guard.
Rescued from what, I’m still not sure. But I’m glad my tax dollars could save his “diminished spirit.”
Now, I wasn’t there—maybe he was in grave danger. But a night spent on the tundra, in relatively mild temperatures isn’t necessarily deadly. Uncomfortable? Yes. More than a little unnerving? Probably. But I have done this same hunt several times—been weathered in for days and stalked by grizzlies—and most of the time my spirit was diminished. It’s an incredibly tough hunt, but also incredibly rewarding when you do complete the mission at hand.
The hunter admitted to being humbled by Alaska—that’s the good news. The bad news: By posting the story to Instagram he did all other hunters a huge disservice. Locals have long derided nonresident caribou hunters, claiming we only hunt for horns and wrongly blaming us for declining herd numbers. Most recently, they were successful in shutting down two huge units in northern Alaska to non-subsistence hunters—banning us from our federal public lands with zero evidence supporting their argument. But now they’ve got this evidence and more—handed to them on an Instagram-engraved silver platter by dumb, and unethical, hunters killing for clout and posting about it all over social media.
So, you still think social media won’t kill hunting? How many more examples do you need?
P.S. There are several organizations working hard to save hunting, including Safari Club International. SCI does more than just celebrate exotic hunting destinations. It also works hard on the local, state and national level to advance hunter’s rights here at home, from lobbying lawmakers on important issues to promoting new-hunter recruitment and more.