By Alex Comstock
Lately, I've taken notice to something alarming within the deer hunting community. Every time I see it, I cringe, and it's something I've wanted to write about for some time now, but I haven't found the right words to phrase it. I've decided that it's time to go for it, and shoot from the hip, but I'm going to attempt to explain it in the best way that I can.
The hunting community is tight knit, and small. Based on the percentage of Americans that deer hunt, there is a really a small number of us. If I had to guess, there's probably more anti-hunters in the world than there are deer hunters. Except right now, I don't think anti-hunters are as much of a problem as what I'm going to try and get at. And that's hunters that bash other hunters. It's the guy/gal that sits at their computer, and attacks fellow hunters from behind a keyboard about how so and so shouldn't have shot a small buck or complaining about how they'd be able to shoot a big buck too if they owned great property. It's tiring to see all of the negativity online, and within social media. And quite honestly, it's not needed.
When I first started this website, I knew I wanted to write about things that I was knowledgeable about, and topics that were important to me. I don't want this blog post to turn into a rant, but with that said, I think there are things that need to be addressed that most people just don't talk about enough.
Social Media: For the most part, I love social media. Social media allows me to promote this blog, it more or less is the reason I'm employed, and there are a lot of positives to it. But, it gives some people power that they don't use in a positive way. Almost like cyber bullying, a person can sit back and comment on photos or start fights on Facebook or Instagram that are simply unnecessary. If you are a hunter, WHY on earth would you ever feel the need to comment on somebody's picture of a buck they just harvested telling them that's not good deer management if you think it's too small. What really makes me mad is when people feel the need to project what they think is right on to everybody else. Everyone is entitled to shoot what they want, and that's what makes hunting so great.
What else is remarkable to me is when somebody posts a simple question in a group, and it turns into a blood bath. For example, somebody might post a question about broadheads, asking what people like, and what they would recommend. That should elicit simple answers such as "I've been shooting rage for years and love them" or "I've found my muzzy's have been dependable for as long as I've hunted." But instead, one person will comment about how they like rages, and the next will comment back talking about how rage's suck so much, and nobody should ever shoot them. And then a big argument ensues. Think about what the original person who started the thread is thinking. Not only does their question not get answered, but the stupid, senseless argument is just a big waste of time. If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it at all.
"The High Fencer": This is another one that really makes me shake my head. It usually goes something like this. A big wig hunter will post a picture of their giant buck, and instead of everybody giving them congratulations, I'll scroll through comments and see "high fence", "If I owned that property, I'd shoot big bucks too!", "You're not even a good hunter, you just have good land!" In most cases, I'd wish people would do their homework. Most of those hunters that own a lot of land, and can manage it how they want have worked their way to that point. They've put in their time over decades, and are now reaping the benefits of hard work. They weren't just born in the middle of a giant farm filled with booners. At the core of this problem is jealousy. And that's just my opinion. If you want to be shooting giant bucks, or own a lot of land, work hard. Work hard for a long time, and maybe one day you can reap the benefits as well.
Trespassers/Thieves: I'm not sure if this category is part of this whole topic, but I'm going to include it anyway. If you're a hunter and are intentionally trespassing or stealing from another hunter, I've got one question - what is wrong with you? As hunters, we should all be supporting one another. When I see a trail camera or treestand on public land, I usually wave to the camera, and mark it as a spot to not hunt in the immediate future. When it comes to private land, there are times you may make an honest mistake, and cross a property boundary and end up on someone else's property and you notice that a trail cam captures your photo. Don't steal it! Either leave a note apologizing or figure out who the landowner is, and go talk to them and let them know what the deal was. We all make mistakes, but don't turn a good honest mistake into stealing something, it's just not right. There are enough anti-hunters out there stealing treestands and trail cameras, hunters should have other hunters back, and not be adding to the problem.
What We Can Do About it: Support other hunters. Be positive on social media. If you disagree with somebody, don't start an argument, but be willing to give your take on something, and listen to what others have to say. It's not going to change overnight, but through being positive, and supporting other hunters, we can start to reduce the amount of bashing. It's really a simple concept.
Conclusion: At the end of the day, there are enough issues caused by non-hunters in the hunting realm. We've got bigger issues to be dealing with such as public lands transfers, people wanting to ban guns, and then there are other issues that need to be addressed such as CWD, EHD, and others. Deer hunting should always be something enjoyable, and everybody has their own goals with it. Lets support one another, and stop bashing others. With all of the other aforementioned issues, hunters bashing other hunters shouldn't even have to be discussed. Whether you think about it or not, it can hurt people, and cause people to not want to hunt. That should never happen as we need as many hunters in the world as possible. One person at a time, we can start to change things.