By Alex Comstock
In our latest Q&A, I interviewed two professional photographers in Steven Drake and Sam Soholt. It was one of our best pieces on WhitetailDNA (you can read it by clicking HERE) and it inspired this blog post. It's something I've been thinking a lot about lately, and that's the declination in the number of hunters. We'll be having a more in depth piece coming soon about the declining number of hunters, and what we can do about it, but one thing I wanted to bring up now was the fact that we as hunters need to make sure we're portraying hunting in a positive light at all times, and not just focusing on the kill. The reason I brought up our previous Q&A is because this was talked about a lot. Not only should we focus on more than just the kill, but whenever you post something online or on social media, you should be thinking about how people would view that if they are non-hunters.
With the recent decline in number of hunters, we as hunters and sportsman need to do everything we can to help turn the trend back to gaining as many hunters as possible. In my mind, there are a few different groups of people in the world. There are the hunters, anti-hunters, and simply non-hunters. There is a big difference between anti-hunters and non-hunters that I think sometimes gets forgotten. Anti-hunters are so far off that they will disapprove and not agree with anything we as hunters do. But, much more importantly (and there's a larger number of these people in the world than anti-hunters) is the group of non-hunters. These are people that for whatever reason don't hunt, but they probably don't have anything against hunting. The more of these people we can get into hunting, the better.
Part of this puzzle is how we as hunters portray the life of hunting and to show respect to the animals we harvest. So imagine this scenario. You just shot a buck and are absolutely pumped about it. Let's say there's a lot of blood on the animal, blood coming out of the nose, etc. If you snap a quick photo and post it on social media with the tongue hanging out and blood everywhere, most hunters aren't really going to care. But, more importantly, those who don't hunt that see that - well there's a much higher chance of that photo making them disgusted or turn them off, which could negate the chances of them ever hunting in their life.
On the other hand, you can still be excited and pumped up, but take a minute to clean up the deer before taking a photo that you want to post online. It doesn't take much. Clean up the blood, tuck the tongue in, and then take a nice photo. Contrary to the above scenario, now when a non-hunter sees this photo, they are way less likely to be turned off. They might become curious, and if are pushed in the right direction, could even take up hunting one day. You may never know it, but the simple act of cleaning up your harvest could make an impact.
The other part of this equation is everything else that goes into hunting that non-hunters may not realize. Killing an animal isn't the only part of hunting. There's so much more that goes into it, and so much more that we celebrate. The camaraderie, time spent with friends and family, the trips, memories made, and it could go on and on. Any way you can talk about all the "other stuff" that goes into hunting, and portray that in the positive way that it is can be important. This year if you find yourself in a crazy situation that hunting put you in, take a photo of that and post it explaining what you're doing. The more you can talk about and show that relates to hunting, but reaches a larger audience than just hunters can help us reach those non-hunters and spark their interest in taking up hunting.
Portraying hunting positively is immensely important. With the reach and power of social media these days, a single negative image that seems to disrespect an animal can go viral, and that one post can give the impression that's how all hunters are. Be cognoscente of how you portray hunting. You doing it in a positive way can have a great impact on the future of hunting.