Say It Loud: I Hunt and I’m Proud

posted on May 5, 2022
JTH Say It Loud Lead

A wonderful thing happened on my way to a show in January. It was two shows, actually—the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show and the Safari Club International Annual Hunters’ Convention, two gun-and-outdoor industry trade shows that hadn’t occurred in two years, but that’s not the point. On my way to these shows, I realized I can no longer shrink from who I am or take time to explain it to someone who will never understand my worldview. Just won’t do it. I am as advertised, and I can’t see anything wrong with that.

I acknowledge that we all love, live with, work with and travel among many humans with many points of view besides our own. But at this point in life I am not interested in finding common ground (often with complete strangers) if I can just as easily acknowledge differences and politely move along. What’s more, at this point in life I need (indeed deserve) to line up with someone who agrees with me on a host of issues including the Second Amendment and hunting. So these days, I’m apt to determine where I stand with you sooner than later.

But as if on cue, at one of these trade shows I ran smack dab into a test of my ethos.

On the airliner headed for Vegas, I reflected on what a long two years it’d been since I saw and held so many new products in one place, since I’d seen so much glitz and fanfare, since I’d communed with so many friends. I felt good.

Nights usually found the crowd I belong to around a certain watering hole. One night, a woman overheard my conversation (sometimes political) with a new friend and butted in: “Oh, c’mon, stop talking like that. Let’s have fun,” she said. I thought she was saying “stop talking politics” but she wasn’t. Indeed I was caught off guard as this woman interjected herself in my conversation and my new friend faded from sight. Now mind you, nobody had invited her. Nonetheless I found myself locked in a debate with a “newer, younger” member of the SHOT community who had a unique perspective regarding who-should-own-and-hunt-with-what and blah, blah, blah, and she wanted to split hairs about gun control. By now she’d figured out she knew me. I had no idea who she was, and I learned I didn’t care. What I did know was she was struggling with some aspects of gun ownership—and that’s OK. But what is not OK is thinking you’re going to turn the tide “from the inside.”

After what seemed an eternity (but likely was an hour) I cut her off. “I don’t want to spend another moment on this debate,” I said. “I don’t agree with the ‘nuance’ you’re peddling. It doesn’t fly. Look around you this week. Ninety-eight percent of the people here don’t agree with you. They don’t want to hear any of this. Enough.”

In the end I was harsh. I couldn’t help myself. This woman had caught me at a moment in my life (amid a pandemic mind-set that won’t end!) when recent events caused me to reflect on my makeup. I won’t endure another inane conversation with anyone who thinks he or she can sway me, a gun owner and hunter, a former Marine and NRA Life member, to some “open-minded” position about my gun vote. The Second Amendment is not about hunting. Hunting is as old as humankind. Humans need to hunt, and the environment needs hunters. If it’s poaching it’s law breaking and we must stop it, but if it’s hunting it must be legal and I’m for it. I bleed camouflaged gun oil. If you can’t agree that I am allowed to harbor these positions but lead my life in civil liberty then we really have nothing to discuss.

Once upon a time I would have avoided such an hour of debate.

It was September 2004, and I was boarding a flight to Seattle to make a connection to Fairbanks to hunt moose in Alaska. The Republican National Convention in New York had just nominated George W. Bush to run for a second term in the White House. As I stowed my gear, I noted the woman who would be my only other seatmate in a row of three was bouncing around like a jumping bean. She leaned over the back of her window seat, calling out to companions nearby. I heard soundbites I recognized; I realized they were all members of the Service Employees International Union returning to Seattle, and they were shouting out their favorite quotes from Democrats. Evidently they were returning from New York, where I assume they must’ve protested the Republican Convention.

I thought, “Don’t say a word.” Just then a fellow passed me on the way to his seat.

“Don’t I know you?” he asked. “Don’t you work at a hunting magazine?”

“Uhh, I don’t know,” I replied. It was a six-hour flight to Seattle. I didn’t want my seatmate to understand I couldn’t possibly agree with anything she would say. I didn’t want the hassle. (Later, I slipped back to this fellow and had a short conversation with him where I learned he was indeed an AH reader—thanks for your support, wherever you are today.)

That won’t happen again. I’ll suffer the consequences if I must. But I feel I must exclaim what I stand for the way lefties blurt out their allegiances. It’s time we all stood up for ourselves. So nowadays I’m apt to tell you exactly who I am and what I do right up front. Might as well get on with it. Let’s see how this goes.

Oh, I’ll try not to be angry or spiteful or condescending when I do so. Don’t need to be. Remember hunters are a unique lot. We make up just 3 percent of Americans. But all the same, no nation sports a number of hunters like the good ol’ USA. So let people know you’re a hunter. Let people know you side with self-defense. Let people know you understand civics, and you won’t be cowed. Maybe a new recruit will witness your act and be compelled to approach you. One thing’s for sure: We’ll never grow our ranks unless we feel free to tell everyone we hunt and we’re proud of what we do.

From now on, when invited (or goaded) to debate conservatism vs. socialism, to debate some “reasonable” gun control or whether predators should be hunted, I’ll decline just as soon as I figure out neither of us will win. “No, thank you. I will not engage.” I can’t possibly agree that any form of forced school of thought will lead to anything but ruin. Think of my position not as militant but as a vestige of strength. I acknowledge who I am and what I am.

So don’t be ashamed to be a hunter—don’t ever be ashamed. From now on, I’m following my own advice. 


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