Have you ever considered what a non-hunter thinks when they scroll through a hunter’s Instagram or Facebook feed? In today’s society, any engagement with hunters from either non-hunters or anti-hunters and the forward-facing representation of who we are comes through social media, and unfortunately, it’s where hunting is either going to survive and thrive or it’s going to die.
You see, as hunters, we have a story to tell. A story of adventure. A story of pain. A story of how hunting is helping us deal with some really heavy mental demons. A story of how a child with little confidence blossoms when put in the outdoor environment and is hunting. However, none of that matters when tasteless photos dominate the explore feature of Instagram or Facebook and are being promoted by hunting pages and forums; photos such as a selfie taken with an animal’s blood-covered body and their tongue hanging out or a waterfowl hunter biting the beak of a bird they just shot, and even the extreme of those who pose half naked next to their harvest. Why do such images proliferate? Why with the advent of every hunting season does a new “trend” emerge that paints hunters in a bad light? It makes me shake my head as a hunter, asking myself what they are thinking.
Unfortunately, that’s the crux of the matter. It’s just that, hunters are not thinking anymore before posting. It’s because of a lack of thought. The thought process is how cool am I going to look in the eyes of other hunters? Rather, they should be asking, what would a non-hunter think when they saw this? Let’s be honest, even though you as a hunter watch that, deep inside, you cringe. A non-hunter doesn’t cringe, they just see disrespect. That perception of disrespect is going to proverbially kill hunting.
What if hunters were forced to consider the very simple question of whether this post will help or hurt hunting? What would happen? First, it would make hunters think. More thinking means more conscious thought, which means likely less idiotic posts being put into the public domain. Second, if they do decide to post, they likely will add more context and comment to that post, maybe explaining and educating the people seeing the post to the reason for why they do it.
Let’s enter 2021 with a new mindset, one that constantly asks what the face of hunting looks like in the public domain. A mindset that constantly challenges those around you to think. A mindset that asks the question, does what I am about to do, what I am about to post, help or hurt hunting? It’s so simple of a directive, but one that will immediately steer the rudder of perception off to the side and start turning the course of what non- hunters think we are as hunters and what hunting actually is.