Thursday, March 14, 2013

Hate Mail

     Using social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, as well as blogging and writing this column, I have had my share of hate mail for what I do.  Of course, what I do is hunt and fish and spend time with family, friends, and others in the outdoors.  For instance, one of the things I love to do is bowfish.   I have several videos up on YouTube featuring bowfishing.  In fact, one has nearly 700,000 views.  But apparently, Europe doesn’t think much of bowfishing.  So, almost daily, I get notifications of where someone has attempted to post something really nasty about the sport.
     Don’t get me wrong, I am pretty open-minded.  I understand there are people that will disagree with certain aspects of different styles and types of hunting and fishing.  But I do not think the proper way to express an opinion should be laced with words that would make the devil blush.
     There are many that only believe in catch and release.  I tend to fall on this style of fishing for the most part, but not for any special reason other than I am not a big fish eater.  My grandfather had a rule at his pond where I grew up.  If you catch a fish, throw it back unless you are either going to eat it or mount it.  Made perfectly good sense to me.
     Sometimes, there are things that are instigated between the different styles that were only to get in-fighting between the different outdoorsmen.  A good example of this is the supposed battle between bowhunters, crossbow hunters, gun hunters, dog hunters and bear hunters.  I could go off a completely different topic based on the previous sentence except one of my goals with this column is to share information on different outdoor activities that bond.  If something strikes one’s fancy, then hopefully it will promote that person to learn more and become active in the sport.  Another goal of this column is to hopefully bring back one’s own memories of their own adventures so they will share their experiences with others.
     Last year I interviewed a lady from Michigan on what turned out to be an adventure of a lifetime.  She became the first lady to take a certain animal with a bow.  She endured extreme environmental conditions in the process.  It was a great story.  Unfortunately, it was a story I had to pull before I could get it out to each of the outlets I had worked on.
     Shortly after I ran the story locally, she began to get hate mail.  Not just regular hate mail, but hate mail that threatened her life.  Her employer was threatened with boycotts unless she was terminated.  She called me in tears one day asking what she could do.  I tried to help her and found a group on Facebook that had posted her picture (from a different interview) and targeted her.  After much research, we eventually found a blogger for a newspaper in Canada was the origination of the attacks.  It was filled with vile comments and threats towards her.  We contacted the newspaper and they apologized for any problems and admitted they did not read over the blog posts he was putting up.
     I mention all this only because I received an email this week from a reader.  While it was not nearly as bad as some I have seen I felt it deserves a response.  Not because they were right, nor because I want to ‘show them up’ in a public forum.  Actually, it is quite the opposite.
     Steven Rinella, author and host of Meateater and recent featured guest at the Dixie Deer Classic in Raleigh had a confrontation with an anti-hunter at one of his book signings.  The gentleman phrased his question in a way to introduce the words ‘murder innocent animals’ which can quickly turn someone on the defensive.  Rinella kept his cool and answered.  He explained how the whole anti-hunting movement has only come about in the last few decades.  That being the case, not hunting is as much against human nature as anything.
 
Mr. Howard,
I was shocked and sickened to see the photograph of you and your son carrying the dead bodies of what was once a beautiful and graceful pair of swans slung over your shoulders like sacks of potatoes. My Cherokee forbears hunted, yes--to feed their families, but not for the "thrill" of the kill. You are kidding yourself and fooling no one when you say, "The beauty of God's canvas with you being an integral but non-invasive part of it, that's really the goal." Non-invasive? REALLY?? I can't think of anything more invasive than a bullet puncturing my heart or my brain and taking my life. Be careful: When you invoke God's name and bring Him into things, He will be a force to be reckoned with. He is your judge, I am not. But I am the judge of newspapers and what I will pay my money for the privilege of reading and supporting.
With all the cuts and "improvements" going on in the media, we need columns like this? I think not.
     Now, my response is nothing magical; nothing philosophical that will one day be Hemingway-ish.  It is simply this.  I will never convince someone that is adamant about the way they feel to feel something different.  I am ok with that.  I was brought up that if you stand for something, stand firmly, but keep your eyes open.  Try to understand where the other party is coming from rather than combat it.  Therefore I am thankful for the letter.  You took a stand.
     This column is my stand.  I believe hunting and fishing and camping and hiking are all great character builders.  I learn as much from sitting in a stand all day and seeing nothing as I learn from catching fish all day on the river.  These activities build bonds, trust, and memories.  And these activities are both legal, ethical, and morale.  There are other activities out there as well, but this is not a column on building train sets or playing baseball.  This is one on the outdoors.  And if one day you wish to see what I do and how it can influence someone positively, I am available and will be more than happy to take you hunting or fishing.
 

4 comments:

  1. Good article, Bill. We won't change their minds, but we can and will stand our ground. Kudos.

    Genesis 27:3 - Now therefore take, I pray thee, thy weapons, thy quiver and thy bow, and go out to the field, and take me some venison.

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  2. Dang, I don't even really know how to comment on this one. There's too much to say. I used to have issues with hunting until I met more hunters and actually talked to them about it. It's not like all hunters advertise their love for killing things. Many respect wildlife and the animals hey hunt more than the average person. What bothers me the most about that letter was the God comments. No one has the right to tell people how they will be judged.

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  3. I have given up trying to explain the business of killing to those who only eat mass-farmed fatty meat and pretend they are not also part of killing something. I explained to a vegetarian once that I hunted on several organic farms, which basically kept the price of her fresh, organic produce down. It brought her into the "killing circle" as well.

    The exchange of calories is not a pretty thing. To pretend otherwise and to pretend to be above it is pretentious, hypocritical, and a bit foolish. Sure, we can be more humane. We can make decisions that require us to kill less (I'm thinking primarily of death via habitat destruction here). But that's a subjective matter.

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