Dealing with Hunter Harassment
If you have been hunting for any length of time, you have probably come across some pushback from non-hunters or hunter harassment. This pushback can take many forms, from a friend who doesn’t get your obsession to a stranger verbally harassing you for hunting. In any case, it is important for hunters to be prepared for pushback and understand how to respond to criticism and hunter harassment.
Be Prepared for Hunter Harassment
Preparation starts with understanding why you hunt, have a few reasons that are important to you. It’s not always possible to explain to a non-hunter the intricacies of wildlife management or how you contribute to conservation. It is more practical to be relatable to lend credibility to what you are doing. Think about things like providing for your family, or creating a relaxing escape from your everyday life. These are things that everyone is searching for. Try to discuss how hunting is your pathway to these goals.
Respond to Hunter Harassment
The second aspect of responding to pushback is to understand where non-hunters are coming from. Non-hunters are can be uninformed on exactly what hunting looks like. Often their concerns center around safety or humane treatment of animals. If you encounter someone in the field concerned for their safety try to explain your game plan. Talk about how you expect to harvest an animal and explain your shot selection process based on safety. When you are confronted with someone that has concerns about animal cruelty, explain the basics of fair chase. Convey your reverence for the quarry and discuss the time, effort, and failures that surround each successful harvest.
Represent the sport
The final and perhaps most important aspect of responding to criticism is to remember what you represent. Any time you are wearing hunting clothing or carrying your equipment you are the face of hunting. In most states, there are laws intended to protect hunters from targeted harassment. Understand these laws but also understand that quoting them in the field is not likely to diffuse a situation. Never lose your composure and if the discussion turns to a confrontation be the first to walk away. If you are the only hunter someone interacts with and they leave with a bad impression of you, they leave with a negative perception of hunting. Certain people will always be anti-hunting and that’s ok. It is more important to take people who are undecided on how they feel about hunting and help them understand its value.