Thursday, March 19, 2009

Conversations with an anti-hunter

She called me evil.

I called her stupid and naive.

And thus, ingloriously, our conversation was born.

Read more...I got two pieces of hate email last week after the Sacramento Bee published my story about spring turkey season. That's not bad at all, really - I got far more fan mail.

But as prepared as I was, it still pissed me off, so I responded to both of them.

One woman - and yes, they were both women - fired back at me with a cut-and-paste from Humane Society of the United States propaganda about hunting.

Oh really, honey? Don't play with me. At least change the fonts and pretend you thought it up yourself. Smack, done, end of conversation.

But the other one? She was more interesting. Here's how it started:

Excerpt from J's email to me: "... As a human being I find you to be despicable and pathetic. The elation and joy you feel when you coldly kill is a sign that you lack all elements of compassion and hope. Your public pride in hunting is a sad and transparent way of justifying your evilness. The animals whose lives you take are not capable of evil or malice. I wish I could say the same for you and those like you."

Ouch! Lack compassion and hope? For the love of God, I cry when I watch presidential inaugurations because I love the peaceful transfer of power. I nurse robins who smack into my kitchen window. I salute ducks who make a fool of me by flying right through my blind. I beat myself up over bad shots.

Excerpt from my email to J: " ... do you actually know anything about wildlife, such as the fact that animals commit 'evil' acts against one another all the time, whether it’s bucks bludgeoning each other to death to win mating rights, or drake mallards gang-raping hens, sometimes to the point where they die? Not to mention the simple fact that animals eat other animals every day of the year, because that’s how this planet works – life sustains life.

"And did you spend any time reading my blog, or did you just rush to find my email address so you could (pass) judgment? Wait, I know the answer to that one. You did not, or you never would have made that stupid comment about compassion.

"It really doesn’t trouble me that you believe it’s wrong to kill and eat animals. I’m fine with you making that choice. I have publicly saluted vegetarians and vegans many times. It is only your na├»ve and ill-informed opinions that offend me."

Take that!

Excerpt from J's response: "The fact that some animals are thought to commit 'evil' acts does not change the fact that you kill for the pure pleasure of it. While I hold no degree higher than a BS, I do understand that life does sustain life in nature. However, I have yet to witness an animal (except the human ones!) load a gun and blast another animal away for pure joy.

"What I don't understand is why someone (yes I'm going to say it), ESPECIALLY a woman, would betray her life giving nature and kill for the elation. That sickens me! I am aware that a lot of people hunt, and I just can't even come close to understanding how you can sit there and wait with eager and titillating anticipation to blow away a clueless animal. I completely don't get it. I just can't imagine that as pleasure.

"You are right. I spent no time reading your blog. Nothing you say would change my opinion of the sport of hunting anyway."

OK, crap. So here's the deal about that story: When I wrote it, I said twice what I think is the most important thing non-hunters need to hear: that we hunt for food. This is not thrill killing.

But I also made a conscious decision to make no bones about how I feel when I am successful. My tale of last spring's turkey hunt ended with these two sentences: "I pulled the trigger, and down he went. I was relieved and elated."

I could've elaborated ad nauseum that I was relieved because he'd died instantly, and that is my holy grail. No suffering. Just no more. But I chose not to because this story wasn't about my personal emotions about hunting; it was about spring turkey season.

In retrospect now, I could see that adding "relieved he died instantly, without suffering" would not have hurt.

Not that I was going to admit that, though.

Excerpt from my response to J: "OK, you are still missing the point. I told you I’m fine with you believing it’s wrong to kill and eat animals. I respect vegans. ...

"What’s silly is you thinking you can assess my capacity for compassion while deliberately avoiding any information that you could use to properly assess that. Had you read my blog at all – had you read the post from the day before that story came out – you would see that I put enormous thought and honest self-evaluation into what I do all the time. I even spend a lot of time exploring and writing about why I enjoy hunting – what is it about a pursuit that ends in death that is so innately pleasurable to the predator? I’m not stupid – I know it seems weird to anyone who’s never done it. I think about it a lot, because I myself started hunting only two years ago."

J back to me: "You think that I am missing your point and I think you are missing my point. Maybe this makes us even. I do not remember ever having 'confronted' someone like this - it's not my nature, and I am intelligent enough to understand that no one changes their mind about something in which they strongly believe. I thank you for responding, though, as civilized dialogue in never a waste of time.

"... I read the 'Thoughts on Hunting' section of your blog and tried to have an open mind. Honestly, your statement that you hate suffering both heartened and baffled me. I was shocked, really, that a hunter would state that she hates suffering.

" ... I do judge you, yes. There is no denying that. However, I am not stereotyping you and am not sure why you would say that except to strike back. Fair enough, but did you really expect to write about your elation when you shoot the life out of a turkey and have people (maybe I am the only one, joke is on me, then) not take issue? Through this dialogue I have come a bit closer to seeing some humanity behind a hunter. Your bird rescue story was nice, but I still just do not get how someone who cares enough to cry over and feel for a wounded bird can lie in wait for a wild animal and mercilessly take its life for the thrill."

Oh boy, yeah, I'm well aware of that issue.

Me back to J: "I recognize the inconsistency of crying over a robin one day and killing pheasants two days later. But I know I am not alone in the animal kingdom. I see extreme tenderness in my cats’ behavior, and I watch them (one of them, anyway) delight in hunting and killing.

" ... Yes, I was well aware that the 'elated' line would piss off people like you. I would’ve loved to explain the complex feelings about the kill, especially that kill. I was thrilled that I got a turkey, but most thrilled of all that it died instantly, zero suffering. But this story wasn’t about me; it was about turkey hunting. And while I often feel sadness with a kill, or relief with a perfect kill, I’m not going to lie when I’m happy about it. And I certainly won’t lie about the fact that hunting is deeply satisfying.

"The hard part is I don’t know if anyone can understand without actually doing it. Funny thing is, I actually do understand where you’re coming from, because my opinion of hunters used to be just like yours. Until I tried it. Of course, I would never recommend that someone like you hunt – it’s obviously against your nature. All I ask is that you consider it’s far more complex than you realize, and it sounds like you’ve done that, for which I’m grateful."


J back to me: "Holly, I have learned from this exchange. It is obvious to me now that you put great thought and consideration into what you do. While I still think that is probably exceedingly rare for hunters, it heartens me that your type is out there armed with the written word. ... Maybe your work will help change the mindset of the folks who are out there lacking regard, respect, and compassion for wild animals. You are more on 'my side' than I assumed. I apologize for jumping to conclusions about you personally. Thank you for reading my thoughts and taking the time to respond."

Me to J: "Thank you for bearing with me while we worked from being testy with one another to communicating a little better. ... And thank you for reminding me how we look to non-hunters. I do know; I do remember. But there’s a difference between talking about how non-hunters see us, and talking with a non-hunter. I really appreciate the opportunity."

So the interesting thing about all this is that J still doesn't like hunting, and I still do, but while we started out trading blows, we were (figuratively) sharing a cup of tea by the time it was over. It was such a female discussion.

Does it matter, though, if we didn't change each other's minds?

I think it does. When you work on the assumption that your enemies are driven by evil, no compromise is possible. J bent a lot. She will think twice before calling another hunter evil.

And I will think twice before assuming every anti-hunter is a naive idiot.

And I will sure as hell remember that the people who fight us tooth and nail see us just like J did. Just paying lip service to our humanity and compassion will never be enough - we have to walk the walk, publicly, all the time.

© Holly A. Heyser 2009


Native said...

Excellent exchange Holly,
I personally, have learned a great deal from this particular post.

I do strongly believe that human beings, and in particular, humans who participate in the sport of hunting, simply do not know how to articulate their emotions properly so that another person understands what they are feeling.

This particular post has done just that!

The two of you were able to be civil and express your emotions,opinions and philosophies without too much name calling.

I do know that scientific evidence has proven that lack of the "B complex" vitamins" in a humans diet eventually leads to several mental disfunction's.
Eating "only" vegetables does not get enough of the essential fatty acids into the human system to keep the brain functioning properly.

The "only" source of those essential nutrients, and enzymes in the amounts needed to sustain proper levels in human brain development is:MEAT!

Any pill or drink which contains the "B" vitamins within, the vitamins themselves are made from a "meat derivative" so if someone thinks that he or she is not eating meat by supplementing with such an alternative, think again!
T. Michael Riddle

SimplyOutdoors said...

I think this was a very nice and healthy exchange. And while it started off very standoffish, I think it came full circle, and ultimately gave her a little different perspective of hunters: that we aren't blood thirsty killers.

I think if all of us hunters took the time just to have one conversation like this a year, it would put us leaps and bounds ahead when it comes to how our image is perceived in public.

Nice job again, Holly. I really think that you, and all of us outdoor bloggers, are doing a world of good.

Even if it's only one person at a time.

Holly Heyser said...

And sometimes, one person at a time is what it takes. You just reminded me about something I read in that "Future of Hunting" report last summer: People who personally know hunters have a better opinion of hunting than those who don't.

And Michael, we did talk about J's diet and mine (I omitted segments of our conversation in this blog post to keep focused and keep the length down), and she seemed very sensible; she occasionally eats some "animal products" (meaning probably not a strict vegan), and she feeds her children animal products because she knows their growing bodies need it. I respect that.

I told her that Hank and I have nothing but wild game and pastured farm animals (or their eggs) in our house, and that we've made that choice for a reason. Or three reasons, actually: Our health, our consciences and our environment.

Blessed said...

This is an excellent exchange - thank you for sharing part of it here.

One other comment about the "Future of Hunting" report - even though I have never been opposed to hunting or thought that hunters were heartless people... I do know that my thoughts and opinions of what hunters were probably like changed for the better after I met some hunters and found that most of them were a lot more conscientious and thoughtful than I had originally assumed. Once I became a hunter I really began to understand hunters.

Dan said...


This piece characterizes exactly why I check your blog daily.

You put into words, what many of us can't express effectively. The joy, the sorrow and the deep inner struggle that resides inside each hunter.

I still dream over a bad shot and a lost deer from 15 years ago. It drives me to self analyze, question and ultimately, makes me a better hunter.

It’s hard to explain the feelings hunters have for animals. On the one hand, I spend a good portion of my life hunting animals, on the other; I rescue them when they are in trouble. My house has 4 dogs and 3 cats and the occasional stray waiting for an owner.

To J, thank you for your willingness to understand an alien position. The way you feel about hunting is the way I feel about golf and golf courses. What a waste of habitat.

Anonymous said...

Well done, Holly. It's hard to maintain your temper, stay objective, and be constructive in a discussion like that...especially when you're dealing with the ridiculous buzzwords like "evil" and "cruel". It's hard when someone thinks they can judge you with no other context than their own preconceptions... I mean, how do you defend against that?

It's a shame when folks are so disconnected from the real world and nature that they forget that we're nothing more than animals ourselves... albeit with this dangerous ability to rationalize and pass judgement.

Glad to see she was able to at least reconsider her opinion of you as a hunter, even if her general opinion wasn't necessarily changed. It's no small thing to challenge someone's deeply held preconceptions and show them that their "enemy" is just as human as they are.

Anonymous said...

Very good. I had a similar exchange last fall with an anti-hunter with similar results.

In the beginning, it was hard to control my temper, but I had to remind myself that had I had a different upbringing, my outlook would probably be totally different.

Great post, and thanks for "sticking to your guns". We need more like you.

Tom Sorenson said...

Very strong conversation. You're an excellent person to represent the hunting community and I think J would be surprised to find that a great many of us hunters do put the thought into it as you do - you just are able to express it so well.

The hunting community got a huge lift when you joined our ranks - thanks again.

Holly Heyser said...

Dan, it's interesting that you bring up habitat. In the brief exchange with the other woman, that was the only thing we agreed on - that ever expanding human development was indeed a huge enemy to wildlife.

Blessed, it really is an advantage for people like me and you to have taken up hunting a little later in life - at least we remember what it's like to not understand fully.

And Phillip, let's not forget that I was judging J too.

I'm guessing it's always been this way, or at least it's been this way since our civilizations got so big that we could no longer have personal relationships with most people we encountered.

But I tell you, between Jerry Springer and talk radio, we've really cultivated a culture that loves confrontational demonizing. And the potential for anonymity on the Internet really broadens people's sense of entitlement to do that.

But as I learned here, the hand that taketh away also giveth - the Internet made this conversation possible.

Anonymous said...

NO, NO, NO, NO, NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! "J" said, "While I still think that is probably exceedingly rare for hunters"... Bullshit! It is extremely rare for mankind in general. There are a few "animal lovers", but the majority of the populace couldn't give a rat's ass about wildlife and animals unless it's cute and fluffy and even then I wouldn't count on their compassion. Inconsiderate, gloating, brutal hunters are merely an extension of our own self-absorption. I was riding with an adult friend a few days ago and he is NOT a hunter. There were two squirrels ahead in the road and as we approached them he never reduced speed, never changed course, never even acknowledged them. They managed to avoid be run over and I asked him why he didn't do anything to accommodate them. He replied that they were "just squirrels" and that there were "enough critters" that it didn't matter. He then went on to relate his disdain for pretty much anything not human. This isn't rare. I've seen disregard for animals all my life. So, have you. I've seen dogs, cats, possums, snakes run over intentionally. Dogs left to run wherever they want, bird nests and other habitat destroyed, cats tortured, and all of this by people who weren't carrying a weapon, or hunting and was done for their own "entertainment". It's easy to blame those "cruel hunters", but we have met the cruel and it is us. Go look in the mirror and at your neighbors, "J".

Terry Scoville said...

Nice work Holly.
Another point to mention is the fact that "hunter's dollars" are managing and contributing to the future of wildlife. Without these funds the we would all be losing habitat and wildlife at an even higher rate than present.

I just shake my head when someone assumes hunters have no feelings. Or they lack compassion for their quarry. Unbelievable!

Holly Heyser said...

Ooooh, this conversation is getting really good, and I have to run off to a hair appointment. Damn. But I have to say quickly:

GSP Russ, you have an excellent point that even I didn't think of, much less J. I still believe we're far less rare than J thinks, but you're totally right that indifference toward and outright cruelty to animals is a widespread problem, not the exclusive domain of hunters.

I would be very, very interested to see a survey that compares hunters' overall attitudes toward animals with the non-hunting population. I can tell you that my respect and love for animals has deepened tenfold since I started hunting. And almost every hunter I know truly worships 1) his/her dogs and 2) his/her prey.

Very interesting! Thank you for that observation.

Anonymous said...

Holly, Thank you for stating our point of view so well.

Something that most non-hunters do not realize is that hunters contribute more to wildlife conservation than any other group or organization. And that the majority of us are animal lovers.

Thanks for all your efforts.
Ann Denison

Holly Heyser said...

Sometimes I do bring up the fact that hunters pour tons of money and time into habitat preservation and restoration. I did that when the first woman who emailed me said that hunting was a bad thing in a day and age "when Nature is under siege." I informed her it is most certainly not under siege by hunters.

But I often don't bring it up, and here's why: Most anti-hunters don't hate hunting because they think it destroys nature; anti-hunters hate hunting because they don't understand how we can kill "innocent" animals. So when an anti asks me, "How can you kill animals?", answering back with, "Hunters pour money into habitat conservation" dodges what he or she considers to be the crucial question. And I don't know about you, but whenever I ask someone A and he answers B, it really, really pisses me off.

The only way you can answer the "how can you kill" question is to answer it - honestly and forthrightly. I think hunters have been conditioned not to do that for a number of reasons: 1) Society conditions men (90 percent of hunters) not to talk about their "feelings." 2) Under attack by antis, some have decided it's best to try to obscure the all-too-obvious fact that killing is central to hunting - as witnessed by the myriad euphemisms for killing, including "harvest" (which I actually used in my story, even though I hate the word! Long story).

I think talking about our conservation work is useful, though, when dealing with people who are merely ignorant about hunting, but not hostile to it. To someone who's on the fence, hearing how much more hunters spend on wildlife than the PETA/HSUS crowd can be a really enlightening moment.

Thanks, everyone, for weighing in. I'm glad this struck a chord.

The Hunter's Wife said...

Holly, I think this is one of those post that should be shared with hunters, non-hunters and anti-hunters. As the others have said, you've shared what most hunters feel yet have a hard time putting to words.

You will always get the same argument from anti-hunters - killing equals cruelty. From non-hunters - whether they think it's cruel or not, hunting an animal is something they could never do but at least they show respect to those that hunt and believe they have that right.

Excellent points made by GPS Russ!

Anonymous said...

Marvelous, simply marvelous. You made a good point here, both sides have to be able to see each other as people, and both sides need to be willing to bend.

I don't think either of you changed your minds in this discussion, but you were both able to see each other in a different and more positive light, and that's progress.

Part of why we all need to keep writing and talking is so there can be more discussions like this. They're so valuable.

As usual, Holly, very well written and very well done.

gary said...

Very Interesting give and take. If only all discussions of this type ended this well. To start with J's total emphasis was the cruel killing, nice to see her view enlarged. It has little effect if two people argue from two set points, but to broaden anothers view is teaching and teaching brings another to more common ground. On common ground we can learn tolerance if not exceptance of anothers viewpoint.

Anonymous said...

Jose Ortega y Gassett wrote “One does not hunt in order to kill. One kills in order to have hunted.” You can think a long time on that quote. But it sums it all up perfectly. Yet until you have hunted, you will never understand.

Josh said...

I can't ever really explain why I hunt and kill. It's like trying to explain by only using the spaces between the words...

"And almost every hunter I know truly worships 1) his/her dogs and 2) his/her prey."
Holly, that is almost always true, and it is often a reverence bordering on worship. It's really powerful.

Those things said, it was also mature of you to work through this while still name-calling (or near 'nuff to it). You both got to vent and reason.

You're neat!

Also, I like GSP Russ' comments about most folks not caring about other living things. I don't know if that's true, but I've come across too many in my life (though one is too many, I guess).

Josh said...

I do have an honest question: Do you think she would have allowed the conversation to progress, as it did, had you been a man?

I don't mean that to be flip, but because of the nature of her language and perspective, I'm wondering if she would have even responded to me, let alone stuck around long enough to listen.

Quite possibly, another reason why your presence is so powerful and necessary.

Anonymous said...

I used to be an "anti," and then I was introduced to Falconry. There's nothing like actually experiencing life with a predator to understand what nature is really about. Man is not the only one who kills for fun - we're just the only ones who actually consider the consequences of our actions. My hawk will leave the hunk of meat that he is actively eating if he thinks he can catch something else that passes him by.

Nature isn't good or evil, kind or cruel. It just *is*, and it's glorious.

Thank you for such a beautiful post and showing such a constructive conversation. You both are to be commended.

Your blog has been added!

Holly Heyser said...

Anonymous, you nailed it with this line: "Nature isn't good or evil, kind or cruel. It just *is*, and it's glorious." I couldn't agree more.

And Josh, who knows. I think part of the reason she's so upset with me is that I am a woman - that line about betraying my life-giving nature was very telling, and that's not the first time I've come across it.

But I also think the reason we came to the ending we did is because we are both women and this is classic female-female communication. Attack, listen, bend, listen, peace accord. I'm not sure how the conversation would have gone with you, quite honestly.

Unrelated to my conversation with J, though, I do think it's easier for antis to attack men because it's easier to stereotype you as violent and uncaring. I throw people off balance - woman, journalist, college prof? Does not compute! I think it gives me a huge advantage in terms of engaging in conversation.

Rachel said...

OMG..What an aweseome post!
I love your blog... u just earned yourself a new reader from Washington State! I have to say... you kept your cool, and argued on behalf of all of us huntress's rather well (and hunters) are a better woman the me..cuz i would have probably posted a pic of us cutting and wrapping our deer/elk or waterfowl. With the insert of "It's the circle of life"....hmmmm i feel a new post coming on! LOL... thanks for visiting my new blog!
from Washington Hunter Girl's Blog

Anonymous said...

I had a lengthy discussion with you all here once, eons ago. From my perspective (as a non-hunter), we all get into trouble with generalizations. For instance, in as much as the words "evil" or "cruel" are triggers for you, when I've had time in recent weeks, since my return, to read posts here, or occasionally link out to other readings, or chat with people in my work, I often hear hunters say that they care about wildlife more than non-hunters. Even that is a generalization, but the comment is so common as to inspire the generalization. :)

As a non-hunter, intimately involved in conservation, this type of commentary could (if I were a non-thinking moron -- and generally on Saturdays, I'm a THINKING moron) trigger a visceral refutation. It does, in fact, raise those feelings in me. But I try to keep in mind that you're generally expressing this sentiment in response to its counterpoint, which is: hunters hate animals.

Still, it would do all of us some good to step back from any of these hot button terms and try to understand, as Holly did here, the possible underlying and legitimate feelings that inspire the words. Even if the action or expression seems excessive, usually there's legitimate subtext, unexpressed, that if rooted out, helps bring the discussion around to at least a place of mutual respect. (Understanding might be going too far.)

I think it's true that in the general public, there's a lack of knowledge about wildlife and habitat issues. But I work in a field (and in the field) where I'm close with wildlife scientists, rescuers, biologists, animal control officers, and veterinarians. It may seem specialized, but it's a vast network of people who are educated and immersed everyday in working with the land and with animals. Some have strong feelings about hunting, some don't. But the point is, when I hear comments like that the aforementioned, it feels like an invalidation of those of us who care as much about environmental and wildlife issues but who have opted to engage our passion in these ways as opposed to in hunting. And there are a lot of us. There are also a lot of caring people who don't know quite how to help but do, and who spend hours on trails watching animals or birding or photographing who know just as much as much, sometimes more, than hunters do. So I think that's one generalization that just needs to go by the wayside for all of us.

A better alternative might be to recognize that short of the animal abuser and neglectful idiot, most of us have positive feelings for animals, some more than others. And many citizens, including hunters, are intimately invested in the future of our wilderness areas and wildlife.

I realize that hunting and respecting animals at the same time is an inherently complex idea -- perhaps too complex for those of us who can't reconcile (in ourselves) the killing of those for whom we feel deep empathy and compassion. In my work, we take what's akin to a Hippocratic oath: First do no harm. So as Holly suggests, to counter that commitment of the heart with statistics about habitat may effectively defer, but it doesn't explain. I'm not sure you will ever be able to explain. Do you think it's even possible? I've been in situations where animals were "harvested" or slaughtered, and I damn near died over the pain of witnessing that, in spite of my scientific background. I'm a sensible sort and really, there's no convincing me that killing animals is fulfilling. I have a sense hunters will always be in this position of defense, in as much as we're dealing with living, feeling beings.

At the risk of opening up a debating would -- perhaps the real solution, as I suggested here before, is in genuinely and authentically grappling with the borderline practices that lead people to have these perceptions about hunting. To not just change the vernacular of the discussion on hunting, but to actually change hunting in a way that makes the unpalatable practices simply unacceptable anymore.

I lived overseas in a community where hunters were revered. But it was a respect born of centuries, in the way these hunters handled themselves and the limits they imposed on themselves. Most of you here are of that framework. But perhaps you don't hunt with the people I've seen. I realize there is resistance to curtailing any aspect of the sport, perhaps for fear of it being a slippery slope. But I stay committed to this idea nonetheless. In my field, we do not tolerate anyone treating anyone -- even the most egregious abuser -- with disrespect. They are out. They are not fit for the field. I'd like to see the same standard upheld for anyone treating animals and habitat in a way that's not "fit for the field." I realize this will not be a popular idea here, but it's a legitimate issue.

My view point about hunting was changed years ago by a thoughtful hunter with whom I shared a few long evenings and Don Julio (the tequila). I came around to better understanding of him and his sport -- and I genuinely liked the guy. Since that time, as my work has taken me deeper into the intricacies of working with wild animals, I've witnessed some outrageous behavior on the part of humans. I could easily fall into an antagonistic stance on this issue -- just as you feel antagonistic when confronted about your sport. I have to admit, when my coworkers recently rescued a game bird running around with a hunting arrow stuck in it, I could have been brought to that anger (it certainly brought me to tears).

But even in the face of those strong emotions, considering the place where I come from and the cruelty I see, I still believe in the type of exchange Holly had, if only for the reason that with mutual respect, there is at least HOPE of education. Without that, we're at odds at our own peril, and certainly, at the peril of our precious animals and resources. (And yes, I do enjoy ending with a philosophical flourish and a generalization.)

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful blog, and what a wonderful exchange of ideas and ideals. Thank you for sharing it. I think too many anti's base their opposition on small amounts of propaganda- in the UK they assume 'we' are all rich toffs blasting animals to death just for fun, when really most of us are just like you- true lovers and understanders of nature, getting our enjoyment from persuing wild (or extensively free range anyway) food. I'm not sure if everyone can understand the joy or seeing a bird fall stone dead to your gun and how it mixes with the sadness of the killing. The true hunter reconciles this joy and sadness by ensuring her kills are retrieved and then honoured by making a wonderful meal. Perhaps we need a lady huner like yourself to make a TV show? Men always come across...well so matcho about things and that, I'm sure, doesn't always help shootings image.

Holly Heyser said...

Thanks, Vicky. I think it would be great for someone to create a show that deals with this stuff. But I'm not counting on our hunting cable channels to produce it - I think it needs to be mainstream to make a difference in mainstream thinking.

I keep hearing about the BBC doing interesting things - TV shows with chefs doing their own slaughtering and such. I think it's important for people to understand the reality of meat eating. The questino is, how are those shows going over with the public there?

Chas S. Clifton said...

It's funny how anti-hunters like J. are willing to play the "essentialist" card.

If someone told her, "You can't be pilot/doctor/firefighter because you are a woman," she would be rightly outraged.

Yet she is willing to do it to you.

Holly, don't you know that you are supposed to be a "domestic angel" and protect life? It's all so Mid-Victorian!

Holly Heyser said...

The interesting thing was that she was clearly aware that it was going to be an offensive statement.

I wasn't at all surprised she said it, though. I've read that one of the biggest reasons women don't hunt is their fear (or loathing) of inflicting pain. It bugs the hell out of me too - it's just that I'm pragmatic enough to accept that it's an unfortunate part of the deal, and I work to minimize it as much as possible.

And, yes, guys, I know it bugs the hell out of you too. I've heard men talk about it.

I'll probably write a whole post about this at some point. It's kinda been rolling around in my head anyway, asking to be let out...

Anonymous said...

A family member of mine runs another outdoor blog and I stumbled across your article. I found it very intersting. I am a hunter myself and agree with you. I don't know how you feel about this topic, but the one big thing that popped up in my mind while reading your email exchange with this lady was that how millions of innocent infant human lives have been taken in the name of abortion, and you just don't see the same compassion from these "animal lovers" for unborn babies as you do (in this case turkeys) for other living creatures. I enjoyed reading your post, I appreciate your enthusiasm and your understanding of the outdoors.

Native said...

lost my profile somewhere Holly and just checking if it came back.

native said...

You must teach me the ways of the "Force" Holly,
You have a mastered a special way of dealing with these type of people of which I am totally oblivious.

Holly Heyser said...

Part of it may be being a girl. To be overly general, men want to win and dominate; women want to collaborate and reach peace. I certainly know much about my style (both as a manager and as a communicator) is very female, despite the fact that I am the least girly female I know.

But I hate to stereotype too much, because I know even stereotypical men will sit there and punch each other in the face, then get a beer together when it's over. So obviously, you too, as a gender, have your ways of reaching peace.

Holly Heyser said...

Anonymous -

You asked about animal rights people and their position on abortion, which is something I've wondered about too.

Today, I actually saw references to vegetarians and vegans also being prolife on a PETA blog (and comments). Here's the link. This may be the first time I've linked to a PETA blog, but hey, I like to give people credit for consistency.

Anonymous said...

For Native.

Actually. B vitamins come from bacteria. You could get the same result from simply eating dirt.

The bacteria just like the decaying meat.

Anonymous said...

Holly, i take it your name is, i dont normally sit down and read all these posts of hunters arguing with non hunters. im 18, young and honestly never cared too much for listening to the non hunters. ive been hunting since i was little, and i hunt for food. a one dollar bullet will feed me for weeks. its alot nicer when you can afford gas and clothes pay a little more bills because you harvested your own food, and dont have to go buy it. reading things like this gives me hope, because i have been confronted by non hunters, and never known how to explain or even get it to them why exactly it is that i hunt, or what i feel when i hunt. thanks for posting this, i really think now it will give me a platform to build my response next time im confronted.

sincerely, chris

Holly Heyser said...

Thanks, Chris!

Reading antis' tirades and engaging with them is really, really tiring. But it usually teaches me a lot about exactly what it is that bothers them, and it shows very clearly which of our arguments are useless and which ones get through to them.

Example: The fact that we fund habitat for all the animals they love means nothing to vegans, though it is helpful with people who don't hate hunting, but just don't know much about it.

What we absolutely have to address is why we love doing something that ends in the death of an animal. To the non-hunter, that just looks like we love killing. Explaining it - which is really hard - doesn't change a vegan's mind, but it can change how they see us.

Good luck next time you try to explain what we do!

Anonymous said...

here's an abstract idea, did anti-hunting women ever think about all of the eggs that their body makes that die? Or men about all of the sperm that didn't fertilize the egg? this is kinda weird, but it puts a different view on it. and how many antis wear animal related clothing and still eat meat or animal related foods,(eggs that never hatched)?

Anonymous said...

adding to the may other comment There is nothing, in my opinion, constructive in the arguments against hunting; they are based in misrepresentation, and a desire to inflame the passions and to alarm the fears by noisy declamation rather than to convince the understanding by sound arguments or fair and impartial statements. Hunting kills animals that would otherwise die of starvation or predation. Therefore, what is the purpose of eliminating hunting? The animals would die regardless of hunting or not, and I think starvation and disease is more painful than getting shot, because these things take many months to claim their victims, whereas a gun or bow wound usually kills within minutes. I see far too many lies, deceits, false pretenses, misrepresentations, undisclosed facts, concealment of truths and a total lack of reason among the ranks of anti-hunters that I cannot fathom how they win over so many people and get so much sympathy.
All this, I feel, says everything for hunters, without the need to shout an opinion.