Monday, April 26, 2010

Piss, vinegar and the Humane Society

Lord, it's nearly the end of April and I've hardly blogged at all this month because I've had a strange little case of writer's block.

But I pushed that block off the edge of a cliff tonight, and all that piss and vinegar I've been holding back for weeks is coming out. Right now.

Where to begin?

There's been a little debate in California for the past couple months about a state proposal to expand bear hunting here.
There were two key components to the proposal: One was to expand the number of bears that could be taken each year because our bear population is thriving (can't tell you how often I've heard about black bears coming out of the hills of Southern California to take a dip in people's swimming pools in the summer - seriously). The other component was to allow houndsmen to use GPS tracking collars on their dogs.

I didn't really dive into this debate for one key reason: I haven't hunted bears.

I'm confident that our Department of Fish and Game wouldn't expand hunting if it didn't think game populations could withstand it - that's a no-brainer rooted in science. But I haven't hunted with hounds and doing so doesn't personally interest me, so I didn't feel I could bring much to that part of the debate - and, as you can imagine, that was the part that packed the biggest freak-out factor.

But I watched from the sidelines nonetheless, and got more and more irritated as pretty much every story quoted the Humane Society of the U.S. describing bear hunters as "trophy hunters."

We all know why the HSUS does this: Public support for meat hunting is very high - 85 percent - while public support for trophy hunting is very low - 28 percent (source: Responsive Management, 2006). So, if you can paint hunters as being motivated by the trophy - which is often interpreted by the non-hunting public as tossing the meat - you can effectively turn the hunters in question into villains.

I saw this in story after story, and when an LA Times article on the topic popped up in my alerts last week, I'd finally had enough.

I freely admit that the tipping point was the fact that the reporter had drunk the Kool-Aid and led the story with this offensively unfounded statement: As outdoor activities in California go, bear hunting is not particularly popular. Officials estimate that, at most, 1% of the state's population hunts black bears. Many of the other 99% are appalled that anyone does. That's crap, and I fired off a comment to that effect.

But by that time I was pretty disappointed that so many of my colleagues in the biz weren't challenging the HSUS on the completely fabricated suggestion that people in California just hunt bears for trophies, so I called bullshit on that too.

The fact is that there is absolutely nothing to back up the claim - period.

Of course, I don't have anything to suggest that bear hunters here are solely driven by the desire for bear meat either. But here's what I do have that I'm pretty sure the HSUS doesn't: I know a LOT of people who hunt, and because I have real conversations with them, I'm pretty familiar with their motivations.

Which are? Complex. We hunt because we love hunting. For some of us, meat is a huge motivation - personally, I won't kill anything that I won't eat (aside from bugs - not going there quite yet). For others, the meat is merely a bonus. And I've actually met one person who doesn't eat what he kills.

Most of us would love to bag a glorious trophy animal - who wouldn't be excited about that? But most of us can't afford to hunt solely for trophies. So the HSUS's assertion just doesn't ring true.

But hey, HSUS, if you've got an actual fact to back up your claim, bring it. I may only have a pair of jacks on this, but I'm pretty sure you don't even have a deuce.

Unfortunately, the HSUS won on this issue. The DFG pulled its proposal (you can read a little more about that here on Phillip's Hog Blog, which gets into some very serious issues I'm not even touching on here, because I'm focused on the trophy-versus-meat issue).

On the bright side, during my little spate of comments on the LA Times website, I heard from a friend who thanked me for speaking up on hunters' behalf on the issue. We got to emailing back and forth about bears and he offered to hook me up on a hunt.

I told him I was very specifically looking for bears that feast on the avocado groves in SoCal. You know the deal - you are what you eat, so that's gonna one tasty bear.

"Oh, look at you, specifically looking for guacamole bears!" he replied.

Notice how he wasn't shocked that I didn't give a flying fig about trophy quality? Shocking. It's what happens when you know what you're talking about.

P.S., if you want to read about hunters who value the fur and the meat, check out the latest posting at Base Camp Legends, which I saw just after hitting publish on this post. Be sure to read the comments.

Special thanks to my friend T. Michael Riddle for turning me on to a nice soundtrack for my piss-n-vinegar mood tonight. Dude, Heavens Door and Ala Camita? Sweet.

© Holly A. Heyser 2010


SimplyOutdoors said...

I can totally understand the route that the HSUS takes when addressing these sorts of issues. Unfortunately, for us, they're no dummies and they key in on the points that they know will stir public opinion - whether they're based on facts or not.

Good for you, Holly, for leaving comments and calling foul when you see it. It's just too bad that more people don't truly educate themselves before forming an opinion. So many people simply can't think for themselves, and take at face value what one organization - with a definite agenda - says is fact.

It's a shame, and I'm sad to see the proposal die. It doesn't mean we don't need to keep fighting the good fight, though.

And good luck on your first bear hunt. Some day I'm going to take that off of my bucket list.

Othmar Vohringer said...

Looks like California is in the same boat and has to endure the same anti bear hunting crap as we do here in British Columbia. For months now there is barley a day passing by without some form of HSUS and David Suzuki media stunt about "trophy bear hunt" and the "determent" to wildlife caused by hunters.

What gets me is that most hunters seem to be oblivious or simply don't care. Its harder to motivate hunters to write to their legislator, the media and their local political reps then teaching a child to tie shoelaces.


Marian Ann Love said...

I know one day you will get your bear...and I can't wait to congratulate you! :)

Holly Heyser said...

Othmar, I don't know about your neck of the woods, but in California there are very few bear hunters, and only a tiny fraction - 7 1/2 percent, I think - are successful, so bears don't have quite the same constituency as, say, ducks.

All I need to get more vocal is a little experience so I know the issue better. And quite honestly, I'd like to go on a hunt with hounds to see what it's like. The HSUS line on that was that GPS tracking collars allow hunters to sit in their trucks while the dogs do all the work until the radio tracking device alerts them to a treed bear. From what I've heard, that's crap too - I hear hunting with hounds is VERY physical and requires serious fitness. But I haven't done it, and unlike HSUS, I like to have a little knowledge before I spout off. I know that's handicapping myself, but hey, I have standards.

Marian, I sure hope that friend of mine comes through! You know you'll read about it here if he does.

And Simply, the problem in Cali is that hunters are a tiny percentage of the population, which has a ripple effect: The fewer hunters there are, the fewer non-hunting people know or have some connection to a hunter, so the more easily they fall prey to manipulation via stereotype. Then you take a paper like the LA Times, which primarily serves an audience that's three steps removed from the reality most of us live - I mean seriously, it's practically another planet down there. Misinformation finds an easy mark in that audience.

Stacey Huston said...

Holly.. I grew up on Bear meat.. maybe that is what is "wrong" with me..
I am in NO way a trophy hunter, I hunt for food.. but in the West you do not HAVE to keep the meat.. it is legal to only take the hide.. the last bear Hawk harvested we did not eat.. he was skinny and sick, liver choked full of worms.. that is when conservation and ethics steps in.. but from my experience the HSUS wouldn't have a clue about conservation or ethics.. they are totally $$ motivated..
Thank you Holly for once again standing to fight the good fight..

jryoung said...

Wait, I'ver heard of pig in the pistacio fields, but bears nom, nom, nomming on avocados? I've been on the fence about hunting bears, I like the meat in sausage, but don't know if I'll enjoy a whole bear.

But, bears fat from avocados just might push me over the edge.

As for the debate, I think hunting with hounds is a tough obsticle to overcome. As a life long hunter, it just doesn't interest me, in fact I have little interest in most predator hunting.

Unfortunately, as politics goes, irrational fear and hyperbole won out. A little tug on the emotional heart strings and the argument is over. Sadly, the (bear) population will continue to thrive only to throw the population out of balance in into harms way.

Native said...

Excellent to see you fired up Holly!
Look out H.S.U.S. I believe that Holly is are getting geared up to let both barrels loose.

Thanks for listening to my songs and pluggin' em' here as well!
T. Michael Riddle

Holly Heyser said...

Oh, Stacey, I'm sure you eat trophy meat. Admit it!!!

Seriously, though, I've tossed the meat from sick animals before too. That's self-preservation instinct kicking in.

And there are bears I know I would not want to eat - the ones feasting on spawning salmon come to mind -

In California, though, we have a wanton waste law, and I don't think there are any exceptions for any game species, but I'd have to check to be sure.

The deal is that I know trophy hunters exist - can't deny that. But if HSUS wants to pretend all or even most bear hunters are trophy hunters, it needs to cough up some evidence.

Holly Heyser said...

Native: You're welcome. Songs are still playing in my head.

JR: I'm like you. Hank and I weren't terribly interested in bear hunting until we heard about the avocado bears. If it's good eats, we're in.

I hear you on the hound thing too. But I'm going to watch a hunt before I wade into that debate, because I've found that I too have been the victim of stereotypes, and that when I actually take time to observe something in person, it can pretty radically change my views.

Luke Macaulay said...

Has anyone tried to speak with the Humane Society and point out some of these issues with them directly? I'm wondering how much more can be gained by a face to face discussion of legitimate issues between the hunter and non-hunter parties instead of the antagonistic relationship that seems to get all of us fired up. (Not that I don't understand your vinegar.)

Holly Heyser said...

Luke: Yes, and nothing. Don't believe for a second that HSUS would abandon highly successful PR tactics because Holly Heyser points out the intellectual fallacies of its rhetoric.

That would be like talking to Budweiser about the harm caused by encouraging drinking, and Bud saying, "Oh, you're right, we'll pull our Super Bowl ads next year." Ain't gonna happen.

Individual anti-hunters, yes. I've had a lot of great discussions - many right here on this blog - with people who don't see eye-to-eye with me on hunting. I've had email exchanges with anti-hunting readers that have gone from combative to seeking understanding. And former student of mine who's gone vegan was at a party at my house recently and we had a really great conversation about food ethics (I even have a photo of her with my friend who owns a hunting business -properties and guide service).

There's tremendous value to such discussions, even when they don't change any minds, because they generally reduce the amount of vilification on both sides. I never hesitate to undertake such conversations.

But fighting a well-funded, very public and very successful media campaign with a one-on-one conversation is pointless.

Tovar@AMindfulCarnivore said...

ARGH! Just wrote you a long comment and Blogger ate it. And spit back nothing. That's a good reminder to write my comments in a word processor document and copy-and-paste them afterward.

Anyway, no time to re-type the whole darn thing right now.

In a nutshell: I think such oversimplification on HSUS's part, while strategically effective, does a huge disservice to those who, despite questions or concerns about hunting, are willing and able to think for themselves and have an honest dialogue.

Thanks for being a consistently honest voice.

I think we need to work at conveying the complexity of hunters' motivations--something that can't be illustrated by either-or (meat vs. trophy) typologies.

Tovar@AMindfulCarnivore said...

Another fragment from that gobbled comment: GOOD TO HAVE YOU BACK IN BLOG-LAND, HOLLY! :-) said...

Anybody mention that HSUS gave $5000 to DFG? DFG was offered $25K to give it back. They refused. I believe it was Cal waterfowl that made the offer. But I could be wrong.

Holly Heyser said...

No, but I knew about that. I don't think it was Cal Waterfowl that offered the replacement money, though (and I thought it was a match, not an increase over the HSUS donation, but I can't be sure because I didn't follow it closely).

I don't blame DFG for taking the money - the state is broke and they need it wherever they can get it.

HSUS is playing a game, and if hunters want to play too and divert money from habitat projects to poaching enforcement, they need to be proactive and not wait for HSUS to beat them to the table.

The question is, is it worth it? I believe poaching is a serious problem (particularly with sturgeon) and I support law enforcement efforts to combat it. But do I want to divert my cash from habitat? I'd say "yes" to a portion of it, maybe 5-10 percent.

Can we ever keep up with HSUS? No. When you use national TV ad campaigns that get people to send you money for abused puppies, you get a LOT of money to use on lobbying and PR campaigns. That's my only fear - that we get in a tit-for-tat war and keep upping the ante until suddenly we have precious little going to habitat, which is a vital part of hunting groups' core missions. But that may be excessive use of a slippery-slope argument.

And for the record, I don't know that the donation makes DFG feel beholden to HSUS. Several members of the Fish and Game Commission already tilt that way anyway, so I doubt $5k changes their feelings appreciably.

Holly Heyser said...

And Tovar, I agree. The problem is that complex motivations can't be boiled down into a pithy slogan. But that's one reason I try so hard to be ruthlessly honest about hunting - it's a credibility thing. And I value my credibility.

hodgeman said...

Drat, I've come late to the conversation again... I've been too busy hunting bears up here.

Good to hunt and good to eat- what's not to love? Spring bears are the only ones fit to eat for the most part unless you get a fall berry bear.

Holly Heyser said...

See, we can't hunt 'em in the spring down here. But a berry-bear sounds good too. Damn, I'm getting hungry!

Bill said...

Not many bears out here in the plains, which is fine. =]

I don't know if it's just me, but it seems like the anti-hunting and anti-gun crowds are getting just a bit more bold. There seem to be more in the news and op-ed along those lines.

Anyway, awesome post. I hope you get your bear.

Josh said...

Luke, it's important to remember that, on principle, HSUS believes in the inherent rights of animals as akin to the rights of human individuals, first. It is this ethical distinction upon which they place their foundation. With that in mind, then, the reasoning of their tactics becomes clear.

It is, though, important to always talk about that very foundation both with HSUS folks, and with the general public. It is not a view held by the general public, and hunters would do well to show the true marginalization of HSUS' ethical view.

gary said...

Thanks for the link Holly. Stacy mentioned in the west we aren't required to take bear meat out. When we lived in Oregon that was true, but when we moved to Idaho we found we were required to. Sadly they took that requirement away this year and I'm not sure why as it is some of the milder meat you can eat, especially as hodgeman says, if you get the spring bears. I've got a friend in NE Oregon that has put the word out that if you get a bear, bring it to him as that is about the only meat he eats. Now a guacamole bear ought to be something else.

Glad there is some vinigar in California!!!

Unknown said...

I’ve heard that bear fat is the best for cooking and baking with because of its high smoke point. I’m looking forward to trying that one of these day:)

oldfatslow said...

Invariably, the first question
anyone asks when they find out
I'm a hunter is, "Do you eat
them?" Subtle propaganda has been
tremendously effective is setting
peoples views. I'm convinced
that Disney's _Bambi_ was the
point where hunting lost the
high ground. Just cause it's
G rated doesn't mean it's
safe for the kiddies.

And, fwiw, we eat what we hunt
and really enjoy it.


Holly Heyser said...

OFS,this is precisely why I pitch a fit every time I see this crap from HSUS. It's not so much that one word in one story is that damaging; it's more like ash from a volcano, filled with tiny particles that settle into into every pore of our culture and create cancer everywhere. I don't know how much one little voice like mine can fight that, but I'll use every megaphone I can get.

And I am still waiting for HSUS to back up what it said (about bear hunters being trophy hunters) with some actual facts. Any time now, HSUS. Seriously. Bring it. You know, publicly. Tick tick tick.

(BTW, I once read that the story from which Bambi was made was actually much more even-handed - lots of characters killed, not just hunters.)

oldfatslow said...

It's great to have someone
bold and articulate making
a stand. Keep up the good
work. If you can save
California, you can save

BTW, how does one pluck
a bear?


Holly Heyser said...

Pluck a bear? Oh my, that sounds worse than plucking a snow goose!

Neil H. said...

The efforts of groups like HSUS, often influencing people for whom hunting is whatever they read in the newspaper, worries me considerably. The possibility of a feel-good ballot initiative about a subject most people are far removed from is always a concern.

I do have hope though. I live in San Francisco. Hostile territory for hunting, right? Wrong. Thank the slow food movement. Michael Pollan. Whoever. But in a context where everybody suddenly wants to raise their own chickens, the most common reaction I get is... fascination. Yes, hunting suddenly seems like a self-realized, responsible way to acquire meat, and it looks pretty good next to Cargill and Co.

Just today, I was at the wholesale flower market (I'm a florist) talking to a couple of floral designers (a gay guy and his female business partner) about hunting, and after they recovered from their surprise that I hunt, they asked if I could take them on a pig hunt! Really. And I've had far more women than men ask if they can go.

Most people eat meat, and in fact eating meat is kind of a trend. Hunt embraces many of the ideals of the renaissance of food occurring right now. Reach out to people that aren't hunters. Don't be pushy, arrogant, or flog them with a lot of political views. Stay on message. Keep it to food, heritage, and love of the environment. Most hunters are quite frankly far from the picture painted by HSUS. The more of us that come forward as ambassadors, the more we can counteract those who exploit the lack of knowledge most modern urban or suburban people have about hunting. Thanks to Holly for doing so much of this very thing!

Holly Heyser said...

Neil, living just two hours from SF, I know exactly what you mean - there is incredibly high interest in what we do among people who want to be conscientious consumers of meat. I never worry about telling people I hunt, because I, too, get really friendly and curious reactions.

The interesting thing I've found is that some of these new hunters come in thinking they're going to be different from the norm because they'll eat what they kill. Even though they're joining our ranks, they still think that there are a lot of us who don't eat what we kill. That speaks to the pervasive influence of the misinformation. Whenever I meet people like that, I just patiently explain that their ethics are pretty consistent with existing hunters' ethics. Frankly, I'm glad to have them no matter what they think - the more of us they meet, they more they'll figure it out.

RIFLEMAN said...


"It's a shame, and I'm sad to see the proposal die."

The proposal isn't dead just yet. At the recommendation of the Department, the Commission chose the No Change option until the Department can more fully comply with the provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act. The Commission will likely consider the proposals at some point in the coming months.

RIFLEMAN said...,

"Anybody mention that HSUS gave $5000 to DFG? DFG was offered $25K to give it back. They refused. I believe it was Cal waterfowl that made the offer. But I could be wrong."

Originally, California Houndsmen for Conservation first offered to counter the donation. CHC offered the Department $5000 if they returned the $4000 HSUS actually donated.

The Department would not or could not return the money based on the indication that they are obligated to accept any donation.

Inspired by our offer, the California Outdoor Heritage Alliance (made up of CHC, CWA, RMEF, and about 30 other hunting organizations) offered a combined $20000 if the HSUS donation would be returned. The Department again declined.

RIFLEMAN said...

Luke Macaulay,

"Has anyone tried to speak with the Humane Society and point out some of these issues with them directly?"

I met with the HSUS Policy Director for California over coffee in March. The conversation lasted three hours before either of us realized it and we both remained cordial throughout the discussion.

When faced with my criticisms of their messaging, her only defense was that she was not trained at debating. Incidentally, I am not either...I just happen to know what I am talking about when it comes to hunting.

As an example of their ignorance, she had no idea that it is a violation of California law to intentionally abandon the carcass of a bear. She had no idea that bears are consumed.

I corrected her on several of their other inaccuracies (not mere differences of opinion, but actual errors) that she agreed to take back to headquarters, but lo and behold, nothing has changed in their publications or website material.

RIFLEMAN said...

"As for the debate, I think hunting with hounds is a tough obsticle to overcome."

I understand what you are meaning, and for the ignorant masses, the notion of using dogs may be objectionable. But for those who have first-hand experience or are otherwise aware of the facts, it’s not difficult to defend.

Oddly enough, hound hunting is the only form of hunting where there is an actual chase, thus, how can it be anything but fair chase. However, for a more substantive defense of the method, here are just a few of the reasons why the notion of it being unfair, unsporting, inhumane, or otherwise has no logical or factual basis:

1. The use of dogs for the pursuit of mammals was the motivation for the domestication of Man's Best Friend.
2. The use of dogs for hunting is older than the bow and arrow, boomerang, blowgun, rifle, pistol, shotgun, or crossbow...pretty much older than every method but the friggin' rock or spear.
3. Hound hunting is the only true method of catch-and-release hunting, where the focus is on the pursuit or catch rather than the kill.
4. Hound hunting is the most humane form of hunting in that it provides the hunter with a shooting opportunity at very close range should he wish to take the animal. In the very unlikely event that the animal is merely wounded, the hounds can be used to locate it quickly.
5. Hound hunting is a very "green" form of hunting in that it reinforces favorable conditions for the prosperity of wildlife; as an example, the size and sex of a bear can be most easily determined when caught by hounds which drastically reduces the number of females that are killed, the number of cubs that are orphaned, and the number of juveniles that are killed. Large, dominant boars are selectively sought after and harvested, which provides an opportunity for a larger percentage of juvenile bears to survive to maturity and actually increases the overall population.

RIFLEMAN said...

Here are some more reasons that space wouldn't allow within my previous post...

6. Hound hunting is the most effective means of resolving wildlife depredation of human activity (crops, livestock, water sources, etc) and addressing public safety situations in that it is the most effective means of reducing an overall population from a macro application, and is the most effective means of finding the exact perpetrator of a "crime" from a micro application of depredation mitigation.
7. Hound hunting is the most natural, fair, sporting, and ethical form of hunting simply because the game being pursued evolved defenses specifically to evade pursuit or harm by a canine. Some of the behaviors and features of the game we pursue exist because of this interaction...the tenacity of the bear and hog, the cleverness of the coon, bobcat, and fox, and the endurance of a coyote are all traits we can be proud to have a connected legacy with. The ancestors of the game we hunt were fleeing the ancestor of the hound since the dawn of time; where else can you be witness to and participate in such ancient and enduring relationship. Only falconry.
8. Hound hunting remains a perpetual challenge in that houndsmen must always strive to acquire and maintain proficiency with their dogs; unlike a weapon that can be tuned up, sighted in, and upgraded with the latest gadgets intended to maximize their performance and reliability, there is little to nothing that has changed about the hound since it was developed. It still has the same size nose and brain. It's up to us to help them know how to use the instincts they are born with.
9. Hound hunting is highly unpredictable. Whenever you are using an animal to chase another animal, you never know how that animal will perform. They aren't a machine that is programmed or engineered with a minimal fault tolerance threshold. Like all athletes, they will have their "off" days, but no matter the day, they are still animals subject to the same limitations that any animal has.
10. Even when one does finally achieve a level of success, the houndsman must always strive to keep it. Unlike a finely tuned weapon that can be passed down from one generation to the next with the same level of reliability, a houndsman's dogs will grow older and die. Having the emotional strength to lose one's hunting partners on a regular basis and then having the fortitude, passion, and dedication to train the next generation is very rare indeed.
11. Hound hunting is more physically rigorous than any other method. The hound will go where the animal does and remains in pursuit, treed, or at bay for as long as it takes. As a hound hunter, you are obliged to do the same and get to your dogs no matter the challenges. We don't have the option of getting to pick and choose the route we take, the pace we walk, or the duration of the hunt as other types of hunters do.

RIFLEMAN said...


Thank you for raising awareness about this situation. It's great to see someone in your position within the old and new media with such passionate and reasoned positions regarding hunting.

We should talk about you coming on a bear hunt with hounds this fall. It would be a pleasure to host you.

Holly Heyser said...

Rifleman, thank you so much for your comments. While I still don't know if hunting with hounds is for me (I vastly prefer ambush to chase - that's just my style of hunting), that was exactly the kind of articulate defense I wanted to see in all the press coverage of this whole debacle. I would be very grateful if I could accompany you or someone in your organization on a bear hunt with hounds so I can see what it's about and lend my voice to the next debate too.

I'm not surprised that your conversation with HSUS went as it did. I might not even be surprised if the folks at HSUS really aren't familiar with our wanton waste laws. Why familiarize yourself with something that contradicts your own propaganda? It's horrible when pesky facts get in your way.

For the record, the folks at HSUS in Sacramento are welcome to chime in here at any time. Door's open. You're welcome to defend your propaganda, because I'm always open to learning new facts. And also for the record, I wasn't trained in debate either, but I have learned some critical thinking skills in my 44 years on the planet, and that's what I bring to bear here. No pun intended.

Luke Macaulay said...

Thanks Rifleman for chiming in, and for your cordial conversation with the HSUS policy director of CA. I'm sure it changed something for her even if you haven't seen results in the entire org's PR system yet. That's expecting too much from one fruitful conversation, but your conversation seems like a much needed start.

I used to work in PR, and found that launching your own PR machine is one of the best ways to fight negative PR. Seems to me that its time some of the hunting groups got vocal about describing and re-framing their sport and this debate from the hunter's perspective instead of complaining about how hunters keep getting abused by animal rights people (it's actually a pretty funny caricature). Some of this is already going on -- this blog is part of that positive PR. But for focused issues, it seems to me that there are some basic messages that could be disseminated widely and easily. For example, it seems like the public could use clarification that in most cases it is illegal to hunt something and not eat it (or is it all cases?, I'm thinking ground squirrels, etc.). So many people don't get this (as is apparent in several posts here and my own conversations), and as a result don't get one of the core motivations for many hunters--connecting on a much deeper level with the food they eat.

Reading about the groups trying to give 25,000 bucks to DFG so DFG will give back a 5k donation by HSUS seems pretty silly. You could start a pretty effective PR campaign with 25,000 bucks! The failed attempt to get this to work just makes hunters look like whining children that want DFG on their side through money. It's totally reactive, and just adds to the PR effect HSUS was looking for. Seems like its time for a proactive PR campaign by hunters to do some image building and re-framing this issue based on what hunters love an believe in, which will help not only the hunting cause, but maybe even the hunting community itself.

Holly Heyser said...

Luke, I'd love to talk to you about your PR ideas sometime. I agree there's far more we could do, and obviously, I care about this deeply (see "Item 3" under "Policies and Disclosures").

That said, I don't expect conversations of any nature with folks from the HSUS to change the organization's tactics, because playing on (and exacerbating) public misperceptions about hunting has been a highly effective tool for HSUS. And this is politics. Political opponents don't have coffee, sing Kumbayah and change their campaign ads. They have coffee, sing Kumbayah and proceed to beat each other up publicly. In my heart of hearts, I wish it weren't so. But I covered politics for years, and this is the way it works.

That's why I think PR is useful - it reaches the people whose opinions matter. I don't care about changing the minds of animal rights activists who have already decided any form of eating animals is evil; I want to change the minds of people who are merely ignorant about hunting, but not anti-meat. They far outnumber the ARs.