For those of you who have taken the Hunter Education Program course, you already know what is wrong with the picture above. There are actually several things wrong with the picture, but I want to discuss only one point. In today’s world of fast spreading communication, it is more important than ever that hunters do their best to present themselves in a socially acceptable manner.
I know, this sounds like nagging and no one likes to be told what to do, especially hunters. But in the spirit of ethics, I am not demanding that people do things a certain way. There is no legal punishment for driving with a bloody, dead animal on a vehicle for all of society to see. I am suggesting that we hunters be mindful that while we are in the hunting area we can behave like hunters, but when we return to civilization, we recognize that there are other people around who may not share our beliefs.
It is sad that we live in a society where the death of an animal offends people. It is disappointing that the majority of society does not understand the amount of work and skill required to kill these wild animals. It is absurd that many people despise us for providing food for our families and contributing to conservation efforts more than any other group. But this is the burden we must carry and deal with as modern day hunters.
Hunters will always have more responsibilities than non-hunters. We are providers for our friends and families, we are caretakers of the land and animals and we are educators who pass our knowledge on to future generations. Hunting is about life, spirituality, religion, and philosophy. Hunting is one of the few activities where responsible behavior can mean the difference between live and death.
In Hawaii, hunting is slowly being squeezed out of existence by urban growth, poor resource management, ignorant legislation, poaching and poor public image. In my view, improving public image of hunting is the primary solution. Hunting is a public activity and is regulated by public officials. The majority of the general public does not have enough information to formulate an opinion on hunting. We hunter and the anti-hunters are the minorities, but the anti-hunters have the advantage. All they need to do is present the vast majority with a choice other than hunting. Hunting grounds are being threatened by all sorts of “other” options. Public hiking trails, plant preserves, animal preserves, and development projects. All of these options will appeal to the vast majority of society more than hunting.
While there are a lot of things we hunters can do to improve our public image and sway the general public in our favor, the simplest and most effective thing we can do is be mindful of others’ feelings. We all know what is right and wrong, and we all know what is rude and polite. It takes very little effort to be ethical, but our efforts when viewed by others can leave an everlasting impression. We hunters are not scary, rude and dirty people, yet we sometimes overlook the large knife on our belt, blood stained pants, and loud recap of our kill when we stop by a convenience store for a drink after a long hunt. Even these slip-ups can be managed by a smile, polite and humble conversation, and even an apology.
As hunters, we all share a passion for the outdoors, free-range food and fair chase, and that is not a sin. Others do not need to share our passion nor do they need to understand it. Everyone just wants to live their life and must share it with everyone else. If we can be ethical in the hunting area, we should also be ethical outside the hunting area.