By Steve Hickoff
Ever had an encounter with an anti-hunter? Been on the defensive a time or two? There are ways to act at such moments. As the saying goes, “You’ll catch more bees with honey.”
REPRESENT ALL HUNTERS: Be courteous, thoughtful and polite. This is called for even if the person verbally attacking your lifestyle isn’t.
MAKE IT A TEACHING MOMENT: Know your sport. Look at this moment as an opportunity to teach the person a little about wildlife conservation, how hunters fund the management of deer, bear, moose, wild turkey, waterfowl, other game species, and a host of other non-game creatures.
FOOD FOR LIFE: Let them know you eat your wild game. Sometimes this is the deciding factor. Though at times it might be a negative, anti-hunters might find it hard to argue with you putting food on the table.
Sometimes they might just call a truce. Over the past three months of spring turkey season I’ve spent time in airports around the country as many of you have, from Chicago to Denver, Newark to Rapid City, and points in-between, including New England where I make my home base. Oddly enough a lot of these experiences take place in airports where our lifestyle is apparent to all. Here’s one example …
I handed her my long black gun case. She put it behind her driver’s seat, saying, “Sure hope that thing doesn’t fall on me! What’s in it?”
“A hunting shotgun,” I answered, just as she, the airport shuttle bus driver, apparently saw my “Got turkey?” sticker slapped to it. I was returning from an out-of-state spring turkey hunt.
“Well you better not come and hunt MY turkeys in MY backyard! They’re like children to me,” she said. This conversation was off to a strange start. I took the offensive.
“Do you know how those turkeys got there?” I countered, smiling.
“Well, no I don’t. I just moved here a few years ago. They’ve always been in my backyard as far as I know.”
I launched into a short history of trap-and-transfer wild turkey management, and how hunter dollars paid for much of the restoration, and that in a way she had us to thank for that.
“Well, do you eat those turkeys?” she asked, curious now. After hearing my positive response, she said, still driving slowly, “Is there one in THERE?” meaning my overweight checked bag on the floor in front of me. I said there was. Furthermore, I said, we were likely having it for dinner soon, as I love to cook wild game. She thought hard about all this, going silent.
“Well you seem like a nice person,” she said, “I just don’t know how you could shoot these beautiful creatures.”
I told her how many of us are fascinated with the wild game we hunt. We study them to hunt them better. They amaze us. And yes, we shoot them, ideally utilizing fair-chase standards set forth by the tradition. I’m a proud hunter, and apologize to no one for loving it. By the end of it, I’m not sure what had been accomplished. She’d met a real live wild turkey hunter, and I’d survived an encounter with an anti-hunter at the wheel of an airport transportation bus.
“Well it’s been nice harassing you,” she cheerily offered as I unloaded my gun case, big travel bag, laptop carry, and backpack onto the asphalt of the long-term parking area. “You take care of our turkeys now,” I responded, “and we’ll help too.”
How do you deal with anti-hunter confrontations? Let us know on the Yamaha Outdoors Facebook page.
By Steve Hickoff