We’re guessing Facebook is one of your favorite hangouts — right up there with being outdoors, right? Statistically, 93 percent of you go online, 75 percent of you have a cell phone and 66 percent of you text. Those are the facts. It’s also a safe bet that checking social media is the first and last thing you do every day.
It’s time to think about what you post on Facebook or other social media sites. Remember that important life in the outdoors? Help us spread the word that it’s OK to hunt, shoot and kill what we eat. Even Mark Zuckerberg, who created Facebook, is cool with that. Not long ago, he posted to 847 friends, “I just killed a pig and a goat.”
When you post on social media about your fun times afield, keep these simple suggestions in mind to help us put the best face on hunting and the love we have of the outdoors.
- Respect both the animal you harvested as well as the people who will see your photos online.
- Take pictures before field dressing the animal and avoid showing too much blood.
- Don’t take pictures with the animal in the back of your truck, flung over an ATV rack or hanging from a gambrel.
- Clean the animal. Keep some wet wipes or paper towels in your vehicle to clean blood from around the mouth or body.
- Tuck in its legs and hooves as though it were bedded down.
- Put the animal’s tongue back in its mouth.
- If you pose with a gun, make sure it is unloaded, the action is open and the muzzle is pointed in a safe direction.
- Never point the gun toward the camera or your body.
- Keep your finger off of the trigger. Safety is the No. 1 rule of hunting.
- Obey hunting laws, bag limits and posted signs. Make it clear in photos that you do
If someone comments that hunting animals is cruel, don’t overreact. People are entitled to their opinions. Treat is as the perfect time to share the truth about hunting. Use responses similar to these.
Wildlife populations will explode to nuisance levels if they aren’t hunted. And when there are too many animals, some will get sick and spread diseases.
If hunting were banned, sportsmen would stop spending money on gas, hotels, meals, ammunition and gear to pursue their favorite game animal. Money from tourism affects the economy wherever you live. Maybe you don’t think it matters, but it does. Without those dollars from sportsmen, many businesses would close.
States would see revenue losses, too. They collect license fees and sales taxes from the goods and services hunters buy. You might be thinking that you don’t pay taxes. But the person who pays for your food, your home, your truck, your insurance and your cell phone does. Without this revenue, taxes on other things may rise.
State fish and wildlife departments would be downsized or eliminated. If there were no hunters, and the departments weren’t bringing in fees, who would need them? You’d miss their services, because they manage the wildlife and natural resources you enjoy.
Conservation and wildlife programs will suffer. Hunters contribute through membership fees, donations and their hands-on involvement in many conservation and wildlife habitat programs across North America. If there were no hunters, there would no longer be an NWTF or similar organizations. Think about how often you rely on programs likes these to stay connected to the outdoor activities you love.
Animal rights groups also will vanish. They will lose support for their causes. Tell that to the anti-hunters who post on your page.
Kids and teens won’t have skills that hunting teaches such as patience, self-reliance, persistence and the ability to survive in the great outdoors.
Folks who are raised to hunt understand the difference between virtual reality and genuine reality. A true hunter respects and appreciates life, and knows the consequences when he pulls the trigger.
If someone posts that hunting isn’t safe, tell them that dog won’t hunt. In fact, hunting-related shooting incidents have dropped 31 percent in the past 10 years, and most that involved youth occurred without adult supervision. In a study by American Sports Data, Inc., the percentage of hunting injuries ranked well behind injuries in basketball, baseball, soccer and football. It’s even safer than cheerleading.
Hunting, in fact, is just as important to growing into a responsible adult as any of those sports. Hunters have respect for the world around them. They may take from it, but they know it’s important to give back and maintain the quality of life for humans and wildlife.
Keeping kids and teens involved in hunting is critical to the life of the tradition. Research shows the sooner you learn about hunting, the more likely you are to become a lifelong hunter. Getting outdoors also makes you healthier, happier and smarter. Hunting also is an activity you can participate in with our parents, unlike playing a team sport where your parents are stuck in the bleachers.
The next time you post something about hunting on your Facebook page, tell it like it is. Invite someone who has never hunted to your next adventure, or ask them to join you and your parents at the range. Who knows? You might convert an anti-hunter and have a hunting buddy for a lifetime.