The use of social media has placed the hunting and shooting sports community in hot water more than once over the past 10 years. One photo or video spread on social media channels can cause severe cases of cyber bullying and, in some cases, direct personal threats. Social media is a critical tool in spreading the message of hunting and conservation while growing grassroots support to promote the lifestyle and overturn political threats.
The social media wave of opposition against H.R. Bill 621, which threatened over three million acres of public land, was made possible by hunters and environmentalists who carry a common passion for public lands. Social media use in the hunting and shooting community, however, has not been without challenges.
As a community, we have learned how to spread our message without backing down and must continue to improve the practice. Every day brings new challenges, and as young hunters prepare to take the reins of leadership in the community, it is important to understand how to share hunting and shooting related content accurately, proudly and professionally.
The desire for fame has been one of the biggest downfalls of man since the beginning of time. Chasing fame is dangerous, and the pursuit of recognition has carelessly led to poor decision making in the field. Whether on purpose or on accident, the pressure to kill to create an image based around ego does more damage than good. Producing hunting and shooting sports content should never be rooted in the desire for fame.
Fame doesn’t last, and as a community of sportsmen and women constantly under the microscope of society, we have to make conscious decisions to share quality content. Every picture shared is responsible for the future of our beloved outdoor sports. Before hitting the post button, ask yourself if your photo has been taken to the best of your ability, represents the animal, the story, our community and yourself in the best way possible. If you question any of these points, take the time to rethink what you are about to post, even if it is just for your personal social media pages. Don’t be afraid to portray reality through your posts, but remember to strive for a higher level of class with your content to capture the core values of what we do in the wild.
Your posts should always strive to tell a story and provide value to others. One of the most dangerous thoughts we can have is “Who cares what others think?!” This does not mean to back down from sharing content but to remember everyone, including the nonhunting and anti-hunting public, could see it. We will eventually need the help of the nonhunting public to preserve what we love. Don’t alienated them with distasteful content, even if it makes sense to you. Don’t forget to capture the entirety of your experience from preparation, through the hunt and activities post-hunt.
Far too often, we focus on the act of pulling the trigger because, as hunters and shooters, we understand that moment at our very core. The majority of the population does not. People like Steven Rinella and Jeremy Doughty have media channels that have been incredibly successful and will continue to have success for many years because they focus on bringing the full hunting experience to life. Their content reminds us that the point of pulling the trigger is but one small element of our lifestyle. Telling the entire story may not be the most entertaining content on the internet, but it helps connect everyone to a story of adventure, trials, adrenaline and food. You have the ability to communicate the greater purpose of conservation. Even as a young hunter, you can help ensure the future of what we all love.
Social Media Tips
While there are multiple ways to share content, photos are the most prevalent. Whether you have a high-quality camera like a DSLR or you just rely on your phone, producing quality content for sharing is not difficult with a bit of work. When taking a success photo, here are a few things to keep in mind.
1. There is more to a photo than just a grip and grin. The focus of a photo is a 3-D object, so capture it from more angles than just one. Consider the background of the photo and the story it tells in relation to your successful hunt. Thinking about your picture in thirds is another great way to capture the story from different perspectives as it opens up more of the story than just the point of the kill.
2. Capturing actions within the process brings the entire hunt to life. For example, food brings people together and has been a driving source of content promoting hunting on social media over the past several years. Since people generally react positively to food, tastefully documenting the butchering and preparation of a meal brings viewers beyond the point of the kill. It shows there is more to hunters than just pulling the trigger by providing a window into the responsibility we carry.
3. When facing criticism on social media it is important to remember to not become sucked into a trap. The internet is full of crazy people, many of whom purposely troll for hunting related content to criticize. A good rule of thumb is to analyze whether or not a person is looking to learn more or is just out to intimidate you. Never stoop to a level of threatening another person no matter how fired up you may be. If someone wants to learn, then you had better be prepared to explain why you do what you do. If someone is menacing or threatening, deleting their comments is the best way to avoid a trap. Don’t give a hateful person the satisfaction of dragging you down for what you love. If you have questions on how to handle a situation, talk with your parents or teachers to help you properly respond.
Social media is much like a gun: When used improperly it can have destructive results. When used with care and thought, however, it can become a powerfully positive channel impacting and influencing the lives of many people.
— Jason Reid