Four Ways Family and Friends Can Unknowingly Discourage Hunting

It’s no secret that hunting participation is on the decline across the country, and stories of outdoorsmen and women coming under attack from anti-hunters and animal rights activists seem to be more frequent.

However, you never expect to have family and friends knock your love of hunting. In fact, they may not even know they’re being discouraging, but these are four things they say or do that may have you thinking twice about hunting.

Placing Expectations on the Hunt

While hunters buy hunting licenses and tags with the intentions of harvesting wild game, there are numerous ways to find enjoyment in the hunt­ outside of a kill — sharing the experience with fellow hunters, time spent in nature viewing wildlife and learning about wildlife behaviors, to name a few.

But, being told by family or friends that you need to fill the freezer to justify your time afield places undue pressure on the hunt. The demands of success can cause hunters to discontinue hunting as to not disappoint anyone, as we know harvests aren’t a guaranteed thing. Even worse, those who do continue to go afield may feel pressured to stretch their own personal ethics, such as taking a shot they don’t feel comfortable with or taking an animal they would otherwise let walk. And none of this is good for the sport.

You are the only person who should set expectations or goals for your hunt, so make that known to your family and friends.

Refusal to Try Wild Game Cuisine

There is a sense of pride in sharing meat from harvests with family and friends. Of course, people have varying tastes, so you won’t always make everyone happy. But from experience, I can tell you it is a downer when family or friends refuse to partake in a meal and become vocal about their distaste for wild game, especially if they haven’t even tried it.

Preparing game meat in smaller portions or even donating the spoils of the hunt to programs like hunters for the hungry are alternatives, but few hunters would consider taking an animal if using the meat to feed family and friends is off the table.

Don’t try to trick family and friends into eating game meat; it won’t help the situation. However, let them have a say in how wild game is prepared to see if that will help them come around. Need recipe ideas? Check out sites like Field to Plate or Timber to Table

Downplaying or Criticizing a Harvest

Taking the life of an animal is something only a hunter can understand. Each pull of the trigger can bring about feelings of thanks, but it is shared with respect and sadness. If a hunt required overcoming adversity, there could be a sense of accomplishment.

However, when family and friends make statements like “I thought you said you shot a big deer” or ask questions like “what made you settle for that one?”, your initial feelings have the potential to be replaced with regret.

Simply put, if you were satisfied enough with the animal to make the harvest, others should be happy for you as well.

“Hiding” Taxidermy

As hunters, meat for the freezer is probably the top reason we harvest an animal. But, sometimes that harvest also ends up adorning our walls out of respect and also because it offers us the opportunity to relive the hunt each time we admire the mount, or it sparks a conversation with visitors.

Having family place your mounts in less frequented rooms of the house, or even opted against altogether, could simply be a sign that antlers and fur don’t fit with the general décor. However, if it was important enough for you to spend money to get an animal mounted, it might also be worth the fight to have it displayed in a place that will make you proud.

Though you may not get to put up entire walls of taxidermy, you’ll undoubtedly not have to head to the garage or dig your mounts out of the back of a closet to remember your most memorable hunts.

Again, if your family and friends know how passionate you are about your outdoor pursuits, chances are they mean no harm in their words or actions. But, if you have tried to help them see how they are bringing you down and you don’t see a difference, maybe those “you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life” memes you see all over social media are right when it comes to your love of hunting.

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