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More On The Hunter's Image

John M. Buol Jr.

    In the last issue we ran an article by Ward Clark concerning the hunter's image. It certainly struck a chord with some of you as we received more feedback on that article than any other so far, all of it positive. That's good. We should be concerned with how others view us and most hunters interested in HSA are interested in promoting the value of hunting and shooting.
    Of course not everyone sees it this way. I ran across a website with the following on the front page:
    "Deer hunting season is upon us. Beer sales are booming! Observe caution, especially for hunter's trucks stopped on highways. Keep pets indoors and stay out of the woods unless you are wearing orange."
    It should be noted that the webmaster who published this is not some animal-rights terrorist. The site was devoted to outdoor activity and he felt it necessary to "warn" outdoors people of the impending deer season.
    Why the harsh feelings? Because, according to him, the only face-to-face dealings he's had with hunters is when a deer hunter shot one of his neighbor's livestock.
    You and I know that this is a rare incident and the "hunter" in question was careless and not representative of the hunting community as a whole. The problem is the hunting community isn't doing much to counteract this. What are we doing to generate positive publicity? What are we doing to give non-hunters a reason to trust us?
    Take a look at popular professional sports organizations. Problems with individual participants are well known, but the sport itself doesn't suffer. Do ticket sales drop after yet another "professional" football player is busted for drugs or killing someone? No, because fans realize that the majority of players are dedicated to their sport and don't get into trouble.
    Statistically, the hunting and shooting community doesn't have near as many problems with their participants. So why the mistrust? Because, unlike the sports organization, hunters have done nothing to demonstrate prowess. In short, we haven't given the public any reason to trust us.
    Until we as hunters and shooters make a regular, organized effort to demonstrate to the public that we are safe and skilled, until we give people a reason to believe in and trust hunters and shooters, the negative attitude will continue.

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