By Ron Spomer
Editor’s Note: Harassment of women hunters is on the rise, and certain high profile hunters have suffered the brunt of these attacks on the Internet. The latest is Eva Shockey who, with her father Jim Shockey, is sponsored by Havalon Knives. In this essay Ron Spomer comes to the defense of women who hunt, telling us that one of the big reasons for the attacks is that women are the fastest-growing demographic in the hunting world. That means anti-hunters can no longer paint hunting as the domain of Neanderthal men when the same realm is also the province of nurturing women – Steve Sorensen.
If you don’t think that hunting and hunters are under serious attack right now, try being a woman hunter.
Threats in the digital age
Last year, a female hunter had the unmitigated gall to post a picture on her Facebook page of a mature male lion she had shot. Not only was she called every foul name in the book, along with several that aren’t even allowed in the book, but she also received thousands of hate mail messages and hundreds of death threats. Even her parents were threatened. The FBI investigated. National news media reported on the story, but not because of the death threats or the FBI involvement. No, they interviewed the usual anti-hunting organizations and “lion rescue groups,” wrung their hands, cried crocodile tears and questioned how anyone could commit such a barbaric act as shooting an “endangered species.”
Except African lions aren’t even endangered. Nor does regulated sport hunting reduce their populations.
The benefits of lion hunting
Here’s the truth: after age 5 or 6, male lions become a burden to their former prides. They’re either killed by younger, stronger males or driven out entirely. They then proceed to prey on cubs of their own species, kill cattle and sometimes even humans. Shooting older male lions actually increases the lion population. More importantly, the money paid by hunters makes lions more valuable to the local people. It funds anti-poaching patrols and habitat restoration efforts that not only benefit lions, but all other native wildlife as well. Hunters fund jobs for dozens of workers at each camp. All of this helps African countries justify saving wild habitats from human encroachment, logging, overgrazing, dams, mines and the usual culprits involved in the disappearance of natural habitats.
But none of that mattered. A female hunter had killed a lion, and that made her fair game for vicious attacks.
Not an isolated incident
She wasn’t the only one. This summer another woman posted photos of herself with game she’d taken on a safari with her father. She got the same vilification on social media and national news outlets. She was called the same foul names, the kind that would get anyone labeled a rabid misogynist in any other context. But because this woman was a hunter, she too was fair game. Defenders of women and women’s rights looked the other way.
Anti-hunters fear women hunters
Women who hunt frighten the tolerance right out of anti-hunters (who don’t have much left to lose anyway) because women hunters are no longer few and far between. The fastest growing demographic in hunting has the hand that rocks the cradle. Mothers have a huge influence on the attitudes and philosophies of their children. People who are against hunting don’t want women raising a generation of respectful, dedicated, self-sufficient conservation-hunters.
Despite the success of the women’s movement and our culture’s acceptance of women’s rights, the anti-hunting crowd believes women should stay in their place. Women should squeeze snugly into the pigeonhole of gentle, loving, nurturing protectors. Not killers.
Women are natural hunters
One thing people don’t understand is that hunting is the original, natural role of a competent, protective mother. It’s the female African lions that do the bulk of the hunting, killing and providing. Every female carnivore, from grasshopper mice to polar bears, is a nurturing hunter and killer. Bringing home a bobwhite, bunny or buck and preparing it for the family dinner is the necessary expression of nurturing, motherly love.
But listen: never mind that women have the skills, interest, instincts, obligation and right to provide food for their offspring. Never mind that predation and meat eating are and always have been natural and essential to life on Earth. Never mind that Nature or God (depending on your theological camp) created this system that requires predators to kill and eat other animals. Never mind that this self-sustaining system has been functioning successfully for quite a long time. None of that matters to misogynistic anti-hunters because they know better than Mother Nature. They know better than God. Women should not hunt because people against hunting think they shouldn’t. End of story.
But women don’t care. They won’t be pigeonholed, won’t be denied their natural rights. You might be able to deny them access to certain golf courses, keep them out of Major League Baseball and the NBA, but you won’t keep them out of the deer woods.
A word to moms and men
Moms – you have the power. You can raise your kids on venison and teach them to understand and respect their role as hunters. You can set the example of a caring, nurturing hunter who guards our woods and waters, who lobbies for increased wildlife habitat and conservation funding. You can teach by example about how responsible hunters demand protection for sustainable populations of wildlife and the places they live. You have the power to teach respect for our game wardens and biologists. You can hold politicians’ feet to the fire in defense of the game your family wants, loves and needs. You can fight for your rights to hunt for food, for joy, for adventure, for your spirits to soar.
Men – take your wives, daughters, mothers, girlfriends, aunts and friends hunting. Share your venison, your stories, your adventures and joy in the great outdoors. Hats off to all our female hunters. They hold the key to the perpetuation – even the salvation – of our hunting heritage. Without our modern Dianas*, we could lose it all.
*Diana was the goddess of the hunt in Roman mythology.
Ron is rifles/optics columnist for Sporting Classics and North American Hunter magazines and host of Winchester World of Whitetail on NBC Sports. Learn more at www.ronspomeroutdoors.com.
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