As I sit looking out my window at the working ranch across the road from my small Montana dude ranchette, I watch a real rancher deliver his fifth load of hay to hundreds of cows in their winter pasture. It mattered not that it was well below zero and there was a foot of snow on the ground—feeding cows from December to March was his daily purview. Watching him toil, my thoughts drift to a poignant concept my father conveyed to me when I was little.
My father, not a rancher, but an engineer, once lectured me on vegetarians in his typical pragmatic fashion: “What do vegetarians think would happen to cows if they got their wish and people quit eating meat? Do they think cows would be happily basking under the sun, frolicking around fields and multiplying by the thousands? No, they would go nearly extinct. You would literally have to go to a zoo to see a cow. No rancher would raise cows for the sheer enjoyment of raising cows, they raise cows because people eat them. It’s that simple. Stop eating cows and cows will go away.” That thought wormed its way into my little skull, incubated for decades and eventually hatched into how I see the entire world—everything must have a value to survive.
Hunters value wildlife not because they are bloodthirsty killers looking for a thrill as animal rights extremists profess. Hunters place value on wildlife for a multitude of reasons: healthy organic food to nourish the body; real recreation instead contrived stick and ball games; affirmation of deeply seated cultural and societal traditions dating to the dawn of civilization; and possibly most importantly—hunters value wildlife for the pure, unspoiled wilderness environments it allows them to visit, however briefly. But hunting is increasingly coming under fire—not from trusted professional wildlife biologists and land managers (both groups unanimously support regulated hunting), but from a vocal and increasingly violent minority intent on dramatically molding the world to their warped vision.
No longer are anti hunters a fringe element sprouting from the demented mind of Australian Peter Singer, who wrote Animal Liberation: A New Ethic for our Treatment of Animals back in 1975. Today they are large, extremely well-funded radical groups such as the Human Society of the United States (HSUS), Animal Liberation Front (ALF), People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), as well as numerous smaller offshoots. Their style of social change is accomplished through dissemination of misinformation and outright lies. Bullying, shaming and intimidation up to and including physical acts of violence and terrorism are on the table to further their radical agenda. And their agenda is no secret, as Wayne Pacelle, CEO of HSUS, said: “If we could shut down all sport hunting in a moment we would.”
Unfortunately Pacelle is not a rogue voice in the wilderness, but mirrors other animal rights organizations’ views and goals. As scary as the radical animal rights movement is, what is even more frightening is the millions of little dictators who have been indoctrinated, often from a very early age by these organizations through children's films made by Hollywood elitists. These people profess the utmost tolerance of other cultures, lifestyles, and views—so long as your views align with theirs. They deplore internet bulling, while simultaneously using the internet to bully, lambaste, shame and incite violence if it accomplishes their agenda of stopping hunting. To anti-hunting dictators, the ends truly do justify the means and they are willing to go to nearly any length to get their desired result.
These uninformed, idealistic, altruistic few do not understand hunting or wildlife, but they champion their anti-hunting agenda nonetheless. They have never participated in a hunt, have never seen the beauty from the inside, only from the outside awkwardly looking in. Like voyeurs, anti-hunters peer through the bedroom window of our national parks and game preserves and mistakenly confuse that contrived wildlife interaction with the visceral, raw, real act of hunting. Their brief, infrequent observations feed their opinions and fuel their insatiable internal fire to stop hunting even though they don’t quite understand what it is, or why it is necessary.
Their agenda is not just about stopping a legal, responsible way of life that is as old as humankind itself. It has a much more nefarious, bleak, civilization-ending outcome. The Animal Liberation Front, founded by known terrorist Ronnie Lee, would like to see a world with 99% of the current human population removed. Without hunting, would the entire planet’s life-giving ecosystem be damaged beyond repair? It is an honest question with a frightening answer—yes, without hunters supporting the natural cycle of wildlife, and wild places, everything would be put at risk.
Over the last 200 years we have seen an unprecedented rise in human civilization. Technology, comfort, health, and prosperity have driven population growth that strains the world’s natural resources. Fewer and fewer households have hunters, while much of the non-hunting public looks down their noses at the activity that made their current prosperous existence possible. But what would happen if hunters were to disappear? What would happen over the next 100 years? Would our grandchildren inherit a world even worth inhabiting?
Imagine a world of vegans, where the hunter ceases to exist. Wildlife needs more than food to survive, it needs habitat. But when crops are planted, natural habitat is removed—permanently. Taken to its extreme, without hunters valuing wildlife and the land it inhabits, the earth would become a world of crops to feed a rapidly growing vegetarian population. Without the natural diversity of wild lands the hunter currently pays to protect, this would go away, leaving us with a sea of wheat and corn fields, devoid of the natural habitat needed to sustain wildlife.
Without the hundreds of millions of dollars generated from state hunting license sales, state wildlife agencies would crumble. Without game wardens, there would be no one to patrol the remaining wildlife poachers. Without hunter-funded game biologists, there would be no one to study and rectify wildlife diseases and external man-made environmental pressures placed upon wildlife. Regardless of what anti-hunters say, in today’s United States, wildlife doesn’t manage itself—200 years and 300 million people ago possibly, but with the strain placed on land by urban sprawl and highways and oil pipelines and wind turbines and hydroelectric dams and more—wildlife is placed under severe pressure by the hand of modern man.
It could be argued that the necessities of game management could still be funded without hunters. But if that is the case, by whom? The anti-hunting “industry” is purely a fund raising machine generating over a billion dollars a year. PETA raises over $30 million annually alone, but instead of using their vast wealth to directly help wildlife, such as buying land to set aside as a wildlife preserve, or creating wetlands for wildfowl breeding habitat (two of the many initiatives paid for voluntarily by hunters), they use their profits for such things as creating salacious nude celebrity ad campaigns to generate more money, funding animal shelters where, ironically, thousands of pets are actually killed instead of saved, and donating $70,000 to the FBI-designated terror organization, Earth First.
In the past, radical animal rights groups could easily be dismissed as fringe organizations on the extreme end, but their ill-informed, morally deficient views of the natural order of the world are infecting every aspect of mainstream life. By targeting children with propaganda, cartoons and emotionally-charged lies, they mold an entire future generation to their perverse ways of thinking.
PETA Kids campaigns such as “Why is Your Daddy a Killer?” and billboards comparing eating a traditional Thanksgiving dinner to dining on your pet dog are prime examples of infecting youth before they even have an opportunity to think for themselves. These programs do nothing to actually help wildlife, but simply ensure that PETA will have a sympathetic base to feed their money machine for generations to come.
The hypocrisy of anti-hunters is only matched by the irony of their lack of understanding about the footprint they leave on the world versus the hunter. Anti-hunters are few in rural America, instead preferring our largest urban areas—living in locations that utilize far more natural resources than their rural counterparts. In fact, the very existence of their hulking cities from which they scheme against hunting dooms countless creatures to death via pollution, land destruction—or just an 18-wheeler delivering organic kale to the trendiest farm-to-table spot in the East Village.
Let’s explore the enlightened lifestyle of the animal rights “elite” a bit further. They never stop to ponder how their “luxury” dining choices harm wildlife more than a hunter living in rural America harvesting meat for the family through hunting. The committed vegan eats produce—grown on a farm that was once wildlife habitat, utilizing farm equipment which is made from mined steel, copper, lead and tin, and powered by fossil fuels. The produce is then trucked across the country burning more fossil fuels on a concrete and asphalt road infrastructure that kills more wildlife every year than all hunters combined. Of course, items like leather shoes and belts, wool and animal furs are completely off limits to the vegan, but high-tech running shoes and synthetic high-performance apparel are perfectly acceptable. Sure, leather is natural, sustainable, and renewable while the other is produced from non-renewable petroleum. But these elites don’t let that bother them. To sustain a vegan’s lifestyle requires wilderness-destroying corporate farms and a complex shipping and market infrastructure, as well as a heavy reliance on oil exploration, pipeline development, drilling and mining—all in the attempt to feel better about their very unnatural relationship with animals.
The goal of this article is not to convince you to pick up a rifle and head afield, but simply to understand that there are two sides to every story: one told by people with little to no experience in our wild places amongst wildlife, and one told by people who would rather be nowhere else than amongst the animals and wilderness they love.
Which group you would like to be associated with is up to you.