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Know Thine Enemy
A wake-up call from Tom Wylie

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Previously the hunter, a provider of meat, has always been portrayed as a hero and not a villain! What happened to achieve this modern day juxtaposition?   

Historically hunters have assumed various roles in fables and folklore, from a pastor of nature to a provider of sustenance, but now, even to many who eat meat, the hunter represents the antithesis of this Shepard figure; epitomised as nature’s persecutor, preying on nature’s bounty. If hunters are not mindful this juxtaposition will be recorded as the “Achilles heel of Herne”; a fate aided by the incessant rhetoric and political positioning from all political parties. Yes, another pawn, the hunter, is being touted to divert the ever-gullible public from other dubious political ineptness.  

What an abhorrent time to be a hunter. We appear to be news worthy without doing anything; our persecutors ensure this with claims of cruelty capturing the political psyche; invoking the media’s attention and therefore by implicate association altering public perception.  At no other time have hunters been under so much scrutiny by powers so resolute to give so little quarter. In truth, with all this adversity there is no previous a time in which a more vital call was hailed for all whose who hunt know who is the enemy? 

Some say it is politicians, but politicians are people who should serve the electorate; i.e. you. They are elected to enact the manifesto that should have been representative of the views and opinions of the responsible citizen that elected them. They should be our representatives in the legislative halls of ministry to ensure the majorities’ opinion will influence the law.  But sadly, on their political patch, politicians know that, among other attributes, semantics and public appeasement are paramount for their survival. Their own local personal popularity is the foundation upon which many are elected, and hence, ironically, if they mirror perceived local concern they will appear in kilter with the voter hence safe guarding their future pay packet. In some instances the truth and this public concern are divorced.  In squirming to appease all, including the vocal minority, the secretion of half-truths in public debate and the safe haven of “concern”, wins votes. Unfortunately for shooters this “concern” is often based upon a poor public understanding of “hot” issues taken from the privately owned media; a business who’s primary aim appears to be revenue and its worth noting that acrimony sells.  The politician should be no more that the actuary of public will, a servant to the public body. This public “will” would appear to be our battleground and the enemy would appear, at first sight, to be “the public”, at least more so than the politician for without this “will” the politician should have no basis for action other than personal self interest and we don’t believe that is a factor, do we? 

So what has happen in the past 50ish years to turn the “public” against the Hunter? 

Firstly a proliferation of conflicts have instilled in the mass mindset that armed confrontation, warranted or otherwise, is undesirable. Many people caught in these confrontations are killed and maimed, many by a gun, therefore deeply ingrained in the public subconscious is that all guns kill “people”. A thought that is increasing entrenched with each escalation of gun crime within our cities.  Unfortunately many ignore the obvious that guns are inanimate objects and as such a gun, or any tool, is incapable of action without human intervention; a fact quickly passed over in every “airtime”.  The truth, as every hunter is aware, is very simple; people, and not guns, kill people.  

Regardless, we desperately need to distance our self from the lawless and military use of firearms, to publicise that we own sporting weapons used in an attempt to humanly dispatch pests and our prey; period. The re-implantation of this notion into public psyche, to regain ground that was once apparent, continues to be a hard fought battle. But, again, how did we lose this ground?  The answer is woven within the second point. 

Secondly, and most worryingly, for many, their lives are diverging from nature.  Historically the general populace were forced from the field by an industrial, agricultural and latterly an electronic revolution. Now inhabiting a metropolitan area they toil daily in an artificial environment separated from the seasons; this place all ed “the office”. Daily, they sit in a sterile world, typing on plastic, talking into plastic, viewing pixels on plastic; even the plants are plastic. Background noise is their “new” silence; they occupy a space divorced from the wind by transparent barrier. Inside they view the natural light come and go for many arrive and leave in the dark. The air they breathe is warmed, or chilled, to an “acceptable” quality.  Their time cares little for nature’s seasons; some seasons are a nuisance that impedes their commuting. For many the definition of open space is when they are alone in a room; nature is now mainly viewed through glass, sitting, whilst being frequented, at speed. Many are “99% 50er’s” i.e.99% of them do not venture more than 50 yards from their car. Children are scolded when they handle the earth because the ground is “dirty”, humorously they are informed that sheep are “wild”. To this majority nature is becoming a curiosity, not a home. In their weekend hoards they enjoy natures splendour, most without knowledge of its struggle. Nature is now the ultimate attraction; a “free” Zoo.  But most critically for the hunter, many people have now lost the mental connection between their survival and another’s demise; their sustenance arrives on wheels; not feet or wings. Palatable food inhabits a shelf, not a field. This previously prepared food is packaged and presented with little generally ambivalent to how it got there, and many are ignorant or beguiled about its quality. To many, “to kill”, is bad, an interesting morality, for even vegetarians must accept that vegetables where alive before be consumed. They have no need for a human method of dispatch, a gun; this tool is redundant in their world.  

Whilst, I can accept that many want nothing to do with the kill for it upsets their sensibilities; especially as the entertainment industry increasingly personifies animals, but the remote sterilisation of the full food process has created purgatory for those who wish to fully participate in this process, for the mass think it is cruel to kill 

Cruelty is cruel word to the modern hunter. As the masses, and media, personify animals more and more, it becomes increasingly uncomfortable for many to see animals in distress; and rightly so.  But is the act of killing cruel?  I think not; providing it is done in the most humane way possible with no unnecessary pain or distress. What’s more I believe that, with due deliberation and awareness of all the facts, the majority would agree, especially if they eat meat. What is more cruel, a battery duck, devoid of freedom, flight and light, killed by electrocution, or a wild duck killed instantly by a shot? 

But to some, the Anti, killing it will always be cruel. They capitalise on this by displaying pictures or information, out of context, to a concerned public without imparting any truthful awareness of said context and definitely embroiling it with their own interpretation. But again, concerning hunting, what is their source for these pictures. 

Well here is an example. 

The snow goose, an American quarry species whose summer residence is the Northern Territories of Canada, annually migrates south crossing the USA to its winter-feeding grounds. This goose has previously bred successfully, so much so that in certain areas its population is reaching saturation. Realising this population explosion and predicting the ensuing natural population crash a number of government agencies looked for a remedy. Obviously swayed by the huge fiscal implications of shooting the geese at source, or pricking the eggs, these agencies sought the help of American hunters in order to cull more of these geese during migration. A win-win situation you would think. The agencies helped by extending the season, increasing bag limits and repealing the statue for plugging your shotgun magazine to 2 shots when hunting this waterfowl species. Hunters were providing a public and environmental service, good publicity. --- Well, actually, no. The hunter was still portrayed as the villain for herein lies the rub. 

The America the Anti’s are using pictures of mass bags of snow geese to campaign against shotgun sports. They show hunters apparently blasting skyward and inferring cruelty on defenceless birds. You would think that the politicians would stand behind the hunter wouldn’t you? Well, unfortunately, many appear slightly muted. The reason is simple, the public aren’t happy as they will NOT entertain the thought of human cruelty brought about by indiscriminate or unethical shooting; which is exactly what the Antis are publishing. The well meaning, but psychological inept, act of repealing the bag limit and 2 shot restriction would appear to have indicated a “free for all approach” for the American hunter. Hunting ethics would appear to have taken a back seat with a true “Martine” approach prevailing, the snow goose is a target “any time, any place, any where (range)” and with anything.  With each half dead bird seen, the Anti’s revel in pennies falling from heaven. They smear the public with images of half dead birds, which of course appear in the papers which are digested by the majority, this unaware metropolitan populace, who in turn berate the politicians, who in turn “spin” the Hunter out to dry.   

So finally, most ironically, some American hunters are losing by are own actions, for the most of deadly ammunition in the Antis armoury is provided as a product of our hunting, this aspect of cruelty, unwittingly supplied by the unethical and out of date “enemy within”.  It only takes one photo or piece of video footage to influence millions in this electronic age, one digital image and we, the hunter, are touted again as the incriminated persecutor of nature, for to quote Shakespeare in his play Julius Caesar. “The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.” 

So, do your future a favour, ensure the kill before pulling the trigger, shorten your range, use appropriate cartridges and retrieve all pricked birds instantly, otherwise you are the enemy.

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