An Open Letter To Those Treating Hunting Like A Cheap Prostitute
I detest “in-fighting” amongst hunters. With so few of us (relative to the total U.S. population) we cannot afford to be divided. However, there are times when we must police our own...and this is one of those times. I am seeing a disturbing trend among us that takes a page from TMZ, the National Enquirer or other “shock journalism” outlets - we’ve started to publish just about anything for clicks (clickbait)...even if it defiles hunting like a cheap prostitute. This is my message to those guilty of it.
Dear Hunting Industry Clickbaiters,
In recent months, I have seen hunting websites and social media outlets share videos of deer being hit by cars.
I’ve seen turkeys shot with bowfishing tackle - in the name of being “the first hunter to ever do it” - recovering the wounded turkey solely because it was alive and flopping on the end of the string like a carp.
A TV bowhunter has a video with 230,000 Youtube views titled “Blood Bath Epic Archery Kills” that promises "slow motion decaps" in the description. Ironically, the video doesn't even have any blood in it. It’s just titled like that to entice clicks.
And I recently noticed on Facebook as a popular hunting website posted a video of a deer attempting to run full speed and jump a chain link fence...ending in an “EPIC FAIL” because the deer hit the fence in midair and crashed to the ground.
Let me make this clear. The only EPIC FAIL is that you greedy, talentless morons are spreading this garbage all over the web to make money.
We all know that clicks = dollars in web advertising. The more traffic your website drives, the more you can charge advertisers. The more “Likes,” followers and video views your TV show has on Facebook and Instagram, the more sponsor revenue you can rake in.
You all have quite literally put a price tag on perpetuating the mainstream stereotype that hunters are cruel, barbaric and heartless.
Why are you treating deer, elk, turkeys, ducks and other game like circus animals performing tricks as they die for your entertainment?
You’re incapable of entertainment without the gimmick of shock factor. You’re like a sleazy promoter trying to sell tickets to a boxing match no one would watch without outrageous PR stunts and staged staredowns.
How do you even sleep at night?
To TV and web content producers I say this: a gorgeous gobbler strutting up to your decoys is entertaining enough to any hunter with a moral compass. Sure, we enjoy watching a hunt that ends in a dramatic kill. But make no mistake, the animal is the hero - not you.
To the websites who rely on user-generated content (i.e. shocking videos posted online by internet users), I beg you to stop. A video of a buck making a scrape is entertaining enough. We don’t need to see him get hit on the freeway through the lens of a police car dash cam. Have some dignity about our way of life and draw the line somewhere - anywhere - on what you’re willing to share for clicks and virality.
Only 6% of the 321 million people in the U.S. are hunters. Preserving America’s hunting traditions is an upstream paddling job that takes all of us. Unfortunately, you clickbaiters are shooting holes in the bottom of the boat while many of us are trying to paddle.
I realize if people stopped clicking, you’d stop sharing. So this is a wake up call to all hunters. We need to make some improvements to how we behave online.
If you’re reading this and you’re guilty of “liking,” “sharing” or “tagging a friend” when a deer gets hit by a car, runs into a fence or a turkey gets decapitated, please take a minute and think about the message you’re spreading and how it will affect the world your children and grandchildren grow up in.
And if for some reason this letter offends you, you disagree with me, and you find yourself entertained by the types of clickbait I’m referencing....well, I believe that says way more about you than it does about me.
Remember that it was Fred Bear who said “if you’re not working to protect hunting, then you’re working to destroy it.”
Fred Bear continues to be the standard by which honor, integrity and character are measured among hunters and we’ll still be quoting him in 100 years.
You know who we won’t be quoting? You know who won’t be remembered? The idiot TV personality who crippled a turkey with bowfishing tackle and closed the video by bragging that he gets to (and I quote) “come up with cool ways to shoot turkeys and shoot animals.”
Our hunting traditions aren’t in danger of dying a quick, clean death. Our hunting traditions are being gutshot over and over again as part of a long, painful demise that may take decades to realize. And you clickbaiters are the gutshooters - a cancer eating away at our honorable pastime.
Do some soul-searching and clean it up. Right now and forevermore.
An imperfect man who enjoys a perfect hunting lifestyle.
I intentionally withheld names from this article. This article is intended to be a wake up call and not a public shaming of specific individuals. I also intentionally withheld linking to clickbait examples because I will not contribute any further to their virality. There’s shared responsibility among many of us for creating this mess and it’s time we clean it up. It’s time to bring purity and honor back to hunting. It’s time we treat game animals with complete reverence once again.
About The Author:
Guest blogger Michael Turbyfill lives in Boone, North Carolina and is a National Deer Alliance member. He produces content for the NDA's social media and marketing efforts.