Open Letter to Anti-hunters,

robby denning

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From the NRA Blog, pretty good defense for our case:

NRA Blog | An Open Letter to the Anti-Hunter

If you don’t approve of hunting, for whatever reason, I want you to know I appreciate you taking a minute to read this letter. My intention is to offer a couple facts about hunting you may not know. I don’t expect to change your mind altogether, but I do hope to provide some information that may create a more informed conversation.

You’re right. Our civilization has changed such that many people no longer need to directly participate in the food chain. Cities of us can go to grocery stores for the food we once grew or killed for ourselves. So, why then does hunting still matter?

You’re right. All living things have value. Animal lives matter, and that’s all animals, not just the one whose hair is stuck to your shirt right now. If that’s true, how can someone argue killing an animal is not only justified but important?

The on-going debate surrounding the value and ethics of hunting litters our news feeds and newspapers, often serving to divide those that hunt from those that don’t. I hunt. If that divides me from you, we need to talk, because it’s possible the very reason you oppose hunting may be among the most important reasons to support hunting.

The biosystems of our planet are under attack, and humans are largely to blame. Earth is experiencing record high average temperatures each year, and humans are devastating natural habitat on all continents at record pace. So, what are the facts about hunting? If they were better understood, could all people who love animals, and all people who care about the health of our planet find common ground?

Annually, over 13 million people hunt, nearly 40 million people fish, and more than 40 million people target shoot. The only emotion-based fact I’ll present in this letter is the following: hunting is a way of life for a lot of people. Most are ethical, well-meaning people. Some are not, just like any other cross-section of humanity. I started with this, because we’re already at an impasse if we can’t agree here. I’m an example of a hunter, so I’ll speak for myself. Many of my most cherished memories are times when I’ve been hunting. Hunting and fishing are a part of who I am, part of the way I look at the world, and part of my value system. Hunting doesn’t define me, no more than does being a Bernie Sanders voter, or homosexual, or Muslim define someone else. But hunting is absolutely part of my identity. There is literally nothing anyone can say to make me change that. Can we agree hunting is important to lots of people like me?

Okay, enough of the feely stuff.

Wildlife and wild lands are owned by the public, as prescribed by the Public Trust Doctrine. Each state has a fish and wildlife agency, which was given the responsibility to manage all wildlife via what’s called the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. Where success is measured by the proliferation of wild animals, this model of wildlife management is among the most effective in the history of mankind. See, we humans are a highly invasive species. Every day we till up wildlife habitat to grow more food, to build more infrastructure, and to meld the natural world to fit our every whim. The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation is one of the only proven barriers standing between wild places and animals and their decimation. And its implementation is not cheap.

Nearly every economic, social, and cultural trend is eating away at the prospect of wild animals thriving into the future. Except, perhaps ironically, hunting, fishing and recreational shooting. You’ve probably heard the argument, “hunters pay for conservation.” The extent to which this statement is true can be debated, but it is a fact that hunting plays a major role in conservation. Between 50-80% of all money spent on conservation in the United States, nearly three billion dollars, comes through one of three sources (in order of size): hunting/fishing license sales; excise taxes paid on hunting/fishing/recreational shooting gear; and donations to conservation non-profits. Hunting and fishing license sales are a pretty well understood concept. However, most people don’t know that sportsmen of generations past lobbied for and passed Pittman-Robertson (PR), the act that placed a tax on hunting and recreational shooting gear, then later Dingell-Johnson (DJ), the act that placed a tax on fishing gear. The funds from all three sources; licenses, donations, and excise taxes are used by your state fish and wildlife agency, as well as a myriad of non-government organizations, such as Ducks Unlimited, to do the work of managing wild places for wild animals.

Without PR/DJ, sustainability of our wild lands and wild things would face serious headwinds. One must have only a rudimentary understanding of economics to understand why. If left without protection and management, wild places would soon turn into farms, ranches, and housing developments. To fund that protection, some wild animals were given a “value,” quantified by the license fee paid to hunt or catch them. No true sportsman or woman would argue the value of a living thing can be quantified in dollars; it’s simply the only scalable way anyone on earth has come up with to ensure the necessary habitat exists to sustain all species. It’s a trade-off - kill some of the deer to make it economically viable to keep and manage the land on which all deer and most all other species live.

But, couldn’t we get conservation funding into the budgets of all levels of government; local, state, and federal?

The answer is probably yes, but the economics again tell a dooming story. Public lands, such as state recreation areas or national forests, are largely viewed as a sink on the tax base, especially in more developed or more agrarian areas of our country. No one pays property taxes on this land, and it’s more difficult to tie tax revenue back to it from tourism or other uses than it is to tax income from corn production on the same parcel. Thus, privatizing land for development or production is a strategy governmental entities use to increase their tax base. If you were a politician and your constituents were asking you to choose between health care for babies or keeping our public land public, what would you do? The debate over control of our public lands is a shining example of what will happen to our wild places when it’s time to sharpen the budget pencil.

Some of the favorite non-profit organizations of anti-hunters have taken to buying land. An example is the Humane Society of the United States’ Wildlife Land Trust. The novice biologist in me says, “great, more land for wild things.” But any wildlife biologist, for or against hunting, will tell you leaving land unmanaged is an untenable solution. Sure, it’s cheaper for the Wildlife Land Trust, but unmanaged land does little or nothing for wildlife. Nature used to do the management work for us. For thousands of years prairie habitat burned, invigorating successional habitat growth. Ignited by lightning, forest fires would burn until they simply went out. Today, firefighters feverishly dowse wildfires with chemicals and water in hopes of saving human life and assets. Ever been on a hike through a dense forest? Did you notice how animal diversity was most prolific outside of the most dense areas - perhaps where the forest opened up to a grassy area? Most woodland species are not adapted to compete in the most dense, unbroken forest cover. Just as most prairie species are not adapted to compete in the most dense, unbroken grassland areas.

The way I see it, it’s perfectly reasonable that you do not hunt. But, I want you to understand hunting plays a very serious role in the real-world conservation that sustains nearly all species of plant and animal on Earth. All people are in a lifelong dogfight to preserve the living things that inhabit our planet, especially you and me… since I took the time to write this letter and you took the time to read it. The left and right, the greenies and oil barons, the anti and pro-hunters – we’re all bound to this watery rock and can only take from it so much before we endanger the wild animals and places in our way. Let’s stop arguing and get to work.

Sincerely,
Eric Dinger
Founder of Powderhook
 

ColoradoBackpackHunter

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Ill admit I didn't read the whole thing yet but anti-hunters seem to be one issue voters and I always believed that if we could work together to accomplish a whole lot of good for conservation if hunting wasn't the hardline.
 

dotman

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Too bad many anti-hunters are so angry they probably will not read that with an open mind but I do see many in the middle that are neither Hunter nor anti-Hunter that maybe take more away and gain a better understanding. IMO, the middle ground is the most important group to reach since they are truely the majority.
 

tipsntails7

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From the NRA Blog, pretty good defense for our case:

NRA Blog | An Open Letter to the Anti-Hunter

If you don’t approve of hunting, for whatever reason, I want you to know I appreciate you taking a minute to read this letter. My intention is to offer a couple facts about hunting you may not know. I don’t expect to change your mind altogether, but I do hope to provide some information that may create a more informed conversation.

You’re right. Our civilization has changed such that many people no longer need to directly participate in the food chain. Cities of us can go to grocery stores for the food we once grew or killed for ourselves. So, why then does hunting still matter?

You’re right. All living things have value. Animal lives matter, and that’s all animals, not just the one whose hair is stuck to your shirt right now. If that’s true, how can someone argue killing an animal is not only justified but important?

The on-going debate surrounding the value and ethics of hunting litters our news feeds and newspapers, often serving to divide those that hunt from those that don’t. I hunt. If that divides me from you, we need to talk, because it’s possible the very reason you oppose hunting may be among the most important reasons to support hunting.

The biosystems of our planet are under attack, and humans are largely to blame. Earth is experiencing record high average temperatures each year, and humans are devastating natural habitat on all continents at record pace. So, what are the facts about hunting? If they were better understood, could all people who love animals, and all people who care about the health of our planet find common ground?

Annually, over 13 million people hunt, nearly 40 million people fish, and more than 40 million people target shoot. The only emotion-based fact I’ll present in this letter is the following: hunting is a way of life for a lot of people. Most are ethical, well-meaning people. Some are not, just like any other cross-section of humanity. I started with this, because we’re already at an impasse if we can’t agree here. I’m an example of a hunter, so I’ll speak for myself. Many of my most cherished memories are times when I’ve been hunting. Hunting and fishing are a part of who I am, part of the way I look at the world, and part of my value system. Hunting doesn’t define me, no more than does being a Bernie Sanders voter, or homosexual, or Muslim define someone else. But hunting is absolutely part of my identity. There is literally nothing anyone can say to make me change that. Can we agree hunting is important to lots of people like me?

Okay, enough of the feely stuff.

Wildlife and wild lands are owned by the public, as prescribed by the Public Trust Doctrine. Each state has a fish and wildlife agency, which was given the responsibility to manage all wildlife via what’s called the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. Where success is measured by the proliferation of wild animals, this model of wildlife management is among the most effective in the history of mankind. See, we humans are a highly invasive species. Every day we till up wildlife habitat to grow more food, to build more infrastructure, and to meld the natural world to fit our every whim. The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation is one of the only proven barriers standing between wild places and animals and their decimation. And its implementation is not cheap.

Nearly every economic, social, and cultural trend is eating away at the prospect of wild animals thriving into the future. Except, perhaps ironically, hunting, fishing and recreational shooting. You’ve probably heard the argument, “hunters pay for conservation.” The extent to which this statement is true can be debated, but it is a fact that hunting plays a major role in conservation. Between 50-80% of all money spent on conservation in the United States, nearly three billion dollars, comes through one of three sources (in order of size): hunting/fishing license sales; excise taxes paid on hunting/fishing/recreational shooting gear; and donations to conservation non-profits. Hunting and fishing license sales are a pretty well understood concept. However, most people don’t know that sportsmen of generations past lobbied for and passed Pittman-Robertson (PR), the act that placed a tax on hunting and recreational shooting gear, then later Dingell-Johnson (DJ), the act that placed a tax on fishing gear. The funds from all three sources; licenses, donations, and excise taxes are used by your state fish and wildlife agency, as well as a myriad of non-government organizations, such as Ducks Unlimited, to do the work of managing wild places for wild animals.

Without PR/DJ, sustainability of our wild lands and wild things would face serious headwinds. One must have only a rudimentary understanding of economics to understand why. If left without protection and management, wild places would soon turn into farms, ranches, and housing developments. To fund that protection, some wild animals were given a “value,” quantified by the license fee paid to hunt or catch them. No true sportsman or woman would argue the value of a living thing can be quantified in dollars; it’s simply the only scalable way anyone on earth has come up with to ensure the necessary habitat exists to sustain all species. It’s a trade-off - kill some of the deer to make it economically viable to keep and manage the land on which all deer and most all other species live.

But, couldn’t we get conservation funding into the budgets of all levels of government; local, state, and federal?

The answer is probably yes, but the economics again tell a dooming story. Public lands, such as state recreation areas or national forests, are largely viewed as a sink on the tax base, especially in more developed or more agrarian areas of our country. No one pays property taxes on this land, and it’s more difficult to tie tax revenue back to it from tourism or other uses than it is to tax income from corn production on the same parcel. Thus, privatizing land for development or production is a strategy governmental entities use to increase their tax base. If you were a politician and your constituents were asking you to choose between health care for babies or keeping our public land public, what would you do? The debate over control of our public lands is a shining example of what will happen to our wild places when it’s time to sharpen the budget pencil.

Some of the favorite non-profit organizations of anti-hunters have taken to buying land. An example is the Humane Society of the United States’ Wildlife Land Trust. The novice biologist in me says, “great, more land for wild things.” But any wildlife biologist, for or against hunting, will tell you leaving land unmanaged is an untenable solution. Sure, it’s cheaper for the Wildlife Land Trust, but unmanaged land does little or nothing for wildlife. Nature used to do the management work for us. For thousands of years prairie habitat burned, invigorating successional habitat growth. Ignited by lightning, forest fires would burn until they simply went out. Today, firefighters feverishly dowse wildfires with chemicals and water in hopes of saving human life and assets. Ever been on a hike through a dense forest? Did you notice how animal diversity was most prolific outside of the most dense areas - perhaps where the forest opened up to a grassy area? Most woodland species are not adapted to compete in the most dense, unbroken forest cover. Just as most prairie species are not adapted to compete in the most dense, unbroken grassland areas.

The way I see it, it’s perfectly reasonable that you do not hunt. But, I want you to understand hunting plays a very serious role in the real-world conservation that sustains nearly all species of plant and animal on Earth. All people are in a lifelong dogfight to preserve the living things that inhabit our planet, especially you and me… since I took the time to write this letter and you took the time to read it. The left and right, the greenies and oil barons, the anti and pro-hunters – we’re all bound to this watery rock and can only take from it so much before we endanger the wild animals and places in our way. Let’s stop arguing and get to work.

Sincerely,
Eric Dinger
Founder of Powderhook

Thanks for posting Robby. I would love to see the NRA use some of their lobbying power to hunters advantages, instead of focusing solely on 2A issues. Maybe they realize hunting has become extremely popular and we have many in the ranks that are also heavily in favor of the 2A as well.



Although I would prefer if Ted Nugent never open his mouth regarding hunting again.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Muttly

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Read it, liked it. Lot of good points neatly summarized with a minimum of finger pointing or frothing at the mouth.
Might not quite sway a card carrying PETA member. Little extra food for thought for some one on the fence though.
 

Deepshax

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The only issue is facts and rationale arguments have no impact w/ irrational people. They cling to their premise's and paradigm's like a religion.
 

Where's Bruce?

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Here's the rant I copy and paste whenever I read anything anti-hunting. It has actually sparked some real dialog and even turned a few fencesitters but diehard antis dismiss facts and cling to their raw, uneducated emotion.

The only way to truly protect animals is to be pro-hunting. I realize this seems crazy to many but what most folks don’t know is that hunters fund over 75% of the wildlife management in America. They are the means by which an ecosystem is balanced, taking the necessary number of animals (as determined by wildlife biologists) to sustain healthy populations of every species. There is a limit to what any area can support, this is called its “carrying capacity” & must be maintained. That requires removal of some animals to prevent overpopulation. Understand the movie Lion King? It’s about maintaining a balance. Hunters provide & fund that balance, not treehuggers. If an animal population exceeds the carrying capacity of a region, you then see mass die-offs of a species…sometimes multiple species. They die from a lack of resources (food, water, bedding grounds) as well as exposure, and disease. But the biggest benefit to animals comes from HUNTER LOBBYING, FUNDING AND HABITAT PRESERVATION AND RESTORATION.

Take bison for example. Many people believe hunters nearly wiped them out and the government stepped in to protect them. The truth is exactly the opposite. The government commissioned the killing of North American bison to win the Indian wars. It was hunters who successfully lobbied the U.S. Congress for the protection of bison (some call em buffalo) and began breeding them. In the decades since they have been brought back from the brink of extinction to over half a million. There would be more but urban sprawl limits the unbridled wild breeding of these magnificent beasts.

Here's 10 Reasons Why Hunting is Conservation.

Reason No. 1 why Hunting Is Conservation: In 1907, only 41,000 elk remained in North America. Thanks to the money and hard work invested by hunters to restore and conserve habitat, today there are more than 1 million.

Reason No. 2 why Hunting Is Conservation: In 1900, only 500,000 whitetails remained. Thanks to conservation work spearheaded by hunters, today there are more than 32 million.

Reason No. 3 why Hunting Is Conservation: In 1900, only 100,000 wild turkeys remained. Thanks to hunters, today there are over 7 million.

Reason No. 4 why Hunting Is Conservation: In 1901, few ducks remained. Thanks to hunters’ efforts to restore and conserve wetlands, today there are more than 44 million.

Reason No. 5 why Hunting Is Conservation: In 1950, only 12,000 pronghorn remained. Thanks to hunters, today there are more than 1.1 million.

Reason No. 6 why Hunting Is Conservation: Habitat, research and wildlife law enforcement work, all paid for by hunters, help countless non-hunted species.

Reason No. 7 why Hunting Is Conservation: Through state licenses and fees, hunters pay $796 million a year for conservation programs.*

Reason No. 8 why Hunting Is Conservation: Through donations to groups like RMEF, hunters add $440 million a year to conservation efforts.*

Reason No. 9 why Hunting Is Conservation: In 1937, hunters actually requested an 11% tax on guns, ammo, bows and arrows to help fund conservation. That tax, so far, raised more than $7.2 billion for wildlife conservation.*

Reason No. 10 why Hunting Is Conservation: An 11% tax on guns, ammo, bows and arrows generates $371 million a year for conservation.*

*financial info via America’s Sporting Heritage: Fueling the American Economy (January 2013) & Hunting in America: An Economic Force for Conservation (January 2013)

If you truly care about the future of animals you will join us hunters in preserving them and fight the idiots who claim to be conservationists while “reintroducing” large species of wolves into areas they never actually lived before. Wolves are a huge problem adversely impacting all big game species. But don’t take my word for it…do your homework and look beyond the talking points of organizations who survive on grants to promote a single ideology or species protection. You cannot protect and preserve generations of all species if you don’t focus on all species and the carrying capacity constraints that determine their growth or decline. Hunters successfully preserve and improve animal populations (as proven above) and if you kill hunting then the animals die with it. Don’t be gullible…talk to hunters with an open mind and heart. You will discover they are the most passionate and actively engaged conservationists there are. Nobody does more for animals than hunters.

Even the liberals in Berkeley understand that without hunters and the wildlife management they fund, there would be no top predators left in Africa. See the research for yourself.
Lion King: Berkeley Carnivore Research Works to Halt the Decline of African Predators | California Magazine
 

ben h

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Bruce, I like your write up better. More concise. I think if it takes longer than 30 seconds to read, nobody will (I didn't read the long winded version and I'm pro-hunting).

I agree that hunting promotes conservation and wildlife management. We have a waterfowl bird refuge just north of Salt Lake City, all of which was paid for by hunters (not sure if it was state licenses or federal duck stamps). In the winter a lot of bird watchers like to go out there as well, which I have no problem with, but they've never paid a penny to help make it or maintain it. It's crazy to me how much wildlife live in marshes.

In early November, I had the opportunity to assist my friend's 74 year old dad on a once in a lifetime Buffalo hunt in the Book Cliffs, UT (We were successful opening day after we muffed up at 1st light). It was the 1st time I had been out there and that place is HUGE! A few weeks later I read on the DNR website that the Book Cliffs herd is only around 250 Buffalo, which seemed shockingly low considering how much land there is out there. On Thanksgiving, I ran into our local DNR officer (Jack Lydle) who used to do a bit of work in the Books and I asked him why the herd count was so low considering the available land. He told me that they have to manage the land and consider other stakeholders such as cattle ranchers, which I can understand, but it seems lopsided that there are 1,000's of cows and a couple hundred buffalo, for a OIL tag. Considering how subsidized the cattle industry is, they'd make WAY more money selling OIL buffalo tags than the $1.50/month/head or so that they get for grazing (I heard that price a long time ago, it's probably different now). I have no idea how grazing rights work, but would be really interested to hear someone's opinion on how purchasing rights works. I think there could be a lot more game animals if hunters or other groups got rid of cattle on public land; I don't really care if the price of beef which I rarely eat goes up. Also we have a cabin in eastern Utah and spend about $9k/year for the whole community, repairing our fence to keep cattle out, which I think is more than they pay to have the cattle on the adjacent FS property. By the way those "little" cows get in that are cute will KICK YOUR ASS, if you rope them and don't know what you're doing (I don't)!
 

boom

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“I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” M. Twain.
 

Johnboy

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The biosystems of our planet are under attack, and humans are largely to blame. Earth is experiencing record high average temperatures each year, and humans are devastating natural habitat on all continents at record pace. So, what are the facts about hunting?

I don't think this statement contributes any benefit to the argument. Why muddle a controversial discussion with an even more highly controversial statement? Those who don't ascribe to the idea that global warming ("climate change", etc) is manmade will find irony in such a statement being immediately followed by the implication that what are to follow can be taken as "facts". It's basically saying, "given these facts, let's discuss some more facts", never mind that the so-called "facts" are highly political and hotly disputed.
 
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kicker338

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Let me see if I can answer your 10 points Bruce from what might be an anti hunters view. All 10 points point to the killing of animals which is wrong END OF DISCUSSION.
 

Stwrt9

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it's a well written letter and makes a ton of sense to rational people but for the most part the people who make up the anti-hunter/PETA movement aren't exactly rational thinkers. You have to have an open mind and be able to reason fact over beliefs and sadly i just don't think that they can be reasoned with! The only hope is to continue to put the facts out there and hope that you can influence/reason with the ones closer towards the middle ground.
 

idelkslayer

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I've found that most anti-hunters and hunters aren't even discussing the same things when they debate wildlife management. Hunters look at wildlife on a population scale while anti-hunters are more concerned with individual animals. Theirs is an emotional stance based on the individual animals right to life. With that viewpoint, there is never an acceptable human caused mortality. They would much rather see game populations overrun their habitat and die in mass starvation than see hunters kill enough for the remainder to survive the winter. Don't ask me how they think that is better but it is the attitude that I have most frequently encountered. Reason does not breach the barrier of "individual" versus "population" scale wildlife management. When presented with the possibility of unhunted populations exceeding habitat capacity they state that we should allow natural predators to take our place.

Hunters on the other hand care about game animal populations, hunting is acceptable to us because our view is that as long as the herd is capable of replacing the harvest share in new recruitment each year then it is sustainable and renewable. To the antis, a hunter killed deer is a lost life and gone forever and therefore not renewable.
 

Kevin Dill

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Personally I would never write a letter to an avowed anti-hunter. I wouldn't try to change their minds, educate them or convince them of any viewpoint held by hunters...unless they made the reach and wanted to open up dialogue. The truth to me is that both sides (hunting vs anti-hunting) rely on combinations of emotion and logic (per the individual) to argue and defend their beliefs. We hunters try to appear calm, analytical and logical as we talk about the need for hunting to continue. But emotion is a huge component of why we love and are driven to hunt. It comes through at some point in our argument and sometimes betrays the logical man. There's nothing wrong with flat-out taking the position of how much we love and are invested emotionally in the hunting traditions. Be honest and don't apologize or cover to anyone. You don't go to a steakhouse because you need a 1,700 calorie meal. You're there because you love it and crave it. Own it.

It's the non-hunters who are on the fence I'm most interested in. Letters or appeals to them are great, but I say avoid the trap of dodging emotions and going totally on science or logic. Certainly that should be the foundational footing of our contention that animals need to be hunted. Being that we are all emotional creatures, people more quickly identify and empathize with those who express reasonable and understandable emotion. Plus it helps us avoid the stone-cold killer stereotype attached to hunters. Anti-hunters know the value of using emotion to amplify their message and propaganda...because it works. It works like crazy and that's why they constantly play that card against us. I'm here to say that our emotions are as important and potentially useful as theirs in helping us defend our wildlife populations and traditional ways of life.
 
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