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Stand Together Or Fall Apart – HSUS Hopes To Blatantly Pit Hunters Against Houndsman

June 13, 2012

It’s been said a lot in various debates among the hunting community, particularly over really divisive issues such as baiting, high fence hunting, and hound hunting.  “We’ve got to stand together or we’re done!”

There’s a lot of truth to that statement, despite its apparent banality. 

It’s not simple paranoia to suggest that a key tactic of the anti-hunters is to divide and conquer.  It’s one of the most basic strategies there is, and when it comes to hunters, it’s pretty damned effective.  Just call out one facet of hunting that gets a lot of negative attention, and BOOM!  A schism appears and those folks on the wrong side of the discussion find themselves cast adrift. 

It happened with Prop 117, banning mountain lion hunts.  Hunters who didn’t hunt lions either took no position on the grounds that it didn’t affect them, or worse, they actually sided with the ban proponents.  Heck, those TV spots made it look pretty bad. 

And now it’s about to happen again with SB 1221, the bill that would ban hunting bears and bobcats with hounds in CA.  The tactics haven’t changed a bit.  Set the hunting community at large apart from the houndsmen, and leave that smaller group to fend for themselves.  A ban on hound hunting wouldn’t make any difference to someone who doesn’t hunt with hounds, right?  If it’s such an objectionable pursuit, then why not sacrifice it on the altar of compromise with the anti-hunters… make the rest of us hunters look good? 

Except it doesn’t work that way. 

The anti-hunting organizations want one thing… an end to hunting.  Not just the stuff that seems most egregiously “unsporting”, as they may lead you to believe, but an end to ALL hunting.  En toto.  They’ll take every easy victory they can win, but don’t think for a moment that they’ll be willing to stop there.  If they can’t bring down hunting in one fell swoop, they’ll dismantle it piecemeal.  A hound hunt here.  Mourning doves there.  Hunting over bait over yonder. Long range hunting up the road.  Crossbows.  Archery.  High fence.  Until suddenly, those hunters who weren’t affected find themselves shut out completely.

It’s time to stop and step back.  Put your personal biases on the shelf for a moment, and consider the multiple assaults on hunting around the country right now.  Notice that none of them are general, and all are couched in terms like “fair chase” and “sportsmanship.”  Whether it’s dove hunting in Iowa or bear hunting with hounds in California, the challenges are all intended to draw a divide between “ethical” hunters and those who participate in these “fringe” aspects of the sport. 

In Iowa, one of the leading arguments is that doves are too small to be much use as food, and are shot merely for sport… as feathered, living targets.  To the ignorant non-hunter, this is pretty damning stuff.  To the hunters who don’t pursue doves, it rings a certain chime of truth… based on their prejudices.  Fortunately, in that state, the hunters rallied together to fight the ban and have dove seasons reinstated.  Victory through unanimous effort. 

In CA, SB1221 is nearly passed.  If it gets through the Assembly, the last stop is the desk of Governor Jerry Brown.  Brown is full of surprises, and maybe he’ll stomp on this one.  But if the backlash from hunters isn’t significant enough, he may pass it along into law just to follow the path of least resistance.  Will the hunters who don’t use dogs come together with the houndsmen to fight this thing?  It’s a good question, and I hope the answer is, “yes.” 

But if SB1221 is defeated, the HSUS has a fallback plan (according to this article in the SF Chronicle)…  to attempt a ban on all bobcat and bear hunting in the state. 

 “The hunting lobby is stirring the electorate on this,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of the Human Society. “They can get rid of hounding and deal with a segment of their community that is not well respected. Or they can potentially lose all bear and bobcat hunting.”

That’s a blatant attempt to force hunters to take sides on the issue, playing on the traditional divide between houndsmen and other hunters.  I’m a little surprised that Pacelle showed his hand like this, but doing so shows a complacent confidence that he’s got this one in the bag.  He’s counting on the fact that hunters are a tiny constituency at the polls, and that there are enough hunters who dislike hound hunting to offset those who rally to the cause of the houndsmen. 

This is how the anti-hunters play the game, folks.  It’s not fair, but it’s the reality.  So before you climb up on a high horse to deride some hunting practice you don’t like, consider your motivations and their effects.  What is that practice really hurting?  Is it really bad enough to risk the alienation of a potential, pro-hunting voter?  Is it important enough to threaten the very future of our sport?

Just something to consider… written hastily after midnight. 

 

 

Anti-Hunting Success In CA Affects All Hunters

May 31, 2012

“Where California leads, the rest of the nation soon follows.”

That aphorism holds true in many areas, from fashion to technology.  CA is a big state, with a big population, and a lot of very innovative and creative minds.  But not all of that creativity is necessarily a good thing.  For example, the creative minds of the anti-hunting lobby, and some of the lies and mistruths they come up with to steer the general public, and the state’s politicians toward their way of thinking.  The most recent example was the successful campaign to ban hunting bear and bobcats with dogs.

I was remiss in my own coverage of this issue, in large part because I had a lot of other things on my plate.  I was just “too busy.”  I can’t fight every battle.  No excuses, just explanation… I’m not a houndsman, and I’m not well-versed on the issues that I thought were at hand.  So, like many other hunters who “weren’t involved”, I sort of let it play out.  I didn’t even read the stacks and stacks of emails I received on the topic, either from the anti-hunting side (I’m on several of their mailing lists) or the pro-hunting side.  As a result, I missed out on some pretty glaring bullshit and lies.

Could I have made a difference?  Probably not… or at least not on my own.  But if all the hunters who didn’t think they’d be affected, or those who were just too busy to get informed or involved, had taken the time to pay attention, contact their elected officials, and spread the word… this may well have turned out differently. 

The US Sportsman’s Association (USSA) didn’t put their heads in the sand, however, and they were pretty involved and vocal to try to rally hunters against this bill.  Their success, unfortunately, was limited.  But the failure to stop the campaign doesn’t mean this is over, and the USSA just posted a pretty sharp blog post to explain why hunters all over the country should be concerned about the anti-hunters’ victory in CA, and even moreso, about the deceitful tactics used to achieve that success.

Here are a couple of examples:

 3)     Misleading Facts – The Number of States That Allow Hound Hunting:
 
The bill’s author likes to point out that 2/3rds of the U.S. doesn’t allow bear hunting with hounds.  That’s a nice sound bite, but the truth of the matter is 18 states don’t even have a huntable population of bears!  Of the 32 states that hunt bear, 18 allow the use of dogs – nearly 60%.   Of the states with more than 2,000 bears – 16 of 23 allow you to use dogs – 70%.  The anti’s argument would be akin to arguing for a ban on elk hunting in California because Ohio doesn’t allow it (Nevermind the fact that Ohio doesn’t have Elk!).

4)     Pictures – GPS collars

This one is another favorite of the animal rights lobby.  In California, they are sending packets of information to each legislators office that include things they claim are unsightly deeds such as dogs wearing GPS collars, which they claim prevents hunting bear hunting from being a fair chase.  What they don’t tell you, is that GPS collars are already ILLEGAL in California.  The pictures they are using are from another state all-together.

The point is pretty clear.  America’s hunters need to start paying closer attention to the efforts of these anti-hunting organizations, and to start challenging the lies of our opponents with facts.  We need to be involved, even when we don’t think the issue involves us, because the truth is, every successful strike against hunting chisels away at the foundation of our sport. 

As the number of hunters continues to decline, what little political clout we may have once held dwindles as well.  And as more and more people are exposed to prejudicial lies and misinformation, the public support we once held is also weakened.  It doesn’t paint a pretty picture for the future. 

So here’s the question.  How do we make a difference?  What will it take for America’s hunters to counter the tactics of the anti-hunters and animal rights organizations?  Or is our sport, in the long run, doomed?

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