Opinion: Hunting in the Face of Confrontation

Hunters want to hunt. Anti-hunters want to stop the hunt. When the two meet, the confrontation can take on a life of its own and quickly get out of hand.

Opinion: Hunting in the Face of Confrontation

The bottom line is that hunters are at a disadvantage when openly confronted by well-organized and well-trained antis. Photo: iStockphoto.com/Ladanifer

When we talk about hunting in the face of confrontation, it can have several meanings. For example, organizations such as the National Rifle Association and Safari Club International consistently fight for hunters’ rights before elected bodies and courts throughout the land, and in SCI’s case, around the world. 

Those advocacy efforts fall into the category of being in the face of confrontation, because those are the places where the anti-hunters unleash their top dogs in both sophisticated and rude and crude efforts to stop hunting. Antis are not nice people. They truly hate hunters and hunting.          

Other times, hunters find themselves face to face with anti-hunters who confront hunters to keep them from carrying out the hunt. These efforts can range from demonstrations at areas where hunters park their vehicles before going into the woods, to making noise in the wilds to scare animals away from hunters, to sabotaging hunting equipment and anything between. Understand that among anti-hunters are some eco-terrorists. These are the same criminals who spike trees to hurt loggers, blow up electric power facilities and that sort of thing. They are dangerous. 

The first time I experienced a full-on, in-the-field attack on hunters and hunting by the antis was in the 1980s in California when the state conducted its first bighorn sheep hunt in 114 years. It was in the Mojave Desert and squads of antis descended on the area from all over — some from as far away as England. That confrontation ended up being a poster child for some of the things not to do in such instances. For example, a hunting guide placed seven of the antis under citizen’s arrest and they were detained in a horse trailer for a while. One anti claimed his nose was broken in the process. The antis then attempted to serve papers in a $1 million lawsuit, etc., because of that action. The point is that stuff happened, and things quickly escalated.           

All of this took place when there were agents of the state and the federal government in the area throughout the hunt. It is not always safe to assume authorities will step in and help hunters, even though hunters are engaged in legal activities and the antis are breaking the law.           

All sides in the hunting debate have evolved since the 1980s and have adopted more sophisticated strategies and tactics. Some antis are normal folks who just don’t like hunting. Others are zealots who know no bounds, many of whom are domestic terrorists. It takes only one or a few of the criminal terrorists among protesters to guide the tide of activity.           

Hard-core antis’ hatred of hunters and the hunt is like a form of religion. Many of them are atheists, so their faith has to be based on conjured-up beliefs that fit their warped view of the world. They think they are on a mission to save animals, even though they don’t do anything themselves to actually help wildlife. They are more anti-human than they are pro-animal. They project their self-loathing onto hunters.           

For individual hunters, it is best to avoid direct confrontation with anti-hunters in the field, if possible. That precludes any of the many problems that can arise as a result of showdowns. Since hunters usually have some kind of firearm, there is a heightened possibility that some anti will allege impropriety even when there is none. Many states have laws specifically prohibiting interfering with hunts. But there can be problems even where anti-harassment laws are in effect, and that is whether they will actually be enforced.           

Anti-hunters are very organized and well-schooled in how far they can press something without technically breaking a law. Typically, they record their activities. When there are no law enforcement officers around, antis have been known to call them and report that a hunter has done something wrong — such as assaulted them, etc., even when no such thing ever happened.           

When antis are being aggressive and breaking the law, call authorities and report their illegal activity quickly. This way the hunter is on record as reporting a crime. Sometimes it can make a difference who first reports that someone has done something wrong. On occasion, anti-hunters have gone into the woods with bullhorns or other loud devices to scare animals away from hunters. Harassing wildlife is illegal, so such activity is something that should be reported to the authorities immediately. 

Another reason why it is good to bring the confrontational antis to the attention of law enforcement is that, to the extent possible, it is good when their identities can be known and recorded by officers. Some of the antis might be domestic terrorists, and some of them might have outstanding warrants for their arrest stemming from previous illegal activities somewhere else. They need to be brought to justice. Also, it is important to create documentation when dealing with hardcore anti-hunters. Although an isolated incident might not seem like much, if a particular anti has a long record of being a provocateur, it can make a difference downstream. 

The bottom line is that hunters are at a disadvantage when openly confronted by well-organized and well-trained antis. Often, antis outnumber hunters in a given place and their harassment is intended to get the hunter to do something wrong. If they succeed in this, then they have ended that hunter’s hunt. 

Don’t allow emotions to rule. Make logical decisions. Ultimately, both sides in such confrontations have a goal. The hunter wants to go hunting and the anti wants to stop the hunt. If the hunter behaves in a way the results in the hunt happening, the hunter wins. If the hunter does something that precludes the hunt from happening, the anti wins. Do what it takes to do the hunt.


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