It has been a tough time recently for hunting,
The “Anti” hunting community have been at the forefront of a systematic bullying campaign against hunters and they seem to have the backing of the UK media with a number of what has turned out to be, now, high profiles cases.
Hunting has always been a kind of Taboo subject in the UK and most who are involved in the community were either born or brought up in and around the countryside giving first hand knowledge and understanding of hunting and the reasons for it.
Understandably the general population of the UK are not from country back-rounds so the understanding of hunting pursuits and practices are very limited and hidden by myths and beliefs of illegal practices and conspiracies. In the perception of the average “non country folk” hunting is for the rich and the few.
These ideas cannot be further from the truth, there is more than 200 thousand members of the hunting community in the UK in various forms from Fishing to Deer stalking. Hunting is not just a past time but it is the heritage of this country.
Whole communities were made, and still depend on, hunting in regards to employment and follow-up business. So it is a big part of the country’s economy, generating an estimated 2 billion pounds just in shooting sports alone in the UK. That figure does not reflect on recreational fishing and other field sports such as Falconry etc.
It is to be expected that the hunting community is open to backlash, but recently this has been less focused on Estates and large companies and more directed towards individuals within the hunting community.
With the rise of social media platforms such as Facebook hunters have been able to congregate, chat and share photos of their hunting experiences.
Much of these hunting groups are focused on advice and chat about legal issues and ethics with the odd sharing of exploits. The majority of hunting related groups are well moderated by teams of experienced hunters and professional outdoors men and women. The conversations are mature and informative in regards to equipment and technology as well of simple things like what clothes to wear and most of all there is high emphasis on what is tolerated in regards to publishing photos of kills.
With the height of these social media groups the “anti” hunting community has found material against individuals and information that they have never had access to before. With access to individuals names, location and a face to put to the name they have all the material they need to illegally stalk and intimidate individual members of the hunting community. Much of this intimidation and attacks are against female members of the hunting community. The perception of these “antis” is that women in the sport glamorise hunting, which is ridiculous.
More recently the tabloid press has taken to publishing a number of articles against female hunters in the perception that they support the anti hunting attitude furthering exposing to activists MORE information about these female hunters in more depth.
Recently we at Field Sports Scotland have witnessed such comments against our community first hand and it has been Appalling.
Like this comment from Holly Leia Otis from Cumbernauld –
This was in response to an article in the Daily Mail about Lisa Taylor’ Facebook page entitled “lisa’s shooting & hunting experience”.
The Article Highlights that Lisa Taylor, a single mum from the South of England, Eats what she hunts and fills her freezer with “venison and wild boar”, a practice that many hunters benefit from.
This article and a number of articles published subsequently were published without Miss Taylors approval or solicitation given to the question to whether the “Press” supports the anti hunting community.
FSS asked Miss Taylor
“How did you feel when you saw the original article”
Miss Taylor has given a Statement in response to this:
“My first initial thought was “How can they do that without my consent?”
Then started receiving abuse from antis, I just ignored them and reported the death threats to the police straight away.
It spiralled from there and I have had to close the page down for a few days to stop anymore media press get anymore info from that hunting page. Which has worked.”
In reading the article the Mail fails to address the health advantages of eating wild meat and the conservation values that hunting brings to the UK. Many hunter for instance will know that a Venison burger is around 300 calories less than a similar sized beef burger and sausages from Wild Boar have 30% less fat than that of a pork sausage from a farmed pig.
The article by the Mail was very much a one-sided article not highlighting the good reasons one why Lisa Hunts and eats what she hunts.
(FSS has asked the Daily Mail for a comment on the abuse that Miss Taylor has received by “antis” after their article but has of yet replied with a comment).
Another incident highlighted to FSS is the sad news of the death of Spanish Huntress Melania Capitan,
Melania was a 27-year-old Huntress from Catalonia in Spain, her popularity grew through social media with 39 thousand followers.
Sadly she took her life, although, we have no evidence that it was due to the systematic abuse that she received by the anti hunting community we can presume that constant abuse contributed to her mental state. Even after Miss Capitan’ death the abuse continued some basically saying ” good riddance” and “She’s finished the lives of many animals and no one defended the death of them… I think our [lives are] worth the same as theirs,”. These type of comments should not be tolerated by anyone we can only imagine what the abuse was like when she was alive.
Hunting and the Economy
Hunters in the UK LEGALLY do what they do with backing from the government. Hunting contributes not just to the UK’s economy but also to the conservation of the UK.
Some of the facts that are forgotten in the “Tabloid press” is that ALL conservation charities in the UK perform cull programs on animal species on land they maintain.
The RSPB ( Royal Society for the Protection of Birds ), The Woodland Trust and Trees For life all do large Deer culling on their properties throughout the UK. Much of these charities income comes from those who support anti hunting. These charities are very discreet in regards to their culling due to the fear that their donors will stop financing their activities if they knew that they shoot thousands of deer per year in the UK. Total hypocrisy.
Hunting in the UK is under constant scrutiny, police forces making it harder and harder to obtain and renew firearms and shotgun certificates, Increased taxes and restrictions on sporting estates with the introduction of land reform and the backlash from the media giving material to the anti hunting lobby.
Attitudes within the hunting community also need to change, there is a huge division between the disciplines and although there is a perception of unity there is still influential elements that are “anti” certain hunting disciplines, so with antis within the hunting community life becomes harder and forced further and further into discretion and secrecy.
Hunters hunt for various reasons and every hunter I know have said that it is nothing to do with killing. Varied healthy diet, Fitness, the challenge, the peace and quiet, the freedom and the adventure and also the conservation aspect are all factors of why hunters hunt.
Educate the Public
I believe that further information and education is needed within the general population of the country to highlight the benefits of hunting to the UK to show that hunting benefits everyone not just the hunter.
FSS asked one anti “where do you get your meat” his reply was “Tesco” ,
The general population actually do not know where they get their meat. For instance, not many people know that Weight Watchers venison comes from Highland Game which gets their meat from individual forestry contractors and much of the game meat we get in our supermarket is not from a farm but is from wild animals, who do they think kills these wild animals.
The humanity of Hunters
There is belief and it is fact that what we do as hunters is far more humane to the well-being of an animal than farming, the process is far gentler than crushing cows in a pen and making them watch one by one getting stunned and slaughtered in abattoir while being prodded and poked.
Education and a change is the key but something legally has to happen in regards to the activities of these Anti hunting activists, these people are targeting innocent people who are legally going about their business, there is nothing illegal happening and hunters are being vilified as criminals when they are not and are in fact HIGHLY regulated.
When a fisherman or a stalker shows a picture of what they have caught it is no different from an athlete showing off his medals it is a pride thing not a gloat or glamorisation of the activity or the fact they have killed something it is proof of achievement and proof needed by local authorities that the licenses you have are being used for their intended use.
Appeal to Antis
My only response to the anti hunting community, I understand what we do is not YOUR way of life and is not for you. I understand your perception of hunting is barbaric and in humane, but, what we do is legal and highly restricted, it is not just a past time but a way of life, it is nothing to be ashamed off.
There is far worse things that affect our environment than hunting, spraying of vegetable fields of pesticides is harmful to not just wildlife and insects it is also harmful to our lungs and the atmosphere.
The deer population in the UK thrives because of hunting, if it was not for hunting deer of all species would breed themselves into extinction. With no natural predators in the UK deer will starve themselves to death with lack of food. Forest life will change and the ecology of the countryside will be severely effected due to increased deer population over feeding and in winter you will see mass death of deer on our hillside due to starvation and dehydration. Small blocks of forestry can only sustain a small amount of deer before being severely affected by over browsing.
We live in a small country and we do not have masses amount of land available for wildlife. A balance is needed and hunting as a whole helps monitor and manage that balance everything from catch, monitor and release programs for salmon to duck and game counts. All this research is done by hunters, average every day ladies and gentleman of the hunting community send their information through their membership body that later inform the government on the path they need to take to keep that balance right.
So you see what we do is not just hunt, in the process of actively protecting our sports we actively help protect our species also.
You will never see a true hunter vandalise or spray harmful paints on buildings or property, you will never see them damage vital hedgerows fencing in protest. You will never see them attack people for going about their day-to-day business or sending death threats to people or tearing up the countryside in vehicles or scaring animals away from certain grounds disturbing livestock and wild animals alike. The average hunter will be the one quietly respecting the countryside and his environment and just getting on with his life.
We have come a long way from the “If its brown it’s down” mentality of the Victorian period to managing and protecting the environment we love, that you love, without hunting we could honestly see a far different UK.