“If you are not working to protect hunting, then you are working to destroy it.”
Hunting is a diverse sport in that people of all ages, ethnicities, social classes, backgrounds, and physical abilities can and do participate. Each year men, women, and children pick up a bow, rifle, or shotgun for the first time and set out to experience the sport that we all live for. Many of these people come from families that aren’t traditional hunting families, or maybe anti-hunting families, and thus are entering an unfamiliar world with no passed-down knowledge to guide them. There are two easy avenues to turn to for “knowledge” and information about hunting: social media and the Google machine. Since search engines will generate an almost infinite amount of results it probably seems easier for beginners to turn to social media, either for an answer or at least in hopes of someone pointing them in the right direction. Many experienced hunters also turn to social media as well, assuming that groups of like-minded people will surely be the best source of information. Unfortunately for people new to hunting, or for anyone looking for advice for that matter, there are often wolves lurking behind the social media groups.
Now before I go any further let me be clear, that old saying “there is no such thing as a stupid question”…..wrong, wrong, wrong. There are plenty of stupid questions, especially if you read social media comments. As it pertains to this post, some examples are as such: “I have never been to Colorado and I want to kill a trophy elk. Where do I go?”, or “I just saw the picture you posted of that monster deer you tagged. Can you tell me what unit you were in and send me the coordinates of where you got him?” I’m sure it’s hard to fight the urge to return a venomous response to a question like this for many people and maybe it is warranted in some cases. “Play stupid games, win stupid prizes” is a phrase I use often and it seems applicable to these situations. On the other hand, many hunters, new or otherwise, don’t know or understand that these types of questions might be rude, tactless, or just plain stupid.
This morning I clicked on a question someone had posted in a social media group I follow. I don’t know the person but one could assume this guy was somewhat experienced as he said he was looking to hunt a different unit in Colorado than he usually hunts. This gentleman simply asked what the terrain and vegetation was like in the unit, nothing else. He also gave the generic social media disclaimer we have likely all read before; “I’m not asking for your honey hole, just looking for information”. When I read that statement it seems pretty clear to me that someone is looking for basic information and they are trying to buffer the all too often nasty responses they get from group members assuming they are trying to poach valuable intel. I then scrolled down and read some of the responses. While many people gave the guy some good pointers and/or pointed him to useful resources, some of the answers were idiotic and embarrassing. One keyboard commando even replied, in all caps of course to show he was serious, by telling the guy to do his own research. Good call tough guy, it seems like that is exactly what he was doing by asking a very basic question that gives away virtually nothing with a simple answer. Does an answer such as “There is lots of thick blow down at lower altitudes and it’s pretty steep and rocky above tree line” really give away much? If you are so guarded about information doesn’t it seem best to just pass the question up without responding? As I mentioned above, stupid questions will probably generate stupid responses, but simple questions like this seem pretty harmless.
I understand there are many stressors in today’s hunting world. Government trying their best to sell public land, greed making it harder to find land to hunt unless you have a thick wallet and a lease agreement in hand, flawed points systems that are making it increasingly harder, or impossible, to draw decent tags, and of course the ever present morons that harm all of us by violating laws that govern hunting and/or land access. You can add laziness to this list as well, and it quite possibly belongs very high on the list. Hunters that are too lazy to learn, practice, train, educate themselves, follow the law, learn through their own failures, WORK FOR IT, etc. I understand the frustration and get why people react to the “take me to the trophy” questions. But, to those truly and innocently seeking help or looking for guidance, we have to do better. Hunting is a tradition bigger than anyone’s ego, and it should be treated with respect. Access to hunting is an awesome thing that is available to everyone unless you have lost your right to hunt because of terrible life decisions. If you are such a badass, behind your keyboard or in real life, that you can’t provide some generic guidance to a fellow hunter or a newcomer wanting to learn, maybe it’s time to take a look at yourself. Shouldn’t you want to share your knowledge and connection to hunting with others in an effort to preserve the traditions and opportunities afforded to us all?