Your Photos are Antis' Ammunition

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a bad picture might be worth a million.

Those of us who care about hunting can no longer afford to dismiss the fact that some of the images we share and post on social media are, at a minimum, having a negative effect on the public image of hunting, if not providing animal rights and anti-hunting groups ample cannon fodder with which to fire back at us.

Our hunting and our images used to be contained to our magazines, photo albums, camps and gatherings. Now they are on television and posted everywhere with no story and no context. Blaming the Internet for this misfortune is like blaming a fork for our expanding waistline.

We’re hunters. We get it. Animals die in hunting. But to a global audience of non-hunters who may gain access to our photos, hunting images have proven offensive. Then there are the anti-hunting trolls just looking for anything they can use to turn people against hunting.

The reality today is ethical hunting encompasses more; it now extends to what we do on social media. Another old saying applies here: Look before you leap.

Here are some helpful tips for not getting bloodied and personally attacked on social media from posting images and stories about your hunting adventures online:

  • Make sure your privacy settings are set so only the people you want to have access to your social media accounts have access. Read more about privacy settings at this link.
  • Avoid images showing blood and tongue; bullet entry or exit; arrows; standing or sitting on the animal; posing with your animal or birds as if they are a prop and you are the conquering hero; or hanging from the back of a truck or backhoe, etc.
  • Try to include images that tell the whole story of a memorable experience, not just the end result.

As hunters, we need never apologize for all that we do and what sportsmen have done for wildlife and wildlife habitat conservation. We do however have an obligation to demonstrate respect for the hunted and the sensitivity of others who also care about wildlife.

Hunting and Social Media
Hunting and Social Media
Please watch before you comment, and share if you agree.
Posted by Boone and Crockett Club on Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Link:  How Social Media Helped Take Down British Columbia’s Grizzly Hunt

Here's a few more examples out of hundreds, in which hunter's images are being used to garner support against hunting:

In the news recently:



The literal meaning of “fair chase” is often confused because the word “fair” has many meanings and uses. For example, we go to the fair, there is fair ball, fair weather, fair skin, fair chance, fair play, and the fairway in golf. When the word “fair” is paired with “chase,” it implies hunting is fair or equal. It is not. “Fair” does however, underscore that there are restrictions or limitations we place on the methods and means of hunting designed to prevent the defenses of game animals from being overwhelmed.

A good example of such a restriction occurred in the early days using hounds to drive deer into lakes or ponds where they were easily slaughtered by men in boats. This practice was deemed to be both unsporting and more than what deer populations could bear, and it was outlawed. A more modern example involves banning the use of aircraft to spot or herd game and land in the vicinity to hunt them. Today, we have laws that set the time period from which hunters can fly and hunt the same day.

The use of “fair” in fair chase is actually based on the alternative definition of fair that means legitimate, honorable, genuine, or appropriate in the circumstances. In this context and beyond the laws that are established to maintain a sustainable harvest, it is up to the hunter to apply what fair means to them.

When we do try to apply the literal meaning of fair to hunting, two things happen. One, we squabble among ourselves. Have you ever been in a debate with someone who prefers to hunt on the ground and who thinks tree stands are not fair? The second thing that happens is we play right into the anti-hunters’ hands who constantly misuse and misrepresent fair chase because they believe all hunting is unfair. You can't shoot holes in legitimate, honorable, genuine, or appropriate circumstances.


"Sport" Hunting

The term “sport hunting,” emerged at a time in history when our society had awoken to the plight of wildlife, and commercial market hunting was rightfully being rejected. Sport hunting was used to describe hunting for personal reasons and not for profit; a form of hunting with an honor code that defined the rules of engagement based on the quality of the hunt, not the quantity of game taken. The “sport” in sport hunting, was never intended to imply hunting was a sport. It meant only a sporting approach to hunting, a way to distinguish the true hunter from the market hunter.

A sporting approach recognizes the advantage of human capabilities, including technologies, and represents a desire to constrain ourselves by limiting our advantage to give the animals we pursue a legitimate chance to escape. It supports the no-guarantees nature of hunting, which is the hallmark of a sportsman; one who carries with him or her a sporting approach.

A Shot Too Far

“If there is a sacred moment in the ethical pursuit of game, it is the moment you release the arrow or touch off the fatal shot.”―Jim Posewitz

Long-range shooting, extreme long-range shooting, sniper hunting—call it what you will, but there is no denying this trend is pushing the limits of ethical hunting and fair chase, leaving us with more questions than answers. The first is, why should we care?

The simple and obvious answer is, as sportsmen, we have a responsibility to hunt ethically and that includes quick, assured, humane kills. Extreme shot distance bends this probability curve exponentially.

Our firearms have long had the capability of sending bullets downrange to distances over a mile. Technology has improved to more reliably know where these bullets will hit. Neither of these things are in question. What is in question is where does hunting end and shooting begin?

Any study of this question leads to the fact that the answer cannot be measured in yards. What’s too far for one person is within the comfort range of someone else. This is to say each of us have our own comfort zone, or our maximum effective range. But there are other variables: prevailing conditions such as wind, elevation, barometer, shot angle and the body size of the game we’re hunting. Then there is the degree of skill, experience and practice each of us has. There is also what each of us seeks from our hunting experiences. Some like the chase, the chess match; engaging the animal and getting in close, even if well within their maximum effective range.

Increasingly, more people—regardless of their skills—who choose to test their marksmanship on game animals are posing unforeseen issues: shooting over the heads of unseen hunters who are downrange, for example, and the undetected wounding of distant animals. Back to our question: Where does hunting end and shooting begin when everyone involved believes they are hunting in the first place?

If we know this can’t be answered in yards, then the answer lies in intent. If your intent is to hunt the animal, get as close as possible for a sure shot within your maximum-effective range, with a concern for a high-probability, safe shot, you’re hunting. If your intent is to see how far you can hit a live target and/or best your last performance, you’re shooting. There is nothing illegal about extreme long-range shooting. There’s nothing in the hunting regulations about maximum allowable distance, but this is a website on hunting ethics.

Extreme Long Range Shooting and Hunting
Is extremely long range shooting hunting?
Posted by Boone and Crockett Club on Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Athletes Who Hunt

Bo knows hunting. So do the rest of us.

We’re athletes by birth and by culture. Our ancestors were athletes, if for no other reason than they had to catch their food and avoid being eaten themselves. Next to “mama,” “ball” was the first word out of our mouth for most of us. Neighborhood pickup games led to elementary schools sports, then middle school, high school, college for some, and the pros for even fewer. We don’t shake our athletic roots easily.

Many of the sports we played as youngsters we don’t play that much later in life. There are a few exceptions like golf, tennis, and swimming. One physical activity we do carry forward is hunting.

The physical challenge of hunting has been one of its powerful attractions for generations. Lungs filled with crisp, clear air, sometimes burning; aching, tired and sore muscles tell us a good effort was involved. These are badges of honor for hunters. Sometimes—more often than not, for many of us—that’s all we come home with. We put ourselves to the test mentally and physically in uncomfortable, sometimes outright miserable conditions. And we do it on purpose.

Naturally some hunts are more physically challenging and demanding than others, and those mountains get taller as the years pass. This is the good stuff only a hunter knows. So why are we talking about this on a website dedicated to hunter ethics and fair chase? It’s because the prevailing public perception of hunting is that it is easy; you just go out and shoot wildlife. Attached to this misconception that hunting is easy is the belief that we bag our game every time out; those animals don’t stand a chance, and pretty soon there will be no animals left. These misconceptions have the potential for more people to therefore oppose hunting.

Hunting hard with effort has its own rewards. It will help in the image we project by talking about and demonstrating such things as effort and the physical preparedness and fitness that come with hunting. If our stories and the images we share only depict a final result, what we have taken, we may just be advancing this notion that hunting is easy and is less about the effort and pursuit that we do cherish.

Illegal Hunting

Yes, people do make mistakes, but there is no such thing as illegal hunting; only poaching.

Poaching is the illegal take of wildlife by kill or capture. Poaching is often defined as unlawful hunting, as if some kind of subset of hunting, which it is not. Poaching is a crime. Poachers are not hunters, nor conservationists. They are thieves.

There are four things that govern or direct hunting:

  • Laws which define legal and illegal
  • Personal ethics such as fair chase
  • Our peers and the standards of a group to which we belong, and
  • The expectations of society

Game laws have been established to protect game from over-harvest, and to an extent, to protect public safety and property. These laws can be knowingly or accidentally broken, but calling these actions “illegal hunting” is a disservice to hunting.

Our wildlife laws are not arbitrary. They are grounded in principles of conservation and social well-being. Modern hunting regulations safeguard sustainable use, fair chase, fair access, and appropriate use of species designated and managed as game. Quotas, limits, and conditions are heavily informed by science to ensure the human influence on hunted species does not adversely affect their populations in the wild. Legal and regulatory decisions, though they vary in specifics throughout the world, are the basis of an important social contract which defines the technical aspects of legal, respectful, and sustainable hunting.

By circumventing the laws and regulations, poachers act in complete disregard of the well-being of wildlife populations, placing “thrill killing” or profits above all else. Poachers are acting outside of the conservation measures established by science and our society. Arguably, they cause an even greater harm by destroying public trust and tarnishing the reputation of law-abiding and conservation-minded hunters, most of whom feel a very personal responsibility toward the protection of wildlife and wilderness.


Fresh (wild) or Canned?

"Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children's children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance."Theodore Roosevelt, founder Boone and Crockett Club

Throughout history, hunting has meant the pursuit of wild game. Over time, artificial barriers, such as high fences, began to be used to restrict the movements of game in and out of properties. In some extreme cases wild game were domesticated and offered for “hunting” in private or commercial hunting operations. The term “Free ranging” began to be used to differentiate wild game from captive or domesticated animals. In order to cast a negative light on hunters and chip away at the public support for hunting the term “canned hunt” began to be used by animal rights and anti-hunting groups. Because the majority of sportsmen oppose this style of hunting the hunting community began using the term “canned shoot” to better define this practice and distance it from actual hunting.

A canned hunt is the practice of pursuing any big game animal kept in or released from captivity to be killed in an artificial or bogus hunting situation where a kill is virtually guaranteed. In a canned hunt, the game lacks the equivalent chance afforded free-ranging animals to escape. In some cases, over-handling wild game domesticates these animals making them dependent on their handlers, and removing their natural instincts to avoid detection and their fear of man. The intent of a canned hunt is to set up a certain or unrealistically favorable chance of a kill.

At a minimum, canned shoots are an affront to fair-chase hunting, if not the traditions of hunting wild game in general. Hunting has always been more and has meant more than just killing. When success is unrealistically assured because the game is confined and/or tame, its no longer hunting.

As sportsmen we should be concerned with canned shoots. Their acceptance says a lot about what our community thinks of itself and hunting. Outside of our community, the non-hunting public often mistakenly believes that this practice is representative of all hunting, which is a gross misconception proven to be costly to the future of hunting and the conservation of wildlife that hunting supports.


"A peculiar virtue in wildlife ethics is that the hunter ordinarily has no gallery to applaud or disapprove of his conduct. Whatever his acts, they are dictated by his own conscience, rather than by a mob of onlookers. It is difficult to exaggerate the importance of this fact."Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

While professional sports leagues continue making tweaks to their refereeing system and booth-review processes, it makes one wonder if hunting has had it right all along: We police ourselves and call our own shots.

To be fair, hunting is not a field or a team sport with a long list of participant rules that need enforcement administered by impartial referees or umpires to keep the play safe and fair. Hunting has game laws of course, but the rest of the rules in hunting are either personal or part of a group to which we belong.

A group of friends who share a hunting lease may decide everyone must shoot a doe before taking their buck, or that bucks under 2½ years are off-limits. If you break one of these rules, you might be looking for anew place to hunt next year. On the personal side, we have our own standards by which we live and hunt. These are not written down, and we don’t hand this book to someone and say, “Watch me.” We referee ourselves. It’s one of the special natures of hunting. We’re the ones who have to live with the consequences of taking a shortcut or making a bad call; that is, until this reflects negatively on all hunters and hunting. That’s when we are called upon to be a referee.

The Measure of Success

The measure of a hunt is a measure of ourselves.

If we think about it, this is true in everything we do. In hunting, getting our game is the purpose, but not the only purpose. If this is true, filling our tag is a measure of success, but not the only one. If it were the only measure we would be disappointed most times and likely find something else to do.

How much of the hunting experience is thinking about going hunting, practicing, honing skills, scouting, setting stands and preparing? How much of it is the chase, the strategies, the physical and mental effort, the uncomfortable conditions; the challenges overcome?

One of the many benefits about hunting is that it teaches and never stops teaching. It forces us to learn, prepare, acquire skills, and solve problems. In other words, it teaches life skills and character. If we rest everything upon a kill, something very special about hunting will be lost. You.

Technology Unchained

Taking the “hunt” out of hunting.

There are many things that challenge the notion of fair chase, and the use of new technologies is one of them.

Is this really what is going on with the quickened place of technology’s influence on hunting? Some would say yes. They tend to be among the older generation where the phrase “Is that really necessary?” gets tossed around a lot. Others who have grown up with apps and Bluetooth expect the newest technological adaptations, think nothing of it, and shun the “back in my day” crowd telling them otherwise. An argument can be made from both points of view, but what does all this mean for hunting’s future? Can we simply say, too much of anything can be a bad thing?

It's a balancing act. On one hand, old-fashioned American ingenuity and innovation are what built this country. Our society normally embraces technology without question because it is seen as advancement for the better and, to an extent, is a symbol of status. New gear and gadgets can be beneficial, such as those that help elderly or physically handicapped people continue hunting. Technologies that advance human safety, the recovery of game, secure edible meat from spoilage, and make hunters better marksmen are also positive advancements. Ensuring a quick, humane death without unnecessary suffering is one of the responsibilities of every hunter.

On the other hand, new technologies can overly tilt the scales in favor of the hunter. Here, the affects can be felt in different ways. On a personal level, and one that the traditions of hunting are built upon, when hunting becomes too easy, too predictable, and less challenging, something very special can be lost: the very nature of hunting itself.

Hunting has always been more meaningful than just shooting game. The overuse, or an over-reliance on technology has the potential to reduce hunting to an unrecognizable, mechanized from of lethal shopping that is unacceptable to both hunters and non-hunters.

Advancements in technology adapted for, or made specifically for hunting can also make hunting success so easily attainable that it might result in a harvest rate beyond which some game populations can sustain. New technologies can increase a hunter’s advantage to the point where game no longer has a reasonable chance to escape. States and provinces respond by establishing laws to restrict the use of certain equipment in order to ensure that their use does not negatively affect the game populations for which they are responsible.

“The true hunter counts his achievement in proportion to the effort involved and the fairness of the sport.” —Saxton Pope

Beyond what is legal, it is ultimately up to each person to choose how they hunt, including whether using a specific hunting technology is necessary and will still provide the type of experience they seek. Individual choices also reflect on hunters and hunting as a whole.

Hunting confronts us with many choices. It both teaches and challenges us, which is why it is such a unique and deeply rooted tradition. Such traditions are supported as long as those things that make it a tradition have not been stripped away. If hunting is reduced to pushing a button on a device, it will be impossible for hunters to maintain any claim the hunting is both challenging and rewarding.