The Modern Hunter: Stereotypes and Conservation
Let’s play a quick guessing game. It’s called, “Who Am I?”
I live alongside thousands of others in a major urban center, take the city bus to work, and generally sport khakis all day. I also have a small backyard vegetable garden and enjoy craft beer while my venison steak sizzles on the grill. I’m business casual during the week, but camouflage on the weekends. Who am I?
Before we answer that, let’s clear the air. There are some disturbing hunting stereotypes that need to disappear. Fast. Many people imagine there are only two types of hunters in the world. The first is the small-town, conservative redneck who drinks too much beer and shoots anything in the woods. The other is the liberal, city-dwelling yuppie who only comes up for the weekend with all sorts of expensive gear, but can’t figure out how to navigate the woods.
These are extreme examples to show either end of this mythical spectrum. But the sad thing is that this viewpoint creates an “us or them” mentality that’s really damaging to the hunting community.
I personally think the whole “spectrum” idea is complete BS. I’ve met hunters that have traits from both “sides” and hunters that don’t fit anywhere along it. The reality is that we are all unique individuals with unlimited styles and personalities. It’s probably more like one of those Venn diagrams you had to draw in school (remember those?). Each person has their own custom mix of traits that defines what type of hunter they are.
We need to break down the hunting myths and stereotypes discussed above. But there is also a rapidly growing trend in the hunting community that can’t be ignored.
Who is the Modern Hunter?
As you probably guessed by now, the description you read at the beginning of the article represents an increasingly common group of individuals. We’ll call them the “modern hunter” here. Another correct answer could include me, since those activities all describe my life. I’m guessing they probably describe you too since you’re reading this article.
Compared to past hunting demographics, the modern hunter is generally more female, grew up or now lives in urban and suburban areas, and is very motivated by obtaining their own locally-sourced wild game meat rather than pursuing “trophy” animals. While none of these categories are really new to the hunting world, it does represent a noticeable shift in activity levels.
Many refer to the modern hunter as locavores, foodies, or hipster hunters, which sometimes carry negative connotations. But passion for local food is at the center of these labels.
What’s Modern Day Hunting About?
As I mentioned, the modern hunter is very passionate about obtaining their own wild game meat (venison, turkey, rabbit, etc.) instead of buying factory-farmed or even organic beef, pork, or chicken. If you count yourself among this group, you might be interested in getting protein for a paleo diet, or maybe you just want to enjoy a venison steak once in a while. It’s really all about being modern hunters and gatherers.
After putting in a small backyard garden and eating more locally-sourced foods, hunting is the next logical step for you to take. It’s an ethical and sustainable way to be more connected with your food since you can decide how it is treated from the field to the table.
Though many modern hunters start out being motivated by filling their freezer with wild game meat for their families, they also find that it’s a unique way to get closer to nature than they thought possible. After all, a natural byproduct of hunting is becoming invisible in the woods so you can observe wild animals in close proximity. Being only steps away from a wild animal that doesn’t know you’re there is an addicting feeling!
Calling hunting strictly a recreational sport isn’t true, though, in my mind. It’s about much more than that. But recharging your batteries in the woods does have a certain level of recreation I suppose. When I escape the city to walk through the woods, I forget about the daily grind to just focus on my raw senses. It makes me feel truly alive. And when I have to eventually go back to the hustle and bustle of work, I have a fresh start.
Struggles of the Modern Hunter
The main problem that the modern hunter often has is a lack of resources that really speak our language. After all, many of us probably grew up in the city with no experience with firearms or wild animals, to say nothing of tromping through the forest hunting for them. Our parents and family members were likely not hunters, so we have no experience to draw from.
For someone with this background, reading hunting magazine articles about how to buy a new firearm may be completely mind-boggling. Have you ever stepped into a conversation where the lingo and jargon was so heavy you didn’t have a clue what was being discussed? It can happen to the modern hunter within hunting circles too.
The other problem that’s so common now is that there are actually so many programs out there for youth hunters to get involved (which is fantastic), but almost nothing for adults. It’s more or less expected that an adult should already know these things. But nobody wants to take a class with a bunch of teenagers who probably already know more about hunting than they do. It can feel embarrassing to be in that situation.
What The Modern Hunter Offers the Hunting Community
Wild animal populations in America are very closely related to hunting and conservation funding. The majority of just about every hunting license, and even the tax on some hunting equipment and ammunition, goes towards habitat preservation or restoration efforts. According to the 2011 U.S. Census Bureau’s report, hunters spent $1 billion (with a “b”) on hunting licenses, permits, and tags in 2011 alone! Not to mention $14 billion on hunting equipment, $0.7 billion on habitat plantings, and $0.4 billion on wildlife group membership dues.
As the traditional hunting population ages, there are fewer people taking their places. That ultimately means less funding for wildlife. But as more modern day hunters (like you) join the ranks, the amount of funding available increases steadily. And we’re likely to pass the tradition onto our children too, which creates a new generation that will keep America’s wild animals thriving for many more years.
Another unique quality that the modern hunter brings to the table is their proximity to city or suburban environments. Most of us live in these areas instead of rural country homes. Cities all across America are struggling to keep up with managing wild animal populations in these areas, and are increasingly turning to hunting as a viable method of doing so.
White-tailed deer, for example, are destroying native plant populations in many of the Midwest’s big cities due to an overabundance of animals and not enough habitat or food. They are then starving due to lack of food. The modern hunter is a cost-effective way to manage deer populations, all while giving us a place to secure our wild food close to home.
Hopefully you can appreciate the very important role that you’ll play when you become a modern hunter. But the really important thing to remember is that we’re all in this together. There’s no reason to divide ourselves over stereotypes and labels.
If any of the discussion above speaks to you, I want to make a promise to you. My goal is to provide as many helpful and unbiased resources I can to this community to help you grow as a modern hunter. It can be really confusing to learn to hunt as an adult. But I’ll take you through the process to make it as painless as possible.
Let me know if you have any specific questions you’d like answered in a future post.