A Picture From the Front

We are in the midst of a culture war.

Hunting is on the decline in the United States, even though it is an essential activity for conservation and wildlife preservation. So-called “animal rights” groups are delighted, apparently unable to understand the basic issues behind preserving populations of wild animals in the world today.

There are a few reasons why the number of hunters is on the wane, but most people would agree that the one factor which has the greatest impact is that fewer fathers are teaching their children to hunt. Hunting is usually a family tradition, and it most often is the foundation of a true understanding of wildlife issues.

Let me show you the worst nightmare of an anti-hunting activist.

That isn’t my family, in case you are wondering. The mom is a friend of mine, and she sent the picture.

It seems that the younger kids were so excited about being out in the woods that they couldn’t sit still. They made so much noise that no one even saw any game. Their dad, the tall fellow pictured above, had to take his oldest son on a later hunt.

Please take a look at the young girl to the left. She was going on her first hunt, and she carefully coordinated her outfit. The pink shirt matches the pink gators on her feet.

It would be less than truthful for me to say that we are winning this particular battle in the culture war. But there is hope.

(Cross posted at Hell in a Handbasket.)

8 thoughts on “A Picture From the Front”

  1. Urbanization also hurts a lot. I hunted as a child in the country but after to moving to the city largely stopped because it became much to expensive and time consuming to do so. My children have never hunted but my relative’s children who live in the country/small towns still do.

    I think it is important to remember that most animal rights/environmentalism arises out of the expression on the part of urban dweller isolated from nature of the innate human desire to dominate others. They target people who they perceive as the “other” in this case largely rural people. They get to stake out a moral high ground, get the thrill of forcing others to do something against their will and all without paying any immediate cost themselves.

  2. How does one start hunting?

    My father hunted and fished as a kid, but it was to put food on the table, not for fun. Later in life he was a big supporter of letting subsistence fisherman use the local yacht club docks to fish on for a token fee – he explained to me that those people were as poor as they looked and they were fishing for dinner not fun.

    At any rate he never taught me to hunt – and I didn’t miss it. Now I do, a little.

    But how does one get started? Cripes, I don’t enen know how to gut a deer.

  3. How does one start hunting?

    Depends on how deep your pockets are.

    The first thing you need to do is get a hunting license, and each state has their own criteria as to cost, safety classes required, and other requirements. But how do you find the info you need?

    Each state has an entire department devoted to wildlife management. They go by different names: Fish and Game, Wildlife Dept., etc. In my home state of Ohio, it is the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources.

    The agency in your own state will be happy to provide you with the info you need to know when the hunting seasons arrive for different game in your state, what you need to do to get a hunting license, any restrictions on weapons, and the areas where it is legal to hunt.

    If you can afford it, there are professional hunting outfitters. They make a living providing an excellent hunting experience for their clients, and they are used to introducing new hunters to the experience. They will be able to tell you how to go about acquiring a hunting license, as well as a list of their prices. Start at the URL below to find something in your area.


    Gun stores make money by selling stuff, but most of the people behind the counter are also avid hunting enthusiasts. You could visit a local gun store and ask them for some help. Be careful when they claim that you have to buy a really expensive rifle for your first deer hunt, though.

    The cheapest way, though, is to start a blog to document your hunting experiences. Simply mention in your first post which state you are from, that you have never hunted before, and that you don’t know where to start. If you Email me the URL to your blog at james_43202 (AT) yahoo.com, I’ll link to it at my own blog. The biggest problem after that will be picking out which piece of advice you want to follow.

    Those involved in hunting, or any of the shooting sports, want to provide help and encouragement for those who express an interest in our hobbies. I think you will be surprised.


  4. James, why are they all in orange? Isn’t the point to try to be as invisible as possible? Especially strange to see a guy in camouflage and an orange jacket on top of it.

  5. James, why are they all in orange? Isn’t the point to try to be as invisible as possible? Especially strange to see a guy in camouflage and an orange jacket on top of it.

    Humans react to a variety of visual stimuli. To name a few they are shape, movement, pattern, and color. We also react when something familiar is in an unusual setting.

    So the orange is to alert hunters that there is another hunter over there. It stands out very clearly since that our eyes react most strongly to that particular color, which is called “hunter orange” for obvious reasons. If another hunter sees anything orange, they will just assume that it is part of the clothing worn by someone else in the woods and they will very carefully avoid shooting in that direction.

    Animals usually have sharper senses in some ways than ours, and they also process the information in different ways. Deer, for example, generally pay attention to two things they perceive visually: movement and patterns. (You could even say that they only pay attention to patterns, since what is movement but a change in the background pattern?)

    If they see something that is the shape of a predator, they will make a run for it. If the shape is of something benign or unknown, they will have little reaction. (See the “Hawk/Goose” experiments by Konrad Lorenz and Nikolaas Tinbergen.)

    So most animals will see the orange clearly enough, usually as a shade of bright red since they are partially color blind, but they will ignore it if the orange is both sitting still and in a shape they don’t immediately associate with a predator. That is why the fidgeting kids, even if they had kept silent, would have scared away the game.

    But deer are wary of humans, as they should since we are apex predators. If they see something that looks like a human, they will generally avoid it. This is why old style scarecrows were moderately effective in keeping animals from eating a farmer’s crops, and were even more effective if dressed in loose clothing that would flap in the breeze. (Now they have motion activated, inflatable scarecrows to keep pests away. They are human shaped and, you guessed it, colored hunter orange for maximum visibility.)

    The camouflage breaks up the outline and softens the edges of the body, causing it to fade into the background clutter. The deer has trouble seeing a human shape, and so it’s flight instinct doesn’t kick in. At best it looks like an orange vest hung on a tree or bush.

    So the family wears orange to alert other humans to their presence, and camouflage to hide their presence from the deer.

    If you want to get an idea of how effective modern camouflage patterns are at hiding a human outline, please go here and check out the pictures.


  6. Very interesting, thanks.
    And the pictures are cool; the most invisible, it seems, are the desert and grassland camouflage patterns.

  7. Used to hunt regularly quite a few years ago, and during buck season it was not that uncommon to have the does walk within 20 feet of me as long as I was downwind, completely stationary, and close to a natural feature (bush, tree, etc.) so my form blended in somewhat, even when wearing orange. Turn your head, though, and they’re gone before you blink.

  8. I don’t hunt but my two brothers do. Just got back from our Christmas celebration and one brother brought back strap (the tenderloin of the deer, yum!). Even in my family, there are some that eat beef but will not eat deer. Doesn’t make much sense to me. Both brothers hunt both for sport and to provide for their family. I am lucky that I have a co-worker that loves to hunt and usually harvests more than him and his wife can consume. He usually takes a deer for me. It costs about $40 for the butcher to process and provides me with meat to fill my freezer and to share with friends. My eldest brothers sons are not hunters but his daughter’s son loves nothing better than being with “Poppy” in our beautiful Tennessee woods.

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