Where Hunting Happens, Conservation Happens™

Elitist, Intolerant and Divisive - They Got It Backwards


By Daniel A. Pedrotti Jr.
B&C Regular Member
Chairman, Hunter Ethics Sub-Committee

So there I was, closely following the recent elections, when I suddenly realized that “they” were using exactly the same phrases, lines, and explanations against us that “we” used against them in the last go-round. It is incomprehensible to me that they would dare accuse us of the exact things for which they are to blame. I was completely and utterly speechless (a rare state for me) until I rationalized that public discourse is one of the most fundamental mechanisms through which we participate and decide on the direction that averages out as best for all. This is time-tested and true, absent the spin-doctors, lobbyists and political tacticians.

But this is supposed to be about ethics, right? And ethics and politics aren’t even distant cousins, allegedly. So, while I should just get off the rant and back to the ethics stuff, there is a problem. You see, there is an uncomfortable similarity between the aforementioned election politics and the discussion going on about the difference between native, wild and free-ranging game animals and the livestock produced on game farms. There is significant public discourse going on between those that are infatuated with the notion of unnaturally enormous antler inches and those that despise the idea. And just like the “them and us” in the political debate, both sides refer to the other as intolerant, elitist, and/or divisive. 

Those that are in the business of producing “frankendeer” sincerely believe that the “antler inches at all cost” group outnumbers the “fair chase, natural and wild” group. It is always interesting to read the comments on a Facebook post under a picture of a nicknamed buck with over 400 antler inches. As I see it, the denouncers significantly outweigh the approvers. However, these businesses appear to be quite profitable and their proliferation obscures what I see as the true tale of the tape. 

The big difference here is that the deer breeding/farming business (a $3.8 billion industry) has a very, very well-funded lobby. In fact, it is said that, in Texas, the deer breeders lobby is second only to the oil and gas lobby. Consider that for a minute or two. 

I have several good friends who are lobbyists. They work very hard, and they are very smart. I would not throw any of them under the bus for doing their job very well. Likewise, it is not my place to be critical of the right to conduct a legal business. However, it is equally my/our right to disagree with their premises and objectives and to create and maintain as much distance between them and us in what the public perceives as defensible and honorable when it comes to the hunting community.

So, here’s the deal. I just don’t want them to be perceived as us. We hunters subscribe to the tenets of fair chase (especially the part about “wild and native”). We are a much, much larger group than those that can afford the experience of killing frankendeer. Further, and more importantly, the vast majority of us do not value the pseudo-hunt or the livestock upon which it is based. Antler inches at all cost is not part of our credo and never will be. We would much rather talk about a great hunt and a native, wild buck than the nuances of the pedigree of the monster we bought and killed. 

In the public discourse, the difference is that they are united in funding the defense of their product and their business, and we are grassroots. Their talking points include a criticism of fair chase and B&C as elitist, yet the gold standard, which they use to price their livestock, is B&C inches. I see this as poaching on a well-known and respected brand that represents an organization that will never even recognize their product. It gives the public another chance to misinterpret the massive difference between them and us. Is it elitist to stand by your history and heritage?

They refer to us as intolerant of their standing in the hunting community while we see them not as a threat to our standing, but our entire community. Are we to be considered intolerant because we continue to express the most widely accepted definition of the hunt scenario based on hunter-conservationist ethos and the North American Model? This is our ground and they are trespassing. This is not intolerance. It is defense.

We are called divisive when we don’t accept them with open arms. They are trying to force their acceptance into the hunter-conservationist family, and we are the ones being divisive? This is perhaps the most ridiculous characterization of all, and it is the most frequent talking point they use. We all need to pay careful attention to this double-speak and keep our eyes on the money and the ego driving this effort.

We already have the high ground here. We are many, many times more than them in number, and therefore, we don’t need to lobby anyone. All we have to do is stand up and be counted. And, if necessary, let’s take ‘em to the woodshed, grassroots style.


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"The wildlife and its habitat cannot speak. So we must and we will."

-Theodore Roosevelt