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If You Brush Your Teeth, You Should Support Hunting
by Michael G. Sabbeth
My writing in this elegant magazine shows my unceasing search for ways to illuminate the virtues of hunting and to defend it. One way is to ask good questions. Here’s a good one: Do you brush your teeth? I show how asking that question can defend hunting. Instructors in Uvalde, Texas, at the Texas Hunter Education Instructors Association Conference last May, asked me how to respond to anti-hunters when confronted with aggressive questions such as: “How can you kill those innocent beautiful animals?” and “You trophy hunters are about vanity and don’t respect the animal.” (for a full discussion on trophy hunting, please see my article: http://www.thehonorablehunter.com/index.php/articles/224-trophy-hunting-the-use-and-abuse-of-terminology)
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Perfect sporting clays weather—azure skies, cotton-candy clouds and no wind—greeted seventy-five participants at this annual Deep River Alliance fundraising event held at the beautiful Kiowa Creek Sporting Club, located about a one-half hour’s drive east of Denver.
With the precision of that famous Swiss watch, shooters were assigned squads and the clay busting began promptly at 9 am. The broad array of target presentations at the ten designated stations challenged shooters of all abilities. I confess one outgoing quartering target that traveled more like an F-35 than a clay disk initially eluded my shot patterns but at my skill level, it’s tough to miss all of them. Support staff zipped around the course like water bugs on a pond. Stephen LeBlanc, ‘Doc’ Don Gardner, Steve Huey and Scott Rathburn comprised the winning team, with Huey attaining top gun honors with an impressive ninety score.
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Ann Franklin made an astute comment to me at breakfast during the Alberta Professional Outfitters Society conference this past December, where I had given two lectures. “We outfitters have learned to think like the animals we hunt,” she said. “Now we have to learn to think like the animals that are hunting us.” Ann wasn’t referring to bear or lion or moose but to the anti-hunting activists and politicians that seek to shut down or reduce hunting.
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Lessons For Advancing The 3 Rs
Explain The Big Picture!
Several years ago, I took my son, Erik, then twenty, to shoot doves in Argentina. He shot many doves, but the lessons he learned were more meaningful than the experience was challenging. Our host explained how the doves annually destroyed tens of thousands of tons of grain, negatively impacting food prices. The dove shooting industry brought much-needed millions of dollars of revenue to Argentina, providing employment and increasing people’s standards of living. The big picture was patiently explained.
During our trip, my host asked Erik if he wanted to hunt a barren aged female buffalo that was wounding younger buffalo and destroying property. Erik did. More than having a successful hunt, Erik entered the fire center of conservation, learning that romanticizing animals from afar often led to policies that destroy them. He came to understand the brutal reality of wild animals’ lives and that the cost of fantastical wishing that animals’ lives were idyllic was the destruction of animals. Erik lived the counter-intuitive truth that hunting sustains the animals.
The Big Picture
With guidance from me and our host, the big picture was persuasively presented to Erik. The ethos of hunting transcends the hunt. Inherent in hunting are layers of insight that merit acknowledgment and evaluation. The hunter, of course, should aspire to be ethical, and the well-educated hunter knows the big picture demands multi-level ethical duties to the land, to society, to one’s self and, of course, to the animals.
But ethical behavior does not simply manifest like the crabgrass on my lawn. Ethical behavior is the consequence of personal honor and integrity, characteristics that must be taught and continuously nurtured. Presenting the big picture and developing a hunter’s honor are the most effective methods for achieving the trilogy of the 3 Rs.
The primary skill required of the hunting advocate desiring to achieve the 3 Rs is discerning the potential hunter’s deepest values and then persuasively showing how hunting harmonizes with those values and breathes life into them. Love of wildlife, wanting healthy sustainable animal populations, treating wild animals ethically, preserving and enriching habitat, consuming organic protein from the hunt; all these and others are virtues that hunting offers that are consistent with the values of the large majority of people. On the warp and woof of conversation and experience, Erik uncovered values previously unexplored but were discovered as if mining for them in a rich seam of ore. Illuminating this big picture component will advance the 3 Rs most successfully.
The North American Model offers an illustrative example for seeing the big picture. The Model is the foundation for hunting and game management in the United States. But the Model means nothing unless it is encased in our unique political economic system which values individual liberty, free markets, a somewhat transparent tax system that is reasonably honest, the right to possess and use firearms and the ability to have leisure time to hunt. The willingness of each hunter and potential hunter to see his or her role in this big picture will be a powerful driving force for advancing the 3 Rs.
Most people place great trust in the positive impact in an argument of facts, logic and science. Such trust is unjustified. Truth is not self-actualizing; reality does not advance itself like a steamroller; scientific evidence is worthless unless the audience is credibly persuaded that the evidence has value.
A vital component of the big picture is, thus, the articulate presentation that these truths matter. That is, that science and facts are consistent with the values of the potential or existing hunter. The success of implementing the 3 Rs is dependent largely on persuading people that truth is relevant to the audience’s world view and self-image.
Similarly, the effective advancement of the 3 Rs will be achieved when ethics is transformed from an abstraction to tangible specific actions that support the values of the hunter and enhance its honor.
As a rule, people are drawn to activities that enrich their lives, enhance their dignity and make them better people. When Erik accompanies me on hunting events supporting Wounded Warriors and Paralyzed Veterans of America, as examples, he sees hunting in a broader context: achieving virtuous goals by helping others. Hunting makes Erik proud. His grasp of hunting’s picture enlarges. He is inspired to be an advocate for hunting and a dedicated participant. Introduced to hunting by me and sharing values that we find virtuous, the experiences that provided direction and purpose in nurturing Erik’s participation in hunting serve as an effective model for implementing the 3 Rs.