TABLE OF CONTENTS
Saving Hunting Through Persuasion, Character and Honor
April 22, 2017
Michael G. Sabbeth
I thank my friend and colleague Steve Hall for inviting me. He has been my mentor pertaining to much of my writing and lecturing on hunter education ethics and strategies for defending and advancing hunting. I have learned that under Steve’s folksy disarming demeanor is a Pentium processor brain with five terabytes of memory.
After meeting with many of you, I am enthused to share my ideas and receive your critiques of them.
I have done a fair amount of lecturing these past few months; gave a keynote speech to the Namibia Professional Hunters Association in Windhoek this past November; two presentations to the Saskatchewan Outfitters Association in Saskatoon this past December, then two presentations at the Dallas Safari Club and one at the SCI Convention. I share this background so you get a sense of what I stand for. I share some of the themes and anecdotes I learned from those experiences. Hopefully I will offer an entertaining and thought-provoking half hour.
A Professional Hunter in Namibia asked why I spend time doing these lectures; thinking about these issues. The efforts are quite removed from my law practice. I thought, hmmmm. Good question! I told him I see the attacks on hunting, on the shooting sports, on possessing firearms, as part of a large movement… a larger ideology… and philosophy that loathes human rights, individual liberty, personal responsibility… the anti-hunting anti-gun movements are merely a subset of this larger pervasive and very dark ideology. Look at the fascism saturating college campuses, and I rest my case. I am here to play a small part, I hope, in going against this malevolent tide. And I feel the grains in the hourglass falling quickly. Listen, at my age, my friends don’t send me birthday cards; they send me Do Not Resuscitate forms.
I am relatively new to your discipline… your field… I don’t stand before you to lecture you about anything. I have met instructors who have taught more than thirty years; who have taught over 30,000 students. I am in awe of your accomplishment and your dedication. At best, perhaps some of my ideas can be useful to you.
I am not an experienced hunter. I share my one significant experience. Kudu story: hunting in Natal, South Africa… quite an intereting experience because one of the celebrity hosts of the Orion Multi Media TV show was Marcus Luttrell, the Navy Seal and Lone Survivor. I shot a kudi: About 80 yards, straight shot. There was no suffering. The PH explained the characteristics of the animal: it’s dark lush cape, its polished horn tips; he was a dominant bull but was no longer biologically useful to the herd. ‘That sounds like me!” I exclaiomed. “I could go on his wall!!”
Feral may be vicious; she may be spiteful; she may hate animals, but she was clear. She chose ideology over the lives of animals. Rarely are such motives so clear.
I suggest these can be effective arguments for defending hunting and which will appeal to our students. Why? Because it makes them stronger people; it makes them more honorable people; it empowers them to stand up for what they believe.
Please see my article Trophy Hunting: the Use and Abuse of Terminology http://thehonorablehunter.com/index.php/articles/224-trophy-hunting-the-use-and-abuse-of-terminology
Here are some of my key points: The phrase ‘trophy hunting’ is vague, and the quality of vagueness gives it its power. The phrase can mean whatever someone wants it to mean. If you try to pin down someone’s use of the phrase, the person can escape by saying, “that’s not what I mean.”
The phrase “trophy hunting” is weaponized to attack all hunting.
Another effect in the accusation of being a trophy hunter is the accusation focuses on intentions rather than consequences. This clever sleight-of-hand ignores the benefits of hunting by focusing on the assumed state of mind of the hunter.
Defending against the attacks by anti-trophy hunters requires skill and mental agility. These qualities are not so common.
The phrase “trophy hunting” is unethical and abusive. We don’t say “trophy soccer”, or “trophy boating” or “trophy skiing”. Why “trophy hunting”? I have heard the phrase “trophy wife,” but that’s an entirely different lecture.
Gun culture: The reference to a ‘gun culture’ is another rhetorical attack on hunters and on people who own and or possess firearms. The phrase is intended to evoke thoughts of a dark malevolent proclivity of hunters / gun owners/ users to be enveloped by the power of a destructive philosophy or tendency, a culture. It’s the gun culture that compels all the inner-city kids to kill and maim so many.
How do hunters / gun owners fight back? I think of the scene in the Godfather… Moe Green attacking Michael Corleone, who responds… the Corleone family bankrolled your casino; the Molinari family guaranteed Fredo’s safety… you want to talk business. Let’s talk business. And so, we hunters make an analogy: You want to talk culture, let’s talk culture. The culture of dependency; the culture of single mothers; the culture of absent fathers; the culture of anti intellectualism and ant education… all of these lead to gun deaths. If you respond to those anti gun ‘gun culture’ accusations that way, I assure you the only culture they’ll want to talk about is the culture in buttermilk and yogurt.
The NAM is one of the foundational blocks of the hunter education curriculum. You all know it; you can likely recite it in your sleep.
Understanding the role of the NAM illustrates another example of – another application of The Big Picture.
Here are the elements of the North American Model:
Beginning in the late 1800s, Teddy Roosevelt, John Muir, Gifford Pinchot and other conservationist realized they needed to establish limits to protect rapidly disappearing wildlife, and assume responsibility for managing wild lands. These principles eventually became The North American Wildlife Conservation Model, which has been critical to the success of wildlife management throughout North America.
The North American Wildlife Conservation Model
Wildlife is a public resource. All wildlife are held in the public trust and managed by government for the benefit of all people.
Eliminate the market for wildlife. Strong laws and enforcement make it illegal to sell the meat or parts of any wild animal in North America.
Manage wildlife through law. Hunters are allowed to harvest surplus wildlife. Laws and regulations exist to protect wildlife populations and ensure fair opportunity.
Hunting should be democratic. In North America, every citizen has an opportunity to hunt and fish in compliance with the law. Hunting is not limited by private land owners or special privilege.
Wildlife should only be killed only for legitimate reasons. There must be a balance between opportunity and regulation. Many states and provinces have laws and regulations protecting against the “wanton waste” of wildlife. In North America, the broad guidelines that restrain use are for food, fur and predator control.
Wildlife species are an international resource. Wildlife management in one country will affect wildlife elsewhere. Working collaboratively, the United States and Canada manage land and wildlife to make sure that no country takes more than its share of the common resource.
Use science to guide wildlife management decisions. Wildlife management based on population estimates and habitat research helps ensure stewardship and prudent decision-making.
What is the big picture? How does the NAWMC survive?
What has to exist before it can exist?
A unique political economy… capitalism… free markets, leisure time, laws that permit ownership and possession of firearms; roads and energy…
That’s the big picture. Educating students on this big picture will commit them to hunting and the shooting sports. It is the glue that will create a lifetime adherence to hunting. And it makes the students stronger; more articulate, more confident, more capable of defending hunting. It makes them proud.
What do I mean?
Recently there was an article in Forbes Magazine illustrating how capitalism is saving the animals.
How Capitalism Is Saving And Expanding Africa's Wildlife Populations
Recall one of the attacks in the Cecil incident.. characterizing Palmer as a ‘rich doctor’ trying to attack hunting through class warfare
I don’t know if Palmer was rich. He may have have saved all his life for that hunt… but, the animals would all be dead if weren’t for people who could afford to travel and participate. People who spend money on hunting conserve the animal species. It’s that simple. You want animals to survive? You need people with means to hunt them. Take your pick. There is no third way.
Here’s a question for us to ponder: Since hunters keep the animals alive, is there a moral duty to hunt? What do you think of that question
Share these perspectives with your students.. show them the larger picture.. and show them they are part of this larger process… they will feel proud, honored to be a hunter…
This is one method to implementing The 3 Rs: get people committed to hunting, even if the person does not hunt, but persuading the person of hunting’s virtues.
Let us be practical; let us be persuasive.
Phronesis is a word derived from Greek philosophy which means ‘practical reasoning.’ We must be practical. We must evaluate the logic and morality of consequences of our actions.
Joke: Ours is prettier.
This is exciting material… this is a game changer;
This is the equivalent of the unifying field in physics…
Research finding from Mark Duda, and his company, Responsive Management
In contrast to hunters, who are familiar with how
their purchases connect to wildlife conservation,
we cannot assume that sport shooters will have the
same understanding. It’s likely that educational
efforts through coordinated partnerships will be
needed to ensure that non-hunting sport shooters
have a firm understanding of the goals of the PR Act
and how the funds are used to establish new shooting
ranges as well as manage wildlife and habitat
conservation in their state. These educational
efforts will be especially important in urban areas
where wildlife management is a less important issue
than the demand for adequate shooting ranges.
Again, to me, this data is a game changer, that can unify hunters with the larger shooting community. What an opportunity for modifying curriculum to include non-hunters who are firearms users. Every bullet helps build habitat! Every arrow helps protect elk and bear!
This is huge!
We might find it prudent to re-frame the scope of our educational materials and to build alliances with non-hunting organizations.
I attended the annual meeting of African Professional Hunters Association at the 2017 SCI convention. Wonderful dedicated all! However, one statement troubled me. Citing Cecil, an attendee said that “that the world will not tolerate unethical behavior.” I disagreed. There is no world in any unified sense, I said. Moreover, the world is incapable of distinguishing ethical from unethical behavior. Indeed, the Cecil event proved my point rather than the speaker’s. Additionally, this so-called world has no interest in ascertaining ethical behavior or supporting it. A hunting community, I argued, that seeks to appease ‘the world’ and which acts upon the belief that the world will embrace hunting if hunters are universally ethical is doomed to commit suicide.
Please understand that truth is meaningless unless someone is persuaded that truth has meaning. Facts do not advance themselves. Arguments do not compel on their own. We must, therefor, persuade.
It is delusional to believe that the organized anti-hunting advocates—well-funded animal organizations and European and American NGOs—will come to accept elephant, rhino, leopard hunting and remove bans on trading ivory and rhino horn if only they knew the facts. This thinking is self-destructive. It is idiocy. They know what we know. They read the reports, the data, the arguments. Secrets do not exist. Rather, they don’t care. They have different agendas; they submit to different ideologies, they make their money based on different arguments. We must understand that reality if we are to craft winning strategies and rhetoric.
The anti-hunters are willing to impose on the world’s hunting regions, generally, and African hunting nations and their populations, specifically, costs that these far-removed wealthy elites will never pay. African hunting nations, specifically, find themselves in the untenable and frankly, absurd, situation of being dictated to by people who will pay no consequences for being wrong.
I had been reading the fascinating book, Pre-Suasion by Robert Cialdini
I wanted to see how persuasive I could be, if at all.
I asked him questions to establish a baseline: do you favor more animals than fewer? Do you concede animals can die brutal deaths from predation, disease, starvation, poaching? He acknowledged all of these facts.
I told him about the black rhinos I had seen the day before… and the black rhino hunt auction of the DSC.. and the vicious anti hunt response.. death threats and so forth..
I told him that the large male black rhino had already killed five young rhinos. I explained the elements, the components.
I concluded by showing how hunting aligned with his values.
He said to me, with a soft voice: “I am not a hunter. I am against hunting. But one must keep an open mind. I would support that hunt.”
To me, that was a small triumph.
I hope I can teach every hunter the persuasion skills so we all can have these triumphs.
The animals need us to triumph.
So, how do we win the hearts and minds of non-hunters? How do we defend and advance hunting? Through persuasion, by showing how hunting fulfills the values they already hold; and by confidence. Every trial lawyer knows that confidence is often more persuasive than the facts.
Confidence and honor: instill these qualities in our students and they will be life-long hunting advocates.
I share another personal experience.
A Professional Hunter at the Veronica farm in Namibia asked what I was going to talk about in my speeches in two days. I summarized the themes of my talk.
He volunteered that hunters feel so beaten down they avoid any discussion about hunting; they try to stay under the radar. They fear attracting attention. He is not alone advocating this strategy. This is the perspective a many high-priced consulting firms: be silent; let the conflagration blow over.
I absorbed his words, let them marinate for a moment and then said, “No, that is precisely the wrong mindset.” You must re-frame the issue. You must fight back.
I told him that silence and avoidance show weakness and lack of confidence. And the most fundamental law of all fundamental laws of human nature is that weakness invites more aggression. Then I went to my room and added this story to my speeches.
The collective wisdom and expertise in this room is stunning… vast.. encyclopedic. Use it.
Luke anecdote .. I met Luke at an Outdoor Buddies pheasant shoot. Outdoor Buddies offers outdoor activities to severely disabled folks. The hunt began and a dozen participants motored through the cornfields in their electric motor trakkers like silent tank divisions.
Luke was 10 years old. He told me how he began to hunt with his grandfather and then with his father. Then he spoke the money phrase, a nugget of pure gold: He said: “ I’d rather be out here hunting, helping people, being outside, not sitting home playing on the computer the way my friends do.” These youngsters can be reached with this message.
What a story!!!!!!!!!!! Now Luke’s story is your story.
-the experiences they had from enforcement duties… example: a hunter had just been shot..,,. And his interviews.. and … instructors are the front side of hunter education.. make the initial contact.,. and he is an investigator… and he comes in after the tragedy… where there was a failure of following what was taught on the front side… when you are not going to shoot your best friend when the pheasant rises… now more of a challenge.. when states have gone to administrators that were not enforcement…
TEXAS HUNTERS STEP UP TO FEED THE HOMELESS!
With an abundance of wild boar in Texas, some hunters are making a difference and helping to feed the homeless with wild boar dinners.
These stories make your students feel connected to the larger picture. These stories inspire your students. These stories make your students feel proud.
--and then can share their stories.. with the passion.. of someone who has never seen these results … key: how the instrocutrs share their stories… to inspire them.. convince them of the importance of what they do.. a giving of their most important commodity, their time… the gift of the hunt…
--gives you greater weight, persuasive effect
Don’t be captive to the curriculum
Say… I read an article by Craig Boddington
I saw a video of a speech by Shane Mahoney
I chatted with a game enforcement officer…
-and always ask, what do you think?
Relate to my book… what makes you most proud?
The students want to feel your power; feel your passion; feel you commitment. They want flesh and blood
Your narratives engage more complex areas of the brain…
Administrators and instructors contribute mightily to the larger vision. We have a powerful persuasive message: We are a “a nation with a culture” and “a reason for being.” We offer an experience worth fighting for.
Your confidence and passion will influence students more than any curriculum.
Steve Hall told me that hunter education instructors are ‘givers’ but not all are very verbal. Remember, you are Socrates. You have the experience. If possible, I can help give you some words.
I hope some of my ideas are helpful. Reach out to me if you have ideas that can enrich my writing or the book I am writing for instructors and students