Skip to main content

Fun and Knowledge Are Not Enough to Sustain Hunting

Fun and Knowledge Are Not Enough to Sustain Hunting
by Michael Sabbeth

In 1597, Sir Francis Bacon wrote: Ipsa scientia potestas est. That’s Latin for “Knowledge itself is power.” If only!! I have begun many lectures with Bacon’s quotation, and then argued Bacon was wrong. Having knowledge is not enough to have power. If hunting is to survive, the hunting community must grasp the limitations of the value of knowledge. Young hunters should be taught that knowledge can lead to power if it leads to wisdom and is used in virtuous action. Without action infused with wisdom, power may be possible but, likely, the power lacks virtue.  

Examples of what I mean are helpful to understand my point. I have asked dozens of young people why they hunt or shoot clay targets. Almost all answer: “It’s fun!” Nothing wrong with fun, of course, but I then ask, “What does ‘fun’ mean?” Most youngsters shrug and a glazed look descends over their eyes. The reply, “I don’t know.” I realize they haven’t thought why they like hunting or clay target shooting. They have a sensation—it’s fun—a good sensation by the way, but they don’t have knowledge. They don’t have insight into their actions.  

The key point I make here is that simply having knowledge or experiencing ‘fun’ is not the most effective way to get youngsters—anybody, really—committed to being a hunter, or, for that matter, anything else. Beyond fun, insight and wisdom must be cultivated. Wisdom and insight strengthen a person’s character. They are the foundation for confidence and competence. Wisdom and insight are valuable because they inspire and motivate virtuous action. The greater a person’s competence and confidence, the greater the probability the person will act ethically and virtuously. That means, the greater the likelihood a young hunter will stay engaged in hunting and will defend and become an advocate for hunting.  

My recent interview with Erika, Athina, Lili and Evelyhn on an outing proves my point. They were participating in an event sponsored by the marvelous foundation, City Kids Adventures, founded two decades ago by Leticia and Leon McNeil. They emphasized that knowledge is acquired over time, that knowledge from experience leads to confidence, and that knowledge inspires them to hunt responsibly. They were all having ‘fun,’ but understood that ‘fun,’ properly taught and mentored, leads to knowledge, the motivation to hunt ethically and to promote hunting. 

Erika shared a poignant illuminating personal experience. Her participation in hunting often led to being insulted and intimated by her classmates. She was called a murderer. But Erika had the competence, confidence, and motivation to use her knowledge to defend hunting and to persuade her classmates that hunting had positive values. “I feel proud when I put meat on the table because I am helping my family,” Erika said. She explained the reality of conservation and wildlife management. “Now,” Erika exclaimed, “my classmates think I am cool!” 

Tyler, an eleven-year-old from Houston, Texas, said he enjoyed hunting because he spends time with his family. But Tyler’s enjoyment was tempered by his mentor, David Baxter, teaching him to be respectful of the land and to be an ambassador for the “camouflage community.”  

Knowledge is essential for growing as a person, and fun is fine, but knowledge and fun are not enough to keep youngsters engaged in hunting. The art is to show how hunting can create virtuous character in young hunters and to make them stronger people. If those goals are attained, hunting’s future is ensured.  

About the Author: Michael Sabbeth is a lawyer, author and consultant in Denver, Colorado. His email is Buy his new book , The Honorable Hunter: How To Honorably & Persuasively Defend & Promote Hunting, available on in hardcover and an ebook 

Michael Sabbeth

Michael G. Sabbeth is a lawyer in Denver, Colorado. He lectures on ethics and rhetoric. He has written the book “The Good, The Bad and The Difference: How to Talk with Children About Values.” & is now working on a book titled “No More Apologizing! Arguments to Defend and Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports.”