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Buy The Good, The Bad & The Difference: How To Talk With Children About Values or Michael's newest book The Honorable Hunter Instructor Training Manual on Amazon.

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Fire Ants Change the Minds of Anti-Hunters

By Michael Sabbeth

This past April I participated in the Texas Hunter Education Annual Conference in Abilene. Rarely have I been in the presence of so many dedicated creative advocates for hunting, hunting ethics and hunting instruction. My presentation included examples of persuading hunting opponents and those neutral about hunting that hunting has benefits, including conservation and the respectful treatment of animals. The text of my talk is available on my website: .

After my talk, Texas Parks and Wildlife game warden Darla Barr approached me and shared an anecdote. Two anti-hunters disdainfully challenged Darla for advocating killing beautiful innocent animals. Darla’s response is a textbook example of effective persuasion. Her words transformed these anti-hunters into persons willing to give thoughtful informed consideration of hunting’s beneficial consequences.

Darla implemented her persuasion strategy with skillful precision. First, she elicited the values of her challengers. The opponents valued animal conservation, the preservation of habitat, acknowledged that animals die from causes other than hunting, such as from disease, injury and starvation and they valued reducing animal suffering.

Second, Darla described a typical hunt. One bullet, one arrow, is, in most instances, sufficient for the hunt. Not always, of course, but when it’s not, the ethical hunter will track the animal and end the suffering effectively. Darla also described reality in vivid detail. Starvation, disease and injury lead to brutal lingering deaths. The predators move in and rip the living animal apart. And the fire ants attack, savage merciless invaders that penetrate the eyes and nose and throat of the animal in excruciating fashion. Sugarcoating reality demeans the animals. Darla did not sugarcoat.  

Third, and most significant, Darla presented the ladies with a binary choice: hunt or do not hunt. Do you prefer a rapid ethical death or an extended painful one? Thirty seconds of pain or several weeks of pain? Darla demanded clarity of values from her audience. It’s either A or its B. You can’t have both. Which do you prefer? People tend to carve out exceptions or alternatives to reality to avoid making uncomfortable choices. This human tendency does not necessarily advance ethical thinking.

There is a tendency to romanticize the lives of animals, as if the mountain lion and the young fawn are lying together on a lush green forest floor as in an Henri Rousseau painting waiting for the arrival of gluten-free, locally-sourced, non-GMO organic broccoli and steamed rice. But that’s not life in Nature. Nature is death, disease, starvation and sometimes fire ants.

The young ladies changed their minds about hunting. They became educated. More importantly, Darla skillfully showed that hunting was consistent with their values. They opposed animal suffering and favored conservation. Even if the ladies will not hunt, their opposition disappeared. The fire ants may have persuaded them.

This article will be soon published in the "Our News" section of the website of Fiocchi USA 

Michael Sabbeth is a lawyer and writer in Denver, Colorado. See his book The Good, The Bad & The Difference: How to Talk with Children About Values. Available at



Michael's Latest Article

Harvest versus Kill
Words Can Help or Hurt Hunting
By Michael Sabbeth

I begin with two questions. 1. When hunters describe taking wild game, which word best serves the hunting community: ‘kill’ or ‘harvest’? 2. Will selecting one word over the other reduce the intensity of anti-hunting rhetoric? Words matter.  Words have power. Words can convey confidence and weakness. Words convey values. Words affect persuasion. George Orwell wrote, “Words control the language, and the person who controls the language controls the argument, and the person who controls the argument wins.” 

Harvesting.  We harvest trees, wheat, timber, and corn. The word harvest indicates the action is for human consumption and will benefit humans. Therefore, one can logically and ethically argue that the hunter harvested an animal. I suggest, however, ‘harvest’ has other meanings, and those meanings undermine hunters and hunting. To say a hunter harvested a deer implies the deer, a living animal, is no different from a stalk of corn. The deer and the corn are morally equivalent. That equivalence devalues the once-living animal. The word ‘harvest’ is a euphemism that denies reality. A living animal has died. The refusal to acknowledge that reality seems defensive and apologetic. The denial of reality shows a lack of confidence in the morality of hunting. The hunter seems intimidated. Those are not strong positions for defending hunting.  

Kill. We know the meaning of ‘kill.’ The life of something living was intentionally or recklessly ended. We kill mice, mosquitoes, flies, and enemies. To say a hunter killed an animal affirms reality. The statement is confident in accepting moral responsibility. The word ‘kill’ avoids a euphemism that devalues the animal.  

Another aspect of the ‘harvest’ versus ‘kill’ issue arises. Hunters are attacked as murderers and killers. ‘Murderer’ and ‘killer’ are powerful accusations. Here, again, we see an example of moral perversion. By using the word ‘killer’ or ‘murder,’ the accuser is creating a moral equivalence between an elk, for example, and your child or parent or friend. The logical inference of that accusation is that, morally, your child is no different from a deer.  

An accuser who calls a hunter a killer or a murderer does not want to engage in a reasonable search for truth or moral trade-offs. The accuser wants to shut you up. The accusation is a strategy to dominate you and to announce moral superiority.  

The irony is that the person who accuses the hunter of being a killer is not opposed to killing at all. They have their hamburgers, Thanksgiving turkey, and BBQ. They are only opposed to killing selectively—against certain people and certain animals under specific circumstances. This opposition to hunting is not based on moral principle. It is based on moral smugness and, often, a willful ignorance. And, unlike hunters, these attackers don’t have the will or the courage to do their killing themselves. They outsource their killing to ranchers and farmers.  

One point I emphasize above all others. When hunters show a lack of confidence in their words, they show weakness, triggering the most fundamental law of human nature: weakness invites aggression. Weakness ensures that the attacks on hunting will continue and probably escalate. Hunters intending to use words that do not offend are acting defensively. The anti-hunter will never scream out: You are a harvester! How can you harvest those beautiful animals? They will call you killers. Thus, we must develop the confidence to use words that reflect reality.  

Which is the better word to use? You have read my arguments. You decide. However, I am certain that using ‘harvest’ as a substitute for ‘kill’ will not lead to greater acceptance of or respect for hunters and hunting. Appeasement never succeeds.  

Michael Sabbeth is the author of the new book, The Honorable Hunter: How To Honorably & Persuasively Defend & Promote Hunting . Please see 

Thanks for checking out my site! Please come back soon for more interesting news!

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."



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