Skip to main content

The Honorable Hunter Workshop

3 R Perspectives
You Are Socrates
Handling a Hostile Media
Presented to the Texas International Hunter Education Association
January 11, 2020

Thoughts on the 3 Rs

I share insights gained from interviewing dozens of young hunters and hunter education students.

They are sponges. They want to learn; they want to find meaning in what they do.

Give them the meaning for hunting.

Give them the Big Picture

must teach the big picture.. educate the young hunter is engaged in a larger enterprise.. he and she have moral duties.. duties to know, to be informed.. fun is based on virtue…

hunting in the United States a unique political economy;

insightful lines by Jim Posewitz, Inherit the Hunt,

Having the abundance and diversity of wildlife we live with today is neither luck nor accident. It is the result of hard, purposeful work. It was done by people of ordinary means and by people blessed with special talents and opportunity. What they had in common was that they chose to be hunters ands there was room in our culture for anyone who made that choice.

emphasize: what we had yesterday and have today are not guaranteed for tomorrow.

If hunting is to survive, you are the ones that have to act to ensure hunting’s survival

the access is to the public, not the King or the government

must have a viable consumer class.. capitalism; legal rights; legal privileges regarding firearms and ammunition

field to fork is great, but not enough

mentoring is one of the noblest endeavors for us, but it is not enough. What do we actually do during the mentored event?

What do we actually say?

We have to appeal to the young person’s sense of honor… and a sense of stewardship and most of all, the commitment to personal action and duty…. if they don’t act, who will?

Hunting is just a symbol… it is the distillate of so many factors…

You Are Socrates

-most effective technique to gain insight and wisdom: asking and answering questions

-they want you … a person with blood in your veins; someone with a pulse…

Powerful Anecdote: The Virtue of the Live Instructor

I referenced this article by Abigail Hess titled Half of American colleges will be bankrupt in 10 to 15 years.

Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen was quoted in the article. I shared these sentences to emphasize the fundamental importance of the live hunter education instructor.

Fortunately, Christensen says that there is one thing that online education will not be able to replace. In his research, he found that most of the successful alumni who gave generous donations to their alma maters did so because a specific professor or coach inspired them.

Among all donors, “Their connection wasn’t their discipline, it wasn’t even the college,” says Christensen. “It was an individual member of the faculty who had changed their lives.”

“Maybe the most important thing that we add value to our students is the ability to change their lives,” he explained. “It’s not clear that that can be disrupted.”

Danene and Emma Barnett: BBC interview June 2019

I select two segments of the interview to illustrate a deceitful tactics and rhetoric tactics by an interview host to undermine a pro hunting guest

I and Danene are giving a presentation skills and techniques for handling unfair and hostile media interactions immediately after this presentation.

Here is the beginning of this exchange:

Killing for Dinner? Romantic

Emma: Are your clients killing for their dinner or are they killing because they want a head on the wall?

Comment: further setting up the moral framing of her anti hunting position:

Danene: they are killing because they are conservationists.. they don’t just sit on the back of a vehicle.. that nature is not beautiful all the time… . nature is death.. it’s all about the experience.

Emma: It sounds terribly romantic,……….

Note: Danene just talked about nature being not beautiful all the time and about animals dying. Emma totally dismissed Danene’s words

Emma calls it romantic

Emma continues:

but take the romance out: assert alleged fact: lion numbers plunged 43% from 1993 through 2014. Giraffe subspecies: 2 were listed as endangered. I put it to you we don’t need human in involvement in the animal kingdom…

We seem to be doing far more damage than getting involved with doing good

Alarms in the listener’s mind should go off again. Emma is now crafting one of the most powerful anti hunting narratives

And note: Emma cites no evidence that the alleged decrease of animals was caused by hunting. Moreover, she offers no evidence that those same animals may have increased in other parts of Africa.

Danene aggressively tries to refute Emma’s assertion regarding the malevolence of human involvement with wildlife

Danene: that is actually my point.. it’s that none of those declines of numbers has anything to do with the trophy hunter.. not at all… … if you have your facts straight—not one of those declines in numbers has anything to do with hunting at all… your facts are wrong, the one thing hunters preserve is habitat… human encroachment is killing the animals, it is poaching ; it is the one thing the hunters do…preserve is preserve habitat

Human Involvement

Comment: Danene is irrefutably asserting that human involvement in the animal kingdom already exists:

  • wildlife / human conflict; habitat destruction and poaching and

  • animal population declines are not caused by trophy hunters

Danene could not be more emphatic about existing human involvement.

Danene is asserting fundamental truths.

Tactic: Emma ignores Danene’s representations and insights and makes the tactical decision to ignore Danene’s arguments and to move on.

As if Emma were saying with condescension, Okay, that’s nice but what about this?

Possible Danene response Danene could say: No, it’s not okay and let’s not move on. These are important points. I want to discuss them.

Emma: goes right to the issue of photos…a photo of a lady with a dead animal… what is your reaction to that?

Comment: Note Emma’s tactical avoidance of the fundamental issues of hunting’s justification and taking on a different and really irrelevant issue.

Lesson: stay on point !!!!!!!!

Trophy Hunters Don’t Reduce Animal Populations: Bold Statement: from Substance to Trivial

Don’t Understand: A Clever Strategy

Emma: I’m not trying to be difficult… I don’t understand how hunting helps that happen…you are killing animals… and yet you’re saying that will stop them from ending up in zoos. Surely…


Not understanding” can be an effective rhetorical tactic

very important point here: not understanding. Professing to not understand is an effective diversion and dodge from acknowledging a truth. Saying you don’t understand gives power to the speaker and puts the burden on the other person to persuade. But the alleged not understanding can be done in bad faith.

Danene: what did you already tell Emma?

Told her how hunting gives value to animals; told her how animals are exterminated when they have no value; told her how hunting provides significant sources of protein so communities do not have to destroy wildlife habitat to accommodate sheep and cattle. Danene talked about incentives to reduce poaching.

What more does this lady need to understand?

Either Emma has the brain of a pet rock, which is not likely, or she is too obtuse to understand fundamental principles, or she is lying. If she doesn’t understand, it is because she does not want to understand.

Danene could directly challenge Emma: what precisely do you not understand? Giving value to animals means they will be protected?

That we grasp and identify this ‘not understand’ tactic is vital to defend hunting.

Danene: yes of course… I am not trying to take that away…you need to have a balance…

Emma ignores the practices of the implementation of balance

Emma: interrupts again… But why not get rid of trophy hunting… and just boost photo tourism…

Danene: trophy hunting takes animals off that are past their prime.. there is a 0.05 quota on trophy hunting …In other words, there is no way that trophy hunting could ever have a negative influence on a species… no way….the things that have a massive influence… … what does effect.. human encroachment, human-wildlife conflict.. and poaching….

Emma tries to interrupt again…

Danene: no.. let me explain this to you.. Danene refused to be interruptedif you live with an elephant.. and they trample on your crops… 20 elephant tramples plots…destroys your crops… so what do you do? you have nothing left…what do they do? they will easily kill all the elephants or poison it… or lions…… you are taking a life either way.. If you give value to that animal.. if that animal has no value, the farmer poisons it; kills it. And that one cow is worth more than twenty lions… But if I tell the landowner I will give you a hell of a lot of money for that lion…doesn’t matter which animal… if you give value to that animal…if we offer to pay 50 thousand or 30 thousand dollars… then, all of a sudden, that animals means something… because our government gave sole ownership of the animals to the land holders…they own the animals… and all of a sudden talking about giving value to animals.. the landowners now have money.. .they own the animals…; they have money and they have employment.. and that’s how you save the animals .. and that’s how you save it

Bold Statement

Emma : I understand the concept you are sharing and thank you for doing so … but that is a very bold claim to say … that trophy hunting can never have a negative impact on a specie

Danene: it is not bold: it’s a fact: it’s a proven fact

Comment: these are Danene’s core assertions.

They are the heart and soul of hunting’s justification: tiny percentages of legally hunted animals and economic reality—giving value to the animal and thereby create value for the landowner and thereby increase the wildlife populations

Emma’s tactical trick: Ignore and trivialize

Emma ignores and refuses to address Danene’s powerful overarching economic and statistical arguments and leaps to attack on what Emma thinks is Danene’s hyperbolic “gotcha” exaggeration on a point—but on a point that, even if true, is thoroughly trivial:

Emma: That is a very bold claim to say … that trophy hunting can never have a negative impact on a species.

Danene says it’s a fact. No doubt Danene is technically correct… but let us concede ‘never’ is a challenging standard for measurement.

So what?

Emma’s Tactic: Ignore the Substance and Attack What is Meaningless

Now we shall see how Emma chooses to confront and refute what she believes is Danene’s weakness.

The point that is illustrated here, which is very important for us should we find ourselves in these types of situations, is that the choice made by any interviewer illuminates the morality of the person making the choice. And the morality or lack of morality of the choice is where we hunters can attack and most persuasively refute the anti hunting narratives

Emma’s Greatest Deceit

At this point in the interview we are introduced to Emma’s most deceitful and biased tactic and arguments, aided and abetted by a so-called wildlife advocate.

Introduce Mark Jones

Emma: I know we have not spoken before, but regular listeners of this program know I am a big fan of trying to understand whether or not something is a fact … so let me welcome to the program doctor Mark Jones, head of policy at the international animal charity Born Free

So Mark, who has been listening… welcome Mark: is that a fact that trophy hunting can never have a negative impact on wildlife?

General Rules for Media Engagements

  • treating someone with courtesy is to be earned

  • you do not have to accept the other person’s definitions of good and evil, right and wrong

  • force your interviewer to ask meaningful questions and pose those questions yourself if the interviewer does not ask them

  • the interrogator should be educated quickly that harassing and mischaracterizing you is a bad idea and that they will humiliate the interviewer.

  • don’t be intimidated by their anger; don’t be derailed by their insults

  • always try to use humor, and do so in a mocking way when appropriate

  • do not take unserious arguments seriously

  • treating discourteous people courteously is self-destructive

  • do not allow yourself to be insulted or demeaned. Be prepared to say: Don’t insult me and don’t demean me again or I will walk out of here.

  • You Do Not Have To Answer Any Question


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.”