Quick quiz… what’s more frightening for the future of hunting and wildlife conservation?
Is it that hunter numbers are falling in Georgia, and that the percentage of hunters under 34 years old gets smaller and smaller each year?
Or, is it that animal-rights groups like PETA and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) are attracting kids like crazy, and they’re often reaching your kids at school?
I know, trick question, both are equally frightening and for the same reason. They both spell the end to hunting and wildlife management and conservation as we know it.
We are in the midst of a recruitment battle, and we are up against a formidable, extremely well-funded foe. If this were football, hunters would be Vanderbilt or Ball State, and animal-rights groups would be USC or Texas.
We play fair. We gently offer kids the joy of the woods and fields and the importance of the conservation model. We don’t pressure. We tip-toe around words that may offend — we don’t kill animals, we harvest them. We are mortified if a hint of blood might show on the picture of a trophy buck.
PETA is in their face, offering sexual images and innuendo, the appeal of youth rebellion, the excitement of covert missions, and the misguided support from celebrities and rock stars that they are right and just.
Both PETA and HSUS reach kids at school. My daughter just started kindergarten in Morgan County. Last week she brought home Kind News, an HSUS publication for kids in grades K-3. It’s all about being kind to animals. The next level of Kind News will turn it up a notch. PETA uses the same method with materials distributed at schools. The elementary school materials teach humane treatment of pets and farm animals. In middle school, the message is anti-meat, anti-fishing, and vegetarianism that discourages kids from “chowing down on one of your friends.”
At the high school level, kids are encouraged to join “PETA’s army of animal-rights rebels” and rewards “actions” with PETA merchandise. Actions may include vandalism and even “liberations” of animals — animal-rights terrorism. It is slow and deliberate propaganda, a recruitment into the animal-rights philosophy.
My daughter’s Kind News may not have a direct anti-hunting message, but there’s no mistaking the position of HSUS. In their own words: “The HSUS strongly opposes the recreational hunting and killing of wild animals, as the sport is fundamentally at odds with the values of a humane, just, and caring society.”
What will your kids think of you when they figure out how to surf the internet and go to the HSUS website they’ve been reading about in Kind News and read what they say about hunters and hunting?
While Kind News may seem innocuous and innocent and good to a misinformed teacher or school administrator, it is your duty and responsibility to show them the truth about this animal-rights group.
PETA and HSUS won the recruitment battle in recent years, and those recruits are now winning the ballgame. USC is up on Vanderbilt 49-3 going into halftime. It’s lopsided. It’s downright ugly. Luckily there’s no mercy rule or the game would be over.
Can we turn it around? Can we teach kids the truth of what animal-rights groups are all about, while at the same time attract kids to the allure of the outdoors?
If I didn’t think so, I’d be a lot more worried about my golf game. Instead of hitting balls at the driving range, I’m trying to find a nice quiet field with a few birds on it so my 5-year-old daughter can watch her daddy and her dog get some doves for the grill.
Hunters need to stop apologizing. They need to stop worrying so much about offending some yuppie non-hunter and start worrying a lot more about figuring out a way to get that yuppie non-hunter and her kids on a dove field or in a deer stand.
Blood trails are cool. May yours be long and easy to follow, and may your kid be with you so that he or she can lead the way.