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Great Misconceptions of The Anti-Hunter

Matt Guedes, Executive Director of Camp Freedom, a non-profit organization that conducts hunts and outdoor activities for Disabled Veterans and First Responders, with two assistant trackers in South Africa, approximately July 2016. Photo credit: Journey Hunts.

PENNSYLVANIA – After observing the behavior of Anti-Hunters for many years across all the continents of the world, I have observed many faulty thought processes among those of this mindset. I will start with the preface that I have no issue that someone chooses to not partake in their given right to hunt. I have no issue with someone who doesn’t like hunting. I have never had a problem with those who are opposed to hunting. The ultimate issue lies with the fact that those who argue against hunting do so with faulty information and an agenda to stop my participation in hunting and the ultimate target has always been the removal of guns from our hands.

The great misconceptions of the Anti-Hunter begin with what they suppose as a foregone thought that all Hunters are cruel to animals and don’t respect or love animals. I have found this to be very far from the truth with most of my hunting friends and clients. It definitely is far from the truth for me. I do not have a hatred of animals, nor do I wish harm upon any given animal. I am not a brutal killer, nor a ravenous wolf that attacks animals for the pure joy of bloodshed which is the common perception given by the Anti-Hunter to anyone who will listen to them. What is greatly misunderstood is that there is a heritage of hunting that most hunters have enjoyed from youth. The heritage encompasses many great ideas and concepts that lead to a mindset of being great reward. I would argue many great rewards that come from taking a young man or lady into God’s Great Outdoors. They are challenged to overcome the elements of the keen senses of the quarry they are chasing and many personal inward battles in order to hunt that animal of their choice. There are many life lessons that are learned through hunting for our culture and individuals.

The greatest lack of understanding by those who are opposed to hunting is the fact that they do not understand that hunting is 100% conservation. There would be very little public land in the United States if it was not funded through the sale of hunting licenses and the taxes that are attached to gun and hunting accessories sales. The land that they enjoy for walking, hiking, biking, and riding their ATVs would not hold any deer, turkeys, bears, or small game to observe if their numbers were not intentionally regulated through the process of hunting.

The clearest picture of what conservation is to me exists in the African countries. It is also the target of attack of the Anti-Hunter to a wide scale. It is amazing to me how certain animals will raise the ire of the Anti-Hunter. I can post one hundred pictures of whitetail deer, mule deer, or an elk and not get a negative response.  However, if I post a picture of a lion, giraffe, or zebra the assault that is undertaken is baffling. Because certain species fuel Anti-Hunters as forbidden animals to hunt simply exposes the reality that they have no understanding of conservation and its results. I have gone to South Africa on fifteen excursions and Namibia on one occasion. What I write about is from firsthand observation. There would not be any animals to observe on a photographic Safari in all of South Africa if it was not for the hunting industry. Because the animals have an intrinsic value to those who hunt and because Hunters are willing to spend millions of dollars in South Africa, landowners are willing to take on the immense expense of providing water and food for these animals which leads to the employment of hundreds of thousands of employees who would have no work otherwise. Because animals have an intrinsic value to the beholder, conservation takes place and species which would not exist in the entire country of South Africa are now thriving. This is due 100% to the hunting industry.  Without hunters, animals would have no value.  No one would take their land and convert it into a hunting property which ultimately protects the animals. This process, that is provided by hunters spending their hard earned money to hunt, provides for an immense amount of economic advancement and jobs in South Africa. I have seen it stated that the hunting industry in South Africa is second only to Mining in its gross income.

It really is a very simple thought process to follow. Hunters are willing to spend money to hunt the animals that they choose to chase. Because they are willing to spend money to hunt, land owners are willing to sustain the animals on their property by providing proper care, food, and water. Landowners are willing to hire thousands of workers to maintain their property which enables a hunter to go on Safari and chase their chosen quarry. Without this economic picture in view, there would be no animals in South Africa because their land cannot sustain these animals naturally.  They are seen as a burden on the landscape the moment they lose their intrinsic value. Without hunting money coming into the picture, there is no need to ever let one of these majestic animals live on their land.

This picture is painted so clearly in the scope of the rhinoceros. People in the Anti-Hunting arena do not separate poachers from hunters. This is another grave error. Poachers have no care for the law, nor do they care about the animals. They only care about personal gain. Hunters take on the aspect and sport of hunting through legal means following the law in order to enjoy the pursuit of their species of choice. These two cannot be equated in any scope of reality. The rhinoceros would not exist without the hunter and the joke of the Anti-Hunting world is that they cry out on behalf of the rhino, yet spend less than 1% of all of the money that goes in to rhino preservation. The largest portion of money that is given to the preservation of the incredible rhino comes through hunting. Those who say they love the rhino and love the elephant and love the lion and love any particular species leaves me begging one question, “How much money are you investing in the maintenance and sustaining of these species?” I invest thousands and thousands of dollars every year in the conservation of these animals and the employment and livelihood of all who keep them through my hunting activities in South Africa and donations to conservation organizations. The majority of Anti-Hunters sit behind a keyboard and attack those who choose to hunt while not participating financially in any realistic manner that contributes to any species’ well-being. Again, it is a very simple thought process because hunting generates income and it takes income to protect and care for these animals.  They only exist because of hunting, not because of the funds that come from Anti-Hunting organizations which do very little in generating income that actually makes it to the bottom line of the preservation of the species.

The fact is that most Anti-Hunters operate out of an emotional response to what they see and attack with no factual basis whatsoever. Why is there no issue raised when I shoot a whitetail deer, but when I shoot a lioness the negative responses go through the roof? The reality is that any given land has a very determined carrying capacity of any given species.  These truths are applied to both the whitetail and the lion, yet it rarely raises an issue with the whitetail. One must ask why not? If hunting is so vile, why is it only pictured as evil with a few chosen species? If a land cannot carry the number of lions, it only makes sense to take out those lions while generating the maximum amount of income. This ensures that the land can continue to hold and preserve the species while employing all the laborers who get to work on the land because of a lion being hunted. There is no financial gain to the lion through some keyboard warrior who verbally assaults or even threatens the life of hunter. One group provides income to assure the future of the animal. The other group sounds like they care, but there are little to no dollars behind their supposed love and concern.

A few years ago my daughter and I became the target in an incredibly aggressive attack of the Anti-Hunting world. In a one-week time period we both hunted a giraffe and then I hunted a lioness. We hunted two giraffes because the land upon which they lived had six giraffes more than the land carrying capacity for that species. We paid a fair amount of money for that hunt and both of us were able to harvest our giraffes. We did so in a completely legal and ethical manner.  The entirety of that giraffe was used to feed those who worked on that property and some who were in great need in the community around it. That is the epitome of practical conservation and practical care for the animal which, therefore, cared for the human beings who were in need of food. The disgusting attacks that took place in which both of our lives were threatened and my daughter, who was 14 year old at the time, was verbally assaulted with language that could never be repeated all because the Anti-Hunters put the value of an animal above the value of a human being. This thought process is pure ignorance. The hunt was legal and was carried out with all due respect to that incredible species. Our hunt meant that the land was better able to care for the remaining species on that property. This is conservation at its highest form because every penny that was spent went to the furtherance of the species.

I would almost guarantee that not one of those keyboard warriors who were on the rampage explaining and demonstrating complete savagery against humanity had contributed even $1 to the furtherance of the giraffe ever in their lives. To make matters worse, two days later I hunted a female lion. Just when I thought the disdain of the anti-hunting world couldn’t get any worse, it did. It didn’t help that this was one week after the misreported and completely ignorant attack on the hunter who hunted “Cecil” the lion. As a side note, the joke among the South Africans was simply that, “ We don’t ever name lions. We simply hunt them.” The extent of ignorance that was spouted out towards my family and me was unbelievable. The reality is that the lioness that I hunted had cat fever and was going to die. So rather than it dying of this disease, in which there would be no financial gain to the property owner, nor the furtherance of the lion population that he had, the owner decided to allow me to hunt it for a sum of money. Not only that, but it was a mercy killing because the lioness was suffering greatly. This was a great act of Conservation.  

My experience after harvesting this lioness was absolutely amazing. The local Zulu chief came to the property and literally used every single piece that lioness for the good of his tribe through the provision of protein by meat and the making of Medicine with all of its innards. For those who say this is not true, I filmed the entirety of this process and it can be viewed on YouTube and below.

I am not asking those who are Anti-Hunting to hunt or to support hunting. However, I cannot excuse the emotional tirades and incredibly ignorant verbiage which stems from an emotional overload and misunderstanding towards those who hunt and the very core of the conservation they practice. Your disdain for hunting does not allow you to spew out hatred and contempt for individuals who do hunt especially when nothing you state is supported by any factual evidence, but only pure, unadulterated, emotional hatred. The Anti-Hunters are trying to take hunting away from those legally choose to exercise their right.  Another core issue, which I believe is at the real heart of the issue, is the removal of all guns from those who have them and the promotion of socialism into our great country of capitalism. We will save that for another day and another time.

If you have any doubt about what hunting does or doesn’t do for the animals that live in any land, read about the realities that took place in Botswana when they banned hunting in 2014.

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