Women Hunters, Lifestyle Choices and Tolerance

Diana, goddess of the huntApparently, today is a day for me to rant against stupidity. This afternoon’s exhibit: Antis Threatening Women: Average women hunters being targeted for promoting lifestyle.

Antis threatening female hunters is nothing new. Over the past half year or so it seems like there’s been an onslaught of threats directed towards celebrity female hunters. Melissa Bachman came under attack for hunting a male lion in Africa. USA Olympic Medalist Corey Cogdell was threatened after she posted some photos of her hunting to Facebook. Olivia Opre had to have her Facebook disabled for a while due to the amount of bullying she was receiving.

Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

It appears, that if you’re female and a hunter, then to a certain–very vocal–group of people, you deserve to die. Or at the very least, your children deserve to die.

I’m still trying to figure out how that makes any sort of sense (hint: it doesn’t).

Today’s article from the Outdoor Channel really set me off, though. When you step into the spotlight in a public way like Bachman or Opre have, you know there’s a certain amount of risk involved, that by embracing the world of “celebrity” you will be both loved and hated, and that certain people will attack you or overstep bounds. That doesn’t mean that it’s right or fair, but it’s a part of the life that you have to be willing to accept.

Personal responsibility, yo.

For us ordinary women, though, we don’t think about it. We share photos on our personal social media accounts, we talk about the things that interest us, we get up early during the fall and go freeze our asses off in a deer blind, we hunt predators, we fill feeders and provide water and plant food plots. We keep an eye on the deer herd, on the predators on our land. I think most of us are responsible hunters. We take what we should, not necessarily what we can. Meaning, we practice population management and don’t take MORE than we should. We take in order to feed our families, to manage wildlife populations, and to protect our loved ones, livestock and pets.

great pyrenees attacked by mountain lion

This sweet girl was attacked by a mountain lion while guarding her flock.

So we have a woman–a normal, every day woman who hunts–who posts a photo to her Facebook of her with a mountain lion she’d killed. She’s in Colorado. Do a quick Google search on “mountain lion colorado,” and you get more than a few news stories and facts about mountain lions in Colorado, including this story about residents in Golden who say mountain lions are hunting their pets. You’ll also find this great mountain lion fact sheet that contains all sorts of wonderful information about mountain lions, including OBVIOUS reasons as to why one would hunt a mountain lion.

The mountain lion population is increasing over most of its current range. This is due to two factors:

1. Food availability.

2. Lack of predator control. This population increase has a short-term benefit, but could create long-term problems.

The short-term benefit is that with more lions around, perhaps more people will have the pleasure of seeing them. The long-term problems are:

1. Decline in wild game populations due to uncontrolled predation.

2. Economic hardship – loss of hunting revenue, increase of livestock and pet losses.

3. Spread of disease by predators.

4. Attacks on humans.

Here in Texas, we’ve had deer populations completely decimated by mountain lions, not to mention livestock that’s been killed by mountain lions. That isn’t something that’s just a Texas issue, either–it’s an issue everywhere, where hunting and livestock contribute a large part to a state’s economy. Colorado is no exception.

So Argys killed a mountain lion. In my mind, I see it for what it is–conservation and wildlife management, predator control. But you’ll hear the argument from antis that anyone who would kill a mountain lion is cruel and awful, and even some hunters will say you should only kill what you’re going to eat. Well, if I’m reading this State of Colorado Mountain Lion hunting brochure correctly, it appears that people DO eat mountain lions, or at the very least you can donate your meat. So I guess that argument’s moot, right?

This crap is stuff you get used to when you’re a hunter. There are simply people who don’t understand. It’s stuff like this, though, that really sets me off:

After a flood of comments, mostly by sportsmen to World Action in support of Argys, the photo of her and the mountain lion were removed. However, it was soon replaced with an article about women hunters on their sister site, speakupforthevoiceless.com.

Focusing on sportswomen, the article entitled “Hunting is Not Conservation,” attacks women hunters, and at times men, referring to hunters as having “antisocial personality disorder or sociopathology.”

According to the unknown author, women posing with their kill, specifically mentioning women wearing bikinis, is “behavior typical of serial killers that feel they need to prove themselves to their family or victims.” The author goes on to say that hunting gives women a “form of sexual gratification, a feeling of power and lust” and claims that women hunters wish “they were sexually abusing women, or maybe themselves.”

special kind of stupid

In a way, I wish I wasn’t writing this, because seriously, I’m not sure this dribble even deserves a cogent response. But that last sentence did it. I can’t NOT say something. So let’s go point by stupid point, shall we?

“women posing with their kill, specifically mentioning women wearing bikinis”

Ummmm…women wear bikinis while hunting? Seriously? I’ve never seen that before. You know what I wear while hunting? For deer season (because it’s cold):

  • Long johns
  • Long sleeved thermal shirt
  • Blue jeans or sweat pants
  • T-shirt
  • Sports bra
  • Zip up hoodie
  • Cap that covers my ears
  • Knee socks
  • Hiking boots
  • Gloves

For dove season, I wear:

  • Hiking books
  • Knee socks
  • Jeans
  • Snake garters SO I DON’T GET BIT BY A FUCKING RATTLE SNAKE
  • T-shirt
  • Vest that’s loaded down with a few pounds of shotgun shells
  • Ballcap

Do I look like Melissa Bachman? No. I’m pretty sure the only person who wants to see me in a bikini is Phillip, and the one time I tried to pee outside while deer hunting I literally scared a deer. I’m not alone, though, in how I dress as a female hunter. We wear the same stuff the guys do, just maybe a little more fitted or cut a little differently, or maybe with some pink or purple thrown in if we’re feeling feisty.

But we’re sure as hell not traipsing through the woods in bikinis (to be honest, I blame that image on the popularity of tactical girls, which is another rant for another day, believe me).

So let’s deconstruct this a little more.

“women posing with their kill…is ‘behavior typical of serial killers that feel they need to prove themselves to their family or victims.'”

*snort*

It isn’t about proving yourself, it’s about being proud of yourself and the fact that you’re providing for your family or protecting your family, pets and livestock.

grocery getter t-shirt

 

This last sentence, though, this is what really, really got me pissed off.

“The author goes on to say that hunting gives women a ‘form of sexual gratification, a feeling of power and lust’ and claims that women hunters wish ‘they were sexually abusing women, or maybe themselves.'”

Dear Anonymous Person Who Wrote Such Bullshit:

Go Fuck Yourself

Seriously,

Every Victim of Sexual Abuse Ever

I’m not going to lie, there are times when shooting is damned sexy. It’s a rush. You feel your adrenaline pumping. You make a great shot and you feel confident. You combine those things and yeah, maybe you do feel a slight bit of power and lust.

THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT.

Men are allowed to feel those things (and often do). Why aren’t women?

Oh, right, because the only things that are supposed to turn us on are unwashed hipsters, Lena Dunham, Hollywood celebrities and that dude on MSNBC who used to be on MTV, or maybe some feminist poetry (because let me tell you, THAT shit’s a real turn-on).

Screw that.

But in all reality, hunting isn’t sexy. It’s dirty and sweaty, and after you make the kill you have to deal with all the blood and guts and the nasty stuff. I don’t know about this chick (I’m assuming the writer is a woman), but entrails and internal organs aren’t exactly a turn on…

And then we come to the worst part of it all, that we female hunters apparently wish we were sexually abusing other women, or maybe themselves (I’m not even sure what that means–do we wish we were being sexually abused, or that we were sexually abusing ourselves, and furthermore, how does one sexually abuse oneself?). This person is obviously an asshat, and deserves a swift kick to the face.

As someone who’s been sexually abused AND date raped, I’m going to say this: THERE IS NOTHING MORE EMPOWERING THAN BEING ABLE TO PROTECT MYSELF. And knowing that I can make a damned accurate shot with my rifle at 100 yards, that I can shoot a moving bird out of the sky with my shotgun, and that I’m a DAMNED GOOD shot with a 1911? It’s empowering.

I don’t want to sexually abuse anyone else. If anything, I’m very vocal about bringing that particular issue to light, because it’s an issue that isn’t talked about nearly enough, and too many girls never talk about their experiences.

My very first dove, my first thought (after doing a happy dance) was, “That’s gonna be really good wrapped in bacon.”

Because, bacon.

And then my next was, “Now, where the hell did it go?”

And once I found it and gingerly picked it out of the cacti, my thought was, “These things are pretty small. It’s not a meal–it’s an appetizer!”

And then I had the realization that I was going to have to clean it, and I honestly wasn’t looking forward to it but was determined to do it because it’s part of being a responsible hunter. Nowhere in my thought process was the idea of, “Oooh, I killed a dove, now I want to go sexually abuse some woman.” I didn’t even remotely want to have sex. Instead, my entire thought process was centered around getting it from the ground to the freezer to the table.

And shooting more. Because like I said, those things are effing appetizers. Wrapped in bacon.

At any rate, the antis don’t seem to understand the blatant hypocrisy in what they’re doing and saying. They preach tolerance and kumbaya, and yet they say shit like “We should hunt her!” and accuse female hunters of being sexually abusive. Seriously?

huntingThe fact is, antis don’t understand hunting and wildlife conservation. Their idea of conservation is nebulous and flimsy, usually involving a salamander (which does play a role in the ecosystem, I’ll grant, as they eat bugs) and a dried up stream somewhere. They have ideas in their heads that hunters are all redneck, white trash hicks (and yeah, some are…so what?), and apparently that female hunters traipse around in the woods and scrub brush in bikinis, and that somehow what we do is more cruel than animals being raised on filthy farms, fed an inferior diet of GMO grains and slaughtered en masse. I mean, seriously, where do they think that chicken or ground round comes from? Unicorn farts?

Our licensing fees go towards wildlife education and conservation projects. They help keep parks up and running and maintained. They help teach children about the great outdoors. The money we spend on hunting gear–guns, ammo, tools, camo, processing supplies–helps the economy. The money hunters spend on leases helps ranchers turn a profit, which helps them pay their employees. The game we kill puts ORGANIC meat in our freezer and on our table, because, seriously, you can’t get much more organic than killing and processing meat yourself. The predators we kill help keep livestock, pets and children alive, and help protect wildlife such as deer (which in turn helps the economy). Feral hogs cause upwards of $400 million in damage ANNUALLY in the state of Texas alone, so by hog hunting not only are we helping to reduce damages but we’re also giving ourselves bacon.

And everything’s better with bacon.

My point is, though, this shit is ridiculous. It’s beyond ridiculous.

Most of the antis also claim to be liberals or progressives, therefore tolerant. Leveling death threats at people who choose a lifestyle that’s different from yours isn’t tolerant, though. Want proof? Here’s the definition of tolerant from Dictionary.com:

1. a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry.
2. a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one’s own.

So tell me, please, how stalking and harassing and bullying female hunters is tolerant? How is equating us to sexual abusers tolerant? How is threatening families and children tolerant?

It isn’t.

It isn’t tolerant at all. It’s hateful and mean and so beyond intolerant I’m not sure there’s even a word for it.

And yet, it’s tolerated. Because for some reason, we female hunters are being vilified right now, despite that fact that women have ALWAYS hunted. I mean, hello, Artemis and Diana anyone?