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We Sportsmen/Women Need To Police Ourselves On Social Media

I’m a fan of social media, at least most of the time. This ‘instant’ form of communications has the ability to keep us in touch with others with the pressing of a finger on the screen of our device. But occasionally I see something on social media that makes me scratch my head and wonder, ‘what were they thinking’? Possibly my opinion is jaundiced a bit because of what I do. For the past three decades, I have written literally hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of words singing the praises of the great outdoors and those that spend time hunting, fishing camping or just ‘being out there’. It’s important for me to always present out outdoor endeavors in a positive light.

Scores of editors have looked over my writing and the images that I’ve submitted for print. Other than the grammar or spelling errors, I’ve never submitted a piece that did not pass their muster because of inappropriate or offensive language or photos of harvested fish or game. My goal and that of the vast majority of professional outdoor writers is to present our hunting and fishing heritage in a good light.

But NOT so with what I sometime see on social media. Just this past week, I watched a short video with a bravado helicopter pilot talking about heading out on a killing spree for wild hogs. Don’t get the wrong idea, I annually harvest (kill) on the average of twenty or so wild porkers that ultimately wind up in my smoker in the form of BBQ, smoked sausage or cured ham. I’m all about killing wild hogs. I have absolutely no problem with folks that harvest wild hogs or game animals in general; I’ve been a hunter all my life and I’m positive that I will continue to hunt as longs as I can do so.

But this particular “chopper” pilot was most definitely way over the top. He sounded as though he was about to head out over the jungles of Viet Nam on a mission rather than take a couple guys out on an overpriced chopper hog shoot costing about $2,000 per shooter. Note I did not use the word “hunter”. Shooting wild hogs or any other animal out of a helicopter has absolutely nothing to do with hunting. We all have our opinions about shooting hogs from the air, our bones of contention, and this topic is most definitely one of mine. Aerial shooting is one way to help control their numbers and I understand that not every hog shot from choppers is retrieved, butchered and transformed into table fare. Killing hogs from choppers has been going on a long time and its one of many other ways to keep the ever increasing population of wild hogs in check. It’s not the best method, to my way of thinking. Trapping is much more effective and the trapped hogs can be sold to meat buyers at facilities all across the state. But what do guys and gals that might otherwise decide to become hunters think when they see what they perceive to be hunting portrayed in such a manner? And, what does the anti hunting crowd think when they watch these little “Face Book live” spots showing hogs being killed from the air and the sport “shooters” conducting themselves as though they were on some sort of military mission?

I truly think that those who post such videos have no idea of the possible damage that they can create. They are in the business of taking folk up in a chopper for pay to kill as many wild hogs as they encounter. Their goal when posting such videos is to get the word out on what they are doing and possibly show a little of the action. Absolutely nothing wrong with promotions, but it should be done in a tasteful manner. With social media however, everyone regardless of training or skill level, is a writer, videographer, editor, etc. It’s not my intent to single out the videos presented only by helicopter pilots. I’ve seen many instances on social media where our great outdoors was presented in a less than respectful manner.

Take for instance, the videos where ‘pig bombs’ were filmed. Tannerite which is basically a bomb in a jar, is placed around an area where wild hogs are baited and several containers of this highly explosive material is detonated via a shot from a center fire rifle, literally blowing the hogs to kingdom come. I doubt seriously if these ‘outdoor videos’ would ever be seen anywhere other than social media or YouTube but today, they are easily seen by anyone that has access to the internet. Any main stream editor worth his or her salt would never allow this to be viewed. I’ve actually seen YouTube links to these ‘hog bombings’ put on Facebook. Detonating an explosive charge and killing a bunch of hogs and wasting the meat or blasting hogs from the air has nothing to do with sport hunting as I know it. After a life spent in the outdoors hunting everything from dove to bear, I believe I have a good handle on what sport hunting is all about. Neither I nor any of the other veteran hunters I know like to see our hunting heritage portrayed in such a manner. A few years ago, I watched a video where a hunter used a diminutive little .177 caliber pellet gun to kill a wild hog. Granted, with a perfectly placed shot at very close range, such a rifle/projectile has the potential to kill a hog but what would an uninformed person that might be considering becoming a hunter think?
When using social media, we all should be aware that, training or not, we instantly become editors, videographers and when highlighting an outdoor outing, were wearing the hat of an outdoor journalists. Things we post certainly do not have to be “professional” quality but they should never be offensive.

Listen to “Outdoors with Luke Clayton and Friends” on radio stations from Nebraska to Texas on weekends or anytime at www.catfishradio.org.

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