© By Othmar Vohringer
For years I have been saying that the “trophy” aspect of hunting perpetrated in every magazine and hunting TV show eventually will backfire on our hunting heritage. It is my contention that if trophy record books would only give credit to the animal without the name of the hunter they would go quickly out of business. The reason hunters enter trophy’s in these books is for the sole reason to see their name in print. In magazines and hunting TV shows trophy animals are used solely for the purpose to sell products and to give “testimony” that the writer or TV show presenter is an “expert”.
Now don’t get me wrong. I like to kill a trophy animal as much as the next guy but to me it is not a contest and I certainly never would enter one in a record book. I am not a trophy hunter and I am not a meat hunter either. I am just a hunter. While I fully respect that some hunters may only hunt for a trophy animal to please their own ego or their own sense of achievement it needs to be mentioned that the trophy hype does affect new and young hunters in a very negative way. How so? I lost count of how many times I heard a young or new hunter say something like; “I will not waste a bullet on a lesser animal.” Or “I want to be a trophy hunter.” These are all people that may go many years without killing a deer waiting for that big trophy buck. They do so because they want not to be ridiculed by their peers for shooting a lesser animal.
I’ve been hunting since I am old enough to tie my own shoelaces and my first priority has always been to hunt period. The day I suffer any form of competitive pressure or feel that for me hunting has become some form of contest with other hunters I will quit. Hunting for me is about having fun and the only contest I engage in is to pit my wits against that of a wild animals uncanny survival instincts. Today, unfortunately, I encounter too many hunters that are stressed out. They carry antler charts and tape measures in their packs. They place cameras everywhere in the hope to catch a glimpse of that one elusive monster buck, and it better be much bigger than the one their friend shot last years or they will get all upset. To me killing animals for fame, fortune, celebrity status, bragging rights and bogus titles creates a horribly destructive image of hunting to the millions of the non-hunting public who have little understanding of what the hunter/conservationist heritage is all about. From all the hype about trophy hunting, hunting contests, high-dollar trophy hunts and rises in product sales geared toward trophy hunters it is evident that some hunters lost sight of the true meaning of hunting too.
In my personal view hunting isn’t, nor should it be, about ego, scores, titles and phony entries in trophy record books. Taking a big animal and displaying it as a personal wall mount and utilizing all of the meat is a time honoured tradition, but shooting animals for bragging rights and recognition and trying to convince the rest of the hunting community that this is the way “real hunting” is done is as hypocritical as the animal rights with their bogus science, intimidation attempts and misguided rhetoric.
The way I see it is that if we’re not careful how we represent our rational for hunting we will lose it to popular opinion. Make no mistake about it. The future of hunting will not be decided by hunters and the dollars we provide to the economy, which is a considerable sum, but by the non-hunting public. If these non-hunters get the impression that hunting is all about “horn porn” they will side with the animal rights. It is up to us to show the public what hunting is really all about, we owe that to ourselves and the young generation of hunters that are right now been infected with the antler addiction virus.
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