THE PLIGHT OF FEMALE AND CHILD HUNTERS ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Sister John Paul Bauer is a unique individual. The nun and teacher from St. Marys, Pennsylvania has an enthusiasm for hunting that is surpassed only by faith, family, and community. It is a relatively new hobby for her, as she began only five years ago. Earlier this season, Sister Bauer was able to take down a beautiful ten point buck from her tree stand and a picture of it was later uploaded to Facebook.
That was when she faced some controversy. Animal rights activists vocalized their displeasure by peppering the post with comments about how she didn’t respect life. Thankfully, it didn’t affect her positive demeanor.
The backlash Sister Bauer received is indicative of the current social media climate. Any time a successful hunt is advertised on a medium such as Facebook, hunting opponents unleash their special brand of hatred onto the well-meaning individual.
This harassment can be directed at anyone who crosses the animal rights activists’ created boundaries of social conduct, but as Sister John Paul Bauer can attest, women and children face an additional amount of scrutiny that their male hunting counterparts do not.
The social media landscape has allowed hateful, demeaning comments to be made with ease and relative anonymity. Ignorant attitudes about empowered women and children are given an outlet that can cause psychological damage.
When one of these individuals attacks a person who is exercising his/her legal right to hunt, they put on display their ignorance and cowardice. This goes double for those who choose to attack women or children.
Take someone like Eva Shockey, a female hunter who co-hosts an Outdoor Channel show. A celebrity in the hunting community who was the first female to appear alone on the cover of Field & Stream magazine in four decades, Shockey has experienced a great deal of negative attention from anti-hunters. She has been the target of hateful language on more than one occasion for posting photos of her harvests.
She rightfully defends herself in these instances, displaying pride in her accomplishments and the knowledge that hunting is necessary for wildlife management.
“I believe with every part of me that what I’m doing is right, so there’s nothing that I’m apologizing for,” she expressed to Fox News last year.
Role models and celebrities like Eva Shockey can stand up for themselves; they are trained to be able to do that since they’re in the spotlight. Others may not be so lucky.
It takes a special kind of idiocy to post death threats to a child. Unfortunately, that was the case in 2014, when eleven year old Gavin Dingman shot a rare albino buck in Michigan. He received a great deal of national attention after the photo of him with his buck went viral.
Gavin harvested the deer legally and cleanly with a cross bow, yet ignorant commenters tried to make his life miserable. Michigan DNR public information officer Ed Golder had a simple and well-put message for those people:
"Any act of cyber bullying or cyber harassment is reprehensible, especially when it is directed toward a young person, as was the case here. We urge hunters and anglers to be civil and exercise sound judgment on social media. We would expect the same of their critics."
This happens frequently during hunting seasons. Hunters are forced to defend their justifiable actions to those who claim to value lives, yet have no problem threatening the lives of anybody who goes against their beliefs. These critics are extremely more likely to bash those who they see as easy targets.
Animal rights activists rarely face any backlash for making these inane comments to fellow human beings. It is up to those who support hunting to defend each other when these situations arise.