Big Game Hunter Hannah Finley: Death Threats for Bear Hunt (#HuntTheHunters)

Hunter Hannah Finley (courtesy instgram.com)

Brad Luttrell, Co-Founder of GoWild, recently interviewed big game hunter Hannah Finley. Ms. Finley was recently the victim of death threats and abuse after an animal rights activist posed a picture from a bear hunt. The following Q&A was edited for length. Click here to read it in its entirety.

GoWild: For those who haven’t found you via the interwebs yet, tell us who you are, and what you like to hunt.

Hannah:  I was born in Utah but have spent most of my time here in Arizona. As the daughter of a wildlife manager, the outdoors has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. I have lived all around Arizona, even in Tusayan—right next to the Grand Canyon—and have gotten to explore many parts of the west.

My love for nature started very young with experiences like fishing and hiking to find some sheds (little did my brother and I know my dad had already found them and GPS’d them so he could hike us in there to “find” them). I know, coolest dad ever, right?

Hannah Finley and dead horned animal (courtesy instagram.com)

Every little experience like that planted a passion and dedication to the outdoors inside me that has led me to become the person I am today. When I first got the opportunity to hunt, I was hesitant. I did not know many girls that hunted and I was unsure if it was the right thing for me, but as soon as I spent that first day outdoors hunting, I was absolutely hooked.

Now I spend almost every weekend hunting on top of being a full-time college student with a 4.0 GPA. I cannot get enough of it.

I hunt every species I have the chance to, but I really just genuinely enjoy being outdoors. When I am not hunting I am volunteering on conservation projects or fly fishing. I share my adventures on my Instagram (@hannah.finley) with the goal of inspiring girls and people, in general, to get involved with the outdoors. I want to be the role model that I struggled to find as a little girl.

GoWild: What’s the hardest hunt you’ve ever done?

Hannah: Wow that is a tough question. I have had so many challenges on all of my hunts and I have had many unsuccessful days (unsuccessful in taking an animal but not unsuccessful in having fun and enjoying nature). I can ensure you this is not because of lack of dedication.

That being said, I would have to say my bear and lion hunts have most likely been my hardest hunts. I have gone bear hunting with my dad and brother many times but in the last two years really dedicated myself to being able to harvest one.

Hannah Finley GoWild App

My first year was a rollercoaster of bad luck and beautiful moments. We saw 48 bears that year, all sows with cubs or bears in areas closed to bear hunting.

Despite not taking a bear that year, I had the most fun fall of my life. I hunted every weekend from August until October. When I say hunted I mean I got up at 3 am every morning, hiked eight miles into a canyon to glass, spent the day there, occasionally glassed up a bear too far to shoot or with cubs, and then hiked out to do it all again the next day. I loved every sunburnt and exhausted moment of it . . .

My bear came to rest on one of the steepest and rockiest hills I have ever been on. So steep that we had to tie all four of his paws to trees just to keep him from rolling while we field dressed him. We got to my bear early that morning and did not get packed out until 4 p.m.

I fell down that steep hill more times that day than I have ever fallen. I guess having the weight of a bear hide, some meat, and a bear skull on your back can do that. Going down was still a lot easier than going back up. It was definitely one of my hardest days but I was too excited to care.

GoWild: [Asking about harassment by anti-hunters] Can you recap what happened?

Hannah: Over the last three weeks I have gotten countless threats, messages and comments because a vegan “activist” posted the picture of the bear I was lucky enough to harvest in October. She posted the picture with the goal of having her followers attack me, saying that I killed a “harmless bear cub” and that people like me should pay for what we do. She even included the hashtag #HuntTheHunters.

Photo of Hannah Finley's bear hunt (courtesy ammoland.com)

After that post, the picture was shared over twenty times, furthering the spreading of false information with the goal of harming me and my page. Most of the posts encouraged followers to report me to get me taken off Instagram. I refuse to engage with anyone attacking me or making vile comments so they all got blocked. The only people I reply to are those that genuinely want to understand hunting, instead of assuming things and making horrible comments.

I do my best to educate people if they are willing to learn. The attacks and harassment continued heavily for three weeks but it’s starting to slow down now.

Looking at those “activist” pages it is clear to see that most of the anti-hunting posts are pictures of women. I truly believe they attack us because we do not fit into the stereotype of what they want a hunter to be. I even got comments attacking my womanhood for being a hunter.

Many of which calling me a man, a redneck, or attacking how I look (my favorite of which said “Your hair looks stupid under that hat”). Some of the comments were scary, some were mean, but most of them were so ignorant they were humorous.

I know why I do what I do and I know what we do is right, so I chose to make a stand for hunting and hold my ground. Luckily, that resonated with many people and I was soon receiving messages with just as much, if not more, support as I was getting hate.

I am very thankful for everyone that showed me support in that time and I think we were able to educate many people on the benefits of hunting.

GoWild: At one point you said you got 400 hateful and ignorant comments in 30 minutes and blocked over 2,000 rude and awful people . . . Is this the worst you’ve ever been harassed, or was it just the first time it’s ever been picked up by a national news organization?

Hannah: This is the worst I have ever been harassed. Of course running a public page with the goal of sharing my hunting adventures has always led to some comments by anti-hunters or those who do not hunt, but most of them have been reasonable and willing to listen to me when I describe to them the benefits of hunting and what hunters do for conservation.

Generally, the comments I have gotten in the past have been from people who were just misled and lacked an understanding of what we do and why we do it. Usually in those cases I have been able to kindly present facts and stories to inform them and change their perspective on hunting. I do the best I can to keep nonhunters from becoming anti-hunters because that is very important to hunters and the future of hunting.

What made this recent occurrence the worst mostly has to do with the people who were involved. After that picture was shared by an anti-hunting page the first time it continued to be shared more than 20 times with each page spreading more false information about my hunt and encouraging their followers to attack me.

The harassment started on the first of January and still continues, although most of them have been blocked or found a new hunter to attack now. These people have absolutely no understanding of bears or hunting in general and turned their lack of knowledge into a vicious and horrible movement of threats and comments against me.

Despite the vile threats and comments I was blessed to have support from many sportsmen and even some support from people of different backgrounds. The hunting community did an amazing job in holding our ground and educating those that were misled.

Hannah Finley Lifestyle

GoWild: You know, my biggest fear with all of the harassment that goes on within open platforms like Instagram is that some kid is going to get their first deer, post it, get harassed, and never hunt again. Today’s youth are so impacted by their peers, that one batch of comments like what you went received could extinguish a future hunter. Do you worry about that?

Hannah: This is definitely a huge problem we will face with the popularity of social media and it is something I worry about as well. Even though I am only 18 years old, hunting has been a huge part of my life for a long time and I am headstrong enough to hold my ground on things like this. However, a new hunter that has not yet become as involved in the outdoors may have a harder time with negative comments or harassment.

I am a huge supporter of ethical outdoorsmen and conservationists and cannot stress enough the importance of supporting each other in times like these. At the end of the day our differences do not matter, our similarities do. Sometimes we are so busy arguing about what bow we should be shooting, the size of an animal, etc, that we lose track of the fact that we are all on the same team here. If hunters do not come together to support our passions and each other, we may lose our ability to do what we love.

It is also important for us to inspire people to get involved and to portray all aspects of hunting in a respectful manner. My goal for my Instagram (@hannah.finley) is to do just that. If the tradition of hunting is waning it is up to us and only us to inspire others to find passion in the outdoors like we do. We should be posting tasteful images and videos, discussing what hunters do for conservation, and supporting each other.

Every move we make and thing we do can have an effect on the future of hunting—good or bad. Volunteer for conservation efforts because that is really what it is all about, and share that! Take a kid hunting or help out at a youth hunting camp. If hunting is your passion, do everything you can do to protect the future of it.

Getting people involved that are outside of the normal stereotype of hunters (more women and youth) will help secure the future of hunting in times where it is being attacked. Since anti-hunting organizations (Humane Society of The United States, PETA, etc.) know that, they are more likely to attack women and children. We especially need to be standing up for and encouraging the people who are receiving these attacks.

Hannah Finley Sunset Glassing

GoWild: What other advice would you have to young hunters about dealing with the anti-hunters that will certainly come if you’re participating on most social networks?

Hannah: My biggest word of advice would be to know why we do what we do and stand by it. Hunters are brave enough to work for our food and we contribute so much to conservation that we should be proud of who we are. Never let a mean comment get you down because most of the people making them spend their lives behind a computer while we spend ours out enjoying nature.

Be proud of who you are and what we do.

On the other side of that, there is no need to provoke anti-hunters or to make nonhunters into anti-hunters. Post classy images, do not harass wildlife and help to inform the public about what we do as hunters. If someone comes to your page to attack you, rise above it.

If we are the ones that hold our ground respectfully and choose to be kind while others are vile, it says a lot about hunters. When someone comes to your page who is clearly uneducated choose to inform them instead of attack them. Be the better person and enjoy your life.

——-

You can learn more about GoWild and its efforts to get more people into the outdoors at timetogowild.com. The GoWild app is currently available in the Apple AppStore and will be out on Android soon.

comments

  1. avatar The Phad Thai nom nom monster says:

    Typical Progladites, “Love Trumps Hate”? more like progressive ideaology (sic) trumps logic and sense. I support you Hannah, keep up the good fight girl!

    1. avatar The Rookie says:

      “Progladites” – that’s awesome! I’m so stealing that line. 🙂

      1. avatar Reef Blastbody says:

        I’ve used the term for awhile, though I spell it “Proglodyte”, since I’m an old school dice and paper RPG player, and derived the spelling from “Troglodyte”.

  2. avatar strych9 says:

    If you don’t want trouble in the modern world then don’t post pictures of your potentially offensive hobbies online.

    I’m not saying the harassment is right and I’m not defending it but it is part of the territory when you put yourself out in public. Asshats gonna asshat and you’re gonna have to deal with that if you’re gonna publicly post pictures of things like what you’ve successfully hunted.

    Use the iggy button or, better yet, don’t use social media like facebook, instagram and the like unless you’re truly prepared for things to get ugly.

    1. avatar Hank says:

      I don’t use social media either, and encourage its disuse, but literally any hobby could be “potentially offensive”. Like the other day when CNN said Trumps SOTU was “offensive to democrats”… what the fuck doesnt offend a democrat?

      1. avatar Ing says:

        If you can’t offend the Democrats, you’re not doing it right. Or you’re just not doing anything.

        1. avatar strych9 says:

          I don’t think you’re gonna get death threats over posts of your stamp collection or videos of you flying your nitro powered aircraft.

          Hunting is something that everyone knows is deeply offensive to certain people and has been for a long time. This lady is nowhere near the first to get death threats or other vile messages based on hunting pictures. She knew or should have known that posting such images on social media might have a serious backlash.

          People seem to think the internet is somehow sacred. It’s not. It’s just a faster way of getting information out. In 1980 this lady would have had to go around with copies of this picture and her contact info stapling it to telephone poles and billboards. No one would have thought that was smart. This is simply the electronic version of doing that. It takes less effort which means you can get yourself in more trouble more quickly. People don’t seem to think that through.

          Again, she has the right to post the stuff and I’m not defending people sending vile messages or death threats but public life has it’s downsides and, as the old saying goes, “if you can’t take the heat then stay out of the kitchen”.

        2. avatar Ing says:

          Sounds to me like she knows that and knows how to deal with it.

          My point is that the social justice warriors will come after virtually anyone for virtually anything — even an anodyne post about your stamp collection can go awry if the outrage mob suspects you held a politically incorrect opinion while you were doing it. With some things it’s easy to fly under the radar, whereas with something like hunting, you’d better expect to get hit with spittle-flecked outrage at some point.

          If you never run afoul of any unhinged lunatics in your social media, chances are you’re doing it wrong…or you’re one of them.

      2. avatar strych9 says:

        I don’t think you’re gonna get death threats over Pinterest posts of your stamp collection or YouTube videos of you flying your nitro powered aircraft.

        Hunting is something that everyone knows is deeply offensive to certain snowflakes. This lady is nowhere near the first to get death threats or other vile messages based on hunting pictures. She knew or should have known that posting such images on social media might have a serious backlash including, yes, death threats.

        People seem to think the internet is somehow sacred. It’s not. It’s just a faster way of getting information out. In 1980 this lady would have had to go around with copies of this picture and her contact info stapling it to telephone poles and billboards. No one would have thought that was smart. This is simply the electronic version of doing that. It takes less effort which means you can get yourself in more trouble faster. People don’t seem to think that through.

        Again, she has the right to post the stuff and I’m not defending people sending vile messages or death threats but public life has it’s downsides and, as the old saying goes, “if you can’t take the heat then stay out of the kitchen”.

        1. avatar Hank says:

          I get what you’re saying. But give it time. Soon stamp collecting will be a hobby of white male privilege and flying a remote controlled anything will be your way of oppressing the under privileged by showing off your wealth.

        2. avatar Ollie says:

          White male stamp collectors should all sell their collections and give the money to the oppressed Notwhitee pissants of the planet.

        3. avatar Geoff PR says:

          Flying R/C drones in *public* ares has gotten be people physically attacked :

          NSFW

    2. avatar BLoving says:

      The topic matters little.
      Social Media = Death threats from some idiot somewhere in the world.
      Hunter? Die. Auto racer? Die. Oil field worker? Die. Teacher? Die. Porn actress? Die.
      It proves only one thing – social media is not meant for immature children to use and many immature adults as well. On the one hand are those idiots spreading hate and then there’s the idiots listening to the idiots and letting those opinions ruin their lives.
      The solution?
      1. No kids allowed. If you are not at least 18, you have exactly no good reason to have a social media presence and it’s still debatable after then.
      2. No more anonymity. You want to post? There will be a return address anyone can follow if they would like to debate your comments with you.
      Not workable? Yeah, probably not. But try to tell me it wouldn’t get rid of 98% of the BS drama online.
      🤠

    3. avatar n64456 says:

      I just tell Democrats/leftists/SJWs to “Go F**K Yourself” on social media…. It usually wraps things up pretty quickly…

      Succinct; to the point; and no chance of misinterpreting the message…

  3. avatar Kevin Hagus says:

    Hannah is a very special young woman. Well spoken, smart and has a great attitude. I seriously doubt that I could be as magnanimous as she with these liberal, progressive, anti-gun, anti-hunting, non-common sensical idiots who have zero knowledge about animal conservation, and the enormous good that Hunters do in regards to both wildlife and outdoor conservation. I for the most part have no ill will towards animal rights activists, but they need to get informed and educated concerning Hunting, and how Hunting is paramount in continuing wildlife animal conservation efforts. They really need to stay in their lane and wheelhouse…..making sure that Dogs and Cats are not abused either by their owners or shelters, and educating people on spaying/neutering their pets.

    1. avatar tmm says:

      I agree, well-spoken woman and it made for a good read. Thanks Hannah!

  4. avatar Ing says:

    She’s a very impressive young woman. Strong, capable, self-reliant, and all the more beautiful for it.

    Quite a contrast between her and the hateful proglodytes who promote hunting humans.

  5. avatar TroutsBane says:

    These postmodernists sure are touchy buggers. There is no reasoning with them since they reject traditional discourse as oppression. It’s best to stand tall and keep doing what you love.

    1. avatar n64456 says:

      Any interaction with them needs to end with “Go F**k Yourself”…

  6. avatar jwm says:

    #huntthehunters? I don’t think they thought that one thru. Hunting an armed person presents a whole new set of problems.

    1. avatar Lucas D. says:

      Exactly. My first thought was “I kill dangerous animals for fun, and you’re stupid enough to threaten my life? Okay then, I’ll see your hashtag and raise you twenty rounds of .308, screaming toward center mass at 3,000 feet per second.”

      1. avatar IN Dave says:

        “I’ll see your hashtag…” that’s funny right there. I was on the same page as you guys. Someone who lives with their parents and complains that the sunlight burns vs a hunter with a proven track record of being able to transverse a mountain side with gear, including a gun big enough to drop an angry bear. I am going to put my money on the later.

        All this young lady would have to do is tell them to name the time and place with a picture of her with an AR15 and she would be able to hear the crying and smell the coloring going on from a campus safe space coming from her computer.

    2. avatar Maxi says:

      #HuntTheHuntersOfTheHunters i mean, what are they gonna do? Shoot back?

  7. avatar sound awake says:

    exactly…

    death threats against somebody who kills beasts with high powered rifles for sport

    not a good life decision

    of course you cant explain the folly of that to someone who doesnt understand it already

    we havent seen anything yet

    when trump gets reelected in 2020 thats when the real fireworks start

  8. avatar Curtis in IL says:

    Well, it’s nearly bedtime for me, and miraculously I have managed to survive one more day without faceplant, instascam, twatter, or any other platform that the chronic narcissists call “social media.”

    How desperate for attention does someone have to be, to subject themselves to sophomoric social interaction from anonymous nutbags on a daily basis?

    Ms. Finley, you seem like a rational young woman. Now rid yourself of your need to share your life with the morons of the world and you will know what happiness is.

    1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

      I see several photos of her wearing Kuiu clothing. It’s possible she may be sponsored by them, or receives free gear based on her social media presence showing their brand.
      Some friends of mine do by making hunting videos on YouTube.
      So, for some, a social media presence has become a business norm.

    2. avatar IN Dave says:

      I understand what you are saying and I don’t disagree with you. At the same time if you read some of her statements you will realize that she is looking big picture. She is trying to normalize even promote a mindset. She stated at one point she is “worried that a young hunter will post their first kill and be put through the same thing and turn them off of hunting”. Which means they stop spending money on things like guns, ammo, accessories, and see limited value in voting for people who try to defend those things. I would much rather have someone like this on our side vs having her against us.

  9. avatar former water walker says:

    When you put your life on social media it can get ugly…how many on TTAG use their REAL name or any identifying pictures?!? I’m constantly on FB but rarely post pics or personal information. Do all that at your peril…

  10. avatar Wtlnrdr12 says:

    I think this Lady Hunter is AWESOME, and BEAUTIFUL!!!! Hunting Skills,Fitness,And Natural Beauty to fit into a mans world! You Go Girl, and ignore those imbacils that don’t have a clue about what life really is. They must be real losers,if all they can do is insult you, and threaten your existence. What Cowards They Really Are!!!!!

    1. avatar Rimfire says:

      Exactly my thoughts. She bares her soul, so to speak, for what she believes and lives. I applaud you for your bravery! Hannah is what others should aspire to become.

  11. avatar ironicatbest says:

    Death threats for hunting bear. Has to be jealous wives or girlfriends, because I’d hunt bare with her, sounds like fun.

  12. avatar raptor jesus says:

    If you’re not gonna eat it, don’t kill it. Otherwise you’re just an asshole.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      Opinions. Just like assholes. Everybody gots at least one.

      1. avatar Johnny108 says:

        And much like assholes, their opinions usually stink.

    2. avatar Soylent Green says:

      So then Chicago gangbangers are a$$holes. ok got it. ;D

      I fail to understand how a online death threat is not actionable by law enforcement?
      I can almost guarentee that if she would have responded with return death threats, the cops would probably have visited her.

  13. avatar little horn says:

    dont feel sorry for you. the only reason you are getting any attention PERIOD is because you are pretty. next please.

  14. avatar IAmNotTheHulk says:

    If haters aren’t hating, you’re doing it wrong.

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