It’s been all over social media this week: photos of an elderly giraffe shown post-hunt alongside hunter Tess Talley. In the pictures Talley holds her bolt-action – because it is South Africa, after all – and beams with pride over her kill. And on social media the battle wages with thousands of anti-hunters wishing death, rape, maiming, and whatever else they can imagine on Talley.
There are quite a few details missing from most of the so-called “news” stories on the hunt. It actually took place over a year ago; how and why the pictures went viral now is a bit of a mystery. The evidence backing the hunt as legit is immense. Despite what animal rights activists and anti-hunters claim, the hunt was legal and fully licensed and she invested time and money into tracking and shooting the bull.
Many factors made him an ideal target. At 18 years of age he was well past his prime and no longer viable for breeding; he had killed three young bulls – that the PH knew of – and was decimating the survival chances of herd numbers. Removing him from the picture was the best option for the conservation of the South African sub-species of giraffe in that area. Oh, and once he was down he provided more than 2,000 pounds of meat and much-needed protein to local villages (yes, people eat giraffes).
It was a righteous hunt, one the community should be backing. Instead, it’s being either ignored or poorly covered by the rare industry media touching it. However, I already pushed the need for support in my piece for the NRA, so I want to touch on something else here.
One issue that arose during a discussion with a few friends was whether or not photos of hunts should be posted to social media. A few guys fell on the side of believing it best to keep our hunting photos to ourselves so as not to give the antis anything to go on. Dealing with the self-righteous outrage of the special snowflakes among us just isn’t worth it, they say, so why not keep our photos hidden? Just look at what Tess Talley is going through. She ended up deleting her Facebook page because the threats numbered into the thousands within 48 hours of the photos going viral. A public page someone made with her name on it is being inundated with hateful comments and death threats.
The message from the anti-hunting crowd is clear: photos of legally, ethically hunted animals will be used as evidence in the social-media driven trial for your peace and, yes, life. The reaction to hide such photos is understandable, right? Who wants to be harassed?
None of us want to be harassed but that by no means translates to backing down.
I refuse to file away photos of hunts in a dark corner of my laptop or cell phone as though I am ashamed of them. My hunts are undertaken legally and I take great care to be an ethical hunter. I also do not pose standing atop animals, riding them, or otherwise disrespecting them in death. Hide my photos? Oh, hell no!
We live in a day and age when hunting photos make us anathema to certain sensitive folk. They wail and rend their clothing at the sight of a BBD while simultaneously diving into their McDonald’s hamburger and buying two pounds of grass-fed, supposedly-organic ground beef at the grocery store. Because those slaughterhouse cows are treated with exceptional tender loving care, right? Sure. Whatever you say, sweetheart.
As for the vegetarians among them, their logic tends to be so far displaced from reality there’s no point in even starting to get into it today. This does not mean we should shield their eyes from our photos. If they don’t like it they can keep on scrolling just like we scroll on by so many of their ludicrous political posts.
But they don’t. Not only do they stop and gaze in horror at the images before them, they save them for the purpose of spreading them around to their equally hateful friends. And the comments – oh, the comments. The majority of them don’t stop at crying for the “poor deer/hog/giraffe,” but go on to hope the hunter is hunted, shot to death, maimed by their hunting dog…the list goes on.
Oh, and if you’re a female hunter, odds are good you’ll be threatened with rape by some guy who goes on to explain how happy he would be to do it himself. Some threats are brief and to the point while others are graphic and nightmarish to the point you wonder just what kind of person would even think such a thing.
The internet has made bullies of cowards. The separation granted by a monitor or cell phone gives a lot of people the idea they can be the worst possible version of themselves, saying things they would never say to someone’s face. Or would they? As time passes and people live more of their lives online it seems some of the rudeness and hatred perpetuated by social media is leaking into reality. More anger, more hate, and a decidedly lowered level of personal accountability.
Hunters should not be afraid to share photos. The simple fact that a friend of mine has reached the point of saying “nobody other than you would take pictures [of a safari] and they would NEVER be published to the internet” tells you just how far we’ve slipped. They’re trying to back us into a corner and strip away our rights and we should not – must not – tolerate it.
Post your hunting pictures. Heck, make them public instead of limiting viewing to friends. Post them year-round, not only during the specific hunting seasons. Re-post old ones. Talk about your hunts. Show your pride in the time, effort, and skill it took to shoot the animal. Explain how hunting furthers conservation programs on a worldwide level. Mention how hunters protect and nurture public land. Above all, refuse to back down.
Hunters do more for wildlife conservation than any other group (it’s a verifiable fact). Antis are just looking for ways to fan the internal flames of their anger. Their anger is directed at everything hunters represent: Second Amendment rights, freedom – the United States and the American dream in general. We are the living representation of the qualities they want to annihilate and I say we represent America well, guns, hunting, and all.
Post your photos with pride. Let them come. It’s how we choose to handle it that counts, so handle it well. Never let bullies win.