Hunting Is Egalitarian
Who should be a hunter? I sometimes hear people wonder whether non-white people should hunt—which seems odd, since all Native Alaskans were of Asian descent, as were Native Americans of the lower 48. And certainly many of the Africans enslaved in America would have been hunters or descended from hunters on the African continent.
Today, lots of women are joining the ranks of hunters. And we know that the median age of hunters is increasing as fewer young people are adopting hunting. Yet we think of hunting as something adult white man do. If that's the way it has to be, the demographic deck is stacked against hunting.
The truth of the matter is hunting is for everyone. It matters not whether you are young or old, black or white, “Hunting Is Egalitarian.” Read about it in the March 20 edition of the Jamestown Gazette.
To access more of my writing on hunting topics, go to the home page of my blog, Mission: Hunter.
Hunting Is Egalitarian
“Gimme a break, Sorensen. There you go with the big words.”
Despite the fact that ten-dollar words never hurt anyone, I try to use ten-cent words as much as I can. After all, we should not be using words to obfuscate (make something unclear), but to communicate (make something clear), so let’s use a splashy word only when a simple word doesn’t suffice.
We all know the value of simple words, but the truth is that simple words don’t always work. We see that in legalese, shop talk, vocational verbiage—all the various forms of professional jargon. We accept that social workers use different lingo than refinery workers. But “egalitarian” isn’t owned by anyone. Or rather, its very nature is that it’s owned by everybody. It’s your word as well as mine, so let’s get familiar with it, and what it means for hunting.
Egalitarian (adjective) ĭ-găl″ĭ-târ′ē-ən
Affirming, promoting, or characterized by belief in equal political, economic, social, and civil rights for all people.
You can probably pronounce it without those weird little diacritical markings (which might even obfuscate the pronunciation). And you likely already have a general idea what it means. These days we hear lots of political discourse (er, talk) using “eq” words—equal, equity, equivalent. We have “equator” (the line that divides the world into equal halves), “equation” (in math what’s on both sides of the equal sign is supposed to be the same), and “equinox” (the days when we have an equal number of hours of daylight and darkness). Even the word “adequate” (equal to what is needed) has the concept of equal in it.
I’m not saying hunting has anything to do with equality. We see that pretty quickly on social media. People are quick to post big bucks, and photos of great gobblers are being dumped into the swamp of social media. All hunters don’t get equal outcomes.
So then, what do I mean by saying “Hunting is egalitarian?” Just this. Hunting is something for everyone. Back in the days when market hunting was making the transition to what we call “sport hunting,” the leaders of the conservation movement were searching for a way to return hunting to what it was in the days of subsistence hunting, which preceded market hunting.
In those subsistence days (which lasted literally for eons), hunting was for everyone, with no barriers to entry. In the days of market hunting, roles became specialized and market hunting was a way to profit from the “work” of hunting by sending meat to market for the masses. Market hunters did that on an impressive scale. (And “impressive” isn’t always a good thing.)
The result was that wildlife resources were rapidly being depleted. Fortunately, conservationists found a magic formula—remove hunting from the specialized role of marketeers and return it to the people, the ordinary “sports” across the nation. Hunting became “egalitarian,” democratized as it had been before the days of market hunting. Abracadabra—wildlife in North America was spared further extinctions due to hunting, and set on a course where anyone could be a hunter.
Gender is not a barrier, as women are proving today by being the fastest growing demographic entering the ranks of hunters. Race is not a barrier—all folks qualify to be hunters. Wealth is not a barrier, as hunting licenses are priced to exclude no one, and land to hunt on is available for rich and poor alike. Hunting is not limited to the educated or barred to the uneducated. Age, disability, sexual orientation, pregnancy, marital status, religion—the list goes on—not a single thing that divides people should divide hunters.
Arrows or bullets, take your pick. Treestand hunters or still-hunters, have at it. Whether you chase impressive trophies or are satisfied with a doe, it’s time to recognize we’re all in it together. All hunters should affirm and promote the idea that hunting is for all people. If we don’t, we risk losing hunting as an egalitarian pursuit. If that happens, wildlife will lose the benefit of hunters.
When “The Everyday Hunter” isn’t hunting, he’s thinking about hunting, talking about hunting, dreaming about hunting, writing about hunting, or wishing he were hunting. If you want to tell Steve exactly where your favorite hunting spot is, contact him through his website, www.EverydayHunter.com.