Predator Strikeforce owner Tom Austin with a coyote that he called in Utah.
“I hope your dogs rip your face off.”
The threat was clear if not unique. It was one of many leveled against me by anti-hunters. Whether death threats via social media, dismemberment wishes from commenters on articles or the sickening promise of rape, these intimidation tactics have become a hazard to the lifestyle of hunters. From these threats, a question is raised: Why don’t anti-hunters see the irony of their words?
According to anti-hunters (antis), hunters are notoriously violent and brutal. They label hunters as “psychopathic,” “depraved,” and “serial killers” while lamenting the “senseless” killing of wildlife. They claim that hunters are “nothing but murderers” and that “the violence must be stopped.” Their solution to this hunting-related violence, however, is apparently escalation of said violence.
Owner of Predator Strikeforce, professional hunting guide and videographer Tom Austin is no stranger to threats from antis and recently relayed one of his more disturbing experiences. It took place during the Predator Masters Annual Convention a few years ago and involved an anti with deadly intent. Austin was unaware that the man was a known nuisance on the event’s fringes, both verbally harassing hunters and stalking them.
Twenty minutes before Austin confronted him, the anti-hunter made an ominous Facebook post: “Found some. Time for some civil disobedience.” The “some” he referred to was Austin, whose distinctive truck was parked 600 yards from where he and his companions were doing a set. Austin watched as the driver of a strange van repeatedly parked, got out, circled his truck, and left. By the third return trip, Austin was concerned about theft and decided to end the set. He then returned to his truck alone.
Austin found himself facing a man wearing a heavy coat despite the 70-degree heat. As he approached, the man shoved his hands into his pockets. Austin then noticed a bulky object at the stranger’s side. The man demanded to know whether the hunters had permission to hunt the area, to which Austin replied that it was public land; therefore, permission wasn’t necessary. When Austin’s brother and cousin walked up behind him carrying their AR-15s, the man’s body language noticeably changed.
Eight years in law enforcement taught Austin to effectively read body language. He watched the man yawn nervously and shiver violently—signs he was extremely anxious and experiencing an adrenaline rush. Austin demanded he remove his hands from his pockets, but he refused. Clearly deciding he was outnumbered, he backed toward his van. The man then jumped in and took off, leaving the hunters to call the police.
The police later confirmed that the anti-hunter Tom Austin faced had been armed with a loaded revolver. While this was a disturbing threat, it wasn’t the only one he’s faced. Austin receives graphic threats several times a year, including one man who said he hoped Austin’s wife and daughter would be gang-raped. At the time, Austin’s daughter was 8 years old.
Austin’s take on anti-hunters is simple: “The best approach to take with an anti-hunter is to avoid them at all costs. You can’t reason with someone with no reason.” Predator hunting is our birthright, he says, and we are “the stewards of God’s renewable resource.” When asked if he’d ever considered stopping hunting as a result of threats received, his response was a swift “no.”
Antis have a well-deserved reputation for directing vile, heinous threats toward hunters. They clearly fail to see the hypocrisy in their words. They claim that they’re protecting animals and seeking peace, yet create Facebook pages with titles such as “Hunt the Hunters.” One page titled “The Anti-Hunting Movement” shared hunter Paige Galea’s photo of herself at age 13 with her first black bear. Comments were variations of this one, posted by a mother of two children, affirming, “It would be a much better photo if she were to trade places with the bear! What a c--- she is. Hope she gets mauled to death.”
Whether professional hunters, backyard hunters or outdoor writers, we in the hunting community are no strangers to threats of death, dismemberment or rape. Antis are some of the greatest hypocrites, claiming to love life while promising death. They revere animals but abhor humanity. Their hypocrisy knows no bounds, and their irrational thought patterns have made it impossible to reason with them.
Perhaps we should pity them. Antis will never know the joy of a successful hunt or the pleasure of conservation done properly. Maybe that’s as it should be. After all, the responsibility of caring for and hunting this land is a weighty one and shouldn’t be undertaken by those who are incompetent. It’s a responsibility we gladly shoulder, and threats like these won’t stop us.