“If they come for me as a hunter, they’ll come for you as a hunter.” That is the warning Brittany Hosmer Longoria gives fellow hunters these days after spending last fall under a barrage of social media death threats and other attacks from animal rights extremists over a photo of her with the leopard she hunted in Africa. Safari Club International (SCI) posted the photo on its website and it immediately went viral as did the threats, topped off with hashtags including #FINDTHISBBITCH, #MONSTRESS, #MURDERHER and even #POACHER—despite that poachers are criminals and hunters are taking part in a legal, regulated activity.
Longoria, a philanthropic consultant and owner of Rock Environmental LLC, said she initially took the attacks personally but ultimately used them as an opportunity to step forward rather than hope for the issue to blow over. “Once I understood it was not about me or the individual and that it was an attack on all of us, I started doing my own social media posts,” she said, in an attempt to tell her story—the story of hunting.
The key, as the NRA has said for years, is to seize the narrative. “The best chance to secure social media acceptance for hunting lies primarily in our own storytelling abilities,” Longoria said. “It comes down to how we tell our story—it’s that easy.” She said that using storytelling and social media platforms to change the narrative includes being conscious of our vocabulary and our hunting photos. For Longoria, it means honoring the hunt—#HonorTheHunt—by focusing on respect (for the game we hunt and for those who choose not to hunt), responsibility and reverence. “We must illustrate this in all our field photos and actions,” she emphasized. She added that while we hunters share trophy photos, we don’t always tell the story of the photos. Now she personally makes sure she takes different field photos—ones she ensures have an element of respect and reverence.