When we hunters aren’t hunting, chances are we’re talking about it, dreaming about it or making plans to go do it, which leads to why I enjoy attending hunting shows like the annual Safari Club International (SCI) Convention that kicked off today at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nev. and runs Feb. 5-9. Just like when I hit the woods on opening day, I felt that familiar flicker of anticipation as I stepped onto the show floor—immersed in what I love alongside thousands of others who love it just as much. There is pride in being a part of this mainstream American hunting tradition, but there is also pride in the fact that the byproduct of hunting is the billions of dollars that are funneled into wildlife conservation because of hunters and hunting, thanks to our excise taxes, licenses, stamps and the voluntary donations we hunters make to local and global wildlife conservation projects. Yet animal rights extremists who were once mere fringe elements of society want to end hunting and shut down the No. 1 funding source for wildlife conservation. How did they get so well-organized and well-funded? We hunters stopped telling our story.
The need for American hunters to seize the narrative and tell the truth about hunters and hunting was center stage at today’s SCI Convention press luncheon. As speaker and SCI Director of Marketing and Communications Chip Hunnicutt addressed media members, saying he had “the radical pro-hunting solution to the radical anti-hunting problem.” The answer: Stop letting anti-hunters control the conversation.
While NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum-backed research conducted by Responsive Management, a survey and research firm specializing in attitudes toward natural-resource issues, shows that more than 70 percent of Americans support legal, regulated hunting, do the non-hunters in our midst really know it is hunter funding that benefits wildlife populations across America and around the world? Or do we just assume they know? Are we as passionate about defending hunting as we are about going hunting?
As Hunnicutt wrapped up his remarks, I recalled a conversation I had with past NRA President Jim Porter. In 1871 when the NRA was founded, he noted, shooting and hunting were distinct parts of America’s culture, readily perceived as one in the same. But in the 21st century, hunting and shooting have evolved into separate entities. As this website has noted repeatedly, while anti-hunting, animal rights extremists were once mere fringe elements of society, they are now well-funded, well-organized, vocal extremist groups boasting hundreds of millions of dollars in collective annual fundraising. They fight with a cradle-to-the-grave strategy to end all hunting. If we hunters don’t seize control of the narrative, who will?
The SCI Convention website has all the information you need to enjoy the show this week including exhibit hall hours and free hunting seminars.
The NRA Hunters' Leadership Forum website covers news relevant to hunters on the local, national and international fronts. We track how hunters' dollars are spent and we celebrate our long and rich hunting tradition, exposing those who seek to destroy it. Follow NRAHLF.org on Twitter @HuntersLead.
About the Author Karen Mehall Phillips is the director of communications for the NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum and senior editor of NRA’s American Hunter. An avid rifle and bow hunter, she has hunted for 30 years and in 29 states, Canada, Italy, Finland, Germany, Spain, New Zealand, Greenland and Africa, including for two of the Big Five.
Karen draws on her experience to educate non-hunters on the critical role that hunters play in wildlife conservation worldwide and to inform them of the dangers anti-hunting extremists present to the future of wildlife conservation. She is invested in fighting America's culture war on hunters and hunting and works to shed light on anti-hunters’ blatant attempts to tout emotion and misinformation over scientific facts.
An NRA Endowment member, Karen worked in the NRA public relations arena prior to joining NRA Publications in 1998. She is the founding editor of two NRA official journals: America's 1st Freedom and Woman's Outlook. National writing awards include being named the 2015 Carl Zeiss Sports Optics Writer of the Year. She actively promotes women and families in the outdoors. She is also a member of the Washington metropolitan area's Fairfax Rod & Gun Club, a founding member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association, a member of Safari Club International and a Life member of the Dallas Safari Club and the Mule Deer Foundation.