As the game bird hunting season draws closer, animal rights activists have started raising their profile. With calls for duck hunting to be banned.
In the past, the anti-hunters have also staged demonstrations in high-profile duck hunting areas like the lower Waikato River and Canterbury’s Lake Ellesmere. Such demonstrations are aimed at gathering public sympathy by portraying hunters as cruel and uncaring. They also aim to goad hunters into reacting aggressively.
The best way for them to gain this sympathy is through media attention and because confrontation and conflict make a story more interesting for the media. Animal rights activists will attempt to engineer this by provoking hunters to gain the headlines they need.
Hunters need to be careful they don’t play into protestors’ hands by giving them exactly what they want – by providing this negative publicity.
If you are confronted or badgered by anti-hunting protestors while game bird hunting, follow this advice:
Animal rights activists – what to do if confronted
- Be polite. Avoid confrontation. Protestors are desperate for angry hunter videos, with the ability to construe possible threats of harm and illegal or questionable use of firearms from what happens. Don’t give them this opportunity.
- Be aware. Remember, you will be recorded and filmed. Protect yourself – if you have a smartphone capable of recording, make sure you record or film any encounter or verbal exchange.
- Be ethical. Breaking hunting regulations is not only illegal, but it also plays into the hands of anti-hunters – don’t shoot birds on the water, don’t shoot protected species, don’t blaze away at out of range birds, don’t drink and don’t litter.
- Be calm. Don’t be aggressive. Keep your voice low and even. Do not shout or exchange insults. Don’t make threats and don’t allow yourself to be taunted or baited into an aggressive response. Walk away if this is not possible.
- Be reasoned. If the media questions you, don’t be aggressive or abusive. They are there to do their job. Use it as an opportunity to put your case in a calm and rational, manner. Point out you are gathering food for the table, that hunters create habitat hunters for native birds and fish and that they pay for the fight for clean water. The habitat stamp is a good topic. Acknowledge the right to peaceful protest but point out you also have a right not to be disrupted in a legal and regulated activity. This previous post on Why I Hunt also highlights some of the positives of our sport.
- Be safe. Don’t approach protestors, especially if you are carrying a gun. Unload your gun in any conversation or confrontation and make sure you are seen to do it. Keep your dog under control and don’t let it be aggressive towards protestors. Don’t shoot at birds near protestors.
- Be realistic. No matter how informed or factual your argument, do not expect the protestors to be swayed. The confrontation they are hoping to engineer is not an Oxford Union debate. There will be no fair adjudication on points of fact – the public will be the final judge and that decision will be based on your demeanour and conduct, not your rational argument.
- Be prepared. If you are hunting in an area which has been the target of anti-hunting protests in the past, think about how you would handle a protest at your maimai. Discuss it with your mates and make sure you all understand the need to defuse the situation, not aggravate it. Talk to neighbouring maimais and get hunters there to back you by filming any confrontation.
- Be supported. If the pressure doesn’t let up, call Fish & Game or the police and tell them what is happening. If you are being confronted on private property, alert the property owner or farmer.
This will be very important this season as after the Christchurch tragedy eyes will be on us and we need to be seen as respectful.