While social media can potentially have some upsides, it’s probably done more damage to the hunting community and outdoorsmen’s reputations than anything else. Scroll through most hunting “influencer” pages, and you’ll see way too many selfies, paid posts for subpar products, and at least a few less than tasteful hero shots. Do these people ever go an hour without sharing an update?
Possessing the skills and experience to ethically take down any animal is valuable and something to be proud of. But that doesn’t mean you need to broadcast every moment in the field — or preparing for the field — or every single dead animal needs to make its way onto all your social media profiles. I don’t do treestand selfies, play on my phone throughout the hunt, or post a photo of every single harvest. Here’s why.
Some photos just aren’t fit for promoting to the world
Even when you spend months practicing and do everything right in the field, you can end up with a long, tough track job that leaves a buck looking beat up and bloody. Posting a photo of a gutted deer with blood smeared all over and its tongue sticking out can be tasteless. It doesn’t show your respect for the animal, and it can put forth the idea that hunters are just savage killers. This can ultimately be used as fuel for anti-hunters to bash us, threaten us, and push for anti-conservation legislation.
Before posting any photo with an animal you’ve tagged, tidy up any excess blood, make sure no tongues or other parts are hanging out, and examine it for anything that could come across as less than respectful to the animal. Avoid tailgate photos, don’t sit on top of the animal, stay away from gore, don’t do anything suggestive, and keep all your clothing on! There’s no place for trashy, gory hero photos — especially not on social media.
Hunting isn’t about photo ops
Genuine hunters aren’t hunting for likes — they’re out there because of their love of the sport. I don’t really care what my online acquaintances think about my favorite hobby or the size of my buck. It’s something I personally love doing, and I’ll be grateful for any animal I choose to shoot. If you’re more worried about what some strangers will think about the score of the animal you’re aiming at than making a clean shot, something is wrong.
Some of the best hunters I’ve encountered wouldn’t even know how to post a photo on Instagram, much less add hashtags that could earn them more views and likes. They’ve been doing it for decades without praise and fanfare — or the virtual hate that can come along with it. And yet they still spend weeks every year enjoying the hunt.
If you’re getting too wrapped up in performing for the ‘gram, just try not posting a single photo of your quarry for a season. Your success shouldn’t mean any less to you. And if it does, maybe you should find a new hobby.
Sometimes I’m too busy enjoying the experience to remember to snap a photo
I genuinely wonder how some hunters manage to chronicle every moment of the walk to the stand, the long sit 20 feet up, the post-shot reaction, the tough track job, the emotional walk up to their kill, the field dressing process, the drag out of the woods, etc. They spend more time talking to a screen than looking at what’s going on around them. But when you put the phone down and take in the beauty of nature, the wildlife around you, and the actual moment you see your hard work pay off, you’ll enjoy the whole experience exponentially more. You’ll never regret not posting a photo, but you might regret missing out the moments.
If you’re usually guilty of this social media sin, just let yourself get caught up in the moment and enjoy the ride this season. Depending on where you’re hunting and who you’re with, you can leave your phone in the cabin or your car or keep it with you on airplane mode until you truly need it. Resist the urge to play, post, or chat when things are slow. And when you do shoot a buck or duck and bear, keep the phone in your pocket. The harvest won’t mean any less just because your followers don’t see it.
The legendary Fred Bear said it best: “Go afield with a good attitude, with respect for the wildlife you hunt and for the forest and fields in which you walk. Immerse yourself in the outdoor experience. It will cleanse your soul and make you a better person.”
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