Can’t we all just get along?
Last week, I had the pleasure of accompanying my dad and two friends on a muskox hunt along the Bering Sea here in Alaska. Although I didn’t draw a tag, I had a blast filming their hunts and just being out there experiencing the country, the people who live there, and the hunt itself.
The expedition took a lot of planning and arranging, and once we got out there, trying to bowhunt in 40-50 mph winds proved challenging. We stayed in a small Yup’ik Eskimo village, then traveled and glassed by snowmachine. Once we found muskox that we wanted to look at, we rode snowmachines to about a half mile away, then began our stalk on foot and belly. Although it took some patience, we managed to get really close to a couple of herds, and all three hunters had shots of 30 yards or less.
We went out there to come home with muskox, sure, but that type of adventure is more about the experience of being out in remote places like that, hanging out and learning from the locals, fighting the weather, and hunting animals that most people will never actually go see, than it actually is about killing one.
Upon seeing the short videos from my trip (here’s one example, and you can find more here), a number of folks immediately jumped to the conclusion that we either chased/herded them up using the snowmachines and/or casually sauntered up to the herds. Neither of those conclusions is true. Owing to the wide-open country they inhabit, and their tendency to herd up and stand their ground when threatened, muskox aren’t the toughest animals to find and get close to. But it’s no cakewalk to get within bow range and single out an individual from a wary herd.
Some comments about my videos showed the ignorance of some of the viewers. That’s to be expected, since so few of us will ever get the chance to hunt muskox. But I noticed another strain of comments from people who claimed that what we did wasn’t “hunting,” but was rather some sort of recreational slaughter. The most alarming aspect: many of these comments were from self-described hunters, not the anti-hunters we are so used to demonizing.
UNITED WE STAND
Worse than any anti-hunter’s criticism is friendly fire, attacks from within our community of hunters. The only thing anti-hunters would love more than to see us destroy hunting from within is to see all hunting gone. I don’t know if hunters attacking and belittling each other’s methods is more common now than in the past, but it is certainly more audible and visible. And it’s often reduced to a simple and damning phrase: “That’s not hunting.”
Read more here