This world of instant fame through social media can affect people in different ways. I was private messaged by a female friend who simple wrote.
“Your post about fake hunters really hit home. This year I killed a 4point buck with my bow at 34yards he died about 75yards from where I shot him. I was so proud of myself for getting a deer with a bow in my first year of archery when I posted the picture not to mention my draw weigh is on 42lbs & I was alone(he was legal in my hunting zone) the first 5-7 comments were so negative. Why would you shot a small buck? You’re only doing this for the likes? Stupid girl knows nothing about hunting! Broke my heart so much I took the post down and haven’t mentioned it since”
This post Anna was talking about is an Instagram post I posted about never being ashamed for harvesting a legal animal. See post below:
Reading Anna’s message made my heart sad, made me mad. How could fellow hunters be disrespectful to another hunter because of the size of its antlers or the hunter’s gender?
Social media has not only changed our industry for the better but also the worse. There are so many hunters who want to so badly be sponsored or on T.V. that they create this “false” reality of what hunting is and why we do it. It’s double hard if you are a female hunter, you are looked at as a piece of meat most of the times, a dummy with boobs and a gun. I did a podcast a while back with some of the top females in the industry and was blown away at what men posted to them. I have two daughters who I am striving to raise up right, but stories like these make me want to shelter them and keep them from feeling this horrible pain.
I asked if Anna would share her story with me, allow me to get her story out there for others to read. I asked her some questions about herself and social media. Below you will see those questions and answers.
I first started hunting when I turned 12 years old. That was the legal hunting age at the time. I got away from hunting for a few years during high school and college. Then I got back into it when I started dating my (now) fiancé, which was about five years ago. This past season was my first year hunting archery and most certainly will not be my last.
Who introduced you to hunting?
My family has a deep history with hunting. My dad and his siblings all are incredible hunters which they inherited from my grandfather. I was introduced to hunting very young thanks to them. When I was a little girl I would often help my dad process his deer in our garage. My girlfriends thought I was weird but that didn’t bother me. I couldn’t wait till my 12th birthday when I could finally get a hunting license.
How did you feel when you harvested your first animal?
Emotional, I cried right after. Taking a life is not an easy thing to do. I hunt for food and quickly reminded myself of the purpose. I then was overcome with a sense of accomplishment. I will never forget my first hunting experience.
How did you feel when you harvested your first big game animal with a bow?
I was in shock at first. It all happened so quickly, I barely had time to process. I knew I hit him but he took off running and I wasn’t able to see where at. I was shaking with excitement as I texted my dad what had happened. He was on his way back from hunting in and instructed me what to do next. I waited until he got home then we tracked him down together. The moment we found him I was filled with joy. I started to jump up and down with happiness. You can see how proud I am by my expression in the picture.
The story continued a week later when I was hunting on our property. Again I was out on my own when I took another buck with my bow. This time it was a 9 point that I shot from 14 yards away. He only went a few yard then went down. I couldn’t believe what happened. I kept repeating “no way, no way, no one is going to believe me”.
Two bucks in two states exactly one week apart in my first season! This is when I started to become angry that I removed the first buck from social media.
Why did you post your picture to Social Media and how did you feel when you did?
I was proud of myself for what I had accomplished. When I purchased my first bow at the end of the summer everyone seemed to doubt I would hunt with it. I was told that I should practice and wait to start hunting next year. My goal was to prove that I was capable of hunting with a bow and I was serious about hunting.
Every day, rain or shine I was outside practicing. There were a few lost and broken arrows but eventually my groups became consistent. I watched hours of archery hunting videos on YouTube and reached out to fellow female hunters on Instagram for pointers. All this was to prepare for the season. When I was finally time to hunt my fiancé was gracious enough to take me out to teach me what to do. We went out every chance we got. Eventually I felt I was ready to go out on my own. All the time I put in finally paid off. I posted the picture to show I succeeded my goal.
How did you feel when you got negative feedback?
Let down. It was not up for very long because I could not get past the negativity. It made me really angry that I was being ridiculed for something I felt so passionate about.
Why did you take the picture down?
I took it down was because I felt I was being discredited as a hunter. The “booooo, girl hunters shooting small deer just for Instagram likes” comment I received was the one comment that led me to delete the photo. I didn’t want people to think that was my reason for hunting. More importantly I worried that made other women in the hunting social media community look bad.
Given a chance to do it again I would have left the picture on Instagram. I regret feeling ashamed of the antler size. I wish I would have taken pride of the fact I shot my first deer with a bow. It was my first year of archery and I successfully filled my buck tag. That is an awesome accomplishment. Not to mention I was hunting alone, no one was there to guide me. Some hunters go years without having success so I am extremely grateful for my first kill, regardless of the size.
In your own words how do you feel social media affects the hunting community in the following ways?
The most positive thing I have discovered through social media is the support from fellow female hunters. In my experience most of the women help inspire and empower one another. That is a great thing for the hunting industry. So many companies are coming out with apparel lines and products specifically designed for women. The growing online presence of female hunters on Instagram, YouTube and twitter only benefits that even more. It is also great to see girls embracing the best of both worlds. I wish there was a #socialvsstealth when I was growing up. I was shy about telling people I was a hunter in fear of getting made fun of.
Anti-hunters commenting on pictures is one of the most negative things I see on social media. My dad always says there are hunters, anti-hunters and non-hunters. Be the best hunter you can be and lead by example. Strive not to give the non-hunters a reason to become anti-hunters. It’s hard when you put yourself out there online for the world to see. You are bound to get some heat but how you handle it will shows your character. When I get negative comments or messages from anti-hunters I just delete them. It is when I get the hate from fellow hunters that I am most disappointed. We are all fighting the same cause so we should do are best to support one another.
Why do you hunt and how has this changed you?
I hunt for food. Plain and simple. I will not eat meat that has not been harvested by a hunter. I feel that is the way nature intended it to be. I don’t believe in factory farming and avoid supporting it whenever possible. I even went vegetarian in college when I had not access to wild game. I won’t order it at a restaurant either. When people ask me about my diet I jokingly say that I am a “gametarian”, it’s a word I came across in a hunting cookbook that describes someone who only eats wild game.
That is my reason for hunting and it has forever changed the way I feel about food. It has also uncovered a talent for cooking and recipe developing that I never knew I had. I find knowing where my meat comes from, how it was processed and what went into making the meal the most rewarding part of it all.
My goal on social media is to show hunting is a good thing. I want to be an example of why we do what we do. Not all hunters kill for the sake of killing or do it for a trophy. That is what upset me most about getting negative comments on my small buck. I realize now that the size of the antlers does not define you as a hunter. I shared my story with you because I am proud. My first buck with a bow might have been small but it sure is delicious and that is what matters most.
As a father of two beautiful daughters I get so angry when I see Girls or anyone for that matter being put down on social media. If you saw some of the hate mail, DM, Private messages, texts and phone calls I receive you’d be disgusted. Worse part is 75% of them are from fellow hunters or outdoors people.
It’s amazing how hunters and people get so caught up in the size of the animal. There are so many companies out there that go out of their way to show giant animals in their marketing. Just like that old saying “Sex Sells” it rings true in the hunting world also “Trophies Sell, Rack Size Sells”. Most people out there get so caught up in bagging the biggest that they pass up a legal shooter. Every magazine you read or TV show you watch the writer or host is taking or posing with a monster buck, or trophy elk. You never see the host excited for a giant doe or spike elk. This is what saddens me, we are telling out next generation that Size matters.
I am happy to say that “I HUNT FOR MEAT”. I am not saying that if I see a beautiful 9 point deer walk into my shooting lane I won’t take it. What I am saying is that if a 4 point shooter buck walks into my shooting lane first I won’t hesitate to pull the trigger or let the arrow fly in hopes of a bigger buck walking by. I have yet to find a recipe that I like for antlers or un-filed tags yet. The point being is when they are vacuum sealed and in my freezer they all look the same.
I know there are tons of people out there like Anna who are afraid to share their harvest on social media because it does not fit into the realm of perfection or trophy. I challenge everyone to share what ya got, don’t be ashamed of taking a legal animal. In the words of Doctor Seuss: “Meat is meat no matter how small” I think it went something like that… LOL…
I personally have shot more does than bucks in my life. I have yet to harvest a buck antelope because I can harvest four does for the same price as it is to shoot one buck. I can’t see spending the same amount for 25% of the meat. I get made fun of all the time by fellow hunters because all I shoot is does. Truth be told I have more meat in my freezer than them and I spent ½ the money to do so.
I want to thank Anna for having the courage to share her story with me, with you. Go ahead and follow her @outdoorannalea on Instagram or her blog at Outdoorannalea.com
Also please share your picture with me here or on any of my social media feeds, I love seeing what you harvest and what meals you make from them, until next time.
From Field To Plate.