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Holier-than-thou hunters all over social media

by Bryan Hendricks | September 17, 2023 at 2:48 a.m.

Social media exemplifies some of the best and most of the worst in the hunting and fishing world.

I follow a lot of specialty pages on Facebook, for example. I see some useful information there from knowledgeable people, but mostly these places are wastelands of negativity and even outright defamation.

For example, a couple of days ago a post appeared on my Facebook feed from a guy on the Colorado Elk Hunting page. He killed a young bull elk on a pay-to-hunt ranch. Colorado's hunting regulations are complicated, but there are limited opportunities to hunt bull elk with rifles on ranches in September.

The hunter was thrilled to have killed his first elk, and he mentioned paying a lot of money for the opportunity.

When I read the post, there were 88 responses. Many of them were from people that were not aware of the regulations. Some insinuated that the guy had poached the elk. Some outright accused the guy of poaching.

Regrettably, federal law does not recognize social media as a "publisher," so social media is not held to the same standards as traditional media regarding defamation and libel.

Many subsequent posts attempted to educate the accusers. Some accepted their enlightenment, but others refused to be humbled and tried to pivot their arguments to save face while keeping that hunter squarely in their crosshairs.

Others chastised and ridiculed the hunter for killing a "raghorn" bull and for spending a lot of money to kill an unremarkable animal. Others chastised him for not wearing blaze orange while posing for the photo.

Posts supporting the hunter simply said, "Congratulations!"

If somebody posts a picture of a buck deer they killed, many posts will chastise the hunter for killing the buck too soon.

"Shoulda waited a year!"

"Cut him down before his prime!"

Anybody that posts on social media will be abused. The topic doesn't matter. The firearms sites are some of the worst. They are kind of entertaining and boringly predictable.

For example, somebody will post that he is in the market for a new hunting rifle. After exhaustive research -- and citing his research -- he has narrowed his choice to two specific options. He then asks for opinions.

Always there are multiple bozos that recommend additional options, assuming that the poster is a dimwit that has not ever heard of their favorite cartridges or rifle brands. I am convinced that these people have a macro that they can apply to these posts with a alt-control keystroke.

And then comes the vitriol. A handful of nitwits start arguing about several alternative options that are not even part of the original post. These quickly descend into name-calling and self-righteous, holier-than-thou bluster.

I suspect that this was actually the intent of the original post. They call them "discussion starters." I call them "drive-by shootings." Open fire and enjoy the chaos.

The same thing happens on the reloading forums. Somebody is loading for some cartridge and is trying to decide on a powder load or a bullet. He asks for opinions on two specific choices. Again, he is beset with recommendations for choices that are not part of the equation. Again, the thread degenerates into a shouting match in which people provide voluminous ballistics data for the unsolicited options. Heaven help the fool that tries to pull rank and defend his authority on the subject by talking about his high NRA qualification status or how many animals he's killed at ranges exceeding 500 yards.

I once posted a really nice shot taken during a hunt in South Dakota on a bird hunting preserve of two rooster pheasants against a Browning Grade III BPS 16-gauge. People that don't know South Dakota hunting regulations accused me of hunting out of season.

I posted another photo from a dove hunt at Sweet Home with a mess of doves arranged beside a Winchester Model 12 16-gauge that was given to me by the late Vick Hiryak. Surrounding the birds and the gun were a bunch of purple 16-gauge hulls to add a splash of color.

Trolls ridiculed what they deemed to be bad shooting because of the number of hulls compared to doves. It was three shells per dove, which is the national average.

I don't throw my pearls before swine anymore. I scroll to see what people are discussing. Despite the static, I often learn things, but it's a lot of work.

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