Letter: Big-game hunting not right path toward conservation

From: Bill Wrightsman


Brandon Butler leads a hunting group in Jefferson City, Missouri, (Conservation Federation of Missouri) and has been writing articles in some of our Indiana newspapers. With all the enthusiasm he portrays for his sport, the thrill of the kill and the excitement of outdoor activities, I had to wonder what makes this guy tick.

I visited his website and Facebook page and read some of his other writings. He has been “hunting his way across America” for years now, trying to bring down at least one of every kind of animal in every corner of the continent. He signs up for special permits, waiting in line for the chance of bagging an underpopulated species, and complains when his number is not called. He says that Missouri needs over 40,000 new hunters this year, and he is trying desperately to reach that goal, mostly in the way of children. Is this really a necessary component of conservation?

His page is the usual mix of opinions and dead animals, most of it not too offensive until I saw a girl of about 6 years of age holding a shotgun with the caption, “She just took her first turkey.” The woods is a dangerous enough place without little girls and big guns. Another post had several preteens holding handguns and rifles in front of a Christmas tree with him standing in the middle grinning, “Brandon Claus has come to town bringing guns for all the good girls and boys.” This is not much of a surprise when considering American culture, and I suppose that on some level it may be normal, but is this the type of behavior that we should aspire to?

As with any public speaker or writer, he has some degree of influence over the minds of ordinary citizens. He is obviously a dedicated representative of the hunting class of this nation, and he apparently lives and breathes for his time in the field, but are his ideals what is best for future generations? I look at this mentality as a borderline obsessive/compulsive and possibly manic disorder. Maybe Missouri is being overrun by wild animals and they need to take up arms against it, but in Indiana I think that is not the case.

One of our former presidents (a big-game hunter) once said something to the effect of “Conservation is of the utmost importance,” but when hunting and conservation are regarded as being synonymous, many of the efforts are somewhat counterproductive. It also has been said many times (by outdoorsmen) that hunters are the country’s largest group of wildlife conservationists. This may be partially true, but this should only suffice until a better principled sector of the public becomes involved with the reconstruction, preservation and investment of our natural heritage.

There is more at stake than only the so-called game animals or the token amount of restored hunting grounds. Please donate or contribute to an organization that does not prioritize hunting over more important environmental health needs.