I use several forms of social media to keep track of what is going on and to see what my friends out there are doing in the outdoors. Posts come in regularly about good deer, pigs, elk, bears, limits of ducks, geese and the like and almost all of these are followed by congratulations which are all well deserved. Catch a good bass or walleye, find a big trout willing to hit and people will repost these sharing them with others showing the luck and skill of the folks getting a chance to enjoy what we do. This is all well and good and as it should be but here is the rub. Let me preach on.
Recently the topic of small game hunting has been an ongoing subject of discussion among many people I know which got around to me making an observation. Pretty much all of the social media from Twitter to forums have a running theme and I am sure it is not done on purpose. I would go so far as say many don’t even realize it goes on. When people post a squirrel or two, maybe a limit of rabbits or a few quail they took and are proudly sharing with their friends……crickets. They aren’t told good job, the pictures aren’t shared, they seem to be passed over as not worthy of notice since they aren’t a glamor species high on most people’s list.
Part of this I think stems from new hunters being brought into hunting these days going after big game species and bypassing the small. There are many out there now that have never been in the woods after a squirrel or tried to stalk a rabbit so perhaps the accomplishment of taking them is overlooked. I am not saying that being lucky enough to start out after deer or turkey is a bad thing; I am saying that the thrill and appreciation of hunting small game is being lost to it. When I was six or seven years old I was happy to tag along look for whatever was being hunted or fished for I was not getting to shoot big deer or turkeys. When I started hunting on my own I still went mainly for small game learning my skills and what it takes to be successful as a hunter. The other side of this is those of us who mentor these new hunters are maybe a bit guilty of teaching them that the glamor animals are the ones that count the most. Most would never intentionally do this, but the fact of how we introduced them to the sport leaves a mark.
I also see it in what I mentioned earlier, in posts online. People now seem to disregard the little guys in favor of the big and cool and I don’t think most realize it. When that big turkey or deer pops up it is an automatic action to praise the person that had the luck. Same with fish, as I type this I am watching a stream of congrats going out to a good friend for his bass while someone that caught a smaller species is ignored.
I hope this helps people remember that everything we harvest, big or small, by someone new or a veteran of the sport, deserves a well done. Please let the people that enjoy the other types of fishing or hunting know you are proud of what they did just as we all do for the “cool” critters. Again I believe many of us, including myself at times, have become accidental elitists and that is something we never meant to be. From the kid out there shooting a pest with their air rifle to the person that took a big squirrel with a .22, they are just as proud as any of us and that is why they shared it. It isn’t always about the biggest deer or heaviest fish but it is always about letting folks know you are proud of what they accomplished.