Who is the greatest conservationist in the history of the world? The answer is, “The best known hunter in the history of the world,” Teddy Roosevelt. What few people know is that he was the first man to write about women’s rights, the subject of his senior thesis at Harvard. The paradox perplexes ecofeminists.
Does hunting teach violence? What do you think Jimmy Carter and Nelson Mandela would say? They both received the Nobel Peace prize – and both are avid hunters.
In a questionnaire survey I did of 2,000 hunters, average age of 55, 97% male, I asked what events in their lives opened their hearts and engendered compassion in them. Taking the life of an animal for food ranked right up there with death of a loved one and becoming a parent.
Does hunting teach compassion? Michael Gurian, best-selling author of The Wonder of Boys, says in my TV production (“Respect and Responsibility: The Truth About Kids Who Hunt”) that, “Hunting teaches compassion.”
In the same production, Dr. Don Trent Jacobs, revolutionary educator and author of Teaching Virtues (across the curriculum), states, “Hunting is the ideal way to teach young people universal virtues including patience, generosity, courage, fortitude and humility.” He defines humility as knowing you are part of something greater than yourself. At one time, Jacobs directed the largest wilderness center in the world for juvenile delinquents.
The most successful program ever conducted for juvenile delinquents was at the School for Urban and Wilderness Studies in southern Idaho. For 13 years, groups of boys went into the wilderness with nothing but a sleeping bag and a pocketknife. Their only food was what they could gather or catch and kill. According to follow-up surveys conducted one year after they left, 85 percent of the boys had not gotten into trouble during that year. Dr. Wade Brackenbury, who led the boys, is convinced that it was taking the lives of small animals for food that had the greatest influence on the boys’ transformation.
Dr. Helen Smith of Knoxville wrote Scarred Hearts. She is a leading authority on violent kids (who kill). In an interview in “Respect and Responsibility,” she said Columbine never would have happened if those boys had been properly mentored in hunting and shooting.
In the same production, Dr. Jim Rose, adolescent neuropsychologist at the University of Wyoming, says “Hunting teaches self-control and respect for life,” and, “Learing to use a firearm teaches responsibility.”
Dr. Scott Cutting, a psychologist in South Carolina, successfully used shooting to heal young men of serious aggression.
Gurian, Jacobs, Smith and Rose all highly recommend and endorse hunting and shooting for youth.
Did you know that hunters were the original environmental conservationists and they still lead in that field? Did you know that 700,000 members of Ducks Unlimited have successfully conserved 12 million acres of wildlife habitat to the benefit of the entire living community of North America? That the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has conserved over four million acres and re-introduced elk throughout its former range in the Midwest and Eastern United States? That there are more wild turkeys and deer in the US than at any time in history?
While the rest of the environmental community is waging rear-guard actions, the hunting community is on the offensive. The truth is that hunting is a model for sustainability. - Randall L. Eaton, Ph.D.