Becoming A Bear Hunter

Getting Involved

Welcome to the final article in the series “Becoming a Bear Hunter.” I hope you have found them informative, engaging, and fun. This final topic may be the most important one in the series. While it won’t contain high adventure on some snow-covered mountain top, nor tales of being charged by a slobbering boar on a goat trail and getting a shot off just in time, it still might make the hair on your neck stand up. That’s because it is about the anti hunting community and their effort to end hunting, even in your state or province. 

I know, I get it. I am not one for politics or political action. I mean, as I have become older I pay close attention to it. But in reality, I would rather just be left alone to do my own thing, like hunting in quiet solitude along some babbling creek in the late hour of a sultry summer eve while listening ever so closely for the sounds of bears. Truthfully speaking, I’ve always been a bit of a loner. I developed this way—I believe—because my parents split when I was young and, while I had older siblings, we didn’t play together much. Therefore, I was left to my own imagination while dad was at work. I would play army, pretending to be Rambo or Indiana Jones or even Luke Skywalker as I spent countless hours in our woods: getting dirty, digging holes, and just being a kid. Little did I know I would be one of the last generations to have a childhood without the internet and so-called smart phones. 

Growing up in the country, friends would be miles away lots of times, and with parents at work there was little chance to have one over for fun until we were a little older and could ride bikes back and forth to each other’s house. So, I became content and rather enjoyed time alone keeping to myself and snacking on fresh huckleberries as I skirted along some ancient, felled cedar. As an adult, there is still much of that which has remained in me. I do love hunting with friends and family (don’t get me wrong), but solitude does not bother me. But my enjoyment of hunting tends to bother a very loud minority of people. They are well-funded, well-organized, and have infiltrated many states’ fish and game commissions. Keep in mind that they are called “anti hunters”; they are not just against bear hunting, trapping, pheasant hunting, coyote hunting, and so on, they are against the very action of “hunting.” The idea of killing an animal seems to be the ultimate evil to many on that side, which truly blows my mind since most of them would have starved to death if it wasn’t for the death of animals. My point is, they are against all of us hunters, therefore we need to band together. 

Don’t look at a legislation or game commission policy and say to yourself, “Oh, this is just about duck hunters or deer hunters and it doesn’t concern me.” Rather, think to yourself, “Hey, they are attacking a hunting tactic or season. Bear hunting (or your favorite style of hunting) could easily be next and will likely be, since it is a “low hanging fruit”, as the illustrious Clay Newcomb has said so many times. So, when anything like this comes up, you need to step up. The days of being left alone in quiet solitude while enjoying your favorite pastime is over. The need for you to stand up to each anti hunting piece of policy or legislation has now arrived. Howl for Wildlife ( has a great way to very easily and quickly email decision makers when issues arise. If you are unfamiliar with them, you need to get acquainted. Despite the suspect name, they are very pro hunting and just this year have helped stop numerous anti hunting acts. You literally put in your name and email and hit send to contact lots of decision makers. You can even customize your response. I have used it hundreds of times this past year. 

I would also encourage you to bypass arguing with anti hunters in general, but focus on the members of the public who are on the fence about hunting. Arguing with an anti is almost a pointless endeavor. Those who are impartial should be our target. We need to express our use of meat, the economic benefits, our traditions, our history, our love of land and conservation, and so on. Another excellent organization to research for knowledge about hunting benefits and conservation is “Blood Origins”  (@bloodorigins on Instagram). Robbie over there has daily updates on the benefits of hunting worldwide and does an amazing job showcasing the proof upholding his findings. If you need talking points, take some time out of your day and explore what they have to offer. The knowledge and rock-solid evidence of the benefits of hunting is simply irrefutable. 

I could write a small book on all the issues Washington state has with many on our game commission. From one commissioner finding the term “recreational hunting” offensive as it insinuates hunters have fun during a hunt, to another commissioner text messaging during a closed public comment meeting to a prominent member of Wolf Haven, which helped dictate the closure of our spring bear “recreational hunt”, and so on. It is frustrating, causes dismay, and downright makes me angry that I must see the erosion of my hunting heritage in my beloved state. Many residents of Washington over the past few years have simply packed up and left for various political reasons, and for that I cannot blame them. Crime is out of control, drugs are prevalent, and so on. If my personal circumstances were different, hell, I might be right behind them. But my home state is still beautiful, I still love it, and it is worth fighting for. So while I am here, I will indeed fight to the best of my ability. 

What does that entail? How can one man hope to do anything against rampant political overreach? Well, good question. Rallying the troops, I think, is first and foremost. Getting hunters, outdoors men and women, fishermen, tribes’ people, and so on to make their voices heard during public comment periods are imperative. You know the saying, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”; I intend on getting very squeaky. In addition, being active in any sort of outdoor, hunting, or political action group you find likable is crucial. From the American Bear Foundation to Sportsman’s Alliance to the RMEF and everything in between, there are plenty of causes. My hope is, all hunting and fishing orgs will start to unify under the “hunting” cause, not just the “chosen animal” or “chosen method of take” cause.  

Also, educate yourself on the topic you are going to be discussing. This will help get your point across in a thoughtful and articulate manner. While I would love to go up to a podium and tear into some people verbally like a wet napkin, that won’t do me—or the cause—much good. And trust me, I hear you when you say, “It's just a waste of time and they won't listen.” To that I say that doing nothing will cause zero change. Worse yet, complacency will allow free reign for anti hunting commissions and legislatures to do what they please with little to no blowback. Calling these people out on their biases, affiliations, actions, and words is often the only thing we can do. 

I would also encourage you to learn how to fill out FOIA or “Freedom of Information Act” requests, also known as “public disclosure requests” (PDRs). For a small fee, you can get a variety of information—even from personal devices if they are used—from government officials, including commissioners, provided it’s not classified, etc. Commission meetings are generally recorded and published, but you can request emails and text messages between officials and other lobbying groups. It is important to let officials know that they are going to be held accountable for their actions and PDRs are one way to do it. Filling out a PDR form is fairly simple and can be done online in most states. I would encourage you to do this often for any questionable activity you may spot in meetings. Response times can sometimes take weeks or months, but at least you can access it. 

Making a post on your social media account to encourage others to get involved is also important. We have a rough estimate of 16.6 million hunters in the U.S. as of 2020. Imagine if we all became vocal with emails, phone calls, and meeting attendance, and made as much noise as the opposition. We are the silent majority on these topics, and it needs to change. Learn to speak with your wallet. I have a saying: “support those who support us.” Meaning, if a local company or group is not supportive of you getting your own food via fishing or hunting, why support them? This can be hard to spot at times since places will not often openly advertise this type of stuff, but if you pay attention you can see signs.  

There is a little town in Washington called Twisp. In this town, there is a grocery store named “Hank’s.” Walking in, it looks like you just walked into a taxidermist showroom. There are full mounted lions chasing a warthog, rows of deer, elk, and all sorts of African ungulates along the walls. Very close by there is another town called Winthrop, which has another grocery store. But Hank’s is where I choose to always stop and shop because the owner is a hunter and proud of it. He can have my business every single time I am there.  

If you’ve become a bear hunter, you have taken on certain responsibilities. You want to take mature boars, avoid shooting sows, and make ethical shots ensuring clean kills. If you want to maintain this lifestyle, you must also take on the role of spokesperson for our love of hunting. It is up to you to help keep this way of life because without mentorship, our hunting dollars, and your voice of support, this will all be lost. We cannot let that happen, my friends. Conservation needs you. Will you answer the call?