This topic has been riding my brain waves for much longer than I intended. A few years of starting the following post, stopping, pondering, forgetting, and dismissing.
But the time is nigh. Earlier this week fellow blogger and outdoor writer Chad Love opined on the backlash of the locavore hipster chicken farmers who have failed at culling their baren hens and turn them over to shelters, which also went hand in hand with the topic at hand – the new wave of hunters.
The “hipster hunters” have been in the news quite a bit recently. Don’t mind this link from December, but it’s a good short summary of this growing fad. You know it, I know it – there are a lot of greenhorns grabbing weapons and taking to the field in the past few years that don’t fit into the dirty camo hat with a hook on the bill republican Copenhagen loyalist peg hole that most if not all of us hunters get reluctantly pushed into.
There has been some backlash to these noobs and their sudden and most likely fleeting interest in killing and eating their own meals. There’s good reason to be cynical and suspect of these hipster hunters, since after all they are hipsters and if they read this blog post they’ll move on to the next uncool thing to embrace.
But as for me, I fully embrace their interest in the meat eating outdoors. It’s a win-win situation.
First off, these former vegan/vegetarian warriors are gaining knowledge and acceptance of what being an outdoorsman is truly about. It’s not those bullshit TV shows where 40 product placements a minute are shoved into a 20 minute segment of shooting a farmed game animal on a guided hunt (see my “What it Isn’t” series). For the lot of us it’s a culmination of hard fought boot work, scouting, dog training, marksmanship, and a good spoonful of luck. It’s sad that the depravity of entertainment on the outdoor channels has stained us even further into the red wool of the die hard red staters. But these liberal urban nubile hunters are gaining a first hand perspective of what hunting is truly like and in turn are helping shake up those good ole boy stereotypes that hold the attention of the average liberal city dweller. As most of you well know, bringing dinner that you’ve attained in the wild on your own to the ones you care about is a fantastic feeling and not something to be scoffed at or taken lightly. There’s a respect to this game that can only be gained by playing it.
The truth is that times are a changin’. I grew up surrounded by rednecks and red staters and I feel equally at home sitting around a hunting campfire with them pounding Coors Light and telling terrible Obama jokes as I do sitting at a hunting camp with people in Patagonia gear drinking local microbrews with Portugal. The Man blaring from the Subaru. I must admit that I sit firmly in both camps. I have a stake in both and I believe the culmination of joining these fires is the key to hunting and fishings future.
It’s not just me. A lot of my hunting buddies and myself grew up as full blown rednecks. I have a big old belt buckle from the 1995 Sierraville Junior Rodeo that has “Calf Riding Champion” engraved on it. I caught greased pigs, raised them, ate them. Some of us became teenage skateboard punk rockers and moved to the cities to see how the rest of America lives. It’s a strange brew to mix but I think that it’s a rough yet easy transition from bumpkin to hip city kid. I left the boonies and went to Southern California where I grew out long hair, played in a hardcore band, and lived like the dirtiest of hipsters before returning to my roots.
It rarely works out going in the other direction, or at least it didn’t in the past.
More and more of my city bred friends are taking to the field and I get to watch their slow and gradual appreciation of the natural order take hold. It’s a magical thing to witness.
Now with the New Wave entering the wild we have a slowly forming semblance of balance between the red and the blue. And it’s not just coming from the city bred adults beginning their outdoorsman lives. It’s coming from within the new generation of red staters and I’ve noticed the sea change first hand.
Last weekend I went for a walk at my parents house and passed through my neighbors farm. These boys, whom I respect and love like brothers, are as redneck as they come. Duck hunting, wrangler rocking, chew spitting, bait dunking catch and decrease old school ranchers. I saw they had a boat on top of their truck and asked where they went fishing. They told me they went to a local high lake, and the bait dunking treble hook using oldest son and father caught nothing, but the younger clone of theirs was catch and release fly fishing and lit them up. It made me cock up one corner of my mouth. I had a conversation with the young kid years ago when he approached me fly fishing on the creek at the ranch, and I explained to the lad that catching these fish on a barbless fly and releasing them was the best way to ensure his kids could still fish the creek. Never thought it sank in, but low and behold he’s broken the mold of his bait dunking catch and decrease fore-bearers. I’m not gonna take credit, but I hope that seed helped him become the young teen fly fisherman he is today.
Attitudes are changing and I’m delighted at what I’ve observed thus far. Some of the old guard have cried afoul of overcrowding in their traditional hunting areas which I’m sure is true in some places back east. But out west there’s room and game aplenty. Even though I didn’t draw any tags this year which can probably be attributed to the rise of the New Wave, I’m not gonna complain.
The fact is that the more people we have enjoying nature the more support nature is going to receive. It’s easy for the desert city playboy with a spray tan and a gym membership to sit in his pool and vote to suck dry lands he’s never trodden so he can retain private chlorine privileges at a lower cost to his AMEX, but it’s hard for somebody in the same city to vote the same way when they’ve been left bare and alone in those same wilds their government is trying to exploit.
We need these cats. And contrary to the video below, the New Wave is our Modern Hunting Jesus.
I’m not trying to do a membership drive for the Sierra Club or anything, but as far as I’m concerned we need all the help we can get in this growing nation and shrinking wilderness. And with that thought in mind, I embrace the New Wave.