Hump Day: Cancelled hunting shows send confusing message to viewers

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

When I read a Facebook update on Monday about how Global TV had just cancelled all its hunting shows, I was more than a bit shocked. I’m not a hunter, nor will I ever be a hunter, but I respect the right to hunt.

According to a report carried in the Atikokan Progress, a weekly newspaper published in the Northwestern Ontario community of (surprise!) Atikokan, the three shows being cancelled are the popular Canada in the Rough, The Canadian Tradition, and Angler & Hunter Television.

The report goes on to say, “By Global’s own admission, over one million viewers tune into the great Canadian block of outdoor shows including Angler & Hunter TV,” according to Angelo Lombardo of the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH), which produces Angler & Hunter TV.

Apparently, Global was under some pressure to cancel the shows from anti-hunting groups. The Vancouver Humane Society’s 2011 petition aimed at Global is mentioned in the article. “In its fall, 2011 newsletter, the Vancouver Human Society urged supporters to contact Global TV about the shows.”

Here’s what it said: “Global national television seems to think Canadians want to watch animals being killed for sport. Why else would it be running three different hunting shows?” No one could accuse me of not being an animal lover. I have two cats adopted from an animal shelter and a dog. I even sat on the board of directors of a local animal shelter for five years. I can’t read stories about abused animals. I can’t look at photos of abused animals. If anyone shares a photo of an abused animal on Facebook, I immediately unsubscribe from that person. I do it to preserve my emotional sanity. When someone starts to tell me a story about an abused animal, I tell them to stop. It’s too upsetting.

Those commercials with Sarah McLachlan’s mournful song Will You Remember Me playing as dogs and cats peer through cages waiting for a new home? Can anyone watch that without their heart breaking? I know I can’t. The channel gets changed the minute it starts.

When it comes to animals, I can’t stand any sort of sadness or abuse going their way. But hunting for food or conservation efforts? Well, now, that’s another story.

My late father was a life-long hunter, as were many of his brothers and friends. I have strong (and fond!) memories of my father returning from the woods after a week. He smelled bad. He was happy to be back with his family in a comfortable home. He’d rub his whiskers against our cheeks to tickle us and make us laugh.

Many times, he returned home empty-handed, but he and his buddies would often arrive at the house with a moose or deer in the back of a truck to show us. Depending on who got the kill, we’d enjoy moose or deer meat for several months afterwards. The meat would also make its way into traditional Acadian meat pies at Christmastime.

One thing always struck me about my father and hunting, though. To my recollection, he always talked about being fair to the animal. There was no such thing (at least in his later years – not sure what happened in he and his buddies’ younger and more foolish days) as jacking deer or moose with headlights. He always talked about being a fair hunter. And he also did his very best to find an animal that he wounded in order to finish the job. They didn’t leave a wounded animal to suffer just because it was inconvenient for them to look.

Good hunters, at least in my experience, believe in conservation. They care about the state of our forests and rivers. They care about the environment. They pick up their garbage after they’re done. To censor them in this way is baffling.

Now, I’m not sure if the Vancouver Human Society’s petition was the only reason Global cancelled these shows. It appears the ratings were strong, though. A million viewers for this block of shows during the weekend? That seems like very healthy ratings to me, especially for the relatively small audience that would be watching television at that time of the day and week.

But what gets me most is the fallacy that somehow cancelling these shows will reduce hunting. I’m not so sure. What I’m sure of, though, is that the absence of these shows or moving them to a more remote part of the dial will make exposing younger generations to examples of good hunting practices that much more difficult.

I’ve seen hunting shows in the past. They explain how to properly use equipment. They talk about safety. They talk about fair and ethical hunting practices. They talk about conservation and the environment. These are not drunken idiots who unfairly stalk deer in the middle of the night by shining bright lights in their faces so as to paralyze them in their tracks, making them easy targets for their bullets.

Let’s make sure we get rid of all those responsible examples of good hunting, shall we? Let’s just pretend hunting doesn’t happen. Let’s just pretend meat grows on trees and that herds cull themselves.

You think hunting is cruel? Try watching entire herds starve to death. That isn’t pretty by any means!

I’m all for political correctness, but actively working to rid the airwaves of examples of responsible and ethical hunting practices is short-sighted and naive.

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