Phillip Gentry is the host of “Upstate Outdoors,” broadcast from noon to 2 p.m. Saturdays on WORD 106.3 FM. Contact Gentry at email@example.com.
More Than Two Sides To The Kendall Jones Debate
by Phillip Gentry,posted Jul 21 2014 5:33PM
Last week the internet controversy over Kendall Jones, a 19 year old Texas Tech cheerleader who has dedicated her Facebook site to exhibiting her kills of big game animals in Africa, hit a critical mass as news reports and public response to the issue from both sides of the right-to-hunt debate mounted. Jones has received death threats from site viewers extolling the villainy of her African safaris. The result has been a galvanizing of viewers and a rekindling of the hunter vs anti-hunter debate in the news media.
The antis rally to the side that any and all killing of animals is wrong. Some leeway is afforded when hunters reply with the argument of money that is paid to participate in the safari hunts goes toward conservation and wildlife management, feeding of the local population, and funding law enforcement that keeps poaching of the animals at bay. However, years of cable television documentaries have swayed the general public to the point that many viewers feel that any big game animal is endangered and should never be hunted.
When pressed for an opinion, hunters will take the same stand with big game hunting in Asia and Africa that gun owners take any time a gun issue is presented, basically the right to bear arms (or in this scenario hunt) shall not be infringed.
To the dismay of some, hunters are harder on themselves and their peers than many outsiders suspect. An example of this is white tail deer hunting. The entire group will rally in support of the right to hunt deer but archery-only hunters in the group frequently look down their noses with disdain at gun hunters who use long range, scoped rifles to basically do the same job the archer does with different gear. In these cases, it’s for the end user to determine what is “sport” and what is not.
You also don’t have to travel to Africa or even outside the state to find the same controversy over what level of hunting some find acceptable and others don’t. For the last 6 or 7 years, the SCDNR has operated a lottery draw system for hunters to apply for tags to hunt alligators in the lower part of the state. Once an endangered species, the American alligator has rebounded back to sustainable populations where the number of human/alligator encounters often makes the news. Wildlife management officials have sought to control the rising population of alligators by allowing limited harvest of these animals.
Regardless of the science behind the motive, anti-hunters frequently come out against the state’s alligator hunters who hunt and harvest a particularly large specimen that garners enough attention to make it into the mainstream media.
An additional hotly contested example is the legal hunting of black bears in both the Upstate and Low Country where biologists cite that number of black bears in the Appalachian chain has reached or exceeded the social carrying capacity. Two week long seasons for bear hunting in the Upstate are provided by the DNR and likewise, when news and photos of bears harvested by hunters hits the mainstream media, the outcry over killing “cute and cuddly” or “defenseless creatures” always rears it’s head.
One side of the Jones debate that even divides the general hunting population is that African safaris costs range in the tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars for one single animal. Most hunters don’t have that kind of money to spend on a sport and simply write Jones off as a spoiled rich girl out spending Daddy’s money.
The subject of fair chase rarely arises when connected to African safaris. American hunters who hunt high-fence or pen-raised animals for sport are placed on a lower social hierarchy by both the hunting and general public. These areas are maintained as private preserves and the cost to hunt within, as well as the likelihood of success, are high.
Perhaps the general public nor the anti’s would be so quick to judge Jones if she were truly a Sheena Of The Jungle who scouted, patterned, and then stalked and hunted her African prey without the aid of outfitters, guides, and the like. In the meantime, it’s an issue that neither side is likely to sway the opinion of the other over.
In Other News
According to a wildlife biologist with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, dove hunters still have time to plant fields to attract doves during the upcoming season. The Upstate has an abundant population of resident mourning doves and the best way to attract the speedy, acrobatic birds is to plant an abundance of good dove foods in an environment conducive to feeding by doves.
Individuals interested in dove field planting recommendations should contact the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Small Game Project in Columbia at (803) 734-3609 or their local regional wildlife biologist. A planting guide for dove hunters is available, as is the South Carolina Migratory Game Bird Hunting Guidebook which contains information on field preparation and frequently asked questions.