The Shotgun Conservationist
Why Environmentalists Should Love Hunting
by Brant MacDuff
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Pub Date 25 Apr 2023 | Archive Date 25 Apr 2023
Picture a hunter. Who comes to mind? Millionaire playboys or big truck owning folks? Maybe so, but there’s more to it. Because if you love nature, value sustainability, abhor the pollution and inhumanity of factory farms, you could be a hunter in the making. And if you’ve never even considered hunting, The Shotgun Conservationist reveals all the reasons you should. Brant MacDuff makes us rethink who hunts and why. Growing up an animal lover with no hunting background, MacDuff himself would seem an unlikely advocate. Yet a lifelong love of the outdoors and a restless curiosity compelled him to investigate a simple question: is hunting conservation? So convinced, he consistently holds a hunting license in multiple states and gives lectures on the positive impact hunting has on conservation efforts nationwide and around the world.
MacDuff tells the story of how he became a hunter and the colorful characters, big personalities, and firsthand research that helped change his mind. His journey led to a deeper understanding of how hunting protects public lands, supports sustainable ecosystems, encourages biodiversity, and can help bridge social and political divides. Along the way, he introduces us to a new generation of hunters, different from timeworn stereotypes and preconceptions. And who better than MacDuff? A trans man living in Brooklyn, he defies expectations of who hunts and invites people of all backgrounds into the field.
Whether or not you decide to take up hunting, The Shotgun Conservationist provides a new perspective and appreciation for those who do.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 4 members
This book was right up my alley and very relevant as well. I live in Canada, and a bill was just passed that many people believe was an attack on hunters. This book was helpful and what I wanted to read with this bad news coming our way. Thank you for the author to bringing light to this subject matter.
A solid addition to any library's conservation/environmentalism section. Although most of these ideas discussed in the book would be familiar to anyone entrenched in the environmentalism world, the title, cover, and slant of the book make these ideas accessible and interesting to readers who may not otherwise ever pick up a conservation book. I will be ordering this for our library's non-fiction section, as hunting is a popular hobby here and I think it could draw a lot of curious readers.
Thank you, NetGalley, for the opportunity to pre-read this book and share my opinions on it.
Do any of the following describe you?
- "I watched Bambi as a child and that was all the more education I needed about hunters."
- "People hunt because they're filled with bloodlust and hunting is the only legal way to scratch that itch?" (I only include this one because it has been said to my face. In all seriousness.)
- "Trophy hunting" means that a hunter only takes some taxidermied memento from some poor animal and just leaves the rest to molder in the sun.
- "I eat meat, but I buy it all from a grocery store."
If any of those sound familiar, this book will likely be an educational journey for you. Told with an approachable, humorous style, The Shotgun Conservationist is an honest look at the world of hunting. It'll covers the following:
- what hunting actually is and is not (couple of hints: it is not what you saw in Bambi, and trophy hunting is not as bad as you think it is)
- why people do it
- (perhaps most uncomfortably for some) why you should support it even if you don't ever choose to become a hunter yourself
And that's fine. I'm not saying you have to hunt if that's not what you want to do.
However, if you are at all concerned about:
- the ethics of your food (even if you don't eat meat)
- the state of our endangered species in this nation
- having access to public outdoor spaces where you can hike, camp, vacation, and whatever other outdoor recreation you enjoy
...then you might be surprised to learn that most of the money that supports those concerns/enjoyments of yours come from hunters. All that and more is covered in these pages. You can even learn how to support these causes without ever needing to pick up a shotgun and sit in the woods yourself (because as I said before, that's fine if that's not your thing).
Just in case you thought this was going to be nothing but a bloodthirsty pro-animal-killing manifesto, it also covered some of the stickier areas of contention even amongst hunters themselves, such as the ethics of trapping, hunting predators, or hunting in Africa (yes, poor old Cecil the Lion gets a mention). It acknowledges that there are nuances within the world of hunting, and lets you know it's okay if you don't immediately take it all at face value - a little bit of education goes a long way when it comes to hunting and conservation, and if you have a funny feeling in your tummy about any of it, it's okay to ask questions.
Ultimately, this book had a lot of positive contributions to the hunting and conservation conversation (try saying that five times fast), and while none of its information will be a surprise to anyone already within the world of hunting, it's an educational read for anyone curious about getting started (can I just gush for a second about the extensive "suggested reading" section in the back? ohmahgarsh). If you've already made up your mind and think hunting is nothing but a bunch of hicks getting their legal murder jollies out in the woods, you'll still probably think this is nothing but a bloodthirsty pro-animal-killing manifesto, but you should read it anyway. You might just find that hunters love animals and the outdoors just as much as you do, that they want to preserve those things just as much as you do, and that they care about where their food comes from just as much as you do.
The Shotgun Conservationist was a highly informative, easily accessible book about the importance of hunting and all of the misconceptions surrounding it. While a lot of this information wasn't new to me, being from a family of hunters and being married to a family of hunters, I still picked it up because I sometimes find the need to defend why those in my family do what they do. The author does a great job addressing all of the beneficial aspects of hunting for conservation, wildlife preservation and funding, and the ways that hunters help and not harm the world around us.
If, like me, you know that hunting is beneficial but you just don't have the detailed "why" information or wish you had a stronger argument for it, this book is it. While it came off preachy and self-righteous at times, and was sometimes bogged down with a lot of information, this is a good one to have around. I will be referencing it to friends in the future, and possibly gifting to the hunters I know and love (although they'll know a lot of the information here, I'm sure they'll appreciate reading about all the positives their community brings to society).