I believe we all have been there. Talking with our friends or like minded people until someone who is “superior” in their own mind shows up or feels the need to get involved with your discussion.  Or, you are weighing in on something like braodheads (I know, men have been killed for less) and then the name calling starts and does not stop. Or, an individual who is fairly new to the area or hunting itself starts offering advice based off of things they have heard from outdoor tv. In all of these, people lose their minds. I’m guilty of it from time to time, but as time has progressed, I only become that crazy dude when it impacts 1.) my ability to hunt, 2.) the ability of others to hunt, and 3.) anything to do with Public Land. 

As many of you know, I am on a couple forums. I love these forums because I think of how valuable this would have been to have when I was getting into hunting. And we may have had these, I just didn’t know about them. But, 2 decades later here I am. A dude who loves to read advice, offer advice, speak with people who are like me, found a place to fit in.  But there are crazies. 

In the world of being pro active in hunting and conservation, you meet a lot of people face to face. Particularly those who are not ultimately fans of us. This form of interaction is attending the public land meetings, meetings on habitat and management. And in some regards it’s meetings with like minded individuals who are fellow conservationist and you are discussing regulations, fundraisers, youth hunting, recruitment and retention or disabled hunters. Anything really to engage people with the natural world that you voluntarily submit yourself to. But, then there are some crazies there as well. 

Social media. This is where it all comes ahead. Hunters. Anti-Hunters. Newbies with advice. Newbies to an area. Grizzled hardened hunters. Grizzled hardened antis. The dude who just read Leonardo DiCaprios tweets and is now an expert. The person who allegedly had every degree known to man and has worked in every career and remains a victim. A place where people cry for safe spaces. And it is chock full of crazies. 

Many people will say too ” not engage” the crazies. This is solid advice. But, as I am about to tell you, I did not take it. I engaged. And now I feel like I need a shower, and to read leather bound books in a room of mahogany. 

Here is the scenario. An individual started a thread in a forum asking about public land opportunities in my area. He had just moved there and said he was a disabled veteran. I replied with names of NCWRC managed game lands. Just the names. I wanted to tell the dude what tree to come to and so on and so forth. But I just gave names. The gentleman thanked me and then responded to others who had wrote in the thread. 4 weeks, not hours, not days, but WEEKS went by. And then I had a private message. It was “unsolicited advice” about not sharing information about hunting spots in our area. The individual who wrote it said that they knew a guy that had been burned by other hunters who used his info. Then, he said we would regret it. It came across very condescending. Which, leads me to my first tidbit; you don’t know anyone’s tone in text. You just don’t. So don’t assume. I assumed. And started down the path of engaging a crazy….

I read the message and then read the thread over and over. Had my best friend look it over. Co-workers. My wife. And they said choice things but the meat and potatoes of what they said was “I wouldn’t look too far into it”. I started to take that advice and then a little voice started reading through it. I started getting fired up. Then I decided to engage. Not my finest hour… or days…

Upon responding to the message, the authors was offended and then it became a full blown contesting of whose stream could go the farthest and remain streaming for the longest amount of time. It got ugly. And I just couldn’t stop. Neither could he. 

But to be fair, it’s not his fault. I was not nice. I was very jerkish in my rant on how he needed to worry about himself. I went off the deep end (maybe like 8 foot) about how all I did was give names that are readily available. I didn’t give road or trail names. I gave names of the game lands. Names that are very easy to find. I enagaged a crazy. You have probably heard, “It takes a monster  to defeat a monster” which may be true. But “it takes a crazy to beat a crazy” isn’t a thing. It just ends up with you stooping to a low place to hurl knives at a person who you should be supporting. It puts you to a place where you are wanting to go middles school and say “Flag pole 3pm” with someone you should be inviting with you to a meeting. If I had just said “Ok” and swallowed the pride, my fingers would not be so sore with the type backs and I wouldn’t be having to re start MeatEater episodes on Netflix. But, I went full crazy. Don’t go full crazy folks. 

In my final response I retracted back to the days of my youth. I started slinging mud and belittling the person. I went to a place that I would tan my sons hide for. I regressed. And I cannot sleep because of it. 

I tried to justify my dislike for the individual who wrote the message by reading other post. Then, I discovered we had spoke many times in the past on this particular forum. We had many interactions. We commented on many threads about the area we reside in. Obviously we had differing opinions on some things, but nothing too wild. Then I started re evaluating….

Who was the one at fault? Who was the crazy? The answer is not what he nor I want to admit or hear. We looked into that abyss of having the final say and we both jumped head first, racing to the bottom of that pit to see how would splat first. 

In my day to day I engage anti hunters who use blatant lies about conservation. I engage certain hunters who bash others or who do not reflect on what I feel represents hunting in a positive light. Who am I to be that guy though? I spoke about my 3. Obviously I will not waver there. But, I need to do better on my delivery to my fellow hunters. Obviously I’m not gonna go easy on the person who opposes hunting based off fabrications and half truths. Anyone who knows me knows that I do not back down from a debate with someone who hates what I represent. I’ve lost friends, and subsequently, also gained friends by this trait. But, with hunters who disagree, we need to come from a place of respect and facts. Don’t start the “I have 8 degrees and 5 masters, I’m your superior” or the “I have killed so many things, you don’t even know” or “I’m on like 10 pro staffs and a handful of field staffs” or “well, my friends dads co workers nephews dog trainer had a friend who is a biologist, and they said this”. Look, if it’s a thing of science, get the facts. And for the love of God can we stop with the over population, doomsday rhetoric? That arguement has been drove into the ground. Over. And over. Let’s talk about wildlife and wild places and overall conservation that only we provide and fund. We have too much access to too much research to remain ignorant on this front. If it has to do with matter of opinions on equipment or methods, agree to disagree. And if it had to do with anything that may be misconstrued as condescending, just don’t engage. The dude I have been intonit with probably is a cool guy. But I assumed his tone and he assumed mine and now it’s akward. 

Dont engage the crazies. And don’t become a crazy. If you have a disagreement, it may always be better to just ignore the person. Or respectfully disagree and Lee the opinion to yourself. Or, just make the call yourself.