“Once it made national news, animal-rights activists were sending me death threats,” Stephen Tucker said in an interview in the current issue of Field & Stream magazine. “I didn’t respond to any of that stuff. I tried my best to ignore it.”
In the interview Tucker said he was advised by friends to avoid Facebook “because of all the things people were saying – claiming the buck was high-fenced (killed inside an enclosure from which it couldn’t escape) or poached.”
None of those claims were true. Tucker killed the deer on the Sumner County farms he leases – a site that is currently under development and lost to future hunting forever – and its legality was documented by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
The animal-rights backlash over what was christened the “Tucker Buck” was reminiscent of the uproar over the killing of “Cecil the Lion” by a big-game hunter in Africa. The hunter, an American dentist, received threats against himself, his family and his business.
There’s irony in the fact that animal-rights extremists become so upset over the killing of an animal that they threaten to kill a human. But that’s the Disney-esque fantasy world we live in, and anti-hunting sentiment grows stronger every year -- much of it media-driven.
A local example: last month a Nashville TV station aired a story about deer/auto collisions. It claimed that one reason deer become extra-active in the fall is because they are being chased by hunters. In other words, according to the report, hunters are partly to blame for the increase in crashes.
That’s untrue. The reason why there are more deer/auto collisions in the fall is because it is rutting season and bucks start chasing does with reckless abandon – often bounding across busy highways.
Hunting has nothing to do with it. Visit any protected wildlife refuge, such as Long Hunter State Park, during the rutting season and you’ll see increased deer activity. Yet there are no hunters there.
Animal-rights activists often work in concert with PETA and the anti-gun lobby in pursuit of a common goal: to end all hunting.
PETA is opposed to the killing of any animal – from a deer or wild turkey to rats and other vermin. Meanwhile, extremists in the anti-gun lobby want to ban or curtail private ownership of firearms, including hunting rifles and shotguns.
There are indications that the anti-hunting forces are growing, at time when the number of hunters is in decline. Those trends, combined with increased urbanization and loss of hunting land, leads some to predict that sport hunting will not exist for another generation.
That may be so, but so far hunting is legal, and making threats against hunters is not. Any such threat should be reported to law enforcement officials, and the person who made the threat arrested and vigorously prosecuted.
There’s no excuse for allowing law-abiding hunters to be persecuted by lawless activists.