Florida bear hunters are a bunch of whining sissies

by Jac Wilder VerSteeg

Sissy bear hunters flinch from angry emails

So now we find out that Florida bear hunters are a bunch of whining sissies.

As the Sun Sentinel reported, some hunters who received nasty emails from hunt opponents might file lawsuits in response.

Picture the intrepid hunter preparing to head into the woods. Pimped out in manly camo, lugging a gun literally loaded for bear, eager to test his courage by facing down the fearsome furry beasts, he pauses before leaving his log cabin to check his email one more time and … gasp … encounters (I can hardly say it) mean words!

Sniffle. Sob. Waaaa!

And then, what does this rugged individualist do (after calling Mommy, I mean), he gets on the phone to a lawyer because, whimper, his feeling are hurt.

That hunters would feel themselves bullied is particularly amusing because the bear hunt itself is the result of bullying legislation. The same also is true of much of the pro-gun laws the Florida Legislature is so fond of promoting.

I wouldn’t expect any hunters, shooters or lawmakers to confess to it publicly, but part of the fun of passing all this stuff is thinking about how much it frosts people who don’t like hunting and people who favor gun control. They love to picture animal lovers quivering in impotent rage as the state goes ahead with an ill-considered bear hunt.

No doubt they characterized those who opposed the hunt as wimps. “Poor PETA babies probably will drown in their tears thinking about the baby bears getting shot. Boohoo.”

But if one of those poor PETA babies “shoots back” with words? Who turns into the baby then? Not all hunters are like that. But plenty apparently are.

The same dynamic is at work with all the stand-your-ground, guns-on-campus, muzzle-the-doctors legislation passed or pending. For all the talk about self-defense, gun rights and blah, blah, blah, there’s an unhealthy element of simply sticking it to people just for the bullying fun of it. And those are exactly the kind of bullies you want wearing guns on their hips, right? People who have that attitude are exactly the kind of people who are going to lose an argument, lose their temper and use their guns, if handy, to get even.

I know something about hunting because 1) I hunted when I was young and 2) I am fond of some people who still do it. My mother’s living room and (unappetizingly) her dining room are graced with rows of stuffed deer heads.

Every bit of the venison that came from those deer was consumed. Most of them were killed with bow and arrow. And they were killed under quotas and regulations that made sense given the deer population.

The Florida bear hunt was different. The science didn’t support it. The notion it was necessary to protect humans from bears was ludicrous. This was a “watch opponents squirm” hunt.

I also know something about nasty email. I get it every time I write about guns and stupid gun legislation. I get it every time I write about numskull Tea Party politicians. I have had thousands of nasty, even threatening emails, letters and phone calls. How many times have I called a lawyer or the police? Zero — although in the past I saved one or two for a while just so the cops would have a lead if somebody bumped me off.

My email address is at the bottom of my Sun Sentinel columns. Contact information for most of the 3,000-plus people who received permits to hunt bears was released under Florida’s open records laws. Of course now we can expect the Legislature to consider exempting those records from public disclosure, thus giving bear hunters the same deference accorded to law enforcement officers.

If hunt opponents send bona fide threats, by all means prosecute. But it would be a misuse of power to protect hunters from emails just because the hunters’ feelings are hurt by opinions contrary to their own.

Any hunter too timid to read an email doesn’t deserve to put a bear trophy on his wall. But lawmaker can do something for them. For any hunter reduced to jelly by a mean email, the state should provide a Teddy Bear for him to snuggle while sucking his thumb.

Contact Jac Wilder VerSteeg at jwvcolumn@gmail.com.

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