Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Why Do We Name Our Deer?

A few years ago, while watching one of the more popular television hunting shows, I heard the host refer to a specific deer he was seeing on camera as "super freak". At the initial sound, I noticed one of my eyebrows raise involuntarily. Why would you name this buck "super freak?" I wondered. Secondly, I wondered why he would name the deer at all. What purpose does it serve?

As time went on, naming deer caught on like a California wild fire and before you knew it, virtually every outdoor personality was giving names to bucks they were seeing on camera. Names became more and more frequent and outlandish. It looked as if they were not just naming a deer, but trying to outdo their counterparts with the most ridiculous names they could imagine.

It got to the point you could not turn on the television and watch a good hunting show without these hosts referring to their bucks with some insane name. It in itself became a competition to see who could name the most bucks and develop a "hit list" of named bucks.

As I have contemplated this phenomenon, I wondered why they wouldn't choose names like, "Steve, Bill, or Tony." or even, "Rover, Spot, or Drake". Rather than - "Nasty nine," "Broomstraw," or "Sidekick." It seemed just as plausible that they would choose human names or pet names over these outlandish names.

Then in a conversation about this a few months ago, while discussing this with a well known television show host who incidentally refuses to name any of the deer he hunts commented, "We named a deer years ago and it almost killed hunting."  I asked him what he meant by that and he said,
"You ever heard of Bambi?"

It was like being hit in the face! He was absolutely correct. The hunting industry took a big hit when Walt Disney introduced Bambi to the masses. Even today we are still feeling the fallout of that cartoon rendition of how "terrible" hunting is.

As we discussed the impact this has had on hunting I couldn't help but wonder if those who are participating in the name game ever considered that they are one bad name away from setting back hunting like Disney did.

Personalize (humanize) the quarry and you jeopardize the pursuit.

By giving these animals names, we are personalizing them, and in some respects humanizing them. Humanizing the quarry causes the non-hunters to question even more the concept of hunting, much more the satisfaction of success.

Consider this a word of caution. Name them at your own peril. As soon as some PETA member, or HSUS identifies with "Broomstraw" or Nasty Nine" The comparisons to Bambi will emerge and hunting will suffer a greater setback than it has already.

Hunting retention and recruitment numbers are at an all time low. Let's not inflict harm on ourselves by personalizing the animals we are pursuing. Herald them, praise them, and revere them, but do not humanize them. You will do so to your own peril.

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