“Hunters are cowards! They use high-velocity rifles, hide up in a tree and shoot animals from a safe distance! Why don’t they use primitive weapons, like spears, to kill a bear? And why don’t they do it at close range, from the ground, where the bear can get them? Then we’ll see how brave a hunter is! But no – hunters are way too chicken to do that!”
So goes one of the arguments animal rights and anti-hunting people use against hunters. It’s emotional. It’s angry. And it’s a lousy argument. For lots of reasons.
The newest reason is because a few hunters have now taken up that challenge. You may have heard about Josh Bowmar, who thrust his homemade spear into a bear on a hunt in Alberta, Canada, back in May. The bear was no Winnie-the-Pooh, at seven feet long and 392 pounds field dressed. The kill was quick and clean, yet people are attacking Bowmar.
The good news is that Bowmar pulled off his spear hunt safely and successfully, delivering an ethical kill. The bad news is his wife lost her job. What’s the connection? The sports apparel company Under Armour signed Sarah Bowmar earlier this year to promote women’s hunting apparel. They suddenly cancelled her contract because of Josh’s unusual but legal hunt.
Here’s the statement from the company: “The method used to harvest this animal was reckless and we do not condone it. Under Armour is dedicated to the hunting community and supports hunting that is conducted in compliance with applicable federal, state and local laws and hunting practices that ensure a responsible and safe harvest of the animal.”
Was the hunt reckless? Was the harvest responsible, safe and legal? Here are some facts:
- Josh Bowmar is not your average spear hurler. He was an All-American javelin thrower at Ohio’s Heidelberg University, tossing it more than 200 feet. His accurate 15-yard fling into the black bear was a perfect throw.
- Bowmar hand built the spear and spent hundreds of hours perfecting both the spear and his throwing technique to accomplish this task. That’s not a reckless approach.
- The bear died the death it would have died had it been shot with an arrow – a method used on thousands of bears every year. Spears have been a hunting tool for 20,000 years.
- Thanks to excellent placement of the spear, and effective terminal performance, the bear went about 50 yards before it died – the same result hunters get from arrows and bullets.
- The bear did not suffer. For safety reasons it was recovered the next morning – a common practice when darkness falls no matter what weapon a hunter uses.
I scoured the Internet for news about this, and every report I read contains obvious inaccuracies. Haters of hunters want financial punishment, and Under Armour obliged. They’re also pressuring officials to prosecute him for something, anything! But spear hunting is legal in Alberta, and the Bowmars broke no law. And why fire Sarah Bowmar? That’s not right. The Bowmars did nothing illegal or unethical, and helping to film her husband wasn’t wrong.
Am I advocating that hunters start chucking spears at deer and bears? Of course not. Hunters should not use any weapon they are not proficient with. Here’s what matters:
(1.) that the weapon is legal to use on the game being pursued,
(2.) that the weapon is capable of delivering a lethal wound that kills quickly,
(3.) and that the hunter has the skill to use the weapon well.
When it comes to spears, most hunters (including me) can’t meet #3. That’s why we don’t hunt with spears. But the Bowmar hunt meets all three criteria. So if you don’t like what he did, don’t shame his wife. Don’t petition a company to strip her of her livelihood. Instead, study the issue. If you want the law changed, then lobby game departments without emotion or lousy arguments.
In the meantime, Google a few names. Eva Shockey. Kendall Jones. Melissa Bachman, to name only a few. Now Sarah Bowmar. You’ll find that women today are the ones paying a public price to be hunters. In a day when society encourages women to enter fields traditionally dominated by men, our schizophrenic society has a problem with female hunters. We freely savage them for doing what men have done since time immemorial. So who’s next in the sights of anti-hunting activists? It could be me. It could be you. But it’s more likely to be a woman.
When “The Everyday Hunter” isn’t hunting, he’s thinking about hunting, writing about hunting, talking about hunting, dreaming about hunting, or wishing he were hunting. Contact him at EverydayHunter@gmail.com, and read more of his thoughts about hunting at www.jamestowngazette.com.