About Killin’ Snakes
As soon as I saw the photo, I knew two things. One, we were going to do a story on it. Two, I knew it would make some folks mad. I never thought it would make a few folks that mad.
In 30-plus years of making GON magazines, this is something we come across most every month… a story that’s going be very interesting—for it or against it—but that might rub some folks so far the wrong way that they’re going to be upset with GON.
Here’s another truth. If we never did another article on anything that might make some folks mad, GON would not be very interesting. In fact, without a doubt, if that was our standard, there wouldn’t be a GON. Not only would people not be interested enough to read this stuff, but none of the people who work so hard to produce this content would continue to do so with a regulator that said, “Don’t ever publish anything that might upset someone.”
Some more facts to consider…
There are bass fishermen who send us hate mail when we do stories on striper fishing. They really, really hate white fish.
No surprise here, but night-hunters really hate that we publish stories on poachers getting caught.
Here’s another fact… we’ve actually gotten “we’re done with GON” emails and letters from over-the-top quality-management zealots when we publish a picture of a kid with a 4-pointer.
It’s gotten worse of late. Things have changed. There’s a boycott-any-difference-of-opinion mentality these days. Maybe social media has made things worse? Maybe it’s because people hide behind keyboards, saying things with no personal, face-to-face accountability?
Want to talk about deer baiting? Good grief. That GON even survived the deer-baiting issue is a miracle. A neighbor and good friend told me one time at an NWTF banquet that if GON did one more article on deer baiting (he was against it), he was done with GON. We weren’t taking sides, but without a doubt, we lost thousands of subscribers over deer baiting. Here’s the sad and tragic truth—half of them left the GON community because they hated the idea of deer baiting, and the other half left us because they wanted deer baiting. Now I guess they bicker back and forth on Facebook, and GON isn’t showing up in the mailbox anymore. Meanwhile, all we did was publish accurate surveys of how our members felt, and we allowed both sides to present their arguments.
If just hearing or reading the other side of an argument or issue is that upsetting, GON’s not your people. We’re bad about letting everyone have a say.
If it upsets you that some hunting-club members killed 50 rattlesnakes that were 10 feet from the bunkhouse and in the middle of their hunting camp, so be it. But don’t be calling folks names, sitting in your suburban mini-mansion telling them how they should have left 50 rattlesnakes—47 of which were 12-inchers that dump every milliliter of venom when they bite—in the middle of a hunting camp where families and pets are going to spend every weekend this fall.
Full circle. Since this is an editorial that’s all about personal opinion (way different from articles that are objective and always strive to present both sides), I need to give my personal opinion on this rattlesnake deal. Some history… when I was a kid growing up in the outskirts of Memphis, I was a snake hunter. Me and a select few and not-very-smart circle of friends used to go snake hunting all the time. I’ve always loved snakes. I once caught a water snake and kept it in an aquarium. That mean-as-a-snake joker bit me at least once a week, several times in the face. I also saw my share of venomous snakes, and I dropped the plywood and moved quickly along to the next board.
However, as much as I love snakes, when I see a timber rattler in my Morgan County driveway, I kill it. I have a wife, two kids and a dog. Meanwhile, just last week I almost ran off the road so I didn’t run over a 5-footer crossing Seven Islands Road. See, now both sides can take issue with me.
The key point here is that GON people can’t turn against their own because of a difference of opinion. We need each other. I fear we’re going to really need each other, and soon. These differences are going to seem miniscule when the real stuff hits.
Cancel your subscription over a rattlesnake story? Really?
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