So finally, fruit harvesting is over for another year. It seems surprising writing this in October when based on previous years it really should be another 5 or six weeks before we finish, but to coin an overused phrase it really has been a VERY odd year this year and the expected seasonality has gone totally awry.
Anyone who has produced their own fruit, as opposed to simply buying the offerings in the supermarkets, which have been imported at great cost from those great fruit-growing nations such as Chile and Belgium and then packed and presented to housewives as ‘natural, healthy and organic’ will know that it takes just one hidden bruised or damaged apple or pear to ruin a whole batch. Farmers who submit damaged fruit to the supermarket buyers risk the whole consignment being rejected. The result is that producers take care of the product and the perception of the end consumer. This is because the reality is that for the end consumer, fruit buying is all about visual perception as opposed to taste, or any underlying health benefits. If the product looks good in its unrecyclable tray and is protected by shiny plastic, then surely it must be good?
The same logic that dictates that ‘perception’ is king is a key driver in the animal rights and anti-hunt movement which is why there was a sharp intake of breath in some quarters when an animal rights ‘hero’ was convicted of blatant evidence tampering and perjury in a case that had rumbled on for over two years. It seems the verdict was a significant blow to the ever-open coffers of the AR movement whose cynicism sees anti-hunt activists as a revenue stream bolstered by the naïve but well-meaning social media groupies.
The case caused a number of those who would normally rush to be seen to support ‘their heroes’ who are apparently relentlessly engaged in ‘protecting our wildlife’ missing the very point that wildlife is ‘wild’ and as such is not ‘ours’.
The AR movements constant and highly manipulative campaigning the objective of which is to ‘humanize’ animals is has even produced a ‘Humane Education’ lesson plan for teachers. An example of the manipulation in action can be found here (Source: http://www.theanimalspirit.com/ AWE.html). The aim of the plan is to teach children that all animals have feelings just as people do and to get children thinking about how animals might feel in different situations. [“Kids, just imagine if a hunter were after you!”] and it suggests that teachers should, during nice weather: –
It goes on to advise teachers to point out that predators like foxes, coyotes, and hawks, would surely feel awful if they could understand this. It continues “Never refer to an animal as “it.” Always use “she” or “he.” [As in, “Look at that frog, he looks just like you.”]”
Given the apparent lack of real interest and total lack of understanding in those engaged in anti field sports activity by many of those involved in field sports in the post-war years the current position that hunting people specifically but country people, in general, find themselves in, of always being on the defensive having to justify everything we do, should not come as a surprise. It is the natural outcome of the “ignore them and they will go away” post-war mindset combined with a failure to understand or react to the power that social media gives a small but vocal group. A group that is seen as ‘heroic’ by their support and who quickly utilise both social media and the traditional fourth estate to capitalize on every perceived or imagined unpunished transgression of good hunting practice by certain individuals involved in field sports. Individuals who seem mind-bogglingly oblivious to the consequences their ill-thought-out actions may have for the rest of us engaged at any level in country pursuits.
However, the court case above demonstrates once again that the anti-hunts movement argument is badly flawed when emotion and political cynicism are removed and it glosses over the fact that a number of high-profile members of the anti-hunt movement have changed their mindset when they have examined the facts.
Despite this, through the actions or sometimes inactions of a very few ‘bad apples’ in our own groups, we constantly lose any traction and credibility that we could gain from such animal welfare driven changes of position.
We need to be seen to be able to deal with transgressions when they happen, rapidly and effectively, and not allow such damaging behaviours to be ‘covered up’ which are then be ‘exposed’ by a scandal hungry media. As a body of people that support hunting with hounds, we need to get MUCH better at communicating and reaching out once again to forgotten groups. The pandemic has given us a chance to completely rethink old accepted but failing strategies and adopt and embed new ones – let us not waste that opportunity because of the actions of a few bad apples.