The start to the 2017 Duck Season in southern Australia has generated the usual war of words; it is a never-ending challenge faced by hunters but this year we made the most of our secret weapon, truth.
It is easy, often in frustration or outright anger, to take on the outlandish and emotive claims of the anti-hunting movement head on.
Hunters, faced with emotive words like murder, slaughter, massacre and bloodbath, are immediately inclined to defend themselves and their tradition.
A swift and pointed response is understandable but not always effective, and a tit-for-tat exchange with a zealous activist usually ends badly. It is difficult to debate with ideologues who have a fixed view and refuse to budge, even a little, in the face of facts and data.
While we deal in reality, they deal in emotion. The facts are not important, the over-the-top language, the emotive captions on images and the generation of sympathy, outrage and horror are all that matters.
Anti-hunting groups are trying to motivate people and the best way to do that is to heighten the emotive response.
It is the same approach international aid organisations use when they highlight the suffering through famine in some far-flung place most people have no connection to or knowledge of. People have an emotive response and give generously to help the cause and end the suffering.
Overplaying emotion in opposing hunting ducks plays to an audience that has no knowledge or connection to the harvesting of wild food, a practice that has existed for millennia but in this modern age is foreign to our overwhelmingly urban society.
The easy reaction is the angry post fired off in response, but the more effective method is largely to ignore the diehards you will never win an argument with and instead, slowly build knowledge and a connection with the uninformed but neutral majority.
That is why facts, data and, indeed, language are important.
As the seasons opened across three states, Field & Game Australia entered the key battleground of social media determined to charge across no man’s land rather than bunker down in the trenches and defend.
Posts were regular, understated, reasoned and, above all, factual, and amid the flurry of outlandish anti-hunting posts, any analysis demonstrates our message cut through.
We reached an audience much larger than our membership and gained some valuable ground. You can fight lies with facts, and outrage with calmly presented reasoning, but everyone needs to be an ambassador for truth. The friendly fire of mixed messaging does untold damage.
Have a read of FGA’S social media feeds and remember the next time you are moved to respond online that point scoring is not important, what matters is that we expose our key messages, our nuggets of truth, to the widest audience.
There’s plenty of hunting ahead, enjoy the rest of the season.