Tough love for hunters

  • Stephen Byers

    Mickey Sautendyjk
 

Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story.

Before coming to Outdoor Life, Stephen Byers worked for Rolling Stone and Men's Journal. Since his highly publicized resignation from Outdoor Life last summer, he's been writing a novel and shopping "ever so selectively" for another top editorial slot. Byers talks about his days at the sportsmen's magazine:

Stephen Byers: "My intention was never to turn Outdoor Life readers into tweedy guys, but merely to expose them to the political and ethical issues that are affecting outdoor sport today, and to make them come to terms with those issues. Call it tough love. My goal for every issue was to address a controversial question. Where right and wrong were clearly evident, I wanted to take a stand. None of our competitors was doing that.

"All was going well until the Tom Beck-Wildlife Legislative Fund of America controversy flashed up. We could have ridden it out with dignity, but it took (Times Mirror Executive) Jason Klein by surprise, and he buckled. (Executive Editor) Will Bourne and I saw no recourse but to resign.

"The WLFA has been skillful at selling hunters on the idea that we don't have to listen to the public regarding ethics. Outdoor magazines have played into this by telling hunters, "You have a right to keep doing what you're doing, and it doesn't matter what non-hunters think about it. You should be enraged that non-hunters are trying to tell you anything."

"That's garbage. From a practical standpoint, if you're routinely slapping the public in the mouth with behavior that's anathema to them, eventually you're going to get slapped back. The hunting lobby isn't all that powerful. Ultimately, the 'mind your own business' attitude has the potential to kill the sport."

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