Urban beta-male Oliver Staley decides to dip a liberal toe in the cold, masculine, right-wing waters of the field sports, getting himself taken out as an “apprentice hunter” deer hunting with a shotgun in Northern New Jersey. His goal? Becoming a “liberal hunter.”
I wanted to become an all-American man. So I learned to hunt. …
Iâ€™m painfully aware of how much I conform to a stereotype of a Northeastern liberal. Iâ€™m a journalist. I drive a Subaru. I recycle assiduously. But I also bristle at being pigeon-holed and having my identity determined by my demographics.
There were other factors behind my desire to start huntingâ€”my eagerness to find a new outdoors challenge; my desire to engage more physically with the world. And if Iâ€™m honest, thereâ€™s also an element of mid-life crisis, an urge to shake up what about I know about myself and what others think of me. But at least part of the impulse stems from a frustration with Americaâ€™s polarized political climate, and how uncomfortable I am with the orthodoxies and Shibboleths of our warring tribes. …
Iâ€™m not so naive to think that taking up hunting would necessarily make me more convincing. But it would give me more confidence in my own convictions. Itâ€™s easy to argue for strict gun laws when you donâ€™t own one; defending a position that imposes personal hardship is more difficult, and makes the stance that much more credible.
Of course, itâ€™s possible to be a liberal hunter. I even know a fewâ€”mostly fellow journalists in western states who every fall disappear into the woods in search for deer or elk. Hunting doesnâ€™t belong to conservatives anymore than hiking belongs to liberals. But demographic shifts over the last half-century have made cities liberal bastions, and left rural areas deep red. Hunting and gun culture have become synonymous with conservative politics, to the extent that the National Rifle Association, an organization once primarily devoted to hunting and shooting safety, has become a de facto wing of the Republican Party.
But perhaps the solution, or the beginning of the solution, to Americaâ€™s gun problem will come not from further entrenchment into our positions, but more crossing over to the other side. Maybe the solution isnâ€™t just more conservatives willing to consider gun control, but also more liberals learning how to hunt.