By TYLER MAHONEY
The Controversy – Hunters are constantly under fire these days because of the social media era we live in, and it appears we are under attack yet again. However, this time it comes not only from anti-hunters, but also from “one of our own” in the industry.
If you are unfamiliar with the situation, do a quick search for “Under Armour Josh Bowmar controversy.” If you are like me, you might determine it is time to take your hard-earned money elsewhere and boycott Under Armour.
To quickly summarize, Under Armour, a major athletic gear and apparel company with a diverse product line catering to hunters, dropped Sarah Bowmar as a sponsored athlete after she filmed her husband, Josh Bowmar, legally killing a black bear in Canada with a spear.
Under Armour suffered severe public backlash from anti-hunters over the killing method and responded by terminating its association with the Bowmars.
“The method used to harvest this animal was reckless, and we do not condone it. Under Armour is dedicated to the hunting community and supports hunting that is conducted in compliance with applicable federal, state and local laws and hunting practices that ensure a responsible and safe harvest of the animal,” Under Armour stated in an official response.
Reckless? If you do your research like I did, you will find out Josh Bowmar meticulously practiced with his spear for months. The actual video shows his patient wait for the most ideal and ethical throwing position on the bear. After Bowmar made a great throw at 10 yards, the bear ran only 60 yards before expiring.
The killing method seemed pretty effective based on the results. So what exactly did he do that was so reckless? What was so irresponsible about the harvest?
Under Armour elaborates in its public statement that the company is “dedicated to the hunting community” and “supports hunting that is conducted in compliance with applicable federal, state and local laws…”
Spear hunting is a perfectly legal means for taking a bear where this hunt occurred. In fact, everything about Josh Bowmar’s hunt was legal. Unlike the “Cecil the Lion” fiasco last summer, the details of this hunt are black and white. Nothing wrong occurred. Yet, Under Armour still came out and condemned the hunt.
Am I missing something here, or does that not seem like a complete contradiction to the company’s official statement?
WHY IT MATTERS
Whatever good Under Armour may have done for hunting is now reversed. Under Armour gave the anti-hunters an inch and now they are taking a mile. Legislation to outlaw spear hunting is already advancing where Josh Bowmar’s hunt took place.
That legislation is just the beginning and will not be an isolated occurrence. An event like this is what slowly starts creating momentum to erode our rights as hunters across the board. There is no doubt about that. What is next to go? Bow hunting? Muzzle loading? Rifle hunting?
What this really boils down to is that anti-hunters do not care what your personal reasons are to justify hunting. They simply just loathe you for being a hunter and they will not stop until your rights are gone.
That means we need unwavering support from every major entity in the hunting industry.
Under Armour may have previously done quality things for hunting, but that does not change the company’s overwhelmingly negative impact now. Unfortunately for hunters, Under Armour serves a diverse demographic of people, most of which vastly outnumbers us hunters who purchase the company’s products. A large, publicly owned company selling products to a vast majority of non-hunters will always bow to its largest consumer base.
From a business standpoint, it makes perfect sense the company would distance itself from someone whose overall negative impact on the company could far outweigh the positive impact he/she had in generating revenue.
WHO TO TRUST?
Many people say it is a business and it is Under Armour’s right to make that decision. I absolutely agree with that, but that is not what worries me.
Hunters are constantly under fire and forced to defend themselves in today’s world. So should we really put our trust in a corporation whose key stakeholders also include a vast majority of non-hunters and anti-hunters? Should we really stand with a corporation in our industry, which while under intense public scrutiny from those same non-hunters and anti-hunters, completely turned its back on the hunting community and threw us under the bus?
For every self-respecting outdoorsman, the answer should be a firm no. We cannot trust a company that bows to the almighty dollar rather than stand tall with our values. If a company wants to be in the hunting industry and make money off of us, then it better not have reservations with supporting all legal forms of hunting.
From this incident, we can learn several valuable lessons.
We as hunters always need to be aware of how other people might perceive the written and video content we post online. Better awareness can help to decrease unnecessary backlash in the future.
We must stand united together against Under Armour, anti-hunters, and any entity whose actions and words directly work against us and our goals to preserve the hunting heritage.
If “one of our own” like Under Armour turns against us, we must stand against them, which means supporting companies that are owned and operated by true hunters who will always support our cause.