In Response: “The Rise of Hipster Hunters”

While scrolling through Facebook posts earlier this week I stumbled across this article and was instantly intrigued. “The Rise of Hipster Hunters” huh? Tell me more.

I’ve heard and laughed at the “hipster” label often enough. I’ve been jokingly referred to as one due to my beard and glasses, fondness of craft beers and fresh coffee, and love of photography and literature. While I’ll admit the argument could be made, I can assure you “renaissance man” is much more accurate should you want to put a label on me.

You’ll never see me attempting to look “edgy”, I’m not one for discussing politics publicly, and skinny jeans are absolutely out of the question. In fact, up until last year I thought “Indie” rock began in India, which should further illustrate my point. Plus, don’t you have to be “hip” to be a hipster? Hell, I wouldn’t even call me “cool”.

This is also the first time I’ve heard of the “locavore” movement, but am definitely familiar with the concept and the potential impact that comes with it socially. Imagine a world where farming your own produce was the norm; hunting for your own meat was the norm; making your own clothes from natural materials was the norm. Imagine bartering for goods and services with your neighbor rather than paying for them. Cool huh? Certainly, only this isn’t a new concept. I know plenty of people who live this way to some degree. The traditional archery and bowhunting community is full of them and has been around long before Jesse Griffiths took to the woods and wrote a book about it, yet people like Andrea Grimes (sited several times in the article) would have everyone believe sustainable, pursuit-driven, conscientious hunting is an entirely new concept perpetuated by enlightened intellectuals.


So what is the difference? Marketing. We live in a society so overloaded by information that the people in it are starved for something unique. Unfortunately, unique isn’t as easily attainable today, so an old practice is re-discovered, re-packaged as “new”, and sold to the masses with a big “this is cool” stamp on it.

I take no issue with the recycling of old practices. As Sullivan states in the article:

These eager, engaged sportsmen may provide the jolt of enthusiasm needed to combat the misguided and poorly informed anti-hunting rhetoric that too often proliferates through the creative class. – See more here.

It is the lack of respect for those who came before that bothers me the most, which is a real shame because this group (made to look like neanderthals by the likes of writers like Grimes) could be a tremendous resource to this movement should they realize it in time. And most will after being unsuccessful in the woods and returning to the meat market after an unsuccessful season or two. They’ll quickly learn their stereotypical hunter “Bubba” is a myth and what they’ve seen on newsstands and plasma screens is the tip of a much deeper iceberg.

Disrespect aside, there is another issue present: the fact that this new, “hip” group of sustainable hunters isn’t actually sustainable itself, but a trendy, social construct impossible to maintain because society is always changing. The “cool”, “new” thing, can’t be either of those forever. Hipster hunters will cease to exist when the hipsters stop hunting and without support they most certainly will. Hunting isn’t like fixing a stove, or changing the oil in your car. You can’t learn hunting from a YouTube video or a book…you’ll scare the deer away.

I’m being facetious here, but the point is valid. I’ve lived it. I grew up in a hunting family in Northern Michigan, but choose not to participate. I disliked the killing of wild game and didn’t see the point of it with meat so readily available at the supermarket. I wasn’t openly judgmental, but this opinion went unchanged until I picked up a longbow in my late 20s. I soon found that people who shot bows usually hunted with bows and their passion for the process was eye-opening. I was lucky enough to have shot a deer that first year, but not without the aid of seasoned sportsmen to get me to that point. In my case “Bubba” was essential to leveling out my learning curve and was supportive in doing so.

A treestand setup on Cumberland Island.
As archery continues to gain popularity in society, bowhunting could most definitely follow suit.

I realize now that as a traditional bowhunter I walk a different path than most. I’m bow only, even in November, which separates me further. It is the experience that drives me rather than the sustenance, but that is my choice. Rest assured, if the order were reversed, I’d be taking to the woods with a different weapon and Bubba’s perspective. After all, he’s been living off his harvests a whole lot longer than I. Even if I did hunt that way – with gun and corn – the pursuit would still matter. It matters to every sportsman/woman who goes afield.

That being said, let’s flip this coin and consider the other side for a moment. While I haven’t experienced any hunting hipsters in my adventures out of doors, I’ve noticed several at archery events, expos, and ranges that fit the bill and am ecstatic to see it. You don’t need to be a hipster to see that archery is in their wheelhouse.

Its interesting, its fun, its challenging, its social, its unique, it defies the norm, and because of movies like the Hunger Games, is garnering a lot of public interest. And interest is usually enough when it comes to bows and arrows.

If the trends are indeed true, archery will see a noticeable spike in its numbers and with enough support and acceptance, bowhunting won’t be far behind. This is the transition I’ve always believed in, because it worked for me and I’ve seen it work for others. We will most definitely lose a few when the spike levels off, but we’ll keep a few for the long haul if we react accordingly and embrace them for what they are: future bowmen and fellow woodsmen.

Let’s not forget that.

– Nick Viau is one of the founding members of the Simply Traditional team and the President of the Michigan Longbow Association. You can read more from Nick at Life and Longbows.


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  1. Thanks Nick! I enjoyed the choice of subjects,the well chosen words laying out the past , present and future of our lifestyle and hobby. Archery! Yes, the popularity of archery is skyrocketing . So the ever present (hunting ) questions from archery kids is noticeable.
    Thanks Ken

  2. Wow, i read that artical yesterday and was sort of takin back and not sure how to respond, and you sir have said what i would imagine what most hunters would think or say after reading the artical..

  3. Good on ya. The idea that what we do is “new” has always been a bunch of hookie. Four generations of folks in my family in Idaho have been living off the land. Plus, even the adult onset hunters – like Hank Shaw and Tovar Ceruili – all HATE the term “hipster”. Never seen it used in a good way. Love the blog, keep it up and ill be shooting my longbow this weekend.

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