A little while back, I posted up a commentary about an episode of Hooked on Utah.  In the post, for those who don’t want to go back and read the original, I took the program to task for portraying a youth hunt in which the kids were being asked to shoot at antelope well beyond their abilities.  I also questioned the practice of leaving all 10 antelope intact for trophy photos at the end of the episode, knowing that antelope generally need to be cooled down pretty quickly or the meat turns gamey.

At any rate, Michelle Scheuermann from the Sportsman Channel took some time to reply to the piece from her perspective, but I never heard anything from the folks at Hooked On Utah… until now. 

Below is the reply from the show’s Gary Winterton, but first, let me lay something right on the table.

This is a blog.  It is not a newspaper.  It is not a television news program.  While I try hard to represent facts as accurately as I possibly can, this is not journalism.  This is, by and large, editorial content.  As such, it represents my opinion, my take on events and issues, and quite often unabashedly advances my own, personal agenda.   I am not constrained by any principles to be fair or unbiased, and in fact I am often very biased, as in the case of long-range hunting.  I am a harsh critic, and for that I make no apology.

That said, here is Mr. Winterton’s message:

To Whom It May Concern:

You recently published a blog that was fairly one sided in it’s depiction of an antelope episode Hooked On Utah recently aired! In the spirit of responsible journalism, and in fairness to the show, and the kids, if you would like to call me to ask questions about what it’s like to hunt antelope, did the kids practice or prepare, what can types of shots can be expected when hunting in the wide open desert, I would love to have this conversion with you.

Having and opinion is a good thing, but sharing it when you have no experience in that area, or don’t have the facts is unfair, and it’s irresponsible journalism!  If you have the experience, or you have all the facts, or you’ve done your research, fire away!

Anyway, I’d love visit you if you’ve got the time or the courage to have the conversion!

For the record, the kids practiced  all summer long!  The firearms and cartridges used were fast, flat shooting and designed for this type of hunting!  Antelope by nature will NOT give you a 50 yard short, particularly on public ground when they have been hunted hard.  Shots of 250 to 500 yards are very common.  There were NO wounded animals left to die, what an unfair irresponsible comment!  All of the antelope killed were processed and enjoyed by the kids and families who harvested them.  

It’s very unfortunate that you missed the most important part of the whole show!  Kids making positive memories with there dads! Youth having a great time hunting with there families, building memories and creating the next generation of hunting conservationists and enthusiast’s!!

I’ve read your blog, it has some great information, I just hope you’ll be more fair and objective next go around!

Sincerely,

Gary

Gary S Winterton
Hooked On Utah
fishing & outdoor adventures
www.hookedonutah.com

I want to thank Gary for responding, belatedly as it may be.  I understand that these guys are busy, and they probably get a fair amount of mail, email, and phone calls about their program, so it’s tough to get around to replying to critics.   I also want to thank him for the kind words about my blog. 

Unfortunately, I think the key thing that Winterton is missing here is not that I didn’t call to learn the background on this hunt, but that for any viewer without that background information, his program failed to convey the intended message.  Viewers shouldn’t have to call the producers to get clarification on questionable behavior. 

That’s the whole point. 

As I mentioned in my original critique, and again in response to Michelle’s email, I don’t know what went on behind the scenes.  All I know is what I saw… what any viewer in the world would have seen… and that was kids shooting beyond their abilities, and one adult using an antelope for long-range target practice.  The rest, such as my speculation about wounded animals left in the field, is purely academic.  Winterton says that didn’t happen, and I can respect that.  But it’s hardly “unfair” or “irresponsible” for me to wonder about it.  I’m no city rube or armchair hunter.  I’ve seen first hand what happens when you get a bunch of hunters shooting too far, as well as when you have guides in a hurry to fill tags. 

The onus is on every one of these programs to clearly get the story across within the confines of the 30 minute time slot.  That’s a tall order, and I can certainly appreciate the challenges that come when you have to present a successful, yet ethical hunt that can play to completion between commercial breaks.  I’m sure it was a challenge made even greater for Hooked On Utah when they chose to try to fill 10 antelope tags on a single episode. 

Nevertheless, producers have implicitly accepted that challenge when they choose to air a program.  If they miss the mark, they should expect to hear about it.