November 12th, 2008

Has Hunting Become Too Easy? Barta Sounds Off.

Tred Barta is a well-known hunter and angler with a television show on the VERSUS cable network. Barta has strong opinions about modern hunting methods — he thinks they have made things too easy, so the ethos of hunting has been lost. Modern hunting aids have transformed a noble pursuit into mechanically-aided harvesting. Barta wants hunters to return to simpler methods — to earn their trophies the hard way.

Tred Barta

As a fisherman, Tred has set several world records. He has caught more tuna on rod and reel than any other man alive. Tred’s motto is to do things “the hard way, the Barta way.” He believes that the pursuit can be as meaningful as “bagging the trophy”, so he avoids using modern gear such as game cameras and feedstands. In fact, he usually hunts with a longbow and homemade cedar arrows.

In a recent interview on the Women’s Outdoor Wire, Barta observes:

“We’re lazy today, and we’ve lost the morality of hunting. Before you go out, you spray on nine chemicals to kill your scent, put on $2,000 worth of odor eliminating camo and download the photos from your nine game cameras [.] Then you get on your ATV and ride to your box blind that has windows, heat, and an internet connection because we don’t want you go get bored while you’re ‘hunting’. Then you take a customized rifle capable of taking an animal at 650 yards and whack one. The animal gets winched onto your ATV, driven to your truck, hoisted into the back, and then hauled off to the butcher. And you call yourself a hunter.”

Tred BartaHunting Should be Simple, But Not Fishing?
Barta’s views on hunting appeal to those who want a return to the “simple ways”. We agree, in principle, that hunters should learn the skills of the stalk and “work for their prey.” Part of the core experience of hunting is the “walk in the woods” and the age-old challenge of out-witting a wild animal. So, there is merit in Barta’s message.

On the other hand, Barta can be criticized as employing a double standard. He advocates using “primitive” skills when hunting, but when fishing, it’s a different story. When Barta goes tuna fishing, he’s not using a dugout canoe and a home-made spear. Instead he employs a modern twin-diesel, 33-foot Rampage sport-fisherman. This is a $400,000+ yacht, equipped with full electronics, including radar, GPS, and fish-finders. Tred sure enjoys his high-tech fishing boat, yet he mocks hunters who use an ATV to haul in their game. Hmmm, that doesn’t seem right…

While we’re sympathetic to Barta’s philosophy, we don’t think going all the way back to bows and arrows is the answer for everyone. Barta acknowledges that he fails to harvest an animal 70% of the time he hunts. That may be fine for Barta, who gets paid to hunt where-ever and whenever he wants, but for the “regular Joe” who has saved his hard-earned dollars for a once-in-a-lifetime Alaskan hunt, it makes good sense to use equipment that improves the odds of success. Should a hunter carry an inaccurate rifle, or leave behind the binoculars, just to increase the difficulty factor? We don’t think so. That’s no knock on the bow-hunters or those who prefer to hunt as native Americans did. We just think that one can remain true to the “hunting ethic” even when using modern equipment.

Photos courtesy VERSUS Country and Rampage Sport Fishing Yachts

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