From Anti-Hunter to Hunting Advocate

By writes The Realblog with Stephanie Mallory

Beth Alcazar was an anti-hunter when I met her 10 years ago. I never would have dreamed she’d not only develop an enjoyment for hunting and fishing, but eventually work in the outdoor/hunting industry. The one-time animal-rights activist now handles marketing for FarmLinks, a 3,500-acre golf and recreational resort in Sylacauga, Ala., that offers hunting and fishing at its location at Pursell Farms.

Beth and I met when we both accepted apprenticeship positions with outdoor writer John E. Phillips. I took the position because I wanted to become an outdoor writer; Beth took it to get some experience editing and writing copy. When she came onboard, she expressed her distaste for hunting and said she was simply there to learn more about magazine writing and editing. Neither John nor I tried to argue with her or challenge her stance. We simply sat back and watched her outlook change as she began to learn more about hunters and the outdoor industry.

“I didn't grow up in an outdoors-loving family,” Beth says. “My father didn't take me hunting, fishing, camping or hiking. But my dad's from Brooklyn; there's just not too many outdoorsy things to do in New York. That's likely a big part of what skewed my perception of most outdoor activities.”

Throughout much of her teens and 20s, Beth considered herself to be an anti-hunting and anti-fishing activist. She was a member of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals (ASPCA) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). 

“But when I started working in the outdoor industry as a writer and editor, I came into contact with so many amazing outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen who taught me, through example, that the fun isn't always just about ‘the kill’ or ‘the trophy,’ it's about the appreciation for and the immersion in this big, beautiful outdoors,” Beth says. “My perspective began to change. I realized what an important role hunters play in conservation and wildlife management and that most hunters have a true love for Mother Nature and her creatures. I realized I had it all wrong. So, I decided to go on some hunting and fishing trips with an open mind and ended up enjoying myself. These days, I'm so grateful that I can share that same love for the outdoors with my own family, and at work at FarmLinks, with my coworkers and with our guests.” 

Beth’s job allows her to work at one of the most beautiful locations I’ve ever had the chance to visit. I had the opportunity to spend Friday at FarmLinks with Beth shooting clays from the 5-Stand and fishing for bass from one of the numerous stocked lakes. With a natural eye and quick reflexes, Beth easily outshot me, although I started to improve toward the end thanks to instruction provided by Greg Bolton, FarmLinks director of farm operations.

Although, we had a great time shooting, it was the unbelievable afternoon of bass fishing that put a smile on our faces. Quite honestly, I’ve never had such a successful fishing trip in all of my life. Thanks to Greg’s great fishing tips and instruction, we both caught, or at least hooked, a fish, including a couple of 5- and 6-pounders, for every cast made.

I just couldn’t help but smile while watching Beth catch bass and bust clays. Just a few years ago, she would have never considered casting a line or shooting a gun. Now, we were enjoying both at a remarkable hunting and fishing paradise that she’s grown to love and serve.

My friendship with Beth over the years has reconfirmed to me that we shouldn’t simply write off anti-hunters as lost causes. And, we certainly shouldn’t be cruel in our comments to or about anti-hunters. Instead, we should remember that we are all colored by our life experiences and circumstances. Most anti-hunters have simply never had the opportunity to experience the natural world through a hunter’s eye.

“Who would've ever thought that this one-time animal activist would end up enjoying a day of fishing with a dear friend?” Beth says. “And who would've ever thought that I would end up getting paid to do just that?”