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Think before you Post!

A More Palatable Perception

Maskirovka is the name given to Russian military doctrine developed in the twentieth century and encompasses tactics that mislead or coerce your adversary, from camouflage to denial and deception. As we moved in to the twenty first century the Russian Federation has mastered this tactic in a digital age influencing its audiences using a range of social media platforms. Now I imagine you are running your fingers through that fine head of hair asking, what on God’s green Earth has this got to do with field sports?

We need to start learning to harness the power of social media which, at the moment, is more often than not our undoing and portraying ourselves in a more favorable light.

As many of you I’m sure are aware, last month our friends the League Against Cruel Sports released a damning collection of recordings from skype meetings between members of the Masters of Fox Hounds Association. I have no intention of commenting on the subjects of these talks, only they demonstrate how easily poor security in the online domain can have catastrophic effects in the way the public perceives the field sports community. Those concerned, I do not deny, are the people on the frontline doing their utmost to fight for the sports we love, and it is all too easy to pass comment from my position however there is no debating we have scored an own goal in the battle for our survival.

So, the first lesson is, watch your back and be jolly careful who you’re sharing with. You should know at all times what your privacy settings are so post accordingly as once it’s on the internet you can’t get it back

Have no doubt there is a battle raging for the survival of our sports, all of them, but it is not only the leaders among us that can change the tide, the digital age has made us all soldiers in this fight. The vast majority of sportsmen and women use either Facebook, Instagram or some other platform and we all follow well-known sporting personalities who use it to great effect. The issue is, it takes only one or two thoughtless posts of the more unsavoury aspects of our sports, the context of which you and I understand but the public, uneducated in the realms of hunting, shooting and fishing may find unpalatable, to undo all the good work. Just the other day, whilst mindlessly scrolling again, I came across a picture of someone with a good bag of, what I presume to be their first, red hinds all blooded up. Whilst you and I understand what was going on, to the bewildered onlooker we must seem utterly depraved and barbaric killing in excess and covering ourselves in blood for gratification.

The second lesson then is, think, how does your post look from the outside is it excessive, is it respectful, is it going to be easily misconstrued or twisted to work to the advantage of those who would see our sports consigned to the history books? Post something more tasteful, educational even, tell the story of how the day unfolded the beautiful setting it took place in or the delicious meal made from the game you’ve enjoyed rather than just the end product and the bag.

As a group, although many are making headway in the information campaign, we are still behind the curve. The other team have cottoned on to this quite some time ago and use it to great effect. You’ve all seen images of stoats in traps accompanied by spurious claims of the number of people opposed to vermin control on grouse moors or majestic red stags surrounded by hinds to the tune of “disgusting unnecessary slaughter”. How do we combat this? Well, one thing we have is numbers and there is strength in numbers as the saying goes so let’s flood the information domain with all that is wonderful about the sports we adore and show the world why it is that they are so great. Sensible use of social media can have an enormous effect we can all reach out and influence far more people than we care to realise.

The final lesson is to ignore those who will tell you we should stay off the internet and social media. Rubbish. We are living in the digital age now whether we like it or not and if we hide ourselves in the shadows too afraid to promote our sports, we will lose any public approval we have left and find ourselves the villains of history, it’s all about perception.

Lt N Bacon


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