Another day, another influencer finds himself embroiled in a scandal.
But this scandal comes not from the drama and scandal-ridden world of TikTok dancers or YouTube beauty gurus, but a more niche and unexpected corner of the internet: namely, the world of hunting and outdoors influencers.
Behind every post, there’s a purpose. This year I’ve donated over $350K to various families in my community. My mission has always been to use my online influence to create real-world connections. You will never see a post from me that doesn’t have a selfless purpose. Stepping in… pic.twitter.com/1OyFrMeRV5
— Mr.Adventure (@RealTristanHamm) November 29, 2023
On Nov. 22, Canada’s CBC News reported that Hamm has been accused of poaching, and faces 19 different charges of breaking Canada’s hunting laws, as well as allegations that he lied to obtain his Yukon resident hunting license.
Even worse, it appears that Hamm used his allegedly false license to hunt and kill multiple bears in the Yukon, and he has even been accused of exporting those bears’ remains outside the country illegally.
He faces fines of up to $50,000 per animal and even potential jail time if convicted.
For the hunting community, the allegations come as a real shock. Poaching is a huge violation of trust, and such an accusation tarnishes the image of hunters in general.
Bryce Bekar, president of the Yukon Fish and Game Association, told CBC, “We’re kinda lost for words. We all understand how difficult it is to get a license and become registered with the [Yukon] Department of Environment. It just doesn’t look good for all of us that are really trying to do the best we can and promote ethical and responsible harvesting.”
Indeed, seeing as Hamm has publicly led campaigns advocating for “ethical tourism,” and, in his own statement to the Canadian press, insisted he’s an advocate of “ethical wildlife practices,” if he’s convicted of these damning allegations, he would have added hypocrisy to his offenses.
In a statement to CBC, Hamm said his legal advisers told him not to address specifics in the case. However, he said he was “deeply saddened” by the charges and insisted he has an “unwavering commitment to responsible and respectful engagement with the natural world.”
“I appreciate the concerns raised and share the goal of promoting ethical wildlife practices,” he told the CBC. “I am looking forward to this matter being resolved appropriately in court.”
Since the allegations surfaced, he has made his Instagram account private.
As it is, hunters have a hard time in the eyes of the general public, with most people’s perceptions unchanged from seeing Bambi’s mother felled by a faceless hunter. Facing challenges from the federal government as well as local politicians and vociferous activists, maintaining a reputation for trustworthiness and ethical behavior is crucial for all hunters.
Outdoors enthusiasts in general are a close-knit community who focus on holding each other accountable, especially in the face of legislative and cultural threats.
Hamm’s alleged actions, not only as a hunter but as a major public figure among outdoors enthusiasts, threaten the livelihood of many ordinary hunters, giving ammunition to those who wish to ban hunting altogether.
Hamm’s alleged crimes affect not only him, but the entire community of hunters. In fact, according to a spokesman from the Yukon environmental department, “there have been very few Wildlife Act offenses in relation to hunting of bears, with the last offense happening in 2016 in relation to a black bear … the last offense in relation to grizzly bear hunting happened in 2011.”
The truth of the matter is that hunters, along with other outdoors enthusiasts, perform a vital service in preserving the ecosystems of our beautiful and abundant land. Hunters help regulate wildlife populations, such as the deer or bison herds in the national parks.
Evening with my girls 😍❤️ Nothing beats quality time in the wilderness with my favorite crew 🐴. It’s where I find peace in a world contaminated with hate and a race for likes + follows! I hope this inspires some of you to get outside today 🥊 #exploredontexploit #leavenotrace… pic.twitter.com/l09Foq6DDc
— Mr.Adventure (@RealTristanHamm) November 25, 2023
However, they need to be able to rely on the trustworthiness of their peers, especially when faced with the stereotypes and negative ideas about hunting so prevalent in our culture.
Our beautiful and abundant land requires trust, hard work, and responsibility to maintain. If Hamm truly did violate the law by lying to get his hunting license and killing bears illegally, every hunter’s rights could be at risk.
Poachers are universally looked down upon in the outdoorsmen community, and rightly so. If, by acting selfishly, you jeopardize the livelihood of your compatriots who don’t have immense wealth and fame, you deserve the condemnation you will inevitably receive.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.