No More Death Threats
Female hunter targeted by activists fired up, fires back
Argys began hunting with her father at a very young age and her daughter is adamant that she goes on hunts. (Courtesy Charisa Argys)
First of two articles on one woman hunter’s efforts to end attacks from animal rights activists.
Charisa Argys is mad, and she’s not going to take it anymore.
Argys, a 33-year-old working mother of two who is a lifelong hunter, was targeted by social media posts, including death threats, for her trophy shot with a mountain lion killed legally in her home state of Colorado.
She went on the offensive, contacting authorities and media outlets to tell her story and ask what further steps she and others could take so they wouldn’t have their lives and the lives of their family threatened.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think this would happen to me,” she said of the attacks. “I have to stand up for myself and for the other women. I want to see things change. I want to see things in place to protect us, to protect the sport.
“That’s my focus. That’s what I want to do. I don’t need any more death threats … I have seen support from many more hunters – ‘We understand what you are doing.’ ”
Click image to view photos of Argys' Family Hunting Heritage
Outdoor Channel personalities understand, and many can empathize. Nicole Reeve of “Driven with Pat and Nicole” experienced similar threats after her African lion kill, and Corey Knowlton of “Jim Shockey’s The Professionals” received numerous death threats after he paid $350,000 for a black rhino hunt through an auction to fund preservation of the species in Namibia.
Argys contacted local authorities and was told they could not do anything. She said she realizes most might be idle threats, simply strong-arm tactics by activists, but what if they are not?
“When you get people who are fanatical about something, people who value an animal over a human’s life … PETA has blown up labs and universities,” she said. “Are they fanatical enough to start the war, to actually do something? Do they really mean it?”
Argys said there was a bomb threat in her town and that made her wonder. “Is somebody making a statement or is it unrelated?”
The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance is among the groups she contacted, and they reported that women like Argys are more and more becoming targets for animal rights activists. The USSA story ran on OutdoorChannel.com.
“This is a huge issue to deal with,” said Nick Pinizzotto, president and CEO of USSA, a nonprofit organization that supports the rights of hunters and is the only one exclusively devoted to combating attacks on sportsman. “The rhetoric is getting louder.”
The USSA was involved 25 years ago in writing hunter harassment laws that still offer protection today, and Pinizzotto said they are working to rally forces against hostile social media posts.
“We believe we need to deal with harassment after the fact. It’s the average rank and file hunter who is starting to get attacked now,” he said. “We’ve seen a significant number of women enter into hunting and (activists) are seeing that and want to go after them.”
Facebook does have a Statement of Rights and Responsibilities it asks of users. Under a Safety heading, it states users won’t bully, intimidate or harass another user, then appears definitive when it states: You will not post content that: is hate speech, threatening … incites violence. Yet those warnings have not stopped such posts against hunters.
“It’s kind of a grey area, because other people have had this happen, and Facebook has come back and said it’s not threatening,” Pinizzotti said. “Facebook just seems to enjoy a lot of dialogue and doesn’t seem to care how it’s generated.”
How Argys came to be a target borders on the ludicrous. Silvia Wadhwa, a financial journalist in Frankfurt, Germany, started the firestorm.
“I posted a photo of my daughter with her recently adopted housecat on our local Humane Society Facebook page,” Argys said. “The next thing I knew, this Silvia person commented on and posted a link to my personal page with a photo of my mountain lion. I have no idea how she found me.”
Wadhwa’s comment, “Sadly, you don’t love ALL cats, Madame …” was tame compared to the ugly hostilities that followed. People from different groups reposted and there were calls for her life as well as information on how to find her.
Argys said the nasty posts lit a fire inside her. She wants to warn others about the campaign targeting women, educate anti-hunters to the truth about the hunting lifestyle and possibly work to convince activists that they should have similar compassion for their fellow humans.
“My point is I just want people to be aware this is happening. This is what we are facing. I’m not going to be a victim. I’m not going to allow them to do this to me, and this is wrong,” she said. “I don’t think they expected that. I think they wanted me to internalize everything. I want to get the word out there, create some education on what’s being done. We need to do more to protect our rights.
“There are laws to protect us, but not if you are being attacked in the internet.”
Argys said she believes the campaign against women gained traction when TV huntress Melissa Bachman’s African lion kill received tons of press after the internet fallout from anti-hunting groups.
“They are trying to get their 15 minutes of fame,” Argys said. “A lion, a predator, and it’s a female who killed a lion. It definitely got some people talking.”
And she believes some unscrupulous animal rights groups need somebody to rally against in order to raise funds. Argys researched the International Animal Rescue Foundation World Action, among others critical of her, and their filing with the IRS. What she found exposes the group as hypercritical, she said.
“They are not actually putting any money back in the U.S. for conservation; they are not doing anything for conservation in North America,” she said. “So that is a complete misrepresentation of what they are.”
A Google search for the IARF led to one of its various Facebook sites, and a scathing warning posted there from Carol Hughes. She wrote that the group “is the largest GLOBAL fraud and scam on the Internet today – defrauding thousands of people of thousands of … $$$ -- in the name of our global wildlife … DO NOT DONATE – SCAM!”
Argys realizes she might just be a pawn in organizations’ attempts to play on human sympathy toward animals to raise money, but she sure doesn’t want them using her likeness for that or to form anti-hunting opinions in others.
“To the non-hunter, that kind of propaganda and lies may sway them to do something,” she said. “They are trying to turn those who don’t know over to their side.
“This has to stop. They are misrepresenting us and lying about what we are doing -- that we are on a killing spree. I’m not going to stand for that. I contacted as many people I could get a hold of.”
USSA monitors these groups and anti-hunting campaigns. They listed “A Dirty Dozen” report on groups that undermine and manipulate systems across America to end hunting, trapping and fishing. The USSA claims the “less-than-honest” groups also often exploit wildlife and conservation issues in the name of raising dollars.
Pinizzotti and a team from USSA contacted OutdoorChannel.com seeking an alliance to work toward a solution to these after-the-hunt attacks.
“The take-home is these people try to intimidate people who are simply trying to enjoy an outdoor lifestyle,” he said. “They want to rabble rouse and not provide any funding for conservation like hunters.”
He added that people like Argys, who is vocal in standing up for her rights, are helpful in their quest. He’d like to see this intimidation technique to manipulate behavior prosecuted. Since that’s not the case as of yet, his advice for the time being is to contact police.
“No. 1, go to authorities; this is an actual harassment,” Pinizzotti said. “There’s no real case law in place to protect hunters. We need to advance that, have laws that would cover hunting for these after-the-fact attacks.
“I wish we had better advice right now. What we don’t want is for people to give up hunting.”