Article by Annenberg doctoral student Lee McGuigan.
This article makes a case for the inclusion of sport hunting in studies of consumer culture. This argument is advanced through an analysis of “the hunting industry” in North America. The hunting industry comprises a vast commercial network, exemplified by specialty retailers and advertiser-supported media involved in the marketing of hunting-related merchandise. The analysis contrasts environmental and cultural conservation, on the one hand, with consumerism and commercial media, on the other. These themes are situated historically and theoretically and then examined empirically by focusing on cable television channels devoted to hunting and on Cabela’s, an international retail chain that sells branded hunting and fishing equipment and sponsors media productions. Based on consideration of these venues, including a description of Cabela’s stores, which are renowned for their size and spectacular attractions, it is argued that a commercial industry built around hunting manifests contradictions between conservationism and consumerism. Connections between hunting culture and other aspects of consumer culture – such as food systems, environmental concerns, self-reliance, and authenticity – are also elaborated.