An Interview with Kendall Jones

firstforhunterskendalljones1If you’ve turned on the TV, radio, looked at a newspaper, or used the internet in these past few weeks, you have heard of Kendall Jones.

Kendall Jones is a 19 year old cheerleader studying at Texas Tech who has stirred up some recent controversy. She is a seasoned hunter that has been lucky enough to travel to Africa to hunt the big five; work alongside organizations to provide meat to local communities and help treat wounded animals. Recently, she has been targeted on social media sites and attacked by news agencies for having pictures of her hunts published on Facebook. There has been much misinformation spreading around about what she has hunted and the specific role hunting plays in conservation. Bill McGrath, SCI’s Legislative Counsel was fortunate enough to sit down with Kendall to discuss the media backlash and correctly set the narrative.

Bill: Hi Kendall, thanks for taking the time to speak with me. I know you’ve been under the public microscope recently and have taken criticism for your Facebook posts. What has been your experience with the hundreds of negative posts about you and how do you feel about it?

Kendall: Thank you for having me! I think it’s very hurtful and it pains me just as much as anybody to be called those names. It’s rather concerning to see people condemn the taken life of an animal and in the next breath wish to see me dead. I just don’t see the logic in it. I’m all for differing opinions. It’s a positive thing that encourages dialogue about conservation but the reaction from those people only shuts down discourse and that impedes progress. If you disagree with me don’t yell and call me names but bring forth research and logical arguments. I believe in hunting and I believe in conservation, the death threats and cruel people won’t sway me.

Bill: Along with the social media comments, you have also been attacked by some animal rights groups, specifically by Jeffrey Flocken from the International Fund for Animal Welfare. He says, “Hopefully, the small number of Americans who still revel in this kind of vainglorious exploitation and killing of living things for fun will disappear before all the animals do.” Kind of ominous. What’s your response to that?

Kendall: I find it odd that only women have been targeted by these organizations. Why would these huge, powerful organizations go after me, a woman, a minority in the hunting community and attack me with their anti-hunting rhetoric? I am not the first to go on African safaris yet these groups attack me nonetheless. As for Mr. Flocken, I think it’s rather low to stoop down to that level and wish for me to “disappear.” Is this who represents animal rights? Not only is his article insulting, it is embarrassingly inaccurate. Within his own article he contradicts himself. He is wrong in implying that black rhino population numbers are decreasing when they’re not. Namibia breeds rhinos and protects them. They have 35% of the rhinos in Africa! I’m all for listening to the other side’s ideas and opinions, but the fact that someone can so comfortably manipulate information and lie so blatantly on this heated issue simply boggles me.

Bill: Most non-hunters do not understand how hunting an animal makes someone a conservationist. You’ve been an active conservationist for most of your life. Can you expand on how hunting actually benefits multiple species??

firstforhunterskendalljonesleopardKendall: Yes, I am a hunter, but I’m a conservationist first and foremost. People like to jump to conclusions and most of the time it isn’t their fault. Most people don’t understand that hunting is and always will be a useful tool for conservation. Many fail to account for the strict regulations that are involved with legal hunts. When I travel to Africa to hunt, I have to pay a tag fee for the specific species I plan to take. If the game population in that country cannot sustain a hunt, hunters will not be granted a tag. The money from these tag fees goes directly to the local communities to fund anti-poaching efforts, research and other conservation initiatives..

Bill: Could you explain a little more about the conservation aspect?

Kendall: Sure. Conservation groups breed endangered species to increase their numbers. Take Namibia for example. They only permit the hunting of 5 rhinos a year. Normally these are rhinos that are old and no longer able to reproduce, sick, or too dangerous to coexist with the other rhinos. Namibia has seen great success in increasing their numbers and now hosts 1,750 of the roughly 5,000 black rhinos surviving in the wild. Hunters provide an estimated $200 million annually to the overall African economy. In the most rural areas, where many of these hunts take place, the land is too dry to accommodate agriculture and too isolated to sustain eco-tourism, but hunting provides employment opportunities and many communities depend on these hunting safaris to make a living.

Bill: You pose with your kills but then go on to say that you love animals. Can a hunter truly love animals if they’re willing to take its life for sport?

Kendall: I do love animals. As hunters, we have a deep appreciation for the game we hunt but also understand that hunting contributes to the prolonged existence of game species. Modern conservation is about reducing population risks, maintaining habitat and ensuring that species are sustainable for the future. Hunting does that. I understand that the photos might be a little unnerving to the inexperienced hunter or misinformed public, but they are simply documentation of my experiences. My “menacing smile” as CNN called it, is not because I am happy about the death of a magnificent creature, but because I know that I am contributing to the betterment of the species and that I am providing much needed funding for conservation as a whole. I am actually doing something for the overall benefit of the animals I care about and I’m proud of that.

Bill: It seems like cheating though to harvest an animal just to be hunted in a confined space. Do you consider that hunting?

Kendall: I’m happy you brought that up actually. This is another misconception people seem to have. Africa is very big. It’s the second largest continent with over 20% of the world’s total landmass. The hunting reserves where the animals are harvested are by no means small but rather enormous tracks of lands where the animals roam free. The size of the parks are normally well over 3,000 sq mi and the animals live normal and happy lives. The hunts do not take place in close range. Hunters have to actively track, chase, and engage the animal in order to have a successful hunt. It is dangerous, life-risking and difficult.

Bill: Many people are against the sport. They disagree with it fundamentally. Many people on Facebook have worded, albeit strongly, their disfavor of it. So, how do you compare hunting to other sports, and how do you justify it?firstforhunterskendalljonescamo

Kendall: I have a hard time with the word “Justify” because it implies I am doing something wrong and have to make excuses for my actions. Hunting isn’t a sport for everyone and I acknowledge that. The issue here is miscommunication. People can’t connect hunting and conservation. But the reality of it is photo-safaris, donations, and other means of revenue just don’t match up to the money conservation groups make from hunting. Hunters can engage in their favorite pastime and conservationists can continue their positive work. We should be partners not enemies. I am confident that once the people on Facebook and Twitter understand this there will be less hate and more cooperation.

Bill: There is a video on your page that shows a group of people picking up the meat from one your hunts. Did you really donate that food? How many people did that help?

Kendall: Yes, in that video I had hunted an elephant. That one hunt fed more than 100 families. If more people hunted and gave away meat like I did, hundreds or even thousands of people in Africa could be fed as a byproduct of hunting.

Bill: Let’s talk about the hunting itself. Why do you like it so much?

Kendall: I like hunting because of the challenge and mental strength needed to track and engage the animal. Like I mentioned earlier, it is dangerous and difficult. Hunting is no easy feat. It takes a lot of physical strength and endurance to be a hunter. It also takes a lot of patience and skill to operate a rifle and even more to operate a bow. It’s a very connected and even spiritual experience and you learn a lot from yourself. It’s definitely helped me grow as a person. I love hunting and believe in it and would love if more people were engaged in it. Apart from that I like it because it is a useful tool. I’m a huge fan of The Walking Dead. If that ever happened in real life, I’d feel confident in my abilities to survive!

Bill: Ok. Enough time on the hot seat. Let’s talk about you. You’re a university student, involved in extracurricular activities, and a cheerleader. All pretty normal college activities. But you’re also a seasoned hunter? How did that happen? Could you talk about how your love for hunting came to be?

firstforhunterskendalljonesLionKendall: Sure! I grew up in Cleburne, Texas. My dad would take me with him on all his hunts. By age 9, I had gone to Zimbabwe in Africa with my family and watched my dad hunt the big five. While there, I became fascinated with the African culture. With the help of my family, we visited elementary schools to deliver candy, books, and soccer balls to the under privileged children. This opened my eyes to the realities of the world, and the experience made me grow compassionate and made me care for those in need. Continuing with that compassionate attitude is why I donate my game meat to the local villages.

Bill: Well thank you so much for your time Kendall, we wish you well and good luck with your future endeavors. I hope it this helps reduce the misinformation and shows to the other side the benefits of having hunting as a tool for conservation.

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Comments
18 Responses to “An Interview with Kendall Jones”
  1. Jeff Nichols says:

    Great Article! People who do not understand has never been in a place to see animals suffer from disease, over population or starvation. What Kendall is doing is very important to the ecosystem of Africa, just as hunting in America is important here. My hat’s off to her! Keep up the great work!

  2. brecallenmiller@gmail.com says:

    This young lady is amazing. Not only does she hunt but she also understands the meaning behind conservation. I now cannot help but wonder if she is under attack because people our truly frustrated with her photos, or if they are just bitter that she is a pretty girl with the ability to travel around the world doing what she loves most? Jealously really can just eat some people alive.

  3. David Scarborough says:

    Very smart girl, I support her all the way…

  4. I’m so glad you published this interview!
    Hopefully it will stop all those ‘Haters’
    Out there from leaving the distasteful ‘Comments’ each time you Post on Facebook!! Keep on Keeping on, Young Lady!!!! Lol:-):-)

  5. Fred says:

    What an awesome interview!

  6. Randy Brooks says:

    Kendall I thank what you do for the poor with your kills a God send to the starving of Africa .I see nothing wrong with a legal hunt .If it was a man their would be no problem .You go girl ! I hunt to feed my family. People have no problem eating a Big Mac .I guess they think hamburger grows on trees !!

  7. Russ says:

    Kendall, I think what you are doing is fantastic. Keep up the good work kiddo 🙂

  8. We need more yound women like Kendall . The problem is we don’t have enough young women hunting .

  9. L. Rolyat says:

    Two years ago hunting was banned in Zambia. Last week I met a Zambian hunting operator who told me that entire buffalo herds (and other species) have since disappeared in the area where he used to hunt – all victims of senseless and uncontrolled poaching.

    Government is either unwilling or unable to extend anti-poaching infrastructure into the areas left in vacuum after the hunting ban came into effect.

    This is exactly what will happen in the whole of Africa particularly, where there is so much poverty, and to one extent or another in the rest of the World, if the commercial value attached to wildlife by virtue if its being a trophy is negated because of some animal rights activists’ inability to understand the dynamics of the economies of hunting vs game viewing for its aesthetic appeal.

    They also fail to recognise the inherent conservation principals which a significantly overwhelming majority of moral hunters aspire to.

    The camera brigade lacks the courage of their convictions and will not play any part in eradicating poaching or the management of overpopulation – of people and/or animals.

  10. Strang Middleton says:

    Hi. I’m a Ph in Zambia. Well said Kendall and keep up the good work! You are 100% correct and make us proud! If only there were lots more women like you promoting the true meaning of hunting and conservation!

  11. Bernard says:

    Hi, It is great to see young people out there hunting . In Canada we starting young hunters programs so that young will have an understanding what hunting is all about , The B.C. Government has discovered that hunting licence which fund conservation in B.C. Canada is drying up because of the Negative Media . Good for you stand by your values they will see you through .

  12. Don Bitz says:

    Virtually the only thing standing between the poachers and the animals are hunters. The primary revenue stream standing between the eradication of endangered animals is hunting revenue, by a very long shot. The primary means of support for many, otherwise indigent surrounding villagers are the outfitters employment of them for American and European hunters. A primary source of protein for these villagers is the meat from their visiting hunters’ harvests.

    Due to the procurement of meat harvested and the revenue received from international sportsmen and women, local tribes, police and politicians and have great incentive to nurture and protect their resident herds as the extremely valuable assets.

    Each hunter invests US$350 to $1500 / day or more (times 7 to 28 days), much of which goes directly into the local African community, for the privilege of simply being there. On top of that, should he or she be so fortunate as to harvest or sedate an animal, an additional fee is paid from $500-$1500 (common antelope and/or warthog) up to $50,000 or more for a pachyderm.

    A substantial chunk of that revenue also goes directly into that country’s national parks, game management and anti-poaching efforts via licensing fees, harvest permits, outfitter and guide licensing, daily trespass fees, transportation taxes, import tariffs, firearm permits, etc..

    Because of the hunting revenue stream farmers, park managers and politicians have a big incentive to do their absolute best to protect, breed and otherwise expand the numbers of the finest, healthiest most diverse herds of animals in the world today. Many African farmers elect to breed game rather than cattle. Many farmers allow them to eat their crops due to the animals’ increasing value to the international hunting community, rather than to eradicate them for doing so.

    These are just a few of the economic incentives each and every hunter brings with them on every trip. These rabid anti-hunters, it should be pointed out, offer little more than lip service and a very small fraction of the money required for real conservation, if any.

    Absent hunting, wildlife management programs soon degrade into chaos. Absent another means of support, residents slaughter animals without regard to basic game management principles to avoid starvation and decrease competition for other subsistence requirements. Whatever walks into their snares becomes dinner. The animal may remain in their traps for days or weeks should another snare be successful before checking the next one. Often the struggling animal manages to break the snare from its anchor only to suffer a slow, starving death with the wire necklace choking off its ability to swallow or breath correctly and/or its throat slit by the narrow wire.

    Don’t take my word for it, ask your detractors to Google images of “snared african game” and see for themselves. This is what happens when hunters are gone. I’ve seen it in person many times myself as I’m sure you have.

    Poachers poison watering holes, indiscriminately murdering thousands of predators, birds and antelope every year in the process, simply so they can get a $50 bill from a corrupt politician for an elephant tusk while the police look the other way. YOUR elephant was harvested out of a herd of hundreds (a herd that could be poisoned at literally any minute absent protection) and generated thousands of dollars for the protection and betterment of the entire herd.

    Rhino carcasses are left rotting with their faces sawed-off for the horns, while YOUR rhino took a 30 minute nap to generate thousands of dollars for the betterment of all rhinos, and absent poachers, proudly walks the Earth to this day. (A friend of mine’s rhino wasn’t so lucky, poachers killed it days later despite the game manager’s rather extensive efforts. It’s literally a war against the poachers for the rhino over there.)

    Entire prides of lions are indiscriminately slaughtered so someone can make a magic potion from their gonads or bones. YOUR lion, past his prime, replaced by his younger offspring and no longer needed to breed, became more of a burden on the pride. So the decision was made to allow you to harvested him, raising THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS for the betterment of not only his pride, but to secure the future of these magnificent cats all over the world. This is what the practice of sound game management does.

    Thank you, Kendall.

    Thank you on behalf of game managers, park officials and politicians everywhere.

    Thank you on behalf of sportsmen and sportswomen everywhere.

    Thank you on behalf of sane, intelligent people that truly desire the best for these awe-inspiring creatures.

    Thank you, Kendall, on behalf of the animals for the tremendous time, effort and financial support you have contributed to their preservation.

    Also, I’d like to offer a personal THANK YOU for the courage you have demonstrated by standing strong in the face of all the ignorant criticism. Kendall Jones is standing tall not for herself, but for all sportsmen and women worldwide. Kendall Jones is standing tall for sound conservationism and true conservationists on every continent.

    You are truly a credit to the entire outdoor community.

  13. Richard Chenoweth says:

    Thank you for publishing this interview. Kendall makes excellent points as she refutes much of the rhetoric that is used by anti-hunters. She is correct in stating that it does appear that the anti-hunting establishment hates seeing a woman, much less a college student, who feels empowered to express her passion and is articulate and knowledgeable about the facts. Unfortunately, so much of what is expressed in the social and print media is mired in political agendas and a hatred of firearms that the issue is really not about the animals, it’s about detesting the ability of a person-male or female-to be self-sufficient and not dependent on the opinions and the fears of others. Having been to Africa on safari several times, I can attest to the devastation caused by an absence of hunters and poor conservation, as well as the corruption and loss of fauna that occurs when hunting is banned. As Kendall so clearly describes, a reasoned conversation that is factual-based will reveal that hunting is an important tool in preserving both the animals and the environment in which they live. Unfortunately, in this caffeinated political climate, facts are now a rare commodity and rarely receive the same media exposure as hyped-up over-the-top political rants that pass for reality.

  14. Jerry Hendricks says:

    Well done, Kendall. As an SCI chapter board member and father of two daughters that have grown up hunting (now 12 & 14 and just returning from a spectacular African hunt), I’ve been watching your story unfold with sadness (for you) and frustration. Stand your ground. You’re on the right side of the debate. The ignorant do not understand that hunting IS conservation and the more open discussion and respectful debate we can hold on this topic the more folks will understand what hunting is all about. STAY TRUE TO YOUR HEART –WE SUPPORT YOU!

  15. JG says:

    Excellent interview. Hunting is conservation. People like Kendall Jones can help to educate non-hunters that have been brainwashed and misled by anti-hunting and animal rights propaganda. Keep it up Kendall, there are millions of us out here that are 100% with you.

  16. rogn p says:

    I wholly appreciate and support Kendall’s experience and viewpoints. But as usual we are preaching to the choir. The message with all its rational perspectives is wasted on us. We need somehow to introduce these messages to those who are so emotionally involved. This emotion is a barrier to rational thought, but if the message is repeated enough it may begin to stick. Unfortunately the anti hunting groups use this tactic and devote substantial funds to repeating their often inciting views(and administrative expenses). What can we do in this direction. If people/organizations will pay 100K$ to hear Jay Carney, perhaps people such as Miss Kendall can do the same. The message needs to be heard.

  17. Vincent says:

    I hunt as well. Kendall has hit the nail on the head. All true hunters feel for the Animial . We take out the weak and old . We also put a lot of money into protecting them from poachers . And the poachers in my opinion are very cruel And no respect for life or how the animial my die. None of us want to see an animal suffer. We spend a lot of time making sure that the Animial does not suffer and is not just left to rot . The meat is given to people in need. It is a pity that the media has taken this out of perspective and picked on a young girl .
    Kendall keep up the good work . Stay strong there are a lot of people out there that support you . But stay silent . As they think that they will be treated like you have been . Only because they do not know all the true facts.

  18. United We Stand says:

    Smart girl! And gets it too….

    Kendall: “Yes, I am a hunter, but I’m a conservationist first and foremost.”

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