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Hunter defends viral mountain lion video and photo

Franchesca Esplin

Photo credit: Prairie Protection Colorado/Facebook

Another day, another hunter under fire after a Facebook hunting video and photo went viral. This time the target is Franchesca Esplin. Esplin posted a video of her hunting a mountain lion as well as a “photo of its bloody corpse” on Facebook, INSIDER reports. She had killed the mountain lion legally in Colorado—a state where these particular animals are incredibly prolific; however, while her hunt had occurred back in December, images and video of Esplin went viral last month after Prairie Protection Colorado, an animal conservation group, posted her photos and video on their page.

The backlash Esplin received following the group’s post was immense. Deanna Meyer, executive director of Prairie Protection Colorado, said it was a “trophy hunt” and that the photos were “pure psychopathic evil.”

However, like many hunters, Esplin relies on harvesting wild game to fill her family’s freezers and told INSIDER that she feels hunting for meat is “more ethical than factory farming.”

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“Any hunting we do throughout seasons is for meat for our family. We can’t afford to always go to the store and buy steaks,” said Esplin. “At least I know that the meat I get from hunting hasn't been injected with steroids, hormones, and all that nasty junk.”

While some may not have appreciated seeing Esplin’s video or photos, Esplin’s original post appeared on her own Facebook page. It is legal to hunt mountain lions in Colorado with a valid permit during the appropriate season and Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials say that they do not plan on investigating Esplin’s hunt.

“I’m a hunter and with that goes the several thousands of dollars [of value] that I’ve provided to the state to help with conservation efforts,” said Esplin. “I do more for conservation than most.” 


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Tres J. - posted 1 year ago on 03-13-2019 10:04:51 pm

Great points Josh A. I arrowed a beautiful, 160 lb tom here in CO in 2017, and couldn't imagine putting the pics on social media. Did I want to show it off? Hell yeah, but I knew better than shoving such a polarizing topic in people's faces. There are way more non-hunters than there are of us. I feel like it's extremely closed minded to post photos of us so excited with our dead lions and wolves on the internet for all of the keyboard activists to tee off on. Like it or not, it just hits too close to home to so many of those non and anti hunters who love their cats and dogs...

Gohunt, why didn't you post the picture of Francesca that really pissed people off? You know the one I'm talking about, the one with her showing off her bloody hands with a shit eating grin. That picture was disturbing to me, and I'm as big of a hunter as you'll ever find... She would not have gone viral if it weren't for that ill advised and classless picture.

We live in a pretty liberal state. I fear that soon enough, because of things like this, we'll see a ballot measure about banning mountain lion hunting, just like California did. This already happened here in CO outlawing dogs to hunt bears! This will put wildlife management decisions in the hands of the voters, instead of the Division of Wildlife, and we as hunters will not like the results. I hate to say it, but when this happens we'll have nobody but ourselves to blame.

Josh A. - posted 1 year ago on 03-13-2019 11:50:38 am

Nope. It has nothing to do with being PC but it has everything to do with respecting other people and maintaining our hunting traditions. I'm glad that others see the difference between the non-hunting majority and anti hunters. Franchesca's series of photos (there are many) and Facebook commentary did nothing to win over non-hunters and they've gone viral both nationally and internationally.

As for the conspiracy around losing hunting rights, last I checked that exactly what happened with lion hunting in CA. Outside of high fences, lion hunting is one of the most polarizing forms of hunting available to us. If you choose to partake show some respect. It's easy for us as hunters to get desensitized and out of touch.

Bendrix B. - posted 1 year ago on 03-11-2019 07:01:16 pm
Rochester, MA

Proof that the PC police have caught you when you jump on a hunter for posting a photo of a kill. Next you’ll be agreeing with these antis that hunting magazines should not show dead animals, and hunting TV shows, and views of meat being cooked are offensive.

Walk up you morons. You can’t satisfy the antis with appeasement. All you do is encourage them when you bow to their demands.

Post proudly!

SCOTT R. - posted 1 year ago on 03-11-2019 11:14:53 am
Reno, NV

My personal mode of communication is by phone via Personal text. And i have a hunting instagram. Titled happyhuntinusa. I have never posted on facebook or any other platform. So my personal preference is to only post to hunters. I agree trying to fuel the flames of anti hunters is ignorant. We must police the people that try and do so. But we should not have to hide it either. And some of the anti-hunters are searching our platforms looking for pictures. So we have to have responses ready for them. They will continue to try and stir the pot.

Jay K. - posted 1 year ago on 03-11-2019 11:02:11 am
Dallas, TX

When my 11 year old daughter shot her 10 point buck it was the highlight of my hunting life. I couldn't wait to share the news. So, I texted and emailed some family and friends. But, I didn't post on any social media and asked them to not post it as well. I specifically didn't send the photos to some of my family that is vegan/anti-hunting/anti-gun. My anti-hunting family members are well aware that my daughters and I hunt as much as possible. But, I don't try to inflame/offend them, like I would have with a picture of my daughters deer. Not because I'm ashamed or hiding anything. I'm just trying to be respectful of their point of view, even though I disagree with it. They have shown respect towards my point of view, by not getting into the whole anti-hunter thing with my daughters, which I greatly appreciate. Too often, it seems like mutual respect and healthy debate does not occur in the social media parts of life. So, I choose to not have those types of discussions in that forum. Not trying to tell anyone what to do or not do. Just what works for me.

PS - Glad to see a woman hunter out there getting it done. We need more of you.

SCOTT R. - posted 1 year ago on 03-10-2019 10:01:27 pm
Reno, NV

The real question is if there is statistical evidence that Christopher S is correct. If he brainer we stop posting. But what if, just what if.......non hunters don't care.....or better yet don't care enough that they'd support some anti-hunting legislation. Because at the end of the day thats what we are talking about. The fear, conspiracy vs reality that anyone can or would take away our hunting rights for showing off our kills....i don't really know if i believe anyone would do that. Sure the anti-hunters would but they're opinions stink....i dought the non-hunters would support that.....but then again if we guess wrong....we lose everything. But its hard to let someone else tell us we cannot be proud. Hard to let them say we cannot share amongst others our trophies. Feels wrong to hide who we are!!!

Christopher S. - posted 1 year ago on 03-10-2019 09:10:52 pm

Josh A. hit the nail on the head. Hunters are their own worst enemies by posting dumb and classless stuff like this and then make it worse by trying to justify it with logic that doesn't hold up to any kind of scrutiny. The "piss on the anti-hunting people" attitude is as unproductive as it is simple-minded. We hunt at the pleasure of non-hunters (which are different than anti-hunters) and there are way more non-hunters than there are of us. Social media posts like that turn non-hunters into anti-hunters and thats a problem that we as hunters can control, by simply not doing it.

Chase M. - posted 1 year ago on 03-10-2019 10:02:30 am

Totally agree with Josh A.. couldn’t agree more. Own up to it

Tommie M. - posted 1 year ago on 03-10-2019 04:10:08 am
Rock Springs

piss on the anti hunting people...we as hunters will never be able to make those type happy,I think it's awesome for a women to get out and chase a lion and kill it then be proud! RIGHT ON ...congrats we need more female hunters and COMPANIES to make womens hunting clothes.......GOOD JOB and a beautiful cat

Josh A. - posted 1 year ago on 03-09-2019 12:17:23 pm

Posting photos of dead cats to social media is going to piss people off. Especially when they're covered in blood. Like it or not that is reality. Pissing people off does nothing to advance hunters rights. If fact, it will only do the opposite.

No one needs to hide what they're up to but you should show respect for the animal and people that don't agree with you. Do us all a favor and share your photos privately.

Furthermore, no one is buying the whole "I hunt cats to feed my family organic meat" business. You may like eating lion and if you kill one you have the moral obligation to eat it. But if you can't afford steak there are way more efficient ways to put meat in the freezer and thats not why you chose to hunt lion. Own up to it, stay off social media and out of the press.

Joshua M. - posted 1 year ago on 03-09-2019 12:58:46 am
Travis AFB, CA

Congratulation Franchesca, that looks like a great cat!
I disagree with not sharing our stories on any platform. I say keep sharing and telling our stories as much as we can. If we as hunters stay quiet and secretive we will disappear. If anything we need to get a bigger and louder voice. I know most of us were raised better than to act in the childish ways of those who oppose us but it is time we start standing up for ourselves and our way of life. We have been the bigger and better person long enough, our numbers are declining because of it. It’s a very small portion of the country that oppose hunting but those people act in such a way that gives them a lot of attention. They are not going to shut up therefore we need to stand up. I view this like the squeaky wheel gets the oil concept. If we continue to not squeak they will get their way and we will lose our rights along with our way of life. I ask anyone who reads this to be proud to be a hunter and a conservationist. I ask you to stand up and have a voice in those tough discussions and help educate the large percentage of the population that’s in the middle. Please do not sit back quietly and allow our traditions; the traditions that formed our great country to vanish.

Vance W. - posted 1 year ago on 03-08-2019 11:46:38 pm
Anthem AZ

@Dan, mentioning hunting is already too offensive in most social situations. I've been living with attacked on FB for years, Lordy they cried and wailed when I posted a bobcat pict and safari Picts. I'm not against putting up Picts on Facebook I'm saying we all need to do it in a way that we speak our story and history of 100+ years of successful conservation in the US to the 80% that are non-hunters but are not against it necessarily. Like it or not those people will have a big say in the continuation of hunting period, just remember what the population centers in Canada just did to grizzly hunting. From Francesca's post we see that she didn't intend to share her Picts to the world it slipped out due to the unforeseen technical complexities of FB. So the lesson is be more careful about what you're doing on these platforms. Post information about hunting as a conservation tool. Tell the real story, control the narrative, because if you don't some wild eyed anti is going lie and whip up the masses and right or wrong hunting is damaged in the non-hunters mind again.

And I'll say it again, mountain lion is delicious I wish I could take one every year. Looks like there's a bunch in CO, guess a road trip is in order.

Dan G. - posted 1 year ago on 03-08-2019 02:57:49 pm

Beautiful picture showing a true conservationist with an amazing animal. It's quite obvious that a group of fanatics in CO went well out of their way to be offended and then insist everyone else feel the same way. I'm sorry, but if you think that not posting images of dead animals is any sort of real solution what will you turn to when just mentioning hunting becomes too offensive? Pandering to an emotional, selfish minority is not an effective way to champion the ethos of modern hunter conservationsists! Its an honest part of modern conservation that needs to be shared, explained and supported by anyone serious about the future of wildlife in America.

Franchesca E. - posted 1 year ago on 03-08-2019 01:32:02 pm

I just want to clarify something. I know that when I posted pictures of my hunt, I tagged those that were with us I had no idea that some of them had public profiles and friends that were against hunting. With them having friends that weren’t fans of hunting they apparently were disgusted and felt that they had to take a few of the pictures and my post and turn it into something that it never should’ve been blown into.

Erik S. - posted 1 year ago on 03-08-2019 08:34:04 am

Stop.Posting.Kills.On.Social Media. Its really that simple. But even hunters are addicted to their phones and "likes" and just cant help themselves. Its getting to the point of seriously threatening everything we love to do and most importantly wildlife conservation. If you just cant help it, at least post respectable photos of meat prep rather than grip and grin trophy shots - keep those ones for your close friends, not the internet.

Martin V. - posted 1 year ago on 03-07-2019 05:07:51 pm

Grow a pair. You don’t live there

Vance W. - posted 1 year ago on 03-07-2019 03:10:49 pm
Anthem AZ

I think both Scott and Tanner are correct. The appeal has to be to the large percentage of people that are indifferent about hunting for game meat. You will never satisfy or change the small percentage that are virulently opposed to hunting under any circumstances. Franchesca and her partners could have worked harder to take a much better grip and grin photo, but that will never satisfy the hardcore antis. I have recently heard some very good advice and pointers on photography and video that can help nullify some hardcore groups efforts by showing hunting in a different light and think if we want to manage this and keep our hunting rights we will need to start doing this on a large scale or just get off social media all together. You know, we lived in this country and hunted without social media for the large portion of the existence of the North American model being in place. We could do it again. If you want to hear that good advice listen to Jay Scotts Western Hunting & Fishing podcast #543 interview with Ryan Olsen. Ryan has some very good advice on capturing your hunts.

BTW - Mountain lion is delicious. I'd rather have one of them every year instead of a deer.

SCOTT R. - posted 1 year ago on 03-07-2019 02:37:04 pm
Reno, NV

Sorry. This will be long.
There is blood in the package of roast beef I just got from the store. Blood comes from animals. Only 5% of the population is vegetarian. Everyone else knows there is blood. The picture of her cat does not have much blood on it. I would argue that caving to the extreme left should not be our focus. We should all stand and defend her. Hunting cats is always an issue for the extreme left. Due to Hollywood and outside focus groups. Cats, bears, wolves are humanized (anthropomorphized) and made to look cute and cuddly in movies from Lion King to Madagascar. This makes a big portion of the population sympathetic to these ferocious killers.
People need to understand that the Lions, Wolves, Bears, and even coyotes have to be kept in check for us to have visible populations of prey: deer, elk, moose, pronghorn, roaming our landscape. If they would rather see predators than prey than the argument should switch to our wild stock of food supply which is the prey. We as the public that rely on the prey species to fill our fridge have to keep the predators in check. Just as a cattle rancher keeps cattle in fences and controls the prey near the ranch. Our ranch is much bigger (forest land and blm) but our ancestors kept the number of predators low to protect our stock both domestic and wild. Because we the hunters now manage the wild stock it is us and only us that should have the say as to how to manage the predators. It is our job to manage them to a sustainable level both for the predator and prey. This issue about seeing a dead wolf, cat, or bear needs to be addressed for what it is. It is our right and responsibility to control predators. The public needs to be educated. Wolves kill multiple animals before they eat. Because they LOVE to kill. We cannot allow that. Lions need a deer a week or more to sustain themselves. We cannot allow that. OR WE WILL HAVE NO WILD STOCK TO EAT OR HUNT!!!! So yes, be respectful, but we must start standing up and explaining:
1. Who the predators are.
2. How they kill and how often. (show more of how a mountain lion kills a deer by breaking its neck and tearing its jugular veins open so it bleeds out, show wolves going on a killing spree and eating nothing)
3. How they waste meat.
4. The threat they pose to recreating humans.
Thanks for listening.

Tanner P. - posted 1 year ago on 03-07-2019 11:50:54 am
Lexington, TN

While the backlash she has received is totally unwarranted and unnecessary, we as hunters need to be aware that people will be looking for any reason they can to criticize us and put us under fire. I wish she’d cleaned the cat up a bit prior to the photos. Plenty of snow around, probably wouldn’t take long. Same goes for deer, elk, etc. don’t post photos with blood all over the animal or the tongue hanging out, stuff like that.