Giving Jim Zumbo The Final Word On Zumbomania

I had not intended to blog any more about Jim Zumbo and the predicament he created for himself nearly a week ago with his blog, but I’ve changed my mind.   In complete fairness to a fellow sportsman who admittedly made a terrible mistake and has now paid dearly for his misjudgment, I offer the following excerpt from Ted Nugent’s Forum posted earlier this morning.   See if you detect a more contrite Jim Zumbo in this statement (reprinted below) than what was originally offered up in his apology posted on his former blog last Sunday [now with no active link].

The last few days have been an educational experience, to say the least. My ill-conceived inflammatory blog, as all of you now know, set off a firestorm that, I’m told, has never before been equaled. I’m not proud of that.

Let me say this at the outset. My words here are from the heart, and all mine. No one can censor me, and I answer to no one but myself. And I have no one to blame but myself. Outdoor Life, a magazine that I worked for full-time as Hunting Editor for almost 30 years, fired me yesterday. My TV show was cancelled yesterday. Many of my sponsors have issued statements on their website to sever all relationships. This may cause many of you to do backflips and dance in the streets, but, of course, I’m not laughing, nor am I looking for sympathy. I don’t want a pity party.

They say hindsight is golden. Looking back, I can’t believe I said the words “ban” and “terrorist” in the context that I did. I don’t know what I was thinking when I wrote that. I can explain this as sheer ignorance and an irresponsible use of words. What I’ve learned over the last few days has enlightened and amazed me. As a guy who hunts 200 days a year, does seminars on hunting, wrote for six hunting magazines, had a hunting TV show, and wrote 20 books on hunting, how could I have been so ignorant and out of touch with reality in the world of hunting and shooting? 

But I was. I really can’t explain it, maybe because I just summarily dismissed the firearms in question in my mind when I saw them in magazines and catalogs. I saw one “black” firearm in a hunting camp in all my 50 years of hunting, and I shot one last year off a boat when fishing in Alaska. To tell the truth, it was fun and I enjoyed it immensely, but I never considered one for use in hunting. I have to tell you that I have had a revelation. I’m learning that many of my pals own AR-15’s and similar firearms and indeed use them for hunting. I was totally unaware that they were being used for legitimate hunting purposes. That is the absolute truth.

My biggest regret is not the financial impact of all this. I’m almost 67 and retirement is an option. The dreadful impact here is that I inadvertently struck a spear into the hearts of the people I love most…America’s gun owners. And, even though this huge cadre of dedicated people have succeeded in stripping me of my career, I hold no grudges. I will continue to stand as firm on pro hunting as I’ve ever done. But what’s different now is that I’ll do all I can to educate others who are, or were, as ignorant as I was about “black” rifles and the controversy that surrounds them. My promise to you is that I’ll learn all I can about these firearms, and by the time this week is out, I’ll order one. The NUGE has invited me to hunt with him using AR-15’s, and I’m eager to go, and learn. I’ll do all I can to spread the word.

I understand that many of you will not accept this apology, believing that the damage has been done and there’s no way to repair it. You have that right. But let me say this. I mentioned this above, and I’ll repeat it. I’m willing to seize this opportunity to educate hunters and shooters who shared my ignorance. If you’re willing to allow me to do that, we can indeed, in my mind, form a stronger bond within our ranks. Maybe in a roundabout way we can bring something good out of this.

Jim Zumbo

Certainly words from a battered and bruised man who has been through much during the past several days.   His whole life has changed.   No more job with Outdoor Life.   No more television show.   No more sweet deals with corporate sponsors the likes of Remington, Cabela’s, Gerber and others.   All of this happening in just a few day’s time.   In so many ways it seems unfair, yet what has happened to Zumbo’s career is perhaps the “worse case scenario” of being in the public’s spotlight and making a major blunder.

I could have posted the very same words on my blog that got him in trouble and no doubt would have also received some nasty comments and e-mails from readers.   But ultimately my life would have proceeded on with likely no other consequences for having spoken my mind.   Doesn’t happen that way when your name achieves a certain level of notoriety.   Zumbo was high-profile and in the public’s eye.   Forty years of writing for one of the most prestigious outdoor publications usually equates credibility and sage wisdom.   More than anything Zumbo blindsided the gun lovers of this world with comments that somehow just were not consistent with what we expected to hear…or perhaps it would be more accurate to say what we wanted to hear.

My hunch is we have not heard the last from Jim Zumbo.   He has a lot of fences to mend especially with some of his sportsmen brethren, and I suspect he will attempt to do just that.   We have more important battles to wage in protecting our rights as gun owners and sportsmen than to continue dwelling on this event.   By all appearances the fury is now over…and everyone must move on.   We gain nothing further by celebrating over one of our own who has stumbled and now miserably failed thanks to some clouded judgment they just happened to openly express on the Internet.

© 2007 Jim Braaten.  All Rights Reserved.  No Reproduction Allowed Without Prior Permission.