A hunter who gained notoriety after appearing in photos showing him shooting doves with his infant daughter strapped to his back has issued a statement defending his actions.
In the original Facebook post on Saturday, Travis Zatopek, owner of the Texas-based Hacienda Wildlife Company, is seen in a split image aiming a shotgun and then gazing afield with shotgun in hand. His daughter is asleep in the first image and awake in the second. (See embed atop this story.)
The Facebook description reads: “When it’s dove season, and you have baby duty! Owner of Hacienda, Travis Zatopek, making it happen.”
What happened was the opening of floodgates. The post has garnered more than 15,000 shares and generated more than 3,000 comments.
“I hate to be so negative but as cute as this is it’s very dangerous!!!” reads one comment. “Baby should come first there’s no way that you had no other choice but to take babe with you hunting hes not even being worn the right way and any number of things can happen!!!”
Not surprisingly, given that Hacienda is a hunting outfitter with a large Facebook following, many of the comments are supportive.
“Great job Dad!!” one of them reads. “We’ve taken our son hunting and fishing since he was born. #startemyoung”
On Tuesday, as the photos began to pique the interest of mainstream media outlets, Zatopek posted a statement in which he defended his actions and described the involvement of his infant daughter:
“My wife and I would like to express our thoughts on the recent media attention of our FB post this weekend.
“As American citizens, we have the right to raise our children utilizing what we, as their parents, feel is right and wrong. We do not apologize for raising our girls around guns and hunting. Educating them young is a huge attribute for their future.
“We, as parents, promote positive family morals and values along with teaching them respect and responsibility.
“Unfortunately, many of the youth today are not taught this. We’ve raised every one of our girls around guns and hunting, just as we were! Hunting is not just a sport, but a way of life.
“We feel it is important for our girls to experience the great outdoors and wildlife versus video games and Illusive Pokemon’s. This is our choice, and we stand true to our values. I would like to thank the keyboard warriors, because for every one negative comment, five positive comments have evolved.”
“In regards to how our daughter was in the carrier, she is our third daughter, we know how to properly place our child in it. She was briefly placed in it for a photo opportunity and was enjoying it so much that we let her sit that way, while numerous people were watching her. As soon as she dozed off, my wife immediately took her inside.”
As if to prod critics, Zatopek included with his post a photo of two older daughters posing with their first doe kills.
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