America’s OTHER Largest Army in the World

The hunters in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and West Virginia alone would comprise the largest army in the world.

Apollo at Federalist Paupers has some shocking statistics under the headline “Why The Terrorists Can Never Win.”

The state of Wisconsin has gone an entire deer hunting season without someone getting killed. That’s great. There were over 600,000 hunters.

Allow me to restate that number. Over the last two months, the eighth largest army in the world – more men under arms than Iran; more than France and Germany combined – deployed to the woods of a single American state to help keep the deer menace at bay.

But that pales in comparison to the 750,000 who are in the woods of Pennsylvania this week. Michigan’s 700,000 hunters have now returned home. Toss in a quarter million hunters in West Virginia, and it is literally the case that the hunters of those four states alone would comprise the largest army in the world.

Andrew Sullivan dubs this “Our Informal Citizen Militia.”

Now, I’m both highly confident that no foreign army is going to invade the United States and dubious of the usefulness of an army of untrained hunters against a professional military with tanks, helicopters, artillery, and jets armed with precision guided missiles.  Deer, after all, don’t shoot back.

I do, however, like my chances on a commercial jetliner with two hundred of these sort of men and five or six guys with box cutters or one or two with bombs in their loafers and/or under drawers.  Even without their trust 12 gauge, they’re unlikely to sit idly and let terrorists have their way.  The only reason they were able to do so on three of four planes on 9/11 was because of years of being told that cooperation was the way to get home safe.

FILED UNDER: Military Affairs, Quick Takes, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. james says:

    @ JJ, Federal Marshalls, Where were the Federal Marshalls during the 911 crisis? (Air Marshalls) Lots of noise boarding AC, Pat down,
    scanner, etc… Armed Pilots, cart before Horse.

  2. Linda says:

    Until 9/11 hijackers had never used planes as weapons. United 93 had the advantage of knowing what was transpiring elsewhere, because they were in contact with the outside world, after the terrorists had taken over their plane. Because of the passengers on that flight, future passengers will not sit idly by. The underwear bomber is an example; when his bomb failed to go off, other passengers subdued him.

    I flew from Va to Fl and back about 6 months after 9/11, and was terribly concerned. And I’ll be damned if some whack job terrorist is going to cause me to change my way of life. High fares and excessive fees may cause me to rethink flying, but certainly not a terrorist. Generally, once they get caught doing something, and we crack down on it, they change their M.O.

    Bringing bladed weapons on board – Xrays for carry on, and metal detectors.
    Liquids – size restricted.
    Shoe bombs – shoes are examined.
    Underwear bomb – body scans and pat downs.
    Breaking into cockpits – reinforced cockpit doors and armed air marshals.

    However, the best deterrent is a vigilant, observant public.

  3. James Joyner says:

    @james

    There are something like 87,000 flights every day in the United States. We’d need an absurd number of air marshals to cover that. Against a near-zero risk of an incident.

  4. JKB says:

    Of course, the losses would be great as the learning curve was traversed but that’s a lot of men and women familiar with guns and getting along in the woods. So heavy losses could be taken and still field a decent force in the end.

    But the reasons the terrorists can’t win is due to motivation. Sure the terrs want some muslim utopia but…. To all those men and women who hunt, to all the gang bangers, to all those not consumed by progressive nanny statism, you simply point at the terrs and say: “See those guys, if they win, no more bacon, no more bbq, no more carnitas.” And to all the girls in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and Texas, you say: “Hey, those guys said you needed to stop being so loud.”

  5. Peter says:

    The fact that a man is able to handle a hunting firearm does not necessarily mean that he’ll have the courage to use his fists when push (literally) comes to shove. We’ve all had it drummed into our heads that throwing a punch no matter how dire the circumstances is a horrible thing which only other people do: rednecks,* ghetto gangbangers, schizophrenics, drunken fratboys, etc. Using a hunting firearm does not necessarily mean that a person is willing to cast off society’s no-violence-ever edict.

    * = some hunters may be rednecks, and hence not 100% adverse to using physical force against another person, but many others are not.

  6. Tano says:

    “We’ve all had it drummed into our heads that throwing a punch no matter how dire the circumstances is a horrible thing which only other people do…”

    No one ever told me that. No matter how dire the circumstances???? Really? You mean people have essentially told you that you have no right to defend yourself? And you have listened to them?

  7. Alex Knapp says:

    And yet, if we just hold on a COUPLE MORE YEARS…. we can win in Afghanistan and Iraq, right?

  8. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    As an aging Arkansas redneck, I am too lazy anymore to throw any punches. Instead I carry a .45 auto loaded with highly frangible ammor. Makes a helluva mess when you hit something with it.

  9. Gustopher says:

    I suppose we could arm the deer. At the very least give them bullet proof vests, and maybe some kind of flame thrower.

  10. rodney dill says:

    “I suppose we could arm the deer. At the very least give them bullet proof vests, and maybe some kind of flame thrower.”

    …or friggin’ lasers mounted on their heads.

  11. G.A.Phillips says:

    Wolverines!!!!!!! er , I meant, Badgers!!!!!!!

  12. Herb says:

    All these hunters would make great soldiers…with some basic training.

  13. james says:

    Seems the opposition was the one that needed the training.

    The Squirrel gun won the war.

  14. anjin-san says:

    > “We’ve all had it drummed into our heads that throwing a punch no matter how dire the circumstances is a horrible thing which only other people do…”

    Really? My Dad taught me to always try to avoid a fight. He also taught me that if you can’t avoid it, do your best to kick the other guys ass…

  15. Despite all the ‘internet toughguy” talk about how you would take down a terror-squad armed with your nose-hair trimmer, the fact is that if an individual suicide bomber/attacker goes into action, it is very difficult or impossible to stop them.

    I’m all for personal ownership of firearms and citizen-heroism, but lets try to interdict the terrorists long before it comes down to citizens on a plane fighting for their lives.

  16. James Joyner says:

    Despite all the ‘internet toughguy” talk about how you would take down a terror-squad armed with your nose-hair trimmer, the fact is that if an individual suicide bomber/attacker goes into action, it is very difficult or impossible to stop them.

    Actually, it’s 3 for 3 since it became clear what the new tactic was: Flight 93 on 9/11, the shoe bomber, and the underwear bomber. Zero successful attacks, with a learning curve of, oh, half an hour.

    I’m all for personal ownership of firearms and citizen-heroism, but lets try to interdict the terrorists long before it comes down to citizens on a plane fighting for their lives.

    Oh, absolutely. The effort should be in intelligence and law enforcement, though, and not keeping granny from taking too large a can of hairspray in her carry on baggage.

  17. Alex Knapp says:

    @James,

    It’s not quite 3 for 3 — neither the shoe bomber or the underwear bomber had an ignition source capable of exploding their plastique. But I do take your point. Just being pedantic.

  18. Jim Johnston says:

    Your see how quickly we forget even 50 year old history, After Pearl Harbor, the Japanese leadership suggested to admiral Yamamoto, in charge of their success at Pearl, that he should consider to launch an invasion of Claifornia. His reply: ” It would be futile because there we would find a citizen with a rifle behind every blade of grass”. And so it continues as as then, and ever since the founding of our great nation.