A pre-teen hunter from Utah received death threats on Facebook after she posted a photo showing her with a dead giraffe. Aryanna Gourdin, 12, from the town of Cove, has a social media page titled Braids and Bows. It’s adorned with photos of big game that’s been freshly slaughtered by Gourdin. The most recent images were taken on a recent family trip she took with her family to Africa.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Her Dad’s First Wife Was Found Guilty of Shooting Dead a Department of Corrections Officers in 2005 & Is Serving Life in Prison
In 2007, Gourdin’s father’s first wife, Jennifer Hyatte was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Her crime was the shooting death of Tennessee Correctional Officer Wayne “Cotton” Morgan in the town of Kingston in 2005.
The shooting happened as her husband, George Hyatte, not Aryanna Gourdin’s father, had just pleaded guilty to a robbery charge inside the Roane County Courthouse. After he pleaded, Hyatte began shooting. Another officer, Larry “Porky” Harris, was wounded.
The couple escaped to Ohio where they were arrested the following day after a tip-off from a cab driver.
At her trial, Hyatte agreed to testify against her husband in exchange for life instead of the death penalty. In March 2009, George Hyatte, was sentenced to life without parole.
Hyatte’s mother, Sally Lambson, told the Associated Press in 2005 that she felt her daughter had been brainwashed saying, “We realize that what she has allegedly done is terrible, but we feel the horrible man she got involved with is truly to blame for this whole situation. We also feel that he had her brainwashed from the first time they met. Without him, this never would have happened.”
2. Gourdin Told ‘Good Morning America’ That Hunting Is Something She ‘Enjoys’ & ‘Cherishes’
The 12-year-old hunter accompanied her photo of the dead giraffe with the caption, “One of my dream hunts for sure.” Gourdin told Good Morning America on August 17 that she was on hunting vacation with her family in South Africa when she shot the animal dead. She explained, “It’s something I cherish and enjoy and I want other people to see what I experienced.”
That photo has generated over thousands of comments, many of which are negative and some have been perceived as death threats.
Her father, Eli Gourdin, told Good Morning America, “We’re proud to be hunters and we’ll never apologize for being a hunter.” While his daughter appeared to step back from her photo in a Facebook post on August 16 that read, “My last profile picture was very offensive to others and I have learned my lesson with that pose, [sic] I apologize.” Despite this, she said on August 17, “I would never back down from hunting. I am a hunter and no matter what people say to me, I’m never going to stop.”
Meanwhile, her dad was adamant in the Good Morning America interview that the giraffe in question was a problem animal. He says his daughter was encouraged to kill the animal. Eli Gourdin said, “They actually had an older giraffe that was eating up valuable resources other giraffes need to survive.” He added that the meat from the animal will be used to feed local orphans.
3. Her Father Did Time in 2000 for Operating a Meth Lab
The Associated Press reported in 2005 that Eli Gourdin did time in Utah State Prison for operating a meth lab in 2000. That article says that Eli Gourdin has three children from his first marriage. During their divorce, Jennifer Hyatte disputed Gourdin’s visitation rights over his meth addiction and “outbursts of violence,” reports the AP.
After Hyatte was arrested in 2005, Eli Gourdin was afforded full custody of their children, reported the Utah Desert News. In that feature, Gourdin is pictured as an infant in her mother’s Katie Gourdin.
According to their website, Eli Gourdin works for Bowtech, an archery products manufacturer. On his profile, Eli Gourdin says that he “started hunting as a young boy with my father and very early on I knew it was a passion I’d have for life. It wasn’t until I was 30 when I picked up archery and from then on that’s all I do. I’ve shot almost every brand of bow but the moment I picked up a Bowtech I knew they were built for me.” Humbly, Eli Gourdin says, ” I do consider myself a beginner, though I have won every competition I’ve entered. I look to continue to grow with Bowtech.”
4. Gourdin’s Trip Organizers Use Their Website to Promote Hunting & Anti-Hillary Clinton Propaganda
Gourdin told Good Morning America that the trip had been organized by Utah-based Rack ‘Em Up hunts. Their slogan is, “God, Family, Country, Hunting.” According to their site, the organize hunts to Alaska, Africa, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
Another section of their website is titled, “Corrupt Clintons.” That section is headed by the above documentary, Clinton Cash.
There’s another blog post on their website which refers to Gourdin as “The Next Big Thing.” It reads:
On his personal Facebook page, Eli Gourdin expresses his support for GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump. On July 26, he transcribed a conservative rant from TV host Tomi Lahren which asked people why they wanted to vote for Hillary Clinton. You can watch the clip below.
5. Gourdin Is the Latest American Hunter to Attract Fierce Criticism Online
This is arguably the most famous case of a U.S. hunter going to kill animals in Africa since Walter Palmer. In July 2015, Palmer, a dentist from Minnesota, attracted the ire of the Internet when he posted photos of Cecil the Lion on Facebook. Palmer had killed the famous animal during a trip to Zimbabwe.