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Hunting Ethics

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Hunting Ethics 

Man by nature is a hunter and gatherer. Hunting comes instinctively to humans. Our highly developed and complex brain with billions of neurons with its ability to conceptualize, perceive, interpret, memorize, reason, emote, communicate amongst many other functions made us the supreme predators occupying the top spot in the food chain.

Before humans learnt agriculture and domestication of animals, pursuing animals for food and other resources, hunting was the only occupation known to man. Hunting was responsible for bonding among tribe mates and it was also a cause for social celebration. In modern times, hunting means pursuing and chasing animals other than protected and domesticated animals. Hunting is a part of the cultural heritage of most civilizations; ancient cave paintings bear testimony to that.

In the age of colonization hunting was the main source of food for the early colonizers of the new world, this resulted in wiping out entire populations of many species like the buffalo. But with the advent of modern means of transportation like railroad and the automobiles it was possible to transport a large number of cattle and food grains to different parts, reducing the dependence on hunting for subsistence.

In the nineteenth and early part of the twentieth century indiscriminate hunting of natural predators and grazers led to the extinction and significant reduction in populations of animals like bison, elk, whitetail deer, pronghorn, coyotes, and wolves in north America and Tigers, Lions, Tasmanian tiger, amongst many other animals in other parts of the world.

In the early part of the twentieth century policy makers and opinion leaders realized that some thing needed to be done to control all this Theodore Roosevelt led the charge in pushing for a legislation to control hunting. In an address to the congress in Dec 1907 he said "To waste, to destroy our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed."

Today’s hunters have evolved into sportsmen and act as caretakers of the environment rather than as exploiters and destroyers of the same. As sportsmen, they have to follow the rules and the code of conduct expected of every sportsman.

Fair chase is a concept in which a hunter gives the game a fair chance to detect the hunter and escape. It also prohibits hunters from using means that would reduce the game’s chances of detecting the hunters. It is the corner stone of modern hunting ethics.

Respect hunting seasons. Hunting seasons are decided after considering the breeding and nursing patterns of the animals. They also help to maintain animal populations.

Hunters should not hunt species beyond naturally sustainable levels.

Observe fish and game limits as these are designed to maintain fish and the game population.

Obtain licenses and permits wherever required as these are necessary and go a long way in providing funds to wildlife conservation organizations.

If hunting for meat, take only as much as needed by you and your family. If meat is not consumed, donate it to communities who would accept it. Invest in the services of a taxidermist to convert the hide into a trophy or a rug.
Take a shot at the animal after getting close enough for an ethical kill, do not risk a long shot as it may only injure the animal and cause suffering. The animal deserves respect and should be put down in a more humane manner with minimum pain.

Do not swear when describing the game, or while recounting the hunt.

It is highly unethical to have a personal disregard to the right of another hunter to be in the woods such as making noises to drive game away, if another hunter is already at a spot favored by another or to put on a drive around, where some one is hunting from a stand.  Not following a wounded animal to finish the kill and letting it slowly die is also very unethical. Also be aware of how we present ourselves to the non hunting crowds, we don’t want to rub there faces in it.

Today hunting is an important tool used in wildlife management necessitated by the absence of natural predators in the wild. Hunters must consider themselves as land managers responsible to the biodiversity of their environment and be sensitive to how non-hunters view them. Make sure you instill these values to young hunters.

Posted February 25, 2014 by Justin Ott

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