Hunting is an oft-misunderstood activity that, from the outside looking in, can appear immoral. Any seasoned hunter will tell you that the majority of hunting enthusiasts are actually highly respectful of both the land they enter and the animals they chase. If you’re a new hunter looking to partake in a respectful, positive manner, you should know these three ethical hunting practices.
Practice “Fair Chase”
The “fair chase” idea is an age-old tenet that many different cultures practice. Hunter, author, and conservationist Jim Posewitz summarizes this concept in his book Beyond Fair Chase: The Ethic and Tradition of Hunting. He states that ethical hunting consists of a fair challenge between both the hunter and the hunted.
Basically, using overwhelmingly unfair tactics and equipment is an immoral way to kill. This means hunters should avoid hunting trapped animals or hunting with overkill weaponry. When you hunt, ask yourself if your prey has a reasonable chance of escape—if so, you are practicing fair chase. Plus, this ethical code makes the activity far more rewarding for the hunter!
Don’t Waste Game
The most ethical hunters ensure their prey never dies in vain—using every part of the animal for sustenance makes hunting far more sustainable. As such, it’s important you never let your game go to waste. The easiest way to accomplish this is by bringing back your kills and preparing them for future meals. Use every part of the animal possible—even objects like bones make for great broths.
Preserve excess meat for future meals and snacks, such as DIY beef jerky. Feel free to make a lot of this dehydrated meat and use your jerky for salad toppings or game-day snack spreads. If you can’t save your kills, consider donating the animals to local organizations that redistribute the meat to the hungry. Furthermore, consider chasing invasive species, as this is a highly sustainable form of hunting.
Respect the Land
Caring for the animals you capture isn’t the only way to hunt ethically—respecting the land you occupy is another crucial part of the hunting code. What does this practice entail? For starters, ensure that making a minimum impact on the ecosystem is your number one priority.
Don’t leave behind waste, and avoid hunting in a manner that negatively impacts the environment. You also want to follow the local laws and regulations, keep your distance from other hunters and their game, and most importantly, never act in a way that disrespects local residents. Strive to interact with your environment as if you were a guest in a stranger’s home!
As a new hunter, you should know and practice these hunting ethics each and every time you partake in this activity. Doing so ensures a more rewarding experience for yourself and the surrounding environment. Plus, following these codes helps maintain the integrity of this ancient and valuable practice!
Wes White represents the collective — yet individual — voice of the Western Whitetail editorial staff.