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Hunting is the practice of pursuing living animals (usually wildlife) for food, recreation, or trade. In present-day use, the term refers to lawful hunting, as distinguished from poaching, which is the killing, trapping or capture of the hunted species contrary to applicable law. The species which are hunted are referred to as game and are usually mammals and migratory or non-migratory gamebirds.

Hunting can also involve the elimination of vermin, as a means of pest control to prevent diseases caused by overpopulation. Hunting advocates state that hunting can be a necessary component of modern wildlife management, for example to help maintain a population of healthy animals within an environment's ecological carrying capacity when natural checks such as predators are absent. However, a 2006 study by Penn Statemarker's Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics indicated that reducing the game animal population in small areas may lead to higher tick densities, resulting in more tick-borne infections in rodents leading to a high prevalence of tick-borne encephalitis and creating a tick hot-spot. In the United States, wildlife managers are frequently part of hunting regulatory and licensing bodies, where they help to set rules on the number, manner and conditions in which game may be hunted.

The pursuit, capture and release, or capture for food of fish is called fishing, which is not commonly categorized as a form of hunting. Trapping is also usually considered a separate activity. Neither is it considered hunting to pursue animals without intent to kill them, as in wildlife photography or birdwatching. The practice of hunting for plants or mushrooms is a colloquial term for foraging or gathering.

The aspects of skillful tracking and acquisition of an elusive target in the pursuit of game have caused the word hunting to be used the vernacular as a metaphor (such as "bargain hunting") sometimes with the killing aspect also implied (such as "hunting down corruption and waste")



Hunting has a long history and may well pre-date the rise of species Homo sapiens. While our earliest Hominid ancestors were probably frugivore or omnivore, there is evidence that early Homo, and possibly already Australopithecine species have used larger animals for subsistence, and that hunting may have been one of the multiple environmental factors leading to replacement of holocene megafauna by smaller herbivores.

Of the closest surviving relatives of the human species, Pan, the Common Chimpanzee has an omnivorous diet including troop hunting behavior based on beta males led by an alpha male, while Bonobos, on the other hand have a mostly frugivorous diet.

While it is undisputed that early humans were hunters, the importance of this fact for the final steps in the emergence of the Homo genus out of earlier Australopithecines, with its bipedalism and production of stone tools, and eventually also control of fire, are emphasized in the "hunting hypothesis", and de-emphasized in scenarios that stress the omnivore status of humans as their recipe for success, and social interaction, including mating behaviour as essential in the emergence of behavioral modernity.

With the establishment of language, culture and religion, hunting became a theme of stories and myths, besides rituals such as dance and animal sacrifice.Hunting was a crucial component of hunter-gatherer societies before the domestication of livestock and the dawn of agriculture, beginning about 11,000 years ago. By the Mesolithic, hunting strategies had diversified with the developent of the bow (by 18,000 years ago) and the domestication of the dog (about 15,000 years ago).

There is fossil evidence for spear use in Asian hunting dating from approximately 16,200 years ago.The North American megafauna extinction was coincidental with the Younger Dryas impact event, making hunting a less critical factor in prehistoric species loss than had been previously thought.

Many species of animals have been hunted and caribou/wild reindeer "may well be the species of single greatest importance in the entire anthropological literature on hunting" (see also Reindeer Age).

Hunter-gathering lifestyles remained prevalent in the New World and Sub-Saharan Africa (with the notable exception of Aztec and Incan agriculture) until the European Age of Discovery, and they persist in some tribal societies, albeit in rapid decline. Peoples that preserved paleolithic hunting-gathering until the recent past include some indigenous peoples of the Amazonas (Aché), some Central and Southern African Bushmen (Hadza people, Khoisan), some peoples of New Guineamarker (Fayu), the Mlabri of Thailand and Laos, the Vedda people of Sri Lankamarker and a handful of uncontacted peoples.


Even as animal domestication became relatively widespread, hunting was usually a significant contributor to the human food supply, even after the development of agriculture. The supplementary meat and materials from hunting included protein, bone for implements, sinew for cordage, fur, feathers, rawhide and leather used in clothing. The earliest hunting tools would have included rocks, spears, the atlatl, bow and arrows.

On ancient reliefs, especially from Mesopotamia, kings are often depicted as hunters of big game such as lions, especially from a war chariot. The cultural and psychological importance of hunting in ancient societies is represented by deities such as the horned god Cernunnos, or lunar goddesses of classical antiquity, Greek Artemis or Roman Diana. Taboos are often related to hunting, and mythological association of prey species with a divinity could be reflected in hunting restrictions such as a 'reserve' surrounding a temple. Euripides' tale of Artemis and Acteon, for example, may be seen as a caution against disrespect of prey or impudent boasting.

Hunting is still vital in marginal climates, especially those unsuited for pastoral uses or agriculture. Inuit peoples in the Arctic trap and hunt animals for clothing. From the skins of sea mammals, they may make kayaks, clothing, and footwear.

With domestication of the dog, birds of prey and the ferret, various forms of animal-aided hunting developed including venery (scent hound hunting, such as fox hunting), coursing (sight hound hunting), falconry and ferreting. These are all associated with medieval hunting; in time various dog breeds were selected for very precise tasks during the hunt, reflected in such names as pointer and setter.

Hunting in pastoral and agricultural societies

Even as agriculture and animal husbandry became more prevalent, hunting often remained as a part of human culture where the environment and social conditions allowed. Hunting may be used to kill animals which prey upon domestic animals or to attempt to extirpate animals seen by humans as competition for resources such as water or forage.

As hunting moved from a subsistence activity to a social one, two trends emerged. One was that of the specialist hunter with special training and equipment. The other was the emergence of hunting as a sport for those of an upper social class. The meaning of the word "game" in middle English evolved to include an animal which is hunted.

As game became more of a luxury than a necessity, the stylized pursuit of it also became a luxury. Dangerous hunting, as for lions or wild boars, usually on horseback (or from a chariot) had a function similar to tournaments and manly sports. Hunting was considered to be an honourable, somewhat competitive pastime to help the aristocracy practice skills of war in times of peace.

In most parts of medieval Europe, the upper class obtained the sole rights to hunt in certain areas of a feudal territory. Game in these areas was certainly used as a source of food and furs, often provided via professional huntsmen; but it was also expected to provide a form of recreation for the aristocracy. The importance of this proprietary view of game can be seen in the Robin Hood legends, in which one of the primary charges against the outlaws is that they "hunt the King's deer".

Hunting with dogs

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Although various animals have been used to aid the hunter, none has been as important as the dog. The domestication of the dog has led to a symbiotic relationship in which the dog has lost its evolutionary independence from humans in exchange for support.

The word for hunting in Ancient Greek, kynègia, is derived from kynos 'dog'. In the Ottoman empire, some of the elite force of Janissaries, the ruler's guard, were Sekban, or dog guards.

Dogs today are used to find, chase and retrieve game and sometimes to kill it. Hunting dogs allow humans to pursue and kill prey that would otherwise be very difficult or dangerous to hunt.

Modern sport hunting

In time, hunting came to be seen as a sporting activity. Ultimately, the rising middle class or bourgeoisie adopted the practice and retained its image.

Although recreational hunters may choose to be selective hunters, many people hunt to enjoy the outdoors. Others enjoy game as an alternative to store bought meat.Some recreational hunters contributed to the modern environmental conservation movement. Aldo Leopold, John Muir, and Teddy Roosevelt, who spent some of their outdoor recreation time hunting, became the founding fathers of the modern Conservation movement.

Hunting and religion

Many prehistoric (often zoomorph) deities are either predators or prey of humans, perhaps alluding to the importance of hunting for most Paleolithic cultures. In many pagan religions, specific rituals are conducted before or after a hunt; the rituals done may vary according to the species hunted or the season the hunt is taking place .

Often a hunting ground, or the hunt for one or more species, was reserved or prohibited in the context of a temple cult .

Indian and Eastern religions

The Hindu doctrine of Ahimsa is generally antagonistic to hunting .

Hindu Scriptures describe hunting was a sport of the kingly and practiced by many ancient holy royal families. In the epic Ramayana, Dasharatha, the father of lord Ram, is said to have the ability to hunt in the dark. During one of his hunting expedition he accidentally killed Shravana, mistaking him for game. According to the Mahabharat, Pandu, the father of the Pandavas, accidentally killed the sage Kindama and his wife with an arrow mistaking them for a deer.

Jainism teaches to have tremendous respect for all of life. Prohibitions for hunting and meat eating are the fundamental conditions for being a Jain.

The first Precept of Buddhism is the respect for all sentient life. The general approach by all Buddhists is to avoid killing any living animals. The Buddha explained the issue by saying "all fear death; comparing others with oneself, one should neither kill nor cause to kill".

Christianity and Judaism

From early Christian times, hunting has been forbidden to Roman Catholic Church clerics. Thus the "Corpus Juris Canonici" (C. ii, X, De cleric. venat.) says "We forbid to all servants of God hunting and expeditions through the woods with hounds; and we also forbid them to keep hawks or falcons." The Fourth Council of the Lateran, held under Pope Innocent III, decreed (canon xv): "We interdict hunting or hawking to all clerics." The decree of the Council of Trent is worded more mildly: "Let clerics abstain from illicit hunting and hawking" (Sess. XXIV, De reform., c. xii), which seems to imply that not all hunting is illicit, and canonists generally make a distinction declaring noisy (clamorosa) hunting unlawful but not quiet (quieta) hunting.

Ferraris (s.v. "Clericus", art. 6) gives it as the general sense of canonists that hunting is allowed to clerics if it be indulged in rarely and for sufficient cause, as necessity, utility or "honest" recreation, and with that moderation which is becoming to the ecclesiastical state. Ziegler, however (De episc., l. IV, c. xix), thinks that the interpretation of the canonists is not in accordance with the letter or spirit of the laws of the Church.

Nevertheless, although a distinction between lawful and unlawful hunting is undoubtedly permissible, it is certain that a bishop can absolutely prohibit all hunting to the clerics of his diocese, as was done by synods at Milan, Avignon, Liège, Cologne and elsewhere. Benedict XIV (De synodo diœces., l. II, c. x) declared that such synodal decrees are not too severe, as an absolute prohibition of hunting is more conformable to the ecclesiastical law. In practice, therefore, the synodal statutes of various localities must be consulted to discover whether they allow quiet hunting or prohibit it altogether.

It is important to note that the Bible places no such restrictions on any Christian, as most do not observe Kosher dietary laws. Hence Protestant clerics, Catholic lay parishioners, and Protestants have no religious restrictions on hunting. This is in accord with what is found in the Bible book of Acts 15:28-29 and 1 Timothy 4:4.

Jewish hunting law, based on the Torah, is similar, permitting hunting of non-preying animals that are additionally considered Kosher for food, although hunting preying animals for food is strictly prohibited under Rabbinic law. Hence birds of prey are specifically prohibited and non-Kosher. Hunting for sport, and not for food is also forbidden in Rabbinical Law.

National hunting traditions

New Zealand

New Zealandmarker has a strong hunting culture. The islands making up New Zealand originally had no land mammals apart from bats. However, once Europeans arrived game animals were introduced by acclimatisation societies to provide New Zealanders with sport and a hunting resource. Deer, pigs, goats, rabbits, Tahr and Chamois all adapted well to the New Zealand terrain and with no natural predators their population exploded. Government agencies view the animals as pests due to their effects on the natural environment and on agricultural production, but hunters view them as a resource.

Shikar (India)

During the feudal and colonial epoch on the Indian continent, hunting was a true 'regal sport' in the numerous princely states, as many (Maha)rajas, Nawabs, as well as British officers maintained a whole corps of shikaris, who were native professional hunters. They would be headed by a master of the hunt, who might be styled Mir-shikar. Often these were recruited from the normally low-ranking local tribes because of their traditional knowledge of environment and hunting techniques. Big game, such as Bengal tigers, might be hunted from the back of an elephant.

Indian social norms are generally antagonistic to hunting, while a few sects like the Bishnoi lay special emphasis on the conservation of particular species like the antelope. India's Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 bans the killing of all wild animals. However, the Chief Wildlife Warden may, if he is satisfied that any wild animal from a specified list has become dangerous to human life or is so disabled or diseased as to be beyond recovery, permit any person to hunt such animal. In such a case, the body of any wild animal killed or wounded becomes government property.


A safari, from a Swahili word meaning a long journey, is an overland journey (especially in Africa).

Safari as a distinctive way of hunting was popularized by US author Ernest Hemingway and president Theodore Roosevelt. A safari may consist of several days or even weeks-long journey and camping in the bush or jungle, while pursuing big game. Nowadays, it's often used to describe tours through African national parks to watch or hunt wildlife.

Hunters are usually tourists, accompanied by (licensed and highly regulated) professional hunters ("PH"), local guides, skinners and porters in more difficult terrains. A special safari type is the solo-safari where all the license acquiring, stalking, preparation and outfitting is done by the hunter himself.

Photo-safaris were popular even before the advent of ecotourism. The synonym bloodless hunt for hunting with the use of film and a still photo camera was first used by the Polish photographer Włodzimierz Puchalski.

United Kingdom

Fox hunting is the type of hunting most closely associated with the United Kingdommarker. Originally a form of vermin control to protect livestock, it became a popular social activity for newly wealthy upper classes in Victorian times, and a traditional rural activity for riders and foot followers alike. Similar to fox hunting in many ways is the chasing of hare with hounds. Sight hounds such as greyhounds may be used to run down hare in coursing with scent hounds such as beagles. Other sorts of foxhounds may also be used for hunting deer or mink. Hunting deer on foot using stealth without hounds or horses is called deer stalking.

These forms of hunting have been controversial in the UK. Animal welfare supporters believe that hunting causes unnecessary suffering to foxes, horses and hounds. Proponents argue that it is culturally and perhaps economically important. Using dogs to chase wild mammals was made illegal in February 2005 by the Hunting Act 2004. The issues involved are addressed in the article fox hunting legislation.

Shooting traditions

The shooting of game birds, especially pheasants still exists in the UK, with the British Association for Shooting and Conservation saying that over a million people per year participate in shooting, although this figure includes game shooting, clay pigeon shooting and target shooting. Shooting, as opposed to traditional hunting, requires little questing for game - around 35 million birds are released onto shooting estates every year, some having been factory farmed. Shoots can be elaborate affairs with guns placed in assigned positions with assistants to help load shotguns. When in position, "beaters" move through the areas of cover swinging sticks or flags to drive the game out. Such events are often called "drives". The open season for grouse in the UK begins on August 12, the so-called Glorious Twelfth. The definition of game in the United Kingdom is governed by the Game Act 1831.

United States

North American hunting predates the United States by thousands of years, and was an important part of many pre-Columbian Native American cultures. Native Americans retain some hunting rights and are exempt from some laws as part of Indian treaties and otherwise under federal law—examples include eagle feather laws and exemptions in the Marine Mammal Protection Act. This is considered particularly important in Alaska Native communities.

Regulation of hunting is primarily regulated by state law; additional regulations are imposed through United States environmental law in the case of migratory birds and endangered species.

Regulations vary widely from state to state, and govern the areas, time periods, techniques and methods by which specific game animals may be hunted. Some states make a distinction between protected species and unprotected species (often vermin or varmints) for which there are no hunting regulations. Hunters of protected species require a hunting license in all states, for which completion of a hunting safety course is sometimes a prerequisite.

Typically game animals are divided into several categories for regulatory purposes. Typical categories, along with example species, are as follows:

Hunting big game typically requires a "tag" for each animal harvested. Tags must be purchased in addition to the hunting license, and the number of tags issued to an individual is typically limited. In cases where there are more prospective hunters than the quota for that species, tags are usually assigned by lottery. Tags may be further restricted to a specific area or "wildlife management unit." Hunting migratory waterfowl requires a "duck stamp" from the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Harvest of animals other than big game is typically restricted by a "bag limit" and a "possession limit." A bag limit is a maximum number of a specific animal species that an individual can harvest in a single day. A possession limit is a maximum number of a specific animal species that can be in an individual's possession at any time.

Guns usage in hunting is also typically regulated by game category, area within the state, and time period. Regulations for big game hunting often specify a minimum caliber or muzzle energy for firearms. The use of rifles is often banned for safety reasons in areas with high population density or limited topographic relief. Regulations may also limit or ban the use of lead in ammunition because of environmental concerns. Specific seasons for bow hunting or muzzle-loading black powder guns are often established to limit competition with hunters using more effective weapons. Hunting in the United States is not associated with any particular class or culture. In fact, 78% of Americans support legal hunting, but relatively few Americans actually hunt. At the beginning of the 21st century, 6% of Americans hunted. Southerners in states along the eastern seaboard hunted at a rate slightly below the national average (5%), and while hunting was more common in other parts of the South (9%), these rates did not surpass those of the Plains states, where 12% of Midwesterners hunted. Hunting in other areas of the country fell below the national average. Overall in the 1996–2006 period, the number of hunters over the age of 16 declined by 10%, a drop attributable to a number of factors including habitat loss and changes in recreation habits.

Regulation of hunting within the United States dates from the 19th century. Some modern hunters see themselves as conservationists and sportsmen in the mode of Theodore Roosevelt and the Boone and Crockett Club. Local hunting clubs and national organizations provide hunter education and help protect the future of the sport by buying land for future hunting use. Some groups represent a specific hunting interest, such as Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever or Delta Waterfowl Foundation. Many hunting groups also participate in lobbying the federal government and state government.

Each year, nearly $200 million in hunters' federal excise taxes are distributed to state agencies to support wildlife management programs, the purchase of lands open to hunters, and hunter education and safety classes. Since 1934 the sale of Federal Duck Stamps, a required purchase for migratory waterfowl hunters over 16 years old, has raised over $700 million to help purchase more than 5.2 million acres (8,100 sq mi/20,000 km²) of habitat for the National Wildlife Refuge System lands that support waterfowl and many other wildlife species, and are often open to hunting. States also collect monies from hunting licenses to assist with management of game animals, as designated by law. A key task of Federal and state park rangers and game wardens is to enforce laws and regulations related to hunting, including species protection, hunting seasons, and hunting bans.

Varmint hunting is an American phrase for the selective killing of non-game animals seen as pests. While not always an efficient form of pest control, varmint hunting achieves selective control of pests while providing recreation and is much less regulated. Varmint species are often responsible for detrimental effects on crops, livestock, landscaping, infrastructure, and pets. Some animals (such as wild rabbits or squirrels) may be utilized for fur or meat, but often no use is made of the carcass. Which species are "varmints" depends on the circumstance and area. Common varmints may include various rodents, coyotes, crows, foxes, feral cats, and feral hogs. Some animals once considered varmints are now protected, such as wolves. In the US state of Louisianamarker, a non-native rodent known as a nutria have become so destructive to the local ecosystem that the state has initiated a bounty program to help control the population. Feral dogs and cats, rats, starlings, English sparrows, and pigeons may be hunted without a hunting license in the United States.

The American Fair Chase Tradition

The principles of the Fair Chase have been a part of the American hunting tradition for over 100 years. The role of the hunter-conservationist, popularized by Theodore Roosevelt, has been central to the development of the modern Fair Chase tradition. When internet hunting was introduced in 2005, allowing people to hunt over the internet using remotely controlled guns, the practice was widely criticized by hunters as violating the principles of fair chase. As a representative of the NRA explained, "[t]he NRA has always maintained that fair chase, being in the field with your firearm or bow, is an important element of hunting tradition. Sitting at your desk in front of your computer, clicking at a mouse, has nothing to do with hunting."Humane Society Wildlife Abuse Campaign, Fact Sheet on Internet Hunting

Hunting ranches

Indian Blackbuck, Nilgai, exotic deer antelope, Greater Kudu and Barasingha can now be found on hunting ranches in Texasmarker, USAmarker where they are shot for sport hunting. Hunters can pay upwards of $4000 as fees for hunting a Barasingha.


The Russian imperial hunts evolved from hunting traditions of early Russian rulers (Grand Princes and Tsars), under the influence of hunting customs of European royal courts. The imperial hunts were organized mainly in Peterhofmarker, Tsarskoye Selomarker and Gatchinamarker.

Wildlife management

Hunting gives resource managers an important tool in managing populations that might exceed the carrying capacity of their habitat and threaten the well-being of other species or, in some instances, damage human health or safety. Hunting reduces intraspecific competition for food and shelter, reducing mortality among the remaining animals. Some environmentalists assert that (re)introducing predators would achieve the same end with greater efficiency and less negative effect such as introducing significant amounts of free lead into the environment and food chain. Hunters often disagree, arguing that hunting is more selective, removing fewer old, sick, or young animals than natural predation. Aldo Leopold, an early environmentalist and hunter, also believed hunting could be used to manage animal populations.

Management agencies sometimes rely on hunting to control specific animal populations, as has been the case with deer in North America. These hunts may sometimes be carried out by professional shooters although others may include amateur hunters.

A large part of managing populations involves managing the number and, sometimes, the size or age of animals harvested so as to ensure the sustainability of the population. Tools which are frequently used to control harvest are bag limits and season closures, although gear restrictions such as archery-only seasons are becoming increasingly popular in an effort to reduce hunter success rates.

Bag limits

Bag limits are provisions under the law which control how many animals of a given species or group of species can be killed although there are often species for which bag limits do not apply. There are also jurisdictions where bag limits are not applied at all or are not applied under certain circumstances. Where bag limits are used, however, there can be daily or seasonal bag limits. For example, ducks can often be harvested at a rate of six per hunter per day. Big game, like moose, most often have a seasonal bag limit of one animal per hunter. Bag limits may also regulate the size, sex or age of animal that a hunter can kill. In many cases, bag limits are designed to more equitably allocate harvest among the hunting population rather than to protect animal populations. The phrase "bag limits" comes from the custom among hunters of small game to carry successful kills in a small bag, similar to a fishing kreel.

Closed season

A closed season is a "hunting" term used to describe a time during which hunting an animal of a given species is contrary to law. Typically, closed seasons are designed to protect a species when they are most vulnerable or, sometimes, to protect them during their breeding season. By extension, the period that is not the closed season is known as the open season.

Illegal hunting

Illegal hunting and harvesting of wild species contrary to local and international conservation and wildlife management laws is termed as "Poaching". Violations of hunting laws and regulations are normally punishable by law and, collectively, such violations are known as poaching.

Hunting methods

Historical, subsistence and sport hunting techniques can differ radically, with modern hunting regulations often addressing issues of where, when and how hunts are conducted. Techniques may vary depending on government regulations, a hunter's personal ethics, local custom, firearms and the animal being hunted. Often a hunter will use a combination of more than one technique, and some are used primarily in poaching and wildlife management, explicitly forbidden to sport hunters.

  • Baiting is the use of decoys, lures, scent.
  • Beagling is the use of beagles in hunting rabbits and sometimes in hunting foxes.
  • Blind or stand hunting is waiting for animals from a concealed or elevated position
  • Calling is the use of animal noises to attract or drive animals
  • Camouflage is the use of visual concealment (or scent) to blend with the environment
  • Dogs may be used to course or to help flush, herd, drive, track, point at, pursue or retrieve prey
  • Driving is the herding of animals in a particular direction, usually toward another hunter in the group
  • Flushing is the practice of scaring animals from concealed areas
  • Glassing is the use of optics (such as binoculars) to more easily locate animals
  • Glue is an indiscriminate passive form to kill birds
  • Internet hunting is a method of hunting over the internet using webcams and remotely controlled guns
  • Netting, including active netting with the use of cannon nets and rocket nets
  • Persistence hunting is the use of running and tracking to pursue the prey to exhaustion.
  • Scouting includes a variety of tasks and techniques for finding animals to hunt
  • Spotlighting or shining is the use of artificial light to find or blind animals before killing
  • Stalking or still hunting is the practice of walking quietly, in search of animals or in pursuit of an individual animal
  • Tracking is the practice of reading physical evidence in pursuing animals
  • Trapping is the use of devices (snares, pits, deadfalls) to capture or kill an animal

Trophy hunting

Trophy hunting is the selective seeking of wild game. It may also include the controversial hunting of captive or semi-captive animals expressly bred and raised under controlled or semi-controlled conditions so as to attain trophy characteristics (canned hunts).


In the 19th century, southern and central European sport hunters often pursued game only for a trophy, usually the head or pelt of an animal, which was then displayed as a sign of prowess. The rest of the animal was typically discarded. Some cultures, however, disapprove of such waste. In Nordic countries, hunting for trophies was—and still is—frowned upon. Hunting in North America in the 19th century was done primarily as a way to supplement food supplies, although it is now undertaken mainly for sport. The safari method of hunting was a development of sport hunting that saw elaborate travel in Africa, India and other places in pursuit of trophies. In modern times, trophy hunting persists and is a significant industry in some areas.


Trophy hunting is most often criticised when it involves rare or endangered animals. Opponents may also see trophy hunting as an issue of morality or animal cruelty, criticising the killing of living creatures for recreation. Victorian era dramatist W. S. Gilbert remarked, "Deer-stalking would be a very fine sport if only the deer had guns."

There is also debate about the extent to which trophy hunting benefits the local economy. Hunters argue that fees paid contribute to the local economy and provide value to animals that would otherwise be seen as competition for grazing, livestock, and crops. This analysis is disputed by opponents of trophy hunting. Some argue that the animals are worth more to the community for ecotourism, than hunting.

Economics of hunting

A variety of industries benefit from hunting and support hunting on economic grounds. In Tanzania, it is estimated that a safari hunter spends 50-100 times that of the average eco-tourist. The average photo tourist may demand luxury accommodations. In contrast, the average safari hunter stays in tented camps. Safari hunters are also more likely to use remote areas, uninviting to the average eco-tourist. Advocates argue that these hunters allow for anti-poaching activities and revenue for local communities.

In the United Kingdom, the game hunting of birds as an industry is said to be extremely important to the rural economy: The Cobham Report of 1997 suggested it to be worth around £700 million, and hunting and shooting lobby groups now claim it to be worth over a billion.

Hunting also has a significant financial impact in the United States, with many companies specializing in hunting equipment or specialty tourism. Today's hunters come from a broad range of economic, social, and cultural backgrounds. In 2001, over 13 million hunters averaged eighteen days hunting and spent over $20.5 billion on their sport. In the U.S., proceeds from hunting licenses contribute to state game management programs including preservation of wildlife habitat.


Hunters have been driving forces throughout history in the movement to ensure long-term sustainability of natural resources and wildlife habitats. Some hunters feel that the honor once bestowed upon their sport has diminished over the years, claiming that mainstream media sometimes ignores the connection between hunting and conservation and often publishes claims that hunting endangers wildlife. Of greater concern to endangered wildlife is the loss of habitat, brought on by overpopulation and urban development. Because of their connection with the land and vested interest in increasing wildlife populations, hunters have been influential in implementing and financing various programs geared towards habitat restoration and conservation.

Legislation lobbied by hunters

Hunters have worked closely with local and federal governments to enact legislation to protect wildlife habitats. The following examples represent hunter-advocated legislation enacted to generate funds for preserving and establishing habitats.(Hunters Rule)

The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters successfully lobbied to prevent cuts in funding for the Community Fisheries and Wildlife Involvement Program by 50%.

Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937

In 1937, hunters successfully lobbied Congress to pass the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act, which placed an 11% tax on all hunting equipment. This self-imposed tax now generates over $700 million each year and is used exclusively to establish, restore and protect wildlife habitats. It is named for Nevada Senator Key Pittman and Virginia Congressman Absalom Willis Robertson.

Federal Duck Stamp Program

On March 16, 1934 President Roosevelt signed the Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act, which requires an annual stamp purchase by all hunters over the age of sixteen. The stamps are created on behalf of the program by the U.S. Postal Service and depict wildlife artwork chosen through an annual contest. They play an important role in habitat conservation because 98% of all funds generated by their sale go directly toward the purchase or lease of wetland habitat for protection in the National Wildlife Refuge System. In addition to waterfowl, it is estimated that one third of the nation's endangered species seek food and shelter in areas protected using Duck Stamp funds. Since 1934, the sale of Federal Duck Stamps has generated $670M and helped to purchase or lease 5.2 million acres (21,000 km²) of habitat. The stamps serve as a license to hunt migratory birds, an entrance pass for all National Wildlife Refuge areas and are also considered collectors items often purchased for aesthetic reasons outside of the hunting and birding communities. Although non-hunters buy a significant number of Duck Stamps, 87% of their sales are contributed to hunters. Distribution of funds is managed by The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission (MBCC).

Conservation organizations founded by hunters

There are a number of organizations founded by hunters and by those interested in preserving wildlife populations and habitats. One of the oldest and most well-known organizations is Ducks Unlimited. Another internationally recognized hunters' conservation organization is Safari Club International.

See also



Further reading

  • Dickson D. Bruce, Jr., Mississippi Quarterly (Spring 1977).
  • Kenneth S. Greenberg, Honor and Slavery: Lies, Duels, Noses, Masks, Dressing as a Woman, Gifts, Strangers, Humanitarianism, Death, Slave Rebellions, the Pro-Slavery Argument, Baseball, Hunting, and Gambling in the Old South (1996).
  • Steven Hahn, Radical History Review (1982).
  • Charles H. Hudson, Jr., in Indians, Animals, and the Fur Trade, ed., Shephard Krech III (1981).
  • Stuart A. Marks, Southern Hunting in Black and White: Nature, History, and Ritual in a Carolina Community (1991).
  • Ted Ownby, Subduing Satan: Religion, Recreation, and Manhood in the Rural South, 1865-1920 (1990).
  • Wiley C. Prewitt, “The Best of All Breathing: Hunting and Environmental Change in Mississippi, 1900-1980” M.A. thesis, (1991).
  • Nicolas W. Proctor, Bathed in Blood: Hunting and Mastery in the Old South (2002).
  • Jacob F. Rivers III, Cultural Values in the Southern Sporting Narrative (2002).
  • Timothy Silver, A New Face on the Countryside: Indians, Colonists, and Slaves in South Atlantic Forests, 1500-1800 (1990).
  • Richard C. Stedman and Thomas A. Heberlein, Rural Sociology (2001).
  • Nancy L. Struna, People of Prowess: Sport, Leisure, and Labor in Early Anglo-America (1996).
  • Salem, D.J., and A.N. Rowan, eds. 2003. The State of the Animals II: 2003. Washington, D.C.: Humane Society Press. (ISBN 0-9658942-7-4)

External links

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