This is a hot subject in 2016... the ethics and necessity of hunting. My stance is: if hunting was relevant 100 years ago, then it has to be just as relevant now. If we have so insulated our existence, that we are too far removed from the wild to continue to hunt, perhaps the root issue is that we are out of touch with reality, rather than there being something wrong in the act of going afield.
Hunting is one of the more primal, immersive and formative experiences that we as men and women can participate in. Hunting is as foundational as any activity; and it spans the entire scope of human history.
In our modern world, we are becoming more and more oriented towards spectating and consuming. We have put a world’s worth of information at our fingertips, created immersive digital worlds, created the illusion of connectedness, and through it all, we have insulated ourselves from real life, and honest stimulation. And when we do step out into the real world (formerly just known as The World) the emphasis is rarely on the experience, but far too often centered around documenting the experience to be shared with other arm-chair adventurers and Instagram explorers. Hunting strips away all of that. Hunting is a real, honest pursuit. Hunting it total immersion in the moment, and in your surroundings. Hunting isn’t spectating from afar, or blasting away creatures with high powered rifles as the media so frequently loves to phrase it. Hunting is trekking into hard-to-reach pockets of the globe that most would not dare to venture, and relying on your five senses and your wit to overcome the ever-changing conditions, and skillfully take a wild beast. A wild beast who generally sees better than you, smells better than you, hears better than you, and would beat you in a foot race 100 out of 100 times. By participating in the hunt and the chase, we are restoring a part of our most basic human condition, and testing ourselves against the best that nature has to offer.
Arguably more important than the impact hunting has on our society, is the impact that hunting has on the wildlife populations and protected public lands. There are countless organizations and groups that lobby to protect wild game and millions of acres of undeveloped land. The work done by these groups has been instrumental in some of our greatest conservation achievements. Imagine if the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Safari Club International, Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, African Professional Hunters Association, Dallas Safari Club, Wild Sheep Foundation, and the countless other cause-based organizations did not exist, and were not fighting to protect the species and public lands that we treasure to dearly. All of these organizations are funded and organized by hunters. According to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, hunters have contributed $2 Billion directly towards conservation over the last 75 years, and that figure is in the United States alone. The positive impact on wildlife populations and the preservation of vital habitat by hunters is undeniable. Hunting must continue, because hunters must continue to fight to protect the resources that make it all possible. The rest of the population has benefitted from the hard work, generosity and sacrifices of hunters far more than they realize. Looking ahead, it is our utmost responsibility to continue to educate, inspire and restore the appreciation of the benefits of hunting for the next generation.
Hunting has a future because we must ensure that it has a future. If we believe anything we preach about the important role hunting plays in the advancement of conservation and the preservation of fair, honest pursuit, then it is of the utmost importance that we ensure hunting has a healthy and thriving future, indefinitely.
Photo: Donald M. Jones
Video: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation