Home Culture The Ethics Of What We Hunt: Why Our Killing Choices Matter

The Ethics Of What We Hunt: Why Our Killing Choices Matter

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 “Industrial production of animals for slaughter is totalitarian human control from birth to death for cattle, sheep, pigs and the humble chicken. We are talking about tens of billions per year.”

The following article is written with no attempt to convert anyone to hunting or to accept the following lines of beliefs. I respect people’s beliefs even when they don’t mine, as there is no way of convincing any person to really change their true convictions. The point of discussion on this subject is to show people that love animals that the general thought that hunters are evil people with no education and just a desire to kill is naïve and far from the truth.

My Father gave me one very important rule when I was young concerning hunting.

“Never shoot any living thing for the sake of marksmanship.”

At this age I worked at the abattoirs and this left me with a dread on how certain animals end their lives. Animals are so attuned to their surroundings. Watching cattle being held in holding yards for days smelling the fear of other cattle as they go before them on the slow parade past the entrance of the killing floor. The sight of their eyes bulging from fear was gut reaching for me. This is a prolonged time for the animal. This is complete totalitarian human control from birth to death for countless cattle, sheep, pigs and the humble chicken. We are talking about tens of billions per year, but I understand its essential for food production and to sustain the worlds population. I wish there was another way.

Hunter By Choice

These are the words used by the SSAA (Sporting Shooters Association of Australia) in their latest description of a person who chooses to hunt. In my mind this only sums up part of the issues that revolve around a present day hunter and the opposing arguments to such an activity.

Hunting is not a right, it’s a privilege

  1. This privilege is gained in Australia by legal means by first doing a course to obtain a Firearms licence. Then you must have a hunting licence, then written permission from the land owner of the property you wish to hunt on.
  2. You must have the correct calibre for what you state to hunt and then hunt only in-season.
  3. The rifle and ammunition must be stored/carried to the hunting area in the correct manner under the Firearms act.
  4. You are subjected to inspections from the police at your home to ensure correct storage of firearms are being adhered to.
  5. All aspects of hunting must be in line with safety and the law. All licences and written permissions must be on the hunter at all times and be shown if challenged.
  6. The Laws relating to trespassing and spot lighting must be understood and followed.

Therefore a person’s free choice to peruse hunting must be done within legal means and hopefully, ethics. I would have no hesitation in contacting law enforcement about illegal activity concerning people that engage in hunting without the above procedure.

There will always be people that will act illegally and cruelly in any field and it is this that gives rise to the incorrect belief that all hunters do not do the right thing. Anti-gun groups believe in banning all guns instead of addressing the real problem. Imagine banning all hotels because people drink and drive? More people die today from alcohol than guns but that is never discussed.

Below are some of the reasons people of the world hunt and for anyone to suggest that this activity is pursuant of the blue-collar class structure of any given society is incorrect. If a person takes time to research, they will discover that the demographics show that large numbers of academics and for that matter royalty have had life long passions for hunting. There is not a country in the world that does not have a long hunting culture.

For example, the English royal family, the king of Spain, Presidents of the USA,( Teddy Roosevelt the most noted) and European royalty.

The famous German drink Jagermeister has a saying on its products

“It is the hunters honour that he protects and serves his game, hunts sportsmanlike, honours the Creator in his creatures”

The list goes on and on. Even individuals such as Ernest Hemingway have a long association with hunting and lets pick one out-of-the hat that’s close to home. This just an example. Our famous Australian cricketer player Glen McGrath, all hunters!

Control

Many species in the wild must be controlled for the sake of other animals, the environment and sometimes humans. The fox comes to mind, as do feral cats and wild pigs as examples of introduced animals that have made many species of native Australian animals extinct. The feral cat and wild pigs are others.

Hundreds of small manuals and birds have been destroyed in Australia and other countries by these animals either by killing them or destroying their environment. The methods for control of these animals are wide and varied. An excess of one species that threatens an environment, other animals or human life must be controlled and shooting plays a small but important part.

Food source

The taking of game for the purpose of food is an acceptable reason for hunting. To suggest that an abattoir is the only humane and correct way to harvest meat is also incorrect. This situation I will discuss later and is very relevant to the discussion.

Experiencing nature

There is a connection between the hunter and nature and if done with ethical considerations will only enhance the experience. Hunting that involves going into the wild and pitting ones self against nature in a survival situation is a test of skill and endurance. This form of free range hunting over extreme landscapes and under all weather conditions equates to a fair and reasonable engagement between animal and hunter. Ask any hunter and they would all say that the experience of nature is 99% the joy and 1% in obtaining an animal.

Persistence hunting is the ultimate form of ethical hunting. (Below)

Main Story

Cruelty to animals is a thing that is detested by all respectable hunters. The needless waste of shooting an animal just for the reason of shooting something is against everything a hunter should believe and stand for worldwide.

I believe that the hunters of today are more aware, more informed and more involved in conservation movements than the average person that voices their disapproval. If we just consider Africa today, we know that if the African animal looses its value on the ground, they would be removed over night and replaced with crops and cattle.

What I mean is, the millions of dollars that hunters spend in Africa alone supports concessions to keep many species of animal from becoming extinct across the continent. Breeding programs, detailed reports on the age of species in a given area, professional restrictions on the number of hunts, full time security patrols to stop poachers, all supported and educated gives a respectful approach to game management. This is fact.

There seems to be two lines of thought here that raises discussion:

  1. The killing of an animal by hunting.
  2. The killing of an animal for the purpose of trophy hunting.

The culture of people plays a very important part in the understanding and reasons for hunting. No one would question Eskimos hunting and killing seals and other animals for food to continue their tradition. No one would question Indigenous Australia for following their traditions, but isn’t it still taking the life of animals?

I have always believed that country people have the correct balanced approach to the meaning of the life circle concerning animals, which after all, is their whole life in many cases. In the city, the ones that complain and object the most have no hands on knowledge of food production and as long as they can buy it from a butcher or at a Super Market, they feel they can still take the high moral ground when it concerns hunting.

When you consider what people eat, there is just so much hypocrisy in their argument. As long as they don’t have to kill their chickens, cattle, or pigs they are still willing to eat them and cry animal cruelty at the same time.

Free range hunting of a very small percent of animals on the other hand has the following points:

  1. The animals are in there own environment.
  2. Wild animals usually have three times the eyesight, hearing and smell of humans in order to avoid detection and flee.
  3. They are not held captive by fences.

If I hunt a deer of which I have done thousands of times, 99% of the occasions the animal never knows that I’m there and death is instant. Abattoir or surprise? I know which one I would choose if given the choice!

The greatest hunters today are fishermen. Millions of tons of fish are caught daily for food, yet, they are alive and do have feelings! There seems to be a greater tolerance to the mass killing of fish and this does seem to rank a mention in most discussions. The only one in the sea that seems to get people talking is the whale and we all happily agree on our views on so-called Japanese’s whale research! What a joke!

So animals are killed for the main purpose of food production. That’s how it is and not likely to change unless the world turns vegetarian.

Trophy hunting

The trophy hunter is the most debated issue of the lot. I am a trophy hunter and amateur taxidermist, but I harvest all the meat from the animals I take. I do not hunt rare species nor shoot anything smaller than I have previously collected before. I am against the use of dogs to hunt and the baling up of poor and exhausted pray for shooting at leisure. This in my opinion is rubbish! It has nothing to do with and has no resemblance of fair hunting, skill or marksmanship. Note the British and their blood sport of fox hunting, tally-ho everyone! Out-lawed now, thank god!

Museums around the world trophy hunt in order to preserve, educate and show species to the public, but it is still trophy hunting!

Moose Norway

Trophy hunting is just another form of collection as a hobby and can be argued against until the end of time but will not change. People either accept it or not. It is as simple as that.

I will be going deer hunting in a month. I will track in some kilometers and make a camp for three days. Each day I will try to find my deer and if and when I do, he will never see or hear me. At that point when I collect him, I will do as I have all these years and give thanks for his life. His removal will keep in check the numbers in the area and protect the environmental concerning the erosion of soil, damage to trees and fences, but it will also provide meat for my family.

God! If I could leave this planet that way, without all the cancer suffering, heart attacks and strokes.

In a nutshell

So between the World’s Abattoirs, the Live Meat Trade, (Cattle, Pigs, Chickens) the World wide Commercial Fishing Trade I think focusing on the very small % of people that hunt is a miss directed effort. I would sooner people get behind the anti-whale movement, which are becoming a rare creature indeed.

This story will not change anything but I hope that people that don’t hunt see that there are ethics with true hunters and not the wanton slaughter as some would suggest. There will always be things in this world that people like or not…… that is life!

It’s their choice! This choice will remain as long as it does not interfere with the liberty and welfare of others.

What is life without a person having the natural right to have a choice?

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Andrew Mitchell
Andrew Mitchell is an Australian Close Quarter Protection Agent, Police approved Firearms Instructor, Private Investigator and Analytical Observer. He is the founder of the Martial Arts system Genesis and maintains a life long passion for hunting.