Evidently, a lot of sportsmen do.
MISSOULA, Mont.--(Ammoland.com)- Social media lights up with debates about a host of topics that seemingly just keep coming.
Whether it’s: how far is too far; hunters getting grilled for posting their photos on their Facebook pages; or I’ll never hunt behind a high fence, to shooting hogs with an AR from a helicopter and calling it hunting, or baiting bears is for cowards, how we hunt, or how someone else hunts must matter.
The truth is, it should matter.
We’re hunting today, not solely because of sportsmen’s efforts to restore game populations from dismal to robust, but because in a democratic society hunting is still supported by the majority of citizens.
All significant human activities are sooner or later conducted under a code, or set of guidelines, that direct appropriate behavior. Without this order there would simply be chaos and the activity would become unacceptable. Consequently, ethics apply in everything we do, including hunting. Our game laws direct ethical behavior in many cases, but just because something is legal does that mean it is ethical? Beyond the laws established by society, ethics become a matter of personal choice left to each individual.
Personal ethics are personal, but individual actions, good and bad represent the entire group. (The recent Cecil Lion Death has sparked a social media fire on the topic)
Because of the personal nature of ethics, they can be divisive topic. Some would say talking ethics only divides hunters. Others say ethics unites like-mined hunters under a common banner. Then there’s fair chase.
The ethics of fair chase are not as clearly defined as people would like them to be. Beliefs about what is and what is not fair chase, like all personal values, fall on a continuum. Fair chase is more a matter of the “spirit of the hunt” than a strict code. Hunting beliefs and practices may change over time, but the process of analyzing a situation and properly evaluating the options that will lead to a well-reasoned determination of what fair chase is (and is not) stays constant.
An understanding of fair chase is complicated by the fact that “fair” has many meanings and uses in the English language, i.e., fair ball, fair weather, fair skin, fair chance, fair play. When the word “fair” is paired with “chase,” it implies hunting is fair or equal – the literal meaning of fair.
Hunting is not fair.
It is not a field sport like baseball or football where the participants agree to the rules of engagement beforehand. In hunting, the prey has not agreed to anything, nor does it have an equal chance in most cases to kill the human hunter. For most species, escape is the only option. Therefore, the meaning of fair chase is based on the definition of “fair” that relates to legitimate, honorable, genuine, or appropriate in the circumstances. To complicate matters further, fair chase is associated with the notion of “sport hunting” in the minds of many hunters even though it does not resemble any sport played on a field or court. The term “sport,” in hunting, means only a sporting approach. That approach recognizes the advantage of human capabilities, including technologies, and represents a desire to constrain so as to give the animals pursued a legitimate chance to escape. It also recognizes that humans are the alpha predator and there is a need to limit our advantage, which is one of the underpinnings of sustainable use conservation.
There is no denying the fact that what was once unacceptable is now increasingly becoming acceptable. Will there be a price to pay for the end justifies the means? Will hunting’s public approval rating be affected? Are we turning anti-hunting into anti-hunter, or has this always been the case? It’s a good conversation to have.
About Boone and Crockett Club
The Boone and Crockett Club was founded by Theodore Roosevelt in 1887 as North America’s first hunting and conservation organization. Its mission is to promote and encourage hunting, and to maintain the highest ethical standards of fair chase and sportsmanship in North America.
Join us at www.Boone-Crockett.org.