My whole life I have been an avid hunter. I began going with my father just to spend time with him when I was six years old, but over time it turned into a passion. Being in the outdoors, watching everything in the outdoors, and just enjoying the outdoors acts as a stress reliever to me. There is just something about the tranquility and serenity of watching the earth around me and its beauty. Hunting has been around ever since the beginning of humankind, but lately there has been some talk about doing away with some types of hunting because it is unethical and inhumane. Why should hunting still be around today anyway?
There are many reasons that hunting should still be around today. Hunting provides for the economy, provides a better ecosystem, and feeds millions of people every year, but people still argue that hunting is not good for the environment, and some forms of hunting should be done away with completely. I argue that continuing to allow people to hunt throughout the country is, and always will be, in the best interest for the country as a whole.
There will always be a group of people that oppose hunting no matter what anyone says, but those anti-hunters cannot argue with what some people would consider as facts. Many groups of anti-hunters claim that hunting destroys the environment. They believe that a healthy environment is one that is not disturbed, and is left in its original unbothered state. They say that hunting causes more pain to an animal that would not occur if there was no hunting. This group of anti-hunters believe that hunters do not care about the animal that they are killing, and that hunters just kill for fun. The truth is, most of this is incorrect.
Hunting, according to Whit Gibbons, is good for the environment. “[Hunting is a way to] maintain wildlife at current and healthy levels.” What he means by this is that hunting keeps the animals at a level that is reasonable for humans and the animals both. With the number of hunters in the United States decreasing every year in percentage, hunters still manage to somehow keep animals at a safe operating level even though we are only 9 percent of the entire population in the United States. A safe operating level for animal capacity is a level at which the animals have adequate food for the entire population of that species. It is also when a certain species of animals do not affect the day-to-day lives of human beings. As hunters, it is our main goal to manage a herd of animals in a way that allows the animals to be relaxed and not have to worry about competing with the alpha animals for a particular food source, in turn making them malnourished and unable to survive the winters.
There have been many cases in the northern part of the United States where large percentages of a deer herd will not make it through the harsh winters due to undernutrition caused by overpopulation. If a herd of deer, or any animal for that matter, reaches its carrying capacity, every deer in that herd will suffer because of the overpopulation. There would not be enough food in that area for every animal in the herd to eat the amount of food that they need to survive the winter.
An example that shows how hunters need to maintain a stable level of animal population is the Grey Wolf of the Rocky Mountains. According to Jeff Black, a staff writer for NBC News, during the 1970’s, the Grey Wolf was put on the endangered species list. The Grey Wolf was hunted hard in the Rocky Mountains for a long time, and the hard hunting eventually caught up with them. In past years, there were not any regulations on Grey Wolf hunting in the Rocky Mountains, but once they became endangered, the hunting was banned immediately. In 2008, the population of the Grey Wolf was on a quick rise, and it was becoming a hazard to human well being. The wolves were killing farmers’ livestock in both Montana and Wyoming. In the same year that the Grey Wolf came off the endangered species list, President Obama lifted the ban on Grey Wolf hunting and allowed them to be hunted again, but with strict regulations that will keep the Grey Wolf at a maintainable level this time. This is a great example of how hunting, with the right regulations, can “maintain wildlife at current healthy levels” and make the well being of humans better in the process.
As a hunter, I can attest to the anti-hunters’ argument about how hunting causes an unhealthy environment. Every year to get ready for hunting season, my father and I spend several hundred dollars to prepare our land to be hunted. This money goes into items that feed the animals we hunt, giving them the proper nutrition that will keep them healthy until the next year when we feed them again. Another thing that we do to get ready for the hunting season is that we plant crops for the animals. My father and I plant different crops such as corn, clover, soybeans, and even sunflowers that contribute to many different species in the environment. Other than planting things to grow, we perform control burns. A control burn is a synthetic fire that kills the undergrowth in the forest. This action allows the natural plants of an environment to grow back in a nutrient-rich environment with much less competition for water and food than before.
There are, in fact, many reasons that people still hunt today. I took a survey in one of my larger classes. It was my Biology 1010 class that has approximately one hundred people in it. I took a survey of the students, and out of the one hundred people, only four of them were hunters. I asked these four people why they hunt and I got four different answers. The first person that I talked to told me that the reason he hunted was because “it is just fun.” The second person that I asked told me that it was because hunting was a main way to provide food for their family. This person told me that hunting has been in their family for decades, and they just wanted to keep that tradition going while providing food for his family to eat. I interviewed a third person from my class that told me that he hunted for a couple of reasons: 1) To provide food for their family, and 2) They respect the game animals that they hunt and they want to be able to keep these animals at a reasonable population so that they do not have to compete for food with one another. The last person that I talked to here on campus about why they hunt had a simple explanation. This person told me that they did not necessarily like to “hunt” the animals, but that they liked to be one with nature. They told me that hunting is a way to be one with nature and enjoy everything that is beautiful on this earth. As a hunter myself, I can agree with all four of these viewpoints on why they like to hunt. I think everything about hunting is fun, from the waking up early, to the summer days scouting and planting food, to sitting in the stand all day. I also believe that it is my job to provide food on the table for my family, and hunting is the best way that I know how to do that. While being a conservationist is not on the top of my priority list when I am hunting, it does play a major role in what I do when I hunt. I like to see a healthy herd of animals with adequate food and shelter, and that is not easy to do, but it is why I do what I do. Lastly, hunting is a form of therapy. Whenever I have something going on in my life and I just need to get away, I go hunting. It is a peaceful place where nothing else matters besides you and God’s creation.
People claim that hunting is morally incorrect here in America. In many places all over the world, people have to hunt to survive. Hunting in some people’s eyes may not be moral, but it is a way of life. The way that I justify hunting is by the Bible. Hunting is referred to many times in the Bible. Genesis 9:3 says, “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.” Those were direct words from God to us. If we will inhabit his Earth, then we should abide by his rules. I know that everyone does not agree or believe in the Bible, but in the United States, most of the population does go by the Bible, in some form or fashion. The U.S. was built upon making exceptions for different people, so that everyone has a fair opportunity. There will always be efforts to meet on common ground to accommodate different groups of people.
It was recently studied that predatory animals have affected animal population number, but hunters are trying to control the populations of those animals such as coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, and other predatory animals. In 2001, the Whitetail deer population in Alabama was around 2.2 million deer. In 2011, a study was done that shows that the population is down to 1.8 million deer. According to Charlie Killmaster, in July of 2010, a coyote and deer study was done to show how the coyote population is affecting the deer population. Dr. John Kligo performed this study by putting a tracking collar on sixty fawn deer that were born in South Carolina just a couple hours after birth. Of the sixty deer that had on tracking collars, 73 percent of those fawns died. That is, a little more than seven out of every ten died. Of the forty-four that died after birth, thirty-five were killed by coyotes. If hunters were not able to control the populations of predatory animals such as coyotes, you could see that forty-four deaths rise to fifty-five out of the sixty. As you can see, controlling numbers of one species of animals contributes to the number of species of another animal.
A main argument that is presented with anti-hunters is that hunters do not even eat what they kill. This is not true. In my fourteen years of hunting, I have never once met anyone that did not eat what they kill, or give their meat to someone that needs it more than they do. I have a friend that kills anywhere from three to ten deer a year, and he donates those deer to families that do not have the money or ability to provide for their own family. There is a program here in Alabama that is called Hunters Helping the Hungry. This program was started in 1999, and every year this program provides close to 35,000 pounds of venison to families in need. I myself do not participate in this program, but that is because my family eats venison all year long. At my house, we have a meat grinder that we use to grind the meat of the animal that we harvest into hamburger meat. Every year, we accumulate close to four hundred pounds total of venison, and we eat this meat as long as it lasts.
I recently talked with a Wildlife Conservation Biologist, Warren Gauden. Mr. Gauden told me that 80% of the funds that provide for environmental conservation effort projects come from hunting licenses and fishing licenses. That means that the anti-hunters only provide 20% of the funds for the environment that they care so much about. So every hunting license and fishing license that is bought every year before the season helps the environment. According to The Rocky Mountain Elk Federation, “In 1907, only 41,000 elk remained in North America. Thanks to the money and hard work invested by hunters to restore and conserve habitat, today there are more than 1 million.” They later said that in 1900, there were only about 500,000 whitetail deer, but today there are close to 32 million whitetail deer in North America. This shows that when there are proper laws on hunting, and everyone abides by the law, it can make a tremendous difference in the environment.
Other than hunting being good for the environment, it also serves as an economic booster as well. According to the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, in 2001 $24,708,970 was spent on traveling accommodations and the purchase of hunting equipment in the United States. Of that $24 million, $10 million was spent on deer hunting alone. Also, of that $24 million, almost $4 million was due to out-of-state hunters that would travel to other states to hunt an animal of a different region. The same statistic came out in 2011 by Hunting in America and says that close to 13.7 million Americans participated in hunting activities that year. Those 13.7 million people contributed $38.3 billion to the economy by way of licenses, equipment, travel, and more. In 2011 alone, there were close to 700,000 jobs that were available because of hunting. To put it in perspective, if you considered hunting as an industry, it would be in thirty-fifth place on the Fortune 500 list of largest businesses in America, which would put them right in between J.C. Penny and the UPS according to California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
As I mentioned earlier, the anti-hunters believe that hunters do not care about the animal that they are hunting, but if this was true, most of the facts that I presented earlier would not be true. If we, hunters, did not care about the animal we hunted, then why would we put all the time, money, and effort that we do into something that we do not respect and care for? As hunters, it is our main goal to provide for the environment first, family second, and self satisfaction lastly.
Hunting is something that provides in many different ways for the economy, to the environment, and to basic family needs. Since the beginning of time, people have hunted animals for food and sport. Today, people still hunt for food and sport, and for a long time to come, people will continue to hunt for those two reasons. Hunting helps to provide a better environment for all animals. Hunting also makes the environment an all around better place to be. Hunting provides in many different ways for the economy as a whole from financially to just providing jobs to millions of people. If hunting was ever done away with completely, the environment, the economy, and human life would suffer greatly.
Whether or not you choose to hunt is completely up to you and you alone. If you choose not to be a hunter, then do not try to take away what some people love just because you do not agree with it. Hunting plays a huge role in everyday life for humans and non-humans. If everyone was to work together to make this economy and environment the best that it could possibly be, then this world would be a better place. Both hunters and non-hunters need to work together to achieve this goal. If we all work together and understand each other’s point of view, we could make a change in our environment and economy, and make this country have one of the best environments in the world.
Biology 1010 Class. Personal Interview/Survey. 14 Apr. 2014.
Black. Jeff. “Protected no longer more than 550 gray wolves killed this season by hunters and trappers” NBC News. 6 Mar. 2013. Web. 15 Apr. 2014.
Gauldin, Warren. Personal interview. 30 Mar. 2014. Gibbons, Whit. “Why Is Hunting Good For The Environment?” Savannah River Ecology Laboratory. N.p., 23 Nov. 2003. Web. 01 Apr. 2014.
Killmaster, Charlie. “The Coyote Factor- Taking a Bite Out of Deer.” Alabama Outdoor News. N.p., July 2010. Web. 20 Apr. 2014.
LaBarbera, Mark. “Economic Importance of Hunting in America.” International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (2003): 2-11. Web. 21 Apr. 2014.
“25 Reasons Why Hunting Is Conservation.” Rocky Mountain Elk Federation. N.p., 12 Feb. 2013. Web. 21 Apr. 2014.