Cards

Skipping to the Last Chapter

A clean kill of a game animal is of course the hoped-for goal of a fair chase hunt. But as anyone who spends time afield knows, there’s a lot more to hunting than just the kill. Pulling the trigger is, in fact, only a small portion of a tradition where the accent has long been on conserving our natural resources and respecting the game we pursue.

Making hunting all about the kill—allowing a kill to not only define the hunt but us as hunters—passes over so much of the story it is like skipping to read the last chapter of a book. Context is lost. We don't know who the characters are, their background, experiences or what motivates them. Was there any preparation? Where there any decisions made, problems solved, or challenges overcome? Was there a hunt, any strategy involved, or did the animal just appear and stand there? Were other animals seen, but passed up? Had this animal been seen before? Was he any bigger from last year? The list of what is lost is long as well.

Making the kill the “everything” in a hunt reduces hunting to just that—the pull of a trigger or the release of a string. It can lead down a path that teaches our young hunters that if they are not successful every time out, they’re a failure. It also personally robs us of the special nature of hunting—the experiences and memories. Tough, hard-fought hunts full of adventure and experiences are valued for a reason. These are the stories that get told. The “I just showed up and there he was,” is not the edge-of-your-seat adventure we tell and relive over and over.

Holding a kill above all else also sends a message to non-hunters—and not a good one. It reduces hunting to only that which non-hunters have the most difficulty: an animal dies. We know there are more chapters to this book, but non-hunters don’t.

 


Waste Not

“How, given the canine teeth and close-set eyes that declare the human animal to be a predator, had we come up with the notion that oat bran is more natural to eat than chicken?”―Valerie Martin, The Great Divorce

The old saying, “waste not, want not” means if you don’t waste anything you will always have enough. In the context of hunting ethics and public perception, it means far too many people have the wrong impression of hunters and hunting. There is a growing belief that hunters waste the game they harvest.

Several things are driving this misperception:

  • The prevailing belief that hunters only seek a trophy for the wall and the rest of the animal is wasted;
  • The images they see, particularly on the Internet, in videos and on television is at times only that of hunters posing with dead animals. Little is shown of how we take care of and use the meat;
  • An overall lack of understanding that a primary motivation for the majority of hunters is securing healthy, wild, organic protein to feed their families and share with friends and neighbors;
  • A lack of understanding that even if this wasn’t the case, there are laws against the wasting of game and that this is an ethical responsibility of all hunters taught at an early age;
  • The fact that not all game that is hunted is edible, combined with the confusion over hunters participating in predator management where the object is not food.

Misperceptions are the result of low information, and in some cases bad or false information. Animal rights and anti-hunting groups make their living circulating false information and half-truths and hunters wasting game is a favorite topic.

The best thing we can do is get the correct information out there at every opportunity.

  • Show that you take great pride in packing out your game;
  • Talk about and share your favorite recipes online;
  • Share your game with others;
  • Introduce non-hunters to wild game and bring them to wild game events;
  • Donate to local food banks;
  • Be truthful when asked why you hunt: for drug-free, wild protein and knowing where the food you feed your family comes from;
  • That trophy on the wall is to remind you of a memorable experience and an animal you respected—plus he provided many delicious meals.

 


The Most Important Piece of Equipment is You

Of all the things we take into the field, the most important is our own attitude. That’s because fair chase is defined by values we believe in and are committed to uphold.

The great conservationist Aldo Leopold reminds us that, “Ethical behavior is doing the right thing when no one else is watching—even when doing the wrong thing is legal.” Leopold also made the point that, in the field, you are your own referee. There is no one else to “call the shot.” At the end of the day, the measure of the hunt is a measure of oneself.

It’s human nature to do what we personally feel good about, and to not repeat doing those things we do not feel good about. It is never a good feeling to have to end an animal’s suffering because of a poor choice we made in forcing a risky shot.

We hunt for many reasons, including the enjoyment and the memories. A fair chase approach ensures that we never feel the need to leave out parts of the story of a hunt, either in reliving the experience ourselves or telling others. The alternative is rarely enjoyable or memorable.

 


Why a website on hunter ethics and fair chase?

(podcast below)

Because hunting is too important to be lost over misconceptions and a poor public image due to the unethical behavior of a few.

Over 100 years have passed since sportsmen first adopted a new approach to hunting called “fair chase” that changed hunting forever. We have changed. Technology has changed. Our society has changed. What was once a predominately rural society that hunted and understood the benefits of hunting is now predominantly an urban one, where fewer people have any real contact with the land and its wildlife. We also live in a democracy where the voice of the majority rules. Today, the majority of people that do not hunt or understanding hunting, thankfully still do not oppose hunting. This too, can and is changing. If the hunting traditions we cherish, and our systems of wildlife conservation and management that depend on hunting are to remain, what we do now and the image we project will either positively or negatively affect this future.

North American sportsmen were the original conservationists and are credited with the most successful wildlife recovery and conservation system in the history of mankind. Pubic stewardship works because those closest to our natural resources have taken responsibility for these resources. This website is intended to celebrate these successes, as well as be a resource for all hunters to:

  • Bring forward the special nature of hunting, share what it means both personally and the responsibilities that go with being a hunter
  • Offer perspectives on hunting and the concept of fair chase as it relates to an overall conservation ethic
  • To have the conversation on why how we hunt matters

Welcome to Hunt Fair Chase.

Please listen and give us your opinion below.
Randy Newberg interviews B&C.


Fair Chase History

"In a civilized and cultivated country, wild animals only continue to exist at all when preserved by sportsmen.”―Theodore Roosevelt, founder Boone and Crockett Club

An ethical code of conduct, that which was viewed as the right way to approach hunting, was a concept that originally developed in Europe. This did not, however, carry over with the settlers to the New World. America was the land of abundance and opportunity. A life of independence, free from servitude and filled with promise, was there for the taking. All one had to do is be resourceful and take. How we hunted did not matter back then. There was no need or room for an ethical approach to hunting. Game was plentiful and hunting was not for sport, but for survival and profit.

In time, when enough land was cleared for reliable food crops and domesticated livestock, food security became less of an issue for those living in more populated areas. These same human developments and decades of overharvesting had left wildlife population in scarce supply. Hunters had to venture further and further into the wilderness to bag their game. The concept of hunting for sport began to develop at this time, as did the need to restrict the amount of game taken so it could replenish and there would be game to hunt tomorrow. This is when the notion of conservation first began to appear, and along with it an ethical approach to hunting that showed restraint.

By the late 1800s, unregulated sport and commercial market hunting had taken its toll. Wildlife was no longer abundant or even present in all but the furthest reaches of remaining wilderness. Sportsmen already knew what was happening, but the broader public was just beginning to take notice of the extinction of some species and the near extinction of others. The logical solution was preservation and protection, which included an end to hunting. Those closest to the situation had a different idea.

Influential sportsmen who valued the game they sought and the spirit of the chase stepped forward; most notably was Theodore Roosevelt. He formed a group of his friends into the Boone and Crockett Club in 1887 to address the rapid decline of big game populations on a national scale. Their solution was to promote a new system of natural resource use they called “conservation,” and they promoted regulated hunting as the foundation for this new system.

Conservation was based on the fact that people need and will use natural resources, including wildlife, but this use would now have to be regulated and guided by science. For society to accept this new idea over complete protection, Roosevelt and the Club began to promote another new concept: one called fair chase.

If hunting was going to be allowed to continue, how it was being conducted and the character of the hunter now mattered. Fair chase became a matter of pride and status. It separated those who hunted for personal reasons from those who hunted for profit, ie., the commercial market hunters who had no code of honor.

Fair chase became a part of an overall conservation ethic. It defined a true sportsman as one who could kill game, yet use self-restraint and stand guard to ensure that wildlife populations would never be threatened again. It didn’t mean hunting was a sport like other contests, but rather its participants used a “sporting” approach. Fair chase defined the rules of engagement that elevated sportsmen to being highly respected members of the community, both for their skill as woodsman and providers, but also for their commitment to something greater than themselves.

 


Hunt Right

Why a Website on Hunter Ethics and Fair Chase?

Because hunting is too important to be lost over misconceptions and a poor public image due to the unethical behavior of a few.

Today’s hunter, especially our younger generation, are being exposed to a carousel of negativism aimed at hunting. There was a time when sportsmen were respected within our society for their skills, character, ethics and commitments to wildlife and conservation. It’s time to remind ourselves of those things that make hunting special, so we can show others what we have known all along.CJ Buck vice president of communications, Boone and Crockett Club

Over 100 years have passed since sportsmen first adopted a new approach to hunting called “fair chase” that changed hunting forever. We have changed. Technology has changed. Our society has changed. What was once a predominately rural society that hunted and understood the benefits of hunting is now predominantly an urban one, where fewer people have any real contact with the land and its wildlife. We also live in a democracy where the voice of the majority rules. Today, the majority of people that do not hunt or understand hunting, thankfully still do not oppose hunting. This too, can and is changing. If the hunting traditions we cherish, and our systems of wildlife conservation and management that depend on hunting are to remain, what we do now and the image we project will either positively or negatively affect this future.

North American sportsmen were the original conservationists and are credited with the most successful wildlife recovery and conservation system in the history of mankind. Pubic stewardship works because those closest to our natural resources have taken responsibility for these resources. This website is intended to celebrate these successes, as well as be a resource for all hunters to:

  • Bring forward the special nature of hunting, share what it means both personally and the responsibilities that go with being a hunter
  • Help promote the values and support the ethical standards that have long been at the heart of our hunting heritage
  • Offer perspectives on hunting and the concept of fair chase as it relates to an overall conservation ethic
  • To have the conversation on why how we hunt matters

“When he was young, I told Dale Jr. that hunting and racing are a lot alike. Holding that steering wheel and holding that rifle both mean you better be responsible.”Dale Earnhardt

Welcome to Hunt Fair Chase.