The Principles of Fair Chase

Fair chase is a commonly used term within the hunting community. It’s been around for well over 100 years, and many sportsmen practice and live by it, yet may not know it by name or its significance.

In large part, fair chase is more a matter of the “spirit of a hunt” than a set of written rules. However, because fair chase is a morally grounding principle affecting the choices we make, it’s a good idea to have them written down.

Fair chase is an ethical way of hunting that enriches human character and virtues, both emotionally and intellectually, with the purpose of fostering the essential relationship between the human hunter and the life/death continuum in a way where hunting is not only in support of sustainable use conservation, but enhances the well-being of the species being hunted.

Although hunting ethics are both a matter of personal choice and those deemed appropriate by the hunting community at large, the actions of individuals do represent all hunters, which can affect the way hunting is either publicly supported or opposed. It’s therefore important for us, and those who do not hunt, to know that fair chase hunters share these important principles.

The Fair Chase hunter:

  • Knows and obeys the law, and insists others do as well
  • Understands that it is not only about just what is legal, but also what is honorable and ethical
  • Defines “unfair advantage” as when the game does not have reasonable chance of escape
  • Cares about and respects all wildlife and the ecosystems that support them, which includes making full use of game animals taken
  • Measures success not in the quantity of game taken, but by the quality of the chase
  • Embraces the “no guarantees” nature of hunting
  • Uses technology in a way that does not diminish the importance of developing skills as a hunter or reduces hunting to just shooting
  • Knows his or her limitations, and stretches the stalk not the shot
  • Takes pride in the decisions he or she makes in the field and takes full responsibility for his or her actions
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