Let’s discuss the reasons for big game hunting and the means for harvesting big game animals. We’ll let you form your own decision if you’re wondering, “is big game hunting pointless and cruel?”
First, there are always going to be “bad apples” in a given bunch. I’m not here to defend those folks. I’ll speak for the majority of big game hunters that are abiding by all game and firearm or archery laws in their pursuit of animals.
Top Reasons People Go Big Game Hunting
Big Game Hunting Provides Organic, Natural Food for the Table
You may think your meat comes from a supermarket, but remember, somewhere an animal died for that to happen. Animals even die for vegans to enjoy what they eat because animal habitat is what’s destroyed to have the agricultural land that we have available. More and more, people are concerned, and rightfully so, with where their food comes from. There is no purer form of meat than organic, wild meat that comes from animals like deer, elk, moose, buffalo, and more. Wild game meat is lean (low in fat), high in protein, and has zero antibiotics or growth hormones. Food is overwhelmingly the best reason a hunter has for pursuing big game.
Hunters Get to Enjoy Nature
Even for savvy hunters, big game hunting success doesn’t come along very often. If you’re lucky, you’ll get one or two legitimate chances each season. In our fast-paced society, this may lose the attention of most, but big game hunters are out for more than just the harvest of their food. Hunting is an escape from the stress of everyday life. It’s a chance to enjoy nature and simply relax. When you actually take time to sit alone with your thoughts in the woods and take in all that our Creator has bestowed on us, it’s humbling. It’s peaceful. We could all use a little more peace and quiet in our lives, would you agree? Whether it’s a frosty, November morning on an oak ridge in the midwest, or a sunset over the snow-capped Rocky Mountains, taking in the beauty of nature is probably one of the greatest perks to big game hunting.
Big Game Hunting is an Incredible Challenge
For those that have hunted a long time, hunting often becomes a personal challenge. Trophy hunting, or sport hunting, can get a bad rap, but it quite often means simply that the hunter has reached the point where he or she understands the importance of not only harvesting an animal but harvesting the RIGHT animal. An experienced hunter finds it easy to harvest “any” animal, so he/she chooses to try for one that is more difficult to find. For the trophy hunter that is not out for meat, there are numerous charitable organizations that will accept donations of hunter-harvested big game animals. Iowa’s HUSH program (Help Us Stop Hunger), for example, has received tens of thousands of deer donations and has provided over 10 million meals to families in need!
Along with the mental challenge of having to figure out how to be successful big game hunting, there is a physical component to it that can be extremely challenging. Some of the best big game hunters work out regularly to stay in top physical condition so that they can endure all that the wild brings them in their pursuit of big game. We all know we should exercise, but without something imminent on the calendar pushing us to be in good shape, it can be tough to stay fit. Hunting is a great motivator for exercising!
It may seem counterintuitive to hunt animals to conserve them, but hunting can be the single best means for ensuring animal population stability. Hunter license dollars are, by far, the largest source of conservation dollars spent every year. Those dollars go towards research and habitat preservation. Survival of a species can depend on the right ages and sex being harvested so that the other ones are left to survive and thrive. In most cases, this means the old males are targeted. Hunting is the single best means for being able to control which kind, age, and sex of animal is taken.
It’s in Our Nature
You can put a cat in your house, and give it everything it “needs”; litter box, cat food, shelter, affection. Yet, cats still look out windows at birds with an insatiable desire to hunt! It’s innate. It’s not something you can change. Animals, and humans too, have a primitive instinct to provide meat for our continuation of the species. It’s a reason we have canine teeth! For many humans, the desire to hunt comes from somewhere deep down inside. It’s a primitive instinct that won’t leave no matter how many Applebee’s or tofu farms are closeby.
Hunting Means Tradition
For many hunters, a big game hunt means tradition. Traveling up north to deer camp is a time honored tradition of getting away from work, from life, from stress. It’s the wearing of orange, camouflage, or red plaid. It’s a wood stove, a gas lantern, the smell of chili on the camp stove. Opening Day is like a national holiday, and something would be missing from life without that annual big game hunt.
Time with Family is Important for Hunters
Whether it’s that trip up north, or just an outing after work and school with father & son, hunting brings families together. It provides a space & time for catching up, getting to know one another better, bonding, and sharing past memories. If you teach your kids to hunt, you won’t have to hunt for your kids!
Hunting Offers Solitude
Big game hunting usually takes place in remote regions, often far from civilization. When you get away from the noise of the cities, the ambient light from places that never rest, it offers a chance to recharge your batteries. When you get to live and experience what some only see in motivational posters, you have an inner peace knowing you can always go back there in your mind. The solitude big game hunting affords can reconnect you with yourself, help you figure out things that are bothering you, and help you see things from a new perspective.
Hunting Teaches Respect
Taking an animal’s life is a serious thing. It should not be taken lightly. In most cases, a mentor of some sort brings you into hunting. It is typically a father or grandfather, and could be a mother, sibling, or friend. Time in the field is time spent providing lesson after lesson about firearms, life & death, nature, respect for living things, anatomy and aiming, wilderness survival, camping, and countless other things. Hunters learn a lot about themselves and the world around them. These lessons can be hard to come by from activities common to many other youth these days.
Is Big Game Hunting Cruel?
Now that you know the reasons people go big game hunting, let’s discuss the cruelty aspect. Obviously, hunting involves the killing of an animal. Some consider any killing cruel, so to those, there’s likely nothing I could ever say to change your mind. In reality, everything that lives must someday die. To me, there are cruel ways to die, and then there are very humane ways that do not involve suffering.
There is no denying, hunters sometimes wound animals and it leads to a suffering, painful death. No one wants that. Hunters, more than anyone, know the responsibility that goes along with pulling the trigger or releasing an arrow on a live animal. Poachers and those out to project cruelty onto someone or something are not real hunters. Ethical hunters aim to kill their quarry quickly and humanely. They practice diligently to be accurate with their weapon, to learn animal anatomy and the proper place to aim, and to stay within their limits of a shot they know they can make.
Ask yourself how you would prefer to die someday. Would you choose to starve or freeze to death? Would you prefer to be eaten alive by a predator? Would you prefer to be sick and die a slow, painful death, free from any pain relieving drugs?
Have you ever witnessed a pet die a quick, peaceful, pain free death that didn’t involve trauma or drugs? Unlikely. Euthanization is a fortunate option for pets. Wild animals don’t have that luxury. So, when speaking of humane options for dying, a quick, humane shot from a hunter’s bullet or arrow is the best option wild animals have for a non-cruel death.
In conclusion, there are many legitimate reasons for big game hunting. Although the possibility of a cruel death always exists, hunting is the best scenario an animal has when facing its mortality.