All’s fair

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Ah, spring! The weather warms, the robins return, the crocuses poke their little heads up through the soil. The cycle of life begins anew and all thoughts turn to … hunting ethics.

I blame Tovar. He started it, in a post at A Mindful Carnivore about wounding animals.

In search of pheasant

Every hunter I know believes it is a hunter’s responsibility to kill an animal cleanly. Ideally, you drop it with one shot. If you hit an animal but don’t kill it, it’s your job to track it and finish the job.

Although even the most conscientious hunter will sometimes lose a wounded animal, I think it’s fair to say that making that happen as infrequently as possible is the single most important guiding principle of hunting. (Okay, there’s don’t shoot people, but that’s a little different.)

Yet deeply ingrained in the loose collection of principles that is hunting ethics we have the concept of “fair chase.”

Different people have different definitions, but it boils down to giving an animal a sporting chance. Many hunters frown on shooting a duck in the water, taking a turkey off a roost, or luring a deer in with bait. What it boils down to is that those strategies most likely to yield a clean kill are considered off limits to the “ethical” hunter.

I have no objection to going into the thickest part of the woods and pitting your wits against a deer by trying to get it to come into range. Making hunting difficult is not incompatible with a commitment to a clean kill. But what, exactly, is the objection to making hunting easier?

It’s not sporting, it’s not fair, it somehow violates a fundamental sense of justice to take an animal that’s sleeping, stunned by sudden light, or baited.

As Holly at NorCal Cazadora has pointed out, if you’re concerned about having an unfair advantage over an animal, what’s with the gun? Seems to me that firearms irrevocably tipped the scales in favor of humans as predators. If you really want to give your deer a sporting chance, go into the woods unarmed and see how well you do with a pointy stick.

The problem with “fair chase” is that the more you level the playing field, the more likely you are to wound an animal. There’s evidence that the deer wounding rate for archery is higher than that for firearms, yet I have heard bowhunters talk about the authenticity of the experience and the satisfaction of taking a deer without a firearm.

And I understand that. To be perfectly clear, I do not oppose bowhunting, or any strategy that makes hunting more difficult. I just think that, the more likely your hunting method is to wound, the more committed you have to be to developing your skills and the more careful you have to be about deciding which shots to take. Responsible bowhunters are very skilled and very careful, and their feeling of accomplishment when they take an animal successfully must be commensurate.

I respect skill. I know some very experienced, responsible, successful hunters, hunters who wouldn’t dream of baiting a deer, and my hat is off to them for having gotten good at something difficult. I hope to learn from them and become more skillful myself.

My point here (and I do have one) is that what’s “sporting” is arbitrary. And I think a commitment to a clean kill trumps any consideration of fair chase. While I appreciate the challenge of hunting, the need to understand an animal in order to get close enough to it to kill it, and the connection to wildlife that many hunters feel, the primary reason I hunt is for food. If I can take an animal easily, I will.

The deer doesn’t care whether you shoot it over a feeder or you take it in the wild. The deer does care that you kill it in such a way as to minimize its suffering. Anything that makes that more likely is okay in my book.

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Comments

  1. I’m right there with you on this one. I don’t think issues of fairness come into hunting at all, for me. Ethics, yes – in the sense that I want the animal to suffer as little as possible. So I would support any practice that ensured a clean, quick kill, including baiting. (I don’t think it’s legal in my state, which would be the only reason I wouldn’t do it.) I have a little trouble with bow hunting for the same reasons, though I’m not knowledgeable enough to say I think it’s wrong. But if you gave me a choice of ammunition in a death by firing squad, you bet I’d prefer guns with bullets to bows with arrows.

    • Kate, that very same thought has crossed my mind. I’d rather be shot with a gun than with an arrow, so I think that’s the way I’ll be hunting. I won’t be baiting, either, for the same reason you can’t — it’s illegal in Massachusetts.

  2. I think you nailed it on the head with the idea that you’re hunting for food.

    If you’re only hunting for sport, then fair chase sounds very like ‘sporting chance’, which is all well and good for sport.

    Hunting for food is a different matter altogether. I daresay that the folks that settled our country, especially at the very beginning and on the frontiers of oh, say, Ohio and Kentucky, gave any thought to fair chase. All they cared about was the next meal and they didn’t really split hairs over how they got it.

    • Hunting for food doesn’t mean you’re not also in it for the pursuit. Most hunters I know appreciate both the sport and the food. I’m not interested in killing an animal (and I don’t think I can justify it morally) unless I’m going to eat it, or it is in some way a threat to my livelihood (it’s eating my crops or threatening my livestock).

      And I often think about what people who really did hunt for sustenance would say about the concept of “fair chase.” But, as Al points out below, we’re (most of us) not hunting for sustenance, and we have to address the question for us.

  3. Very interesting questions…

    As you’ve noted, our feelings about the importance of making a clean kill have changed over time and with our degree of desperation. If none of us had eaten much lately, five hundred years ago it would have been socially acceptable to get the whole neighborhood together and chase a herd of buffalo over a cliff. We might kill a few more buffalo than we need, and some of them might take a while to die. It would be a hell of a bloody, splintery mess getting them all untangled. But we wouldn’t have worried about that. We were hungry.

    Today we have the luxury of worrying about clean kills and fair chase. I’d like to suggest, however, that these concepts are separate and unrelated. More fairness doesn’t necessarily mean more wounding. If it did, we could use certainty and humaneness to justify hunting that’s not ethical or fair chase. But fairness is something different.

    However difficult it is to define, I think there really is something to this “fair chase” idea. I’m not always sure where the boundaries are, but I think I know it when I see it. And every once in a while, I see something that doesn’t look like fair chase, something that looks more like shooting than hunting.

    True, sometimes these choices are more aesthetic and cultural than they are ethical. Most hunters wouldn’t shoot ducks on the water or grouse on the ground. But shooting turkeys on the ground is OK. All that seems pretty arbitrary. Similarly, in some places hunting deer over bait is considered unethical, illegal, or both. Elsewhere, neither. Myself, I wouldn’t want to do it. It somehow feels like cheating.

    But here’s one example most of us could probably agree on. What about canned, high-fence hunts? What if you pay ten thousand dollars to have a farm-raised deer with trophy antlers released into a two-acre pen so you can shoot it, have it mounted and hung on your wall, and then brag about what a smart, skillful hunter you are? Some “hunters” actually do this. Probably not fair chase.

    To me, that would no more feel like hunting than it would if I walked out into a feedlot with my rifle and shot a couple of steers for entertainment. If you were a farmer and it was time to butcher, you might actually do that. It wouldn’t be wrong, but it wouldn’t be hunting. (Or, of course, very entertaining.)

    But, to use that same example, what if the deer were less tame, and what if they were in a thousand-acre pen with lots of trees and underbrush? As long as you stayed away from corners, that would feel more like hunting. What about a hundred-acre pen? Ten? Five? In this particular example, when does it stop being hunting and become something else? I’m not sure.

    For me hunting feels right when it’s not too easy but not too hard. Even if I can’t define it more precisely than that, I think there really is something to this whole idea of “fair chase.” I’m not sure exactly what it is. But I believe it’s something separate and distinct from how confident I am that I’ll make a clean, humane kill when I finally pull the trigger.

    • Dave Proulx says:

      Al,

      Regarding the idea of “fair chase”, I think you hit the nail on the head when you say that you don’t know where the boundaries are, but you know if when you see it. My son Spencer and I have had some recent experience with this issue.

      Spencer is a college student and part time waterfowl guide for a hunting service that also offers big game “hunts” in a large high fence enclosure. While he only guides hunters for waterfowl, he also meets dozens more hunters at the lodge, including some who pay a fee to shoot buffalo, fallow deer, elk or pigs in the “preserve”. Invariably the participants are proud of their success, but no matter how excited they are to tell the story of their “hunt”, it just doesn’t feel like hunting to Spencer or to me when we hear the details. I think that these type of shoots just don’t require enough “predator behavior” to qualify as hunting to me.

      Secondly, your point about separating the concept of a fair chase hunt from the confidence to make high percentage shots and clean humane kills is something that rings true as well. I want to participate in a fair chase hunt that requires effort on my part, but if I’m successful, the outcome is that the animal presents a very workable shot for me, one that I am confident I can make cleanly.

      thanks for your post.

      • Dave, I think your experience, and Spencer’s, and Al’s, get at an important part of this — that “fair chase” is individual, and there aren’t really guidelines that apply to everyone. But no one is excused from only taking high-confidence shots just because the situation is challenging. Thanks for weighing in here.

  4. Al, I grant that fair chase doesn’t *necessarily* mean more wounding. Giving the animal and advantage makes it harder for the hunter, which almost inevitably means more difficult shots, which in turn almost inevitably means more wounding. It is certainly possible to refrain from taking those shots, and only take the ones that are the equivalent of what you’d get when, say, baiting, but I think we know that, in practice, that doesn’t happen all the time.

    You’re correct that what’s “fair chase” varies. In some places, driving deer is frowned upon. Where I am, it’s common practice. And, in some places, baiting is perfectly acceptable, both morally and legally. Not here. I understand the visceral objection to doing something like shooting a sleeping turkey or a sitting duck, but I’m trying to reason beyond that, and I can’t find a moral objection.

    As for the fenced-in hunt, I think you went a long way toward answering that question yourself. “Hunting” an elk in what amounts to a cage is different from “hunting” an elk on a fenced in, 10,000-acre preserve. But Holly has pointed out that neither is so different from hunting stocked pheasants, which are released by gamekeepers, don’t stand much of a chance in the wild, and are picked off by hunters (here, at any rate) within a day or two of release. Whether I would hunt the elk would depend on the particulars.

    I think the idea that hunting feels right when it is neither too easy nor too hard is true. And I think that’s where “fair chase” comes from. Hunters get more skilled, and they use guidelines that make sure that the chase is still challenging.

    But I think we have to separate our feelings from from our ethics. If we think something is moral or immoral, we need a better reason than “it feels right” or “it feels wrong.” And I don’t think we should be laying down what amount to rules about hunting — fair chase — unless we have a justification that goes beyond the visceral.

    Al, I really hope your travels bring you to my neck of the woods some time during hunting season. I’d love to walk the woods with you.

    • Why, thank you for the invite! And if you and Kevin are ever out our way during hunting season, we’d love to walk these woods with you. If you’re ever able to get to northern Wisconsin during fishing season, be sure to bring your new rod. But please leave that scary-looking clam rake at home.

      Interesting point about stocked pheasants at the game preserve. Logically, why should that feel different so different from stocked deer in a pen? Somehow it does, but…

  5. Thanks for the blame, Tamar. It’s fairly placed and I’m happy to have provoked such a great post, with great comments following.

    I agree that the crucial ethic of making a clean kill is separate from the less-crucial question of what one feels is “fair.” You and others have spelled things out well above.

    Whether a greater emphasis on “fairness” increases the chance of wounding depends so much on HOW the hunter makes things more “fair.” As suggested above and in the exchange on my blog, the choice to shoot only at flying ducks almost certainly increases the chance of crippling and losing a bird (arbitrarily, few hunters frown on that, but most frown on shooting at running deer). On the other hand, the choice to limit one’s rifle shots at deer to 50 yards or less decreases the chance of wounding — it gives the animal both a better chance of never being shot at and a better chance of dying instantly if a shot is taken. Both could go by the name “fair chase.”

    I find the history fascinating, as concepts of “fair chase” are rooted in European codes of “sport.” In 19th century America, upper and middle class hunters made “fair chase” central to their ways of thinking, talking, and writing about hunting. They made a big deal of contrasting their hunting with the hunting practiced by the unscrupulous rabble who hunted for food.

    • P.S. I don’t mean to pick on waterfowl (or other bird) hunters. As Dave P. said on my blog, a duck hunter can only take close shots at ducks that come in over the decoy spread. Like the deer example I gave above, such a choice can be part of both a “fair chase” ethic and a “clean kill” ethic.

  6. Good points!

    “The problem with ‘fair chase’ is that the more you level the playing field, the more likely you are to wound an animal.”

    I have never thought of it that way, but you are definitely right, and in the end you mentioned two points that are required for fair chase hunters…dedication (honing your skill) and caution (honing your decision making).

    In the hunting community, much of the attention is placed on finding the game. There isn’t nearly enough attention paid to the “situational ethics” of hunting the game once it is found. As hunters we can’t just be spraying bullets, or even worse arrows; we have to discretionary and decisive.

  7. Tovar — Good point about the deer at close range. More wounding isn’t always the result of fair chase principles. Often, though, it is, and that’s where I see the contradiction in what we think of as bedrock hunting principles.

    Thanks for raising these issues on your blog, and bringing more hunters into the discussion.

    Mark — I agree that hunters should focus on what’s appropriate once the animal appears. In my hunter ed class, there was quite a bit of that — so my hat’s off to Mass Wildlife. I know from my very disappointing first deer season that it’s very, very difficult to *not* take the shot. The deer I had in my sights, but didn’t shoot at, haunts me. But it also makes me want to go out next year and manage to get a shot I’m confident in.

    Thanks for coming over and participating in the conversation.

  8. “I just think that, the more likely your hunting method is to wound, the more committed you have to be to developing your skills and the more careful you have to be about deciding which shots to take.”

    I think that nails the reason why I crave more challenging hunts and increasingly eschew the easy ones the longer I’ve been hunting. It’s a measure of my skill – not my ethics. I think I’ll be adding that bit of clarity when I revise my “hunting ethics” page based on the feedback I’ve been getting. Thanks!

    • Ah, clarity. Don’t we all want more of it? I’m glad to offer some up, in return for all I’ve gotten from you.

  9. Hoosierbuck says:

    Good discussion. Tamar, will you mark your calendar 5 years from now to revisit this topic? I think it might prove interesting to see if any of your views evolve as you hunt more and take more game.

    IF it is true that we don’t hunt to kill, that we kill in order to have hunted- you have to shoot eventually, or you are not truly hunting, you are touring the woods while armed.

    If you hunt to put food on the table- you have to shoot eventually or you will never accomplish your purpose.

    Either way, you have to shoot, and then there is chance something goes wrong. Shoot often, and the chances are somewhat higher of something going wrong. An ethical hunter will work like a dog to minimize those chances. We agree on that.

    There are, in my mind, distinctions between hunting and just shooting animals. Over bait-I think it would feel like getting groceries with a gun as opposed to hunting. Never done it. I don’t think it’s for me. If it’s legal and you like, suit yourself. Don’t try to make apologies or convince me that I am wrong not to think it’s not for me, however. I think those who do are trying to convince themselves. Whatever you determine your fair chase and ethical boundaries to be, be within the law and be comfortable with them to the point you don’t have to get all defensive about them. Not artfully worded, and not directed at any single “you,” just the collective of individuals that comprise the hunting world.

    I practice enough to feel confident in likely shots. I don’t take shots I am not comfortable will kill cleanly. I kill a lot of deer and feed my family a lot of deer. I don’t hunt over bait or inside fences. I am comfortable with my ethics and my definition of what is sporting. I wish you the same. Oh-and venison. I wish you venison.

    • Hoosierbuck — The downside of writing about hunting when you’re new at it is that you know, going in, that it’s likely that your ideas about it will evolve. The upside is that it draws experienced hunters in to comment.

      I will most certainly mark my calendar. And I’d be very surprised if you were wrong. As I hunt more, learn more, and think more, I’m sure I will revise and amend.

      I think what I’m trying to do here is separate ethics from fair chase. I feel strongly that, if I’m willing to call something unethical, it’s unethical for everyone: it’s a clear moral wrong. “An ethical hunter will work like a dog to minimize” the chance of wounding — as you so concisely put it — is, I think, a moral imperative. Issues of fair chase are personal choice. I do not disapprove of strategies to make hunting more challenging — I only disapprove of telling people that’s the only ethical way to hunt.

      I have the same visceral response to shooting a deer over bait that a lot of other hunters do. Were it legal in my state, I can’t be absolutely sure that I would do it. But I can say for sure that I’m not willing to condemn it. And if a new hunter were to say to me, “I’m new, and I don’t have a lot of confidence in my skills, and I think I’d like to try shooting a deer in a situation that gives me an easy, clear shot,” I would say that sounds perfectly sensible. In fact, the new hunter saying it might very well be me. Taking my first deer in a situation where I have a clear shot, can take my time, and maximize the chance of a clean kill may help me know what to expect when I go out in the woods.

      And, as you point out, it will feed my family.

      I wish you venison in return, even though it seems that you don’t have any trouble with that.

  10. If you’re interested in seeing how humans manage to hunt for food with little more than a pointy stick, you’ll like the Human Plant series recently shown on BBC TV.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00llpvp/episodes/player

    In the Grasslands episode, Kenyan hunters wait for lions to catch a wildebeest so they can steal a leg as they would be unable to kill it with the weapons they have available. They have to scare away the pride for long enough to cut off the meat.
    In Jungles, monkeys are caught with bows and arrows and you have to watch to see what the children in the Venezuelan children do when they’re hungry and there’s nothing to eat at home. My own children sat with their mouths open…

    The series has been widely acclaimed here, and it shows what people can achieve when they are truly hunting for survival. Highly recommended.

  11. Absolutely fascinating debate. So many excellent points were made and I’ll be revisiting this post again, as food for thought.

    Tovar, your point about European shooting as a sport with rules of engagement struck a chord. Shooting for sport where the aim is to demonstrate your shooting prowess and knowledge of etiquette to the other guests, and the participants rarely eat the quarry is miles apart from a hunter going into the woods to stalk and shoot a deer for his/her own table.

    We’re not a preserve (no fences) but part of my job is to manage deer numbers on this estate. Primarily for the health of the overall herd, but leaving the large trophy animals for clients who pay to shoot them. The really big heads are only found in deer parks where the herds are farmed and the nutrition is monitored for antler growth. I don’t know about sporting, but a lot of the fieldcraft is removed from trophy hunting.

    I have to remove a certain number of deer from the estate (along with other stalkers), within alloted seasons. It averages around 100 animals though we should be taking more. It’s for work, not fun, and any advantages that make it easier for me to harvest the deer, within the law and without causing undo stress on the herd, I’m going to take it.

    I am not an outstanding shot, so I stick within a range that’s comfortable for me, and almost always shoot deer in the heart. I also have two dogs which find wounded deer (so far not mine, just clients’) It does grate on me when I hear other stalkers bragging about head shots at ridiculous ranges. It’s not a target, it’s a deer. It seems heartless to take a chance wounding an animal that could have been brought down cleanly if they checked their ego.

    I suppose if we wanted the early human visceral hunting experience, we could run down herds with packs of long dogs, like lurchers and wolfhounds. It’s outlawed in Britain now, though it’s still a favorite methods for poachers taking deer at night. Poachers derive their sense of sport from watching their dogs run and bragging about the speed and agility of their dogs. The deer is for the table.

    • Dave Proulx says:

      Jen,

      Sorry to digress from the main topic of conversation, but in reading your post about deer removal, I’m curious about your methods of take. I understand that it is “work” and the object is to maximize the number of deer taken in order to improve conditions for the overall herd. Are you able to take deer over bait? Can you shoot at night from an elavated position?

      The reason I’m so curious is that my friend Bill works 3 months per year as a sharpshooter for a commercial whitetail deer population control company (google “White Buffalo, Inc”) and I’m trying to compare his methods to those available to you. I should emphasize that what Bill’s company does is NOT hunting, it is contracted deer removal(both shooting and live trapping and even surgeries (ovarectomies sp?)?. Bill had to pass a very demanding shooting skills test, since they only take brain shots on deer. He also shoots with a suppressed muzzle both day and night from a tree stand over a baited area, since the goal is to remove deer as quickly and quietly as possible often in very close proximity to human activity.

      Are you bound by the same rules as the hunters who pursue deer for food or trophies? , I can understand the challenge and work aspect of harvesting multiple animals cleanly and efficiently, especially if under “typical” hunting rules.

      • Dave – I’m bound by exactly the same deer laws. No baiting, no shooting at night with lights, no shooting from a vehicle, no hunting live deer with dogs, minimum calibre restrictions apply. Deer seasons apply too, though I could request a permit to shoot out of season where deer are causing damage to crops such as apple orchards. I can, and do, sit in a high seat particularly when shooting fallow (or sika) which herd together. I stalk roe deer.

        We have no top level predators in Britain to remove old, sick, or injured deer. We have to monitor our populations as best we can, and remove appropriate animals for the health of the overall deer population. In the US, I understand that Fish & Wildlife set targets for number of deer to be removed and issue permits appropriately. We do basically the same thing. I say it’s work, but it is an enjoyable part of the job. As enjoyable as killing anything can be.

        All healthy harvested deer go into the food chain, after being checked by the game dealers (if sold). Dealers prefer head shot deer as there’s less carcase damage. Is that why your friend has to take head shots?

        We don’t do any surgeries, though one of our stalkers manages some deer parks and moves stock between parks to ensure better genetic diversity, and select for large antlers. Deer parks are enclosures associated with large estate houses, and the deer are attractive back drops, much like formal gardens. He builds deer leaps, which allow deer into a park but not out again, sort of like a trap, to increase stock.

        • Dave Proulx says:

          Ok, so you are essentially acting as a hunter in harvesting the deer you shoot.

          In response to your question, Bill and his fellow sharpshooters use head shots to drop deer on the spot. They are shooting from elavated positions in close range to deer that are feeding at a bait pile. The head shot is helpful for several reasons: 1) they often shoot deer very close to roads and houses, sometimes within 15 yds of buildings, so even a heart shot deer could run out and die on the lawn of a neighboring homeowner and 2) They often shoot after dark, and tracking a deer at night can be difficult and time consuming and 3) all deer are donated to food pantries, so less meat is ruined from the bullet wound.
          The other benefit of a head shot is that a head shot that drops a deer cleanly is less likely spook other deer who are coming into the bait, and the shooters are hoping to take multiple deer per night. They use fairly modest caliber rifles with noise suppressors on their gun barrels, so deer aren’t spooked much when a shot is fired and they don’t seem to react when another deer drops next to them.

          Bill’s work is physically demanding and is often performed under very cold conditions.

          • Hoosierbuck says:

            Dave-
            While exempt from sporting regulations, I believe WB uses calibers which are below many legislated sporting minimums, such as .223, but hand loaded to produce just enough energy to be effective in an effort to enhance safety and decrease liability. I also believe that WB uses bullets that fragment heavily for the same reasons. That outfit has it down to a science, really. I say, “I believe,” as a qualifier since I don’t have the inside scoop like you, but I once thought of running a regional operation like their nation-wide programs, and so researched them as the preeminent outfit in business.

  12. Dave Proulx says:

    Hoosierbuck,

    You are right when you say they have it down to a science. And it is hard work.

    Bill posted an online journal this year on his private website, so we (his duck hunting pals) could “ride shotgun” on his travels this winter. 9 nights in a row sitting in a tree in Minnesota in 0-15 degree weather for starters. Just looking at the pictures made me shiver!

    Anyway, regarding calibers, I went back to his journal and here’s what he said about calibers:

    “Thanks everyone!! I think the shooting test may be a scare tactic haha, either that or he is just really sure I can do it. I have to say my shooting has improved immensely, today for the first time in my life I put two bullets through the same hole!!!
    We use mostly suppressed 223s, and 22s. remington 700s, and ruger 77/22s. sierra blitz king bullets for the 223, reg old ccls for the 22.”

    • Hoosierbuck says:

      TY, Dave. I’d have never guessed .22LRs. I shoot ground squirrels in my back yard with my 77/22 so I know the rifle is up to it. You have to dress right for that kind of cold, it’s no joke.

  13. I’ve never been more pleased to have nothing to contribute to a conversation. Dave, I had no idea that deer were culled in that way. If it weren’t for the whole 0-15 degrees thing, I’d love to sit in that tree and observe. It’s good to know that it’s being done with such care, and that the meat isn’t being wasted.

    Jen, one of these days, I’m going to manage to get across the pond so you can show me a thing or two.

    • Tamar – It’s an open invite. There’s a high seat with your name on it, and our weather never gets that cold. Only a fair swap as I learn so much from reading your blog and all the comments.

  14. Dave Proulx says:

    Tamar,

    Hope I didn’t veer too far off course, but Jen’s post piqued my interest in comparing culling methods.

    And let me admit that “nothing to contribute” applies to me most of the time, since my gardening skiills are virtually nonexistent and I’m out of my league when it comes to much of the food discussions held here. My only qualifications are that I have fish and game in the freezer and I like to eat! :)

  15. Dave — Of course you didn’t veer too far off course! I’m very happy to have a conversation here that’s relevant, interesting, and engaging. I learn something, and I hope other people do, too.

    No qualification is necessary for participation, but if it were, having fish and game in the freezer would definitely punch your ticket. I’ve learned a great deal from the experienced hunters, fishermen, foragers, and gardeners who weigh in. You and your comments are always welcome here.

  16. Kingsley says:

    I bow hunt, only rabbits so far.

    The thing I like about it is the stalking of the game – getting close enough in to ensure a humane kill. Spending 10 minutes creeping up to within 20 metres of something, being quiet, wind in your face, only moving when the quarry is head-down (or not looking)…. this takes some skill. I don’t see any of this standing in the back of a ute (pickup truck) shooting things a hundred metres away.

    I don’t *need* to hunt anything, although I am legally obliged to remove feral animals from my property, but I think it’s a worthwhile passtime. And rabbit stew is delicious!