Ethics of hunting

Categories: EthicsHuntingVeganism

Is hunting ethical? As a hunter myself, growing up in a family of hunters, I never answered the question correctly. When asked the question “is hunting ethical? ” I would rattle off information and statistics about wildlife population control and the environmental information gathered by hunters, but I seemed to be missing the point completely. As it was recently pointed out, it was like I was being asked what time it was, and answering the date. I wasn’t incorrect; rather, I was just answering the wrong question.

Instead, I needed to look at what the actual question was; is the act of hunting ethical, and if not, what are we doing to prevent the mistreatment of animals? From a moral standpoint, anti-hunters deem hunting as barbaric. It is a reversion to one of the most primal tasks that humans had to perform. Today, however, anti-hunters believe that the act of hunting is an unnecessary evil that can be tackled much more humanely.

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This entire argument, however, is based off of everyone persons’ definition of the word “hunting. ” To my family, and myself, the idea of hunting means that food is going to be on the dinner table.

It means that we are going to kill an animal, butcher it ourselves, and eventually eat the meat of our harvest. It is an appreciation of the wild animals; the ones placed on this Earth to roam the hills and graze the grass, rather than the ones grown in barns and factories. It means utilizing every part of that animal to our best ability, and wasting nothing.

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We even go as far as to donate the brain and heart of the deer to the local high school for use of dissection in science laboratories.

We appreciate the animal in every way we can. It has given us everything (literally) that it has, and we will respect this animal for a time far longer after it’s depart from Earth. My family doesn’t tree stand hunt. This is the act of climbing high into a tree with a “tree stand” and sitting up there as we wait for an animal to pass below us. This is an extremely unfair advantage in hunting, for it gives the hunter almost complete stealth. Deer are not biologically programmed to look for danger in the trees; there are no known threats to deer around buffalo that live in the trees. We think that it provides an unfair advantage to the hunters that use then.

We believe that if we’re going to take an animal’s life, we’re going to give it the ability to see us before we do, so that it has a fairer chance to run. I even prefer bow hunting to gun hunting. It’s more of a challenge, not that hunting should be a game, but rather it makes it easier for the animal to spot us and escape. If the animal gets close enough to allow me to take the shot, I justify it as a case of “survival of the fittest. ” We do not antler hunt; the act of going out hunting with the intent of killing the deer with the largest antlers, only for the antlers. We eat the meat, not the antlers.

I cannot speak for other hunters, but my family and myself do not find a purpose in hunting based on the points on the deer’s head. We have no preference of buck or doe; the meat is all the same to us. We enjoy eating the meat, and that is why we hunt. It is healthier for people, steroid free, and it comes from animals that have been able to live their life in the wild thus far. Hunting, to myself, is everything I just listed. The Merriam-Webster Definition is “to chase and kill (wild animals) for food or pleasure,” but I remove those last two words.

Personally, I find no enjoyment in the taking of a life. The first animal I ever hunted, a bird, I killed, and cried. I cried and I cried and I cried at what I had done. It was such a powerful feeling knowing that one moment that bird was living, and the next moment it was not, and I was the reason for that. It was such a waste for me to have done what I had; I wasn’t going to eat the bird, I had no use for it. Hunting should be for usefulness: food, clothing, necessity, but it should not be a game that toys with the lives of animals. This doesn’t mean I’m against hunting however.

Obviously with everything I have listed prior I would appear to have contradicted myself. I believe that hunting is acceptable in the form of 1 / 3 usefulness. These are all ethical thoughts that anti-hunters propose to hunters. Some post pictures of Bambi the deer, hoping to lure in those who are indecisive or on the fence about the position they take on hunting. Anti-hunters will play on the ethos of those who believe that hunters kill baby animals, setting hunters up to look like immoral people. Often times I hear people ask me how I could kill ababy deer, and take it away from its mother who “loves it. ” With those questions, I find myself frustrated at people’s ignorance.

A hunter cannot hunt a fawn; it’s illegal to kill an animal with spots (specifically speaking, baby deer). Additionally, people are unaware of the nature that is animals. A mother deer will fight to the death for her fawns if they are faced with the dangers of a hungry coyote. However, a mother deer will eat all of the leaves off of the only bush in the forest, leaving her fawn to starve, without blinking an eye.

Animals think differently; only in rare cases do wild animals actually have human attachments to each other. Anti-hunters sometimes try to display hunters as horrible people for killing animals, but this only can bring me to the conclusion that all anti-hunters are vegetarians. If it’s truly barbaric for us to go out and hunt what we eat, then the only solution to this animal cruelty is to not eat the animals at all. It is not ethical to justify eating processed meat from animals who never see the light of day, are routinely injected with steroids, living shoulder to shoulder in crowded slaughter houses, with their only purpose in life being to die for our meals, and say that hunting is immoral.

The wild animals at least have a fighting chance; they have an ability to run, to reproduce at their will, to eat the fresh grass and drink fresh stream water. They are not cooped up in a cage or stall, living in deplorable conditions with their only purpose in life to die at our will. Although it is unfortunate that some wild animals face death earlier than others, the alternative of a slaughterhouse cannot be deemed as ethically more just. Questions that are posed towards hunters about how they are being unethical can also be turned around to ask what anti-hunters are doing to protect these animals they feel are being morally and ethically wronged.

Are they vegan? Animals and the products they produce do not come easily. Milk cows and egg chickens spend their whole lives in a barn. Unless they buy their milk and eggs from the local free-range grass fed cows and chickens down the road, they are contributing to the large mistreatment of animals of the food industry of America. Do they own nothing leather? Again, these animals are grown and harvested for the sole purpose of leather production. A lot of leather products sold in the USA are shipped from China, where horribly graphic YouTube videos can be found showing Chinese leather workers skinning animals alive.

One cannot go as far as to say that they “don’t own Uggs” so they don’t own leather. Leather is found in things like sneakers, cars, and accents on clothing, purses, and shoes. Were their houses recently built on land once inhabited by these creatures? The destruction of animal habitats leads to more animal deaths each year than hunting does.

If an anti-hunter were to hit a deer with their car, destroying the front end, I’m estimating that a fair amount of them would initially be furious with the circumstance, NOT because they killed the deer, but rather because they totaled their car. This deer, roaming throughout what used to be its natural habitat of forest and trees, is now forced to walk across streets and areas of traffic. It is inconvenient, however, when the deer walks across the street at the same time a car is driving by, and a collision occurs. I’ve gotten away from the actual topic at hand. The original question was “Is hunting ethical? ”.

I suppose if one feels that taking the life from something is immoral and unethical, than no, hunting is not ethical to that person. However, I would like those who believe hunting isn’t ethical and anti- hunters alike to consider what I have just proposed to them. I would like them to take five5 minutes of their time to do some self-reflection, and question whether what they do in their everyday life is really ethical for the animals. It only seems fair that if someone is to be calling me out on being barbaric and cruel towards animals, that they themselves are doing everything in their power to ensure that the animals around them are being treated as fairly as possible. It would be a common 2 / 3 case of the pot calling the kettle black if one were to discover otherwise.

In summation, the question “is hunting ethical? ” will never be a black or white answer. There are many shades of grey that come with many degrees of opinions. The point that I am trying to get across to those who disagree with hunting however, is to take some time to self reflect before we are so quick to judge others. Take time to think about what each of us is personally doing for the well being and fair treatment of animals, before we quickly judge hunters as immoral people.


Updated: Feb 22, 2021
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Ethics of hunting. (2017, May 19). Retrieved from

Ethics of hunting essay
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