A sport is normally defined as a competition where two individuals or two teams pit their skills and talents against each other to establish who is better at the activity and who will best their opponent. Typically, the type of event is a game or a competition that is considered a sport. Given this definition, can hunting be considered a sport?
Hunting is not a sport in the traditional definition of a sport where participants compete against each other to determine who has the best skills in the competition. There is no such competition in hunting, and it should rather be considered an outdoor activity rather than a sport.
Hunting is an activity that is a cause for much controversy, debate, and antagonism. People have strong opinions of the subject of hunting, both for and against the activity. There are many differing thoughts on whether hunting is a good thing, a bad thing, and whether it should be called a sport.
Why Is Hunting Considered A Sport?
Whether you are pro hunting or not, one aspect of hunting that is a bone of contention for many people is when hunting is termed a sport.
Hunting is not a sport that is traditionally a game or a competition where people test their skills against an opponent or against a time limit. The point of the competition is to best an opponent using strategy, skill, stamina, and talent. Hunting does not fill these criteria.
Hunting does not have an opponent that the hunter tests their skill against, and neither does it have a time component to test oneself against. So why is hunting called a sport? Hunting was termed a sport because of the use of the term sport to denote a fun or enjoyable activity.
Not all hunting is done for the purpose of providing meat for food or conservation or animal population control, but some hunting is done simply for fun, or “sport,” which is where the term first began.
Hunting is not a sport or competition in the traditional sense of the word. Even trophy hunting which is where a hunter goes after a large specimen of their quarry for the sake of taking a trophy of the animal’s head, horns, or skin, is not a sport since there is no opponent that the hunter is competing against.
The best way that hunting can be described is as an outdoor activity, which some people do for meat, others do for conservation, and others do for the trophy or the fun.
Is Hunting A Legal Sport?
Hunting is legal in most countries, but it is generally not considered as a sporting event in which competitors compete against each other. As such, it is not considered as a sport in the same light as something such as tennis, golf, or football.
Hunting is not a sport, but it is an outdoor legal activity. There are no traditional sporting bodies such as the Olympics that recognize hunting as a sport. Competition shooting is considered a sport, but this involves target shooting as opposed to hunting.
Hunting that is considered sport hunting is hunting for trophies or as an organized group event, where hunting is treated as part of a social occasion. The animals hunted in this type of “sport” hunting are generally not hunted for their meat but rather for the chase or pursuit of the animal.
“Sport” hunting often includes hunting animals such as large predators, and the sole purpose for the hunter is to pose is the shot animal after the hunt and have the animal mounted as a trophy. The carcasses of these animals are generally not eaten and generally go to waste.
This is often the case when big cats such as lions, leopards, and tigers are hunted rather than antelope. It is this type of hunting that seems wasteful and cruel and undertaken simply to satisfy the blood lust of the hunter that causes the most public outcry.
Is Hunting Considered Animal Cruelty?
The reality of hunting being cruel or not is really dependent on the perspective and ethics of the hunter doing the hunting and the type of hunting that is being undertaken. There is also a level of skill needed by the hunter to make sure that the animal does not suffer.
Hunting, when conducted ethically and with consideration for the animal being hunted, is not cruel. The animals that are hunted do generally not suffer during the course of the hunt, especially if the hunter is skilled in their method of hunting. In most ethical hunting, the animal dies quickly.
Sport hunting is the type of hunting that is cruel to the animal, where the animal is chased down over a long distance, normally with the incorporation of the use of dogs to keep the quarry on the run.
This type of hunting makes the animal run for its life over a long period of time, and the animal is chased to the point of exhaustion while in constant fear of its life for the duration of the hunt. This type of hunting for sport has generally become deemed as being cruel and has resulted in many of these hunts becoming unpopular and even banned in some countries.
An example of this is the fox hunts that historically took place in England, where the gentry chased foxes on horseback and with the assistance of dogs to keep the fox on the run. The fox, if caught by the dogs, was ripped apart or cornered and put out of its misery by one of the hunters on horseback with a firearm.
This type of “sport” hunting resulted in much public outcry due to the cruel nature of the hunt and has resulted in the practice being banned.
Sometimes ethical hunting can go wrong, and an animal can be injured, which may result in some suffering. However, an ethical hunter would track the injured animal to find it and shoot the injured animal. Most hunters practice their shooting to prevent this type of situation from arising since they do not want the animals to suffer.
Why Is Hunting Important?
Wilderness areas are shrinking due to the ever-expanding human population and the destruction of wilderness areas to make way for farming activities to support the growing human population. This limits the space available for wild animals to roam freely and also limits the available food for wild animals.
Hunting is important to limit the number of animals on the dwindling amount of wilderness space that is available to them. The numbers of the animals need to be managed to keep their numbers to an amount that the available land can sustain without becoming overgrazed or spreading disease.
Hunting is not only important to control animal numbers, but it is also an important source of much-needed income for conservation areas and communities that make a living from this industry.
The movements of predators of certain prey animals are also being restricted by fencing and fragmented parcels of wilderness land. This is allowing populations of some prey animals to reach problematic or pest proportions. Controlled hunting is an important way of controlling the numbers of these animals. Hunting is often the most humane method of controlling these animal numbers rather than using mass culling or poison.
If the numbers of animals were not controlled, it would lead to an explosion of animal numbers that the land would not be able to support, and the animals would wind up starving to death because of insufficient resources, or disease would run rampant through their populations. This could result in species extinctions, which is why hunting is an important part of wildlife management and conservation.
As much as the public disparage the hunting of predators and other non-food game, this type of hunting also has its place in the role of conservation. Just as the numbers of prey animals such as antelope and deer need to be controlled, so do the numbers of predators who prey on these animals.
Hunters often pay large amounts of money to hunt these animals, and the finances raised by offering these animals for hunting get pushed back into the conservation effort and well as generating income for communities.
Hunting in conservation areas is carefully controlled by conservation authorities by using a tag system. Hunters apply for a limited number of tags for a hunting season, and only animals specified on the tag are allowed to be hunted. Failure to honor the stipulations of the tag can result in heavy fines and penalties and the denial of future tags for a hunter.
Do Hunters Enjoy Killing?
One aspect of hunting that people who are against hunting struggle to understand and come to terms with is whether hunters actually enjoy killing animals.
Hunters enjoy the hunt and the challenge of hunting their quarry more than they enjoy the act of killing. They respect the animals they hunt and feel appreciation and gratitude for the opportunity. Hunters feel good about utilizing a natural resource for food while participating in conservation.
Most hunters have a deep relationship with the natural world and feel a connection with the wilderness and the animals that they hunt. They use the meat from the animals they hunt, so there is little waste of the resource, and hunters realize the importance of managing animal numbers.
For many hunters, it is also a life choice, and they prefer to eat wild meat, which is often a healthier choice over commercially raised livestock. A large number of hunters use the hunting season to stock their freezers with hunted wild meat as a healthier option for their families.
For other hunters, it is the camaraderie they get out of going on a hunting trip with their buddies and enjoying the wilderness that is the bigger drawcard than the hunt itself.
What Is Ethical Hunting?
Hunting is an industry that is often in the public eye, and many people look for any excuse to portray this much-needed activity in a poor light. Much of the hunting that is conducted follows a strict code of ethical conduct, which hunters need to comply with in order to be allowed to continue hunting.
Ethical hunting is hunting that is conducted with respect for the animals and the natural environment and complies with legislation around hunting practices for the region. It is also hunting that uses principles of fair chase hunting and does not cause unnecessary suffering for the hunted animals.
Traditionally, hunting was a means to live off the land and put food on the table, and while many hunters still hunt for this purpose, it has become a large and profitable industry.
As with any industry, there are elements of unscrupulous people who see it as an opportunity to make some fast money, and they bypass rules and regulations, quotas, and ethical hunting practices for the sake of the money.
Some hunting operators introduced unethical practices of raising animals purely to be hunted and then placed them in a small enclosure where the animal has no chance of escape and then sold off to rich and influential people to shoot these animals. This practice was given the term “canned” hunting and drew much public outcry against the practice.
This type of hunting is certainly an example of what unethical hunting is, and it is the type of activity that brings the whole industry into ill-repute in the public eye, and every hunter gets painted with the same brush, so to speak.
What Is Fair Chase Hunting?
Fair chase hunting is a term that is often used as one of the principles of ethical hunting, but what does this term actually mean on the ground during the hunt?
Fair chase hunting is a hunting ethic that promotes hunting in a way that the animal has an opportunity to evade the hunter if the hunter does not have the skills to track, find, and stalk the animal and shoot the animal. This hunting practice excludes the practice of hunting in small enclosures.
This hunting principle also excluded the practice of hunting from the back of a vehicle, where hunters are driven to where the animals are and simply shoot them from the back of a vehicle.
This is another practice that portrays hunting in a bad light since the animal does not have a fair chance to escape, and the hunter does not need any skills to perform the hunt.
The hunting industry has put measures in place to change this by promoting the ethical practice of fair chase hunting. This implies that the hunter needs knowledge about the animal they are hunting and the necessary skills to find the animal and to get close enough on foot to make the shot.
This gives the animals a chance to escape should the hunter not have the necessary skills to complete the stalk the animal or makes a mistake in their strategy on the hunt.
Poaching Is Not Hunting
An activity that often gets associated with hunting is the poaching of animals, and in particular, animals that are endangered or have become endangered because of poaching. Even though poaching is often perpetrated in a similar way to hunting, the two activities are worlds apart.
Poaching is not hunting. Poaching is the illegal killing of animals that do not belong to you or the killing of protected animals for the illicit trade in animal products. It is also defined as hunting animals that you do not have permission to hunt on land you are not permitted to hunt on.
These definitions of what poaching is definitely puts it outside the realm of hunting. Poaching is an illegal activity, and participating in such practices is breaking the law. Because the practice is illegal, the type of people who poach generally have no care or concern for the animals or their conservation.
As a result of the drive for money rather than management, the manner in which these animals are killed is often cruel and without any concern for the suffering of the animals.
Hunting is an activity that raises passions on the side of the people who are for and those who are against the practice.
Hunting can certainly not be considered a sport in the true sense of the word, even though it is still sometimes still termed a sport in some circumstances.
However, it is an outdoor activity that is necessary for the continued conservation and management of the wildlife that still roam in the ever-dwindling wilderness areas.