This question apparently needs an answer because it seems to be popping up all over the place in recent weeks. Iâ€™ve seen it on various websites, it has come up in personal conversations and it even surfaced during a recent magazine interview I conducted with a wildlife management professional regarding a different topic.
*Is hunting a sport?*
I have been amazed at how emotionally charged some folks get when confronted with this question. Maybe we need to break it down into its component parts to find an answer.
For instance, the question â€œis a mallard a duckâ€ can be answered by discerning if that mallard has a beak, feathers, webbed feet, and other component parts of a â€œduckâ€. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, talks like a duckâ€¦ well, you get the picture.
So, is hunting a sport?
First of all, it is important to determine what being a â€œsportâ€ means. According to Websterâ€™s Collegiate Dictionary a sport is a source of diversion, a recreation, and a physical activity engaged in for pleasure.
We must certainly recognize that hunting falls under that definition insofar as we hunt as a diversion from our work-a-day worlds. Hunting definitely is recreational in that we come away refreshed in strength and spirit and I can think of no one who hunts and doesnâ€™t find pleasure in the activity.
However, this is where the conversation becomes truly interesting and where many individuals start to bristle. Tempers rage and justifications fly because â€œhunting is more than a sport.â€
Okay. Letâ€™s examine the two biggest reasons we use in denying the â€œsportâ€ of hunting.
1) We need to hunt for management purposes.
It is true that a wide variety of animals need be killed each year in order to protect those things we set as priorities in our society and our world. Too many deer destroy our preferred version of the landscape, too many geese take down aircraft, and too many predators hurt livestock interests.
However, other than the big game, upland game and waterfowl we enjoy hunting we prefer that our government deal with the millions of critters doing damage across our country.
The Department of Agriculture – Wildlife Services Division is a very busy bunch of folks and they do most of the â€œmanagementâ€, even when it comes to deer and elk in many places.
Wildlife populations definitely need to be managed but the hunterâ€™s role is more about choice than need.
2) We hunt for food.
It is certainly true that the majority of us eat what we kill but it isnâ€™t honest to say that we kill in order to eat.
In my home state of Wyoming last season elk hunters recorded a success rate of approximately 41 percent. I can assure you that the unlucky 59 percent that ended the season with empty tags did not end up as winter kill due to starvation.
In many areas of the country there are thousands of deer that are donated to food banks for needy families. This is possible because the hunters who provide that meat do not need it for themselves and their generosity extends to their fellow man.
But the fact remains that these hunters did not and will not quit hunting because their freezers are full.
Yes, there are hunters (and I know many) who depend upon wild meat to provide their families with a healthy diet but many hunters finish many seasons with an unfilled tag because they didnâ€™t see the animal they â€œwanted.â€
I would hope my readers donâ€™t misunderstand the point of this post.
I, like many of you, find a â€œdeeper meaningâ€ when I hunt but that conversation is for a different time and place because it doesnâ€™t really have a lot to do with the question.
Here is the bottom line.
The continued existence of every living thing on this planet depends upon the death of another living thing. I am not compelled to defend hunting. I am taking part in the cycle of life and – without question – I enjoy it.
Yes, in many respects it is simply sportâ€¦ *so what?*
There is nothing unnatural or immoral about hunting. Our detractors feel guilt for all aspects of their lives and we, therefore, are supposed to feel guilt in all we do as well.
When Europeans quit playing soccer, Americans quit playing baseball and Liberals quit playing mind-games Iâ€™ll quit hunting because when we quit our sports we quit being humans. Thereâ€™s no sense in going forward from thereâ€¦