Is it moral to hunt?

My friend argues that he can kill a deer and eat it, no problem.

Me, I feel bad about killing any animal- yet I eat meat. I know i am a hypocrite.
The way I see it, we “created” cows and chickens and pigs to cover out carnivorous needs, so why does one think it’s necessary to go out and shoot rabbits and deer and the like?

I don’t buy the “it’s cutting down the surplus population” argument.

My friend says he likes to hunt because his ancestors did.

I still don’t think it’s fair- a bow and arrow would be more sportsmanlike, or better yet- if you absolutely must prove your manliness, then see if you are clever enough to ambush a deer and wrestle to the groung with your bare hands. That’s a REAL man.

I would like to hear arguments on either side on hunting.

It’s not “necessary”, but he considers it an activity, like fishing or bowling. “Not necessary” in the sense that if he doesn’t bag Bambi, he will not starve. If he really must have venison, he can buy it somewhere. I’m sure he considers it a challenge to hunt.

Deer have no natural predator here in MD/VA. Their population grows unchecked. What don’t you buy?

You should encourage him to NOT use that argument.

A REAL man would persuade the deer to come to him, then wrestle it down! :slight_smile: I agree, though…a bow is a tad more sporting.

There’s no moral issue when a leopard chases down a gazelle. Or, when a bear snags a salmon. Why would there be one here? If you kill it, eat it. I’m not a hunter, nor do I have any desire to be one, but it doesn’t seem out of line to me.

Yes, there’s no moral issue about natural predators. But that’s because they HAVE to hunt.

Yes, it’s a challenge, I just don’t think that an animal should die just for sport. The fact that he eats it afterward doesn’t justify the sport.

As for the population check thing-

I can’t support that very well, I wonder what happened to all the natural predators. But if forest rangers were the ones to keep the population in check, as part of the job, I wouldn’t object. I just don’t believe that any man or woman who hunts for recreation is doing it for the good of the forest, to keep the population in check.

I think they are doing it for themselves and it’s cruel to kill an animal unecessarily (Please leave the cows out of it).

I wouldn’t hunt, personally. I get my nature jollies by hiking and seeing the animals do their thing.


I live in Missouri. Last year Missourians killed 180,000 deer during hunting season, and it didn’t put a DENT in the population. Most of them kept the venison or donated it to food pantries and homeless shelters. You cannot drive on a major highway without seeing dead deer as roadkill on the sides of the road. I saw three deer during the day (unusual) on a hike last weekend. Many neighborhoods and towns have a serious problem with deer eating crops and landscaping. The Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St Louis has a problem with a large deer population that eats the flowers placed on the graves. A St. Louis suburb recently paid thousands of dollars to move a small nuisance deer herd outstate.

Deer are a Missouri success story, going from an endangered species to their prolific numbers in just a decade or so. There are no wolves, and few bears or coyotes. So, it’s either up to people to manage the population, or leave it to crueler forces such as starvation or death on the highways.

Furthermore, I knew of many people who hunt to supplement their diet. I had a science teacher who got the limit during turkey and deer season and (with the help of a HUGE freezer) fed his family for most of the year without once having to sidle up to the butcher’s counter.

If people choose to hunt, I’d prefer they use a gun. Yes, it’s less sporting, but it’s also quicker and less painful. Unexperienced bowhunters often must finish off their kills with a handgun.

I eat meat. I was a vegetarian for two years, then decided I could spend my moral outrage elsewhere. From what I hear, the deaths met by chickens, cows, and pigs are often terrible. I guess that’s why I have no problem with an animal who’s lived its life in the wild being killed quickly and relatively painlessly to put food on someone’s table.

Just don’t get me started about trophy hunters.

Nope. A REAL man reinforces the grill of his pickup with a steel cage and doesn’t hit the brakes when he sees one in the road. (My dad apparently works with someone who did this. Late for work again? Yea, it was a big one.)

Coming from a non-expert, casual hunter, the options seem to be:

  1. Re-introduce wolves and/or wild dogs.
    Benefits: Wolves are cool, environmentally friendly.
    Drawbacks: Tougher on livestock farmers, potentially dangerous to children, may spread rabies and other diseases, may not be effective in more populated areas where scavenging is easier.

  2. Let deer roam free.
    Benefits: Lots of happy, fuzzy creatures, warm fuzzy feeling. Otherwise drawing a blank on this one.
    Drawbacks: Corresponding increase in car/deer fatalities (people do die occasionally), farmers not particularly happy, overcrowding in deer herd, diseases possibly spread to other livestock (ie. bovine TB).

  3. Hunting and/or strategic reduction.
    Benefits: Increase state revenues (cheaper than rangers-hunters pay the state), still allows for scientific management, excess population used as food which reduces demand (albeit very slightly) for “cruel” factory produced meat.
    Drawbacks: Accidental shootings, Lady Macbeth syndrome for some.

My personal observation: If I was animal to be preyed upon, I know I’d rather be a hunted deer than any cow (or veal calf). And I’d rather be shot than hit by a car or ripped apart by wolves.

Bears have teeth and claws. Deer have excellent muscle structure that enables them to run like…well, like deer.

Humans have opposable thumbs and highly advanced brains, which we use to design, build, and use hunting rifles.

We’re just using what nature gave us.

I don’t know about the morality of it, except to say that it depends on the various conditions. But I do know this: I have no respect or affection for anyone who hunts by choice. The very fact that someone finds it pleasing or entertaining to KILL things offends me deeply. My future father-in-law hunts, and it’s something I try not to think about.


Stoidela said:

Maybe there are hunters out there who get off on the bloodlust aspect of hunting, but I think they are by far in the minority. Hunters in general are very respectful of the whole process.

So the proper way to eat that meat is to A. not have a hand in its demise; or B. Feel guilty while you’re grilling that hamburger. Take no joy in it, anyway. Huh?

Vegetarians, omnivores, carnivores, one and all: Let’s face facts. All animals, insects, etc., cannot exist without causing the suffering and demise of other living creatures. I didn’t make the rules; I just have to play by 'em. To believe you are somehow above this fact of nature shows arrogance of the highest order.

Turpentine said:

And how, exactly, do you survive? Be thankful you live in a day and age that allows you to have such a Pollyanna-ish view of how that food gets on your plate and that leather makes your purse, car seat or coat.

(And before the vegetarians get here: You’re causing the suffering and demise of living things, too. The fact that you aren’t able to understand pain and suffering on a plant or grain’s level, and the fact that it can’t express said pain to you in a meaningful way, doesn’t mean it ain’t the case.)

Huh? That’s a self-contradictory statement. If the animal is eaten, the reason for its being killed is accomplished. And I have never heard of deer hunter whose game was wasted. If they don’t eat it, family, friends, local shelters, etc., are happy to take the meat off their hands and use it.

You can’t support that very well? What does that mean? Sorry; it’s a fact. Should we give our towns and farms back to Bambi? If not, something needs to be done to curb the burgeoning deer population.

That deer population is causing millions of dollars in property and crop damage in my state of Michigan, and sustaining a potentially deadly TO HUMANS strain of bovine tuberculosis that is overlapping into our cattle herds. That’s causing farmers to lose century-old family farms, slaughtering their entire herds just to bury them in a pit. That’s causing a huge economic impact on my state’s livestock and agricultural industry. And that could happen in any other state as well.

What do you think Ranger Smith is going to do about this? One of the top men in my state’s Department of Natural Resources told me personally that, even if the state wanted to eradicate the deer herd to curb bovine TB, there are too many in too many places to do it. An Army battalion couldn’t do it. You’d have to drop an A-bomb.

All you can hope to do is curb the population. That’s what hunting does.

And why is that?

There is absolutely nothing wrong with hunting, morally or otherwise. There is nothing wrong with grandfathers, fathers and sons taking satisfaction in partaking in nature, in the natural process, and in an activity they have enjoyed for generations.

Do you know what happens where I live in the winter? The deer food goes away. It’s covered up by something called eight feet of snow. The leaves are gone on the trees; the grass is gone.

Do you know what happens when the deer population is too big to support the meager amount of food that is available? The deer starve to death in the woods. Yes, even the little baby Bambi-looking deer that are so cute.

What’s a better, more meaningful death for these deer? Starving to death and rotting in the snow?

Splattered along the side of the road in an accident that might kill, disable or injure people? (I speak from exprience on this one. Were it not for the fortuitous bending of the hood of a car in which I was a passenger several years ago, I may have died, as a 200 lb. deer was hurtling straight for the windshield in front of me after being hit at about 75 mph on Interstate 80 in Iowa.)

Or shot and used as food for family and friends?

The only people that I think can claim that hunting is immoral are people who do not eat any meat whatsoever.

I am not a hunter, and I am not a veggie either. However, I think it would be silly of me to be morally oppossed to hunting after eating my juicy corned beef diner, which was most likely a factory farmed animal grown and killed under fairly inhumane conditions. By contrast, if I had eaten a steak of game deer, I would be eating an animal that had lived its life in the wild, and had died the way almost all animals die, killed by something wanting to eat it. It probably died much more quickly and painlessly than that cow that had to give it up for my diner.

I am speaking only of animals that are non-endangered and hunting under controlled circumstances, and not of hunting with traps or bow and arrow, which is much more inhumane.

I have been around hunters all my life, and I think most of them are not sadistic brutes that just want to kill something. That may be true for game ranches where you can walk up to within a few yards of tame animal in a pen and blast way. The hunters I do know hunt for the skill and challenge and to be out in the wild, with tasty game meat as the reward. Doesn’t appeal to me, but as a non-veggie, I don’t feel the need to morally chastize them when they offer me some fresh venison sausage.

Turp, I know people who hunt and eat deer meat, and would NEVER buy beef! They find the beef industry to be more imoral than hunting. Frankly, I tend to agree. People find it easy to forget that the BigMac they are eating actually WAS an animal that was killed by someone. Ok, maybe a BigMac is a bad example, but REAL hamburger meat came from a cow. This cow was slautered. What is so much better about lining up a hundred cows and having a huge blade run across all of their throats??
Personally, I think that if a person wants to hunt his own food, more power to them. Their method is much less painful than a slaughter house’s.
I find it ironic that some people will condemn hunting and call hunters evil and morally wrong for killing deer, but these same people eat hamburger meat. HELLO?!? Just because you did not kill the animal personally does not make it ok. No magic meat fairy waived a wand to produce that beef. It came from an animal. If someone wants to get their food the easy way, they can get it at the store. If the people want to hunt, and get much better meat and get a little recreation- so be it!
Why is ‘buying’ venison at the store better than hunting it? I just dont get it.
Now, I am not going to argue that hunting is a sport and all this other stuff. Frankly, I would not call it a sport, I just call it “hunting”. But I do not think that is a reason for people to say “If you want a challenge, why dont you just use a knife, or something?” Oh come on people… would you tell a fisherman to jump in the water and catch the fish bare handed? I actually do know of people who have killed deer with just a knife… I bet that was a real rush, but that does not mean EVERYONE has to hunt like this. Even with all the tree stands and deer piss and everything else to help hunters, it is still rather challenging.
And even if it is arguably too easy, it is still HARDER than going to a grocery store for food.
The method of hunting I guess is not the debate though, is it?
The facts are:
deer meat is much healthier and less fatty than cow meat. If you are going to eat real meat, an animal is going to die somewhere.
There should be nothing wrong with killing your food personally.(ok, that is an opinion… but can you really say that IF eating slaughtered beef is acceptable, hunting deer is not?? I do not believe any person could rationalize that.

Others have already covered most of what I would say, especially Milossarian (very good post, Milo), Silvio, and Bear_Nenno, so I won’t rehash it. I will mention that I know someone who won’t eat meat unless it was hunted–she considers the meat industry immoral.

Turpentine: If you eat meat, you are responsible for that animal’s death–it was done on your behalf. Trying to disclaim responsibility for it is like a mafioso who orders a hit claiming the murder wasn’t his fault. Yes, you are a hypocrite. (Though I’ll give you credit for admitting it.)

Stoidela: I just wanted to mention that I have hunted deer, squirrels, rabbits, and turkeys, and I’ve gotten all of the above except for the turkeys. They are all very tasty. Does this make me a bloodthirsty ogre? You think about it over your Big Mac…but I suggest you never go see a slaughterhouse. (I assume you can figure out for yourself how bothered I’m gonna be by your lack of “respect or affection” for me.)

Milossarian said:

You noticed that too, huh? 'Course, it’s hard to subsist on a salt-only diet.

for food – yes
for sport – no

I may even extend this to fishing.

With that oversimplification, I guess I could add some further nettles for consideration…

  • not moral to hunt endangered species for food
  • less moral to hunt with bow/arrow than rifle
  • hunting for population control is a brute force treatment of the symptom, not a cure for the problem (human encroachment on wildlife’s territory)
  • sitting in a tree with a rifle is lame
  • walking around shooting everything that moves is lame
  • the thrill of hunting can be experienced without having to kill (ever try photographing wildlife?)

Not to mention incredibly illegal. I don’t know of anyplace in the country that doesn’t have a well regulated season for hunting, along with bag limits, weapon/ammunition rules, etc.
I don’t hunt, but I don’t really have any objection to hunting. I have no illusions where my cheeseburger comes from. I don’t hunt because I have no particular interest in sitting in the woods freezing, to maybe see a deer, and maybe get a shot at one.
I think that at some level at least, hunting is about the old man vs. nature argument. Going in to the woods and successfully hunting and killing a deer sort of validates your position in the natural order. Man uses the tools nature gave us, as someone mentioned earlier. We have intelligence, and the ability to make and use advanced tools.
Now, having said that, I do have a problem with people who go hunting just to kill things. Not the people who abide by their local and state laws and go with the intent to eat what they shoot, I’m talking about the people who see a deer while they’re driving, pull over, and shoot it from their window. Those are the sort of people who give hunting a bad name. I’m incredibly happy when those people get caught and all their equipment gets confiscated (including their car, by the way).

If there is a God, he put animals on Earth for our use. He gave us dominion over them.

If there is no God, that means we evolved above all other creatures, and, via survival of the fittest, have dominion over them. If there is no God why would anyone worry about “morals” anyway?

Either way, it’s A-OK to hunt, either for food, sport or trophy.

It’s good to be a human, the highest embodiment of nature!

Is it moral to hunt?
Not on my property, thank you. And to the “noble hunter” who walked across our “posted no hunting” yard, passing my house, my car and my garage in the process, it’s called trespassing, and if the idiot cop in the area weren’t an avid hunter himself, you’d have been in real trouble bucko.

Milo - piece of advice - you mention in your posting that you live in Michigan, may I suggest being careful if it happens to be in the area of Michigan generally north of Muskegon? My ex-in-laws live there, ex-bro-in-law spent a year in the county lock up for killing a deer, who turned out sadly, to be a woman chopping down her Christmas tree.

One thing I personally resent is that for several weeks every year, not only do I have to listen to shots all the time, but I have to worry about driving to and from my house, walking from my house to my car, etc. because of the drunken louts out there with guns. Yes, I understand not every hunter out there is drunken, loutish or my ex brother in law’s shooting instructor. However, it makes the woods a dangerous place to be around for those of us not prone to liking dead animal parts strewn around the house.

So, you like to hunt. Great. Please don’t bother me with your hobby, as I don’t bother you with mine. And, if it’s not too much trouble, please try and keep your hunting buddies OFF MY PROPERTY and preferably sober when they’re busy carrying loaded weapons. Thank you.

Ted Nugent couldn’t have said it better.

See if you can find Ted Nugent’s "Spirit of the wild "on TV sometime and notice his Intensity and listen to his explanations of what is happening.Many people feel this way but are not as gifted as Nugent in explaining it.

Hunting is amoral.
case closed. I have spoken.

I’m a pretty enthusiastic conservationist, but I’m certain that hunting can be moral.

If it’s done for food, not wastefully, and on land and for species where permitted, and without a dangerous mix of lethal weaponry and alcoholic beverages, I don’t see a problem. I do buy the keeping the population down arguement where it is used with evidence of population size to justify it. After all, we’ve eliminated the wolves and mountain lions from many parts of the country that still support large populations of deer.

Also, hunters can do a lot for conservation. Duck hunters have taken a lot of responsibility in preserving wetlands.

Finally, death by hunting may be more humane than life as livestock and death in a slaughterhouse. The conditions many livestock live under aren’t exactly pleasant.

Excellent Post.
In Indiana , the State parks are overrun with emaciated Bambis. Foliage is sparse at best. The state has lotteries in the parks for hunting liscences. It is starting to have a positive effect on the overpopulation but it is still nescessary to have human intervention. Anyone know of a better Idea?
These hunters aren’t drunk, but then again, this ain’t Michigan

The degree of disapproval of hunting is directly proportionate to the cuteness of the animal being hunted.

You never see the PETA people picketing an exterminator shop chanting, “Save the Rats!”

Personally, I don’t hunt, but I respect the right to hunt for those wishing to do so. But I can’t say I approve of trophy hunting. If it goes in the freezer, I think it’s ok. If you want to put it up on your wall, take it’s picture and hang that up.