Is Hunting Moral or Immoral?: Morality of Hunting

Hunting and Firearms Writer

When asked about the morality of hunting, or ‘is hunting moral or immoral?’ my answer is, ‘provided the animal you are hunting is not a rare species, there’s no wrongdoing.’

An exception in my book will be if you have a religious abhorrence for the killing of animals. 

Hunting, whether for food, sport, or other resources, is right and legit. Debaters against hunting will often refer to the hunting to collect a hide or head trophy as unethical.

The animal will ultimately die of old age, disease, or fall to predators like wolves and bears.

morality of hunting
morality of hunting

Is Hunting Wrong, and Is Hunting Moral or Immoral?

Whether hunting is moral or immoral hinges on hunting ethics. These are standards by which a hunter should determine the right or the wrong way to hunt.

Hunting involves going into the woods or water to take an animal, bird, or fish’s life. Every ethical hunter knows the rules we abide by, be it on weapons, game animal choice, or shot placement.

The Morality around Trophy Hunting: Is Trophy Hunting Moral or Immoral?

All types of hunting are morally justifiable if they benefit the target game animal and its ecosystem. Hunting is also therapeutic, providing a let-out in the domestic environment.

Whether it’s for sport or subsistence, hunting that also benefits game is moral and entirely defensible.

Today, fewer Americans hunt that at any other time in history. Only 12.5 million people, consider themselves hunters according to a US Fish and Wildlife Service survey of 20016. This is a 15% drop from 2006

There is, however, an increase in public support for hunting. Over 80% of Americans agree that the legitimate hunting of the regulated game has a place in modern society.

Everyone, including the green leaders themselves, lament the habitat destruction and urban collision of increasing wildlife densities. They match the public approval trend by advocating improved cooperation between environmental bodies and the hunters.

is trophy hunting moral

How Hunting Shaped Who We Are as Modern Humans

In the history of hunting and human development, you’ll find that humanity has survived on hunting in prehistoric times other than gathering or scavenging.

Killing animals for food is how people lived at one time or another. Today, hunting is recreational for most people. But there are still those who need to feed families or harvest furs as an economic mainstay.

When talking about whether hunting is moral or immoral, detractors will cite safety. They will say that attitudes towards animals have changed in today’s well-fed society.

Other than as a beautiful sight to behold, the next best place for a whitetail buck is as venison. If I don’t hunt this deer using ethical means of hunting, it will also enrich the biomass for the place it finally falls.

Is Hunting Moral or Immoral to the Environment? Hunting and Its Benefits for the Environment

Is hunting beneficial to the environment? I’d say yes.

I have seen wildlife management agencies using immune-contraceptives on wild animals so they won’t breed so much. I have also witnessed culling operations where sharpshooters shot animals from helicopters to keep down bludgeoning density.

In retrospect to the morality of hunting, sometimes these animals don’t die, suffering for days before finally expiring. Their carcasses are left to rot where they fell, not a well thought out strategy for disease control. 

I fully support the sale of licenses, permits, and tags by state and federal agencies giving access to hunting opportunities instead. 

Deer and other game animals are better hunted progressively that be left to face starvation, over-density, or predators. Hunting provides the populace with a traditional experience where social bonds are forged in the ritualistic hunt.

There’s no difference between killing a deer or elk with slaughtering cattle or chicken. Unlike commercially raised animals that must face the slaughterhouse, game animals can escape from the hunter.

What is Hunters’ Responsibility for Wildlife Conservation?

Anti-hunting activists argue that hunting is immoral in that unnecessary suffering and pain are inflicted on the animal. Not only are these individuals biased in their one-sidedness, its sensationalism by someone that doesn’t wholly understand wildlife ecology.

Dedicated hunters like you and me will be staunch advocates of the fair chase and an ethical kill. Whether I hunt for food or as a sport, I will practice clean hunting by placing my shot where the animal dies as soon as possible.

I take excellent care of my rifles, shotguns, and archery equipment, which I am familiar with inside and out.

For game animals, the alternatives to their end of life can be more unethical, drawn-out, and enduring. Animals can perish from sicknesses like CWD or chronic wasting disease, hemorrhagic disease, brain worm, bovine tuberculosis, etc.

Extreme conditions such as drought or extended snowfall can eliminate or limit food supply, causing animal starvation. This and other such absolute truths give credence to the morality of hunting.

Many small and large game animals in the US get hit by motor vehicles, commonly known as roadkill. Others like deer, elk, or bighorn sheep get eaten by predators while also will increase if they remain not hunted.

These predators include wolves, black bears, mountain lions, grizzlies, coyotes, and foxes.

While not everyone may agree with the correctness of harvesting game for food or sport, a hunter should act responsibly by; 

Following the Hunting Laws

The hunting laws and regulations in your area ensure that animals are ethically and responsibly harvested. Knowing and abiding by these rules, such as season times, weapons to use, bag limits, and proper licenses or permits equates to hunting morally.

Respecting the Prey Animal

You should respect the animal you are pursuing. Make the animal’s expiration as painless and as quick as possible by using adequate harvest equipment plus exercising your knowledge of its anatomy. 

Understand Your Hunting Weapon

Seeing as you are hunting with a deadly weapon, handle it carefully and with safety expertise. Proper maintenance of your weapon and using it with accuracy and skill involves a commitment to pre-season shooting practice.

Respect the Land and Environment

You could be hunting on private or public land, and as such, must act as a guest of the landowner, state, or nature itself. Strive to leave any area you hunt in better than you found it, respecting other hunters or people using the same land for different reasons.

The Principles by Which I Ethically Hunt

As a committed hunter, I have respect for wildlife and a love for nature. I do many hours in the woods, mountains, and water as I study and scout my quarry.

Hunting has a vital place in wildlife conservation, assisting in population management, and providing critical funding. Not only do I get to fill my freezer as a hunter, but I am also spurring the economy and contributing to state or nationwide wildlife conservation efforts.

When asking ‘is hunting moral or immoral?’, whoever said that animals have rights has the other end of the stick. It’s humans that accord these rights to animals under our protection, but the lower species can’t tell the difference. 

What of the coyote pulling out the yet-to-be-born fawn from its mother’s birth canal, whose rights were violated? Remember that pups feed for the coyote, and the mother deer gets to breed again next year.

Anti-hunting noisemakers and animal rights activists need to understand the rules governing survival in the wild.

Our place as humans is to safeguard the morality of hunting. We must manage the animals we hunt, following set laws and regulations, passing this onto coming generations. 

My Arguments in Favor of the Morality of Hunting 

  • Trophy hunting is a practical, inexpensive to taxpayers, and necessary process that ecologically balances wildlife with their habitat. 
  • Some sports like cycling or football have higher injury rates than those sustained during hunting accidents.
  • Biologists rely on hunters to cull or remove in-bred and overproduced genes from deer or bighorn sheep herds.
  • Hunting keeps the overpopulation of natural predators like wolves, bears, or coyotes in check.
  • Hunting reduces human-wildlife conflicts such as property damage, Lyme disease, and vehicle collisions.