Hunters need to question their ethics


Michigan is a state full of hunters. According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, there are over 750,000 registered hunters throughout the state. It’s been ingrained in our culture for so long, through TV shows and programs that get kids out hunting at a young age, that most don’t even question it. However, hunting is an outdated practice, and just because it’s a part of our culture doesn’t mean it’s justifiable.

Like dogs or cats, deer are mammals — in other words, they’re conscious beings fully capable of feeling fear, anxiety and pain, both physically and emotionally. It’s wrong to exploit these animals and knowingly put them in a state of emotional pain. Hunting is warranted only when survival is at stake – it’s not morally justifiable just so you can bag a buck and mount its head on your wall. You wouldn’t kill your pet dog or cat and make a meal out of it. So what makes killing a deer any different? Some would argue that they have an emotional attachment to their pets and not to every deer. But just because you don’t have a strong personal connection to every deer doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to kill them.

However, it would be incorrect for me to assume that all hunters are evil, red-eyed mad men or women stalking Bambi just to slaughter him for no reason than to get a sick laugh out of it. Hunters are not bad people — they’re not evil and most of them are respectable. The problem is that hunting is so ingrained in our culture that many of them don’t even question what they’re doing.

But it’s not just hunters that need to do revaluate the moral implications of their actions. The one positive about hunting is that it’s a more ethical means of obtaining meat than getting it from a factory farm. There is perhaps nothing more hypocritical than people who say hunting is disgusting as they eat a chicken sandwich. Even if you’re fine with hunting, there is no argument that justifies getting meat from farms that exploit animals in such a cruel and inhumane manner.

The reason people continue to hunt and non-hunters continue to both support and encourage it is because it was accepted as a tool for survival. Up until recently, grocery stores didn’t exist — the only way to get food was to either grow it or hunt for it. In today’s world we have such stores, giving us no reason to hunt. We don’t even need to eat meat anymore with the robust produce departments each store has.

There are many other justifications hunters use to legitimize the activity. Hunters say that it’s acceptable because it’s a sport, it’s a tradition and a right and they don’t waste any venison from a deer they kill. None of these can justify the unethical nature of hunting. Although one can look at hunting as a legitimate outdoor sport, like hiking or mountain biking, the difference is that, unlike hiking or mountain biking, hunting requires killing a conscious being. And being qualified as a sport says nothing of the moral implications of an activity, so being a sport becomes a moot point.

The same can be said for hunting being a tradition and a right. There are many traditions that our society has moved past that were once commonly accepted. And as our society has advanced we have recognized the oppressive nature of these traditions and moved past them. Why should killing conscious beings for unjustifiable causes be any different? There is nothing inherent about hunting that makes it a right. It’s a right for all humans to survive, but we have moved past using hunting to survive, therefore, hunting is no longer a right.

Of course, there’s the argument that hunting is fine if you eat all of the meat you get from killing a deer. People don’t need meat to survive – if this were the case I would have died a long time ago, being a vegetarian myself. And just because all of the meat is consumed doesn’t negate the fact that an animal was slaughtered for no reason other than to satisfy a personal desire. The death of an animal is not a given – animals were not magically placed here to satisfy our needs.

This is a call to not just hunters, but those who support hunting or the consumption of meat. Stop kidding yourselves. Stop trying to label hunting as something that it isn’t. It’s not a right and being a tradition or sport doesn’t mean anything. The killing of a conscious being for a personal satisfaction of low significance is never justified.