Fair Chase Hunting
ADA defines “Fair Chase Hunting” as the ethical, sportsmanlike, lawful pursuit and taking of free-ranging wild deer in a manner that does not give the hunter an improper advantage over the animal.
One of the clearest and best thinkers in the management of wild things was Aldo Leopold, a dedicated hunter often recognised as the father of modern day wildlife conservation. It is no coincidence that the Australian Deer Association adopted as its motto, a quote from one of his writings: Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land. More is implicit in this simple statement than the total content of many books devoted to the subject.
As a hunter, Leopold clearly understood the temptations sometimes encountered in the field and in defining hunting ethics onecan do no better than to quote him:
“There is value in any experience that exercises those ethical restraints collectively called “sportsmanship”. Our tools for the pursuit of wildlife improve faster than we do, and sportsmanship is a voluntary limitation in the use of these armaments. It is aimed to augment the role of skill and shrink the role of gadgets in the pursuit of wild things.”
“A particular virtue in wildlife ethics is that the hunter ordinarily has no gallery to applaud or disapprove of his conduct. Whatever his acts, they are dictated by his own conscience, rather than by a mob of onlookers. It is difficult to exaggerate the importance of this fact.”
So there it is in a ‘nutshell’—ethics are a set of voluntary rules that each hunter lives by.
In hunting, we should be strongly influenced by the concepts of fair chase, animal welfare and consideration for other species, people, and the land on which we hunt.
Regardless of what might be proclaimed in the presence of others, a person’s ethics are defined not only by the most irresponsible act he or she is prepared to do, but importantly, by what is done when no one is watching. It is important to understand, however, that what is ethical to one person, may not be to another—and both might have some valid points. An example of this is the hunter who some might consider to have the highest of ethics because he or she hunts only for the biggest and best of trophies, even though this practise when carried to excess has an appalling record in damaging wildlife population structures. Conversely, the hunter who hunts for meat and as such randomly selects whatever is presented during the hunt is sometimes considered to be less ethical regardless of the fact that this method tends towards well-balanced population structures. The one takes less, but takes from a critical sex and age structure, the other may take more, but in a more natural predatory fashion.
Hunters will form their own personal ethics and make up their own minds and do what they will do in the field, regardless. However, for the continued good of hunting, and for their own ultimate enjoyment they will at least consider the following:
Respect your quarry
- Don’t waste. If you are going to take an animal, it is your responsibility to make full use of it. If you can’t do this, should you really be taking the shot?
- Being a trophy hunter does not excuse you from also recovering and using the meat.
- Marksmanship should be of the highest standard each individual can achieve and any limitations respected.
- Firearms must be properly maintained, and the calibres and projectiles used suit- able for the task expected of them. Firearm safety must be practised at all times.
Respect your chosen recreation—become a hunter in all ways
- Enhance your hunting experience by learning to appreciate the bush — ALL of it, there is more than deer to see and enjoy.
- The responsibility for promotion of ethical hunting practices rests with all hunters.
- Respect the rights of other users of the environment.
Respect the law of the land—it is there for a purpose and defying it denigrates all hunters
The real test of hunting ethics comes in deciding when you won’t rather than when you will, shoot.