Trophy hunting – an immoral and unethical practice.

At least that seems to be the growing sentiment of extreme and liberal animal activist groups. Their argument being, killing the dominate and elder, more mature animals weakens the species – inevitably to the point of extinction.

Their rhetoric goes on to say trophy hunting has zero positive influences on animal conservation – and that the money used to purchase hunting tags (legal hunting tags, mind you) also have zero impact on wildlife conservation.

In a recent blog, Kitty Block, President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States and CEO of Humane Society International said,

“Trophy hunters, although a small and declining group, have treated the world as their bloody playground for so long simply because they are typically wealthy and well-connected, with the ability and influence to affect political decisions on wildlife conservation, including here in the United States.”

The blog goes on to discuss companies that have dismissed high level executives because they are “trophy hunters.” Companies called out in the writing are Jimmy John’s, Go Daddy, and Flagstar Bank.

In her closing remarks, Block said, “A growing number of scientists, economists and conservationists have raised their voices to both refute the outdated notion that trophy hunting is an acceptable and useful conservation tool and to call trophy hunting what it is: an immoral and unethical practice that is responsible for the population decline of many wild animals.”

It is the later statement that is most concerning. The notion that harvesting the mature animals as opposed to harvesting smaller male animals is in some way a detriment to herds.

From a fundamental standpoint – the theory is entirely flawed. Its intent is to drive one to believe that adolescent animals are in some way inferior to the elder, mature members of the herd. Harvesting the mature animals lead to the decline of the herd, making them susceptible to extinction.

Mule deer bucks, whitetail bucks, and bull elk (for instance) who – albeit – adolescent, still carry the genes of their parents. They will pass these genetics on to their offspring, regardless of where they may be age wise when breeding does and cows. That is, in the irrational and unrealistic notion all mature animals are harvested during a hunting season.

Those professionals charged with the management of said herds, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, as an example understand this theory’s flaws. It is why annually we as hunters see laws and rules that outlaw the harvest of animals that are three-point or less. We are not given the opportunity to shoot the smaller animals because that is in fact a proven and logical detriment to herds.

It gives younger animals the opportunity to mature. Through maturation they gain experience better preparing them to avoid hunters. Mature animals are far more difficult to harvest, hunters that do not adjust annually to wiser prey annually eat their proverbial “tag soup.”

Of course, those of us that hunt these animals understand, without question, this theory. Kill ratios go down, adolescent bucks and bulls are given the opportunity to reach their potential.

And the results are visible to all. Glass areas where there are no size restrictions and compare those to the areas there are. You will see more animals with head gear – its proven, it’s seen – it is fact.

To say hunting of any sort does not have a positive impact on wildlife conservation is simply ignorant. Without taking into consideration, the boost hunting brings to local economies, simply factor the purchase price of game tags, resident and non-resident. Said monies go directly to the coffers of wildlife management.

What contributions do the non-hunting masses bring to wildlife contribution? They annually show up – with cameras in tow, kids to their left and right – but no monetary exchange for their travels that contribute to conservation.

Of course, these are the same folks that are vehemently against the harvest of predators such as wolves, coyotes, mountain lions and grizzly bears that indeed have a proven detrimental kill ratio over that of two-legged predators.

It’s simply another ploy, an infringement on the way of life many of us hunters have been partaking, ethically and morally so our entire lives. To federal and state management entities we are tools they use to regulate the herds and maintain the carrying capacity of the land.

If you want to talk about the greatest threat to wildlife numbers, let’s discussed the outrageously priced homes and new roads constructed for access by these so called, friends of the animals, but I digress.

Trophy hunters, those individuals that walk away from the smaller animals in search of the grandest are the best, not the worst of our hunting masses. This is not to say those who harvest a cow elk annually are not important tools, they are. But, the trophy hunters, those individuals who are ok with “eating their tags” knowing it takes a different level of skill sets and abilities to accomplish their goals do so with the balance of the herds in mind.

This assault on trophy hunters is not only naïve, it’s complete ignorance. No one knows – and most importantly, respects their prey more than the trophy hunter. They don’t shoot the first animal they see, they don’t waste any part of the animal, unlike some of the predators these animal rights activists protect do.

Trophy Hunting
Photo Credit: Kyle Glenn

I would say, get to know a trophy hunter, the money and time and physical toll they put into each hunt they embark on before passing judgement, but that wouldn’t be something the extreme anti-hunter would ever imagine doing. They simply read the rhetoric and unfair depictions of the trophy hunter on social media safely sitting in their heated homes on the other side of their high-priced technology – while comfortably kicked back in their favorite chair – and take it as fact. Additional probing is beneath them.

Honestly, it’s simply the first step. If we can ban trophy hunting – hunting in general is the next item on the hit list. The ole “give an inch, they’ll take a mile” reasoning.

But to label all trophy hunters as unethical and immoral – there is nothing further from the truth. We live amongst the animals.  We study them.  We know them in ways the anti-hunting keyboard warriors couldn’t possibly fathom or comprehend. The welfare and protection of the strengths of the herds we hunt are as vital to trophy hunters as the hunt itself.

It is why we are all members of hunting groups such as the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Foundation for Mule Deer (as examples) not only paying our dues but spending top dollar for raffles and auctions during annual banquets. We do so knowing our dollars are going directly to the conservation and management of herds.

We put our money where our proverbial mouths are.  Which is a hell of a lot more than the squeaky wheels of the extreme left animal activists’ groups do.

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