How Hunting with Respect for Life Works

By: Simon Shadow
Turkey hunter at sunrise near Ballinger, Texas.
Turkey hunter at sunrise near Ballinger, Texas.
Tosh Brown/Aurora/Getty Images

In order to survive, huma­ns need to eat. But what should we be eating? Some argue that we can survive on greens and beans alone, while others argue that we need meat. Say you're one of the many that likes a little meat in your diet; you probably head to the local grocery store or butcher for your dinner. But there was a time when people had to hunt for their food. That need isn't as present today, yet hunting lives on as a sport and thus a controversy is born.

Hunting is the process of killing or capturing wild animals. While some hunters hold a deep respect for the animals and try to make the process quick and painless, others may not be as concerned with the well-being of their prey. One man's ­idea of ethical can be very different from someone else's.


­Hunting with respect for life values self-control and views hunting as a sacred institution rather than simply an outdoor sport. Often, if one chooses to hunt by these standards, they'll participate in hunter safety classes, put extra effort in hunt preparation, monitor the quality of their tools and treat hunting expeditions as a humbling act.

While respect for life hunters want to get out in the woods and hunt, they're against certain practices like baiting, spring hunting and hounding. Many respect for life hunters are fighting to outlaw these practices [source: Woodbury].

In this article, we'll discuss arguments for and against hunting with respect for life. We'll take a look at the key points of each side of the story and explore how the group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) weighs in.


Arguments for Hunting with Respect for Life

Those wh­o appreciate hunting with respect for life view it as more than a way to hunt; they view it as a way of life, a deep-seated belief and a moral and ethical code. Hunters who believe in respect for life:

  • Respect nature and natural order
  • Do not take more than they need
  • Appreciate nature's bounty and strive to keep populations healthy
  • Follow the rules and regulations set up by state and local government

Respect for life hunters place high value on maintaining and properly using their tools. Whether hunting with a bow, knife or gun, hunters understand how to use their tools to implement quick, clean kills that will result in the least amount of suffering possible. They follow through on a kill immediately to ensure that the animal is not lingering in pain.


Arguments in support of respect for life hunting include:

  • Respectful hunting maintains animal populations and prevents overpopulation, which leads to sickness and disease and unnecessary suffering.
  • Hunting is the most popular form of wildlife management and conservation. Hunting and fishing licenses provide needed revenue for fish and game organizations. Hunters provide $1.7 billion dollars each year for conservation [source: Eaton].
  • Children who are properly educated in hunting and shooting learn lessons of self-control, responsibility, compassion and humility. Some believe that getting youth involved in hunting decreases aggression and actually helps boys become more peaceful and less violent as they become men [sources: Eaton, Coughlin].
  • Hunting is a more humane way to kill animals than other options.
  • Hunting helps protect agriculture and the environment from predators and animal pests.

Believers in respect for life have put a lot of effort into backing up their arguments. But what about the other side of the argument?


Arguments Against Hunting with Respect for Life

One of the biggest argu­ments against hunting with respect for life is actually an argument against hunting as a sport and not this particular viewpoint. Humans used to hunt out of necessity to feed and clothe their families. Today, we can buy our food from stores and purchase clothes whenever we need them. So the question becomes: Why do we still hunt?

Arguments against hunting with respect for life and hunting in general include:


  • Sportsmen who hunt for the thrill of the kill bring out large numbers of men, women and youth who have little or no experience hunting. This makes wild lands dangerous to non-hunters and hunters alike. Every year, deer season brings with it news reports of accidental shootings and deaths [source: CASH].
  • Killing animals can damage the social structure of animal society [source: Balluch].
  • Hunters can use unethical means to hunt -- baiting, hounding and predator-calling -- to easily lure animals [source: API].
  • Studies show that bow hunting is often an unreliable means of hunting. One out of two animals shot with a bow will die painfully and slowly from the wounds [source: API].
  • Hunting can increase disease by killing healthy animals and those with natural disease immunities [source: WebWire].
  • Hunters use high-powered weaponry to hunt, which negates any opportunity of a fair fight [source: Balluch].

As we've learned, there are good arguments for and against hunting with respect for life. But when it comes to animal rights, there's one voice that tends to stand out. Read on to learn how PETA feels about hunting with respect for life.


PETA's Stance on Hunting with Respect for Life

PETA does not acknowledge hunting with respect for life specifically, but it deems hunting as­ a cruel and unnecessary sport.

As a leading organization for the protection of animal rights, PETA:


  • Holds strong convictions about animals being injured -- not killed -- during the hunt, so they suffer for an extended period.
  • Feels that hunting disturbs migratory, familial and hibernation patterns. They also claim that hunting creates an abnormal stress that disturbs feeding patterns. This causes an inability to store energy or food properly in preparation for winter.
  • States that hunting disrupts ecological balance due to hunters killing the healthiest of a species, not the weakest, as natural predators do. They prefer the natural means of population control such as disease and starvation, letting nature ensure the healthiest animals survive and strengthen the rest of the herd.
  • Acknowledges hunting accidents and the deaths or injuries that are propagated by hunters being untrained in hunter safety.
  • Offers alternatives such as sterilization and birth control as means of population control.
  • Considers private for-profit hunting reserves and game ranches unjust. This is because the animals grow used to humans or have a disadvantage by not being able to flee from enclosed spaces. These animals are often lured to hunting hot spots via feed lots [source: PETA].

The arguments about hunting and hunting with respect for life will no doubt continue as technology advances and time rolls on. Now that you have both sides of the story, you can better understand those who are for and against such practices. Who knows? Perhaps you'll be moved to join a group or two supporting your side of the fight.


Lots More Information

Related Articles

  • Animal Liberation Front. "The Fallacy of Sport Hunting." (accessed 11/25/08)
  • Balluch, Martin. "Thoughts on Hunting and Fishing." Animal Liberation Front. (accessed 11/25/08)
  • BBC. "Hunting and the environment." Hunting. (Accessed 11/25/08)
  • BBC. "Cases for and against." Hunting. (Accessed 11/12/08)
  • CASH. "How Safe is Hunting by Young People? See the Statistics." Hunting Accidents Center. (accessed 11/25/08)
  • Conner, Sean. "Keep Kids Away From Hunting Rifles." The PETA Files. (accessed 11/25/08)
  • Coughlin, Matt. "Hunting With Kids Part 3--Why Get Kids Involved?" Bright Idea Outdoors. (accessed 11/25/08)
  • Eaton, Randall. "What to Say to a Person Who Has Never Hunted." Uitspan Hunting. (accessed 11/25/08)
  • Eaton, Randall and Mahoney, Shane. "Why We Hunt: Two Important Perspectives." Conservation Force. (accessed 11/25/08)
  • Kolman, Sam. "Hunting Editorial." Animal Liberation Front. 03/33/06. (accessed 11/24/08)
  • Lu, Anne. "Animal Rights Activist Hayden Panettiere's New Calfskin Handbag Project Confuses PETA." AHN. 11/25/08. (Accessed 11/25/08)
  • Mulhollem, Jeff. "Wildlife-Management Students Taught to Appreciate Hunting." Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences. 12/14/06. (accessed: 11/24/08)
  • Perry, Michael. "Respect the Food Chain." Men's Health. (accessed 11/25/08)
  • PETA. "PETA's Mission Statement." (Accessed 11/26/08)
  • PETA2. "Why Sport Hunting Is Cruel and Unnecessary." Take Charge. (accessed 11/25/08)
  • Rose, Michael. Personal interview. Conducted 11/22/08.
  • University of Georgia. "UGA Researchers find that hunting can increase the severity of wildlife disease epidemics." WebWire. 07/14/06. (accessed 11/24/08)
  • Woodbury, Richard. "Hunting's bad sports." Time. 10/28/96. (Accessed 11/25/08),9171,985383-1,00.html