What is considered unfair hunting?

By: Vivien Bullen
Turkey hunter near Ballinger, Texas.
Turkey hunter near Ballinger, Texas.
Tosh Brown/Aurora/Getty Images

Hunting is a sport that involves killing, which automatically makes it controversial. Now add in all the hunting methods from which sportsmen can choose, and the debate gets even more complicated. Advocates base their arguments on the conservation benefits that hunting provides, but that doesn't mean they believe every hunting method is good. There are certain hunting practices that rights groups such as the National Rifle Association and everyday hunters oppose.

Many hunters have gone to great lengths to make the sport as ethical and honorable as possible. A popular view is to follow the Fair Chase ideals, which present a code of ethics for hunters to utilize. This code works to ensure that hunters don't use any means that give them an unfair advantage over the animals. The prey should have a fair chance to escape in defe­nse. From here, you could generalize that any approach to hunting that doesn't meet these standards is both unethical and unfair. However, this generalization means little to someone who doesn't believe in Fair Chase. Because of that, there are many forms of hunting that don't follow that code of ethics.


­Throughout this article, we'll look at a few specific forms of hunting that have been deemed unfair by popular opinion. These practices involve killing trapped, enclosed or baited animals, or hunting by any illegal means. Read on to learn about the different hunting techniques that walk a fine line between fair and unfair.

Unfair Hunting Methods

While there are numerous ideas about what constitutes fair hunting and what doesn't, here are some commonly disputed methods.

Canned hunting is also known as hunting on shooting preserves or game ranches. To participate, hunters visit a privately-owned trophy hunting facility. Here, th­e owners breed or buy exotic and native species and keep them in captivity on their grounds. Customers pay to hunt within those grounds, ensuring they see the specific animals they came to hunt. There are over 1,000 of these preserves in the United States [source: the Humane Society].


­What can't you do on the Internet these days? A typical Internet hunting experience involves registering with a Web site, paying a deposit and subscription fee, and scheduling your hunting appointment. When your time slot appears, simply go the Web site and watch the screen to see the enclosed feeding station. The animal you chose to hunt is freed into the space, and you use the crosshairs in the screen to line up your shot. When you're ready, just click the mouse and a rifle is triggered. Thirty-five states have banned or put restrictions on Internet hunting [source: the Humane Society].

You've probably already heard of poaching. The loose definition of poaching is killing a member of an endangered or threatened species, hunting out of season, using an illegal weapon to hunt or leading a hunt unlicensed. For every animal legally hunted and killed, there is one poached [source: the Humane Society].

While less flashy than the others, baiting is nonetheless controversial. To bait, hunters put together piles of food to attract animals to a particular area (usually white-tail deer and bears). While banned many places to contain disease, it is also viewed as giving the hunter the upper hand by tricking animals into harm's way.

As with any controversial topic, there are always two sides. Read on to learn the defenses of such hunting methods.


Defense of Unfair Hunting Methods

When it comes down to it, what's ethical or fair is relative to each person. Because religion and culture are such strong influences in the decisions people make, there isn't always a clear right or wrong choice. A method of hunting th­at one person finds unfair might be perfectly just to someone who has different beliefs.

The biggest argument in favor of the "unfair" hunting methods is safety. Proponents believe that canned hunts can reduce accidents because hunters are aware of each other's positions. Public hunters have no way of knowing if another sportsman is hidden in the nearby brush. Safety is also a piece of the defense for Internet hunting.


Because no humans are operating guns by hand or present in the shooting area, Internet hunting basically ensures no accidents. But the main argument in favor of Internet hunting has to do with the rights of the disabled. We as a society strive daily to make the world as equal as possible for every human, and Internet hunting brings a new pastime to the disabled who would otherwise probably never be able to hunt [source: Grass Roots]. While animal protection movements don't always agree with this argument, they do recognize it as a consideration.

Overall, there is not an abundance of information specifically defending these methods, but there are arguments that defend the individual rights of citizens. For example, some supporters of controversial hunting methods feel that private property owners should be able to use their land as they choose.

At this point, there exists no cut and dry answer to the debate surrounding unfair hunting practices, but if you feel strongly one way or the other research ways to do your part. Both sides of the topic have outlets for your participation.


Lots More Information

Rela­ted HowStuffWorks Articles

  • Bash, Dana. "Cheney Accidentally Shoots Fellow Hunter." CNN.com (Accessed 12/03/2008). http://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/02/12/cheney/
  • BBC. "Christianity and Animals." BBC - Religion and Ethics. (Accessed 12/042008). http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/christianethics/animals_1.shtml
  • Grass Roots. "Internet Hunting." Grass Roots Animal Rights. (Accessed 12/03/2008). http://www.grassrootsar.org/2008/Internet-hunting-2/
  • The Humane Society. "Canned Hunt Fact Sheet: The Unfair Chase." (Accessed 12/03/2008)http://www.hsus.org/wildlife_abuse/campaigns/canned/canned_hunt_fact_sheet.html
  • The Humane Society. " Poaching: Wildlife Criminals in our Backyard." (Accessed 12/03/2008)http://www.hsus.org/wildlife_abuse/campaigns/poaching/poaching.html
  • The Humane Society. "The Latest Fad in Internet Animal Cruelty: Pay-Per-View Hunting" (Accessed 12/03/2008)http://www.hsus.org/wildlife_abuse/news/pay_per_view_slaughter.html
  • The Humane Society. "Contest Kills." (Accessed 12/03/2008) http://www.hsus.org/wildlife_abuse/campaigns/contests/