View Full Version : Hunting Versus Killing

Al Thompson
February 14, 2001, 02:04 PM
Several of our members have mentioned using various techniques to harvest game. Firearms of all sorts, bows, spears and the odd stick of dynamite.

My personal perspective is that the hunting quits when I decide to kill an animal. Once I've crossed that Rubicon, I owe it to the animal that the kill is as clean and quick as I can make it.

So - I don't use marginal calibers or equipment that I don't have a high degree of competence with. For instance - I intend to bow hunt soon - but until I become proficient with a powerful bow, you won't find me hanging out in the woods with one.

I also would not have a problem with a (as a concept) death ray that kills instantly.



February 14, 2001, 04:03 PM
A quick clean safe kill is the most important aspect of hunting.
For me, hunting ends not when you decide to shoot, but when the animal has been shot.
Then you know it is a "hit" and not a "wish".
I think that the "hunt" and the "kill" are equally exciting.
And you must definately be competant enough with your weapon that you can honor the game you hunt with a merciful kill.
Happy Hunting All...................

February 14, 2001, 04:11 PM
Have to agree Giz.. a clean kill is a must. you owe it to the animal. The "hunt" is the stalk and the experience, the kill is something else. After you pull the trigger is when all the work starts.

Having said that read my post under spear hunting, it still sounds like a hell of an adventure.

February 14, 2001, 07:26 PM
Well said Mr. Giz,
I agree with you on the need for clean kills. Don't be too worried about the archery equipment. As in all hunting/killing accuracy is your main concern. The new superfast bows don't kill them any deader than the previous generations of archery equip. The marketing depts are trying very hard to convince we-the-consumers that we need to keep buying thier latest-greatest. A 55# bow with the right arrow will shoot clear thru a deer with the right shot placement. The new superzingmaster will shoot farther and faster and sure its nice but don't fret too much about the power factor.
BTW I hunt with a 10 year old compound bow

February 14, 2001, 10:47 PM

Right on the money with the ethical aspect. I strive for the quick, clean kill. I dont enjoy the killing aspect of the hunt, its necessary but I derive no joy from it. The hunt is where the challenge is, getting close. I watch the animal from the time I shoot it until it leaves my sight or dies in front of me. I have watched many animals die right in front of me, I dont enjoy it, but I watch until the animal is done. Its a sense of accountability if nothing else, I have taken the shot and I alone am responsible for the consequences. My reasoning is like yours, bring enough power, and make certain you have practiced enough to bring it to bear properly.

Red Label
February 15, 2001, 10:59 AM
Hey guys. I'm really impressed with your ethics here. I have avoided this section until now because I was afraid that I'd see to much glorification of carnage round here. Glad to see a mature, responisble approach and attitude here. I used to hunt as a kid, but have not done so in the last 17 years. Don't have the want/need/stomach for it any more. I would hunt if I had to feed my family. I have put sick pets out of their misery (when I couldn't wait for the vet to do it). I respect hunting as a tool for wildlife management. But I am aware of too many hunters who glorify the killing aspect of it (I just think some people LIVE for killing animals -- can you say Ted Nugent?). For me, the HUNT was everything, the kill was not. I started hunting with a 35mm.

It's very refreshing to see such a mature attitude from you guys. I may have to re-evaluate my own attitude about hunters in general. If they are mostly like you, then the world is a better place...

Mike Kilo Niner
February 15, 2001, 01:47 PM
I started hunting with a 35mm.

Damn! What were you hunting? Rhinos? Oh... wait a minute. 35mm camera! Ahh! :D Sorry, I couldn't resist.

February 15, 2001, 01:58 PM
Red Label,
I would not bad mouth Ted Nugent.
You might get run out of here.
There are alot of his fans here.
Happy Camera-ing..............

Jack Straw
February 15, 2001, 02:11 PM
All good posts (so far :))

There's one thing in particular that I find myself in agreement with Giz about -- I have no objection to any technological advances that make hunting easier or more effective. Frequently hunters tend to segregate themselves by the equipment they use. Those who prefer more primitive tools sometimes argue that those who use "new" technology (scoped rifles, range finders, etc...) are "cheating" or not playing by the rules of fair chase. Sometimes those who use technology argue that the use of primitive weapons (bow & arrow, spears) is irresponsible or an attempt to be "macho". There have been some pretty good discussions here on TFL over that very subject. I think these arguments only serve to harm all hunters by aiding the anti-hunters. It (falsely) gives them the argument that some forms of hunting are "bad" and should therefore be stopped and it allows them to attack hunting at both ends of the spectrum. It is simply a matter of an individual's personal tastes; as long as one is proficient with their chosen tools to the degree of meeting that ethical requirement of a quick, clean kill, it matters not what the tool actually is. Ultimately, killing an animal is killing an animal.

Another similar area in which I think we hunters need to be careful in our language is the idea that there is a point at which hunting stops and killing starts. I understand what guys mean when they say "the hunting stops and the work stops when I pull the trigger", but I think it is dangerous to distinguish between hunting and killing. If one can hunt without killing then the door is open to those who seek to abolish "hunting" as we know it today. Even the subject of this thread suggests that there can be "hunting versus killing" (apologies Giz...no flame intended :)). The two are integral. I believe (please correct me if I'm wrong) it was the Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega y Gassett who said "One does not hunt in order to kill, one kills in order to have hunted". I agree with that sentiment. That's not to say that going home empty-handed after a day in the field means that one has not hunted (God knows that happens to me an awful lot), but it does reinforce that hunting and killing cannot be separated.

Just some of the thoughts rattling around in my skull...


Red Label
February 15, 2001, 03:25 PM
Thanks for the tip handgun357. Let me clarify, I did not intend to badmouth Ted. I am just turned-off by a lot of the interviews I see him in. Having said that... I own his albums, I agree with most of his political views, I appreciate his non-politically correct outspokenness, and I play some of the same expensive guitars that he does (Paul Reed Smith). I like his tunes like "Fred Bear" and "The Great White Buffalo". I do think that he is a refreshing and welcome change from most of the other celeberties. I admire the courage of guys like him, Hesston, Sellek, and Gibson to stand-up, speak-out, and be men among mice. So I can (and have done so) sing Ted's praises. But I still think the guy is over-the-top with the adolescent (primal?) urge to kill "stuff". I have heard and read much of Ted's word, and that is my opinion of him. But hey, I'll take him over any freakin PETA nut anyday...

February 15, 2001, 07:50 PM
Red Label: Have you read some of Ted's hunting stories?? Some of them make me feel like I'm not worthy of hunting...Yes, he glorifies the kill, and the actual death of the animal, but it's a spiritual and emotional thing for him. A couple issues back he had a two page story in one of my hunt-rags, nto sure which one, about his bow ambush of a special buck that he'd been after for a while....He is a good writer, a good hunter, and good for our cause.

I like the killing part. When I, the predator, take (anything that walks flies or swims...) I feel a closeness to nature, and the whole food chain. I'm not gonna say that I don't enjoy the "killing" part, because I do, I'm satisfied with the hunt, and I had fun. I have fun even when I don't get anything, because I get to be outside, and walk in the woods, and smell the smells, but actually getting something makes it twice as good.

Red Label
February 15, 2001, 08:42 PM
BedMedicine -- thanks for your point of view. I can appreciate that there are all types in this world. I just don't feel the same way you (and Ted) do. I grew-up hunting (and killing). I had my fill. I love to observe wildlife and it's beauty. I have no doubt that you do also. But when I'm done enjoying it, I like to walk away and leave it in peace -- not take-away that which I cannot give. If I had to feed my family by hunting, or to protect it, then I would kill. That's the circle of life. Take what you need, leave what you do not.

You feel differently. That's fine. Make NO mistake about this, this is NOT an anti-hunting speech. I am NOT anit-hunter. I AM for the responsible, reasonable harvesting and management of wildlife. When I fish, I keep what I will eat, I return what I will not to nature. I like it that way. I feel as though I am an asset to the environment, all-the-while enjoying it as I should. I love the fact that if I were able to communicate with mother nature, I could do so with a clean conscience.

I once saw an interview with Ted where he claimed that he nearly always had at least a handgun on him, even as he drove to and from his property -- in the case that as he was driving down the road he spotted a coon or any other form of wildlife. Hmmm... that's quite sporting of him. I don't feel like blowing away nearly every living thing that it is legal to do so. I stopped feeling like that sometime after I turned 12 or so.

Having said all that... if you feel like doing that. Or anything in between that and being a PETA member -- fine. It takes all kinds in this world. I just happen to have the most respect for those who use moderation and wise jugement in this matter, not the ones who are living by animal instincts.

P.S. If it was possible to sense the tone of one's voice through the written word, you would know that I intend no ill-will toward you, Ted or anyone else. I just disagree with the lust for killing of any living thing...

Art Eatman
February 15, 2001, 10:10 PM
Not knocking Nugent, but I sometimes wonder about remarks apparently made deliberately to shock folks...

I've passed up a lot of shots I could have taken. Sometimes I never knew why; "just did". I've called up coyotes and then just laughed at them. Stalked a buck, one time; got within ten feet and tossed a little rock and hit him on the rump. "Counting coup", I reckon.

I have a "thing" about fair chase and clean kill. But if I go to the trouble of stalking or waiting, and a shootable deer shows up, the shot is made with the expectation of satisfaction at the kill and the full tummy that's gonna be along later. Maybe the satisfaction at the kill is a form of "completion", of "closure"? Dunno.

The whole ethics issue is complex. For instance, I'm happy to take somebody out and help them try to catch a deer. Yet, for me, I'd be uncomfortable at going on a guided hunt. If a knowledgeable fella sez, "Ya oughta try that meadow over yonder.", fine. But to be led to a place, have a trophy pointed out to me and then be told to shoot? I don't think so...

I just leave it at fair chase and clean kill...

:), Art

February 15, 2001, 10:11 PM
I like the concept that God provides this gift to me, and therefore I must honor the animal and its sacrifice. I honor it in the way I hunt it, and the way I admire and respect it in death.
If I didn't have so many Peter H. Capstick books I might be able to lay my hands on another of my favorite references to this very topic.
still looking.......

February 16, 2001, 12:44 AM
In his book Meditation on Hunting, Jose Ortega Y Gasset wrote that one "does not hunt to kill but kills in order to have hunted."

The day I take any animal without a twinge of regret I shall cease hunting forever. If I shoot an animal either it was presenting a threat or I intend to eat it. Anything else is pointless slaughter.

Art Eatman
February 16, 2001, 10:47 AM
PJR, if you'll think about it for a minute, you're sorta throwing out an absolute into a gray area. I refer mostly to "threat".

Now, everything dies. I'm 66; dunno how much longer I'll be around, but there's more behind me than in front. No le hace.

I've always cared more about the good of a species than the particular problems of any one animal. (Again, fair chase, clean kill, regardless of other ideas or intentions.)

Twenty years back, in sW Idaho and northern Nevada, there was a fantastic population explosion of jackrabbits. Now, they were threats to farmers in Idaho, but I don't know of any threat in the Nevada sagebrush desert. Regardless, a buddy of mine and I did a lot of rabbit shooting. We didn't eat them, but we did make a lot of coyotes happy. And we didn't even make a minor dent in the population.

Down here in my little patch of desert, I've spent a fair amount of time and money in augmenting water supply for wildlife. We're water-limited, not food-limited, in the ecosystem. The mule deer population, due to drouth and mountain lions, is running about one deer to 300 acres. Right now, there are three lions working within a half-mile of my house.

There is also a pack of feral dogs.

Define threat.

:), Art

February 16, 2001, 11:16 AM
For me hunting is simple. The hunt ends when the jerky/pot roast/ braised tenderloin medallions come out of the grill/smoker. I don't "owe" the animal a clean kill per say, but it is the tasteful thing to do. There is nothing adolescent to killing. Everyone needs to respect everyone elses reasons for hunting, whether it be taking a successful photo, or taking the tenderloins out of the oven. Condescension towards hunters who don't hunt the way you do is a tool for the anti's.

February 16, 2001, 11:37 AM

Talk some more about the tenderloins, its almost lunchtime here;)

February 16, 2001, 11:53 AM
As far as taking what you cannot put back? Every animal, plant, or inanimate things....everything fills a niche (learned about this in science) and that niche will never be left empty. There is only a certain amount of carbon in this world, and that has to go all the way around, so after you take one animal from the circle, more spring up in it's place. If you take one deer, you gut it and take it home, you and your family eat the meat, birds and scvengers eat the guts, and animals and bacteria eat the bones....not only has all of this been givin life, but another deer, or elk, or 30 bunnies, can inhabit that area and eat the browse that mr.deer had been eating. Killing an animal isn't really taking anything, but changing, nothing is ever wasted, ever. Even the Jackrabbits that Art shot for grins. They were eaten by some happy predator, and you can bet 6 more were born in their place. I've done my share of "feedin the yotes." IF it's a game animal, most likely it's illegal, and just not cool, but for groundhogs, jackrabbits, magpies, crows, starlings, or other famers pests, happy hunting.
Art: Don't they have a Lion seaon there?? Isn't this it?? Get on your horse and go shoot them darned lions cowboy!!!! Jeeeze, you wouldn't have to tell me twice:D

February 16, 2001, 01:26 PM
Thanks, Jack Straw, for your words of caution regarding our language. It think most of American society has forgotten that everything does have to die, whether it's consumed by someone (thing) or not.

I happen to enjoy the hunt and the kill. I can remember my great-grandfather telling stories about feeding his family during the Great Depression by spending countless hours in the field shooting (*killing*) birds and other small game - that's what they did to survive. I'm kinda glad he did (that's why I'm even around to stick my nose in on this thread).

I know I don't have to kill what I eat to survive, but someone has to kill what I eat, so it may as well be me. I'll have a lot more fun, stay healthier both from the hunt and the eating, and teach my children how to provide for themselves and their future families if (when) the need arises. I also know that my grandfather was a galley hand in the Navy because that's where Uncle Sam stuck him, but when his best friend was wounded by air attack on their ship he pulled his friend to safety and manned his friend's gun until the Zeros were gone. Don't know if he got one - don't care - what I do know is that he knew how to kill to provide and to protect when the need arose.

You guys should read about some of the real old-timers like Ben Lily and his sort who killed for the need to protect and to feed others. They were the rough, tuff sort that would go for days in search of a particular bear or mtn lion that was causing grief to ranchers and families. I figure if there were more of their sort around, hunting would never be called into question as "objectionable" in today's society.


Red Label
February 16, 2001, 03:05 PM
I have NO problem with people feeding and protecting their families. I don't care for the glory of carnage that many varmint shooters revel in. But it is their right, and even a neccessity at times.

My reason for weighing-in on this thread was to support the points made by Gizmo99 and others -- this from a former hunter, and current admirer of firearms. I spent my childhood on the hunt. From the time I was 5 years old, I used to shoot .22's, until I was 16 when I sold my 12 gauge -- there was a lot of hunting and plinking going-on. I remember my first rabbit hunt. I wasn't a good aim. I wounded the thing several times with my .22, and dad had to go finish it off for me. Neither he, nor I was very happy with the situation. NOT a clean kill. I grew older and got better at my aim, to the point where I'd come home with enough rabbit to eat for a week. Deer, duck, and other game were also on the menu. And I ate it all. I'd do it again if I had to. But I don't want to. Doesn't make me feel a sense of accomplishment. If it makes you feel good, then fine.

But my point here was to let those with [in my opinion] mature, healthy, and respectful attitudes toward nature and life know that I appreciate them and I think they give hunters a good name. I know peolple that I consider to be good hunters, and I know people that I consider to be good killers. The two are not always one and the same...

Keith Rogan
February 17, 2001, 03:41 PM
I just KNOW I'm gonna piss somebody off here, so I'll just apologize in advance by saying that I don't mean *you*, I mean some other guy who resembles you... the guy I'm talking about wouldn't bother to post here - he already knows it all. Face it, I'm a crank - not old enough to be a curmudgeon but looking forward to that period of life so I can justify my crankiness.

Anyhoo, my pet peeve is the guy who shows up to go hunting with a lot of gadgets. He's got a stainless steel gun with a plastic stock - he paid extra for that plastic stock but isn't really sure why a stamped out piece of crap is more expensive than nicely finished walnut.

He's got a lazer range finder but has no clue what his bullet drop is - he's only fired his plastic gun about 50 times at 100 yards. When you inquire about bullet drop, he opines his .340 Scudbuster will drop about 3" at 500 yards (cuz the ammo costs $60 a box), but when you ask why he needs a range finder since he apparently has a lazer gun, he isn't sure what you mean.

He's got an 8 X 20 scope that looks like something the Defense Department rejected as being too complex and expensive - and of course with that high power scope, he's absolutely blind within 50 yards where he'll see most deer.

He's got a GPS thingie, but no map - he didn't even know you could get topo maps at the hardware store. When you show him your map, he points confidently at a spot ten miles away and says "Ah, this is where we are, huh?".

He's got a three pound revolver, a water bag thingie in a backpack with a tube leading to his mouth, a knife a foot long, a brand new expensive camo suit in green leaves and tree bark, that he bought to hunt in brown grass and brush.
When you ask where his frame pack is, he looks blank - he's planning on dragging a deer out through 3 or 4 miles of rough mountain country.

And you have to take this guy along, because he's your brother in law or the friend of a friend or your boss. So when you get to the top of that awful ridge, you tell him to just edge along the crest over that-away, and you'll go this-aways and we'll all meet at 1100 over there-away.

And five minutes later as you edge along the crest, here comes dummy right down the center of the valley you've walked three miles and climbed 2000 feet to glass. He's breaking brush and making as much noise as a herd of panicked cattle while a dozen deer are making tracks out of the valley ahead of him.
He has no clue. When you explain to him later that he blew your mornings hunt, as well as his own, he still has no clue - he had walked over and look down into the valley you sent him to, and he didn't see a thing, so he just went the other way.

This, or a variation of this, has happened to me too many times. So much that I will no longer hunt with most people (a loner with a gun!!!!). I've even lost a few friends that way, but hey, to me hunting is a serious business that is based around experience and knowledge rather than gadgets. I think I'm becoming a minority in that. I see too many people with plastic and electronic whoozits and whazzits who spend more time with their nose in a Cabella's catalog than out in the boonies. They don't need to know anything about game because they've spent a lot of money.

And that's my opinion - OK, it's my "rant". Throw your gadgets away, spend some time in the woods, move slow, look, listen, observe, remember. You'll be a better hunter.

February 17, 2001, 04:41 PM
Keith, I admit to being that guy, minus the gadgets, and that's only because I can't afford them. But I've been accused of ruining hunts for heading the wrong way up or down this or that razorback ridge or gulley...so I gave it up.

But I do know a "loner with a gun." He's a Wisconsin wild man, goes out alone, with a rustbucket lever action 30-30. He doesn't want anyone with him, to him everyone is a *you* as described in your post. He carries no fancy gear, just a compass and map, disappears for a few days, and oddly enough comes back looking more hygienic than when he set off.

And always with a buck in tow...

Art Eatman
February 17, 2001, 06:01 PM
Keith, Robert Ruark, in his "The Old Man And The Boy", referred to this kind of "hunter" as "Mr. Abercrombie and Fitch". :)

I read somewhere that "ethics is how ya act when nobody's looking". Who has more opportunity to not do right than a hunter? He's usually alone, or far enough away from his hunting buddies that he can lie about some wrongdoing. Which is why a caring parent should arrange that the younger kids learn about hunting from an ethical adult: It helps instill both conscience and a sense of responsibility. I know of no other activity where this is such a large part of the "deal".


February 17, 2001, 06:56 PM
I am a predator. I eat vegetation, and grain, but I also kill, and eat. I gladly accept my part in the chain of life. I kill plentiful game, keeping the species I hunt healthy and meaningful, and I respect the animals I kill. I honor the animals I hunt, because they must be of value for me to pursue them. I expect other dangerous predators to eat me if they can, and when I am gone, my body will surely be food for something, even as small living things exist within as I write this. If reincarnation exists, and I come back as a game animal, that's fine, too. I have no complaints. I celebrate life, value and savor it. That is what hunting means to me.

February 17, 2001, 07:17 PM
My gun has a plastic stalk:( but I swear I have more with wood. Alaska, Kodiak especially is one good place to have a synthetic stalk and stainless gun. There is soo much moisture in alaska, and especially around the coast, and on islands, that the weather, and salt water can really be rough on a gun. Basic cleaning, and caring for them goes a long ways, but givin the same owner, and same care, the synthetic gun will live longer. In some areas...Texas, and drier climates, I really think there's any difference...except maybe the stalk wont scratch and will look prettier longer(if you consider flat black pretty:D)

Keith Rogan
February 17, 2001, 07:25 PM

I'm not so sure it's an ethics issue, exactly (though that's certainly an element), but rather it's this notion of "instant gratification." If you don't want to bother going to the range regularly for practice, you just buy a "better" gun and more powerful optics. You don't want to scout the country you're hunting, so you buy a GPS and talk someone else (me) into taking you along.
And more than that, they take hunting as some sort of competitive sport, as if killing the first deer or the biggest deer is the entire goal - rather than just enjoying hunting for its own sake.
And you're right about many of these guys coming to the sport late. You see this in Alaska a lot, they move here and figure "I'm in Alaska, I should go hunting". And you know, I WANT people to hunt, but for its own sake, not as some sort of weird "buddy thing" or as a competition, but simply as a way to enjoy yourself. If you don't enjoy just being in the woods to see stuff, you probably shouldn't hunt.


If I had to boil down "how to be a good hunter" in just a few words, I'd tell you to SLOW DOWN. Hike past where the other hunters are likely to be and then just move into the wind a few slow steps at a time, pause and look around, squat and look low under the brush canopy 18" or so over the ground. After you've completely (and quietly) checked 360 degrees, move another few yards and do it again. If you're moving more than a 1/4 mile or so in an hour, you're going too fast.
You won't get bored. If you move slow enough and quietly enough and look hard enough you'll see all kinds of things that you never noticed before - all kinds of small critters and birds, tracks, droppings, etc. And you'll see deer, more deer than you imagined were in the area. I've shot deer in their beds many times. I've dropped back behind the rest of my party and shot deer lying within yards of where they had just passed. Always look behind you because frequently even if you miss a deer, they'll stand to look after you pass and they get your scent.
Deer are everywhere and most people have NO idea how many deer there are in a given area - far more than you might imagine and many of them are almost entirely nocturnal, you'll never see them from a stand, you have to find them.

90% of the deer will just lay low against the ground and even flatten their ears down to become part of the terrain - difficult to see at first but with practice they just stand right out. 90% of hunters walk right past them.

That's the gist of it - the rest can't be taught, it has to be learned - and the only way to learn is to slow down.

Keith Rogan
February 17, 2001, 07:36 PM

I live in Kodiak, and as you point out it's the wettest saltiest place in North America. None of my guns are rusty, none of them have ever "changed their zero" because of swelling. Every fall I squirt a little sno-seal between the stock and the barrel and action. I wipe my guns down every evening with an oily rag when I use them. No problem.
I think this whole thing is just a "sell" so that gun manufacturers can convince people to pay $150 extra for a $3 plastic stock.

I admit though, that this is almost entirely an esthetics issue - there's no reason NOT to have a plastic gun (except that they charge you MORE, which is nuts). If I had a stainless steel gun I'd paint it black so I didn't scare game with it, no big deal.

February 17, 2001, 08:03 PM
Keith R. I get a kick out of your post!
Most of the folks on this forum are the type that would be welcome to hunt with me anytime. The dude in your post probably isn't here. (He's busy checking his stocks/investments on the net). I don't remember his name but I met him. He drives a new Ford Excursion. Lawyer or accountant or somethin. got a $1000 bird dog that disappears over the horizon while he's talkin on his cell phone. heeheehee.
Most of us are folks you wouldn't mind sharing a hunt with. We're ethical, gentle men and women with a love of nature. My father-in-law used to give me crap about hunting until I told him the only difference between him and me was I do my own killing, he expects somebody else to do it for him. The subject hasn't come up since.
I just finished re-reading Ruark's "Old Man and the Boy" for the umpteenth time. good read.

February 17, 2001, 10:10 PM
By threat I mean killing an animal when there is a specific risk to people, livestock or companion animals. I think it's a bit extreme to suggest that anything we kill we should eat. Maybe I am attempting to draw a line between between hunting as we know it and pest control.

I don't hunt coyotes but if I see one I will shoot it, same with porcupines because of the threat to my dogs. Ground hogs present a threat to cattle and horses. The lowly opossum carries a bacterial infection that is harmful to horses and is a threat. Feral dogs will attack and shooting if they are threatening doesn't cause me too much concern.

The definitions of threat will vary and may be take to extremes. My wife doesn't much care for the squirrels that ravage her bird feeders but that doesn't mean we are going to shoot them.

What I find offensive are people who hunt animals only for the rack, fur, organs that someone thinks are the natural form of Viagara, or for the sheer delight of just killing something.