The Humanity in Hunting


There is this idealised vision of hunting, where the hunter goes out and shoots an animal, one moment it is happily munching on a bit of foliage, then next it is dead, blissfully unaware of what happened to it. Contrast this to our perception of the slaughter house – bloody, smelly, the animals walking up to the stocks knowing what is about to happen to them and stressed out of their minds in anticipation.

The reality of hunting, though, is not always that simple. A wrong shot, only centimetres away from the intended point of aim, can result in a gut shot, a leg shot, a bad neck or head shot. The animal is left to run away, in pain, in stress and hopefully dies before getting too far.

Sometimes we don’t get to them at all. The animal may manage to disappear on us – heading away to lie down and slowly die, wounded.

The humanity in hunting is not the act itself. Taking life, killing for food is not always going to be the world’s most ‘righteous’ act. Rather, it is our attitudes towards the process, our commitment to do our best, to minimise potential suffering. ‘Humanly’ dispatch it.

You are going to wound an animal at some point. The goal, after all, is to kill it. I guess the measure of the humanity at that time could be whether you feel a lump in your throat and a sinking of your heart, or you laugh.