In my last post on this topic, I laid out what I think are some basic and widely-shared ethical positions.
Based on the responses, I think I hit pretty close. Now I want to take this conversation to the next stage, starting with the first tenet.
- We owe the animals a quick, clean death.
- This means we use a weapon that will kill efficiently. Whether it’s choosing an appropriate caliber of firearm, or making sure to use proper broadheads, we need to be sure that our weapon is reasonably humane under normal circumstances.
- It also means we become proficient with our chosen weapons, and maintain that proficiency. It’s never enough just to point a gun or bow at your quarry and hope for the best. If you don’t know where your shot will go with high confidence, you have no business shooting at live animals.
- It means we follow-up and finish the job when we can. It’s worth an extra bullet for the coup d’grace on an animal, even when it’s obviously dying. Learn to place a blade properly (and safely), and use it when a bow-shot animal is slow to expire. Club a dying bird, or wring its neck. Hell, as barbaric as it may look, even stomping a wounded bird’s head is better than letting it flap and struggle. Ending the animal’s suffering is more important than the trophy. A qualified taxidermist can fix a bullet hole, or even a stab wound.
We’re human… not perfect. Like I said before, we miss. We wound. Despite our best efforts, we don’t always provide that clean, quick kill. Sometimes, despite doing everything right, there’s a twig, a gust of wind, or an unexpected movement.
But the truth is, sometimes we don’t provide our best effort. We get tired, lazy, or too excited. We don’t take the time to practice. We fail to double-check our gear. And the animals pay the price. How do we rationalize that?
It’s a tough question.
Oddly enough, there’s a really good conversation going on this topic over at Tovar’s Mindful Carnivore blog right now, and it’s challenging to read without some serious introspection. We all know the justifications and excuses, but at the end of it, every time we aim at an animal or bird, we know there’s a chance that the shot will go awry.
Is it ethical to continue to hunt knowing that we can’t guarantee a clean kill every time?
We’ll tackle the other items on the list one at a time.
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