What an interesting question, What is hunting? The dictionary defines the word of hunting to mean; the activity of hunting wild animals or game, especially for food or sport. This obviously is correct but leaves a lot on the table, so to speak.
History of hunting and its meaning
Hunting is many different things for many different people. In the beginning, hunting was purely something people did in order to survive. Although rare, there are still groups of people in the world that this could still be said. Moving through history, people began settling into civilizations and began farming and raising livestock. When this happened, hunting as a way of life started to slip away from an everyday event, and inch closer towards a sport. People were living their entire lives with no need to hunt, and therefore they didn’t. As this became more normal, the thrill of the hunt called some back in a way that was new to the world. The reason they were hunting was purely for the sport of it. The adrenaline rush, the sense of accomplishment that the hunter was feeling became the why for many. This is also why you begin to see odd behavior in eastern Europe from the different kings and lords of the day.
Did you ever wonder when watching movies like Robin Hood, or the likes why there were wind chimes in the forest, or why there were stories that the forest was haunted? This can be linked back to hunting, the kings wanted to have successful hunts, they wanted to ensure that there was plenty of game in the woods when they went hunting. As selfish and misguided as this was, in world history, this was the first time humans were making an effort to purely sustain the populations of the game because they enjoyed hunting them. If all of the peasants were out hunting, then the chances of success when the king headed to the woods dropped considerably, and they simply put laws in place and told ghost stories to the lower class-men, convincing them to stay away.
As we move through history, humans began to spread out of Europe and into the Americas.
There was a paradigm shift in the world when this happened in regards to hunting because for the first time in many generations were their people back in a position where hunting was not only for survival especially in the early years, but more importantly it was for anyone who had some sort of means to hunt be it musket, bow, and arrow, or any other means they could come up with.
Moving up into when America became the United States of America and the days of kings and lords were coming to an end, the world in many places started opening up for hunting to be for anyone who cared to participate. This led to a massive decline in animal populations around the world, and we are still seeing the remnants of this time period in many places.
So why do we hunt?
As we get to the turn of the century, it could be said that Theodore Roosevelt single-handedly saved hunters, maybe from themselves. You see, being a hunter, was not often a way that someone would describe themselves even in the turn of the century, it was rare, but it did exist, and the President of the United States considered himself one. His passion for the wildlife and the places they lived led to many executive decisions, and laws to be written that protected the animals, and set up a system that is now considered the most effective way to sustain wildlife across the globe. This system was simple, create value around the wildlife, and you will always have the means to protect them. The federal government and the states created a tax around hunting in the way of licenses. They set up season dates to protect the animals during the different times of year that they were most vulnerable and limited the number of hunters who were able to participate from year to year. This model is now what hunting is. Hunting now is the most proven and viable method to ensure that wildlife will be sustained for years to come. There has been no other way shown to raise the necessary funds to protect these animals than through hunting. Hunters will spend absurd amounts to have a chance to legally harvest an animal, whether it be because there are few opportunities or whether it be because the one they are interested in is of exceptional size or age class.
Like the days of old, there are cheaters in the world. They do not follow the laws; they are only driven by greed, and unfortunately, when the media talks of hunting, they label these individuals as hunters instead of crooks and poachers as they should be labeled. Every dollar spent by a real hunter in this modern age goes back to sustaining the wildlife that they love. It pays for anti-poaching operations, both domestically and internationally. It pays for habitat restoration. It pays for law enforcement officers to police the woods and water to deter would-be criminals.
So what is hunting?
Hunting in this day and age is the one proven method of survival for all wild creatures. Any species that unfortunately resides in a place that does not allow legal hunting is likely under attack, and in a fight that it merely does not have the funds required to ensure its protection.
Creating value around wildlife through hunting creates long term sustainable funds needed to protect these animals and their places.