Do hunters have a place in today’s world?

hunter and trophy
hunter with dead timber wolf
origin of image unknown to author

In Canada there still exists such a thing as an “outdoorsman”. Hunters, trappers and anglers, whose specialist knowledge allows them to navigate and subsist in the wilds of Canada’s less densely populated areas (that being, most of it), are numerous here, and a reminder of the pioneer and First Nations legacy.

The wildlife of Canada can be found in great numbers within the vast boreal forests. Big game such as moose, black bear, elk, caribou and deer, as well as grouse, ducks and other migratory birds and waterfowl abound. Wildlife protection exists in the form of reserves and conservation areas and careful monitoring is in place to keep ecosystems in balance. Hunters are the finger on the pulse of climate change, warning us of the irrevocable changes taking place in areas otherwise unknown to, or unnoticed by the wider world.

“Nature, red in tooth and claw”

You could say outdoorsmen are an important part of Canadian cultural heritage, a valued tradition. Hunting was at the heart of those first inhabitants’ subsistence – for food, fur, hides and skins. Indeed, many continue what was first taught to them by their ancestors. They possess skills and knowledge that should not be allowed to fade from memory.

Or you might feel that there is no call for this kind of activity anymore in today’s hi-tech, highly-sanitised, civilised society; that we have evolved beyond such cruel and barbarous pursuit of animals, whether for  food, population control or for trophy purposes. Perhaps you think that the savagery of survival is a thing of the past, now that we are such a cerebral race there is no reason to favour brawn over brains.

Hunting – a traditional outdoor pursuit that keeps us linked to the land or just plain animal cruelty… what’s your view?

Whitby Shores, Whitby, Ontario

By Aisha Ashraf

An autistic Irish immigrant in a cross-cultural marriage, Aisha Ashraf is the archetypal outlander, writing to root herself through place and perspective. Published in The Rumpus, The Maine Review, River Teeth, HuffPost and elsewhere, her work explores the legacy of trauma, the nature of being an outsider and the narrow confines of belonging. She currently lives in Canada.


  1. Difficult question and one I’ve pondered in an article I wrote at Expat Focus.
    I don’t agree with hunting for sport hunting should be only for food. To kill another living being for sport is so wrong! However, as I write this I am still struggling with my conscience

    In Portugal they even shoot the little birds as well as wild boars and rabbits. However, the final straw for me came when they, the powers that be, lifted the hunting ban on blackbirds. This has now been recinded I am pleased to say. I mean blackbirds…what are these hunters all about?

    It is hunting season in Portugal at the moment and I could not believe my eyes when I saw “shot” in the road signs.


    1. Hi Carole, thanks for the comment. It is a tough one, I see nothing wrong with hunting if it is for a viable purpose, food, population control, etc. But I disagree with it when it when it is just for pelts or fun. If you’re going to put it in the pot, fine. But just for target practice or vanity is wrong.
      Your post about the road signs being used for target practice was an eyeopener. Hunting anywhere near habitation is very irresponsible and it’s only a matter of time before someone is injured or worse.

  2. Hunting is a way of life for most of the world and without hunting in some countries conservation as a whole within those countries would simply fall apart.

    Shot in Road Signs has nothing to do with hunters!!! Shooting Road Signs is defacing public property and is the act of Vandals, not Hunters.

    In the North American Conservation Model, the majority of conservation and habitat protection is and has been done by American Sportsman. Through a self-imposed excise tax on all hunting and fishing gear, guns and ammunition, the Robert’s Pittman Act has provided the funding that has basically supported our National Wildlife Refuge System as well as our CRP and Prairie Pothole Region. Wildlife is scientifically managed and a tremendous boon to the economies that have hunting.

    In Africa where a huge portion of the animals that are taken are for Sport Hunting(with almost 99% of the meat donated to local communities), the majority of protection and conservation that is being done in those countries is being done by hunters. As well it is hunters who are bringing in humanitarian aid and financial dollars into communities and countries that would otherwise have little tourism. The economics of hunting and the benefits in these locations are tremendous.

    I could go on and on about the benefits of Hunting in our world. The bottom line is that as long as animals are managed by sound science there should always be a world where hunting exists. I also recommend that interested folks should read the new book by Tovar Cerulli The Mindful Carnivore about his journey from Vegetarian to Hunter, it is an eye opening look at one man’s journey into the outdoors with a real focus on his decisions to hunt.

    1. Thanks for such a comprehensive comment Kevin. I appreciate the passion you feel about your subject and it shows in your knowledge. It’s good to know that the vast majority of the meat gained through Sport Hunting in Africa is donated to local communities – I think people still have the old movie images of “the great white hunter”, slaughtering anything that moves with no thought for the balance of the ecosystem.
      It’s easy to think hunting just attracts the kind of person who like shooting things, but you have shown that the hunting community is also synonymous with conservation and environmental protection. Thanks again for broadening the scope of my post.

  3. I grew up with a father who regularly hunted ducks, deer, etc. Whatever he brought home with him we ate. As a little girl I remember helping him pluck and clean the ducks, it is a way of life and I believe it still is. When I was sixteen, I wrote my exam for my hunting licence and still have it today. Responsible hunters do not waste or kill something that is near extinction.

    1. I believe it’s important to know where our food came from. Perhaps if people had to expend greater effort to obtain it, we might waste less and be grateful for more.

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