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Hunting and Animal Cruelty: The Good and the Bad

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A happy, well-fed whitetail deer.

A happy, well-fed whitetail deer.

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This article is really meant for meat eaters only. If you're a vegan, I respect your views, but I already know your feelings on the issue. This article was chiefly written for people who eat meat but think that hunting is cruel. I hope to enlighten them - or to at least give them some points to consider.

It's also for hunters. Hunting isn't always good.

The Good

If you eat meat, you probably purchase it from a grocery store, in neat little packages. Do you ever stop to think that the food you consume was once a living, breathing animal? It had to be killed - it didn't die of natural causes. In most cases, the animals had little quality of life. They were likely kept their entire lives in small pens so that they wouldn't burn calories walking around. They probably never got to be a cow, or a chicken, or a pig. Almost 100% of the males were castrated at an early age - without benefit of anesthesia or pain killers.

When it was time for them to be turned into meat, they were probably forced onto a crowded truck or trailer and hauled miles to a slaughterhouse. There, most went without food or water until it was their time to die. When their "number was up," they were prodded along with sticks, whips, and electric prods.

U.S. slaughterhouses use different methods for killing. Some shoot the animals in the head with a bolt gun. Most, however, stun the animals with a jolt of electricity, then hang the animals upside down by one hind leg. At that point, their throats are cut - while they're still alive. This allows them to "bleed out."

Compare this to hunting. A deer is born in a thicket of South Georgia woods. It spends its life as a wild animal. It plays, it mates, and if it's a female, it bears and raises young, naturally. Food is plentiful because the local hunters plant food plots for the deer.

One day when the deer is full grown, it's out nibbling at some tender shoots, when it drops dead from a carefully aimed high-powered rifle. Since the bullet travels faster than the speed of sound, the deer never even heard the shot. He's then gutted, skinned, and turned into meat. No torture at the slaughterhouse.

Now be honest - which seems kinder to you? I've never understood how people who eat meat think hunting is cruel! I have friends who find deer hunting barbaric, yet they have no problem downing a steak. Is it because deer are cuter than cows and pigs? Does that make the less attractive animals any less worthy of enjoying compassion?

I remember one Thanksgiving, I was traveling with one of these friends. We were on the interstate, and we passed a truck with a just-killed deer in the back. She got all upset, saying they killed Bambi. At least I think that's what she said. It was kind of hard to understand her around her cheeseburger. True story! Somehow, the irony was lost on her.

The Bad

Hunting is not always good. Just like any other group, there are good members and not-so-good members of the hunting community. There are hunters who kill animals out of season, when they're caring for young. There are also animals that can be hunted all year, and I don't like that - it's BAD.

Some hunters of racoons and oppossums hunt just for the killing. They use dogs to track the prey, and they often allow the dogs to tear the animals apart once treed. I also place this in the BAD category.

And then there are a few deer hunters who kill only for the trophy. If they kill a big buck, they'll cut off the head so that it can be mounted, and they leave the rest of the meat to rot in the woods. Another BAD example of hunting.

I can honestly say that all the hunters I know personally are sportsmen. They hunt in season, and they eat what they kill. They keep their rifles and their shooting skills in top condition to help ensure a quick kill. If they wound an animal, they track it and finish it off quickly. They spend money feeding and managing the very animals they target.

I hope I've given you something to think about. Next time you pick up a pound of ground beef or a pack of pork chops, think about where it came from.

Read more about hunting:

  • Tips for Processing and Aging Deer Meat, with Videos
    If you're a deer hunter, you probably already know how to field dress deer. If not, watch the video below this article of how to dress a deer. The guy in the video does the job from start to finish in...
  • Southern Cuisine: Holle's Country Fried Deer Steaks
    In another life (or so it seems), I married into a family of cattle farmers. They had a huge farm, with lots of wildlife, including white-tailed deer. My ex and I were both hunters, and we ate venison often....
  • Southern Cuisine: Smoked Venison Roast
    Some people don't care for venison because they say it was a wild or gamey taste. I say they haven't had it cooked right! When prepared properly, deer meat tastes like good lean beef....
  • Free Natural Hunting Scents for Whitetail Deer + Bonus Video
    If you're a deer hunter, you know that whitetails have a highly developed sense of smell. They're wary critters they have to be. Deer are typical prey animals, and they have that inherited instinct...
  • Deer Hunting Tips: Strategies for Placing Your Stand
    If you're an experienced whitetail deer hunter, I don't have to tell you that perhaps the most important aspect of your hunting success is the proper placement of your deer stand. You can have the most...
  • How to Make Venison Jerky
    Many deer hunters run out of ideas as to what to do with all their deer meat. They often grill or fry the loins and have the shoulders and hams processed into sausage or burgers. You may never get tired of...

Comments

katie on March 18, 2017:

great resourse i think im a vegitarian now

Wakas on September 19, 2016:

Animal YES!

Kayla on November 19, 2013:

The only thing I can see here to disagree with at all is the time of year. But again it's about knowing nature, and I can't imagine shooting a fawn. Honestly though because its a waste of time. Why on earth do I want to take down a little fawn when the doe will feed me longer? On timing though, I believe anyone with 10+ acres (around here that's what it takes to legally be considered a farm) should be able to hunt for food whenever. Deer, squirrel, and rabbit have fed my family when we would have went hungry otherwise. And hungry+broke= what "season"?

It seems so many people forget that it takes life to sustain life, and it's been *so called* proven that a tree feels pain. I've also seen common weeds grow straight and curve around the electric fence, and it makes me think there's so much more to plants than people realize. A life is a life and I believe a vegan's head of lettuce felt the pain of death as much as my deer. It does seem to be about your raising, and a lot of people I know from the city had no clue where meat came from. Btw we used EVERYTHING we could from that deer, including little scraps of meat that seemed insignificant but added up and tasted wonderful in the crockpot. The organs and unedibles made my dog very happy and the rest fed the coyotes roaming around.

Oh quick FYI to those still against hunting because we caused this issue by killing off natural predators: I live in the country and deal with wolves, coyotes, rattlers, etc being released by me because people in the city think these animals should inhabit the area again as they used to. Well news flash, they're gone because they were a threat and we won. Now we've got full permission to wipe them out again (people always snap to when coyotes start stalking their children-- in the 'city' part of the country, very populated places)

Sanxuary on August 15, 2013:

When I was young hunting was fun and it was all about getting dinner. It saved us about half the meat bill for the winter. After years of service in the military, I went hunting and could not believe the number of people hunting. Constant noise and hunters showing up from every corner of the woods. It felt like a battlefield and I was wondering if someone was looking through their scope and seeing me. Today we just have to much of everything, every where and I have never gone hunting again.

Zee on March 21, 2013:

Good post, it would be nice if more people shared the same sentiment. Hunting has a lot of negative stigma attached to it, some of it is justified and some of it is not. I think a lot of that negativity comes from hunting animals purely for the sport of it, or poaching. This still occurs to a certain degree in the West, but the environmental and game wardens have quite a bit of power and the offenders will be in a whole world of hurt if they get caught.

Recently I have made the switch to a primarily vegetarian diet. I did this because of the horrifying conditions in those factory farms and the cruel methods of slaughter. There's no better way to support that industry than buying cheap meat at your local grocery store, or getting that triple patty burger at a fast food joint.

Now, that's not to say I'm entirely vegan. I just much rather prefer to consume less meat as it's better for the environment (less farmland to feed livestock) and if I'm going to consume an animal I prefer that it is killed as humanely as possible and has lived as it should. So the cow spends its days wandering pastures doing what cows do, and the deer wanders the forest doing what deer do. Not this whole greedy scheme we have going on now where livestock is raised in a dirty prison and meets a cruel death so they can send them out of the factory like it's an assembly line.

When you hunt an animal, that animal has lived the way it was intended to. Maybe it met an untimely fate, but it's still miles ahead of what goes in those factory farms. It gives the hunter the advantage of actually engaging with the prey, and develops a sense of connection and appreciation for nature. Now I can't speak for all hunters when I say that, but I'm sure many share the same perspective.

We humans are omnivorous animals on a shared planet that sustains us all. Whether we eat meat or not doesn't matter, but we should definitely be at the stage in our evolution where we start to respect and protect other life forms and work towards appreciating and making the planet a more sustainable place.

JESSY on February 09, 2013:

I DON'T THINK KILLING ANIMALS IS RIGHT THERE JUST LIKE US REALLY. HOWEVER I DO EAT THEM.

Umesh on October 17, 2012:

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Nick Hanlon from Chiang Mai on August 10, 2012:

Watch Animal Planet.Animals eat animals everyday.And so do we.Get used to it.And if you assume every shot is 100% lethal,than you' be right.

Better Yourself from North Carolina on May 07, 2012:

Enjoyed your hub! Very interesting point of view. I don't eat meat for many of the reasons you pointed out about the cruel nature of slaughter houses and the lack of compassion for living creatures. I've never really been exposed to hunting which could be why I've never been a fan of it, but I do agree with your point of view. A quick bullet getting the job done is much more humane that what goes on in a slaughter house.

anonymous on January 25, 2012:

jeez man, i told my friend to print this out and it turned out to not be anything i needed! i needed to know why u think this is good! but u just said the bad in the good part! thanks a lot

WebscapeOutdoors from Michigan, USA on January 11, 2012:

Hillbilly Zen, I've deer hunted for well over thirty years and have taken many deer over these years. I've never once heard a deer make a noise after being shot with a gun or an arrow. If deer made such a horrible noise as you say then why would it take hours for them to die since you would be able to locate the deer making the "gut-wrenching noise" almost immediately? Your statement doesn't ring true with me.

Fawns bleat when in distress but I have never or would I ever shoot one.

mv on November 14, 2011:

hey i have to write a paper for animal cruelty nd i have to debate y its good nd y its bad any thoughts ??

Jessica on November 10, 2011:

My main problem with hunting is just that one any population problems were originally caused by a person bringing an animal to a place where it isn't natural for it to be or over killing the animal that eats it. two is that to have no problem with killing something to eat when you are usually getting too much food as it is is slightly disturbing. Ofcourse humans are more important than animals but a humans desire for meat is that more important than the animals life?

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on October 14, 2011:

Hillbilly, when I was married to a cattleman, we had some bad experiences with some bad deer hunters. At the time, deer hunting with dogs was legal in our county, which we strongly disapproved of. These hunters were the worst sort. They had no respect for our land, our fences, or for the animals they hunted. Sometimes dogs would chase down and kill fawns. My father-in-law helped put a stop to deer hunting with dogs in our neck of the woods. As a result, he received several death threats, and one of our barns was burned down.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on October 14, 2011:

Goyakla, I appreciate your comment!

Hillbilly Zen from Kentucky on October 13, 2011:

First let me say that I voted this Hub Up and Interesting, and agree with every single thing you placed in the "Bad" category. I have to disagree with some of the other premises though, based solely on my experience. Having been raised in a family that depended on deer meat for food at times, and as the owner of a small farm, I've seen both sides of this coin. So many times, the hunted deer does not simply "drop dead from a carefully aimed high-powered rifle" - I know this because I've had to track mortally wounded deer that inept hunters have shot. Have you ever heard the sounds a dying deer makes? I have, and they're gut-wrenching. They're in agony, and it can take hours for them to finally die. There's also the problem of hunters (and I'm using the term loosely in this instance) who only hold a gun once a year, ignore highly visible "NO Hunting" signs and proceed to blast away at anything that moves. I've had to run coon hunters off my place several times, and had my life and the lives of my critters threatened by good ol' boys who seem to think they own the whole county. Fortunately I'm a heavily armed little hillbilly and once is usually all it takes to convince them to change their hunting ground. I don't have a problem with someone hunting to feed their family, but I don't want them doing it on my place. I also agree with you that most hunters are considerate, good stewards of the land, but I refuse to call them a "sportsmen" until the deer are carrying those high-powered rifles, too ;)

dusy7969 from San Diego, California on April 11, 2011:

Hunting is not a good job.Every live thing feel pain.So hunting I think not a good job.But thanks a lot for this hub.We should stop this work and save the animal because it is creature of god.

Goyakla from United Kingdom on March 31, 2011:

I found this hub most informative and written in such a way that nobody could be offended by what you say. You are right and I must admit I am one of those people who eats meat from the grocery store. I would not be able to kill the animal that I eat but that does not stop me doing it. I am a hypocrite and your hub has made me rethink the way I eat. I can never enjoy a steak again after this but that is not a bad thing. Thank you. Voted up useful and awesome.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on August 14, 2010:

Good and bad in every group, 50, and hunters are no exception. Thanks for stopping by!

50 Caliber from Arizona on August 13, 2010:

Holle, what can I add? There is the right way and the wrong way, 50

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on January 03, 2010:

Kendall, I agree. Thanks for reading!

Thanks, Tammy Lockerman! lol. I always enjoy your comments!

Hi, Maita. I just hate the idea of slaughterhouses and the associated cruelty.

Ethel, I agree about killing animals just for sport. I wish I was not a meat eater. But I think if you ARE going to eat meat, hunting is much kinder than pen-raised animals and slaughterhouses. thanks for visiting, my friend!

Ethel Smith from Kingston-Upon-Hull on January 03, 2010:

You make good points. I am bit of an on off meat eater. I abhor fox hunting and killing animals for sport.

prettydarkhorse from US on January 02, 2010:

oh habee, now I know they have to do these to animals, whew, you surely tackle the topic of hunting for everybody, nice, Maita

Tammy Lochmann on January 02, 2010:

Habee, while I don't like going hunting personally, There are a lot of people who do and all of the people I know use the meat of the deer that they kill. You sure described the slaughterhouse with great detail it kept me riveted. I also enjoyed reading the comments above this one LOL (smiling Bambi yuk yuk)

Kendall H. from Northern CA on January 02, 2010:

Thank you very much for this hub! I wish more people who want to outlaw hunting could understand that it is not all about 'killing bambi'. Most hunters who follow specific hunting seasons are also conservationists who work to preserve open land for future generations.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on January 02, 2010:

Can't you see it smiling??

nicomp really from Ohio, USA on January 02, 2010:

"A happy, well-fed whitetail deer."

How do you know it's happy? ;)

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on January 02, 2010:

That's true, HH! Thanks for your kind words.

Hello, hello, from London, UK on January 02, 2010:

It is one of those subjects you debate for ever. You put it well together, habee, thank you.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on January 02, 2010:

Very true, John. What most non-hunters don't understand is that it's the hunters who care for the populations! Thanks for reading and commenting!

Hmrjmr1 from Georgia, USA on January 02, 2010:

habee - not to mention the cruelty of starvation when overpopulation occurs; and it most surely would east of the Mississippi River with out hunters, due to the lack of natural predators. Good husbanding demands a population that can be sustained with the resources at hand. Great Hub!