Obey a country’s hunting laws
One of the first and most important lessons is that hunters must comply with the current rules and regulations of the country in which they are hunting.
Hunting out of season,hunting on another person’s property without permission, and exceeding limits are examples of illegal and unethical behaviour. This conduct is unacceptable amongst ethical hunters and should never be tolerated. Even though some types of conduct are legal, they are unethical, so it is impossible to behave ethically while breaking the law. Behaving ethically entails far more than simply obeying the law; it’s doing the right things for the moral good.
Hunting for food and not only for trophies
Contrary to the beliefs held by many people who are against hunting, there is nothing wrong with “trophy hunting,” provided it is based on ethical practices. One such practice is that hunters must use as much of the animals they kill as possible. At the very least, hunters should take all edible portions of meat from the trophies. It’s nobler for trophy hunters to hang trophies on their walls if they have eaten all edible parts of those animals. This ethical practice also extends to making every effort to find and recover animals they have wounded.
Hunters may be tempted to ignore these principles of ethical hunting when hunting in far off and lonely areas, such as vast game farms or forested areas. For example, if a hunter shoots a large buck, but needs to carry it on his or her back for a distance, it becomes tempting to take the trophy, but to leave behind its meat. Perhaps no-one will ever discover it, but it remains highly unethical and intolerable behaviour.
Use a powerful weapon
Responsible and ethical hunters owe it to animals and to themselves to shoot with weapons powerful enough to kill animals immediately and cleanly. This also includes the use of appropriate ammunition or arrows. Hunters must do everything in their power to ensure that they inflict as little pain and suffering on animals as possible, and that begins with using weapons powerful enough for the task.
Know how to use weapons
This links with the previous point about using weapons that are powerful enough to kill animals cleanly. Not only must weapons and ammunition be appropriate, but hunters’ skills must be acute. It is senseless for hunters to use extremely powerful weapons if they are not skilled in hitting targets accurately. In fact, as long as the weapons and ammunition are powerful enough to kill animals cleanly, it may actually be preferable for hunters to use slightly less powerful weapons and rather to ensure that they shoot accurately.
Make the chase fair
Chasing fairly is key to ethical hunting. It involves pursuing animals in ways that do not give hunters an unfair advantage. When deciding if a specific hunting practice is a fair chase or not, hunters need to ask and answer these questions:
- Does the animal have a reasonable chance of escaping?
- Is this practice respectful to the animal?
- Is this practice in line with established local norms?
If the answer to those questions is “yes,” then the hunter is respecting the principles of fair chase.
Shoot from a reasonable distance
Owing to technological developments, it has become easier for hunters to hit targets accurately from far distances. However, hunting ethically also involves getting as close to the target as possible before shooting. Shooting from a close range will ensure fair chase and increases hunters’ chances of shooting animals accurately and cleanly.
When considering a hunting trip make sure that you choose a hunting company that upholds and maintains high standards and ethics. Contact Rovos Hunting Safari if you wish to take part in an ethical hunting expedition in South Africa.