From deer hunting on public land near home, to a brown bear and Dall sheep hunting in the wilds of Alaska, hunting is a tradition inseparable from American culture. It’s hard to believe now, but in the first British colonies hunters were often viewed with suspicion, because they imitated the lifestyle of “uncivilized Indians”. But so abundant was American wildlife, and so necessary was hunting for the survival of the settlers, that the anti-hunting narrative historically didn’t have a chance. There are many reasons why Americans hunt, and likewise many reasons why people from other countries come to hunt in the USA. A couple years ago our blog story identified “Thee Reasons to Hunt in the United States” as vast selection of species, variety of hunt options, and safe destination. The list doesn’t end there, and now, in celebration of the Independence Day, we’re giving you three more:
1. The North American Conservation Model.
Animal rights groups like to portray hunters as mindless killers who want to wipe the most precious species off the Earth, but nothing could be further from the truth. Modern hunters demand that their hunting is safe for the environment – nay, benefits it. In the USA this is an indisputable fact. It is the hunters’ dollars that made possible for the most advanced nation in the world to also have vast stretches of wildlife and ensured spectacular comebacks of many species, including white-tailed deer, turkey, elk and more, previously driven to near extinction by mindless exploitation.
From six-figure “Governor’s tags” for mountain game to a humble non-resident small game hunting license, you can track every cent of your money, learn how it is matched by federal funding through Pittman-Robertson Act, and see how it gets back to Mother Nature. The Fish & Wildlife Service and the relevant bodies of individual states are highly transparent organizations. You can find tons of info on their web sites and in their publications, and their public communication service will provide what’s missing (if any). You’ll also learn that the hunters’ dollars benefit not only game species (a common point of criticism for NACM), but other creatures and plants as well.
Let’s talk Boreal Toad, for instance. Few residents of Colorado are probably aware of the little amphibian that adapted to life in near-freezing waters of the lakes in the Rockies, or of the disease that threatens it. And a fundraising campaign among the general public for research and reintroduction will likely be a spectacular flop – how many people care for toads, really? But Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife does, and uses their funds – which come, one way or another, from hunters – to save it.
2. The 2nd Amendment
The good old “citizen’s rights to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” part in the Constitution may have something to do with Reason 3 from our original post, although some people would dispute that. What is indisputable is that it makes a hunter’s life easier. It may not be a piece of cake for a foreign national to bring their own guns across the US borders – one needs the so-called ATF Form 6NIA (5330.3D Application/Permit for Temporary Importation of Firearms and Ammunition by Nonimmigrant Aliens), and may people say the 6NIA is much harder to get than a corresponding Russian permit. But there’s no need to bother with red tape, as in most cases your outfitter or guide is going to own enough weapons to loan or rent you. Some countries with gun control prohibit gun rental outright, others will require obtaining a permit, and/or limit the outfitter’s choice of loaner guns. Not the USA. Of course, the question of gun rental should be discussed well in advance of the hunt.
And it’s not only about the guns. In Russia and Great Britain, to name just two countries, bowhunting is illegal, and so hunters who want to test themselves in this exciting pursuit have to travel elsewhere. They would probably not own their own bows, too. Likewise, night vision and thermal scopes are restricted in many countries, but are legal for hog and predator hunts in the USA. Again, in most cases, whatever you need, your outfitter or guide will provide it.
3. The Challenge.
America is blessed with an abundance of wildlife, both indigenous and introduced. But that doesn’t mean hunting in the USA is a walk in the park, casually shooting one animal after another. By contrast, most trophy hunters who harvested almost every legal big-game animal in almost every country claim that, on the average, the American fauna is much more difficult to put on the wall than animals elsewhere. Alexander Egorov, a Russian trophy hunter who won a number of trophy hunting awards in record time, called his story about North America “The Continent where You Work for your Hunt”. Some of the best American trophies require not only luck in the license draw, but an investment of all your effort, physical and mental, skill and experience.
As the result, most trophies you will get in America will be earned, and would be a reason for a well justified pride. Hunting in North America is not only exciting and unforgettable, it also leaves your consciousness spotlessly clean. You know you deserve the trophy for the effort you’ve put in, you know your harvest doesn’t damage the population, because it is scientifically justified. By contrast, it is the cost of your licenses and other hunting expenses that makes sure the animals are there in the first place. Last but not the least, you know that your hunt doesn’t infringe the rights of the local hunters, and the money you pay to the outfitter or guide doesn’t enrich any fat cat corporation, but supports honest hardworking country people.
They say that history doesn’t know subjunctive mood. It’s interesting to speculate how wildlife and hunting would look like if King George was a little less stubborn, or the Founding Fathers a little less persistent. In England, one shouldn’t forget, hunting was, and in a way still is, a privilege for the few. On the other hand, most former British colonies are hunter-friendly. This may have to do with the fact that people who wanted to hunt but couldn’t emigrated to the colonies. William Scrope, the British deerstalking guru, in his classic book “The Art of Deer Stalking” (1838) insisted that the punishment for poaching should be deportation to the colonies, where the poacher’s passion and skill would make him a benefit to the society, rather than a nuisance. But thankfully the question is academic. All true Americans are happy and proud that history happened the way it happened, and all American hunters celebrate the 4th of July with the proud feeling that their country is the best for a hunter to live and hunt in!