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Fair Chase

From Beyond Fair Chase, by Jim Posewitz

Beyond Fair Chase"Fundamental to ethical hunting is the idea of fair chase. This concep addresses the balance between the hunter and the hunted. It is a balance that allows hunters to occasionally succeed while animals generally avoid being taken." [p.57]

"There are some activities that are clearly unfair as well as unethical. At the top of the list is shooting captive or domesticated big game animals in commercial killing areas where a person with a gun is guaranteed an animal to shoot. These shooting grounds are alien to any consideration of ethical hunting. When discussing the ethic of fair chase, it is important to clarify that we are talking about hunting free-ranging wild animals." [p.59]

"Shooting preserves where birds are put in the field present difficult ethical decisions. Ethical judgment has to be tempered by the realities of the people who use these places and the opportunities available to them. Shooting preserves protect isolated habitat that otherwise might be destroyed or developed; they provide habitat for other wildlife species; they provide opportunities for training dogs; novices can be introduced to bird shooting; and veteran hunters can maintain shooting skill. In Aldo Leopold's 1933 text 'Game Management', he states: "...the recreational value of game is inverse to the artificiality of its origin...." This is still a standard that can be used to measure these activities." [p.60]

"The mechanized pursuit of wildlife is high on the list of violating fair-chase principles. We have invented machines to carry ourselves over land, sea, an air. Evolution of the animals we pursue can not keep pace with these inventions. If we are to pursue animals fairly, the ethical choice is clear - we pursue them on foot. The ethical hunter never chases or harasses wildlife with a machine." [p.61]

"The ethical hunter must make many fair-chase choices. In some areas, chasing big game with dogs is an accepted custom. In other places, it is considered an unfair advantage for the hunter. Likewise, luring animals with bait or hunting in certain seasons sometimes is viewed as giving unfair advantage to the hunter. While local custom and practice need to be respected, it is equally important to be honest about the result of these practices. If there is a doubt, advantage must be given to the animal being hunted." [p.61]

"In addition to hunting practices, there is a constant flow of products developed to provide advantages to hunters. Sights, scents, calls, baits, decoys, devices, and techniques of infinite variety fill the marketplace. In each case an individual choice must be made as to what sustains fair chase and what violates that concept." [p.62]
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Jim Posewitz. 1994. "Beyond Fair Chase: The Ethic and Tradition of Hunting". Falcon Press. Helena, Montana.  ISBN 1-56044-283-2

Ortega y Gasset devotes considerable attention to what may be called the "constitutive elements" of sport hunting in his search for the essence of hunting.  These include effort, fair play/fair chase; limitation of technological advantage; scarcity of game; special seasons; and so on.  From Meditations on Hunting.

From the Boone and Crockett Club

Fair Chase Statement

FAIR CHASE, as defined by the Boone and Crockett Club, is the ethical, sportsmanlike, and lawful pursuit and taking of any free-ranging wild, native North American big game animal in a manner that does not give the hunter an improper advantage over such animals.

Hunter Ethics

Fundamental to all hunting is the concept of conservation of natural resources. Hunting in today's world involves the regulated harvest of individual animals in a manner that conserves, protects, and perpetuates the hunted population. The hunter engages in a one-to-one relationship with the quarry and his or her hunting should be guided by a hierarchy of ethics related to hunting, which includes the following tenets:

  1. Obey all applicable laws and regulations.
  2. Respect the customs of the locale where the hunting occurs.
  3. Exercise a personal code of behavior that reflects favorably on your abilities and sensibilities as a hunter.
  4. Attain and maintain the skills necessary to make the kill as certain and quick as possible.
  5. Behave in a way that will bring no dishonor to either the hunter, the hunted, or the environment.
  6. Recognize that these tenets are intended to enhance the hunter's experience of the relationship between predator and prey, which is one of the most fundamental relationships of humans and their environment.

From the Pope & Young Club

fair chaseThe Rules of Fair Chase

The term "Fair Chase" shall not include the taking of animals under the following conditions:

  • Helpless in a trap, deep snow or water, or on ice.
  • From any power vehicle or power boat.
  • By "jacklighting" or shining at night.
  • By the use of any tranquilizers or poisons.
  • While inside escape-proof fenced enclosures.
  • By the use of any power vehicle or power boats for herding or driving animals, including use of aircraft to land alongside or to communicate with or direct a hunter on the ground.
  • By the use of electronic devices for attracting, locating or pursuing game or guiding the hunter to such game, or by the use of a bow or arrow to which any electronic device is attached.
  • Any other condition considered by the Board of Directors as unacceptable.

The fair chase concept does, however, extend beyond the hunt itself; it is an attitude and a way of life based in a deep-seated respect for wildlife, for the environment, and for other individuals who share the bounty of this vast continent’s natural resources.