In the 21st century hunting can be seen to be a controversial subject. Why do we do it? Do we choose to do it? Do we “need” to do it?
Game shooting & hunting can take many forms: Driven shoots, rough shooting, wildfowling, deer management and pest control. All are important to the UK economy and food production
While most of us certainly don’t “need” to hunt of sustenance thanks to modern farming and food production. However game is an ethical source of food. It is free range and has lived a largely natural life. The meat is also very healthy and not processed as many modern products are.
Many game shooters enjoy the “sport” of shooting but it is not the act of killing that is important it is getting out amongst nature observing all kinds of wildlife and sometimes coming home with nothing but still enjoying the experience
Game shooters often have great respect for their quarry and there is a satisfaction of putting the food on one’s table ourselves that perhaps does hark back to a more basic instinct.
There is however a “need” for hunters to carry out deer management and pest control. If deer numbers were not carefully managed then the British Countryside would look vastly different with a lot of damage done to trees. Deer populations would suffer due to overpopulation leading to starvation and inbreeding.
Pest control is also a vital service carried out by shooters and often for free. Pest species cause millions of pounds of damage a year to UK crops, buildings, wildlife, the countryside and human health. Even if you live a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle then animals are still shot to protect the crops you eat. Without pest control food production would suffer greatly.
Shooting is a humane and effective form of pest control as it ensures only pest species are successfully controlled whereas other methods such as contraceptives or poisons do not differentiate what species ingests them.
A positive side effect of pest control is that many of the species shot as pests are still able to be eaten so there is very little waste from this vital service.