boone and crockett club position statement

FAIR CHASE

First Adopted December 7, 2013 - Revised June 21, 2016 - Reviewed April 15, 2016

 

Situational Overview

As a means of separating the actions of commercial market hunters from those of sportsmen, an ethical code of hunter conduct was discussed at the first meeting of the Boone and Crockett Club in 1887. The name given to this code was, fair chase and it is defined by the Club as “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.”


Fair chase is part of an overall hunting ethic. It reflects an ideal to pursue game in the field in a manner that pays respect to the animals hunted and the traditions of hunting as a mechanism for conservation. Fair chase is an approach that elevates the quality of the chase, the challenge, and experience above all else. By not overwhelming game species with human capabilities, fair chase helps define a hunter’s engagement in conservation. Fair chase has been embraced by hunters as the proper conduct of a sportsman in the field, and taught to new hunters for over a century.


As with any guideline that falls within a legal framework, but is also grounded in personal ethics that cannot and should not be legislated, interpretations of fair chase can vary. Laws are largely set by society and to protect, conserve and manage wildlife resources that are held in the public trust. Ethical decisions in hunting, however, ultimately rest with the individual in what feels right or wrong, and what technologies or methods are acceptable or unacceptable for them to be successful.

As a leading conservation organization and promoter of fair chase in North America, it is important to the Boone and Crockett Club that the nuances and benefits of fair chase are clearly understood by hunters and non-hunters. The Club is concerned that hunting practices that were once deemed unacceptable are becoming more commonplace. This is not only eroding our overall hunting ethic, but the public’s widespread support for hunting.

Position

The Boone and Crockett Club supports the definition and practice of conservation as the sustainable use of natural resources, including wildlife. It supports ethical public hunting as the foundation of wildlife conservation and management. The Club also believes that hunting is a privilege that must be earned repeatedly. In modern, developed societies, there exists a general expectation that hunting be conducted under appropriate conditions—animals are taken for legitimate purposes such as food, or to attain wildlife agency management goals. It is also assumed that the hunting will be done sustainably and legally, and that hunters conduct themselves ethically by showing respect for the land and animals they hunt. In the broadest sense, hunters are guided by a conservation ethic, and the most common term used to describe the actual ethical pursuit of a big game animal is fair chase.

Fair chase is what separates hunting from simply killing or shooting. It demands restraint and self-reliance, aligns with North American wildlife laws, and is in service to conservation. Fair chase allows for lasting memories hunters can be proud of, provides young hunters with a proper path in hunting and in life, and meet the expectations of our modern societies. The Boone and Crockett Club believes ethical choices in hunting are more important today than at any previous time. Hunter’s values—their motivations and their conduct—shape society’s opinion of hunting. Hunters should be guided by principles whether applying to the activities of hunting in general, or for the qualification of trophies into the Club’s big game record book.

The Club will continue to take the steps it believes necessary to ensure that fair chase maintains its prominence among hunters while also reaching out to non-hunters about the relationship between hunting, fair chase, and a conservation ethic. Sportsmen and sportswomen must also lead by example as primary proponents of fair chase hunting and, by doing so, safeguard the overall welfare of wildlife, especially big game animals and their habitats.

The Boone and Crockett Club encourages all hunters to be united behind the banner of a conservation ethic and fair chase, and police themselves and others but to do so in a way that is not divisive or unduly critical unless there is tangible justification. Just because a person may not follow the same customs or standards you have set for yourself, it does not necessarily make them unethical. Knowing the difference begins with a complete understanding of hunting ethics and fair chase.

A comprehensive essay entitled “The Boone and Crockett Club on Fair Chase is available at this link.

 

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