Fresh (wild) or Canned?

“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.”Theodore Roosevelt, founder Boone and Crockett Club

Throughout history, hunting has meant the pursuit of wild game. Over time, artificial barriers, such as high fences, began to be used to restrict the movements of game in and out of properties. In some extreme cases wild game were domesticated and offered for “hunting” in private or commercial hunting operations. The term “Free ranging” began to be used to differentiate wild game from captive or domesticated animals. In order to cast a negative light on hunters and chip away at the public support for hunting the term “canned hunt” began to be used by animal rights and anti-hunting groups. Because the majority of sportsmen oppose this style of hunting the hunting community began using the term “canned shoot” to better define this practice and distance it from actual hunting.

A canned hunt is the practice of pursuing any big game animal kept in or released from captivity to be killed in an artificial or bogus hunting situation where a kill is virtually guaranteed. In a canned hunt, the game lacks the equivalent chance afforded free-ranging animals to escape. In some cases, over-handling wild game domesticates these animals making them dependent on their handlers, and removing their natural instincts to avoid detection and their fear of man. The intent of a canned hunt is to set up a certain or unrealistically favorable chance of a kill.

At a minimum, canned shoots are an affront to fair-chase hunting, if not the traditions of hunting wild game in general. Hunting has always been more and has meant more than just killing. When success is unrealistically assured because the game is confined and/or tame, its no longer hunting.

As sportsmen we should be concerned with canned shoots. Their acceptance says a lot about what our community thinks of itself and hunting. Outside of our community, the non-hunting public often mistakenly believes that this practice is representative of all hunting, which is a gross misconception proven to be costly to the future of hunting and the conservation of wildlife that hunting supports.

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