Miner Editorial | Hunting benefits families, the economy, and conservation efforts

There are countless answers to whether or not hunting is good or bad. Like all “hot button” topics, the answers completely depend on who you ask.

On one hand, many environmental and animal advocates see hunting as barbaric, arguing that it is morally wrong to kill animals. Beyond moral issues, others contend that hunting is not practical. According to the Humane Society of the United States, the vast majority of hunted species “provide minimal sustenance and do not require population control.”

On the other hand, some say, nothing could be more natural than hunting, and indeed just about every animal species – including humans – has been either predator or prey at some point in its evolution. Some see hunting as a natural way to cull the herds of prey animals that, as a result of wiping out natural predators, now reproduce beyond the environment’s carrying capacity.

Hunting is time well-spent with family. The early hours before the sun rises, driving to a hunting area, sitting in the cold or the heat depending on the season. That is all time spent together. It teaches children patience as they wait for their first sighting, responsibility when they do shoot something and have to carry it out, and it teaches them teamwork, to rely on someone to scout for an animal, help find the right shot, and help pack the animal out when the time comes.

There is also a lot of family traditions in hunting. Going out on the first hunt after hunter’s education and then hunting with the same family member for 10, 15, 20 years. That is all time spent together, learning together, toughing out the weather together, and fighting disappointment after disappointment. It isn’t every hunt that something is killed.

If something is shot, it could be seen as a moment to celebrate an accomplishment for a young hunter. Photo ops and proud parent moments when children do something on their own shouldn’t be limited to academic or athletic achievements.

Not only is the act of hunting a family moment, but butchering the animal is as well. In that moment, a young hunter could supply a family with meat for a year or even two. The objective of hunting is to bring home game meat.

Game meat generally is a lean protein. Venison and elk meat both are low in fat. Game birds, such as quail and dove, and other game such as rabbit all are lean meats, meaning they have less fat, too.

Hunting also has economic benefits.

The preliminary 2016 findings of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Survey of

Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation state more than 101 million Americans – 40 percent of the U.S. population – participated in some form of fishing, hunting or other wildlife-associated recreation such as birdwatching or outdoor photography.

In doing so, they spent an estimated $156.3 billion on equipment, travel, licenses and fees. These expenditures represent 1 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product – creating and supporting thousands of jobs and communities across the nation.

More than 35.8 million Americans went fishing in 2016, while 11.5 million hunted and 86 million watched wildlife. This means that 14 percent of Americans 16 years of age or older fished, 5-percent hunted and 35-percent participated in wildlife watching.

The economic impact of hunting and wildlife recreation is enormous. However, there are also studies showing hunting benefits health. According to Michigan State University, hunting is a natural physical activity that can be done alone, with friends and or with family. Many hunters state that they were taught to hunt from a family member and enjoy the quality family-time that hunting provides.

Hunting can teach critically important lessons about the value of all life, that life is important and sacred. There is no greater way to learn about the dynamic systems of the environment than through sitting in the forest and examining things firsthand.

Learning to hunt responsibly and experiencing firsthand what it means to take an animal’s life can change a person for the better. Human ancestors had a deep appreciation for life, in part, because of their dependence on nature for sustenance. They understood the cost.

Hunting is a huge part of American culture, and it has been since before Europeans sailed to the continent. Areas of the country live and breathe the outdoors, in all its capacity, and Arizona is one of those areas.

Rather than scorn children who want to partake in these outdoor activities, communities such as Kingman should continue to embrace their interest and their passion by using them as educational moments to bring up conservation and environmental issues, as well as ethics and values regarding life and the taking thereof.

The Daily Miner plans on continuing to encourage these young people and other hunters with our weekly Outdoors page.

Hunting doesn’t inherently make a person – a child – a killer, and with the proper education, it could lead to the next generation of environmental scientists, biologists, veterinarians and so much more.