CHASA policy on Ethical Hunting and Fair Chase

Hunting laws preserve wildlife while it is hunting ethics that preserve the hunter’s opportunity to hunt. Ethics are generally aimed at controlling public opinion of hunters, and thereby ensure that hunters are welcome and that hunting areas remain open and accessible Hunting ethics may be defined as the moral principles that differentiate between right and wrong; they are unwritten rules that society expects to be followed. Hunting ethics are furthermore, primarily a personal and unspoken “contract” between the hunter and his/her quarry, with an extended responsibility towards the environment, fellow hunters and the general public.

Fair Chase

“Fair Chase Hunting cannot be interpreted as an equality of risk and chance, neither an informed and consensual contest. The human hunter consciously enters a predator/prey relationship with the hunted animal, because the experience of the hunt is important and valuable to the hunter. Unlike today’s urbanized society, which has forgotten the life-death relationship which is the essence of food procurement, the hunter willingly experiences this relationship first hand. The understanding and the respect of the human hunter for his prey and the emphasis on sustainability are the main distinguishing factors from the non-human predator! Ethical hunting is therefore neither immoral nor unfair.” - Gerhard R Damm.

Fair Chase is defined as the pursuit of a free ranging animal or enclosed ranging animal possessed of the natural and behavioural inclination to escape from the hunter and be fully free to do so. A recreationally hunted animal should exist as a naturally interacting individual of a wild sustainable population, located in an area that meets both the spatial (territory and home range) and temporal (food, breeding and basic needs) requirements of the population of which that individual is a member.

The concept of a fair chase does not only apply to big game, but is something which every hunter should employ, no mater what is being hunted – small game, birds, medium and large game.

Hunter Ethics

The future of hunting and our wildlife can be secured by making responsible and ethical choices.

“To waste, to destroy our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand to them amplified and developed.” - Theodore Roosevelt, Message to Congress, December 1907.

“In a civilized and cultured country wild animals only continue to exist at all when preserved by sportsmen. The excellent people who protest against all hunting, and consider sportsmen as enemies of wildlife, are ignorant of the fact that in reality the genuine sportsman is by all odds the most important factor in keeping the large and more valuable wild creatures from total extermination.” - Theodore Roosevelt.

Hunting is a very personal experience and time, and is filled with personal choices. There is also a contrast between what is legal and what is ethical. No illegal act can be considered ethical, but many legal acts could be considered unethical. No ethical hunter would do something illegal, be it against the national laws, the local laws and ordinances, or against the rules and regulations of his / her hunting association.

Hunting in modern times involves the regulated shooting of individual animals in a manner that conserves, protects and perpetuates the hunted species. Very few of us hunt in present times to survive. In contrast to this, as modern hunters our role is to ensure the survival of wildlife. Besides being guided by the country’s laws and regulations, the local ordinances and proclamations and the landowner’s requests, the ethical hunter is guided by a set of ethics related to hunting. “Ethical behaviour is doing the right thing when no one else is watching; even when doing the wrong thing is legal.” - Aldo Leopold. An ethical hunter behaves at all times as if there were an audience of people waiting for an opportunity to point fingers. Hunters behaving irresponsibly pose a greater threat to the future of hunting than the anti-hunting lobbyists.

Ethical Hunting can be summarised as hunting conduct that

  • obeys legislation,
  • complies with the principles of fair chase,
  • causes minimal suffering for the hunted animal, and
  • conforms to broadly accepted norms of respect for nature and fellow man.

Guidelines to hunters

Display high ethical standards and respect for:

Natural Resources by:

  • Obeying all applicable laws and regulations.
  • Exercising a personal conduct code that upholds the image of an ethical hunter and reflects well on his / her abilities as a hunter.
  • Attaining and maintaining skills that allow for certain and quick one-shot kills.
  • He / she never shoot beyond his / her capabilities or capacity.
  • Behaving in a way that will bring only credit to the hunter, the hunted, other animals, the environment, and other users of the wildlife area.
  • Leaving the land better than it was found.
  • Adhering to fair chase rules and principles.
  • Ensuring that meat and usable parts are not wasted.
  • Co-operating with conservation officers.
  • Reporting wildlife violations.
  • Recognizing that ethical standards are intended to enhance his / her experience of the relationship between him / her the hunter, and the hunted.

Other Hunters by:

  • Following safe firearm handling principles and insisting that hunting companions do the same.
  • Not interfering with another hunt.
  • Not consuming alcohol during a hunt.
  • Sharing his / her knowledge, experience and skills with others.

Landowners by:

  • Respecting and obeying all requests, instructions and legal demands made by the locals and the landowner.
  • Treating livestock and crops as if they belonged to him / her.
  • Ascertaining all financial obligations and honouring them.
  • Leaving all farm gates as they were found.
  • Reporting any suspicious findings to the land owner.
  • Never entering land without obtaining permission for that particular hunt.
  • Informing the landowner of his / her arrival and departure.
  • Being aware that he / she is on someone else’s property.
  • By realising that paying day fees does not buy him / her the right to make excessive noise and disturb other users / occupants of the property.
  • Not driving off road unless permission is obtained for a specific purpose.
  • Not shooting too close to domestic stock.
  • Not leaving fires unattended.
  • Reporting animals that have been wounded.

Non-Hunters by:

  • Transporting animals discreetly and not openly displaying them.
  • Keeping firearms out of sight.
  • Maintaining a presentable appearance in public.
  • Using sensitivity and discretion when posing with shot animals.
  • Respecting the opinions of non hunters.