Tuesday, July 23, 2024



Hunters change through the years. Factors used to determine "successful hunting" change as well for each hunter. A hunter's age, role models, and his years of hunting experience affect his ideas of "success." Many hunters may fit into one of the following five groups. In 1975-1980, groups of over 1,000 hunters in Wisconsin were studied, surveyed, and written about by Professors Robert Jackson and Robert Norton, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. The results of their studies form a widely accepted theory of hunter behavior and development. Where are you now? Where would you like to be?


The hunter talks about satisfaction with hunting being closely tied to being able to "get shooting." Often the beginning duck hunter will relate he had an excellent day if he got in a lot of shooting. The beginning deer hunter will talk about the number of shooting opportunities. Missing game means little to hunters in this phase. A beginning hunter wants to pull the trigger and test the capability of his firearm. A hunter in this stage may be a dangerous hunting partner.



A hunter still talks about satisfaction gained from shooting. But what seems more important is measuring success through the killing of game and the number of birds or animals shot. Limiting out, or filling a tag, is the absolute measure. Do not let your desire to limit out be stronger than the need for safe behavior at all times.



Satisfaction is described in terms of selectivity of game. A duck hunter might take only greenheads. A deer hunter looks for one special deer. A hunter might travel far to find a real trophy animal. Shooting opportunity and skills become less important.



This hunter has all the special equipment. Hunting has become one of the most important things in his life. Satisfaction comes from the method that enables the hunter to take game. Taking game is important, but second to how it is taken. This hunter will study long and hard how best to pick a blind site, lay out decoys, and call in waterfowl. A deer hunter will go one on one with a white-tailed deer, studying sign, tracking, and the life habits of the deer. Often, the hunter will handicap himself by hunting only with black powder firearms or bow and arrow. Bagging game, or limiting, still is understood as being a necessary part of the hunt during this phase.



As a hunter ages and after many years of hunting, he "mellows out." Satisfaction now can be found in the total hunting experience. Being in the field, enjoying the company of friends and family, and seeing nature outweigh the need for taking game.

Not all hunters go through all the stages, or go through them in that particular order. It is also possible for hunters who pursue several species of game to be in different stages with regard to each species. Some hunters feel that role models of good sportsmen, training, or reading books or magazines helped them pass more quickly through some stages.


California Department of Fish and Game. "California Hunter Education Manual". 1995 (revised edition). Sacramento, California. [p.8]



Many wildlife managers feel that Yale professor Dr. Stephen Kellert's 1978 study of U.S. hunters and their attitudes and characteristics still mostly applies today in North America.

He found three categories of hunters:

  • Utilitarian/Meat Hunters (43.8%)

  • Nature Hunters (17.7%)

  • Dominionistic/Sport Hunters (38.5%)

The dominionistic/sport group is the one that the non- and anti-hunting public particularly dislike and often use to stereotype or negatively portray ALL hunters and hunting.



"Hunting to obtain meat was the most frequently cited primary reason, accounting for 43.8 percent of persons who hunted..." [p.413]

Utilitarian/meat hunters were significantly more likey to have been raised or presently living in rural, open-country areas. Relatedly, utilitarian/meat hunters reported much greater experience with raising animals for either slaughter or nonslaugher purposes, and fathers employed in farm-related occupations. This hunting group included a disproportionate number of persons over 65 years of age and significantly more respondents earning less than $6,000." [p.414]

"Utilitarian/meat hunters appeared to perceive animals largely from the perspective of their practical usefulness... The utilitarian/meat hunter viewed hunting as a harvesting activity and wild animals as a harvestable crop not unlike other renewable natural resources." [p.414]



"Hunting for the purpose of close contact with nature was the... cited primary reason for hunting, accounting for some 17.7 percent of those who hunted... Demographically, nature hunters included significantly more persons under 30 years of age and far fewer over 65. These age characteristics may suggest possible trends in motivation for hunting. Nature hunters were also of higher socioeconomic status, as indicated by more college-educated respondents and more fathers employed in professional and business-executive occupations.

Nature hunters reported by far the most adult and childhood wildlife interest, more backpacking and camping-out experience, and more birdwatching activity. Importantly, nature hunters had far higher knowledge-of-animals scale scores particularly in comparison to dominionistic/sport hunters." [p.414]

[Nature hunters also] "...indicated strong concern and affection for all animals... [However this affection is] ...somewhat generalized and not specifically directed at pet animals or manifest in the feeling of "loving" animals. The desire for an active, participatory role in nature was perhaps the most significant aspect of the nature hunter's approach to hunting. The goal was the intense involvement with wild animals in their natural habitats. Participation as a predator was valued for the opportunities it provided to regard oneself as an integral part of nature. The hunt was appreciated for its forcing of awareness of natural phenomena organized into a coherent, goal-directed framework." [p. 415]



"Dominionistic/sport hunters constitute 38.5 percent of all those who hunted... They were significantly more likely to reside in cities, and to have been in the armed forces. Additionally, they differed from utilitarian/meat hunters in reporting far less experience raising animals for a product, and from nature hunters in reporting significantly less backpacking and birdwatching activities. One outstanding characteristic was their low scores on the knowledge-of-animals scale. Interestingly, only anti-hunters, of all animal activity groups studied, had equally low knowledge scores."

"...It appeared that competition and mastery over animals, in the context of a sporting contest, were the most salient aspects of the dominionistic/sport hunter's interest in the hunting activity. This group did not reveal strong affections for animals." [p.416] "The hunted animal was valued largely for the opportunities it provided to engage in a sporting activity involving mastery, competition, shooting skill and expressions of prowness. ...They were not items of food but trophies, something to get and display to fellow hunters. For the dominionistic/sport hunter, hunting was appreciated more as a human social than as an animal-oriented activity." [p.416-417]


Stephen Kellert, "Attitudes and Characteristics of Hunters and Antihunters" (Transactions of the Forty-third North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference, 1978). pp.412-423.



"...progress in weapons is foreign to the essence of hunting, that reason is not a primary ingredient of it, since *hunting cannot substantially progress* [italics his]...

...as the weapon became more and more effective, man imposed more and more limitations on himself as the animal's rival in order to leave it free to practice its wily defenses, in order to avoid making the prey and the hunter excessively unequal, as if passing beyond a certain limit, transforming it into pure killing and destruction. Hence the confrontation between man and animal has a precise boundary beyond which hunting ceases to be hunting, just at the point where man lets loose his immense technical superiority - that is, rational superiority - over the animal. The fisherman who poisons the mountain brook to annihilate suddenly, all at once, the trout swimming in it, ipso facto ceases to be a hunter."

"To exterminate or to destroy animals by an invincible and automatic procedure is not hunting."

"...present day hunting...consists precisely in restraining itself, in its limiting its own intervention." [pp.45-46]

Jose Ortega y Gasset. 1942 (1985 ed.). "Meditations on Hunting". Charles Scribner's and Sons, New York. ISBN 0-684-18630-6