SITE CONTENT: Hunting Property
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There are millions of hunters and shooting hobbyists in the U.S. and they zealously guard their right to bear arms in the pursuit of their quarry, or practice target shooting on ranges, or skeet-shooting in open fields. While the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service controls some hunting on federal land, hunting leases on private land are negotiated between the lessor and the hunter.
Early humans hunted because their survival depended upon it. Their hunting skills often determined whether families would have food, clothing, and shelter. Of course, humans easily gathered small food items such as insects, small reptiles, and birds with simple tools. Anthropologists theorize that hunting of larger animals began with groups of humans driving large predators from their kills. Primitive weapons such as sticks and stones evolved into spears with stone points, axes, and mauls. Learning to throw spears accurately was vital to taking larger game. Over eons, human weaponry evolved. The atlatl allowed a spear to be thrown with greater force than by hand. Cordage slings were developed to throw stones with greater force. Some cultures developed blowguns that could use small darts to poison prey. Early weaponry evolution culminated with the bow and arrow: the ultimate long-range, high-velocity weapon. Many styles were developed from a variety of materials. The early bows evolved into the modern day long bow, crossbow, and compound bow. With the Chinese invention of gunpowder, firearms began to arrive on the scene. Matchlock, wheel lock, and flintlock firearms were eventually replaced by the caplock, which quickly led to the development of modern firearms. With ever-improving technology, today both bows and guns continue to evolve.
Serious hunters have always had an appreciation for the animals they hunt, and they have a vested interest in the welfare of wildlife and its habitat. By the end of the 19th century in North America, hunters began to realize that the game supply was not inexhaustible. The first sport hunter's wildlife conservation organization, the Boone and Crockett Club, was formed in 1888, which led a crusade to protect America's game herds. This led to the development of national parks and wildlife refuges, as well as regulation of harvest. By 1900, 23 states had enacted laws to limit game harvest.
This trend to care for wildlife continued into the 20th century, with the Lacey Act in 1900 prohibiting interstate shipment of illegally killed wildlife. In 1933 Aldo Leopold wrote America's first wildlife management textbook and helped establish the science of wildlife management. Waterfowlers lobbied for the Duck Stamp Act, which passed in 1934 and provided funds for waterfowl management. Sportsmen lobbied for the Pittman-Robertson Act, an additional excise tax on sporting arms and ammunition to help fund wildlife management, which became law in 1937. Hunters and other conservationists continued to build organizations to enhance conservation efforts by public agencies. These organizations include Ducks Unlimited, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Pheasants Forever, Whitetails Unlimited, the National Rifle Association, the Izaak Walton League, and many others. Today they continue to promote sport hunting, high ethical standards, research, and conservation of wildlife.
Hunters provide the primary support for all wildlife management, both game and non-game. License fees alone bring in approximately $500 million every year. Excise taxes on hunting equipment and ammunition produce another $200 million annually. Direct economic impacts of hunting in the U.S. alone exceeds $14 billion per year. Indirect economic impacts have been estimated conservatively in excess of $40 billion per year.
Hunting Property Links:
Call of the Wild
Bureau of Land Management
Hunting: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service