Hunting is a topic that many people have different opinions on. For some, it is a way to be out in nature and bring home food for their families. For others, it is a violent sport that involves the killing of innocent animals. And while people can have different opinions, many Catholics may ask themselves: is hunting immoral?
Father Thomas Dufner, himself an avid hunter, stopped by The Drew Mariani Show™ to discuss the morality of different types of hunting.
“The first question is: is hunting at all legitimate? And, of course, I believe that it is,” said Fr. Dufner
“First of all, it hearkens all the way back to when we actually needed to do this in order to survive,” he explained. “There is something there that is still sport hunting about our own survival. It’s part of the way we are made.”
Father Dufner and Drew also discussed the role that hunting plays in wildlife management, which attempts to balance the needs of animals with the needs of people. Wildlife management includes activities such as game keeping, wildlife conservation, and pest control. So although hunting involves killing animals, it is also part of keeping nature healthy and thriving overall.
Fr. Dufner said, “All of the states have active management programs, and it’s supported by sport hunters. The sport hunters are the ones whose financial contributions through licensing is actually responsible for this fine management. Many species almost actually died out before they were being actively managed by the government, and the government manages through game licensing. So, that’s the reason we have abundant populations of game today.”
But what about trophy hunting? Hunting animals such as lions or elephants can seem worse to many, because these animals are more majestic and beautiful. Fr. Dufner suggested that the key here is to take a look at what hunting actually is.
“When you stop for a minute and begin to think of the whole hunt itself, they don’t actually say you have a right to kill this animal,” he said. “If you have a right to kill an animal, at that point it’s a fenced-in hunt, and you’re just killing you’re not actually hunting. Hunting means you have a chance at the animal, given your skills and the breaks of the game.”
“And, of course, everyone has an urge to get the biggest or the best,” he continued. “We do that when we’re buying cars, when we’re shopping for a suit. Nobody goes out to get the worst suit they can find. We try to find something that is the best. So, trophy [hunting] is just that, it’s the best of the breed. And they got to be the best because they’re the smartest. And somehow by taking the biggest and the best, I prove that I have some prowess within this sport. It becomes kind of a rite to prove oneself. There’s something about that that happens in every hunt.”
And while Fr. Dufner illustrated why sport hunting is not immoral, he did clarify that if people use hunting as an excuse to harm animals, or if they do not make use of the animals they have killed then that would certainly be immoral.
“No one should want to just go out there and cripple animals and kill them,” he said. “That’s simply immoral, to slaughter animals and leave them. That is a very improper and immoral use of the game. Today’s sport hunting is nothing like that.”
Listen to the conversation below: