Today, hunting is more of a sport. Early in the history of mankind, it was an activity for obtaining food.
In those times, people were feeding themselves by collecting edible plants and chasing and hunting small animals.
Stone Age men survived by hunting. They dwelled in caves and made tools and weapons from sharp and hard stones. Using bows and arrows, spears and maces, they began hunting larger animals such as mammoths, deers and bears. Human beings were not as strong or fast as some animals, but their superior intelligence and their ability to design arms made them successful hunters. Also these people trained some animals like dogs to assist them in hunting. They were using methods such as chasing a herd of deers or wild horses to a sharp cliff in order to get sufficient quantities of food to feed whole tribes.
Mankind continued to hunt even after learning to feed itself by raising crops and domesticating animals.
Setting traps is one of the widely used methods of hunting. People catch wild animals through traps for their meat and fur and sometimes to protect themselves or to make scientific studies.
There are many kinds of traps. Steel springs are used to catch fur animals without damaging their fur. But these traps do not kill animals right away and make them suffer pain until killed by hunters and for these reasons they are banned in many countries. Common mouse trap is an example of this kind, with reinforced steel spring.
Another kind of trap comprise a spring and a loop. An elastic branch may serve as spring. The loop is made of metal wire and the branch is bent down using a rope which functions as trigger.
When animal bites and nibbles the rope covered by salt, rope snaps and spring is released and the wire loop lifts the animal.
For catching birds, tunnels made of net that get narrower are used. Birds are lured with food or chased into the wide entrance of the tunnel and are caught in the narrow exit.
Another kind of trap that primitive men used for hunting big animals was digging deep holes. These holes were dug on the paths frequently taken by animals and covered with branches and leaves. The sharp pegs installed at the bottom of the hole would kill the animal instantly.
In the old times, two logs placed over and under were also used for hunting. When the animal would touch the food, the log above would fall on to the animal and the animal would be stuck between two logs. If boxes are used instead of logs, it is possible to catch animals alive. When animal goes in the box and steps on the trigger mechanism the lid of the box closes. This kind of trap is used for scientific research and for catching animals for zoos.
The method of catching animals alive and tagging them provides valuable information about animals. Once tagged the animal is let to return to natural environment and migratory movements are monitored.
One of the main motives for hunting is furs.The hunters engaged in fur trading set up traps to hunt fur animals such as beaver, mink, muskrat, fox, badger, stoat, lynx, otter, raccoon and wolf.In Canada, hunting animals for fur is still an important economic activity. But this kind of hunting led to the extinction of some animal species and concerned individuals and organizations have voiced concern. Today, most of the furs sold at shops are derived from animals raised at special farms.
Hunters using only bows and arrows and spears to hunt animals to feed themselves never caused the extinction of animals. But hunting with shotguns for trade and profit may endanger animal species. For example, in the 19.th Century, hunting for profit resulted in near extinction of bisons in North America.
In Africa, big animals have been hunted for pleasure and profit in hunting trips called safari. In the 20th Century people began to realize that unless hunting is regulated, there would be no animals left for hunting.
Today, in many countries hunting of big animals is strictly regulated. For example, only when numbers of elephants living in designated areas reach certain levels, permission is granted to hunt them. But illegal hunting is still a serious problem.
Game animals are those mammals, birds and fish that are hunted for sport. At present, hunting of almost all game animals is subject to permission and regulation. On the other hand, illegal hunting or poaching continues for profit. For example, fish like somon and trout are often caught without permission. In order to protect valuable fish species, in many countries around the world, stiff penalties are in place.
In Africa, in the wildlife refuge areas and in countries rich in game animals, authorities are taking measures to protect animals against poachers who kill for skin or teeth.
In Turkey, for hunting one needs to have a hunting license (requirements: minimum 18 years of age, mental and physical fitness, meeting the requirements for hunters set in Law No. 4915, taking a course in hunting and wildlife and passing the test) and pay the annual license fee, in order to be able to hunt. Those wishing to hunt with rifles, need to obtain a license for smooth barrel shotguns. In our country, production, sale and possession of shotguns are regulated by laws and regulations.
A good hunter skillfully follows a game animal and approaches it silently and kills the animal with a good shot so that the animal does not feel any pain. Hunting is permitted only during the designated hunting season, in accordance with the rules set by the authorities.
But many environmentalists regard hunting as a ruthless sport. And scientific studies on the environment and wildlife have shown that numbers of wild animals must not fall below certain tresholds in order to ensure their survival.
In Canada, when it was determined that deer population was falling, the authorities have tried to protect deers by culling the predators (like wolf and jackal) in affected regions and relocating them in other regions. But after a while, it was seen that the deer population was falling rather than increasing. The causes were investigated and it was found that old male deer, with no threat from predators, were keeping young males away from females and the offsping were not healthy. In other words, by preventing younger males to mate with young females, the old aged male deers were blocking population increase. Also, ill deer not killed by predators were spreading illnesses among the herds and causing deaths.
So the authorities brought the predators like wolf and jackal back to the affected regions. It was seen later that the deer population had resumed normal growth. This shows that in order to maintain the balances in the nature, animal killing must be moderate.
Hunters contribute to the maintenance of the natural balances by hunting old animals.