No, we’re not about to break into song here, although Fiddler on the Roof has touched many hearts over time. No. what we are talking about is hunting tradition, and how ‘tradition’ is a very important part of the whole sporting realm.
North America certainly has its own traditions when it comes to everything from what bear to go after to which lucky rabbit’s foot should be carried at all times in order to come away with a ‘win.’ But traditions are also found across the globe, and learning about them – studying each and every intricacy that others hold dear – is a truly fun way to experience hunts that we normally don’t have the time, energy, or money to be a part of. So today, we take a look at some cultures that have made hunting everything from a fun sport to a livelihood that offers stellar careers and, most of all, necessary food for citizens around the globe.
We begin in one of the strongest hunting cultures in the world. Which you wouldn’t assume would be, seeing as that at one time they had no animals, mammals, or anything to speak of anywhere near them. No, not exaggerating. For those who have had the sheer luck to visit there, you already know that hunting is not only a tradition, it is a way of life that New Zealanders would not be able to live without. Oddly enough these islands that actually make up New Zealand once had absolutely nothing. Only bats roamed the skies; not one deer or elk roamed the land. It wasn’t until those pesky Europeans decided to make New Zealand their ‘home away from home’ that game animals were even introduced.
Not only did this European ‘invasion’ gift the New Zealand culture with sport, but they also provided a resource for food that they hadn’t had as of yet. You name it, these intruders provided it; from deer to pigs – goats to rabbits and more. Every one of the mammals that were brought to New Zealand adapted and thrived in their new terrain. And with no natural predators to be seen, the populations of these animals absolutely exploded.
Yes, as times have changed environmentalists have protested the fact that these huge populations are causing an ill effect to the agriculture of the islands. There are groups that have also protested the fact that no mammals or animals should be killed because it also would ruin the habitats. Suffice to say, hunting is beloved by one and all in New Zealand.
There was one country where professional hunters were all the rage throughout history, and that is India. Whether they were fighting amongst themselves or others, hunting in India was actually seen as the sport of royalty – no matter what you were hunting. You are talking about a tradition that was built by Maharajas and other ‘big men on India’s campus,’ as well as British officers. Their hunts were specialized and organized and, because of the local tribes deep knowledge of their environment as well as all hunting techniques, big game became big prizes for the royal ones In fact, long ago even the mighty Bengal tiger didn’t stand a chance.
It was in 1972 that India’s Wildlife Protection Act came about that actually banned the killing of all wild animals. However, it still remains that if any wild animal poses a danger to human life, than a person can pick up the hunt once again and set out on their own safari. (With a Maharaja by your side? Doubtful.)
Now, safaris are still going strong in the world of Africa, where these ‘overland journeys’ inspire hunters to this day to get out into that wild kingdom and search for days – even weeks – by camping out in the bush while pursuing big game. But even though the safari-life continues, hunters are now mostly tourists; they have to be guided by licensed and highly regulated professionals as they traverse difficult terrains. A ‘solo-safari’ is the one way that a hunter does this all by himself, but the responsibilities are great and there is much to do in order to not end up on the wrong side of the law.
When it comes to our friends in the U.K., we’ve spoken about the thrill of the old time foxhunt and how it still happens a great deal across the water. The largest tradition that they still honor is the very regal archer with a modern hunting bow, as well as the hunting hounds that run on a head as the hunter follows on horseback, waiting for that sly fox to make an appearance.
Game birds are yet another tradition when it comes to the Brits. The pheasants, etc. are taken down with shotguns for sport and it is most definitely a family affair, considering the fact that records show over a million people participate in these shoots each and every year. And it doesn’t take much to find the game, considering that approximately thirty-five million birds are released on shooting estates every year. You are talking about ‘grand’ hunts where guns are actually placed in assigned locations on the estates and the game is then drawn out by assistants referred to as “beaters,” who move through areas swinging their sticks in order to drive the game out so the hunters can take down as many as they please.
When it comes to North America, the actual sport and life of a hunter came along way before the actual United States came into being. Beginning thousands of years ago in pre-Columbian Native American cultures, hunting was seen absolutely everywhere, most especially when it came to Alaskan communities.
Of course, the list of game that’s available in the U.S. is long and varied; from white-tailed and mule deer to wild turkey, bear – and a list of smaller game like rabbits and squirrels. There are literally too many to name, as all different sizes and shapes are absolutely ‘booming,’ offering hunting seasons that are far and away a feast for the sportsman or woman.
Now when it comes to hunting in the United States alone, no particular culture is in the lead, so to speak; proving that hunting is far and away a huge tradition that has been built over time in the multitude of cultures that America houses. And the famous names, such as Crockett and Boone are a standard in the U.S., which shows how famous our hunting traditions really are.
In the end, the hunting traditions around the globe are vast and should be upheld as much as possible. ‘Tradition’ is something that needs to continue for the next generation coming up behind. If this occurs, societies and cultures can better understand and accept one another. This way, perhaps we can ALL (finally) get along!