This project was born out of a sense of frustration, that hunters in the UK are so often misunderstood and misrepresented. Hunting is not a 'hobby', nor is it 'killing for fun'. It is a way of life, with its own set of beliefs and ethics rooted deep in human nature and tracing its origins back to the dawn of mankind.
It is worth clarifying here that we are talking about hunting in its broadest sense, of catching and killing wild animals and birds (usually for food), and not the narrow definition of hunting foxes with packs of hounds.
I hope that through these pages we can begin to define what makes an 'Ethical Hunter', help to promote the highest standards of ethics among hunters in the UK, and perhaps explain to non-hunters something of what Ethical Hunting is all about.
This is not a membership organisation. Nor is it a scheme of testing or certification. We will not be issuing certificates to say that Mr or Ms X is an Ethical Hunter.
This is a forum for discussion about hunting ethics and related topics. We hope to develop and agree a written code of ethics that we can all subscribe to, at which point anyone who chooses may declare their support, pledge to uphold the code, etc.
After that, who knows? It's a work in progress. If the idea interests and excites you, then please join in the discussion and help us define what 'Ethical Hunting' means to us.
I ordered a copy of this book from Amazon some time back, but it seems publication was delayed and it only arrived today.
Hunting in Britain, From the Ice Age to the Present, by Barry Lewis, is a refreshingly objective, historical look at the nature and role of hunting (in its broadest sense, ie all types of catching animals and birds for food) throughout the past 700,000 years and more - an unbroken tradition that we continue today.
Lewis, a professional archaeologist at the University of Nottingham, takes a dispassionate, scholarly view of the subject, gently chiding the academic establishment for overlooking this vital and central theme in human development: "There are whole areas, even in prehistoric archaeology, which have been affected by a reluctance to research the topic of hunting, possibly because there is simply a general distaste by researchers, and more significantly within academia generally, for the topic of hunting, its attendant symbolism and the socio-political issues it gives rise to," he writes.
The book examines topics such as the relationships between humans and horses and dogs, the evolution of hunting weapons and techniques, and goes on to look at the Hunting Act 2004 and ask "Where to Now?"
So far I have only skimmed the book, but already I have marked many sections that I want to go back and read in detail.
I was particularly inspired by Lewis's closing remarks: "...hunting has been a crucial and inescapable thread running throughout the full length of human occupation of the British Isles, it is our longest continuous tradition, it has shaped land tenure as we understand it today and it has been hugely influential in shaping the British countryside and its landscapes. It has shaped rural traditions, and links us insescapably to the very food we eat in ways that we are scarcely aware of."
In my view, understanding that background is vital to understanding our place as hunters in modern Britain, and taking that tradition forward into the future.