Hunting for getting food, furs and other necessities has been a part of human lifestyle for thousands of years. Today few depend on it, but hunting is often practised as a recreational activity giving variation to the cuisine, and for wildlife management. In some countries it is possible also for strangers to hunt together, the classical example being safaris in Africa (although modern safaris are mostly about wildlife watching).
Equipment and methods
Most hunting is done with firearms. See Recreational shooting for regulations on bringing weapons into different countries and related issues. Regulations on allowed weapons often depend on the intended game. Hunting can also be done e.g. by trapping. Hunting with bow and arrows is allowed in some countries, e.g. the United States.
A dog is often used. Sometimes one is even required, to minimize risk of game suffering. See Travelling with pets for some issues and advice.
Knives might be needed to handle a carcass.
Pursuit of small animals such as insects and clams is described as foraging. While less challenging, it is still usually regulated.
Usually you need three kinds of licences and permits. You need one for the area, time and intended game of your actual hunting trip, often paid to the landowner, park office or similar, or got by reciprocal arrangements between hunting clubs. There may be a general hunting licence, which should guarantee that you understand what you are doing. Then you probably need licences for any arms you are going to use. If you bring the arms to a foreign country, you also need paperwork for getting them over the border, possibly from both countries involved and any intermediate country. See recreational shooting for these latter concerns.
Where hunting tourism is big, there are probably established practices on how to make the paperwork smooth. In any case it is usually easier to get permits and licences if you have similar ones in your home country.
- See also: Animal ethics
In July 2015, an American dentist was excoriated by media for killing a collared lion named Cecil, a protected animal alleged to have been unlawfully lured out of Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe at night using bait. Cecil was well-known locally and wore a GPS collar as part of an Oxford University wildlife study. The guides were charged, and ensuing publicity encouraged governments to propose stricter import restrictions and airlines to refuse to transport hunting trophies. Within a few months, dozens of airlines banned hunting trophies, and some countries' governments established limitations or bans on importing lion trophies.
Various restrictions apply to the import and transportation of hunting trophies for specific species; threatened or endangered species in particular are subject to import bans imposed by most national governments in response to the 1975 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
Export permits may be required to ship polar bear skins; animals poached illegally may also be excluded from cargo by airlines and transportation companies. Hunting of elephants for their ivory, problematic to dwindling populations in the wild, has attracted increasing government attention. In general, the more exotic (or rare) the species, the greater the restrictions are likely to be on transport of parts or trophies.
Individual nations may apply their own Customs restrictions, often arbitrarily; anything from a Newfoundland sealskin purse (where seals are plentiful) to a set of antique Scottish bagpipes (made before the ban on commercial use of ivory pieces) can and has been taken from hapless voyagers by US authorities. Even if the item is lawful, there are often confusing requirements for documentation and limitations on which ports of entry will accept a shipment. Some airlines have restrictions or prohibitions on transporting hunting trophies as well.
In some cases trophies, meat etc. – and equipment – can bring animal diseases. E.g. Finnish pig farmers (and authorities) fear that boar hunters might bring in pig plague from neighbouring countries.
Anyone planning to hunt abroad and bring back trophies needs to check this in advance.
Hunting rights belong to the landowner. The usual arrangement to get to hunt as a foreigner is to be a guest of a hunting club (which has acquired rights to hunting grounds), possibly by reciprocal arrangements, or staying at a business with rights to hunting grounds. Hunting permits are also sold for some governmental grounds. Most game have specific hunting seasons in autumn or winter. In addition to the rights to hunt (specific game at a specific time) on certain land, one needs a general hunting licence, requiring an exam and a yearly payment.
In the countryside it is common to belong to a hunting club, while hunting is quite controversial among city-dwellers. Hunt on large carnivores is an especially touchy issue, as the Finnish population of wolves and wolverines have been close to extinction (whether regulations now are strict enough depends on whom you talk with).
For big game a separate licence is needed, usually acquired by the hunting clubs. Thus hunting big game on your own or as part of a tour is hardly possible, while you might be able to participate in the hunt if you have friends or a host who does. Especially the elk hunt October–December is a social event, as the hunt usually is by driving.
Hunting arms are restricted to certain types, with requirements varying by game. For hunting big game an easy shooting proficiency test is needed, unless you have documentation on a similar test or right to hunt similar game abroad. Similarly you need firearm and hunting licences from your home country, as getting one here is too time consuming for a visitor. Check details.
Hunting is allowed in the commons. The largest continuous area in the commons is the entire interior of Iceland. Hunting in other regions require a permit from the landowner and payment fees regularly apply in that case. Hunters are required to return a hunting report each year to the environment agency of Iceland. Also a general hunting permit is required.
Quotas apply to hunting reindeer and the hunter needs to apply for a quota to the environmental agency. Reindeer may only be hunted during the summer. Hunting periods apply to most bird species.
Hunting is popular in Sweden, but regulated by strict laws and local regulations. Foreign citizens are allowed to hunt if accompanied by a local tracker.
A small number of professional shoots for game birds (such as Pheasant) are organised, but these are considered by many to be an establishment perk with a price tag to match.
Hunting of wildlife, is subject to extensive regulation, and as such is not open to the tourist under any circumstances.
Hunting and fishing are big business in Canada and they attract many tourists, especially from the US and Japan. Typically the companies that provide services to hunters can also help customers comply with Canadian laws. You need a hunting or fishing license and may also need a gun license. Hunting licences are provincially issued.
While weapons laws are strict, the typical hunter's rifle or shotgun should be relatively easy to import, or to rent.
Anyone who wishes to hunt must first purchase a hunting license valid for the state they will hunt in. Licenses are available at many rural stores or by mail/internet directly from the state. They are usually valid for a set period of time, or a set number of kills.
This country has no native ungulates, so the hunting of wild and feral populations finds favour with conservationists. Game animals include several species of deer, pigs, chamois, tahr and goats.