Big-game hunting is the hunting of large game, almost always large
terrestrial mammals, for meat, other animal by-products (such as horn
or bone), trophy or sport. The term is historically associated with
the hunting of Africa's "Big Five" game (lion, African elephant, Cape
buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros), and with tigers and rhinoceroses on
the Indian subcontinent. Along with the big five animals, many other
species are hunted including kudu, antelope, and hartebeest. Moose,
elk, caribou, bison, mule deer, and white-tailed deer are the largest
game hunted in North America, which is where most big-game hunting is
Big-game hunting is conducted in Africa, North America, South America,
Asia and Australia. In Africa, lion, Cape buffalo, elephant,
giraffe and other large game animals are hunted. In North America,
animals such as bear, wolf, caribou, moose, elk, alligator, boar,
sheep and bison are hunted. In South America, deer and other species
are hunted. In Europe, sheep, boar, goats, elk, deer, and other
species are hunted. In Asia, several species of deer, bear, sheep and
other species are hunted. In Australia, several species of deer and
wild boar are hunted.
5 See also
7 Further reading
8 External links
Hunting of big game for food is an ancient practice, dating back
thousands of years. It is associated in
Europe with the appearance of
the Aurignacian culture, although bone fractures on Neanderthal
fossils suggest a possible earlier appearance. Based on cave
paintings, it appears that early man hunted mammoth in groups, using a
combination of spears or large rocks, or alternatively running the
animal off a cliff.
Native Americans hunting bison, from an 1855 illustration
Various big-game hunting methods have been developed over centuries.
The main methods in use today are stalking, ambush (hunting from
blinds), driving, trapping or a combination thereof. Calling and
baiting may be used to increase the effectiveness of any method or
The stalking method consists of following the animal until the kill
can be made. Generally the hunter approaches the game stealthily -
camouflaging his appearance, scent or sound depending on which sense
is most likely to reveal him to his prey under the conditions. Stalks
can routinely persist for days for certain game under certain
conditions. Tracking game for stalking is a skill that has been
learned by hunters since pre-historic times, and is used to with great
The ambush method, including hunting from blinds, consists of
setting up or finding means of cover or concealment to assist in
reducing the likelihood of the game detecting the hunter as he waits
in ambush or approaches his prey. Ground blinds, tree stands,
cocking-cloths, dugout blinds, and stand-alone structures are all
used as blinds in hunting today. All of these blinds are used in the
ambush method. Cocking-cloths, or stalking blinds, are used in
stalking prey but may still be considered as an ambush. Generally,
baiting big-game includes the use of blinds; all the methods described
herein may be used in combination.
Driving game, as a hunting method, is the act of directing the
movement of the animal in order to kill it. Game may be driven to a
trap; to a fall that will kill it, such as over a cliff; or to a
position where the hunter may make the kill with his weapon. Driving
is accomplished by sending an agent, usually dogs or people, through
the terrain where the animal is believed to be, and making enough
noise or using other devices to push the animal to move in the desired
The use of vehicles in stalking and driving game can increase the
hunter's range and speed, and therefore, his effectiveness. Vehicles
may also be used as blinds. Ground and air vehicles have been used in
hunting big game, both for scouting game location and for the stalk.
Ernest Hemingway on Safari in Africa
Portable weapons used for big-game hunting include firearms, bow and
arrow, spears, atlatls, and other longer-range weapons, as well as
close-range, handheld weapons like hammers, axes, knives and other
By far the most common weapon used by hunters is the firearm, and
among firearms the most common weapon is the long-barreled rifle.
Other firearms, such as shotguns and handguns, are also used in
Large-caliber ammunition is considered to be most effective in taking
down large game effectively and humanely.
Big-game hunting ethics
require a clean, humane kill, and most hunters work diligently toward
this end. Advances in ammunition and the guns to match have made
longer-range kills of big game possible with margins of error
considered tolerable. Some common calibers and types of ammunition for
big-game hunting include .30-30 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, .300
Winchester Magnum, and .358 Winchester. The calibers and types of
ammunition, and the firearms to shoot them, are numerous, and the
science of ballistics is continuously improving to allow hunting in a
tremendous variety of situations.
Bullet weight and shape, cartridge
size, powder load and type, and virtually every other variable of
firearms ammunition is continuously changing.
Bow and arrow hunting is popular and effective among skilled hunters
for big game. There is a variety of types of bows available, including
long bows, short bows, recurve bows, compound bows and crossbows, all
made of various materials. Arrows are also made from various materials
including wood, fiberglass, carbon fiber and others. Arrowheads have
different configurations and materials as well.
Primitive hunting using spears, atlatls and other weapons is a skill
popular among hunters seeking greater challenge and knowledge than
more conventional weaponry.
With greater competition among hunters and given increasingly scarce
resources, the need for ethical behavior from big game hunters has
increased proportionately. The
Boone and Crockett Club
Boone and Crockett Club and Pope and
Young Club (for bow hunters) both promote
Fair chase hunting. The
José Ortega y Gasset
José Ortega y Gasset in his famous book
Hunting promoted a mindful approach to hunting. Author
James Posewitz in his book Beyond Fair Chase: The Ethic and Tradition
of Hunting, wrote:
Fundamental to ethical hunting is the idea of fair chase. This concept
addresses the balance between the hunter and the hunted. It is a
balance that allows hunters to occasionally succeed while animals
generally avoid being taken.
Another author, Allen Morris Jones, in his book A Quiet Place Of
Hunting and Ethics in the Missouri River Breaks, argues that
hunting is right insofar as it returns us to the natural context from
which we evolved, and wrong insofar as it further removes us. Even
in the context of trophy hunting, we must eat what we kill, for
instance, given that our evolved role was one of predation.
List of famous big game hunters
Big-game hunting has a long and storied history". Pittsburgh
Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2015-11-10.
^ "Spot And Stalk: The Art of
Hunting on Foot - Bowhunter". Bowhunter.
^ "Earliest evidence for ambush hunting by early humans in the Kenyan
Rift". phys.org. Retrieved 2015-11-10.
Hunting Blind History". mbush
Hunting Blinds. Retrieved 7 July
Boone and Crockett Club
Boone and Crockett Club
Hunting Ethics Wildlife Conservation
Hunting Big Game Hunting".
www.boone-crockett.org. Retrieved 2015-11-10.
^ "Learn Primitive
Hunting Skills With MDC Course In Columbia".
LakeExpo.com. Retrieved 2015-11-10.
^ Posewitz, Jim (1 August 1994). Beyond Fair Chase: The Ethic and
Hunting . Globe Pequot Press. p. 57.
Foa, E. After Big Game in Central Africa. St. Martin's Press.
Herne, Brian. White Hunters: The Golden Age of African Safari, Henry
Holt & Co, New York, 1999.
"The Most Dangerous Game", a classic story famous in the mid-twentieth
century that was inspired by and explores the philosophy of hunting
for sheer pleasure.
Hemingway, Ernest. Green Hills of Africa
Hemingway, Ernest. True at First Light
Roosevelt, Theodore. Good Hunting: In the Pursuit of Big Game in the
West ISBN 978-1628737974.
Look up big game in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Rifles for Protection in the Field
Rifles for Dangerous Game
Game animals and shooting in North America
Snipe (common snipe)
Cougar (mountain lion)
Big game hunting