Knife Hunting and the Fair Chase

Knife Hunting and the Fair Chase

27th Jan 2020

The “fair chase” concept is the idea that a balance is struck between the hunter's ability to kill prey and the prey's ability to escape or defend itself. You prove your skill by your own wits and close-quarters fighting ability. With the technology available to hunters, the easiest way to strike this balance is to ditch the modern equipment. Camo, tree stands, baiting, scents, dogs, crossbows, firearms, telescopic sights, cameras, etc. This will decrease the likelihood of a hunter bagging his or her trophy, but does make for a more sporting event. Don’t you think?  

Some people favor this type of hunting, mano-a-animalo (we just made that up). And those that do prefer to hunt with primitive tools like a spear or knife as an extension of their skill to bring down prey. A common foe is a very challenging quarry, the ferocious wild boar. Your bravery, should you succeed is no doubt locked into the annals of history.

Knife hunting is exactly what it sounds like. And it's been around for centuries. As the balance of fair chase tips ever more in humans' favor and public outcry is louder against the modern “unfair” practice of hunting, some hunters have decided to take it up once more. It requires sharp reflexes and a quick hand AND a huge dose of bravery. Not to mention it's about as hands-on a hunter can get. But is knife hunting the fairest way to hunt?

You won't see any bans on knife hunting based on questions of fairness, but maybe as protection to humans (unless you’re Rambo!). Using only a knife can be a particularly dangerous way to hunt. It's generally used in expeditions for wild boar, a non-native species to the U.S. Once enough members of the domesticated species escaped and reproduced in the wild, the boars became feral pigs. Since feral pigs eat crops, the Federal government considers them an invasive species.  

How formidable are they? Adult males can grow as long as six feet and weigh more than 750 pounds. Both males and females of the species have two sharp constantly growing pairs of tusks protruding from their jaws. When a frightened boar comes at a hunter who's holding nothing but a knife, you've got a quarry that can even the odds or tip the balance of fair chase in its own favor.  

So is knife hunting the fairest way to hunt? This up-close-and-personal method certainly seems fairer than shooting an animal from a distance. Of course, one could argue that the only truly fair way to hunt is to use no technology at all. Taking down an animal with your bare hands sounds the most fair, especially if that animal can fight back.