The history of big game hunting is as old, or older, than man. Depending on your beliefs, big game hunting technically can go back to pre-man animals who hunt each other. For this discussion, however, we will limit to man.
In man’s history, hunting was essential to survival. Even after the skills of farming and cultivation were spread, man continued to hunt meat. As time went on, man’s hunting expanded to sport, for skin, and trophy heads. And, some unscrupulous hunters ignored laws and poached certain animals, which almost led to extermination of some species.
Today, big game hunting is an extremely popular sport. It requires licenses or permits in most areas, and big game definition varies slightly with geographical areas. However, the general range of big game includes the following animals:
Deer, Mule Deer, Coues Deer – and other varieties
Bear – various varieties
Mountain Lion, Cougar
Big Horn Sheep – and other varieties
Moose – various varieties
Elk – various varieties
Rocky Mountain Goat
Big game animals have not been without threats of extinction, from overkill, and because of this conservation programs and limiting permits and licenses have worked to prevent elimination of some big game species. Part of the history of big game hunting is the conservation efforts that continue today. It is this and sportsmanship, and tough poaching laws that have maintained the ability of man continuing to do big game hunts as time passes.
Modern big game management began in 1922 with the establishment in New York of the National Collection of Heads and Horns, located in the Bronx Zoo. This was followed in the next decades by other conservation and record keeping associations. The 13th edition of the book “Records of North American Big Game” will be published in 2011. Records are based on a scoring system of points for each type of animal.
In the U.S., different states have different seasons for hunting, depending on the animals hunted, and mating seasons and birthing times. In other countries, they have their own sets of laws for big game hunting. Africa is noted for large species, and fierce animals such as the lion, which is carefully protected and hunting is limited. When there is a limited availability of licenses or permits, competition and prices are high. For example, an out of state hunting license for bull buffalo in Arizona can run over $5400 for the permit.
The high prices tend to restrict big game hunting to those persons having an amount of time and wealth, although many ordinary people will hunt smaller game like deer, which are more plentiful and have more permits.
The history of big game hunting will continue to record trophy animal hunting as long as conservation and protection efforts continue. This will allow big game hunting to be a pleasure for many hunters, and a goal for others to strive to do at a future time.