Is Hunting Considered a Sport?

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Is Hunting Really A Sport?

Hunters are often referred to as “sportsmen,” which has probably become commonplace in fishing. At the most basic level, fishing meets the definition of a relaxing diversion away from everyday life.

Also known as “sportfishing,” it qualifies as competition due to tournaments and has some physicality at the highest level, meeting the criteria of a sport.

But are hunters referred to as sportsmen? Sport is a pastime or a diversion, according to Webster’s dictionary. The closest thing that hunting comes to “sport” by definition is fox hunting since horses are ridden, but no foxes are ever captured. How is this considered a sport?

Sport Hunting?

While you hear the term “sport hunting,” this came about following a period of a different type of hunting than “market hunting” as a way to separate the difference between a single person hunting and commercial hunters. In terms of fishing, this would be the difference between a family going to a nearby stream and dropping a line in the water versus a boat going to a lake to haul in thousands of fish at a time.

In terms of sport hunting, there are no such terms commonly used. This is because hunting is hunting. There is no catch and release. The purpose is not to defeat another person; it is not a diversion or competition. Therefore, it doesn’t qualify by definition as a sport. Some sports involve shooting, such as target shooting you see in an Olympic Biathlon.   

If you were to use the term “sport hunting,” I suppose you could think of it as an activity of multiple purposes. First, people hunt to bring home food to feed a family. Others try to get home specimens to mount on their walls. 

It is truly about being in the natural world as a predator seeking to capture prey. Other people hunt because the animal is causing damage. The only competition is with yourself. They hunt to have a change of pace from daily life. That is the true sense of being a hunter.

Digging Deeper

Digging deeper into “sport hunting,” you will find it’s a primary method for controlling the population of game animals. It’s done to decrease the number of problems associated with an overpopulation of elk, geese, deer, bears, and other species of animals. The reason for limiting the population can be a maintain a healthy and diverse structure in the community.

On the management side of the sport, hunting is the wildlife manager. They focus on the hunter, bag limits, seasons, equipment regulations, permits, and other factors to maintain healthy populations and benefit communities and society. The sport has been a big success because no species hunted have ever become threatened or endangered. 

Back to the idea of hunting being a sport by definition, it doesn’t meet the criteria in most cases. However, there are some benefits to hunting.

Helps Increase Overall Fitness

Hunting gear can be pretty heavy, especially rifles, and lifting it constantly can help build bicep and shoulder muscles. The walk can also be an excellent cardiovascular workout, particularly on more hilly terrains. Catching the prey also produces an adrenaline boost. These are all clear health benefits.

Develop Skills

Some skills learned in hunting go beyond just learning to shoot more accurately. It teaches patience, discipline, mental fortitude, acuity, and time management. You may be more away and energetic after a day of hunting.

Hunting also can help you learn to spot signs of danger. After all, keeping yourself safe and other hunters in the area should be a top priority.

Keeps the Ecosystem Balanced

By taking up hunting, you will be doing your part in helping keep the balance of the ecosystem. In the case of deer, they generally breed rapidly, which can cause overpopulation in the blink of an eye, so to speak.

This can cause a problem along the food chain since deer eat many of the primary producers of foods. Other smaller and weaker species die off from this overpopulation, so hunting deer has a way to stabilize the ecosystem.

Quality Time with Family and Friends

A successful hunt can provide a nice dinner. Instead of watching television for a day, having the family or gathering with friends in nature for a hunt offers a great bonding experience. Everyone involved can learn a lot about trust, communication, and teamwork and enjoy being in the great outdoors.


While hunting isn’t a “sport” per se, there are benefits, and is an activity that can be personally rewarding while helping to balance the ecosystem in the process.

Overall, there are many different interpretations of what sport is, but most people agree that it requires some physicality and competitiveness. It may not be everyone’s idea of a “sport,” but it does require skill, endurance, and sportsmanship. What do you think?