Skip to main content

The Kill

No matter how it's stated, the end result of the hunt is always the same.



As a writer and editor, I constantly wrestle with the word "kill." Some writers simply cannot write that word.




They bag, harvest, down, collect, or take animals, but they don't kill them. Influenced by today's supersensitive world, they downplay the very truth and essence of hunting. They seem afraid to say they're proud of killing an animal, and they exorcise kill from their work. It's not PC.

What do you think? Should we use the word kill in hunting magazines? In Bowhunter? Or should we replace it with bag, harvest, or other euphemisms to be more politically correct? Here are some of my thoughts on this subject that guide me as a bowhunter, writer, and editor.


The most fundamental question might be: Is killing animals morally wrong? Obviously that depends on your personal philosophy and theology, but from my Christian point of view, it is not. Some years ago, in a column called "Animal Rights?", I pointed out that the Bible contains hundreds of references to the killing of animals for food and sacrifice, but it never questions the morality of it. From that I conclude that anyone with a Christian worldview has no need to apologize, at least on moral grounds, for using the word kill.

One morning, on our way to put out bear baits, my friend Wayne Crownover, a Christian pastor, and I were discussing this issue. "Part of the hunt is the kill," Wayne said. "How do you know if you're a good hunter if you never kill anything?"

Even more fundamentally, I would add, Are you even a hunter if you never intend to kill anything? You can observe animals and check them off on a list, photograph them, or sit on stand and watch the clouds drift by, all of which are good things to do. But they are not hunting. Hunting has many challenging, fulfilling, and satisfying aspects, but without a kill -- or at least the intent of killing something -- it's not hunting. Ultimately, the kill defines hunting, so why apologize for it?

And why apologize for something so practical? The killing of animals is the very basis for life itself -- putting food on the table. Could there be a more honorable goal than that? As Wayne said, "The Lord told man to subdue the earth, to be a provider. When I put steaks on the table, I feel a sense of pride." Such pragmatism needs no apology.

"Well," detractors might say, "a lot of people eat meat, but they don't kill animals to do it." Yes, that's true, but in buying meat from stores, they essentially hire other people to do their killing for them. That's fine, and I don't criticize anyone for that; hunting is not for everyone. At the same time, why should nonhunters disparage hunters. At least hunters take personal responsibility for their actions. Personally killing an animal for food is the ultimate in honesty. Why apologize for being man or woman enough to face reality?

Taking responsibility for an animal's death does not imply a callous attitude. Here at Bowhunter, we receive hundreds of stories every year, and in a high percentage the writers express sorrow over taking the lives of animals. I suppose some hunters enjoy killing, but they are the exception. Most feel sadness and regret, followed by pride in accomplishment and gratitude for the opportunity. These emotions require no apology.

This is not to say that all is perfect in the hunting world. Some careless participants go into the field with unreliable gear, dull broadheads, and poor shooting skills. They don't care. They have no regard for the animals they hunt, or for the future of hunting. They just want to fling arrows and shoot stuff. They love to describe how they drew blood, or how they stuck, whacked, or tipped over deer. They put little effort into following blood trails, and they waste meat through sloppy game care.

Even their field photos reflect disregard. At Bowhunter, we review thousands of photos each year, and the worst, in my opinion, are photos of deer thrown into the backs of pickups in pools of blood, tongues hanging out, eyes sunken and dull. The deer look like so much offal headed for the dump. Don't those hunters care about the animals they've shot? Their photographs debase animals rather than honor them, and these individuals seem to kill for the sake of killing. In relation to them, maybe we should be ashamed to use the word kill.

But they are the minority. The fact is, hunters kill animals, and if they do so with the right motives and with respect, they have no reason to apologize. That's why at Bowhunter we're not afraid to use the word kill. While we always strive to present bowhunting in a positive light and to honor the animals we hunt, we always insist on honesty, too. So we won't deny the truth or cover it up with euphemisms. Hunters do kill animals, and we thank God for the privilege.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Canyon Ranch Roundup Part 2

Canyon Ranch Roundup Part 2

Bowhunter TV's Derek Mleynek and Equipment Editor Tony J. Peterson head to Texas for a late-season mixed bag hunt in a truly target-rich environment.

Tree Saddle Hunting: Best Tree-Climbing Sticks

Tree Saddle Hunting: Best Tree-Climbing Sticks

Sectional sticks are the most popular tree-climbing method among saddle enthusiasts because sticks are safe, effective, easy to use, and you only have to hang three or four of them to reach heights of 17-22 feet if you add a lightweight climbing aider.

Spot-and-Stalk Texas Hog Bowhunt

Spot-and-Stalk Texas Hog Bowhunt

Bowhunter Equipment Editor Tony J. Peterson spot-and-stalks hogs and whitetails in Texas.

Tree Saddle Hunting: Best Saddle Options

Tree Saddle Hunting: Best Saddle Options

Most of these saddle options are offered in kit form with lineman and tree tether ropes plus carabiners, some with MOLLE-attached storage pouches for ropes, aider, drink and accessories.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

It's important for bowhunters to adapt to the ever-changing scenarios & shot angles on the fly. Treestand Shot Selection for Bowhunters How-To

Treestand Shot Selection for Bowhunters

Tony J. Peterson

It's important for bowhunters to adapt to the ever-changing scenarios & shot angles on the...

New for 2021, here's a look at the new Rage Trypan NC, Nockturnal Shift Nock, Carbon Express Maxima RED Contour and D-Stroyer PileDRIVER arrows.New for 2021: Rage Broadhead, Nockturnal Nock, Carbon Express Arrows ATA Show

New for 2021: Rage Broadhead, Nockturnal Nock, Carbon Express Arrows

Curt Wells - January 19, 2021

New for 2021, here's a look at the new Rage Trypan NC, Nockturnal Shift Nock, Carbon Express...

The array of ultra-strong, easy-to-use, light and quiet aftermarket stick attachment options has never been more creative and compelling.Best New Climbing Stick Attachment Options Treestands & Blinds

Best New Climbing Stick Attachment Options

Bowhunter Staff - January 05, 2021

The array of ultra-strong, easy-to-use, light and quiet aftermarket stick attachment options...


What's a hardcore bowhunter? That's hard for me to define—most bowhunters I've met are10 Best Exercises for the Hardcore Bowhunter How-To

10 Best Exercises for the Hardcore Bowhunter

Dan Staton - June 30, 2016

What's a hardcore bowhunter? That's hard for me to define—most bowhunters I've met are

See More Trending Articles

More Stories

Bowhunter Magazine is turning 45 years old! My, how time flies! I began bowhunting not long afterBowhunting: Passion, Obsession or Addiction? Stories

Bowhunting: Passion, Obsession or Addiction?

Randy Ulmer - October 21, 2016

Bowhunter Magazine is turning 45 years old! My, how time flies! I began bowhunting not long...

Most of us are aware of the threat from glad-handing politicians who would love to get their greedyWhy Public Hunting Land Is More Valuable Than Many Realize Stories

Why Public Hunting Land Is More Valuable Than Many Realize

Tony J. Peterson - January 30, 2018

Most of us are aware of the threat from glad-handing politicians who would love to get their...

It's often said archers do it The Journey For A Longbow Super Slam Stories

The Journey For A Longbow Super Slam

Nathan L. Andersohn - July 31, 2018

It's often said archers do it "the hard way," but hunting with a longbow is, by far, the...

A college football player and his dad share a hunt and take two of their biggest bucks.Decoying for Postseason Muleys Stories

Decoying for Postseason Muleys

Danny Farris

A college football player and his dad share a hunt and take two of their biggest bucks.

See More Stories

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Bowhunter App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Bowhunter subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now