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  • Steve Sorensen

Market Hunting — When Population Boomed (Part 3)


In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, we asked what kinds of hunting history has given us. The first was subsistence hunting, the kind of hunting that prevailed through most of history. Although subsistence hunting is still practiced in some places, it's not the norm (especially in North America).


When the human population grew in America, subsistence hunting morphed into market hunting. People continued to hunt for their economic sustenance, but the hunter now exchanged meat for money. That was the age of market hunting. My March 14 column in the Jamestown Gazette examines market hunting (link below).


As the nation became more urbanized, the need for meat in that enormous market far outpaced the ability of nature to replace the wildlife that was taken. The effect of market hunting and the expansion of the nation were devastating to wildlife. Some species became extinct. The American Bison was hit very hard; the population declined from 60 million to just 541.


Any person who says they're against hunting needs to know the history of hunting. Subsistence hunting was sustainable for a very long time, but as the industrial age emerged, subsistence hunting gave way to market hunting. To see how and why this happened, read "Market Hunting — When Population Boomed." We may romanticize hunting in the nineteenth century, but if that kind of hunting prevailed into the twentieth century we'd have very little wildlife today.


I took the photograph of the Bison in Yellowstone Park, one of the last places Bison thrive today. Coincidentally, the skeleton in the lower right of the photo is a pronghorn antelope. These represent two species that market hunting decimated. Read this column. Next time (Part 4), we'll examine "sport hunting," what that really is and how it saved wildlife in America.


To access more of my writing on hunting topics, go to the home page of my blog, Mission: Hunter.