Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Hunter on a tree or a ground stand during a driven hunt in Finland

Hunting is the


Recreationally hunted species are generally referred to as the


Many non-human animals also hunt (see


Hunting activities by humans arose in

primary production alongside forestry, agriculture and fishery. Modern regulations (see game law) distinguish lawful hunting activities from illegal poaching, which involves the unauthorized and unregulated killing, trapping
or capture of animals.

Apart from

even by some hunters.

Professional deerstalker standing over a downed red stag in Scotland

, are also not regarded as hunting.

Hunter carrying a reindeer in Greenland


tracking and acquisition of an elusive target has caused the word hunt to be used in the vernacular as a metaphor for searching and obtaining something, as in "treasure hunting", "bargain hunting", "hunting for votes" and even "hunting down" corruption and waste


The word hunt serves as both a noun ("the act of chasing game") and a verb. The noun has been dated to the early 12th century, from the verb hunt. Old English had huntung, huntoþ. The meaning of "a body of persons associated for the purpose of hunting with a pack of hounds" is first recorded in the 1570s. "The act of searching for someone or something" is from about 1600.[citation needed]

The verb, Old English huntian "to chase game" (transitive and intransitive), perhaps developed from hunta "hunter," is related to hentan "to seize," from Proto-Germanic huntojan (the source also of Gothic hinþan "to seize, capture," Old High German hunda "booty"), which is of uncertain origin. The general sense of "search diligently" (for anything) is first recorded c. 1200.[18]



Lower to Middle Paleolithic

Hunting has a long history. It pre-dates the emergence of

anatomically modern humans) and may even predate the genus Homo

The oldest undisputed evidence for hunting dates to the Early Pleistocene, consistent with the emergence and early dispersal of Homo erectus, about 1.7 million years ago (Acheulean).[19] While it is undisputed that Homo erectus were hunters, the importance of this for the emergence of Homo erectus from its australopithecine ancestors, including the production of

social interaction

There is no direct evidence for hunting predating Homo erectus, in either Homo habilis or in Australopithecus. The early

rather than hunting. Evidence for australopithecine meat consumption was presented in the 1990s.[20] It has nevertheless often been assumed that at least occasional hunting behavior may have been present well before the emergence of Homo. This can be argued on the basis of comparison with
frugivorous diet.[22]
Indirect evidence for Oldowan era hunting, by early Homo or late Australopithecus, has been presented in a 2009 study based on an Oldowan site in southwestern Kenya.[23]

scavengers, not hunters,[24]
Blumenschine (1986) proposed the idea of confrontational scavenging, which involves challenging and scaring off other
predators after they have made a kill, which he suggests could have been the leading method of obtaining protein-rich meat by early humans.[25]

Stone spearheads dated as early as 500,000 years ago were found in South Africa.[26] Wood does not preserve well, however, and Craig Stanford, a primatologist and professor of anthropology at the University of Southern California, has suggested that the discovery of spear use by chimpanzees probably means that early humans used wooden spears as well, perhaps, five million years ago.[27] The earliest dated find of surviving wooden hunting spears dates to the very end of the Lower Paleolithic, just before 300,000 years ago. The Schöningen spears, found in 1976 in Germany, are associated with Homo heidelbergensis.[28]


projectile points and animal processing implements were discovered at the Andean site of Wilamaya Patjxa, Puno District in Peru.[30]

Upper Paleolithic to Mesolithic

Evidence exists that hunting may have been one of the multiple

Younger Dryas impact event, possibly making hunting a less critical factor in prehistoric species loss than had been previously thought.[33]
However, in other locations such as Australia, humans are thought to have played a very significant role in the extinction of the Australian megafauna that was widespread prior to human occupation.[34][35]

Hunting was a crucial component of hunter-gatherer societies before the

spears to approximately 16,200 years ago.[36]

Many species of animals have been hunted throughout history. One theory is that in North America and

Reindeer Age
), although the varying importance of different species depended on the geographic location.

Ancient Greek black-figure pottery depicting the return of a hunter and his dog; made in Athens c. 540 BC, found in Rhodes

Vedda people of Sri Lanka, and a handful of uncontacted peoples. In Africa, one of the last remaining hunter-gatherer tribes are the Hadza of Tanzania.[38]

Neolithic and Antiquity

Artemis with a Hind, a Roman copy of an Ancient Greek sculpture, c. 325 BC, by Leochares

Even as animal domestication became relatively widespread and after the development of agriculture, hunting was usually a significant contributor to the human food supply. The supplementary meat and materials from hunting included

and leather used in clothing.

Hunting is still vital in marginal climates, especially those unsuited for pastoral uses or agriculture.[39] For example, Inuit in the Arctic trap and hunt animals for clothing and use the skins of sea mammals to make kayaks, clothing, and footwear.

On ancient

psychological importance of hunting in ancient societies is represented by deities such as the horned god Cernunnos and lunar goddesses of classical antiquity, the Greek Artemis or Roman Diana. Taboos are often related to hunting, and mythological association of prey species with a divinity could be reflected in hunting restrictions such as a reserve surrounding a temple. Euripides' tale of Artemis and Actaeon
, for example, may be seen as a caution against disrespect of prey or impudent boasting.

Low-relief the boar hunt, Taq-e Bostan

With the domestication of the dog,


Pastoral and agricultural societies

, 14th century

Even as agriculture and animal husbandry became more prevalent, hunting often remained as a part of human culture where the environment and social conditions allowed. Hunter-gatherer societies persisted, even when increasingly confined to marginal areas. And within agricultural systems, hunting served to kill animals that prey upon domestic and wild animals or to attempt to extirpate animals seen by humans as competition for resources such as water or forage.

When hunting moved from a subsistence activity to a selective one, two trends emerged:

  1. the development of the role of the specialist hunter, with special training and equipment
  2. the option of hunting as a "sport" for members of an upper social class

The meaning of the word game in

horseback or from a chariot, had a function similar to tournaments and manly sports. Hunting ranked as an honourable, somewhat competitive pastime to help the aristocracy practice skills of war in times of peace.[40]

In most parts of

medieval Europe, the upper class obtained the sole rights to hunt in certain areas of a feudal territory. Game in these areas was used as a source of food and furs, often provided via professional huntsmen, but it was also expected to provide a form of recreation for the aristocracy. The importance of this proprietary view of game can be seen in the Robin Hood legends, in which one of the primary charges against the outlaws is that they "hunt the King's deer". In contrast, settlers in Anglophone colonies gloried democratically in hunting for all.[41]

In medieval Europe, hunting was considered by

Use of dog

Hunting Companions, Dutch 19th-century painting featuring two dogs, a shotgun
and a game bag

Although various other animals have been used to aid the hunter, such as

, the dog has assumed many very important uses to the hunter. The domestication of the dog has led to a
symbiotic relationship in which the dog's independence from humans is deferred. Though dogs can survive independently of humans, and in many cases do ferrally, when raised or adopted by humans the species tends to defer to its control in exchange for habitation, food and support.[43]

Dogs today are used to find, chase, retrieve, and sometimes kill game. Dogs allow humans to pursue and kill prey that would otherwise be very difficult or dangerous to hunt. Different breeds of specifically bred

Brittany Spaniel, and other similar breeds. Game birds are flushed out using flushing spaniels such as the English Springer Spaniel, the various Cocker Spaniels
and similar breeds.

The hunting of wild mammals in England and Wales with dogs was banned under the Hunting Act 2004. The wild mammals include fox, hare, deer and mink. There are, however, exceptions in the Act.[44]


Many prehistoric deities are depicted as predators or prey of humans, often in a

form, perhaps alluding to the importance of hunting for most Palaeolithic cultures.

In many pagan religions, specific rituals are conducted before or after a hunt; the rituals done may vary according to the species hunted or the season the hunt is taking place.[citation needed] Often a hunting ground, or the hunt for one or more species, was reserved or prohibited in the context of a temple cult.[citation needed] In Roman religion, Diana is the goddess of the hunt.[45]

aristocrats hunting a blackbuck alongside an Asiatic cheetah
, 1812

Indian and Eastern religions