Fair chase is a term hunters use to describe an ethical approach to hunting big game animals.
North America’s oldest wildlife conservation group, the Boone and Crockett Club, defines “fair chase” as requiring hunted big game animals to “be wild” and “free-ranging.”
“Wild” refers to an animal that is naturally bred and lives in nature.
“Free-ranging” means an animal that is not confined by artificial barriers.
According to the Boone and Crockett Club, fair chase hunting is the ethical, sportsmanlike, and lawful pursuit and taking of any free-ranging wild, big game animal in a manner that does not give the hunter an improper or unfair advantage over the game animals.
In simpler terms, it means hunting without taking advantage of the animals and allowing them a fair chance to escape in defense.
Some basic rules of ethics that fair chase hunters live by:
- When hunting, obey all laws and regulations.
- When away from home, respect the land and customs of the locals.
- Adapt and follow a specific personal code that will bring out favorable abilities and sensibilities as a hunter.
- Never draw out the death of prey. Try to attain the best shot to make the kill as quick and precise as possible.
- Keep the personal code in mind and let it dictate behavior. It is the responsibility of the hunter not to dishonor the hunter, the hunted, or the environment.
The ethical approach also states a hunter may not take an animal if:
- The hunter herded or spotted the animal from air and then quickly landed to pursue.
- It was herded or chased by a motorized vehicle.
- Electronic communication devices are being used.
- It is confined by artificial barriers or transplanted for commercial shooting.
- It is trapped or drugged.
- It’s swimming, trapped in snow, or helpless in any nature.
- The hunter is using another hunter’s license.
- Laws or regulations are being broken.