Question Box: Do Mormons Hunt

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January 16, 2011
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Q: Do Mormons hunt?

Yes, but there is nothing in Mormon belief that says a person has to hunt, or should not hunt.

My dad’s side of the family hunted to sustain themselves and if they got a nice buck deer that was a bonus.  And I think that philosophy is in line with what has been taught by God.  Speaking to Noah, He said “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things” (Genesis 9:3).  Personally, I don’t see any difference between hunting and killing a deer to feed my family and buying hamburger at the store.  Animals died either way and to me there is something a little more noble about a deer giving its life to sustain me.

However, I think that there is something wrong with hunting simply to kill.  God taught this concept to Joseph Smith when he said, “wo be unto man that sheddeth blood of that wasteth flesh and hath no need” (D&C 49:21).

I’ll be honest, for me hunting is a little bit of an adrenaline rush.  There is nothing quite like listening to a big bull elk bugling on a cool fall morning.  But, on a more personal level hunting has taught me a lot about life. I learned at a very early age that life is precious and can be gone in an instant.  I saw that food didn’t just come from a store and that it was a precious commodity.  I learned how to take care of the animal–cleaning, cutting it up, and getting it ready for storage.  I was taught never to kill more than I could eat. I was taught to be an excellent shot with my rifle so that the animals die quickly and not suffer.  In addition I got to spend a lot of quality time with my dad and observe him in situations other than work and home.  He taught me how to be a man in the mountains and I am grateful for that.

Thanks for asking about hunting, I hope that answers your question.

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9 Responses to “Question Box: Do Mormons Hunt”

  1. Peter

    I am a faihtful Mormon and I believe that hunting for sport is a wicked practice. Prophets from time to time have condemed thirsting after the blood of animals. For example, Spencer W. Kimbal gave a talk that aimed at killing little birds to bring accross the point.

    The Book “Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball” states that killing for sport is reprehensible. President Kimball said “we do not kill. We are even careful about killing animals, unless we need them for food”. He said “Isn’t that a terrible thing, to take life just for the fun of it”.

    Joseph Smith said “I exhorted the brethren not to kill the serpent, bird or animal of any kind during our journey unless it bacame necessary in order ot preserve ourselves from hunger.

    Yet Utah Mormons who hunt somehow justify their practice. I hear one once say that president Kimball was only talking about birds.

    Man was placed on the earth and given dominion over all animals. We are to take care of this earth responsibly. God loves all his creations and killing animals for sport is not Christlike.

    I believe that killing because we need to eat is ok but I believe that the vast majority of Utah residents who hunt have a bad attitude. Many do it as a token of bravery, like the wicked Lamanites at the end of the Book of Mormon. They just have a need to shoot at something.

  2. Michael

    Unfortunately, your original post about hunting leaves out the very direct and specific counsel and clarification against hunting given by a modern-day prophet of the Lord, Spencer W. Kimball.

    President Kimball gave a talk on this very subject in the ’70s and spoke of the evil associated with the ‘adrenaline rush’ you find so enjoyable.

  3. Ben

    Dear Michael,

    Your points are well taken and thanks for pointing out the talk by President Kimball. The issues you pointed out about hunting were answered with the scriptures I quoted.

    When I hunt it is to provide for my family, but there is a certain element of my heart racing faster during a hunt that is unavoidable. As I said, I don’t hunt to experience this, but it comes with the territory. I believe, as Christ taught Joseph Smith in the scripture I quoted, that killing simply to kill is wrong.

  4. Peter,

    Let’s not get a chip on our shoulder about Utah Mormons. People are people regardless of geography, Mormons included. I live in Missouri, and trust me that meat and hunting are a huge part of the culture here. There are plenty of people here who seem to hunt for sport. The issue of why you hunt, and the broader issue of how exactly you listen to the prophets, is not a “Utah” issue by any means.

  5. Paul

    The answer is yes, Mormons hunt, and the Mormon church makes a profit on its game preserve hunting operation. The church owns “Deseret Land and Livestock”. So if you are rich and like hunting/fishing/guided birding, you can bag trophy wildlife on the church’s land, otherwise you don’t belong there unless you get one of the limited free passes for the commoners. Whether you think this is bad or not depends on your ideas on wildlife management (wildlife really does need to be managed unless and maybe even if you restore all the apex predators), your ideas on whether church property should be more accessible to normal members vs. the rich (who pays staff salaries then?), and whether you think President Kimball was right or not, and whether the words of dead prophets are honored or set aside (as if his teaching was taken seriously by hunters when he was alive).

  6. Peter

    Steve, yes you are right about not singling out Utah Mormons. I probably do have a bit of a chip on my shoulder about hunting.

    I live in California and though I am sure there are some hunters, I do not know of any. I lived in Utah for 3 years and it seemed like a very common hobby. Some people I met who are really into hunting seem kind of macho and cold blooded to me. I know that there are others who treat it like a family bonding experience.

    It does bother me that when a prophet speaks about hunting, it is as if nothing was ever said. I even remember a talk in general conference by a general authority that did not seem to have a problem with it.

    I am not particularly an animal lover but I think that an attitude of wanting to kill something just for fun is wicked.

  7. Willie

    I have never been hunting, but I do recall a conference talk by President Monson in which he mentions an experience he had while hunting.

    It’s not the point of his talk by any means, but he has hunted in the past at least. I agree that “wanting to kill something just for fun” is not the way to go, but as long as the animal is consumed/used properly I guess it doesn’t bother me so much.

  8. Hello All,
    I remember living in MN and an missionary from Idaho invited my father and I out for an Elk hunt. I was 15 when we drove there and spent quality time together and he “Harvested an Elk”. We had church members over to share a meal with us of Elk roast. It was a HUGE rush for me, but father is the one that made the harvest. Ted Nuggent says “take your kids hunting, so you don’t have to hunt for your kids”. The Elk Rack still hangs in the family room in memory of my father. I have not been able to afford to go on another ELK hunt since then, but I would love to someday.
    DO any of the non hunters have a solution of what to do with the Elk herd if hunting was stopped?? Do they have a small clue of the amount of Deer and Elk that would consume massive amounts of vegetation…. like corn your family eats, or cows eat so the can be made into hamburger.
    Do the people that quote prophets do their home teaching, pay tithing, love all people,and not judge others?
    I get a special feeling when a child is excited because they remembered the 1st article of faith, is that special feeling bad? What if Walmart ended tomorrow, I can bet that you would want to be friends with a hunter that could help you provide for your family.

  9. Ben

    Doug, I appreciate your story and comments. I agree with you and I am glad to hear that you have fond memories of that elk hunt with your dad. Some of my fondest memories with my father involve being with him while we were hunting.

    Sometime after I wrote this post my son and I went hunting and we were able to harvest a deer. It was a sacred experience, almost like I could feel the deer say, “I am glad that I could give my life to support yours.” I felt very grateful to this deer, because I knew that she would feed my three little children and my wife and I. We were able to eat from that deer for about six months. That was six months without having to go to the store for meat. It saved us a couple hundred dollars I imagine. What’s more, my kids loved the meat and still talk about eating deer meat from time to time. It made me feel good that I provided for them in that way.

    Perhaps it is wrong, but I think that in our world of ease, we forget about our roots, we forget about what people went through just 80 years ago in this country (at least based on the situation my grandparents were raised in). Putting food on the table was a struggle at times. If you were lucky enough to have a deer hanging up in the barn, that meant that you had food to fill your hungry belly and that your kids wouldn’t be going to bed hungry either. My how times have changed in this country.