History of Elk Hunting
For as long as man has co-existed with animals on this earth, hunting has always been part of human nature. It started as a biological need to survive; for food and skin to satisfy hunger and give shelter. In the years that the world has changed, so has the nature of hunters and the hunted. Man no longer hunt for basic needs; hunting has become a need for adrenaline rush, for alternative sporting activity and for trophy hunting. Hunting for meat is no longer the strongest reason for elk hunting.
Elk hunting dates back to the times of the natives of North America. Amongst the native North Americans, wapiti or the American elk, was a good source of lean meat and was almost always in abundance. Hunting in the traditional way meant brandishing weapons such as the long spear, bow and arrows. Apart from that, short hunting knives were used in the actual killing and meat-skinning process.
The Native Americans, and also the Alaskans, used to hunt in a small group and would pick-up the trail of a herd, stalk the potential elk and eventually find the best opportunity to kill it, without disturbing much of the herd’s activity. As silent as the elks could be, the hunters would be more stealth-like. The success rate of their hunts were monumental, yet their kill was very well-targeted, accurate and almost always for the sole purpose of feeding the tribe or getting specific parts. The Native Americans were not known to indulge in hunting for pleasure.
Hunting elk had been a large part of the Native American communities’ culture. In a lot of ways hunters were regarded very highly as they fulfilled the needs of their tribe through hunting activities. The meat from hunts would be distributed amongst the tribal members, leftovers dried and preserved to tide them through the harsh winters.
The skills and culture of hunters of the olden days were recorded and it is noted that hunting took place on a very regular basis. However, it has been duly noted that none of the hunting activities the traditional way actually created any imbalances in terms of herd population in any particular area. With the introduction of new and more lethal weaponry over the past century, there has been an increase in sport-hunting of elks in all areas of elk population.
Weapons such as rifles and shot guns, on top of the bows and arrows created a new breed of hunters. They were now better equipped not only with weapons, but navigational tools. Not only did it mean there were more hunters, it also meant that there were more attempts at hunting elks, some successful and others not. This meant a higher number of weapon-related injuries to the elk population and a slight increase in displacement of elk population in the wilderness.
Nowadays, with the advent of better weapon and navigational technology as well as camping and survival gear, elk hunting has evolved far beyond a mere hunting activity. Demands for lean elk meat remain constant throughout the year. Trophy hunters seek out the best opportunities and best bull elks to fulfill their passion. With legalized and licensed hunting legislated in U.S. states with elk population, elk hunting is business.
It is now common for game farmers to breed and raise elks in enclosures for the sole purpose of allowing hunting within them. Although elk hunting has existed historically for centuries, it has taken on new meaning in the last few decades.