The history of deer hunting goes back hundreds of years. From hunting for sport in England to survival in a new and untamed world, deer hunting has played a significant role in history and the everyday life of man. Let’s take a look at the effect deer has had on humanity and the history of deer hunting.
In England, deer belonged to the nobility who owned the land. In this portion of the history of deer hunting, commoners were prohibited from hunting deer because they were the property of the nobility. The nobility hunted for sport, not to put food on their tables. As a result, deer and fox hunting were a sport in England and nothing more.
When explorers arrived in the New World, the Indians were already hunting deer. Deer was a major food source for the Indians; they used virtually every part of the deer. The Indians ate the meat, made moccasins and clothing from the deer hide and used the bones to make various utensils and weapons. Indians used hunting methods such as a fire drive, baiting, trapping, snares, chasing deer on horseback and even stalking deer. Sometimes the Indians wore furs to disguise themselves as other animals while stalking deer.
Up to about 1800, the Indians were harvesting many deer. They did this in order to have something to trade with the settlers for guns, textiles, metals and alcohol. As a result, many deer were killed prior to the nineteenth century. From the early 1800s to the mid 1800s, the white tail deer population rebounded. Settlers moved westward and abandoned their homesteads. These abandoned homesteads became wild again and the deer population flourished because of it–a definitive event in the history of deer hunting.
From 1850 to the twentieth century, deer were almost hunted to extinction by men who hunted for profit–like the buffalo hunters. Hunters were mainly after the deer's meat for food, which they would sell. There was great demand for deer meat, which was considered a special meal that would be served for holidays by the settlers. Because the deer population was being destroyed, laws were passed to protect the white tail deer from extinction. As a result of the legislation, deer hunting became much less popular and the population of deer rebounded substantially. The history of deer hunting has therefore contributed to the modern wildlife management systems we have in place today.
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