The history of deer hunting reveals that deer hunters of today share many of the same motivation and methods as ancient hunters. While the technology and accessories may be drastically different than those used for hunting thousands of years ago, the ability to take down a deer is something to be celebrated. When you learn more about the history of deer hunting, you'll gain a greater appreciation for this age-old tradition.
Prehistoric Deer Hunters
While we can never be certain when the first human fashioned weapons for hunting deer, archaeologists have found remains of stone weapons and animal bones, including deer, in Germany, dating as far back as 350,000 years ago. Ancient cave paintings showing deer and hunters have been discovered across the world, with some of the oldest in Lascaux, France, dated to around 30,000 years ago. Archaeologists know that ancient humans used deer for a wide variety of things besides meat. Bones made tools, sinew became bindings and skins were made into clothes. Because deer were plentiful in many areas across the world, the animals became a main source of food for people in lots of climates and cultures. Weapons of choice were slings and spears and there is evidence of antlers kept as trophies, decorated and carved.
Hunting as Sport
Many ancient civilizations turned to hunting as a sport as well as an important part of survival. In Egypt, Babylonia and Rome, the upper class organized sport hunting, including deer, boar and fox. Throughout the Middle Ages, such hunting practices continued for nobility, while the lower class peasants continued to hunt deer for food and survival. Deer hunting became well known throughout Europe, and in some countries, it was forbidden for commoners to hunt certain deer reserved for nobles.
Hunting With Guns
As the gun became more widespread in the 1700s, hunting deer became much different than it had been for centuries. Early American colonists were able to feed their families as they first inhabited the East Coast and then moved westward. Native Americans, using newly acquired rifles, also hunted deer. In the 1800s, venison was considered a delicacy, as the number of cattle grew rapidly and beef became the meat of choice.
Modern Deer Hunting
Wise management is the key to managing today's deer population, and deer hunts are a way for enthusiasts to follow the ancient traditions of hunting deer while using the most modern of technology. Methods consist of rifles, crossbows, bows and muzzle loaders. States outline specific dates for hunting and put limits on what is hunted, what you are using and how much can be taken.
Want to know how to make a hunting bow? These instructions can help you understand how our ancestors hunted for food.
Want the facts about hunting? While pro-hunting and anti-hunting groups have passionate arguments about the activity, you should understand both sides to stay safe and make sure you are following the law.