I got my Texas hunting license in the mail yesterday. Unfortunately I had to skedaddle off to EVOC class before I could post about it, but rest assured that there’s something in the works for the First Time Hunter series. Tyler has been feeding me some great information about how we’re going to be hunting in Texas, and he’s looking to not only expose me to the “traditional” blind hunting and stalking, but also something that apparently is huge in Texas where they drive around with guns out the window shooting deer. To me, driving seems sporting — the deer can hear the engine a mile away and have every opportunity to run. But from a helicopter there aren’t many places an animal can hide. I let slip to RF a while ago that shooting from a helicopter is one of the remaining items on my bucket list and ever since he’s been sending me videos like the one above and needling me to try and do some aerial hog hunting when I’m in Texas.

The question for today: do you think helicopter hunting is ethical? Because it sure looks like fun…

41 Responses to Question of the Day: Is Hunting from Helicopters Ethical?

  1. It depends on why you’re doing it. Are you doing it to control population, are you doing it for meat, are you doing it just to shoot something, or is it a combination?

    It also depends how you do it, and what guns you use.

  2. for hogs here in texas…..yes it is everything eles should be old school hog hunting is a gas do it if you get the chance….little ba$t#rd’s

    • If you’re thinking of going after hogs, that’s not hunting, it’s pest control.

      I’m unsure about the ethics, mainly because it seems like it would be extremely difficult to place a shot in a nearly-immediately-fatal location from a moving helicopter- even pests deserve a clean death.

      If your skill is sufficient, go for it.

  3. I don’t consider it sporting… but sporting and ethical are two different things.

    The ethical part of hunting, to me, is why the animal is killed, and is the suffering kept to a reasonable minimum. If you use the body of the pigs shot from a helicopter, I have no problem with it. Although I probably won’t be doing it myself any time soon, because I do enjoy the “sporting” aspect of it.

  4. First off that’s not hunting, it’s shooting.
    As far as ethics, I don’t consider it a problem for feral hogs. They are a nuisance species that can cause lots of damage to crops and property. For them, I think anything safe goes…..helicopters, night vision, suppressed weapons, etc.

    • ^^^ This. It’s your land, you have a right to protect it from harm.

      If it was just random animals not destroying your property, then no.

    • “First off that’s not hunting, it’s shooting.”
      What’s the difference? I’m not contradicting you, just curious.

      • The other Chris is pretty much right (or maybe I’m the other Chris, whatever.) But, I think there’s a little more to it than that. Shooting simply requires the skill to place a projectile where you want it. In hunting, shooting is just one of the many skill sets required. It would take a lot more explanation that I really have the time or inclination to write, but the bottom line is there’s a lot more to hunting than simply pulling a trigger. I also think that the ethics “rules” are very different. Hopefully that gives some idea of my intent even if it isn’t a complete answer.

        • Obviously hunting is marksmanship plus other skills, like stalking. But would the combined skills of the pilot and the shooter make it a hunt, only with a division of labor?

  5. In Ohio and Kentucky, I believe shooting from a vehicle is considered poaching. Too bad, sounds like y’all have a good ol’ time in Texas doing it. I’d love to do some helicopter hunting. In fact, I believe I’ll pencil that in on my bucket list, too.

    As far as sporting and ethics go, as long as its a clean humane kill, I don’t see where it matters much what tactic you use, the end results are the same. Enjoy the hunt and always eat what you kill, or give it to someone that will. I wouldn’t mind a Thanksgiving Pig Roast 🙂

  6. HUNTING from a helicopter is not only unethical, it is illegal. But killing hogs is not hunting, it is pest control. Just a scaled-up version of squashing bugs in your bathtub.

  7. A hunt is ethical if an animal population does not get wiped out because of it. I have no problem with helicopter hunting if it is used against burdensome species like hogs.

  8. As for eating feral hogs, they make decent sausage, but I had part of one hog processed as a ham. Not tasty. That said, I’ve since read that you have to bleed them or some such, or else the meat is no good. I believe it, and intend to learn how to do it correctly.

    (Skinning them is also a chore–have a whetstone handy, or else more than one knife, as their hood will dull most blades before you’re done.)

    • My buddy down there in Texas uses a live trap, selects the ones he wants to eat, then worms ’em and fattens ’em up on commercial feed for a week or two (or more maybe, not sure) then slaughters them. I think he said it costs him about $20- $25 bucks a pig but they taste alot better afterwards. They kill something like 50 for every 1 they fatten up though.

  9. i first saw this video in the kit up! website. These feral critters are totally destructive, i would relish the opportunity to plug a couple myself. They are not the happy pig from “Charlotte’s web” kids book here. These animals provide zero benefit for anyone, aside from food, i would guess.

    i do agree that this is the only animal species that would be ok to exterminate in this manner.

  10. People hunt from tree stands, so you’re only a little higher in a copter and you can chase them down if they try to get away.

  11. On a higher level, I think an ethical kill is one that minimizes animal suffering, and does not present a danger to maintaining an appropriate population.

    “Unsportsmanlike” hunting would be the kind that fails to meet wither of these criteria, not the ease with which animals are culled. In the case of feral hogs, you almost cannot hunt them fast enough, so any technique that improves the thinning of the herd is ethically OK. With an animal that is endangered, hunting them with a spoon while blindfolded is unethical.

    I do not think there is a great difference between hunting for trophies or hunting for meat.

    For what it is worth, when I hunt I inadvertently practice shoot and release.

  12. Having been to Texas this past May and seeing the damage that the hogs have done including to the Pecan crop, I say have at them.

    For any other type of hunting, the answer is no!!

  13. Wouldn’t this be a great training opportunity for the Coast Guard maritime interdiction snipers, SEALS, and other folks who make their living shooting from helicopters? I saw on TV that they train by shooting from helicopters at floating static targets, but it seems like they’d get a lot better practice doing this, AND they could bring their own helicopters.

  14. I think that shooting from a ‘copter is going to be a challenge compared to standard shooting. I don’t think it’ll put all the sportsmanship back in the idea of hunting hogs since you can’t be torn into little tiny bits if you find a pack of them but it at least adds a little more skill to it than say a deer stand.

    Considering how bad hogs are in that area it’s pest control that they can sell for leisure time instead of hiring a bunch of shooters to sweep the area like they do with deer populations sometimes.

  15. I think we have a consensus: Eradicating pests from a helicopter = ethical, good. Hunting for sport or food, from a helicopter = unethical, bad.

    I concur with the consensus.

    • I concur with you concurring with the consensus.

      Out here there are people who think a tree stand is unethical, I think they’d have a coronary if you started gunning down elk from a chopper.

  16. I’m going to play agent provacatour here, (I don’t believe in what I’m saying, I’m just raising counter points) and say that no, it is not ethical, irreguardless of its purpose. And I will go so far as to say that there is no constitutional basis for recreational hunting at all, much less from a helicopter.

    I would first like to point out that you are causing terror and pain in a wild animal who can not pose any possible threat to you physically. (If you’re shooting at it from a helicopter, that is. Very different sotry if you’re trying to hunt hogs on the ground.) I say that this is disgusting and cruel. I would say it is reasonless, and that it is very easy to consider the hunter nothing more than a gun nut or a sadist.

    If you are doing it for ‘pest control’ I would like to see any of your credentials as such. There are liscensed profesonials who could take care of this problem for you, and do it in a way that is less painfull and less wastefull than hunting them from a helicopter. Further, how much propertey damage are they doing compared to the expense of hiring and fueling a helicopter? I claim that it is excessive, and if there is no logistical or reality based reason to do it from the air, I claim sadisim and possible mental defect as the only remaining reason to do so.

    I would like to further point out that it is incredibly wastefull. Fuel costs are expensive, and so is ammo. And every casing that comes out of that helicopter is a non biodegradable peice of litter.

    If you’re doing it to harvest meat, I would question why you do not just go down to the local store and get some pork sausage. Or, if you’re specific about eating wild hog, why not just order some? The expense of that pales in comparison to running a helicopter and dumping magazines at the poor beasts.

    Further, I beleive such actions activley contribute to the anti hunting and anti gun crowd. As fun as it might be, shooting animals from a helicopter with a semi automatic rifle that is dressed up like a military issue firearm may seem nomral to some people, and can be, i’m assuming, down right fun, but to your average citizien it probabally looks straight insane.

    • OK, I’ll bite.

      Point 1—you win. I can’t think of a reasonable argument otherwise (though I personally think gun nut might be a bit of a stretch).

      Point 2 (and the first half of Point 3)—It probably isn’t cheap, but $500 million in annual damages isn’t exactly chump change, either (Texas Ag department’s estimate). Depending on the scale of the person’s property, crop value, and number of hogs, it may in fact be more cost-efficient. I wouldn’t dare say it’s the best method all the time, but I can certainly conceive of times where the cost/benefit ratio would tip in the chopper’s favor. As for professional credentials, I don’t have them. However, the law that made those escapades possible for private landowners was passed this year in response to concerns over damage. At that point, professional removal may not have been sufficient.

      Wastefulness regarding ammo and gas—again, relative. Waste of the hog, well…have a look at this:

      http://www.agr.state.tx.us/agr/program_render/0,1987,1848_5446_0_0,00.html?channel=5446

      In order for the counties who enroll to receive credit, the animal has to die on-site or go straight to slaughter. Since the program to get feral hog meat into food banks isn’t active as far as I know, it would still be a waste. At this point, though, I find it hard to believe the state cares.

      You have damn compelling arguments—definitely got my brain churning. Even so, I don’t think the practice deserves the wholesale condemnation it received by your hand.

  17. /shrug If you got the coin, knock yourself out. I’ve taken to calling hunting ‘game management’. Seems more accurate these days, maybe using those words will salve your doubts.

  18. It is illegal to “hunt” from the air. However, varmint control by aerial means is now legal and warranted. Until you own a farm or ranch that gets devastated by these beasts, you have no room to talk about banning it.

  19. Being from Texas, and an area with a problem with these feral hogs, my only concern would be how to compensate for the downdraft when shooting from a chopper.

    On the other hand – being in a stand when a herd of 20+ wander by would be a great way to see how fast you are with an AR: Can you get a clean one-shot kill on at least 75% of them? To make it a challenge just have 10 rounds in a clip and do a reload in the middle…

    Or you could stalk into the herd with your favorite handgun and do your practice for your next practical combat competition… I’d go for using .45 fmj tho…

  20. I say go for it.

    Having seen what feral hogs can do, I have no qualms with how they’re eradicated. Within reason. I’d still feel bad grazing on, or not getting a kill right away and making them suffer, but from that video I don’t see that happening.

    Other tastey, majestic critters like deer, elk, etc… I’d be less for it. The experience in tracking them is what makes the hunt so enjoyable.

    • How many of the kills in this video could possibly be “clean”? A rancher certainly has the right to clear pest animals off his property, but the rats we kill get more humane executions than what this video shows. If there was a chase vehicle following up on all the kills I’d be OK with it, but as it’s shown, all I see are a bunch of hogs that will die a slow and painful death. Are they even gathered for meat and hides, or are they just left there?

  21. For hog hunting, I personally like a 12 guage with deer slugs. Only time I ever used the bayonet on my Mossberg 590. >.<

    They make decent BBQ, too.

  22. Hunting from a helicopter is about as unethical and unsporting as it gets. It is wrong on so many levels and is strictly forbidden on any hunting leases I have used.
    If you like to torture animals, then hunt from a helicopter.

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