Where Hunting Happens, Conservation Happens™

Waste Not - Hunt Fair Chase

Why non-hunters think we waste the game we kill and why their opinion matters


The old saying, “waste not, want not” means if you don’t waste anything you will always have enough. It applies to money, time, and of course, food—and in our case, wild game.

Those of us who hunt know that wasting game meat isn’t just morally unethical, it’s often illegal. But what about the non-hunting public? Do they know that we eat or donate the meat that we kill? Or do they just see us gripping and grinning with a nice set of antlers or horns on social media? Do they think we’re just in it to hang a head on the wall? Unfortunately, it’s likely the latter, and that’s not a good thing.

Meat, Good. Trophy, Bad

Numerous surveys over the years have shown that the non-hunting public is generally okay with hunting as long as it's for food. However, approval nose-dives when the survey asks them about trophy hunting. A 2023 survey conducted by Responsive Management and the Outdoor Stewards of Conservation Foundation showed that 77 percent of those surveyed approved of hunting for meat, and just 15 disapproved of it. When asked about hunting for sport, 37 percent approved. When asked about hunting for a trophy, 24 percent approved, while 65 percent disapproved.

It’s clear that the public does not like “trophy hunting” for just a trophy. At the same time, do they understand that when we kill a wall-hanger, we also process that animal’s meat into lean, sustainable protein? Hunters either feed our family and friends or donate it to a local food bank, which amounts to 10 million pounds of food annually. In the context of hunting ethics and public perception, far too many people have the wrong impression of hunters and hunting.

The Roots of Misperception

There is a growing belief that hunters waste the game they harvest, and it’s hard to blame the non-hunting public because that’s what they see. The images they see, particularly on social media and in videos online, are, at times, only that of hunters posing with dead animals. Little is shown of how we take care of and use the meat. At the Boone and Crockett Club, we’re not innocent there. We post a lot of photos of really big animals, though we also try to educate hunters (and non-hunters if they will listen) about our conservation history and the reason our record-keeping system was created.

Hunting-related marketing doesn’t exactly help the cause How many videos, print ads, logos, license plates, etc., feature the head of an ungulate? As hunters, we assume the successful hunter featured in the ad is making his last trip out of the backcountry after packing all the meat. Good for them. That’s how it should be.

If you didn’t hunt, though, would you assume this hunter packed all the meat to the truck already? I doubt it. Non-hunters are more likely only to see what’s presented—someone who killed an animal and only took its antlers home for their trophy room. Is this what hunters want non-hunters to think we do?

There is an overall lack of understanding that a primary motivation for the majority of hunters is securing healthy, wild protein to feed their families and share with friends and neighbors, but that’s changing, too. Hunting celebrities like Steven Rinella are showcasing the merits of both killing and cooking wild game with wildly popular mainstream media like MeatEater. This is a good trend.

Why Does Image Matter?

Hunters are in the minority—as in six percent of the population, according to a 2022 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Survey. While perhaps the same number of folks are vehemently against hunting, that leaves an extraordinary number of individuals in the middle. It’s our job to show these Americans why we get up at the crack of dawn in subzero temperatures just for the chance of filling a tag.

Our ability to hunt into the future depends on our capacity to share the fruits of our hunt—in the form of stories, meat, trophies, and the like—with others.

Otherwise, we risk a passionate non-hunting public lobbying our lawmakers for rules that aren’t in the best interest of hunters. When they can’t change the rules by way of wildlife commissions, they turn to the courts, state legislatures, and ballot initiatives.

What Can Hunters Do?

The best thing that hunters can do is always be positive ambassadors for our pastime. The same goes for anglers, outfitters, shooters, archers—the list goes on. Being a good ambassador is a blanket, feel-good statement, so here are some tangible things we can do to spread the right message.

1. Show up

Many states allow ample opportunity to participate in fish and game commission meetings. This is where your voice should be heard on voices affecting your wildlife and hunting opportunities. Be polite and articulate, but most importantly be engaged in this important process.

2. Take pride in packing out your game

Instead of the tired old grip and grin photo, get some action shots of dragging, packing, and hauling your meat out of the field. Feel free to take the obligatory photo of giant antlers hanging out of your pack, but be sure to show off those hindquarters, too.

3. Talk about and share your recipes online

Nothing says I eat what I kill better than sharing photos, commentary, and recipes of your culinary exploits online. Be just as proud of that meal made of bighorn meat as you are of those horns on the wall.


4. Introduce non-hunters to wild game

Do you have a neighbor who’s just a little curious about that deer hanging in your garage? We bet their kids are more than curious. Invite them over to share a meal of wild game with you and the family. They may not ever take up hunting, but you can bet they will remember those deer enchiladas.

5. Donate to local food banks

If your freezer runneth over, good for you. You did your part to help manage wildlife and hopefully had some fun doing it. If you don’t need more meat and your neighbor doesn’t want it, consider donating it to a local food bank.

We call ourselves hunters, and we do so with pride. Carrying that label comes with a certain responsibility to those who came before us and to those who will inherit what we leave behind. There’s a legacy that began with Roosevelt and Grinnell and continues to this day. While there might be a trophy on the wall that reminds us of a memorable experience, let’s celebrate all the other things (like food) that make hunting great.

Hunt Fair Chase Hat

Introducing the "Hunt Fair Chase Hat" from the Boone and Crockett Club, a symbol of both style and tradition. Crafted for the modern outdoorsman, this hat is not just an accessory, it's a statement. With its relaxed fit and unstructured design, it offers unparalleled comfort for everyday wear.

The hat is made from premium brushed cotton fabric, ensuring a soft touch and lasting durability. Its adjustable hook and loop closure guarantees a perfect fit for any head size, making it a versatile choice for all.

Embrace the legacy of the Boone and Crockett Club. Whether you're in the wilderness or in the city, the "Hunt Fair Chase Hat" is your companion in honoring a storied tradition.

This quality embroidered hat is priced at only $25.00 ($20.00 for members), an affordable way to help spread the message and show your commitment to fair chase hunting and conservation.


Regular Price: $25

Member Price: $20 - Join and Save


Learn More:

Boone and Crockett Trophy Hunting Position Statement

NRA Hunters for the Hungry


Hunt Fair Chase Home Page

Wild Gourmet

Naturally Healthy Game, Fish and Fowl Recipes for Everyday Chefs

Looking for new ways to prepare the wild game you harvested this season? Do you want recipes that produce unique and delicious results? Do you need tips for processing your venison that will all but guarantee top-notch flavor?


Regular Price: $34.95

Member Price: $27.96 - Join and Save


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"The wildlife and its habitat cannot speak. So we must and we will."

-Theodore Roosevelt