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While hunting is certainly an enjoyable sport, it should not be forgotten that you are taking the life of an animal; a fragile matter that can conjure up various emotions within the hunter. Obviously, most hunters are met with sheer enthusiasm and excitement upon successfully taking down their target, but doing so with respect and honor should be a necessity for all. The animal has given its life for our benefit, providing us with numerous resources.

Depending on your religious beliefs, giving thanks or praying upon killing your target is a very respectful way to honor its sacrifice. If religion is not a part of your life, simply taking the time to kneel beside the body and offer a moment of silence is another great way to say thank you. It’s just a small gesture of appreciation that can expel any feelings of guilt that a given hunter may be experiencing.

While taking the time to thank the animal is respectful, allowing the body to sit for a long period of time before recovering it is not. Having a downed bird or buck sit untouched in the sun will only spoil the meat and risk having it fester. This is an extremely wasteful practice that only deems the animal inedible (should you be hunting for food). Upon hitting your target, claim the body as quickly as possible, especially during inclement weather. Rain, wind, and extreme cold or heat can make field-dressing extremely difficult.

Taxidermy and immortalizing the animal you’ve claimed is actually another great way to honor its spirit, despite how some people may feel about an animal’s head hanging in their living room. Whether it be a deer, elk, turkey, or wild boar, mounting a suitable trophy on your wall preserves the animal’s legacy while also supporting your local small business taxidermist.

Educate others on hunting with respect and safety. The best way to spark a appreciative movement within the hunting world is to spread the word and teach the less experienced. Teaching your kids or neighbors the values of hunting can go a long way in terms of conservation and honoring the sport. Explain how animals’ habitats should be respected in addition to the animals themselves.

One of the best ways to properly honor all wildlife in America is by supporting your state’s wildlife agencies, following the laws set in place, and respecting the times in which you are legally allowed to hunt. These were established for a reason, and to honor our country’s wildlife. Take the time to study this information before embarking on your next hunting trip to become familiar with your state’s policies.

No matter your hunting methods, treating your target with respect and honoring its sacrifice should be an integral part of your hunt. You’ll find that approaching a hunting trip with the mentality that this living creature is worthy of being treated with dignity will make the end result that much more gratifying.