People who look upon hunting solely as a meat harvesting exercise are known by several lowly names, the most polite being “meat hunter.”

While there’s nothing wrong with harvesting game – it’s one of the best reasons to hunt – “meat hunter” generally refers to people with few ethics. It’s a low born description, and one I wouldn’t want to be saddled with since it applies to hunters who are greedy and unethical.

Fortunately, few hunters fit into this category. The majority of hunters are sensible, considerate and law-abiding. And while they enjoy the fruits of their hunting immensely, they don’t live and die by the heft of their game bag.

That being said, a major study has concluded that North American hunters are divided into three categories. One of these categories is “utilitarian/meat hunters” and almost 44 percent of all hunters in Canada and the United States belong to this group.

Hold on a second: doesn’t that contradict what I said about few people belonging to that slob class known as meat hunters?

Not when you know the study’s definition of “utilitarian/meat hunters.” If you belong to this group, you “perceive animals largely from the perspective of their practical usefulness.” The utilitarian/meat hunter, the study concluded, “viewed hunting as a harvesting activity and wild animals as a harvestable crop not unlike other renewable natural resources.”

In other words, the utilitarian/meat hunter has a practical, realistic view of hunting and isn’t necessarily a hunting slob. A utilitarian/meat hunter can also be a sportsman and a conservationist.

The other categories defined by the study are “nature hunters” and “dominionistic/sport hunters.” The nature guys comprise about 18 percent of hunters, the dominionistic group just over 38 percent. The nature group hunts “for the purpose of close contact with nature” says the study, and usually includes “more persons under 30 years of age and far fewer over 65.” Dominionistic/sport hunters look upon hunting as an opportunity to “engage in a sporting activity involving mastery, competition, shooting skill and expressions of prowess.”

The study (by a major university) described the hunter categories in more detail than I’ve used here but you get the idea. Now you know in which group you belong… and you know that someone out there is watching, studying, and classifying as you go about your hunting.

Along the same line, hunters may also be interested in another study that placed them in five stages – shooter stage, limiting out stage, trophy stage, method stage and sportsman stage. These are arbitrary groupings, of course, and for the most part they seem to ignore or contradict the three hunter categories discussed above.

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