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Jared Nuessen of Eagan, Minn. called ducks opening morning on the Mississippi River in Central Illinois.
Jared Nuessen of Eagan, Minn. called ducks opening morning on the Mississippi River in Central Illinois.
Photo Credit: Teak Phillips | St. Louis Review

Stewardship of God's creation is integral to hunting, fishing

Just before the sun peeked over the horizon, a group of ducks circled overhead. A few greeting calls and a feed chuckle kept them interested for a pass. Then another. Then another.

"Take 'em!"

Eight shots. Five ducks.

Jared Nuessen shot at ducks over a decoy spread.
Photo Credits: Teak Phillips | St. Louis Review
This stewardship of wildlife gets in the blood. It's exhilarating, the food is good, and it helps manage wildlife — the whole "dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air" thing (Genesis 1:29).


Yep. Management of natural resources through hunting and fishing. The North American Model of Conservation, practiced in the United States and Canada, emphasizes our role as stewards with regulations, seasons, and creel and bag limits to allow reasonable harvest of animals, which helps maintain healthy populations across species. Permit fees and excise taxes generate hundreds of millions of dollars for conservation projects around the nation, making hunters and fishermen the primary financiers of U.S. conservation efforts.

This model of conservation is rooted in the "Seven Sisters" of conservation:

  • Individuals do not own the wildlife; rather, it is held in the public trust. The people (in our case, the government of the people) manage wildlife to benefit people, animals and plants.
  • Sale of wildlife is controlled to mitigate using animals for greed and profit.
  • Regulations regarding seasons and limits are created and enforced by the state and federal governments (the people).
  • Opportunities for hunting, fishing and trapping are to be open to all people, regardless of social standing or wealth.
  • Harvesting of animals is to be for legitimate purpose, including food, fur, protection of property, population control and self-defense. Wanton killing is inappropriate.
  • Wildlife is a global resource, so hunting and fishing is to be managed across state and national boundaries. Again, the people — not individuals or corporations — have dominion and responsibility.
  • Wildlife management is to be highly influenced by scientific knowledge and principles, not politics and personal preferences.

These principles are remarkably similar to Church teaching on integrity of creation:

"God entrusted animals to the stewardship of those whom He created in His own image. Hence it is legitimate to use animals for food and clothing... It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly." (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2417-2418)

Sitting in a blind or tree stand, often quietly for hours upon hours, gives ample time to prayerfully reflect on the stewardship of wildlife. This conversation is critical, whether with hunting buddies or God (the greatest hunting buddy ever). As caretakers of God's creation, it is our responsibility to hunt and fish in ways that help God's creation flourish.

So go ahead and 'take 'em' — responsibly.

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