Harvest or Kill: What Should We Call it?

When you have a successful hunt, how do you describe it to others? Do you say, “I killed a deer” or “I harvested a deer?” It may not seem like a huge deal what you call it, but the question seems to be dividing hunters. I have seen many arguments on social media about the subject and some hunters are very opinionated on the matter.

The “Kill” crowd believes that the word “harvest” is not genuine and seeks to soften the cold hard truth about hunting. They want to be real about what they are doing and not sugar coat it.

The “Harvest” crowd sees the need to be sensitive to people who do not hunt and who do not understand our way of life. They are not trying to sugar coat things but present them in a way that will garner more acceptance for hunting in general.

I see points and merit on both sides of the issue and actually agree with both. I know it may seem like a copout answer and that I am avoiding taking a side, but hear me out.

Like almost everything in life balance is key. We should tailor our words to our audience in order to be the most effective communicators. Remember ever hunter is an ambassador for our sport and non-hunters judge us based on what they see.

Here is my rule of thumb when deciding what term to use in a conversation with a non-hunter. When I am referring to the moment that I shoot the animal with my bow or gun I say “Kill.” When I am referring to the complete process of hunting, killing, gutting, skinning, and butchering I use “harvest.”

I find this to be the most balanced approach. I feel that I am being honest with what I do by admitting that I killed the animal, but also showing that it is more than just taking a life. The harvesting of the meat is highlighted as an important part hunt.

There is a proper time to use both “Kill” and “Harvest.” We should not shy away for using either in the proper context. We need to use wisdom and discretion when talking to non-hunters. I encourage every hunter to be cognoscente of their words and strive to paint the best and most honest picture of hunting that you can.