MEDIEVAL HUNTING

medharthunt

Throughout my studies in medieval history, I learned about the various aspects of medieval society. However, even though I wish to gain as much authentic experience and inspiration about the medieval lifestyle, engaging in hunting is where I draw the line because I am an animal lover. On the other hand, hunting was still an important element in medieval life for three reasons: sport, gaining food, and to prepare men for war. During hunts, hunters would utilize weapons such as boar spears, bows, and crossbows along with help from hounds and falcons. They would hunt deer, rabbits, boars, or pheasants among other things. If a hunter returns home empty-handed then his family will starve, plain and simple. Hunting was also one of the favorite activities of Henry VIII to the point in which he hunted several species to near extinct on his royal estates. Since I refuse to get first hand inspiration from engaging in a hunt, I plan on drawing inspiration through the use of books, documentaries, and Youtube videos instead. For my fantasy series, I am planning for the very beginning of the story to take place during a hunt in which the main character undergoes a rite of passage.

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One thought on “MEDIEVAL HUNTING”

  1. Hunting is necessary wherever humans have eliminated local predators large enough to prey on the larger herbivores. Departments of Natural Resources, through controlling the number of kills allowed per hunter, try to set out a balanced plan of “predation” each season which will result in balancing the wild herbivores with the fodder available in the wilderness, for a healthy population. In South Carolina its kind of like having wild-farmed cattle that sneak in at night and steal crops. The hunting season is the harvest culling.

    Things of note:
    -Taking a shot that one isn’t confident in and that won’t result in a quick kill is frowned upon. Also, foolish and wasteful, as the deer might die elsewhere, someplace you can’t find it.
    -People that hunt to survive are often VERY GOOD AT IT. The US has several war heroes who were crack shots because they had to hunt to live growing up. Hunting for sport is a lesser pressure. So, the archery of wildsmen might generally exceed that of nobles.
    -Wild boar are VERY DANGEROUS. They can easily tear out the tendons and arteries in the legs with their tusks, move surprisingly fast, are pretty darn smart, and are built like little tanks, with 1 to 2 inches of fat on their back that you have to get through before you reach pig (I raise a wild pig variety that is descended from old Iberian boar stock). Further, their teeth and jaws are such that they make other animals disappear. If someone is killed and eaten by pigs, there won’t be anything left.
    -Horses are aggressive. A well trained, smart horse will assist in a task it is used to. This includes fighting in war, rounding up cattle, and I imagine hunting. A book on riding or some experience horseback (if you don’t have any already) might help you. Also, classically horsemanship was associated with character, as riding a horse requires self control. Since horses cue off of their rider’s emotions (they can feel all your tension when you’re sitting on their back), keeping a horse still and calm requires BEING still and calm. Especially hot blooded stallions bred for war.
    -There are three forms of hunting that I know of (excluding trapping): Tracking or stalking, blind/stand hunting, and driving. Each of them has merits. Nobles were fond of driving for big hunts. The southern United States uses stand hunting. We do not follow deer around, we wait for them to come to us. The northern United States (Michigan, at least, and I believe other states) uses stalking. This can result in tragedies. Driving is still used with doves.
    -Does are hunted for meat. They seriously taste better. Bucks are for prestige. They tend to be gamy. If you’re starving, anything will do.
    -Deer can wreck you. Youtube will prove this.
    -You surely know this, but poaching was a big deal (still is). Kings often reserved all the game for themselves. How a king handles the apportionment of this resource (the right to hunt, or just his kills) could be a solid sign of how good/bad a king he is.
    -If the king and the nobles are the only hunters, dealing with dangerous predators may also be their responsibility. Africa still loses quite a few people each year to lions, and it’s the local government’s job to get rid of the ones that decide they like the taste of human.

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