I am unashamedly going to ratchet up recent conversations on "the PR War", bringing people into stalking, driven pheasant shooting and so on by a few brow levels in an attempt to collectively develop a coherent philosophical and ethical argument in favour of hunting in general, and therefore deerstalking too. I was inspired to attempt this by a programme on Radio 4 last night around the question of whether it was morally justifiable to kill animals for meat. Towards the end, the presenter made the point that opponents of killing animals for meat had to really make their case as they were opposing the default position, and their arguments were well thought out and constructed. I think this is a very valid point: it's all well and good for we as hunters to complain that our traditions, way of life, hobby is under attack from various quarters who don't understand us or are just irrationally hostile, but I don't think I can remember seeing a single coherent case for why it's morally permissible for us to hunt animals.
There are bits and pieces of course that all work away at making this case, often economic arguments like the BASC's "Value of Shooting" study and FACE's equivalent. But economic arguments on their own are insufficient. You can make a business case for just about anything if you set your mind to it. The obvious extreme example is that proponents of the slave trade had most of the financial arguments on their side, but in the end the moral case was just untenable. And in the forthcoming EU referendum we'll hear lost of economic arguments going both ways, but the discussion is about a lot more than P&L statements. So for now, let's park the economics.
At the risk of sounding like I'm setting homework, may I suggest that we deconstruct this and build our case for hunting little by little. Let's start with the following question:
"Why is it morally justifiable for you specifically to kill that particular deer"?
There are some obvious areas for expansion here too: suppose it's a rabbit, a pigeon, a carp? Does that make any difference? Then that will lead on to "Why is it morally justifiable for humans to kill deer, as species?"
I'm hopeful that we can develop a coherent case here that we can draw on subsequently more effectively that just by trying to lay low or hold on to the status quo, which is far from ideal anyway.
Sorry, additional assumption: you're going to kill that deer instantly, it won't suffer. This isn't about the deer suffering or not from the act of killing, it's about bringing about its' death.