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What is Aerial Hunting?

By Ken Black
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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Aerial hunting is a hunting technique used by hunters who hunt animals from aircraft. In some cases, aircraft are used only to find the animals, which may be a legal use in many jurisdictions. In other cases, the aircraft provides a more direct role in the hunting. These techniques are often illegal and considered poaching.

One of the most common illegal techniques for aerial hunting involves using a helicopter or very lightweight and maneuverable plane to find the animals and then begin to herd them. This is often done by flying close to the target species to spook them into going a certain direction. The goal is to spook the targeted species into the area where hunters on the ground are waiting in ambush.

This is a technique that is especially used in Africa to herd big-game animals into a certain area for hunters but this type of aerial hunting is also practiced in other places. In fact, prosecutions for aerial hunting are reported in the United States as well. In one recent case, hunters were using an experimental aircraft to spook deer into a ground ambush in Iowa. It led to prison time, the loss of a pilot's license and all hunting licenses in the group.

Aerial hunting can also take place nearly exclusively from the air. Hunters can be in a helicopter, for example, with a firearm and take aim and fire on the animal from the air. This also allows the aircraft to continue pursing the animal that is hit until it dies, thus allowing for a more efficient harvest. Once that hunter is dropped off at his kill, the aircraft and other hunters may continue pursuing other animals.

Though some consider aerial hunting to be a form of recreation, most recreational hunters disagree. In fact, they see aerial hunting as one of the great evils in the sport. Hunting involves having the patience and the knowledge to anticipate when an animal will be at a certain location, and the skill to take it down when it is there. Aerial hunting renders most of these skills obsolete.

Aerial hunting is mainly used by those who hunt animals for commercial trade. This provides an easy way to find the animals and kill as many as possible, thus increasing the profits for those engaged in the practice. Many countries have come to understand this is a dangerous form of hunting that can lead to the depletion of entire animal populations. Therefore, strict laws are in place and strict penalties are often imposed on those convicted of engaging in this type of poaching.

All Things Nature is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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