10 Must Reads For Canadian Hunter Conservationists

by Feb 4, 2020Conservation

It may seem like a cliché, but in order to understand where the future of responsible hunting and wildlife conservation in Canada is headed, hunter conservationists need to understand our country’s conservation history and unique relationships with hunting and wildlife.

A lot of the popular hunting literature does a great job of educating us about the conservation history of the United States. In keeping myself educated about the big picture in conservation and hunting, I devote energy to learning about America’s wildlife conservation history and how it affects their wildlife policies today. I also dedicate as much or more time to understand the history of conservation and hunting in Canada.

To be able to secure a future that includes hunting for food, it is incumbent on all hunters to understand the parallels and dichotomies of hunting cultures and conservation history in the United States and in Canada.


A Passion for Wildlife. The History of the Canadian Wildlife Service
Author, J. Alexander Burnett

If you only read one book this year, this is the one to read! Published in 2003, this book is getting hard to get your hands on. But it is must read for the nuanced hunter conservationist. Burnett lays the foundation for conservation wildlife policies that are as much a part of Canada’s backstory as everything else our nation went through to get to where it is today.

It presents the exploits and accomplishments of a group of men and women whose dedication to the ideals of science, conservation, and a shared vision of Canada as a country that treasures its natural heritage has earned them the respect of their profession around the world.UBC Press



The North America Model of Wildlife Conservation
Editors, Shane P. Mahoney and Valerius Geist

If you are to read a second book this year after reading A Passion for Wildlife this is the one. A brand-new release edited by Mahoney and Geist, this book is a comprehensive updated look at the North America Model of Wildlife Conservation. The book is a collective of the foremost experts on the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation who discuss the role of the model in the rescue, recovery, and future of our wildlife resources and the contemporary challenges to the model.

Even Canada, a loyal colony of England, abandoned wildlife management as practiced in the mother country and joined forces with like-minded Americans to develop a revolutionary system of wildlife conservation.John Hopkins University Press



The Culture of Hunting in Canada
Editors, Jean L. Manore & Dale G. Miner

This 2007 book, edited by Manore and Miner, is a collection of essays by Canadians. It is a great little anthology of the Canadian perspective on hunting and delves into some contentious issues in Canada.

Topics include hunting identities; conservation and its relationship to hunting; tensions between hunters and non-hunters and between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal hunting groups; hunting ethics; debates over hunting practices and regulations; animal rights; and gun control. The Culture of Hunting in Canada makes an unprecedented contribution to the study of hunting in Canada and its role in our culture. – UBC Press



Game in Garden. A Human History of Wildlife in Western Canada to 1940
Author, George Colpitts

Game in the Garden (2002) by Colpitts, a Canadian historian, is a story about hunting, wildlife management and myths that compliments the story told in ‘A Passion for Wildlife’.

The shared use of wild animals has helped to determine social relations between Native peoples and newcomers. In later settlement periods, controversy about subsistence hunting and campaigns of local conservation associations drew lines between groups in communities, particularly Native peoples, immigrants, farmers, and urban dwellers. – UBC Press




States of Nature. Conserving Canada’s Wildlife in the Twentieth Century
Author, Tina Loo

When I dive into a subject, like the history of conservation and wildlife management in Canada, I am particularly thrilled when I can find that several authors have come at the same subject in slightly different ways. Loo’s book, ‘States of Nature’, does a deep dive into Canada’s wildlife history from a new perspective that will round out your understanding of Canada’s wildlife and conservation policies.

States of Nature is one of the first books to trace the development of Canadian wildlife conservation from its social, political, and historical roots. While noting the influence of celebrity conservationists such as Jack Miner and Grey Owl, Tina Loo emphasizes the impact of ordinary people on the evolution of wildlife management in Canada. She also explores the elements leading up to the emergence of the modern environmental movement, ranging from the reliance on and practical knowledge of wildlife demonstrated by rural people to the more aloof and scientific approach of state-sponsored environmentalism. – UBC Press


Working for Wildlife: The Beginning of Preservation in Canada
Author, Janet Foster

Foster’s book was an amazing read for me because it gave me a rich understanding of the origins of our nation’s national parks (which was a surprise) and highlights the people instrumental in forging Canada’s conversation movement.

When Banff National Park was established by the federal government in the late 1880s, wildlife protection was not a top priority. By 1922, however, the government had hosted the first Dominion-Provincial Conference on Wild Life Protection, and wildlife preservation had become part of established government policy. Janet Foster shows how, in the early decades of this century, a small band of dedicated civil servants transformed their own goals of preserving endangered animals into active government policy.University of Toronto



Aboriginal Buffalo Hunting on the Northern Plains
Author, Jack W. Brink

OMG, I love this book! Archaeologist and author Jack W. Brink was a guest on Episode 10 of The Hunter Conservationist Podcast and he helped retell the story of Aboriginal communal buffalo hunting for our podcast listeners. The podcast merely touches on the topic of communal bison hunting, but the nuances in his book make it a must read for hunters interested in understanding the level of sophistication used by ancient hunters in Canada. Most of us know the story of the North America bison as told from an American perspective, but Brink’s book on Head-Smashed-n Buffalo Jump in Alberta, in my opinion, is one of the definitive stories for the North American bison.

At the place known as Head-Smashed-In in southwestern Alberta, Aboriginal people practiced a form of group hunting for nearly 6,000 years before European contact. The large communal bison traps of the Plains were the single greatest food-getting method ever developed in human history.Athabasca Press


Hunters, Predators and Prey. Inuit Perceptions of Animals
Authors, Frédéric Laugrand and Jarich Oosten

As a Canadian hunter, I feel I have responsibility to expand my understanding of the role of hunting and the relationships that other hunters from other cultures have with wildlife and the land. Inuit people live in an amazing ecosystem – one rich with a unique community of wildlife species. The Inuit traditions and ways of relating to animals has taught me a lot about how other hunters understand wildlife. Laugrand and Oosten’s 2015 book is a must read if you want to expand your knowledge of hunting beyond your own culture!

Inuit hunting traditions are rich in perceptions, practices and stories relating to animals and human beings. The authors examine key figures such as the raven, an animal that has a central place in Inuit culture as a creator and a trickster, and qupirruit, a category consisting of insects and other small life forms. The book compares and contrasts human beings and animals to provide a better understanding of human-animal relationships in a hunting society.Berghahn Books


Relational Archaeologies. Humans. Animals. Things
Editor, Christopher Watts

Like the previous book ‘Hunters, Predators and Prey’, this book, ‘Relational Archaeologies’ (2013) by Watts, is a deep exploration of the different kinds of relationships cultures have with wildlife. Western relationships with wildlife tend to be based on biology where animals are viewed as being separate from humans. What fascinated me about this book is there are many types of relationships and ways of understanding animals.

Relational Archaeologies explores this idea by emphasizing how humans, animals and things come to exist by virtue of the dynamic and fluid processes of connection and transaction. In highlighting various counter-Modern notions of what it means ‘to be’ and how these can be teased apart using archaeological materials.Routledge Books



The Rights of Nature. A Legal Revolution That Could Change the World
Author, David R. Boyd

Canadian environmental lawyer David Boyd and his 2017 book, The Rights of Nature, is a must read for those actively engaged in hunting and conservation. Boyd’s book delves into the emerging world of establishing legal rights for nature as the newest mechanism for conservation. I was expecting this book to only have a ring of animal rights and an anti-hunting agenda, but I was so wrong. While Boyd does talk about ongoing legal challenges over cetaceans and primates having legal rights, the main thrust of nature having rights is more about preventing species extinctions. The author recognizes “ethical sources of meat” which to me includes sustenance hunting. It’s important for hunter conservationists to understand this new approach to conservation.

In Hawaii and India, judges have recognized that endangered species ― from birds to lions ― have the legal right to exist. Around the world, more and more laws are being passed recognizing that ecosystems ― rivers, forests, mountains, and more ― have legally enforceable rights. And if nature has rights, then humans have responsibilities.ECW Press


Meditations on Hunting
Author, José Ortega y Gasset

Okay, so you got me, this is the 11th book on a list that said 10. But you really need to read this book! Gasset was a Spanish philosopher and hunter. Although ‘Meditations on Hunting’ was first published in the 1940’s, Gasset has written what I consider to be the definitive work on articulating what modern hunting really is. It’s a powerful book steeped in nuance, logic and ways of explaining hunting that resonate with me. Understanding what hunting is, its roots and its post-modern role in society are all concepts that every hunter should have a grasp on and be able to articulate. It’s one of my favorite books in my library.

‘Meditations on Hunting’ is the most quoted book in sporting literature. It’s the finest work on the essence and ethics of hunting. Today when both hunting and fishing are often condemned, ‘Meditations’ takes on an even greater significance.Wild Adventures Press

Happy reading and remember to support your local small community independent bookstore when sourcing these books. I have obtained every one of these books from my local indi bookstore – Huckleberry Books.




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