Now, I don't have a problem with all kinds of hunting. The Word of Wisdom gives us some helpful direction in this matter:
12 Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly;
13 And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.
Hunting for food is so ingrained in our culture, and essentially every culture on Earth, that I don't have any meaningful objections. I also admit to eating my fair share of meat, meaning I can't point to hunters as violating the tenet that meat is really only to be used sparingly and in times of winter or famine without also indicting myself. I am, however, trying to make a conscious effort to reduce my meat intake.
15 And these hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger.
Unfortunately, a substantial amount of hunting that goes on here in Utah has nothing to do with procuring food and raiment, and thus must be condemned. Do bear hunters eat the bear meat? How about cougar hunters? Do you think Sarah Palin is landing the helicopter to gather the succulent wolf meat after her aerial hunts? How important to our society is the availability of moose and bison burgers? What wine goes best with sandhill crane, do you suppose?
So if these hunters aren't in it for the food, what are they in it for? The kill. They love to kill. They also love this:
Let's return to the scriptures, this time in Doctrine and Covenants 49: "And wo be unto man that sheddeth blood or that wasteth flesh and hath no need." Hunting predators and hunting for sport is wasting flesh and is needless. It is directly against the Lord's will to do such things. Let me also throw some quotes from modern-day prophets at you. First, from President Kimball:
Now, I also would like to add some of my feelings concerning the unnecessary shedding of blood and destruction of life. I think that every soul should be impressed by the sentiments that have been expressed here by the prophets. And not less with reference to the killing of innocent birds is the wildlife of our country that live upon the vermin that are indeed enemies to the farmer and to mankind. It is not only wicked to destroy them, it is a shame, in my opinion. I think that this principle should extend not only to the bird life but to the life of all animals. (President Spencer W. Kimball, Fundamental Principles to Ponder and Live, Ensign (CR), November 1978, p.43).Here is George Q. Cannon:
We should by every means in our power impress upon the rising generation the value of life and how dreadful a sin it is to take life. The lives of animals even should be held far more sacred than they are. Young people should be taught to be very merciful to the brute creation and not to take life wantonly or for sport. The practice of hunting and killing game merely for sport should be frowned upon and not encouraged among us. God has created the fowls and the beasts for man’s convenience and comfort and for his consumption at proper times and under proper circumstances; but he does not justify men in wantonly killing those creatures which He has made and with which He has supplied the earth. (George Q. Cannon, Gospel Truth: Discourses and Writings of President George Q. Cannon, selected, arranged, and edited by Jerreld L. Newquist, p.24).Finally, President Joseph Fielding Smith:
I never could see why a man should be imbued with a blood-thirsty desire to kill and destroy animal life. I have known men -- and they still exist among us -- who enjoy what is, to them, the “sport” of hunting birds and slaying them by the hundreds, and who will come in after a day’s sport, boasting of how many harmless birds they have had the skill to slaughter, and day after day, during the season when it is lawful for men to hunt and kill (the birds having had a season of protection and not apprehending danger) go out by scores or hundreds, and you may hear their guns early in the morning on the day of the opening, as if great armies had met in battle. And the terrible work of slaughtering the innocent birds goes on. (Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, vol 4, p.45).It seems pretty clear to me that hunting for sport is at odds with Mormonism, and yet it is more popular in Utah and the West every year. I suspect that there must be quite a bloodthirsty thrill when you are peering through your scope with a bison, bear, crane, or bighorn in the crosshairs and you know that by just squeezing your finger a little you will destroy that animal. Then you can have it stuffed and placed in your house for all to gaze upon and wonder. I can't think that this is the type of feeling that our Heavenly Father would like engendered in His people.
This type of hunting is only by degrees more shameful, in my opinion, than the person who is willing to exploit every possible natural resource, develop every lucrative tract of land, or carve up every possible recreation area for the almighty dollar at the expense of all the life that they are destroying through habitat destruction and pollution. All life has intrinsic value, and spiritual worth and intelligence, and we value it far too little.