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In my world a reliable stun gun exists, the specifics of it described in this question: What would the rules for carry and use of weapons be affected by reliable stun guns?

I'm wondering how this will affect hunters? Stun guns have ranges and power rates of pistols, but high powered stun weapons could be used to take out all but the biggest targets easily (a really high power stun can work on the largest, but at that power the guns would be lethal to humans and may get different regulation).

Stun rifles also exist, but with only slightly longer ranges compared to pistols, rarely used in other circumstances I could see them used for hunting.

My question, how will this affect hunters? First, I am confident 'stun-hunting' will exist to some degree, either as a 'catch and release' approach or even a more 'humane' killing technique since once stun the animal wont feel any pain or fear when the hunter comes closer to kill it; possible even as an additional challenge. After all flint pistol hunting exists, all kind of niche weapon hunting methods are practiced to some degree.

However, I'm curious how much of a niche it will be. How much will hunters rebel against use of hunting weapons that have ranges comparable to pistols? Will stun-hunting ever be more then a tiny niche, or will the ability to hunt-and-release attract many who want to hunt but not kill and/or don't want the animal for the meat?

Second, In this world access to lethal weapons likely will be more restricted, due to presence of a 'safer' alternative; and because police prefer to use stun guns and thus don't like civies to have weapons that out range their preferred non-lethal means of dealing with a situation. I have a different question asking how restrictive lethal guns will be, and generally it will vary by area with some having little increase on restrictions and others having significant ones; however, in general what will it take for a hunter to get a hunting permit in a world that is more restrictive about gun use? Will becoming a hunter, or more accurately getting a lethal rifle to use for hunting, be harder, and if so would that have any significant affect hunting beyond a little extra red tape before you can start?

For example, are hunting rifles more likely to be limited in some way to make them only useful for hunting (maybe lower refire rate?) to satisfy the hunters while limiting concern of lethal weapons in a world that further legislates them? Are there even viable ways of being somewhat more restrictive on hunters and weapons, beyond more through background checks, without removing hunting entirely?

I really know almost nothing about hunting, so I don't really know enough to even ask an intelligent question here :)

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    $\begingroup$ Something to keep in mind: the presence of a safer alternative for pacification (be it in self defense, police use, or hunting) is very unlikely to change the opinion of people within firearm ownership cultures. These groups will still be very vocally against attempted changes in law (including seemingly minor ones like lowering fire rates or clip sizes). While there may be some opinion swings among fence sitters on gun-control issues, it should not be assumed that new gun control legislation is a given. $\endgroup$ – Avernium Oct 19 '15 at 16:57
  • $\begingroup$ I would not use a stun gun to hunt; if legal, I would continue to use my own firearm. I would not be opposed to people using stun guns, but I can't imagine anyone in the hunting world using them, except maybe people who are training and don't know how to take out a target efficiently. $\endgroup$ – Mikey Oct 19 '15 at 17:59
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Anything can happen, but... I don't see this happening. Full disclosure: I hunt; the only meat I eat is meat I have hunted myself (or a friend's, etc.) - I don't eat meat from the grocery; and I hunt within the law where it is helpful for population control. I am against the ownership of assault rifles, etc etc.

Why not?

Hunting culture is more than just fun to shoot at things. To quote from this site:

Hunting is an extremely important mode of human-nature interaction. How people think about this interaction is closely linked to culture patterns and value systems. To address hunting merely as a relationship between humans and animals, and manage it accordingly, will miss essential dimensions of hunting as a social practice.

Yes, there is a tiny minority who hunt for thrills, trophies, or sick fun; but I have to assure you (with only anecdotal evidence of years of hunting), they are deep in the minority of people who hunt.

How does this relate to a stun gun? Hunting is about skill and precision. In fact, people who hunt by archery very well could have hunted with a firearm, but have chosen not to for that reason. The same will go with those of us who use precision rifles. Why not just put an animal in a cage and shoot it? Because that's not the point of hunting. Similarly, it's why I choose to hunt instead of getting meat from the supermarket.

Who could this be useful for?

I think this would be a great mechanism for beginner hunters. One of the hardest things about being a real hunter is ensuring that you don't torture the animal by firing at the wrong time or without precision. Real hunters are devastated if they hit a deer, for example, but are unable to kill it on the first or second shot, or let it get away.

A beginner could very well use your weapon that can ensure the animal is stunned by one shot anywhere on its body. You could even release the animal, if you are just practicing, although I wouldn't want that to be a regular practice (think about how messed up it would be for a deer to be stunned forty or fifty times in its short lifetime).

How can we restrict weapons to hunting in your story?

I was wondering if you have the technology, you could put out a dozen or so coordinated transponders around a large perimeter ("hunting area only"), and rifles in your future can be modified to be limited to operation within this perimeter. It can include firing ranges and large private properties as well.

That's going to take some work, and diligence against companies that provide hacks (individual hackers will do it themselves), but it could be a start and also prevent accidental shootings in homes.

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  • $\begingroup$ Hmm, the point about precision is a good one, as a non-hunter I hadn't thought how much a stunner removes the challenge by ensuring any hit took out an animal. The point of using it for new hunters sounds good, but would the low range of a stun gun prevent it from being used for novices? That's an honest question, I don't know how close a novice can expect to be to his early shots. Definitely it sounds like they would be used as a means to put an animal out of it's misery after it's wounded enough to get close enough to use them if the animal is still alive. $\endgroup$ – dsollen Oct 19 '15 at 19:42
  • $\begingroup$ Hmm, back to the same arrogance about range, how often are hunters going to be 'pistol range' from what they hunt? Would a stunner be a more effective means of getting food on table, and potentially more humane since your guaranteed to never have a bad shot, because it makes it easier to disable the prey and move in for a simple kill, or are most people hunting for meat way too far away for stunners to be viable? $\endgroup$ – dsollen Oct 19 '15 at 19:47
  • $\begingroup$ @dsollen - you would have to make a long-range stun apparatus in any use in hunting. So I just assumed you would invent one. I've never been closer to hunting quarry than about 30m. (Except for the time a quail stopped by on my burlap sack right next to me, then it was too close, and too embarrassing). $\endgroup$ – Mikey Oct 19 '15 at 20:49
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    $\begingroup$ @Mikey Note to self. In future life If I am a hunted animal, sneak right up next to the hunter and appear absolutely innocent directly in front of them. Make sure they are doing it for sport though. $\endgroup$ – DoubleDouble Oct 19 '15 at 21:33
  • $\begingroup$ @DoubleDouble - yup, and then I gave it a name and it she was safe from me; it hung out with me for just shy of an hour. This would make an interesting worldbuilding question about what characteristics make an animal safe from our (general population) interventions (human-like appearance or actions, domesticated, not tasty, etc.) $\endgroup$ – Mikey Oct 19 '15 at 22:10
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Most current hunters wouldn't find a big use for the stun gun hunting. I hunt for the meat, quick kill and fill the fridge.

However, I could see it starting off as a niche sport for hunting 'protected' wild game. Want to 'kill' an elephant? come with us to hunt one, get the thrill but leave the animal alive when you go home.

Later on I could see it taking on the mystique of a paintball game. People who really are not hunters finding it a game to go out and 'shoot' game.

One other thing might happen too, is by reducing the stun effect actually using them in paintball style game. No argument if you got hit and when your arm goes numb, it is really numb, you don't have to 'pretend'. I think this would be one of the biggest uses for them, lower powered ones for 'games'. The police and military would likely use them for training too. Nothing teaches you to keep your head down more than getting 'hit'.

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    $\begingroup$ I like the paintball idea, I could see that, though I would think by this time an easier method of well..advanced laser tag would work as well unless you actually stunned someone unconscious for a few minutes. I may be tempted to say the degree of headache after being unconscious is based off of power of the stun to make actual stunner tag a possibility without being too painful to be 'hit'. at such low power the danger would be minimal to... $\endgroup$ – dsollen Oct 19 '15 at 19:45
  • $\begingroup$ @dsollen right, the idea being it only knocks you out or just disorients you for a couple minutes. Enough you want to avoid it, but not so much it's dangerous to 'play' $\endgroup$ – bowlturner Oct 19 '15 at 19:47
  • $\begingroup$ Now that I think about it I'm not sure about my own hunt and release idea being used for protected game now that I think of it. Knocking out game for an hour, and leaving it disoriented and in pain when it wakes up, seems like making it easy prey for predators, especially if it's a herd animal who's herd will abandon it. It may be that your still killing the animal you stun.... I'll have to think about that a bit more. $\endgroup$ – dsollen Oct 19 '15 at 19:49
  • $\begingroup$ @dsollen ya, there would have to be rules, maybe watch over it for a while, or give a shot of adrenaline to wake it up faster. $\endgroup$ – bowlturner Oct 19 '15 at 19:51
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I'm coming at this as someone who doesn't hunt, but still loves spending time outdoors and watching wildlife. I don't hunt because I've got no interest in killing animals for food and I don't like guns, but I still love the outdoors and wildlife watching. But the challenge of sneaking up and basically doing a catch and release? I'd go for that.

The subculture using your stun guns as their primary weapon would be a mix of traditional style hunters and the people who are currently birdwatchers and wildlife lovers, but don't want to kill the animals. You'd have the potential to attract an entirely different audience to the sport who would not otherwise use guns, so while few gun hunters would switch, the sport could attract a lot of the people who are currently birdwatchers or geocachers.

The technology to stun animals without killing them has the potential to allow and extended or year round stun-gun season, where hunters can stun an animal, but can not legally kill it. In this case, a lot more of the regular hunters would adopt the technology for the off season, and some of those would decide they like it enough to stick with it.

If the stun results in hurting the animals (a stunner hangover), it would decrease its popularity. If it's severe pain, the reduction would be a lot, possibly to the point where it would be illegal to use it for animal cruelty reasons. If it's mild (slight disorientation that gets shaken off after 10 minutes), it would probably still be pretty popular. I think that the stun could be popular even if it only lasted about 5-10 minutes. And any more than 20-30 minutes would be way too much, since a stunned animal is going to be easy prey to anything that comes along, including vultures or crows pecking an animal's eyes out. Most people will want to move on pretty fast once they've gotten a quick look at whatever they took down, and maybe some good photos. That's easy to do in 5-15 minutes, including enough time to get away from the area if you took down a large, potentially violent animal. A stunner hangover would make unlimited off season hunting use less likely.

In addition, wildlife managers would use it to replace sedatives in some catch and release situations.

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  • $\begingroup$ I realized later that stunning an animal may still risk killing it, leaving it incapacitated for a little while, waking up groggy and in pain, and likely scaring away it's herd when it falls. That may be seen as acceptable if only a few die to post-stun predation and it feeds predators, but I wonder if it would drive away someone like you to know that there is a slight chance the creature you stun may indirectly die from the stun? How short a duration stun would someone like you want (shorter the stun less discomfort for animal and more likely not to become predator prey)? $\endgroup$ – dsollen Oct 19 '15 at 19:53
  • $\begingroup$ It would really depend on degree of aftereffects. I've added some details about this. As far as separating an animal from others, this would be a serious concern for babies and mothers, but otherwise would probably be ignored. $\endgroup$ – Karen Oct 19 '15 at 20:20
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My perspective: I have never gone hunting. I know many people who do. I do own a few guns that I keep for gang fights and shoot-outs with the police ... I mean, for self-defense and target shooting.

The question you present isn't all that hypothetical a question. Guns that fire anesthetic darts exist in our world. They are often used by people who want to capture animals for zoos, or to study animals for scientific research purposes without harming them.

To the best of my knowledge, such anesthetic darts have never caught on as an alternative to lethal weapons for hunting. Why not? I've never used an anesthetic dart so I can't say anything about how they handle. Maybe the range is too short or they are otherwise ineffective to make a practical weapon for anyone other than someone really determined to use them. Many hunters that I know want the meat, either they enjoy getting something other than the same old meats available at the grocery store, or they see it as a way to save money on groceries. Maybe some get a thrill out of the idea of killing something, though no one has ever expressed such an idea to me.

As to such weapons enabling a reduction in lethal weapons: Maybe. If you passed a law banning lethal weapons -- or established strong social pressure or whatever -- and told people they could only have stun weapons, presumably the peaceful, law-abiding people would obey it, but would the criminals? Even if you shut down all the gun factories in the country and banned imports, I am 100% certain that criminals would find ways to get guns. It's an easy prediction. It is 100% illegal to produce cocaine or import it into the country, but criminals still manage to get cocaine. Indeed I recall a few years ago authorities were saying that the price of cocaine was plummeting because there was so much of it available, law of supply and demand and all that.

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    $\begingroup$ One problem with anesthetic darts is that it takes allot of work to perfectly pick the anesthetic for the animal, not just species by size. Too much kills it, too little doesn't work. Because of that only properly trained people with lots of backup (medical team to help if the hunted is harmed by the tranq) can really use a tranq gun well. Lay people wouldn't be allowed/encouraged to hunt this way since they would be too prone to bad tranq that harm the animal. $\endgroup$ – dsollen Oct 19 '15 at 20:17
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    $\begingroup$ Also, for the record I don't keep guns for shoot-outs with the police. I find bombs are far more effective means to keep them away. err...I mean...bombs are better at umm...target shooting? $\endgroup$ – dsollen Oct 19 '15 at 20:20
  • $\begingroup$ After years of target shooting, I am confidant that if I am ever attacked by blue men who stand motionless 25 yards away, I can defend myself. $\endgroup$ – Jay Oct 19 '15 at 20:44
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I don't see any use for this for actual hunting. You still have to kill the animal if you mean to consume it. What i do see happening would be that the long range stun gun would be the weapon of choice among criminals. Perfect for abductions or murders, tortures and rapes where the 'capture' of the stunned victim is desired.

There is already 'catch and release' hunting. Its called Wildlife Photography. It takes the same skill set, just different gear. (It just doesn't taste as good)

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  • $\begingroup$ The other ramifications of stun guns are discussed in some other questions of mine. This is a rather narrow focus question just to flesh out the world a little. $\endgroup$ – dsollen Oct 19 '15 at 19:36

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