5 Facts On The Amish & Hunting

On the whole, the Amish are avid hunters. In Nature & The Environment in Amish Life, one Amishman puts plainly how much hunting mattered in his community: “When I was growing up, if you didn’t hunt, it was almost as if you didn’t belong.” (p. 148).

Why does hunting appeal to the Amish? For one, hunting is an outdoor activity that can be done with others, in a natural environment. But there’s more to it than that.

In the aforementioned book, authors David McConnell and Marilyn Loveless examine how and why Amish hunt. I’ve pulled five facts about the Amish & hunting which I thought you might find of interest. These are taken from Chapter 8 (“Fin, Fur, and Feather: Nature-Based Recreation”). In a few places I’ve added my own comments in italics.

5 Facts About The Amish & Hunting

1. Amish use guns and cameras for hunting

While bow hunting has become more popular among Amish, they use a range of firearms for hunting. Hunting rifles are “among Amish men’s most treasured possessions.” Most homes have a simple shotgun or rifle for getting rid of pests. A few even own handguns.

Amish hunters also use photography – mainly for two purposes. One is to track deer on remote hunting grounds. Trail cameras are common, though some church leaders disapprove. They are more acceptable than personal cameras for several reasons – the photos taken are of nature and animals, not people; they don’t use the photos commercially; and the cameras themselves are typically in locations far out of public view.

The second use of photography is to capture images of a successful outing, either on a disposable camera or by a non-Amish person along for the hunt (and certainly youth and those adults who use smartphones could take advantage of their devices’ cameras).

2. Most wear different clothing when hunting

The authors share that “most Amish hunters abandon their usual attire in order to wear camouflage.”

Amish hunters also wear bright colored safety clothing – the typical orange, or in some exceptions, the “less flashy” red.

3. Amish girls and women hunt

Hunting is not just a “male” thing (though most Amish hunters are male):

Amish women who hunt usually start hunting as children with their fathers, or with their boyfriends while dating, and then cut back sharply once they have children. “We as a family have great memories of the girls going along deer hunting,” recounted a man whose daughter shot two deer in a period of two weeks.

Even so, Amish women in the Midwest may be regarded as “kind of odd” if they continue to hunt after motherhood. In western Amish settlements, however, “most of the ladies still hunt, and they take just as much pride in it as the men,” confided a mother of six who was nursing a new baby. (p. 149)

Lovina Eicher provided an example of this in a 2013 column mentioning her daughters going hunting on opening day of deer season.

4. Some Amish feel other Amish take hunting too far

Involvement with hunting can vary from the occasional backyard hunts to Amish who pour thousands of dollars into the activity and spend weeks away from home on hunting trips to Western states or Canada. Some are drawn to parts of the country where hunting opportunities abound. The Rexford, Montana Amish community is “known as a bachelor’s paradise” due to the quality of hunting.

Some Amish criticize the practice of spending a lot of money and being away from home for long periods. The authors quote a hunter who relates that “some wives have a problem with husbands being gone for weeks and some don’t.”  He adds that a friend had stopped hunting altogether because of his wife.

5. Amish hunt for different reasons

Why do Amish like hunting? The authors share several appeals and justifications:

  • The sense of satisfaction and self-sufficiency that comes from bringing home meat that will feed your family
  • The “thrill of the chase”
  • Hunting “keep[s] nature in balance” – some animals are pests; without human hunters, some animals and plants “would overrun others”
  • The social aspect – camaraderie
  • It’s a rejuvenating break in nature from hectic, loud shop work

Hunting is just one of a number of outdoor activities enjoyed by Amish. The authors explore several others, including fishing, birding, and recreational horse riding. More on the book here.

Images: Amish youth hunting– Andrew J. Cerniglia; Whitetail buck– Ryan Stemkoski; orange vests– chumlee10; Amish girls– Jim Halverson; Rexford, MT home – Marilyn Loveless

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    1. David Stear

      Somewhat disappointed

      For the most part I admire the Amish among other things, for being able to live off the land, eschew electricity for the most part and reject the use of cars and other motor vehicles (unless someone non-Amish is doing the driving). It came as rather a surprise and somehow a disappointment that they, as a pacifist, non-violent people would so readily involve themselves in something as seemingly violent as hunting. In my estimation, guns and violence go hand-in-hand. I wouldn’t mind reading a few explanations from Amish people about how they could pursue an activity such as hunting and yet remain devout pacifists. If I am not mistaken, hunting is often described as a “sport”; in Judaism hunting for sport is a sin. I wonder if part of the reason for hunting’s popularity among them might be the opportunity to change out of their usual Amish clothing.

      1. Elam Peachey

        Guns and Violence.

        In my opinion, someone that puts guns and violence in the same basket is someone that has been misinformed. Tongue and mouth violence is a lot more common than gun violence.
        If you were starving to death, and you’d see that beard and straw hat coming your way with a gun, bringing a fresh killed deer, you would think you were seeing a piece of heaven. To me a gun is no more connected to violence than a baseball bat.

        Back to the Amish, they are only keeping the old ways. Living like your great-great-grandpa did.

        Neither the Amish or I watch violent movies. Maybe there is a connection here.

    2. George

      On The Amish And Hunting

      I was totally surprised that the Amish had guns and secondly that they go hunting. I thought having a gun, to them, possibly meant cause for violence. The way the country is going with all the violence lately, I would not be against the Amish having guns for their protection.

      1. Elam Peachey

        Guns and Violence.

        To an Amish a gun is a way of protecting their farm from predators, and a means of survival.
        Using a gun on another human being would be totally against their Christian heritage.
        A traditional Amish growing up is exposed to a lot of teaching out of Matthew chapter 5.
        Loving your enemies, not to resist an evil person, turning the other cheek, etc.
        If everyone would obey the teachings of Christ, there would be no violence!
        The United States sure is in a great need of a revival! Let’s be in prayer, and share the good news wherever we go!

    3. Lara

      Hunting and The Amish

      Cool that the Amish hunt. I think it is OK so long as they eat what they hunt and that it is only deer. Deer can also overgraze and become too populous. It is fine so long as the hunting is controlled ie only so many permits issued per person per year to limit the hunting.

    4. Bond Teddy


      Why do you hunt when the mirners said free? Your Jesus came with a gun and I’m not me. Mooch many ply, but we do We, gone is the wind and the window went we. We be the people of the United States and you kill us all when you said a steak. Meesh many is me and mall is me, but boot is a cander and cander is he. Go home to Russia and Iran and buy lunch. Beat