Many people hunt animals for food or sport. Animals that are hunted in North America can be divided into several categories: big game, small game, predators, fur-bearing animals and birds. Some of the most popular types of animals that are hunted in North America include deer, elk, moose and pheasants. Most North American hunters use shotguns or bows and arrows to hunt.
Big Game Animals
Big game hunting involves the pursuit of large animals. In North America, these animals include mule deer, white-tailed deer, moose, elk and caribou. Other big game animals include wild boars, big-horn sheep and javelinas. Bison, or buffaloes, also are considered to be big game animals, but they were hunted almost to extinction during the 1800s and early 1900s, so it was made illegal to hunt them in most parts of North America.
Other Types of Game
Typical North American small game animals include hares, rabbits, raccoons, squirrels and opossums. Fur-bearing animals include those that usually are hunted more for their pelts and skin than for their meat, such as foxes, beavers, minks, bobcats and muskrats. Predators that are hunted include bears, coyotes, mountain lions and cougars. Birds that are hunted include grouses, pheasants, quails, turkeys and waterfowl such as ducks and geese.
The hunting of varmints, or vermin, also is common in North America. Creatures that are classified as varmints usually are small mammals, and they are hunted because they are considered to be pests, so their populations must be kept at manageable numbers. Uncontrolled pest populations often result in damage to crops and livestock. Animals that are often considered varmints include wild rabbits, squirrels, groundhogs, foxes and raccoons. The hunting of varmints is closely regulated in many places because the populations of these animals and their impact on local farmers and ranchers is carefully monitored.
In most places in North America, hunters must have a hunting license that was issued in the jurisdiction where they intend to hunt. The species and number of animals that can be hunted typically is limited, and hunters must purchase a tag for each animal that is killed. When the number of people who want to hunt a certain type of animal in a particular area is greater than the number of that animal that is allowed to be killed during a specific time period, the hunting tags might be awarded through lotteries. Hunting quotas typically are set by regional wildlife agencies.