"The Ethics of Hunting" Student Writing Lesson

Hunting is a complex issue and can evoke emotional arguments. Is hunting moral? Can it be done in a respectful, humane way?
alyssa johnson EL photo

Photo courtesy of Alyssa Johnson.

The YES! Magazine article, "What's the Harm in Hunting" by Alyssa Johnson is a story about how hunting is an expression of our relationship with nature and the moral complexities of this relationship.

Students will use Alyssa Johnson's story to write about the morality of hunting, and if hunting can be done in a respectful and humane way.


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    YES! Article and Writing Prompt

    Read the article:"What's the Harm in Hunting?" by Alyssa Johnson.

    Writing Prompt: Is hunting moral?


    Writing Guidelines

    The writing guidelines below are intended to be just that—a guide. Please adapt to fit your curriculum.

    • Provide an original essay title
    • Reference the article
    • Pay attention to grammar and organization
    • Be original, provide personal examples and insights
    • Demonstrate clarity of content and ideas

    This writing exercise meets several Common Core State Standards for grade 6-12, including W. 9-10.14 for Writing, and RI. 9-10.2 for Reading: Informational Text*

    *This standard applies to other grade levels. "9-10" is used as an example.

    Evaluation Rubric


    Sample Essays

    The essays below were selected as winners for the Winter 2012 Student Writing Competition. Please use them as sample essays or mentor text. The ideas, structure, and writing style of these essays may provide inspiration for your own students' writing—and an excellent platform for analysis and discussion.


    No More Bear Skin Rugs by Stro Hastings, Grade 6

    Read Stro's essay about the varieties of hunting that are moral—while others like poaching are just wrong. 


    Hunting the Ohio Way by Johnny Bobo, Grade 9

    Read Johnny's essay that explains why people who hunt for some of their meat are no different—maybe even better— than people who go to the supermarket to buy their meat. 


    The Double Standard of Killing Animals by Jenny Courtney, American River College

    Read Jenny's essay about how hunters in general have more respect for animals than the meat industry. 


    Don't Jump to Conclusions by  Lisa Schwartz, Grade 11

    Read Lisa's essay about changing her narrow view of hunters as animal-hating burly men in camo pants to people who respect the cycle of life—and death.


    Response from author Alyssa Johnson to the student winners who touched on different reasons why hunting is not the enemy and that respectful, sustainable hunting is beneficial to the wild spaces that humans care about.


    We Want to Hear From You!

    How do you see this lesson fitting in your curriculum? Already tried it? Share with us—and other teachers—how the lesson worked for you and your students.

    Please leave your comments below, including what grade you teach.


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