Stump the Interpreter: History of Hunting

Everyday offers another opportunity for the interpreters to learn something new at Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm.  Many times these lessons come in the form of questions from our visitors.  If you have ever been to Quiet Valley and gone on our tours, you’ve probably visited the 1820s Cellar Kitchen where we discuss life early in the farm’s history. We mention a little bit about hunting which prompted a visitor to ask, “What did you hunt and what were the regulations about hunting?” Great question! Here is what we’ve found.

Many of our ancestors came from Europe from the 1600s onward.  In Europe no one but nobility hunted wild animals; this was considered poaching and was punishable by hanging (at least in England).  People poached all the time and there was generally public support for poachers because often time they were just trying to feed their families.  For example, in the tales about Robin Hood, he originally becomes an outlaw because he poached on the the king’s deer.

The idea of the common person hunting was laid out in William Penn’s Charter in 1683. If you owned the land, you could now hunt on it.  This was one of the many incentives  for people to move to the new world. By the early 1800s many of the animals that once roamed Pennsylvania’s woods were becoming rarer. In 1801 the last bison was shot in Pennsylvania.  By 1820 Johan Simon and Susan Meyer, owned the property that would become Quiet Valley, would have probably seen deer, elk, stag, black wolves, and mountain lions. But by their children’s generation they would have been rarely sighted.

The first regulations regarding deer hunting were introduced in 1869 establishing hunting season as September 1st through December 31st.  In 1873 it became illegal to kill a fawn in spotted coat and hunt on Sundays.  Chances are deer would not have been nearly as plentiful in the 1820s as they are today but they would have still been present.  When the Meyer family hunted it was probably for small game such as birds or rabbits.  Refrigeration wasn’t possible yet in 1820, its much easier to consume a small amount of meat then try and store a whole elk in the middle of summer.

Thank you for the great questions visitors! Keep them coming!

This blog is written by Kat Muller, administrator at Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm, in her first year of working at the farm. Follow along on her discoveries and (mis)adventures as she learns about agriculture, animals, and much more.

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