Hinckley Hunt

From Ohio History Central
Turkey Vulture.jpg
A Turkey Vulture also known as the Turkey Buzzard is a bird found throughout most of North and South America.

On December 24, 1818, more than 500 men participated in an organized hunting expedition, known as the Hinckley Hunt. The goal of the hunt was to rid Hinckley Township, in Medina County, Ohio, of animals that residents considered as pests or threats to their crops and livestock.

Farmers in Ohio in the early 1800s faced many challenges from nature, including not only the weather but also the animals from nearby forests. Nineteenth-century agriculture was very difficult and labor intensive. After planting crops, farmers feared the destructive capability of animals like deer and squirrels that could quickly destroy a field of grain. In addition, many wild animals preyed on livestock. An early state law required adult men to kill one hundred squirrels each year, and there were bounties on a number of other wild animals. Farmers sometimes participated in hunts to rid their communities of wildlife as well.

Probably one of the most famous hunts, known as the Hinckley Hunt, took place in Hinckley Township in modern-day Medina County on December 24, 1818. More than five hundred men participated in the hunt, working their way from the boundaries of the township towards its center. In the final tally, the hunters killed seventeen wolves, twenty-one bears, three hundred deer, and countless numbers of smaller animals in their attempt to rid their community of potential threats. According to some accounts, buzzards appeared to feast on the remains of many of the animals the following spring and have continued to return every year since. There are other accounts that refer to the buzzards being there even before Ohio statehood.

The Hinckley Hunt reflects the very different attitudes of frontier Ohioans towards nature and the environment than what many people believe today. Rather than feeling concern about the potential extinction of wildlife as the state's population continued to grow, farmers in the early decades of the nineteenth century focused on their family's survival. They could not afford to lose their crops if they were to take care of their families and viewed the hunting of wild animals as a necessary solution to their problems.

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