A very "modern" urbanised question. There are still millions of people around the world who rely on hunting for their food, either by catching and eating animals, or by hunting and killing animals in defence of farming activities. In that sense, the military are hunters, too.
Humans have been hunters since before we were humans, and still are, so the obvious answer is that hunting is a structural part of being a human. That many of us no longer need to hunt makes no difference - in truth, others (farmers, pest controllers, soldiers) are still hunting on our behalf. We have been hunters for millions of years, farmers for a few thousand, hunt-less consumers for a hundred, and animal rights activists only for a generation. Hunting is a part of the oldest, deepest parts of human mind.
More specifically, hunting makes us male. Imagine that civilisation itself is a (notional) cave in which we humans nurture our kind. Outside in nature, there are no rules—everything competes against everything else in surviving. Inside the cave called civilisation, there have to be rules and the first is the rule of human nurture—"Sharing and fair exchange without violence." That rule gives us our ethics and civilised "indoor" behaviour. Outside, there are no such rules, no ethics. Hunting is, by definition, uncivilised. It is deeply evolutionary and why hunters feel a tremendous rush when they are successful against a determined or dangerous quarry.
So some of us evolved to go out of the cave and get hold of resources, without rules, acting objectively (without human emotion), to kill food or defend the cave. That is the evolutionary function we call male. Resources (including safety) won are then used inside the cave, acting subjectively (with human emotion) to nurture us and reproduce. That is the evolutionary function we call female. One supplies resources and releases potential. The other converts potential and resources into realisation. They are opposite, equal and complimentary two halves of a wheel. They give us our caveman cartoons. As we become more civilised, we become less male.
We still hunt. Science is all about objective hunting for potential, and scientists are still hunters, regardless of their biological dangly bits. It is the job of technology to mix science with reality, and the job of the subjective arts (including motherhood) to realise the result of all the effort.
So, does hunting (male) make us human? Yes it does, together with the other three great human enterprises of technology (both), arts (including motherhood) (female) and information (neither)—round and round, first male (potential), they marry (combination, both), then female (realisation), then separation (of old and new), in a never-ending waltz, the ouroboros...
Published on 23 October 2021