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As the famous fox case of Pierson v Post illustrates, rival hunters who have separately contributed to the capture of a wild animal may have different notions about which of them owns the prey. During the Stone Age, hunter-gatherers likely developed sophisticated norms to resolve these sorts of controversies. Each of the contributors to this symposium focuses on common law property rights in prey that North American judges articulated during the nineteenth century. Their articles analyze the rules of the game that applied in the Newfoundland sealery, North Pacific whaling grounds, and rural Long Island. In each setting, both hunters and judges tailored the applicable rules of capture to the characteristics of the hunted animal. When hunters’ customs were opaque, as they commonly were, judges sought to crystallize definitive legal rules. The articles in the symposium strikingly illustrate the gulf between ‘humanistic’ and ‘scientific’ styles of legal analysis.
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