Many people cite the example of the Pandavas hunting deers to prove that its ok for the Kshatriyas (& the Kingly classes) to hunt.
1) But are there any Scriptures which explicitly say that Kings and Kshatriyas are allowed to hunt?
2) And how do they (the Scriptures) justify the act which is, needless to say, cruel.
In case of animal sacrifices. its stated (for example in Manu Smriti & in several other Scriptures) that since, the sacrifice is being done for the benefit of the whole world (including that of the animal which is being sacrificed), that killing is not "killing" and it does not incur any sin. That's understandable, but how is killing innocent animals for pleasure and pastime justified in the Scriptures? And how does the act benefit anyone?
What the Manu Smriti says, is quite the opposite though, that is, for the Kings, hunting is one of the vices.
7.47. Hunting, gambling, sleeping by day, censoriousness, (excess with) women, drunkenness, (an inordinate love for) dancing, singing, and music, and useless travel are the tenfold set (of vices) springing from love of pleasure.
By killing all sorts of forest-ranging deer, one should remain fasting for three nights and recite the AgniMantrams.
~Samvarta Smriti; 1-143