The sacred months are Rajab, Dhu’l-Qa’dah, Dhu’l-Hijjah and Muharram. These are what are referred to in the verse (interpretation of the meaning):
“Verily, the number of months with Allaah is twelve months (in a year), so was it ordained by Allaah on the Day when He created the heavens and the earth; of them four are Sacred (i.e. the 1st, the 7th, the 11th and the 12th months of the Islamic calendar). That is the right religion, so wrong not yourselves therein”
There is nothing wrong with hunting in these months; rather the prohibition on hunting is connected to two things:
1 – Ihraam for Hajj or ‘Umrah, because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“O you who believe! Kill not the game while you are in a state of Ihraam [for Hajj or ‘Umrah (pilgrimage)], and whosoever of you kills it intentionally, the penalty is an offering, brought to the Ka‘bah, of an eatable animal (i.e. sheep, goat, cow) equivalent to the one he killed, as adjudged by two just men among you; or, for expiation, he should feed Masaakeen (poor persons), or its equivalent in Sawm (fasting), that he may taste the heaviness (punishment) of his deed. Allaah has forgiven what is past, but whosoever commits it again, Allaah will take retribution from him. And Allaah is All‑Mighty, All-Able of Retribution”
Ibn Katheer (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
This is Allaah’s prohibition on killing game when in the state of ihraam, and a prohibition on being involved in any activities of this nature. End quote.
Tafseer Ibn Katheer (2/99).
2 – Hunting within the limits of the Sanctuary, which means Makkah and Madeenah, because of the ahaadeeth that were narrated concerning that.
It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) stood up on the day of the Conquest and said:
“Allaah sanctified Makkah the day He created the heavens and the earth, so it is sacred by the sanctity decreed by Allaah until the Day of Resurrection. It was not permitted for anyone before me to fight therein and will never be permitted to anyone after me, and it was only permitted to me for part of a day. Its game is not to be disturbed and its thorns are not to be cut.”
Narrated by al-Bukhaari (1284) and Muslim (1353).
The relevant point here is the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), “Its game is not to be disturbed.” This hadeeth clearly states that it is haraam to disturb the game of Makkah, so it is more appropriate that hunting itself is forbidden.
As for Madeenah, it is proven in al-Saheeh that Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) used to say: If I saw gazelles grazing in Madeenah I would not disturb them. The Messenger of Allaah (S) said: “The area between its two lava fields is a sanctuary.”
Narrated by al-Bukhaari (1774) and Muslim (1372).
The lava fields are the harrahs or areas of black stone, and Madeenah is between two lava fields, east and west.
As for the sacred months, there is no connection between them and the prohibition on hunting.
And Allaah knows best.