Rules and regulations are usually the bare minimum guidelines whether in hunting, fishing or golf. However, just because something is legal doesn’t mean it is ethical. Hunting is personal, and each hunter can develop their own set ethical guidelines.
The ethics of each individual hunter can vary between the skill levels of a novice to that of a seasoned, accomplished hunter. In deer hunting, for example, one hunter may not take a shot at a deer more than 100 yards, while another would not hesitate on a shot of more than 200 yards. It goes back to what the individual feels comfortable.
Who is to say which hunter is more ethical? The person taking the longer shot has practiced at that distance, knows his abilities that he is capable of making an accurate shot out to 200 yards. Yet, the other hunter may not have practiced long shots and takes the first available.
Is either illegal? No, but again it goes back to personal ethics and choices made. Is it worth risking a shot that could wound the animal without a chance of recovery? Something to think about.
People who take wildlife illegally are not hunters. They are poachers and criminals. The game laws were established to protect the wildlife for fair chase and for safety of hunters and non-hunters alike.
Recently, I received comments concerning people trespassing onto another person’s property for the taking of game. The lines were clearly marked and it seems these poachers intentionally crossed the property boundary. While this is illegal, it is also unethical and shows a lack of respect.
In another case, a would-be hunter did not cross the property boundary, but did erect a stand only a few feet from the line. While not illegal, there is a matter of ethics involved. But, who is to say how far a stand should be from the boundary between two sections of land?
Both situations can give all hunters a bad name. It only takes one or two small instances that could influence a non-hunter in the wrong direction. There are many people that do not hunt and don’t have a problem with people who do. However, negative actions by a few can cause all hunters to be lumped together in a bad light.
Another example of how ethics can affect the non-hunting community is the display of an animal during transport. Thirty years ago, hunters might display their trophy by strapping it to the hood of their car or truck for the ride to the processor. However, today people are more sensitive and could take offense. Though it is not illegal, it could push some folks to the other side of the fence.
Years ago, the first conservationists were hunters. They lobbied and petitioned the states for laws to help preserve wildlife for future generations. Today, we have seen the populations of various game and non-game animals flourish where once certain species were almost extinct.
It was not only the game laws that helped wildlife population increase, but the hunting ethics of each individual.
Charles Johnson is the Star’s outdoor editor. You can reach Charles at ChrJohn7@aol.com