Ethical Hunting, Every Hunters Responsibility
As I look at my hunting equipment a couple of things occur to me. First, My goodness Im spoiled! I have rifles, scopes, rangefinders, binoculars, shooting sleds and a bunch of other equipment to numerous to mention. Second, at one point or another I felt I absolutely needed every one of these items to become a better hunter. Do I really? Probably not, but it sure does make me feel better when I use them to fill my tags.
As a young boy growing up in the Midwest I can still remember getting my first gun and the responsibility lessons that came along with it. Most of it made sense but some of it I had to figure out. My first gun was at age 7 and it was a BB gun. I was only allowed to shoot at cans, flowers, pieces of wood, or any other non-living things that I could find that did not require too much clean up. I begged my father to let me shoot coots on one of our ponds so I could have the feeling of shooting something that reacted. I was always told no because the BB gun wouldnt kill the bird, it would only be inflicting pain and besides that we couldnt eat it if I were to kill it. Well, being 7 I knew I was much smarter than my father so I snuck down to the pond one day and lined up a coot in my sites. After checking to make sure nobody was around I let him have it. That bird flew away, after squawking, flailing and making enough noise for everyone to hear within a mile radius. Of course, my Dad was only about an eighth of a mile away. Needless to say I understood what he meant about the inflicting pain part for a few days after that.
As I grew older I learned many lessons about hunting and the responsibilities that come with it. As a young man I was not making a huge amount of money and had 2 kids. I think back wondering how we would have survived without my hunting and fishing. This meant when I hunted I had purpose, not only to get something, but to make sure I made a clean shot so as to not ruin any of the meat. I also learned to use just about every part of the animal once I did get it. These times made me a much better hunter as well as an ethical hunter.
There is nothing more frustrating to most hunters than shooting an animal and not being able to find it. Not that this can be avoided completely, but that is one of the reasons there is such a huge market for all of the equipment I have in my gun safe. Scopes, rangefinders, tripods, etc. are all made to make the job of ethical hunting easier. All of this equipment doesnt expunge the hunter of their responsibility though. An ethical hunter will still make sure they practice tirelessly to get good at using these items and then they will make sure they have a shot they are comfortable with before they ever think of pulling the trigger.
Once an animal is down the responsibility of the clean kill has been accomplished and now the work begins. Learning how to dress an animal and make sure it ends up in a freezer is something every hunter should know but not every hunter does. My thoughts on this are not really a secret to those that I hunt with. I am not a trophy hunter by any sense of the imagination; I hunt to fill the freezer. I do hunt with some guys that are trophy hunters however and this doesnt have any effects on their ethics. Ive helped drag out legal, clean kills and take them directly to a processor to have them donated to the local food banks or another family that will use it. This type of hunting gives all of us a good name and also will teach our future generations to conduct themselves in the same manner.
Hunting is a sport that thousands of people enjoy and partake in. Through the education of every hunter that dons their camos and takes to the field it will be a sport that can be enjoyed for generations to come. Only through ignorance and lack of respect will this be foiled. From the experiences Ive had and hope to have in the future, hunting ethics is the norm not an anomaly.
Bob Darrah, hunting and outdoor enthusiast. For more information on the
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