Are you a new hunter and you’re interested in learning about hunter ethics? Ethics are a set of moral principles that guide a person’s behavior. The concept of ethical hunting has been around for some time now, and every hunter should understand these practices when in the field.
You need to know what the right moral choice is when you find yourself in a situation where you go into the woods with a weapon to take an animal’s life. Adhere to the following set of general ethical hunting guidelines to help ensure that you are acting responsibly.
Follow the Law
Hunting begins with following the rules and regulations in your area. You cannot hunt ethically while also breaking hunting laws. You have the obligation to be educated on the laws that govern your locale when you are hunting since claiming ignorance is not a valid excuse.
Be sure to buy the proper licenses and tags for the season and animal which you are hunting. Know when the season begins and ends, along with the time of day that you can start and stop hunting. Do not harvest more animals than you are legally allowed, and only use the proper hunting methods and legal equipment when in the field.
Respect Your Prey
One of the key components of ethical hunting is the concept of ‘fair chase’ which means giving the game a reasonable chance to evade the hunter. Don’t let the animal be unduly harassed during the hunt. The improper and illegal use of vehicles, radiotracking collars and other electronic devices such as two-way radios is considered to be highly unethical and is inconsistent with the concept of ‘fair chase’. Avoid any form of mechanical pursuit. Remember that a true hunter guarantees the contest is as fair as possible.
As a hunter, you have made the decision to end an animal’s life, and you owe it to the animal to make its expiration as quick, painless and certain as possible. Use equipment that is adequate to harvest your prey. Learn all about an animal’s biology and determine the best spot to shoot the animal that will yield the greatest chance for a quick expiration. This is called ‘clean shot.’ Obvious places are the vital organs of the heart and lungs. This allows for the greatest margin of error and maximizes the possibility that the animal is dispatched quickly.
Know Your Weapon
You are assuming the responsibility to know how to handle a weapon safely when you make the decision to carry a deadly weapon. You need to know how to properly maintain and care for it, how to properly cock, load and fire it, and how to shoot it with a high level of skill and accuracy. There is no excuse for ignorance of the proper use of your weapon. Becoming highly skilled and proficient includes committing yourself prior to the season to practicing with it and developing a safe handling routine.
Most weapons have limits when it comes to accuracy and performance. You have to know these drawbacks prior to using the weapon when hunting. This is especially critical in archery hunting, as arrows can lose speed and energy quickly downfield and can be blown off target in windy conditions. It is unethical to take long-range shots at an animal to determine how far away you can shoot but still harvest since you may wound the animal without the possibility for recovery and cause the animal undue suffering. It is your duty as an archery hunter to get as close to the animal as possible before taking a shot because the odds that you will make an accurate and effective kill shot greatly increase the closer you are to the animal.
Respect the Habitat
One part of ethical and conservation hunting is respecting the habitat of the animals. This includes waterways, streams, trees, and shrubs. No hunter is allowed to cut down trees. When camping, make sure you set up at least 20 meters away from rivers or waterbodies and wherever possible, bring your own firewood from home. You should also be careful that your fuel or rubbish does not pollute streams and waterways. Clean up litter and waste and take it home with you. If you come across someone else’s rubbish, remove it and deposit it at an appropriate place.
Respect the Dispatched Game
Once your prey is dispatched, it should be properly handled to minimize waste. Bring out as much meat as you can and ensure that the carcass is not left near a road, track or a waterway. Never shoot an animal if you know you cannot carry it out. Avoid wasting a valuable game resource. Prepare game quickly and never leave the game to waste.
You also need to consider the views of other members of the community when transporting trophies and other parts of the harvested deer. Don’t display a deer on the way home. Wherever possible, cover the carcass and head with a blanket or tarpaulin.
Respect Non-Hunters, Private Property, and Landowners
People who are not familiar with hunting practices may be intimidated by the presence of firearms, so be sensitive to their concerns and keep your firearms out of sight. Have consideration, respect, and show them that the deer hunters are responsible and ethical recreationists. Good hunting behavior will reflect on people’s opinions of all hunters. Don’t be the reason for hunters to be prejudiced because of your rude and illegal actions.
You are a guest of the landowner whether you are hunting on private of public land. When hunting on private land, you should obtain the proper permission from the landowner and follow any rules relating to the use of that specific property. When hunting on public land, respect the space of other hunters and folks who may be utilizing the area for non-hunting recreational activities. Always leave the area you are hunting as close to the same condition as when you first discovered it. Finally, if a private landowner has granted you permission to hunt, be sure to say thanks for being given the opportunity.