article by Dan Chason
There is nothing that will ruin a hunt quicker for me than to hunt with a unethical nimrod. I won’t call them hunters as they are not. They are what I call shooters. It is not about the pleasure of the camp or woods, it is about bragging rights and the manner in which the goal is achieved. A photo with a buck. Not a doe, now as they are inferior in his eyes. Let me pause this week and give you some tips for ethical hunters. If you are not following these practices…well, if the shoe fits…
True hunters, whether on their own property or on someone else’s truly respect the animal they are pursuing. Such was the case one year when a “guest” was allowed to hunt on our club. He was told that he could shoot a doe and that we were on a trophy program and only harvested mature eight point bucks or better. He was told that everyone had to harvest a doe first, then they would have an opportunity to harvest a buck. What did he do? He shot a year and half old buck who showed up with a mature doe on one of my good stands. He called it a “cull buck”. I remember many trips deer hunting where a hunter is “shamed” for killing a small buck. If the area hunted is public land or is property not under management, that is one thing. But to come on private land that has been managed for many years to grow big bucks, only to shoot a baby is inexcusable.
Another issue at camp is to carry your own weight. This same guy developed the nickname “Tick” after one weekend in camp. He ate our food, drank our refreshments and didn’t even bring a bottle of water for himself. When coming as a guest to hunt, the first thing you need to ask is if there is anything you can bring. In hunting clubs, members pay good money to hunt. You, as a guest, have paid nothing. Don’t be a tick. Bring something, offer to cook or clean up and if you abide by the rules, you will probably be asked back.
Yet another rule not to break is by horning in on someone else’s spot. If a member is nice enough to let you hunt their stand, don’t shoot his buck he has been hunting, unless you have his permission. I cannot count how many times a member has hunted a particular buck only to have a guest come in and kill it in one trip. Be a doe or hog killer if it is allowed. Don’t become someone who is a game hog and takes credit for killing a nice buck that another man has fed and watched all season.
My pet peeve is a guest who arrives unprepared. I have had guests show up without proper clothing, gun or the bare necessities. Make sure that you are ready to hunt whatever you were invited to hunt. Dress appropriately. The only way to know is to ask.
When in a duck blind, remember some simple rules. There is only one pit boss. One shot caller. Don’t raise up until told to do so. Never shoot outside of your shoulders as you will ring everybody’s ears. Never shoot when the dog is in the field. And most importantly, leave your duck call at home. I am a competent duck caller. But when I hunt another man’s blind, I leave my calls in my bag unless I am asked to use them. That is just common courtesy.
Whether deer hunting or duck hunting, please leave griping at home. I know you killed more ducks or saw more deer on so in so’s place. Go hunt there if you aren’t happy here.
Then there is the camp. Clean up after yourself. That includes bedding, towels, your room and especially the bathroom. Nobody is going to win a good housekeeping award at a deer camp. Most hunters are pigs but guests are judged more harshly. Be a good steward of where you are allowed to sleep. Clean it up and offer to wash linens and towels. It will be appreciated.
My favorite kind of guest is the one who brings a guest or asks to bring one at the last minute. It is usually his obnoxious brother in law or worst yet, his disobedient, bad mannered, dangerous step son. If you are an invited guest, leave it at that. If that host wanted to entertain your family, he would have invited them. And be on time. I have had many of my hunting trips ruined by hunters who show up late or oversleep. We have a simple rule at my camp. If you are late, you get left.
That brings me to some of the most important tips. One, be safety conscious. Wear your safety harness if elevated in a tree. Wear hunters orange. Bring a pull up rope. Don’t forget your flashlight. And by all means, stay put. I have had guests get out of stands and go to walking in the woods due to boredom or stupidity. That is probably the most unsafe thing you can do as you risk getting shot or at best, just lost.
Hunting is a very enjoyable sport. But hunting is not all about killing. I have gone for years and not pulled the trigger. You have to ask yourself one simple question: Do I truly respect this animal I am hunting? Such was the case for me only last year. I had hunted a really big whitetail buck all year. I had seen him twice. He was a big 10 point and would score in the 160 range. The two times I saw him in the stand, he did not offer a good, ethical shot. He got my heart pumping and was the reason I went to the stand in good conditions and bad. Two days before season ended last year, I was going to my stand in my Ranger to work on a feeder. This deer walked out across the field and stood broadside at 75 yards. I would not shoot him. The great thing is he will be there this year. Hopefully, I will get my chance again as long as there aren’t any “Ticks” in the woods.