The actions of a few people have created a false impression that hunting is disrespectful of nature. That perception is not true, as most hunters approach nature, their game and the hunt with respect. If you’re a beginner, consider some of these tips to become a more ethical hunter.
Practice Before You go Afield
Ethical hunting begins before you leave the shooting range. It starts with developing knowledge, familiarity and skill with your gun or bow. This goes beyond hitting the target. You need to know how they operate and how to look after them. Caring for and maintaining your firearm ensures that it functions properly when you need it to, and it shows that you respect it.
When learning how to use your gun, make sure you know how to load, unload or fire it correctly, and practice until your handling of the firearm is skilled and your aim is accurate. The same principles apply to a bow.
Whatever method of take you choose, it will have drawbacks. Neither a gun nor bow offers 100% accuracy or impeccable performance in all conditions, and it’s important you know that. Ethical hunting demands that when hunting wild turkey or other game animals, you make every effort to achieve the most quick and efficient harvest possible.
Stay within the Law
Abiding by state hunting regulations is another key element of ethical hunting. Educate yourself about hunting seasons. Learn when the season opens and when it comes to an end. Similarly, find out the times of day at which you can start and are required to stop. You also need to know the limit of animals per hunter. Different places have different laws, so it is important to check the rules and regulations pursuant to the area you plan to hunt.
Beyond learning about hunting seasons, you must purchase the relevant licenses and tags for your intended quarry. All the equipment you use should be legal, and you should stick to using tried and trusted techniques. Unethical practices include hunting outside of the season or outside of the legal hours, harvesting more animals than allowed and using illegal equipment and questionable techniques.
Respect Property, Landowners and People Who Don’t Hunt
Whether you hunt on public land or private property, you need to respect it. You also need to be mindful of private property that you don’t have permission to hunt, which means no trespassing or destruction of any kind. It also means you cannot shoot an animal on private property from behind a boundary line and then “retrieve your kill quickly.” If you shoot a game animal within your property boundary and it crosses onto other private property, you are required to ask the landowner for permission to retrieve it.
The idea of property extends to the environment. Do your best to leave little more than your footprints when it’s time to pack up and head home. If other hunters are in the same area, be courteous, and give them the space that you’d want others to give you. Ethical hunting also demands that you follow the rules set by landowners. If you are hunting on private property with permission from the owner, be sure to thank them appropriately.
Be considerate to those who do not hunt. There is a good chance that nonhunters will be enjoying recreational activities in the same area, and some of them may be uncomfortable or frightened by firearms. Be sensitive and don’t brandish your gun or bow. Let them see that hunters are not insensitive to the environment, as portrayed by some extremists.
Respect Your Prey’s Habitat
Consideration of your prey’s habitat is such an important aspect of ethical hunting that it deserves a special mention. Conservation is part of hunting ethically, and it goes beyond keeping within the limit on the number of animals you can harvest.
Preserving the environment is crucial to ensure the survival of animals, and not only those that you want to hunt. Bring a bag for your rubbish with you and be sure to pick up any other litter you find along the way. You can dispose of it in the nearest trash can when you leave the area. If your hunting trip includes camping, bring firewood with you. Do not cut down any trees, or pollute streams, rivers or creeks.
Respect the Animals You Hunt
Fair chase is an essential part of ethical hunting. It means not using vehicles illegally or in ways that are improper and not harassing the animals you hunt.
Shooting to kill is another way of respecting game. This goes beyond doing your best to ensure your aim is as accurate as possible. It also means learning about the animal’s biology so that you know where you should aim to ensure it dies as quickly as possible; something that is known as a clean shot.
Respect the Animals You Kill
We’ve all seen those posts on Facebook and other social media platforms – photos of hunters showing off the animals they’ve killed that justifiably cause outrage among ethical hunters and nonhunters alike. There is nothing wrong with celebrating a successful hunt, but there are ways of doing it with decorum.
Respecting the animals that you kill goes beyond not parading them around or striking undignified poses with them. You also should ensure that as little of the animal goes to waste. Take as much meat as you possibly can, and then dispose of the carcass properly. Do not leave the carcass on, near or in a pathway, track, road or waterway.
There is much to consider when hunting ethically. However, as you can see, the basics do not require much effort. Happy hunting!