February 2, 2023

Protecting Hunter's Image

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I often hear and read about the need to protect the reputation of hunters. This comes in various shapes and sizes and is often determined by the “eye of the beholder”. In that I mean what some people perceive as acceptable behavior may not be by others. Let me give you an example.

In Vermont, there is an organization that holds an annual coyote hunting derby, tournament, whatever you choose to call it. Obviously, those who attend and support the derby have no issues with whether this sort of activity is considered acceptable hunting ettiquette.

There are hunting groups and individuals, both hunters and non-hunters who oppose such events and one of the biggest reasons is the concern that this activity gives hunters a bad name.

There are other hunting activities that are not clearly defined as approved practices or not. Hunting on game ranches or hunting preserves comes to mind. There are some preserves that in all practical purposes, is not unlike hunting in the wild and there are some that a small and do not offer any sort of “fair chase”.

Baiting game, aerial hunting, using radios or any other high-tech equipment, these are all things that come up in discussions about hunting ethics. A good friend of mine, Jack Duggins, signs his posts at the Maine Hunting Forums this way: “Ethics is what you do when no one is looking”.

It is good that this debate continues. It is what keeps us all in check in some ways but there are smaller and more obvious things that we, the ethical hunter, can do and need to do, to help protect our image.

It is clear to any non-biased individual that the vast majority of hunters are good and decent people. But some can be slack, lazy and disrespectful resulting in leaving litter behind, stealing personal property, trespassing, shooting up road signs, to name only a few. The rest of us need to do something about that.

Instead of simply bitching about it, we need to get involved and report any of this activity we see. Some won’t even call to report things like poaching and illegal baiting. This needs to change. When you see someone commiting these “crimes” take notes and report them. We can’t let the anti-hunting crowds have ammunition in their fight to stop hunting.

I urge everyone, whether in-season or out of season, when you see someone shooting up a road sign, littering, trespassing, anything that will give hunters a bad name, call the authorities and report it. You will be protecting your hunting heritage. This is something others want to take away from us and we need to protect it.

Don’t focus just on the big issues. Take notice of everything and report it. We can all take one extra step too – pick up others trash, repair their destruction, etc. And remember, above all, respect the landowner and always get permission.

Tom Remington