Today was the final day of the archery elk and deer season in Colorado, and shamefully I was not able to get out for a hunt due to other obligations that just didn’t work out for me to take a hunt. It makes me sad that I missed the archery elk hunt, but one good thing was that I was able to spend my son’s birthday with him on September 15th, which was the third time in his 20 years, including his birth. At least I have my deer hunt in a few weeks, so I am looking forward to that.
In a way I feel like I have not done my job as a hunter. I had an elk archery tag, and it is expected by the wildlife biologists that I go hunting; tags are allocated based on expected hunter activity. Hunting is an integral part of wildlife management in our country, and I was one of the people who were expected to participate in that this year, and I was not able to, at least for the archery elk season here in Colorado. I doubt one less hunter makes a difference, but it is the principal of the matter to me. I take hunting very seriously, as both a participant, and as having an understanding of what hunters mean to wildlife conservation.
I ‘m not going to make this post about me not going hunting for elk this archery season, but rather to remind people of the ethics of hunting. This is not an attempt to persuade non-hunters to be hunters, but rather to remind hunters of the values that we need to abide by. The rifle seasons are still ahead of us for big game, and the bird seasons are under way, with many months to come. So while you are involved in an enjoyable recreational activity, remember that you are also an active and important participant in managing the wildlife in our country.
With your hunting license comes a responsibility to hunt and conduct yourself in an ethical manner. Take a few moments to answer the following questions; and then remember the answers when you are out in the field:
- Are your hunting actions providing a “fair chase” scenario for the animal?
- Would you behave the same way if you were hunting with a wildlife officer or being videotaped for the evening news?
- Do you know exactly where you are hunting? Are you in the right Game Management Unit?
- Do you know the habits of the animal you are hunting?
- Are you in good enough shape to be able to hunt and properly retrieve a harvested animal?
- Do you know how to properly field dress any animal that you may harvest?
- Do you minimize the impacts of your camp on the landscape and do you leave a camp site cleaner than how you found it?
- Will you report rule violations; yours and others, to a wildlife officer?
- Have you read the rules and regulations for the area in which you are hunting?
Ethical behavior is critical to the future of hunting. Please, consider how your actions impact wildlife, fellow hunters and the general public. In times where gun control is such a public issue, people need to see positive actions and behavior from hunters. I think the biggest obstacle that hunters and fishermen face is the lack of knowledge that the general public has about what we stand for, which is the preservation of wildlife and wild places. As I see so many wild places being consumed by human encroachment, it makes me wonder if my grandchildren will ever have the experiences that I have had, and that makes me sad.
We have to do as much as we can as outdoor enthusiasts to ensure that our future generations have the opportunity to see the wildlife that we have worked so long to preserve, and to enjoy the wilderness where they live, whether that be fish, birds, or mammals. That’s really what being an outdoorsman or outdoorswoman is all about.