Hunter Ethics

Kids Outdoor Outpost April 2018

Joe Schuster | April 12, 2018

Hunting ethics can be simply defined as “doing the right thing, even when nobody is watching.” Every hunter-education class that I have taught has a section on hunting ethics. I usually explain that you should carry yourself in the field as if a DNR Conservation Ranger was right behind you. You know what? Sometimes they are!

In the spring, I usually like to go to the area that I bowhunt and check the deer cams. It gives me an idea on the deer that made it through the season. Last month, my son Jared and I took to the field to scout trails and check the cams. We have one road that continually gets trespassed, and we’ve had several deer carcasses tossed there and a pretty good amount of construction debris and tires. These folks have zero respect for the “No Trespassing” signs that I’ve posted.

Well, Jared and I were checking the road out, and as I was hopping back in to my truck, a black pick-up truck pulled in right beside me.

“Hello”, said one of the occupants. “How’s it going? What are you doing here?”

As I turned my head, my eyes ran right in to the large GA DNR logo on the side door of the truck and two officers. I kid you not, it really surprised me! I certainly would have expected them during the deer season but surely not two months after the season. Of course, I went over to introduce myself to them and explain our presence.

“I don’t own this property. A landowner lets me bowhunt it in exchange for posting the property, picking up roadside trash and watching for any trespassing,” I told them.

In fact, I reminded one of them that I had spoken to him at a local store just last fall. He actually remembered the occasion. Well, once everybody felt a little more at ease, we talked about the dumping. They explained that it’s actually a felony to dump busted-up concrete and tires like what was being done. They also told me that there is a new officer patrolling my county and gave me his name. I thanked them for the efforts, and we went about our way.

Our DNR officers have virtually the same capacities as our city and county law-enforcement officers. However, every time DNR rangers interact with hunters in the field, almost all are carrying a firearm. It’s one of the reasons why we should treat them with respect.

When I run into one in the field, the first thing I do is point the muzzle in a safe direction with my finger off the trigger. Next, I open the action and eject all shells or cartridges and leave the action open.

These men and women sacrifice their personal time because practically all of them enjoy hunting and fishing. Instead, they spend their hours patrolling lakes, policing WMAs and private lands, working on habitat restoration, teaching hunter education and interacting with youth through various DNR sponsored programs.

Remember hunting ethics, and treat our DNR officers with respect when you meet one. Do the right thing, even when nobody is watching. Because, someday, somebody just might.


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