What Makes A Good, Or Bad, Hunting Club Member

What characteristics make for a prized hunting-club member? And what kind of hunter turns out to be a nightmare member? Here's the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of hunting clubs.

John Seginak | November 1, 2003

Last fall, on Oct. 1, 2002, I had just returned from hanging a nice doe in the local cooler and was pryin’ my rubber boots off when the phone rang. It was my good friend and fellow hunting-club member Mike Whitehead.

“John, Ronald got a good one,” he said.

“Great! How big is he?’

“Don’t know yet. He said that after he shot the buck, he came straight out of the woods to get us. He said the arrow looked like it went to the right places. Bring your coon-hunting lights and come on!”

“Be right there,” I said.

In just a few minutes I was at Mike’s house. Mike, Ronald Hardman and Jimmy Yarbrough — all club members — were waiting for me. We went in the dark to the oak/hickory ridge on our Oglethorpe County hunt-ing property where the deer had been arrowed. Ron first showed us the tree his stand was in and then the spot where the big buck had been standing.

After 10 minutes of searching, we had not found the arrow or a drop of blood, so we spread out looking in the general direction that Ronald said the deer ran.

Ten minutes more passed and still nothing.

Then I spotted a drop of blood —a full 40 yards from where the deer had been hit.

“Got some blood right here,” I shouted.

From that point, you didn’t even have to bend over to see the blood trail. Jimmy was in the lead with a good light and was the first to spot the buck.

“There he is!” Next to “I love you,” those are the three greatest words a deer hunter can hear.

“And he is either pretty wide,” said Jimmy, “or his head is jacked up on a log!”

The buck, which had traveled about 120 yards, was both wide and heavy with beams nearly 23 inches long and an inside-spread of 17 7/8 inches.

After high-fives and congratulations we started counting points, and I got a $10 bill out of my wallet and we did some quick, on-the-spot measuring of the 10-pointer’s rack. (A bill is right at 6 1/8 inches long and flexible enough to make rough measurements.)

The buck’s totally-rough gross score was 133 and some change.

Yahooo! A really nice 3 1/2-year-old buck that Ronald was sure he had passed up the previous season.

As we were dragging the 190-lb. buck out, Ronald remarked on how reassuring it was to know that the other folks who hunted the land would always be there to help. It didn’t matter whether the deer was a Pope & Young buck — and Ronald’s buck made it with a net score of 127 — or a small doe. And he noted that there is never any jealousy in our club — we believe that the taking of a nice buck is an achievement for all the members.

That statement led to this article. I thought about other clubs and club members that I have known, and about what attributes made for an excel-lent member, and what things made for a great club, as a club is no better than its members. I had my opinions, but that was hardly enough research, so last winter I put the questions on the Deer Hunting section of Woody’s Taxidermy/GON Forum.

The results were not surprising. It soon became obvious what troubles some clubs have — and that many clubs have the same problems.

Here are the two questions posed to Woody’s readers:

1. What are the five characteristics that contribute to being a great club member, and the five characteristics that contribute to a member being a sorry one?

2. What are the five rules that make for a club that you would enjoy belonging to?

Here are the results, from most important on down, along with comments.

Top Five Characteristics Of A Desirable Club Member

1. Honesty and Integrity:

The most important characteristic was having club members who obey all

the club rules, all state game laws, and who are ethical in all their actions.

Ethics, someone once wrote, is when you do the right thing even when no one is watching and no one will find out.

Folks who are ethical hunters won’t break a law or take an “iffy” shot even if it was their one chance at a state-record buck — even if they know there is no chance that someone will catch them being scum.

2. Respect and Consideration For Others, and the Animals They Hunt:

Members who genuinely care about their fellow hunters, wildlife and its well-being make good club members. These hunters are not there just to kill animals. They are always mindful of avoiding messing up another member’s hunt, and they help others without being asked.

3. Hard Working and Motivated:

Members who never shirk their responsibilities are highly prized. These members always show up for work days and other club functions to do their part. These members want to contribute to making the club and the wildlife populations better than they were the year before. These folks don’t rely on everyone else killing enough does to control the population — they harvest their share, too, without regard to that buck that might have been following the doe.

4. Easy To Get Along With:

No explanation is needed here. You either act like an arrogant jerk or you don’t. And you don’t sweat the small stuff. Nobody has to ask you if you want a little cheese with that whine.

5. Encourages And Helps Other Members:

Members who help youth and novice hunters to get started are an asset. These guys go out of their way to teach new hunters to be sportsmen/women. They emphasize respect for wildlife and sometimes pass up hunting opportunities in hopes that other members who have not harvested much will get a shot.

Top Five Characteristics Of A Sorry Club Member

1. Being Crooked and Deceitful:

Every club seems to have the guy who won’t follow rules, like showing up at a stand he’s not supposed to hunt or that’s already been pinned.

These guys ignore and abuse game laws and club rules. They poach game. They sneak into private areas where they do not belong and generally try to get away with anything they can. Since you can’t trust them, they are about as enjoyable to have around as a toothache.

2. Inconsiderate Attitude: This kind of member is constantly encroaching on other member’s hunt-ing areas or stands. They stay up late making a lot of noise. They park in roads to block access by other members — the list of annoying things that they do to be a hunt-club nuisance could go on and on. They are just plain rude.

3. Selfish, Jealous and Competitive Members:

There are members who measure the quality of their hunting experience solely by the amount of game they personally kill. They are just wonderful when they harvest an animal, but they rage when you do. They consider themselves to be great and skilled hunters, while you are just lucky. You know the type?

4. Hard To Get Along With: You have probably met this type, too. Nothing you say is quite accurate, and they will gladly try to correct your shortcomings and educate you. These members are the obnoxious know-it-alls. At the other end of the scale are folks who are totally anti-social and will barely come out of their tent to say hello. One is an annoyance; the other adds nothing to the club.

5. Lazy and Unmotivated: You know, their wife always has something for them to do on work days — even if the work day was scheduled months in advance. They won’t help anyone else, they never contribute to putting in food plots, they are always late paying dues, and they generally have a negative attitude. Makes you wonder why they don’t just stay home and watch the home shopping network.

The Top Five Rules That Make for A Great Club

1. Hunters Must Abide By All State and Federal Laws

This one shouldn’t even have to be mentioned, but almost everyone who responded to the questions on the Woody’s site did. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Don’t tolerate violators —it’s bad for the sport.

2. A Strong Long-Range Management Policy:

Many hunters responded that they liked a club that is dedicated to improving the herd and habitat and is really willing to work at it. A good club has visions of what things could be like five years or longer down the road, and they have a habitat plan and harvest strategy to get there.

3. Strict Fines For Club Rule Violations — Including Not Attending Work Days:

Hunting-club rules are only as strong at their enforcement, and judging from the response, a lot of clubs have rule-enforcement problems. Club rules should be enforced without exceptions, and enforced equally for all members. It is bad for morale if some members are getting away with violations. This includes collecting substantial fines for shooting a sub-standard deer (where the rule applies). Set the penalties for not shooting enough does if the club has set up individual quotas and then collect fines.

If a member chooses not to show up for a work day, his option may be to pay a substantial fine — but see that the cash is collected. Other penalties might be incurred for entering another member’s area, riding ATVs into hunt-ing areas, etc.

The money collected from fines should be accounted for and may be used to pay for seed, lime and fertilizer to put in food plots.

4. Limited Alcohol and Zero Drug Tolerance:

Enough said. I like a cold beer as much as anyone, but NOBODY likes to be around a drunk — especially in a hunting situation. I especially don’t want to be around a drunk with a loaded gun. How about you? Many clubs have a set policy so that members understand what the rules are. Expulsion or other penalties should be clear cut for violations.

5. Scouting To Be Done Before the Season, and Trucks & ATVs Are Out Except to Remove Deer:

I guess that a lot of clubs are having problems with hunters stomping all over the woods during the season. There must also be a lot of clubs with members who like drive-up stands.

Before you join a new club or accept a new member into yours, get references from former club officers. You can learn a lot by talking to other club members, and consider what has been reported here. Keeping these lists in mind might save you some headaches. Then ask yourself which side of the fence are you on? Good hunting to all, and get a youngster started — they are the future of our sport and the environment — and they are a hoot to take hunting!

Thanks to those who contributed by commenting on the Woody’s Taxidermy site including: Hancock Tim, GaDeer Woman, Dawn2Dusk, Huntervationist, Dixie, Coon Dawg, Al Bino, Thunder Chunky, Vernon Holt, Condor, Hardy Hunter, Limb Hanger, GA Buckeye, Tommy Hunter, BuckNrutNatl, Jim Thompson, Jeff Raines, Mike Whitehead, Ronald Hardman, Ray Brown, Lee Brown, Gizmo, Derek Woulfe, Drop Tines, Saskatchewan 12-pointer, Crane_iac, lookinupdattree, George, Little Bird Hart, and any others that I may have forgotten.

Coon Dawg Seginak.

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