Hunting safety and ethics go hand in hand. When you are contentious about following the rules of safe hunting, you’re also improving the safety of others. When you’re honest about your skill levels, you can also work on improving your marksmanship, which in turn also improves safety factors (and also helps with “clean” kills so animals do not needlessly suffer). That compassionate element is one of the keynotes in Hunting Ethics. Cruelty and anger aren’t helpful to a hunter – both can cause stupid mistakes.
Hunting safety is only one part of the ethics equation. There are also other important guidelines that hunters learn and by which they try to abide. For example, there are game laws that govern what you can hunt and when you can hunt, most of which have to do with protecting wildlife and sensitive lands from over-harvesting. Not following those rules isn’t only unethical, it can land a person in jail or end up in large fines. So step one in good hunting ethics is knowing the laws in your state and following them. If you’re going out of state, get online or call a hunting group that can provide you with important information, such as whether you can bait deer (or not), for example.
Another illustration is the way in which hunter’s pass through an area. The idea is basically to “leave no trace”. For one thing, the more “human stuff” an area has in it, the less wildlife you’re going to encounter. The smell is distinguishable and animals will avoid the area, except for ones with whom you don’t want a close encounter. To illustrate: leaving bits of food in a campsite or on a trail can be down-right dangerous in bear country. Taking care of the land where you hunt is the sign of a good sportsman, and one who also has a sense for our partnership with, and stewardship for the Earth.
Hunters often come under a huge microscope by the public because of the emotionally charged issue that hunting represents. That means the way in which hunters conduct themselves will have an impact on future legislation. By adopting honorable ethics hunters get a two-fold reward. They protect the environment and stay safe.
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