I read a random blog last summer regarding hunting ethics in regards to the “un-written rules” of hunting. I can’t remember where I saw it or the author or I would be happy to mention them here but regardless of that, it got me thinking. We need to practice the highest level of ethics when hunting with our kids and with youth seasons coming up everywhere, now is a good time to put this to practice.
The early youth firearm season here in Minnesota requires the kid to do the shooting. The adult that must accompany the child is not allowed to have a firearm for themselves. Now I think this should go without being said but there is no reason for you (the adult) to shoot the deer in order to “help” the kid. I want to ask, “What does this really do for the kid?” Do they get to really experience what this tradition and lifestyle is all about? I hear and read lots of stuff about hunter recruitment. If we do recruit more hunters through these programs, do we want to retain hunters that have been taught to violate game laws?
Our kids are like sponges and will pick up on everything we do. Even if it is something as small as waiting to put the tag on the deer until it is in the truck. Most states require the tag to be put on the deer before it is moved. You might think that as long as the game warden doesn’t see you then no harm was done. I ask you to realize that the child you are teaching “how to hunt” just watched you violate a game law. They may not know it but they will think this is the proper way to do things and probably how they will do things in the future. Is this how we want our children to behave as adults? That “small” violation can lead to bigger ones. What I am trying to say is, we teach our children to not steal or not hit others and we need to teach them to follow the game laws if are going to teach them to hunt.
For example, my boys and I always practice safety when handling firearms and archery equipment. This has gotten to the point where they made fun of me for some of the sayings that I would use to remind them about being safe. I didn’t appreciate this “teasing” but I had to remind them that this was for their safety as well as mine. On the first hunts that I ever took Devan on, I tried to point out things that he was going to learn or would have to know when he took his gun safety course. Many times he looked at me like I was full of bologna until he actually took the class. All of a sudden I was pretty smart because he told me that he already knew almost everything that they taught him in the class.
I also want to talk about the un-written rules. One morning when Devan and I were setting in the blind during the regular firearm season, as the sun just came up we could see the neighbor walking in to his stand. I mentioned that, “this guy should have been here before now and none of us are going to see a deer this morning.” Later that day when Devan was asked how the hunt went the first thing he said was, “if not for the neighbor walking in too late, we would’ve seen a deer this morning.” This statement got me thinking about what I had done. In my frustration of the neighbor coming in too late and ruining our hunt, I made a comment without thinking about how this young mind would interpret what I was saying. He had put the lack of success on my opinion of how the other guy should be hunting. I had to explain that I had said that without thinking and regardless of what happened that it was not the other guys fault. I told him that the other guy had not violated any game laws by walking to his stand at the “wrong” time and that since he was on his own property that there is nothing that we can do or say to change the way this guy hunts. Basically, he didn’t break a law and since he was on his own property, we just have to deal with it. Also I had to inform him that the reason we weren’t successful could have just been that the deer didn’t want to come out and graze on that field that particular morning or maybe we had made too much noise and spooked all of the deer away when we walked to the stand in the dark.
Another thing, I overheard a conversation in a gas station once in which two guys were discussing deer hunting the muzzleloader season and the one mentioned that he uses his 12 gauge because it is basically the same. It has basically the same size bullet and similar bullet trajectories. (I am not sure he is correct but we can get into that another time). Hearing this made me think, “I hope that he isn’t teaching a kid this.” I mean, it’s one thing if you want to violate a game law and take the risk of the punishment you may and probably will get for doing this, but to teach a child this and potentially getting them in trouble as well is just not right. Even if nothing ever came from this, the child could have learned that this is “ok” and potentially show this type of behavior because that is the way dad or grandpa always did it.
We spend a lot of time trying to raise our children right and hopefully they are productive citizens once the reach adulthood so why would we want it to be any different in how they hunt and follow or don’t follow game laws when they are on their own. What I am saying is, if it is muzzleloader season, then use a muzzleloader. (They are better than the average shotgun anyway.) If crossbows are illegal for archery season then leave it at home. Get the tag on the deer before you move it. These simple things that our children will pick up on will shape the type of hunters and people they become when they become adults.
As always, thanks for reading, get out and shoot, take a kid, and be safe!
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