“Ethical behavior is doing the right thing when no one else is watching- even when doing the wrong thing is legal.” ― Aldo Leopold
Welcome to the Hunting Code Of Conduct. As hunters, we are often portrayed negatively in the public eye. Unfortunately, this is the result of the actions of a very very small minority of hunters but it makes for a great tv news story.
In over 30 years of hunting, I have continually worked on a hunters code of conduct to apply myself to which I am sharing with you now. I truly believe it is a key responsibility of all hunters to behave in an ethical, legal and responsible way when it comes to our hunting activities.
Furthermore to continually demonstrate this to the community of non-hunters so we ensure our hunting rights and privileges are maintained for generations to come.
You will find a description of each of my 5 hunting codes of conduct below and an infographic which I encourage to share with your hunting buddies.
Respect The Fair Chase
FAIR CHASE, as defined by the Boone and Crockett Club, is the ethical, sportsmanlike, and lawful pursuit and taking of any free-ranging wild, native North American big game animal in a manner that does not give the hunter an improper advantage over such animals.
So what does this mean for the hunters code of conduct?
The fair chase principle means hunting in a manner that does not give the hunter an unfair advantage over the quarry. Or in other words, does the animal have a fair chance of escape and avoiding the hunter?
For example, hunting a caged animal or canned hunting is not only unethical it also gives all hunters a bad reputation and rightly so
Herding animals and then shooting from a vehicle is also not considered fair chase.
Respect The Game and Respect The Kill
As hunters, we owe it to ourselves and to the animals we are hunting to know as much as possible about them and their habitat. This hunting code of conduct helps us make the right decisions in what to shoot and when.
For example, do not shoot a doe with fawns. This shows no ethics while hunting and no respect for the wilderness resources you are enjoying as a hunter.
Know your shooting ability regarding long-range shots. Only make shots you are comfortable with and that will result in a clean humane kill. This hunting code of conduct means having the right caliber of rifle or gun for the game you are hunting and means having practiced your skills over and over before shooting at any wild animal.
Always follow up on every shot you make. The larger game species such as deer may not always drop instantly after being shot. It is our responsibility as ethical hunters to make sure we follow up these animals to dispatch them quickly and humanely.
The hunters code of conduct requires that after an animal is killed make sure no usable meat is wasted. Have plans in place to carry out everything possible to eat yourself with family and friends or to donate to those in need.
Respect Yourself Skills Safety & Equipment
There are many reasons as to why we hunt, for example, to harvest meat, to manage wildlife populations or conserve the wilderness from feral animals. No matter what our reasons we need to have respect for ourselves and our abilities in our hunting code of conduct.
Practice your hunting skills regularly and continually improve them. This includes butchering skills for your wild game meat harvest.
Practice gun safety at all times
Do a hunter education course
Wear your blaze orange
Make sure your equipment is in good working condition at all times.
Make sure you are fit enough for the hunt you have planned.
The hunters code of conduct shows respect to others including Landowners, Other Hunters, Non-hunters and the Law.
Always have permission to hunt on any private land and treat it with respect.
Do not litter on or damage anyone else’s property
Make an offer to the landowner for some of your harvested meat or some of your time to help with chores. You are much more likely to be invited back for future hunting trips.
Obey all laws and regulations regarding where what and when you are hunting. It is up to us hunters to know which regulations that apply and to make sure we follow them without exception.
When it comes to non-hunters be respectful of their opinions no matter how much we may personally disagree with them. If we are rude and disrespectful to non-hunters it reflects on all hunters.
For example, do not drive through town with a full deer carcass on the back of your truck this is not a good look we as hunters want to display.
Be respectful of other hunters they wish to enjoy their hunting experience as well.
Share your knowledge with others, we were all beginners at one point.
Respect The Wild Resources
A good hunting code of conduct is to always take care of the wilderness, woods, prairies or private land you may be hunting.
Only use your vehicles on established roads do not drive through virgin wilderness destroying the ecosystems and habitats.
When camping be sure you are not leaving any impact on the environment. Such as leaving litter or polluting rivers and streams.
Be mindful of the hunting resources available. Do not over hunt these valuable resources.
If you see examples of bad hunting ethics or hunting violations from other hunters report it.
Remember hunting is a privilege we enjoy and we do not want that taken away because of the bad actions of a few.
If you develop your hunting code of conduct and apply it every time you go hunting not only will you have more satisfaction as a hunter you will be demonstrating the high ethical values of hunters in their approach to wildlife, the, and conservation.