Hunting has two kinds of laws.
One is the written law that is enforced by the game warden. The other is unwritten. It is an ethical code or code of honor that the true sportsman places on himself or herself.
Most hunters obey the game laws, but that alone is not enough. Without ethics, man or woman can be a licensed, law abiding hunter and still be a poor sportsman.
There is nothing illegal about shooting at a running whitetail deer over 600 yards away (with a rifle) or trying to down a bird flying over 100 yards high or shooting an arrow at an animal that is out of his or her effective shooting range. It is certainly unethical and only a poor sportsman would try it.
The ethical hunter knows both the limits of his or her equipment and their shooting ability and always tries for a clean quick kill. In addition, the ethical hunter obeys all laws when hunting. The hunter acts as a goodwill ambassador for the sport and for all other hunters.
He or She knows that the town, where road signs are used for target practice, quickly removes the welcome mat for hunters. And the farmer whose property or livestock are abused will post his land and forbid further hunting.
A real sportsman does all they can to grow in hunting skills. If he or she is not a good shot, they will work hard at it and practice all they can. A real sportsman learns all about their quarry. He or she learns all about the range that they hunt. In other words he/she has respect for their quarry and hunts it in only fair and sporting ways. As an ethical hunter, a real hunter believes in "fair chase", and never takes unfair advantage of the game being hunted. This principle of "fair chase" is often part of the law.
On the other hand it may not be against the law to shoot a bird on the ground or a duck swimming in the water or a rabbit in hiding, but the ethical hunter will never do that.
A person who takes pride in hunting and in themselves being hunters always hunts in such a way that neither he / she nor the game they hunt is ever shamed. The ethical hunter treats game with respect both before and after the shot.
That is why the ethical bird hunter, if they can afford to keep one, uses a trained bird dog. The dog is used not to just find the birds, but to recover them when they are downed.
The big game hunter makes every possible effort to avoid wounding game, and if that is the case, all further hunting is stopped until the game is found. He or She will even abandon hunting to help another hunter find wounded game.
The ethical hunter never takes more than the legal limit of game. But more important, he/she never takes more than they can use. Game is cleaned quickly and skillfully and brought to the kitchen in prime condition. It is never wasted and real pride is taken in this because it is a sure sign of the hunter's skill and knowledge. It also shows that respect for game is a part of his or her self respect as a seasoned hunter.
There are two main kinds of people in this world, the givers and the takers. The ethical hunter is a giver. The unethical hunter - the poacher, the man or woman who breaks the game laws and sets no standard for his or her conduct as a hunter is a taker.
It is the ethical hunter who gives a friend the advantage for getting a good shot and who likes the odds in his hunting slanted in favor of the game hunted. The ethical hunter takes pleasure in sharing the game that is taken with those whose land was hunted.
It is the ethical hunter who is willing to take the time to introduce a youngster to the enjoyment of the hunting experience.
The unethical hunter, the taker, never gives anyone an even break. They are people who brag about their success when a limit is filled or makes excuses when it is not. They will hunt private property without permission and show no respect for the land on which they trespassed. The driving force is never the thrill of the hunt, but how much game can be shot.
While even the ethical hunter may never enjoy the full approval of the non-hunting public, the public may at least tolerate them. And as public awareness of the hunter's significant role in conservation increases, anti-hunting sentiment may recede.
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