Ethical Outdoorsman

Nancy B. Alston

What is an ethical outdoorsman, what does that mean? Sure you have the game and fish regulations and laws. It is very important that outdoorsman and woman know the laws and regulations for the area that they are hunting or fishing and that we follow them to the letter. Things like, always having the proper licence, permits and tags, open seasons, open areas, bag limits, size or slot limits, catch and release regulations and so on.

And these regulations will be vary from state to state, county to county and even lake to lake.

It is your responsibility, as an ethical outdoorsman to know before you go. It is easy to obtain a copy of the hunting or fishing regulation for your state or any other state online.

But being an ethical outdoorsman goes much deeper that the written laws and regulations. It comes from your heart and soul and who you are as a person, it comes from your love for the outdoors. It’s about doing the right thing when nobody is watching and when they are watching as well. It’s about honesty, respect, caring and courtesy. It’s about how you value your time in the outdoors and that of others.

The ethical outdoorsman cares about the land and the resources and maintaining both for future generations. Outdoorsman are the original conservationist and have always been good stewert’s of the lands and its resources. Ethical outdoorsman have been making a difference sense the early 1900’s. At this time in our history, most of the deer, elk, turkey, antelope, bison and several other species of wildlife were all but wiped out by the early settlers and commercial hunters.

That is when the sportsman and ethical outdoorsman spoke up and the congress listened. Sponsored by Senator Key Pittman of Nevada and Representative A. Willis Robertson of Virginia, the Pittman- Robertson Act was born. Then signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on September 2, 1937. This Act saved America’s wildlife and helped to reestablished populations that had been wiped out.

Many outdoorsman groups, foundations, associations and organizations have done more to preserve and improve habitat than anyone. Groups like, The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, Whitetail Unlimited, Bone-fish and Tarpon Trust, Pheasant Forever, The National Wild Turkey Federation, Bass Anglers Sportsman Society and hundreds if not thousands more groups spend millions of dollars and countless hours of volunteer work on habitat improvement and restoration that benefits all wildlife both game and non game species alike. Many of these groups actually purchase large pieces of land to insure that they remain wild and undeveloped for future generations.

The ethical outdoorsman respects the resources and does not abuse them. Waiting for the right shot for the quick clean harvest of wildlife, and not taking a bad shot that might wound an animal. Always following up on a shot for as long as it takes to either find the animal or be 100% sure that you missed clean. We owe this effort to the magnificent animals we hunt as they are a valuable resource. Plus, wounding and animal and not finding it will make you feel like crap, or at least it should.

Respect the wildlife that you pursue and all other wildlife that you encounter. Enjoy the show that mother nature put on only for the outdoorsman. Experience the things that few people will ever experience.

Always remember that they are all Gods creatures and we are privileged to be out there among them. It’s OK to say a prayer for the soul of an animal you have just harvested and to give thanks for a successful hunt. It’s also OK to have not filled your tag, but still have a great hunt and some great memories.

Remember, it’s not about killing something but about the time spent in the outdoors enjoying all the beauty and splendor that mother nature has to offer. Take the time to see it all, enjoy the whole experience and you will learn something new each time out and make memories that last a life time.

Respect your follow outdoorsman. Always have the courtesy to give other hunters or fisherman their place. If you get to your spot and someone is already there, the ethical outdoorsman would back off and try somewhere else. Just like you would hope that they would do if you were already there.

Don’t go crowd another fisherman because he is catching fish and your not. We have all seen or had the guy that see’s you catch a fish and comes right over and cast right out in front of you. Don’t be that guy!

And if you hunt with a quad or side by side, always remember that you are not the only one out there. These ATV ‘s can be a great tool when used properly, or a great annoyance to others when abused.

A great example of abuse happened to me and a hunting buddy a few years back. When hunting Coues Whitetail on national forest land near the border in southern Arizona, my buddy and I parked off the road at the top of a ridge. We hiked about 45 min’s down into the canyon and found a good spot where three draws all came together into the main canyon.

We got set up under some small trees ready for the deer to start moving, when we thought we heard a quad. The sound of the quad kept getting closer, then from nowhere a quad rode up right next to use with a loaded rifle across the handle bars. We jumped out from the trees and scarred the hell out of him. We proceeded to inform the young man that he was breaking the law. He had no idea what we were talking about. We told him that on National Forest land it was illegal the ride off the roads, but he still didn’t seem to understand or care. He took off and rode down the next ridge over, then the next. We were so angry that we headed back to camp before we did something we would regret.

The next morning we decided to hunt on a wilderness area that was near by because there are no vehicles allowed at all. On our way out to where we would park at the boundary of the wilderness area, I looked in my rear view mirror and saw four quads coming behind us. We parked and started out onto the wilderness area when we saw all four quads riding out a ridge right out onto the wilderness area. Cell phones would not work and there was no game and fish or forestry service anywhere to be found. We were so totally pissed off that we went back to camp, packed our stuff and went home. These four jokers and their quads had completely ruined a hunt that we had looked forward to all year. So as an ethical outdoorsman, please know and follow the rules and the laws and be courteous of others.

Catch and release is a great way to respect and preserve a resource. There is nothing wrong with keeping some fish to take home, but only take what you need. And always know the bag limits and size limits for the water you are fishing. Always release the big ones, the trophy fish. With the replicas you can have made now, all you need are a photo and measurements of the length and girth and you can have a mount made.

Trust me, releasing a ten pound plus bass feels great and knowing that she will be there to lay her eggs again next spring makes it feel even better. Just make sure you have some good pictures.

One more thing I would like to say about being an ethical outdoorsman is to always leave it as you found it. Pack it in- pack it out, without a trace. When you leave the outdoors, you should not be able to tell that anyone was there. Pick up your trash, your shell casings, and anything else that you brought in or that anyone else may have left.

There are many people and groups out there that would like to take away your right to hunt or fish or even own a gun and they are funded well and will stop at nothing. It is up to use, the ethical outdoorsman to take the high road and always show the best of the outdoorsman. And to teach the young outdoorsman the right way to grow into the next generation of ethical outdoorsman.

There are so many things that make up an ethical outdoorsman. These are just a few of the more obvious. The best that you can do when faced with a situation that you are not sure what you should do, is to look inside and do what you know in your heart to be the right thing. Do this and you will be on your way to becoming an ethical outdoorsman.

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