Usually, my column is all about bow hunting, as well it should. However, this month my column will be about hunting in general. Actually, this will be more about the hunters who go afield every year. I am sure that after this read more than a few may be a little upset. I can only hope that they are not upset with me for telling the truth.
For the last 30 years or so I have taught the bowhunting safety classes in my state. Indeed, I have been responsible for thousands of hunters being legal to bow hunt game.
The very first subject I talk about in class is ethics. This is a word that has the utmost respect from me. The subject takes at least one hour out of the class and I will not apologize for that. To me, it is that important. I ask the students what the word "ethics" means to them and they all seem to know the general meaning of the word but basically it means what you do when no one can see you.
As you can guess, bow hunting to me is super- important. I cherish every minute I am able to leave the pavement for a few hours and enjoy the peace and quiet that bow hunting provides. Opening day is like Christmas morning for me as well as many hunters out there. As hunters we just want to have a relaxing hunt and enjoy our surroundings. If a whitetail shows up, you have the bonus plan.
Opening day for me came very early. Dark thirty in the morning found me approaching my stand. After safely securing myself in my morning perch, I noticed it did not feel right. The stand was not as comfortable and it was moving right to left. Not something you want to deal with at 18 feet in the air. As the sun began to rise and daylight squeezed the night away, I noticed that both of my safety straps that help lock my stand in place were missing. Shaken, I slowly and carefully climbed back to the safety of the ground. I could not believe it. Some hunter had stolen my safety straps. Some hunter put me in danger and the sad thing was that it was done intentionally.
Although the land I had permission to hunt was clearly posted, the trespasser could not have cared any less. His four-wheeler ran the posted sign right over.
Once safe on the ground, I decided to check out the videos on my trail cam that was located nearby, or used to be anyway. My $200 Primos trail cam was stolen as well. When I installed the camera, I thought I took every precaution necessary to keep honest people honest. I purchased a steel security box that was made for this camera. Two 6-inch lag bolts held this steel trap to a tree. I then placed the camera with my 32 MB card in the steel box and closed it, locked it with a Master lock and then strapped it to the tree with a separate steel cable lock. You would think that my efforts were over the top. You would be wrong. The thief that decided to make the camera his had to go and get a crowbar and then spend considerable time to pry it free from the tree.
All in all, I would have to say that I have had better opening days.
The irony of this is the fact that I probably gave the thief his bow hunting certificate.
After a quick tally of what I had invested in the camera, I decided I was out about $300. It is not the money that bothers me so much. It is the fact that this thief took my class and listened to me preach about hunting ethics and how we should act when no one can see us. I even devoted a section on finding stands and cameras that belong to other hunters. Interestingly enough, all the students that have ever heard my speech on ethics all agreed that it is unethical to steal cameras and stands. I would have to assume that my thief must have had a bathroom break during that time.
My first thought that came to me was to stop teaching the bow classes all together. Why should I continue to volunteer my time and energy simply to give unethical people the right to be in the same hunting family as I belong? My wife convinced me to keep teaching the young kids how to be safe while bow hunting. I realized that she was right and now that I have cooled down a little I will schedule another class soon.
I need to stress the fact that I know it is not all hunters, but it is enough to give our "family" a bad name. Ethics, how we act and what we do when no one can see us. Says a lot about who we are as a person, would you not agree?