It seems to me that through the years, we may have forgotten the unwritten rules or “code” that all hunters should live by. I’m not exactly sure how this happened or when it happened, but as I visit with today’s hunters, I am convinced that it has happened. Maybe we failed to stress the importance of our code as we taught the next generation to hunt, or maybe many of today’s hunters picked up the sport without a strong mentor. In order to help us as hunters get back on the right track, I am going to write the code, or “rule book” as I see it.
(Respect Other’s Property) This should be an absolute no brainer. I have personally had deer stands, feeders, and game cameras that all of a sudden disappeared. Just the other day, I was talking to a friend who had his stolen as well. Guess who is doing the stealing??? Fellow hunters! Think about it. Who else is walking around deep in the woods? Who else wants a corn feeder of their very own? This stealing from each other is an absolute embarrassment to hunters and has to stop. If it isn’t yours, leave it alone.
(Respect Other People’s Space) Whether you are on a deer lease, or hunting public land, the rule should be the same. Don’t crowd your fellow hunter. If you are setting up a new deer stand and realize that someone else has already set up a hundred and fifty yards way, move further. Many lease rules have a minimum required distance between stands. On the place where I hog hunt it is 200 yards. I feel this is too close, yet people can’t even seem to even stay that far away. Remember this is 200 yards in every direction.
This rule also applies to duck hunting. I remember a hunt I had a few years ago in the Middleton marsh near High Island. We had walked in early and were among the first to our spot. Once we set up, other hunters slowly trickled in and began to get way to close. By the time the sun came up it was evident that unless a duck dove down from straight over head, it would be impossible for one to come in without someone else shooting first. We had been flanked. Even though there were rules as to how close someone could set up, they had not been followed. We simply packed up and left vowing not to return.
(Eat What You Kill) This one is easy and doesn’t need much explanation. If you don’t plan on eating it, don’t shoot it. I would make an exception to this rule and add that giving it to someone who will eat it is a good option as well. I have several friends who love to eat duck but are not duck hunters. As an avid waterfowler, I have the chance to kill many ducks each season. I usually keep a few to put on the grill and give the rest to my friends. Everyone ends up happy and I get to see the smiles on their faces when they are blessed with fresh duck.
I understand the hog problem that we have in Texas. However, I still don’t understand shooting an animal and leaving it to rot when someone else would have loved to have eaten it. If you are going on a hog hunt in the name of population control, I urge you to make a few calls before you go to see if someone wants the hogs you kill. Even though these animals are a threat to our ecosystem, they are welcome at my table anytime and taste great! If you kill them, make sure they get eaten.
(No freeloading) Make sure you do your part. If you are on a lease, be sure to attend the work days. If you hunt with a buddy and use his equipment, be sure to stick around for the clean up. Help put out or pick up the duck decoys. Offer to help build blinds and help out with camp chores. Not only is this the right thing to do, it will help you enjoy the hunt more as you will feel part of the team.
Also remember to pay your share. Boats and trucks don’t run on thank you. They run on gas and it’s not cheap. If someone takes you out in their rig simply pay for the gas yourself. Trust me, it is way cheaper than a boat note!
(Pay it forward) As hunters, we have the responsively of keeping our sport alive. Although there are some people who learn to hunt on their own, most are taught by someone else. I encourage you to be that someone. Take the time to take a child or maybe even a coworker on a hunting trip. Teach them how to hunt, teach them gun safety, and share with them the hunters code of conduct. Remember the person or people who took the time to teach you and simply do the same.
Being able to hunt is a great privilege. I have always been taught that along with privilege comes responsibility. I encourage you to take the time to hunt and enjoy God’s creation. However, I ask that you do it responsibly and always be considerate of other while you follow the Hunter’s Code of Conduct. May God bless you and may all of your days afield be fruitful.
Brian Johnson (Duckdogtrainer.com)