The Hunting Ethics Lessons Begin
As the season here in Illinois draws closer, I can’t help but remember my first hunting ethics lesson I learned during my first deer hunting trip. I was being shown what scouting was and how to do it from my dad when we stumbled across a climbing stand near the base of a tree not too far off from our ridge stand. As we tried to confirm that it was from someone who was allowed to hunt on the property (there was a total of 4 guys that were given the okay), I happened to notice a white trash bag hidden under some leaves about 5 yards away from the base of the tree. I opened the bag to find what I can only describe as a complete poachers kit. There was a mountable light that looked as though it would fit on a shotgun along with a large 6 volt battery to power the light. Also in the bag was a molasses block and a jar of peanut butter. If I’m not mistaken, there were a few other items in there that should not have been as well.
Before I get a bunch of people telling me that there is nothing wrong with baiting, I need to express that I am all for baiting if you live in a state that is okay with it. Personally, I don’t like it and would never use a commercial bait product. However, I’m a true believer in the phrase “to each his own”. I couldn’t care less if you chose to use bait so long as you are following the laws in the area you are hunting.
So for the second time, we were faced with a decision on what action to take. Luckily, my dad was not going to let the opportunity go by to teach me just how wrong that was. We took the bag and stand straight to the land owner. It would take a few months before we ended up finding out where that stuff had come from. My dad was relieved to find out that the source of the illegal bait and lights were not anyone that he had chosen to associate and hunt with but rather the father of the landowner’s son’s girlfriend whom we had had the chance to meet that season. Needless to say, he wasn’t invited back. To this day I am unsure of whether or not the landowner turned the potential poacher in or not, but I do know that he is still the butt of several jokes and conversations that have been had over the years.
Though we all talk often about being an ethical hunter, it saddens me to know that there are still so many unethical hunters out there that make the majority of us look bad to those that don’t like hunting. After last season, I lost my only local hunting location because the landowners have a poaching problem that they have dealt with for years. In fact, last season the tenant of the home on the property found a deer carcass with the head cut off, a clear sign that a poacher had a successful hunt. The only way they can try to get a handle on it is to no longer allow anyone to hunt on the property so there is no confusion is someone is noticed. What gets me the most is that there are people who know who this guy is and protect him rather than turn him in or even give the information to someone who would (like me). Until all hunters and non hunters alike are willing to turn in anyone with unethical hunting practices, we will continue to have doubters and naysayers attacking the pass-time we hold so near and dear to our hearts.