Sunday, December 27, 2009


Hunting ethics is a hard thing to define. We are often far away from civilization and the scrutiny of the eyes of people. Most of the time we are only judged by ourselves or the group we hunt with. That is why I think hunting ethics are so important. It's so easy to do one thing and preach another when it comes to hunting.

I watched an incident this morning that really brought this issue to heart. I live in an area that has lots of wildlife and has a landowner permit elk hunt. With my spotting scope I see many things that I don't consider quite ethical. Although legal, not ethical in my eyes. This morning a gal shot an elk leaving a haystack. When she walked up to it to grab the leg it kicked at her. She jumped back and than reached down to grab its leg again. Once again the elk kicked at her. She jumped back and started kicking the elk with her rifle over her shoulder. A few minutes later two men showed up in a four wheel drive truck, hooked a rope around the elks neck and drug her down into a draw where I assume they gutted the animal. Hopefully the elk had expired before they drug her off.

I don't consider shooting an elk the way that they did as hunting, but that is my personal feeling. But I do know that letting the elk suffer due to the 75 cent bullet cost or whatever other reason, is unethical and shows no respect for the animal. We chastise wolves, coyotes, bears,etc. for their cruel ways. But yet we, as the animal with the ability to reason, do the same without conscience.

As a bird hunter we have to decide on an abundance of ethics topics. Road hunting is one. Is road hunting ethical? To me it is a form of laziness. But what about the handicapped person? Should that person have to give up hunting just because he has become disabled? I don't think so. But the guy that is riding along with him or her that can't contain himself and jumps out of the rig and runs down the road slaughtering as many birds as he can is a hunting slob in my eyes. Not only did he give hunters a black eye, he cheated the people with him out of getting a chance to get a bird. I saw this happen once and that was exactly my feeling at the time.

Ground sluicing. Shooting a bird on the ground. In my eyes that is not fair chase. But many, especially chukar and pheasant hunters, think this as acceptable. Pheasants running down the corn rows and not taking flight are hard not to fire upon; neither is a chukar running up hill and won't take flight until he is out of range. Some of the people I hunt with wouldn't hesitate to take a bird that way. I reserve judgement on them and don't believe they should hold themselves to my standards. My personal ethics won't allow me to shoot birds on the ground. I get plenty of birds throughout the year and for me to shoot one on the ground would serve no purpose.

Party hunting. Shooting birds until everyone has there limit. I believe in most states this is also illegal but most people do it anyway. Especially water fowl hunters. When you're all shooting from a blind who knows who shot what? But most upland bird hunters have a pretty good idea of who shot what bird. The people I hunt with and I have an understanding. That is, we only shoot our own birds. I don't want anyone to deprive me of hunting opportunity and I won't do that either. It is such a thrill to get a shot at a bird, especially off point, and I don't want another hunter to take that away from me by shooting part of my limit. By the same token it is almost as exciting for me to empty my gun and watch another try to fulfil his limit.

Dispatching a crippled bird. Why should a bird be any different than the elk mentioned. They should not have to suffer, nor should we give more than our best effort to recover cripples.

There are a lot of simple little things that define your ethics out in the field. How you treat others property. Picking up trash, which includes your spent hulls. How do you conduct yourself around other hunters and non hunters in the field? Do you respect a hunting spot another hunter might have taken you to, or do you end up taking all your friends to it? Do you step aside and let someone else take a shot or do you always have to be in the action? These are just a few of the questions you have to ask yourself.

Ethics don't define us as good or bad people. Unless they are illegal. But our ethics help to define who we might want to hunt with or who might want to hunt with us. Just try to always do the right thing whatever you choose that to be.


Anonymous said...

Do you have a preference in dog breed for chukars and how far do you let them range?

Wild Willie

larry szurgot said...

I'm asked those questions quite often by people wanting to get into chukar hunting. I'll start a new post on that subject. Hopefully it will answer your questions. If not let me know, I love talking dogs.

HuntsBirds said...

Love the post Larry! I wish more people would think about these things too. I was in an area today that people had been target shooting and it was a bloody mess. shot up computers, air conditioners, etc. Ethics involve so many different aspects. Thanks again for the post. I really like your site.

larry szurgot said...

People like that don't even think about the black eye it gives hunting and shooting groups. They are selfish and care only about themselves.

larry szurgot said...

I picked up a couple of plastic water bottles left on the hill today. Made me think about getting the upland idaho group together for a clean up day in some of our hunting grounds. It would be a good excuse to take the dogs out for some pictures and training while picking up the junk left on the hills. Who knows, might even find a shed or two.