I came across this article on the internet, and as my house reverberates with hunters shots that I can only hope have picked up a few safety habits and practices over the past year, I thought it might do well to post it as a reminder to other hunters that poor safety practices and land owner alienation only ends up hurting the reputation and rights of those who hunt and shoot.
Moronic dove hunters need to be cited
Jim Matthews, www.OutdoorNewsService.com
Created: 08/20/2009 10:58:33 PM PDT
Dove hunting season opens in a little more than a week on Sept. 1, and each year there are fewer and fewer places to hunt.
The reason is simple. Dove season seems to attract the lowest element of the hunting community, and private farm and ranchlands where hunters were welcome in the past now are closed because of these few ... well, I'll just say it: morons.
They're inconsiderate idiots who apparently have no idea what's at stake here.
They are the guys who arrive at a popular and crowded field five minutes before shooting time, and walk out in front of or set up too close to guys who've been in the spot for an hour, and then they give anyone lip who mentions their transgression.
They are the ones who shoot too many birds and don't bother to retrieve the ones that sail out too far or crash into brush behind them.
They leave their shotgun empties and trash strewn around where they shoot.
They shoot at low birds, peppering other hunters, and then have the audacity to yell at someone else who might do the same thing to them.
Are you that guy?
You certainly know one or two of them. Perhaps you even tolerate their behavior each year and hunt with them. They have a litany of offenses that offend farmers and other hunters, leave game wardens shaking their heads and give this noble family tradition of hunting a black eye in the non-hunting community.
Robert Pierce, who manages Walter's Camp on the Colorado
River south of Palo Verde, said he "hates to hunt opening day any more because of the people I have to share it with."
Pierce winced when he tells the story of how dove hunters lost the right to hunt a big chunk (more than 10,000 acres of farmland) in the lower Palo Verde Valley about a dozen years ago. A local landowner was driving down a dirt road opening morning, enjoying the sportsmen around his fields, when shot peppered his truck. He was struck by pellets coming in the open truck window.
The shooter was just 100 yards away and had shot at a low bird. The landowner drove over to the hunter and suggested he probably shouldn't shoot low birds, with blood running down his cheek graphically explaining why.
"Do you know what the stupid SOB hunter said?" Pierce said. "He told my friend that he shouldn't be riding around with his window down on opening day of dove season. That was the last year any of his lands were open to hunting and they are still posted."
It takes just one to ruin it for everyone else. The problem is best solved when you can address the offender's pocketbook.
Ray Aspa Sr., acting chief of the fish and game department for the Colorado River Indian Tribes' huge reservation on the river between Blythe and Havasu, said when the tribal council agreed to increase the price of the CRIT hunting license from $35 to $75, there was an unexpected benefit.
"It got rid of the riff-raff. We have far fewer problems than we had in the past," Aspa said.
There were fewer hunters driving in farm fields, less trash and fewer other violations.
Rarely do the offending slobs get caught by law enforcement and have to pay for their violations, and they seem to shun friendly advice and education from other hunters.
Like a lot of my hunting friends, I frequently ask other hunters not to forget to pick up their empties and trash and frequently have expletives hurled my way.
One buddy, after getting peppered three times by the same hunter shooting at low doves streaking into a field, yelled again at the guy to "knock off shooting at the low birds."
Proving that my friend's description was correct, the low-bird shooter threw up his gun and deliberately shot at my buddy, peppering him with shot and expletives. That was before we all carried cell phones.
To protect our hunting heritage, we all need to help enforcement officers. Give the hunters who are breaking the rules (including your hunting acquaintances) a chance to do the right thing. But if they don't respond to your verbal coaching, it's time to take photographs, record car license plates, perhaps even collect a couple water bottles they leave (for fingerprints) and photograph all the trash they leave behind.
Don't put yourself in jeopardy or be confrontational, but get the evidence. Then find a game warden or sheriff and tell them you want the offenders cited.
Pierce likes to tell this story: He and an off-duty sheriff were working on a satellite dish during dove season a couple seasons ago. There were hunters nearby on private land, and Pierce and his friend were peppered when the hunters shot at a low bird. The sheriff walked over and asked the guys to be more careful and reminded them they were on private land. Pierce said he could hear them argue with the sheriff, with the kicker, "You're not a cop."
The sheriff didn't say another word, walked back to the satellite dish, told Pierce he had to go to work and went inside his house. He came out dressed in his uniform and with his K-9 dog. On his drive around the field, he called the landowner and made sure the owner didn't mind him citing some hunters for trespass. They were cited for a litany of violations and had their guns confiscated. The cost of those citations was substantial.
Rather than raising the cost of hunting for all of us (like the CRIT did), those are the kind of targeted "fee increases" that might help rid our ranks of the riff-raff. You and I can help.
It's attitudes and practices like in this article that make me feel that the only good dove hunter is the one at the bottom of an abandoned well...
There are fields by me that are regularly hunted during dove season. They've swept me countless times as I drive past, they've shot my house and property, they shoot across the roads, they shoot at low birds. I've had them shoot birds over my truck as I drove past, birds that fell into the ditch beside me. They've been charged with baiting.
Their carelessness and past transgressions have made me painfully aware that during dove season I'm not safe driving down the road, working outside on my property, or even being near windows in my house. As a result it's severely soured me on dove hunters and dove hunting. Not that it's going to happen, but given the chance to vote against it, I would.
To the safety conscious hunters out there who respect the landowners around them, I salute you.
To the others, keep your eyes on the skies and let your feet find their own way...