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Old November 23, 2011, 10:31 AM   #1
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Hunting Ethics

hello all.
so I've been hunting most of my life and I vaguely recall the hunting ethics portion of hunters safety though it wasn't an overly long chapter or very indepth discussion. I have on numerous occasions been called an unethical hunter and I'm just a little confused. from my understanding an ethical hunter must not only obey all hunting regulations and laws but must also respect the game he is hunting.

now these are just for matter of example but I have read numerous threads about guys/gals that have made clean kills with smaller caliber rounds(I'm going to keep this as generic as possible) and have been maligned and called unethical hunters because they have caused so much undue trauma to an animal by using an inadequate round while at the same time I read about guys shooting an animal in the rump with a howitzer and tracking it for hours before finding it still struggling to escape and after putting it out of it's misery was lauded and congratulated for a good kill.

how was the second an ethical kill while the first caused undue suffering and pain?
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Old November 23, 2011, 10:53 AM   #2
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Guidelines for ethical hunting...

- Obey and comply with all federal, state, and local hunting/game laws. Regardless if you agree with them or not. You can't really call yourself ethical if you hunt illegally.

- Comply with the landowner's rules for use of their land. Pay your lease fees on time. Don't trespass on other land, ask permission first.

- Use a caliber/gauge sufficient to quickly and cleanly kill the animals you pursue. Also use ammunition designed for hunting the game you pursue, this will aid in the quick and clean kill. I don't care if it's a .22-250 or a .416... As long as you can make quick, clean, ethical kills, I don't care (though you should comply with all caliber restrictions where you hunt).

- Practice, practice, practice. Shooting from a bench is not good field practice. Shoot from field positions, even if you hunt from a stand or shooting house with a rest. You have to walk in and walk out, and the animals might be en route.

- Make an ethical shot, you should be able to if you practice enough. Head shot, neck shot, high shoulder, behind the shoulder.... I'll leave it up to you to determine what constitutes ethical shot placement for the size and species of game you hunt with the caliber, bullet type, and range you will be hunting.

- Know when a (potential) shot is no good. Could be the range, angle, wind, visibility, or any number of other factors. Know when you should pass on a shot.

- Obviously, always follow the 4 Golden Rules of Gun Handling.

I'm sure others will add their opinions, all is welcome.

EDIT: Two more

- Once the kill is complete, use all the meat of your game. I'm tired of seeing dead deer in the woods with nothing but backstraps cut out. Use all four quarters, backstraps, tenderloin/sweet meat, ribs, there's some good cuts of neck meat too if you take the time to cut it out.

- Dispose of the carcass properly. There are local laws in many areas which dictate what you can/can't do. Burying the carcass is a widely accepted method, as is burning if you live out in the sticks. DO NOT carelessly toss the carcass in a ditch, stream/river/lake, or on someone else's land...
"To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them." -Richard Henry Lee, Virginia delegate to the Continental Congress, initiator of the Declaration of Independence, and member of the first Senate, which passed the Bill of Rights.

Last edited by jgcoastie; November 23, 2011 at 11:08 AM.
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Old November 23, 2011, 11:19 AM   #3
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I agree with jg.

I guess I'm kind of a throwback, but I'm a one shot, one kill, kind of hunter. I've had to let a lot of game walk because the shot just wasn't there. I've had guys hunt with me, that I sit next to at the range, and they can't get 3 shot groups in a 6" pie plate at 100 yards. These same guys will start blasting away at a deer running across a pasture at 300 yards, and if they hit it, will tell me about it, like I'm supposed to be impressed.

To me, that it unethical. But try to tell that to the guy that's taking the deer home.
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Old November 23, 2011, 11:37 AM   #4
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I like wild bills answer.

We have a pit for Varmints and carcasses as well as other animals that had an unscheduled departure from living. It actually keeps most of the coyotes away from the farm animals and the pit stays pretty clean.
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Old November 23, 2011, 11:48 AM   #5
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we cant burn without a permit from the EPA... it's one of the most idiotic laws that I find myself obeying. we do have dogs though and they usually eat quite well around hunting season. they get everything we don't use so they get a pretty solid diet of protien and fat and after they strip the bones they bury them so by springtime they have a nice soft chew toy.
ignore my complete lack of capitalization. I still have no problem correcting your grammar.
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Old November 23, 2011, 11:54 AM   #6
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I'm with Wild Bill and Rickyrick, though my final disposal of bones and scraps is not in a pit but is in my favorite Coyote hunting field. That brings the coyotes to me, so you might say that I'm getting full value from the deer or hog.

And this new thing that everyone mentions - hunting ethics - is just sportsmanship as we practiced it prior to new word usages for political correctness. I much prefer the use of the word "sportsmanship", since it can be used over such a wide range of endeavors and is a good word with deep meaning that was used by our grandfathers and their grandfathers.
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Old November 23, 2011, 12:14 PM   #7
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I have a couple of thoughts on this one in regards to JG post. If it is illegal in the region that you hunt in then it is unethical and sometimes even if it is legal it can still be unethical. I'll give an example of the second it is something that I did that now that I think about it was probably on the unethical side.

First off the animal being hunted was a pronghorn and you need to understand the regulations a little bit. The CO hunting regulations state that I must us a minimum of 6mm/.243 bore and a 70 grain bullet. The cartridge must generate 1000 ft-lbs of energy at 100 yards as rated by manufacturer to hunt pronghorn.

I built a wildcat rifle that just met the minimum requirements to be legal for hunting in Colorado. My problem was bullet selection as I used a 6mm 70 grain Nosler BT varmint bullet to take my pronghorn. I was lucky enough to have a successful result using that bullet, but I feel that I wouldn’t be as lucky every time I’d hunt pronghorn with that round. I knowingly used a bullet that wasn’t designed for the task I asked it to do so even though I was legal I feel that what I did didn’t show the respect the game deserved and was unethical.

Simple decision for me is to stop using the rifle for game larger than varmints until I can find a hunting bullet that will work with it. Until then I just have an awesomely accurate varmint rifle and I’ll have to be satisfied with that. I’ll just use my .243 Win or larger with a heavier hunting bullet.
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Old November 23, 2011, 12:35 PM   #8
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I like jgcoastie's list, but it's a little long for me to remember easily.
I like to lump things together, so my list is a little shorter:
1. Don't break the law. Know the laws. Read the rules yourself.
2. Don't offend your neighbors. Respect other people's land, camp spots, etc.
3. Don't make anything suffer more than it has to. Don't waste what you kill.

It's always a volatile debate when you discuss ethics with a sport that involves killing.
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Old November 23, 2011, 05:30 PM   #9
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List the specific situation that your have in mind!!

I have on numerous occasions been called an unethical hunter and I'm just a little confused.
I occasionally am asked to teach the ethics portion of our Hunter Safety classes. My presentaion is fairly general and basic. Why ???

Because we all have our own personal hunting code that involves and whole bunch of Do's and Don'ts. Personal hunting codes are never identicle and the list is varied and sometimes rather complex. There are times when hunting codes conflict; still ethical and legal.

One excercise is situational and I hand out lists of situations where the students determine if it's ethical or not. We then go into why it is or is not. Its gets somewhat interesting. ....

Now, given that, I would ask you to pose the specific situation that you might be referiing to. Don't be surprised when you get conflicting replies. In the end, you have to nake the important measure.

Do your your best, in your own best ways and;
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Old November 23, 2011, 06:27 PM   #10
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Wild Bill, I like your demeanor.. Most hunters, or let's just say the majority of hunters, are weekenders or just seasonal type sportsman. I like to think of myself and my family as a functioning-hunting family, that hunts every thing the year out. Most of all we practice, Safety and Marksmanship, and when I became a responsible hunter, and then passed it down to my children,(4 of 5 hunt) we practice ethics to a fault almost. I'm pleased to say that mostly we take deer with clean "one-shot" kills, and my kids know this to be important and do their best each and every time we hunt.:

I really think that the "status symbol" of the true hunter is what is highly coveted,,,, and I think people will try to attain it by any means (sadly).

Teach your children to be responsible humans first and to be responsible hunters secondly,, and then it all fits together naturally, I believe.

Pahoo said it best "Do your best, in your own best ways, and then be safe!!!
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Old November 23, 2011, 07:36 PM   #11
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A couple of thoughts: I think it is unethical to shoot birds feeding on the ground... They should be flushed then shot at. Except of course for Turkeys.

An eithical dilemma I frequently ponder and even Conservation Officers differ on the answer. And I find in slightly different circumstances my own answer varies. If you're out in the woods without access to the authorities and you see a maimed animal obviously dying a painful, prolonged death, would you shoot it to end its misery?

I once saw a gutshot doe walk up by my watch and lie down to rest before moving on. It was obvious she would not survive. To this day I have felt guilty about not ending her misery, but it would have been illegal to do it. In this case I honestly feel that obeying the law was unethical.
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Old November 23, 2011, 07:48 PM   #12
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Good one !!

If you're out in the woods without access to the authorities and you see a maimed animal obviously dying a painful, prolonged death, would you shoot it to end its misery?
Excellent example of a situational question that would challenge one's hunting code. Keep in mind that conservation officers have to follow the letter of the law as apposed to the sprit of the law. They usually deal in black and white but sometimes in grey areas. Personally, I would put the animal out of it's misery and live with the consequences. ....

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Old November 23, 2011, 08:47 PM   #13
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I pretty much understand the reason for most of the Texas regulations, so I don't have any problem with staying legal. But I'd never refrain from ending the misery of a previously-wounded animal, no matter what the law says. If the regs say not to, the regs are unethical and I'll stick with what I believe is right. My own code says that suffering is Not Good.

My own hunting ethic is for a clean kill. If my shot is not likely to be that, I just won't take the shot. That's easy. I'm not into shoot-and-hope.

As far as birds on the ground? If you only shoot at flying blue quail in the desert, you're gonna have to be good at 50-yard shots. Or buy chicken at the grocery. I don't call them "run-run birds" for no good reason.
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Old November 23, 2011, 09:46 PM   #14
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I agree with pretty much everything that has been said except those statements that equated the law with morality. In my point of view, the law ceased long ago to coincide with what is right. By all means, follow the game laws, but not because right and wrong are somehow part of them ... follow them because it's not worth suffering the consequences of doing otherwise.

I have a hard time with the idea that the decree of some government employee hundreds of miles away in an office has anything to do with the morality of my actions during hunting or, in fact, any other time. Witness the law that makes modifying an SKS with a springloaded firing pin (to prevent slamfires!) a felony. There are plenty more examples if you pay attention. I will reconsider the idea that breaking the law is immoral when they send around contracts for each person to agree voluntarily under no duress or penalty to abide by a new law. At that point, your personal honor and integrity enter the picture. Until that time, many laws are just arbitrary rules we are coerced into following whether we agree with them or not.

I mean honestly... do you think that killing a deer after sunset is morally wrong? What about shooting geese with a 22 or using a 30.06 for deer in Indiana? Game laws are so far from being linked with morality that it's not even funny.

Kill em clean, kill em quick and kindly, and don't kill em if there aren't too many around. Really, if everyone followed those rules the whole game regs book could be chucked and there would be a lot of sad game wardens.
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Old November 23, 2011, 09:50 PM   #15
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I think a little common sence goes a long way.Slow down think about your shot instead of going Rambo.Most of us know the difference in right & wrong its just making the right decison gets in the way. Safety,common sence,respect for others & game will keep you out of trouble most of the time.Ethic's are like opinions everyone has one They're never going to be the same for ALL!!!
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Old November 23, 2011, 09:51 PM   #16
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+1 for Art. I don't have any experience with run-run birds but I would definitely end the life of any suffering animal.
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Old November 24, 2011, 07:49 AM   #17
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Besides, most hunting ammo cost to much just to be sending rounds on the general direction of an animal, but, if a second shot were to be needed to speed things along, I wouldn't hesitate.

Most people should know and recognize the signs of impending death, and be ready to react if they think the animal is still aware in the least bit.

You have to have the discipline to pass on the shot if needed, that's number one. Number two, if you get "buck fever" or whatever you choose to call it, you need discipline to pause and wait for it to calm down.

Don't forget to put the safety back on and check your rifle before heading out to collect your prize. That's an exciting time so becareful.
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Old November 30, 2011, 08:19 AM   #18
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Maybe I'm a hopeless optimist - or maybe just a fool - but I think that most who go afield know the difference between right and wrong.
But how they act on that knowledge is perhaps a different thing.

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Old November 30, 2011, 07:26 PM   #19
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I help teach hunter safety and the definition of ethical we give to new hunters is "doing the right thing when no one else is around". Following game laws is not being's being responsible and legal. Ethics are subjective and are a matter of opinion, where in most cases laws and regulations are objective and are not open to discretion. In many cases, just because something is legal does not make it ethical for the area or to those doing the hunting. Baiting and the shooting of animals within an enclosure are examples. While legal in many areas, most "ethical" hunters refrain or do not practice these techniques. Needless to say, the topic of ethics is as volatile as politics or religion. Staying within a states bag limit is not being ethical, it being legal. Stopping your hunt before reaching a states bag limit because you don't think that particular game species in that area can take the pressure is ethics. Taking poor and low percentage shots at game animals is still legal in most states as long as one still makes every attempt to retrieve the animal. Using one's discretion and limiting one's self to only good and high percentage shots is ethics. Sometimes, as in the case of putting down an injured or previously wounded animal outside of hunting hours or without the proper license or tag may be ethical, unfortunately in most cases, it is illegal.
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Old December 4, 2011, 12:58 PM   #20
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the sad part is, the dirtbag unethical poacher does not care about any game laws anyway! they are going to continue to do what they do, regardless. that goes for any criminal and any law...they dont care.
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Old December 5, 2011, 12:47 AM   #21
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Lot of good comments here. Makes you think a little. I'm pretty much with PaHoo's ideas. When it comes to ethics you have to make your own rules and live by them. Talk about wasting ammo, I really could not get out for deer season the first day and went out about 2 hours the first day around home. It is a shotgun area and I have never hunted in one before. I don't believe anybody I heard shoot let loose with less than 5 rounds. I am thinking a lot of wounded deer running now, but I hope I am wrong.
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Old December 5, 2011, 02:06 AM   #22
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During game seasons and/or good times where survival does not require game meat...

1)obey all game laws
2)afford the critter on the other end of the rifle the same respect I would like if I were about to be "dispatched" by gun fire...
3)treat the dead animal with the utmost care to insure fresh meat for my family...

4)don't disrespect the life of the animal capable of providing sustenance and life to me and mine...

Oh yeah... know what lies beyond the critter when I free the sear...

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Old December 5, 2011, 12:29 PM   #23
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Questioning Public safety laws is in itself unethical.
In MN Firearms safety, Ethics are now taught by the conservation officer.
There are too many personal Codes that people live by and feel anyone not walking by that code to be unethical.
One that gets me all the time is in the training films the ethical hunter always looks the part. Always dressed in the latest field dress Bass Pro and cabelas sells and the slob hunter, (read; road hunter, shooting ducks on the water, shooting onto private land and such are dressed like labors/farm boys!
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Old December 5, 2011, 02:15 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Gbro
Questioning Public safety laws is in itself unethical.
Respectfully, I disagree. To the contrary, I think that it is the duty of every citizen to question the law, whether it may be pubic safety or not. We are not free to ignore the law, but we are certainly have a duty to question the law. We also have a duty to write, call, email, and generally raise hell at our elected officials to change laws that might be inimical to the freedoms we all share.
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Old December 5, 2011, 02:30 PM   #25
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With respect...When its comes to 'pubic safety' you can bet I'll question most laws.

Guess you knew that one wasn't gonna be left alone...

...but most public safety hunting laws that are written around here are written with the benefit of the majority in mind. I would also wish the trespassing laws and the proof of written permission to be hunting said property would be more forcefully enforced.

Last edited by shortwave; December 5, 2011 at 03:07 PM.
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