God grants us the ability to breathe, walk and understand more than any other creature He created. So with that knowledge let us first not forget from Him all things come, and secondly let us maximize every thing he gives us!
Today I won’t be touching on what early season tactics you can use to increase your odds at being successful.
Today you won’t read a post on designing food plots or bedding areas on your property.
Today I am not going to be discussing the steps you should take post-shot to assist in recovering the deer you just shot.
No, today I want to touch on a topic many hunters shy away from or skirt around in hopes of just not having to deal with it. I have seen disagreements surrounding this topic break up friendships, relationships and ruin hunting grounds. It is all summed up in one word; accountability…and it is in that word that I feel one can find the biggest threat hunting faces.
Contrary to popular opinion the high fenced preserves (glorified farms) are not the enemy…nor are the crossbow hunters “taking over” bowhunter’s early season time frame…it isn’t the concept of leasing in order to have ground to hunt (although I dislike this trend myself)…and it definitely isn’t the fact more states are sacrificing days/weeks for youth specific seasons. All of those things are on the short list of what some hunters bring up when they discuss the negatives or bad things hunting has happening to it or surrounding it.
However, I think those things fail to compare to what I want to discuss for a minute; accountability.
Accountability, the word that depending what side of the fence you are on can be either a word described with words like integrity and respect…while others accountability might as well be a swear word. Just in case you’re confused as to what the word accountability is allow Webster to shed some light;
the quality or state of being accountable; especially : an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one's actions .
Well, that sums it up very nicely and perfectly describes what the hunting world needs…otherwise I see the slippery slope many walk on finally giving way and taking out the rest of us with it.
The headlines are undeniable and every fall they start back up with seemingly more fervor than year’s prior. Just in the past 3 days I’ve read two different reports on mature bucks being poached in both Pennsylvania as well as less than an hour away from me here in Indiana.
While it’s sad someone would stoop to the level of poaching an animal merely because of the headgear the animal carries, the worst part of it all is for every poaching instance I bet multiple people learn or know the truth YET NEVER SAY ANYTHING; that my friend is the root to what is quickly becoming an epidemic inside of our hunting community.
Sure you can say the mature or trophy buck mentality has only fed to people trespassing, illegally harvesting and poaching more as they pursue “their” trophy buck; but that isn’t the issue…the issue is the amount of hunters out there that CHOOSE to turn a blind eye to these actions.
I get it, and understand it. By talking to the authorities people might get pissed at you, but at what point does our integrity play a factor in our decisions? At what point do we revert to the idea there is right and there is wrong?
Contrary to the popular concept, there is no gray area in nearly every case we are presented with in life. There is right and there is wrong, perhaps at times it is 51% to 50% but one will nearly always outweigh the other. Yes, poaching/trespassing/illegally harvesting are all far worse things than not holding those accountable by reporting them, but remaining silent is still 100% wrong (that percentage isn’t disputable).
You see call me naïve but I refuse to believe the wrong doers out there doing all the illegal hunting activities outnumber the good ones. I cannot imagine it has gotten to that point…however by remaining silent we are building their numbers with every single act gone unchecked. Somewhere right now there is a father poaching or trespassing…and he has his 8 or 9 year old with him…add yet another number to their ranks. Also currently someone trespasses or poaches and their friend or neighboring landowner knows but isn’t going to say anything…add yet another number to their ranks.
Does it suck reporting or confronting people, YES! It can damage the image a father has with his family or kids, sure…but it is the right thing to do, not because you want to cause pain or issues in another person’s life but because you are a sportsman and you realize this sport is only as clean as we collectively make it.
The part that sucks is yes, reporting could put yourself in the crosshairs (hopefully just figuratively) of some of these trespassers/poachers or people who made a mistake of judgment (doesn’t justify it though). You may have to deal with their antics or cross town lies…but I can promise you as someone who is currently dealing with a similar situation you will sleep better knowing you did right than knowing you overlooked a wrong.
I guess what this long “rant” is trying to say is I’m challenging every single brother and sister I have in the hunting community. This is a challenge to refuse to let this sport known as hunting become infected internally…infecting us from within the ranks and slowly creeping throughout our masses becoming the majority.
Know a crime has been committed? Confront the person AT MINIMUM, obviously if any kind of legal issues can be avoided this at times is the better option however don’t hesitate to contact your local Conservation Officer! That is the only way trespassing, poaching, illegal activities and more can be battled. Ignoring them allows them merely more room to grow and YOU become the reason it exists to the degree it does. Do not expect your local conservation officers to catch them…those folks are vastly underpaid, overworked and underappreciated.
It is time each and every hunter realize this sport is only as clean as we collectively make it…and at times it is not going to be the easy, comfortable or safe thing to do…but we do it for the future of the pursuit we all love and hold so dear. Our next generation of hunters will thank us for it, trust me.