What We Learned From Hunter Education
Chapter 18 of the VDGIF Hunter Education student manual is on ethics. It’s four pages long and one of the most important parts of the training course a first time hunter must pass before becoming eligible to purchase a hunting license.
Ethics is essentially a word used to describe what is right and wrong, good and bad.
How do we learn ethics?
Many of us learn them as children through our churches and parents. As we grow into adults we use this foundation to govern our actions in our professions as well as everyday decisions.
How does one’s ethics apply to hunting?
As Hunter Education Instructor Ed Crebbs would put it: “It’s about doing it right”.
During my recent stint as one of Crebb’s students for my 10-year-old son’s Hunter Education session, he and a I listened as the 20-year veteran instructor explained his view of the ethics of hunting.
He is an excellent storyteller, and I’d like to share one he told us that helped bring young minds to a better understanding of hunting ethics.
Some years back, Crebbs and his hunting buddies were invited to hunt a piece of land owned by a fellow by the name of Jimmy that leased it to a hunt club.
As Crebbs told the story his crew showed up and Jimmy told them to “Go on down past the second gate, hang left on the Trash Road and see what you find in there. Usually there are plenty of deer.”
Crebbs did as instructed and found the place and there were deer. There was also a lot of trash, which was cleaned up and put in the trucks of those present hunting.
Near the end of the day, Jimmy drove his tractor on down to see how his guests were fairing. He saw the trucks were parked where he asked them to park and that they held much of the garbage that had characterized the Trash Road.
He saw the couple of deer Ed and his friends had killed and wished them well at the end of the hunt.
As the hunters were about to leave, Crebbs recalled seeing another fellow pull in and let Jimmy know he had some deer hounds loose beyond another gate and that he was going to use his electronic tracker to find them.
Jimmy nodded and the fellow continued on down to a hay field.
Turns out when Jimmy next visited that hay field it was covered with ruts where the tracker had driven and torn it up.
“He called the president of the hunt club that was leasing the land and told them not to come back. That boy tracking the dogs was the vice president,” Crebbs told us. “Jimmy also called me and asked if we would like to hunt his property. I told him we’d love to but probably didn’t have the lease money. He said, ‘Who said anything about money.’”
Crebbs’ buddies did take up a collection and paid the farmer’s taxes and continued to clean up trash and hunt the right way on Jimmy’s property. Some story, huh?
Ethical behavior is demonstrated in nearly everything we do. To Crebbs and many of us, it’s more than just following the game laws, seasons and limits.
Do you rush off after the hunt to your next appointment/activity or do you drive the extra two miles back to the farmer’s home and thank them for the opportunity and offer them some of your game?
Do you parade your deer for hours to every convenience store in the county.
Do you try and recover every dove you down?
Do you use offensive language to describe how you made a shot that could offend non-hunters?
Do you wear possibly offensive t-shirts like “Happiness Is A Large Gutpile?”
Here are several passages right out of the Hunter Education manual about ethical hunters I think worth sharing.
“Ethical hunters are part of the landscape, not intruders.”
“Ethical hunters are as concerned about the environment and non-game as they are about the pursuit of game.”
Ethical hunters are supporters of wildlife management, game laws and enforcement.”
“Ethical hunters learn about the game, its habitat, habits and lifecycles.”
“Ethical hunters know the seasons, regulations, limits and reasons for them.”
”Ethical hunters know the capabilities and limitations of the tools they use.”
“Ethical hunters practice to develop the skills to shoot accurately and safely.”
”Ethical hunters insist that their companions follow safe practices and game laws.”
These are part of a list compiled by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources that every hunter should read. If you’d like the complete list, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ed Crebbs and his fellow instructors like Bar Delk are striving to create a new breed of Virginia hunter, and I was proud to be a part of the effort, especially when they taught the code of ethics we must hold ourselves to every season.
Until next time remember to cherish, protect and conserve the outdoors while sharing it with others.