July 22 • 10:58 AM

Hunting is not a competitive sport

November 14, 2007
Hunting is not a competitive sport, although a small percentage of hunters treat it that way. And we're hearing more about it every year.

There are hunters trespassing to get the edge on another hunter and stealing treestands to force him to other areas. Some even resort to putting human hair and urine along the property line to keep deer spooked. And the list of nasty tricks hunters play on hunters goes on and on.

It's all childish, isn't it?

In Midland County, a reader called to complain of a hunter who built a giant shooting shack (18' x 30') on his own property, but facing the caller's property. It started a feud that has lasted several years now.

"His hunting shack or blind is really a house on stilts, and he and his buddies shoot anything that moves, mostly on my property I fear," he tells me in a phone conversation.

"So I put up a privacy fence, yep, an 18 foot tall privacy fence," he stated.

"It's trespassing really, I don't trespass, why would he?" he questioned.

Sportsmen pitted against sportsmen. How many horror stories have you heard of hunters battling hunters?

Hunter ethics is an important issue for all sportsmen. And in this quick-get-em-now society the stories seem to grow in number.

Recently I had a taste of this foolishness by a fellow hunter. Not only did he put a treestand illegally on my property, he continued to hunt from it after I asked him politely not to.

A young man who obviously shares the love of hunting as I do, but defies and insults a fellow hunter by ignoring my wishes. He may love to hunt, but that doesn't make him a hunter, not until he understands the concept of respect.

National statistics indicate 10 percent of all Americans are active hunters. Another 10 percent are actively opposed to hunting. The remaining 80 percent are neither for or against hunting, but have the power to control its future.

Hunting practices that violate the law are unethical. Hunters who do this are in the minority. I'd like to believe most follow the letter of the law. However, this small percentage gives all of us a bad reputation in the minds of the non-hunting public. Trespassing by hunters is at the very top of the list.

Hunter image can go a long way towards keeping or losing the support of the majority. A favorable hunter image is based on good, safe, ethical hunting practices. Anything less, even by one so-called hunter gives us all a black eye.

Our list of responsibilities is long, but not difficult to achieve.

• We can start by respecting each other as members of the same sport. Treat each other as you would want to be treated. Respect each other's time in the woods, each other's land and never trespass.

•Know and obey the hunting laws.

• Make sure your firearm is properly sighted in and in good, safe working order. Anything less is irresponsible.

•Practice your hunting and shooting skills, merely sighting in a rifle is not enough.

• Make sure you know your target and what's beyond your target.

• Know and follow all rules of gun safety.

• Respect the rights of and show consideration to non-hunters and other landowners.

•Pass on skills and knowledge as an ethical hunter to others.

• Become a woodsman and not just a deer shooter.

Hunter fragmentation will destroy us as a group. All hunters must remain united and we can only do that when hunting is ethical.

Your hunt is still your hunt. Just remember that however you pursue deer, from a ground blind, treestand, shooting shack, with archery, primitive weapons or high-powered rifles - poor ethics affects all deer hunters. The bottom line is that our actions as deer hunters must continue to keep non-hunters positive toward our sport.

Most people don't care if we hunt, they simply do not want us to flaunt our privileges or success in front of them. Our hunt is our hunt no matter how we choose to do it.

Hunt safely and ethically.

Randy is the President of Page One Inc., which publishes the Tri-City Times, Woods-N-Water News and Page One Printing Company. He has been with the company since 1980. Randy has been writing a local column for 27 years on community events, individuals, sports, hunting and fishing adventures.
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