Minnesota Hunter Safety Course


Being An Ethical Hunter

Imagine that you are on a morning hunt from your treestand. It's a clear, cold day with fresh snow from the night before, the perfect day for a deer hunt. After a while of sitting quietly in your stand, you spot a great big buck heading your way. After determining that it is safe and legal to shoot, you take aim and squeeze the trigger, and the buck goes down almost immediately.

After taking your time to unload and lower your firearm from the treestand, you head down yourself to retrieve the animal. Approaching it with caution, you give it a few pokes and determine that it has indeed expired. As you're getting ready to fill out your license tag, another hunter approaches and claims that it is his deer. Thinking back, you recall that you did hear a few shots earlier in the morning. What to do?

It comes down to a matter of ethics - between what is right and what is wrong. The way we think about or judge what is right or wrong comes from our surroundings and the people we associate with. The influence on every individual to do what is right or wrong comes from a myriad of places, including family, friends, peers, church, etc.

Aldo Leopold is known as a pioneer in wildlife ethics. His definition of "ethics" is still used today - defined as doing the right thing, when no one is watching. A quote from his book, "A sand County Almanac" is used to define the ethical hunter:

"A peculiar virtue in wildlife ethics is that the hunter ordinarily has no gallery to applaud or disapprove of his conduct. Whatever his acts, they are directed by his own conscience rather than by a mob of onlookers. It is difficult to exaggerate the importance of this fact."

Quote from "A Sand County Almanac" by Aldo Leopold