New York Hunter Safety Course


Being An Ethical Hunter

Imagine that you are in the woods during hunting season and you are deer hunting on a piece of property owned by one of your friends. She tells you that there are too many does running around, eating crops and destroying property, and she wants you to help cull the herd. She states that she does not want anyone to shoot the antlered deer just the does. She gives you four special non-antlered damage tags, and you have your own state antlered tags. Does and bucks are legal to harvest. After sitting in the woods for hours, you hear a loud noise. You look over your shoulder and see the biggest antlered deer you have ever seen! He is just over the property line, but appears to be heading towards the fence line. What would you do?

It comes down to a matter of ethics - between what a hunter is allowed to do, and what a hunter should do. The way we think about or judge the right thing to do comes from our surroundings and the people we associate with. These types of dilemmas face hunters every day and shape who we are and how we are perceived by others. The influence on every individual to do the right thing comes from our family, peers, faith and others. There are four distinct types of dilemmas - what should a hunter do in each case?

  • Truth vs. loyalty: if your friend harvests over the legal limit, should you report them?
  • Long term vs. short term: should you shoot that buck on your friend's property?
  • Self vs. Community: should you shoot at a game bird if your companion called it first?
  • Justice vs. Mercy: should you fire at a running deer, where there is a good chance you will not get a clean harvest?

Our individual ethics shape who we are and what we will do...when no one is watching us. It forms our character and defines us as a group of individuals called safe and ethical hunters. Our individual and cultural ethics involving hunting define us - positively or negatively - to other hunters and to the general public who are non-hunters.

Others judge your ethics through your attitude and behavior.