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What is an ethical outsider, what does that mean? Of course you have the rules and laws for game and fish. It is very important for outdoorsmen and women to know the laws and regulations for the area where they hunt or fish and follow them to the letter. Things like, always having the right license, permits and tags, open seasons, open areas, bag limits, size or location limits, catch and release regulations and so on.
And these regulations will vary from state to state, county to county and even lake to lake.
It is your responsibility as an ethical outdoorsman to know before you go. It’s easy to get a copy of the hunting or fishing regulations for your state or any other state online.
But being an ethical outsider goes much deeper than written laws and regulations. It comes from your heart and soul and who you are as a person, comes from your love for the outdoors. It’s about doing the right thing when no one is looking and when they are, too. It is about honesty, respect, care and courtesy. It’s about how you value your time in nature and that of others.
The ethical expert cares about the land and resources and preserving both for future generations. Outdoorsman are original conservationists and have always been good stewards of the land and its resources. Ethical conservationists made a difference in the early 1900s. At this time in our history, most of the deer, elk, turkey, antelope, bison, and several other species of wildlife were wiped out by the settlers of early and commercial hunters.
That’s when the sportsman and outsider ethic spoke and congress listened. Sponsored by Senator Key Pittman of Nevada and Representative A. Willis Robertson of Virginia, the Pittman-Robertson Act was born. It was then signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on September 2, 1937. This act saved America’s wildlife and helped restore populations that had become extinct.
Many outdoor groups, foundations, associations and organizations have done more than anyone to preserve and improve habitat. Groups like, The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, Whitetail Unlimited, Bone-fish and Tarpon Trust, Pheasant Forever, The National Wild Turkey Federation, Bass Anglers Sportsman Society and hundreds if not thousands of other groups spend millions of dollars and countless hours volunteer work for habitat improvement and restoration that benefits all wildlife both game and non-game alike. Many of these groups actually buy large tracts of land to ensure they remain wild and undeveloped for future generations.
The ethical expert respects resources and does not misuse them. Waiting for the right shot for a quick clean harvest of wildlife and not making a bad shot that could injure an animal. Always chasing a shot long enough to find the animal or be 100% sure you missed the cleanup. We owe this effort to the wonderful animals we hunt as they are a valuable resource. Plus, wounding the animal and not finding it will make you feel like crap, or at least it should.
Respect the wildlife you follow and all other wildlife you encounter. Enjoy the show that mother nature puts on just for the outdoorsman. Experience things few people will ever experience.
Always remember that they are all God’s creatures and we are privileged to be there among them. It’s okay to say a prayer for the spirit of an animal you just harvested and give thanks for a successful hunt. It’s also okay that you didn’t fill your tag, but you still have a great hunt and some great memories.
Remember, it’s not about killing something, it’s about spending time outdoors enjoying all the beauty and splendor that mother nature has to offer. Take the time to see them all, enjoy the whole experience and you’ll learn something new every time and make memories that last a lifetime.
Respect your external follower. Always have the courtesy to yield to other hunters or anglers. If you get to your place and someone is already there, the ethical outsider would back off and try somewhere else. Just as you would hope they would if you were already there.
Don’t go scooping up another fisherman because he’s catching fish and you’re not. We’ve all seen or had that one that sees you catch a fish and immediately comes and throws it in front of you. Don’t be that guy!
And whether you shoot with a quad or side by side, always remember that you’re not the only one out there. These ATVs can be a great tool when used properly, or a huge nuisance to others when abused.
A great example of abuse happened to me and a hunting buddy a few years ago. When hunting Coues Whitetail on national forest land near the border in southern Arizona, my friend and I parked off the road on top of a ridge. We hiked about 45 minutes down into the canyon and found a good spot where three draws all came together in the main canyon.
We positioned ourselves under some small trees about for the deer to start moving, when we thought we heard a quack. The sound of the quad kept getting closer, then out of nowhere a quad came right up next to use a loaded rifle through the handle bars. We jumped out of the trees and gave it to hell. We proceeded to inform the young man that he was breaking the law. He had no idea what we were talking about. We told him it was illegal to go off-road on National Forest land, but he still didn’t understand or care. He rose and descended the next ridge, then the next. We were so angry that we went back to camp before doing anything we would regret.
The next morning we decided to hunt in a deserted area that was nearby because no vehicles are allowed at all. On our way out to where we were going to park at the border of the wilderness area, I looked in my rearview mirror and saw four quads coming up behind us. We parked and headed into the desert area when we saw all four quads come off a ridge straight into the desert area. Cell phones did not work and there were no games and no fish or forestry service. We were so pissed off that we went back to camp, packed up and went home. These four pranksters and their cadres had completely ruined a hunt we had been looking forward to all year. So, as an ethical outdoorsman, please know and follow the rules and laws and be kind to others.
Catch and release is a great way to respect and preserve a resource. There’s nothing wrong with keeping a few fish to take home, but only take what you need. And always know the bag limits and size limits for the water you’re fishing. Always release the big, trophy fish. With the copies you may have made now, all you need is a photo and measurements of length and girth and you can make a fitting.
Trust me, releasing a 10-pound-plus bass feels good, and knowing she’ll be there to spawn again next spring makes it feel even better. Just make sure you have some good photos.
Another thing I would like to say about being an ethical outdoorsman is to always leave it as you found it. Pack it, pack it, leave no trace. When you go outside, you shouldn’t be able to tell that someone was there. Pick up your trash, your cartridges, and anything else you brought or someone else may have left.
There are many people and groups out there who want to take away your right to hunt or fish or even own a gun and they are well funded and will stop at nothing. It is in the hands of usage, of external ethics to take the high road and always show the best of foreigners. And to teach young outdoorsmen the right way to grow into the next generation of outdoor ethicists.
There are so many things that make up an ethical outsider. These are just some of the most obvious. The best thing you can do when you’re faced with a situation where you’re not sure what to do is to look within and do what you know in your heart is the right thing. Do this and you’ll be well on your way to becoming an ethical outdoorsman.
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