As the first of the fall hunting seasons are kicking off, I feel it appropriate to relay this story of what happened to my son, Nicholas, and I a few years back. Sadly, this same type of scenario plays out all too often every year for many hunters. Don’t be that guy. 

Excitement was high as I pulled into my hunting spot for my first hunt of the fall season a few seasons ago. My son and I could not wait to get our barrels warmed up shooting at doves. We had done our scouting and knew this location had plenty of birds. 

My excitement was short-lived, however. Just as soon as we had gotten set up I noticed a truck pull into the property. A couple of individuals bailed out and began loading their guns – with no regard for me and my son who were a short distance away. 

I knew that I was the only person with permission to hunt here, so I asked the men if they had permission to hunt this property. One of them quickly piped up, “It shouldn’t hurt your hunting any.” Well, whether it would or would not didn’t matter. The fact was that they did not have permission to be there so it wasn’t their decision to make. 

I gently reminded them that they did not have permission, to which they turned a deaf ear and proceeded to go about their business anyway.

Frustrated, and honestly, quite ticked off, I did my best to explain to my son that what these two were doing was not the conduct of ethical, law-abiding sportsmen. He just couldn’t understand why these men were doing this. He said it wasn’t fair, and he was right.

I had a few different courses of action I could have taken with regards to this situation. One would be to call the local law enforcement personnel. Another would be to have a discussion with the local landowner. The third would have been to do nothing. 

It’s trickier than it sounds. Landowners may become agitated if problems between hunters persist, thereby eliminating all hunting altogether; however, a good first step is usually to speak with the landowner as he/she may not be aware that other people are trespassing on their property.

Trespassing is not the only form of misconduct that people sometimes perform. There are other, “unwritten laws,” or ethical boundaries that are often crossed when it comes to hunting.

When I approach a landowner to seek permission to hunt on their property, a lot of times they inform me that they already have others whom they have given permission to hunt, so the answer is no. I thank them for their time and also thank them for allowing others to hunt their property. I also thank them for not allowing me to hunt as well, since they already have others that do. The last thing I intend to do is to disrespect the hard work, planning and excitement of other hunters by intruding on what is sacred to them. Even if the landowner has a hard time saying no and says something like, “Well, there’s plenty of room,” or “There are too many deer here anyway,” and grants me permission to hunt there anyway, I decline the invitation out of respect for those who already have permission to hunt there. If only everyone else did the same.

If you hunt on an adjoining property to where others hunt, always be mindful of where they are at and show common courtesy. Placing a treestand or ground blind right on the property line and/or near someone else’s is never courteous. It’s selfish and rude. And remember – it is still trespassing to shoot onto property or track a wounded deer onto property you do not have permission to hunt.

Littering and property damage are also big no-no’s when it comes to hunting on other people’s property. Be mindful of tossing out garbage or cutting fences or leaving ruts in the fields. 

Remember to follow all game laws while in the field as well. Part of what builds character is how one acts when no one else is watching. The risk of getting caught should never be the driving force of whether or not someone breaks a game law. The importance of doing what is right should be.

I didn’t pen this column to be negative or point fingers, but every year a lot of honest, law-abiding hunters’ seasons are ruined by the selfish acts of others. I have witnessed people do dumb things for a shot at a deer. It’s never worth sacrificing your integrity and character. 

I honestly believe that the majority of hunters do things right, and overall, hunters have a good reputation within the non-hunting community, but the inconsiderate actions of a few can tarnish the reputation of the whole.  

So remember, as the fall hunting seasons begin to kick in, hunt hard and have fun, but don’t do it at the expense of others or of the wildlife in which you pursue.