TEACHABLE MOMENTS — Raising and teaching kids in the outdoors is our responsibility.  It is crucial that they are taught more than just how to hunt, but rather, how to do so ethically, legally, and with respect to others and the animals which they pursue.
Herald Photo / Provided
TEACHABLE MOMENTS — Raising and teaching kids in the outdoors is our responsibility. It is crucial that they are taught more than just how to hunt, but rather, how to do so ethically, legally, and with respect to others and the animals which they pursue. Herald Photo / Provided

One of the things I enjoy about deer season is the peace and quiet of being in the woods. Funny, isn’t it then, that sometimes, deer season can be the furthest thing from being peaceful and quiet. 

Take, for instance, one particular afternoon a few years back during the youth weekend while sitting in a stand with my son.

As we sat in our two-man treestand that particular Saturday afternoon enjoying the tranquil sights and sounds of the woodlands, the silence was broken by a few very close gunshots fired in quick succession. Hearing the occasional shot on neighboring properties is to be expected when you are hunting so that is not where my hang-up lies. The problem is that we heard at least a dozen shots that afternoon; all of which were very close to the property line, and you could tell the hunter(s) were shooting in an erratic and irresponsible manner. 

After the last volley of four or five consecutive shots rang out close to dark, Nicholas and I had had enough for the evening and descended from our stand and began heading back to the truck. On our way out, we saw the hunters on the fencerow that separates the properties. We headed their way to introduce ourselves and to let them know that we were hunting next door. It was a father-son duo with the son looking about seventeen years old or so. They seemed nice enough alright, but I would not say that they seemed very determined – or ethical – in the way they hunted. 

I say this because of a few things. For starters, they did not seem all too interested in tracking the doe that the young hunter had just shot. Honestly, had Nicholas and I not been with them, I seriously doubt they would have looked for it at all. He shot the deer just as it stepped off of property they cannot hunt. The wounded deer retreated back onto the property from which it had come. The hunters then stated that they did not want to cross the property line to search for the animal. I offered to call the landowner and seek permission, but they declined my offer. I called anyway and we were granted permission to go look for the animal, and after a very brief attempt, the father of the hunter stated, “Well, looks like coyote bait,” and they departed. They have made a habit of not looking for deer they had shot in years past, so this scenario sadly came as no surprise to me. Shooting at animals right on the boundaries of properties they cannot hunt is not new for them either. 

The young hunter also stated that many of the shots he fired throughout the afternoon were “pot shots,” claiming that he knew the deer were too far and that he was merely shooting at them for the heck of it. So he is selfish enough to choose to compromise my son’s hunt because he fails to take hunting, or his quarry, seriously enough? Nice. 

These guys just choose to shoot at everything they see, regardless of whether the shots they are taking are ethical or not. They empty their guns each time a deer steps out in the field. Besides making it difficult for others, they have no idea that they are actually also making it much more difficult for themselves as well. They are simply educating the deer as to where to steer clear of. Heck, really, they have actually made it possible for Nick and me to take a couple of nice bucks in years past as the hunters drove their 4-wheel ATV’s right to their stands, alerting any deer that may have been on their property to high-tail it out of there. 

The poor young hunter doesn’t know any better. He is only acting in a manner in which he is being raised. To him the way of taking shortcuts, being selfish and of lacking respect for others and game animals doesn’t seem wrong to him. It is easy to laugh at such buffoons and their less-than-mature behavior, but when they are allowed to function freely in society and in the woods in a recreation as serious as hunting, well, it is really just plain sad.