Say the word “conservationist” and most people automatically associate it with the typical outdoor types: hikers, cyclists, climbers, birders…Hunters rarely make the mainstream list. (Unless of course you’re a hunter, then it’s at the very top.) Yet hunters have a rich tradition as some of the most avid wildlife advocates and wilderness protectors in this country. Why? Sustainable hunting actually helps ensure the long-term preservation of wildlife fauna and flora by protecting natural habitats and relieving pressure off of delicate ecosystems. Even the prominent conservation group Leave No Trace Behind recognizes hunting “as a legitimate, traditional and acceptable outdoor recreational pursuit. The Center respects the long-standing tradition of hunting on public lands, expects all hunters to abide by all applicable state game and hunting laws, and encourages all hunters to adhere to the Leave No Trace ethic when in the field.” So why aren’t hunters on the mainstream list? As is often the case, a few rotten apples tend to give the rest a bad rap, i.e. gun-happy poachers that illegally kill wildlife, hunters that never pick up their empty shells or leave their trash out in the field, and so forth.
As you head out this season we challenge you to keep the hunting tradition alive and to do your part to improve hunting’s image: hunt responsibly and leave no trace behind. For some great tips on how to reduce your impact while enjoying the great outdoors go here. Below we offer a set of guidelines to help hunters continue to improve hunting’s overall image:
- ALWAYS have all your proper licenses and tags with you.
- ALWAYS handle your gun properly. Never point it at anyone and only load it when you reach your hunting spot.
- ONLY hunt during legal times, and if you can’t see it clearly – don’t shoot.
- If you injure an animal, track it down.
- ONLY kill your legal limit.
- If you intend to use dogs to hunt, ask for permission to do so.
- ALWAYS respect wildlife.
- ALWAYS respect burn bans.
- ALWAYS pick up your used shells, and if you see some that aren’t yours, pick those up too.
- ALWAYS haul your trash back to camp. Never throw out your wraps or cans out in the field.
- ALWAYS make sure you leave the property in the same condition you found it if not better.
PS – The youngster in the photo above is carrying a toy riffle during a “trash hunt.”