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The Game Trail

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The Game Trail

Anyone can hunt, but the true hunter follows a strict code of ethics

Every hunter entering the woods has a responsibility to follow the laws and ethics to honor our privilege to hunt. We owe this to the wildlife, the landowners and to our fellow sportsmen.

As the fall hunting seasons come into full swing, your local conservation officers for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game will be working long hours trying to make contact with as many hunters as possible. Not only are we doing our jobs, but also we are making new friends, offering advice, listening to grievances and sometimes detecting violations.

Most of the violations we encounter are mistakes or oversights by the hunter, an unintentional violation. These mistakes are still violations though, and the hunter must educate himself or herself to avoid these situations. Common mistakes that hunters make include; failure to immediately validate and attach the tag, failure to leave evidence of sex, and waste of game.

The hunting regulations clearly state that upon killing any deer, elk, antelope, black bear, or mountain lion you must immediately validate and attach the tag. This does not mean attach the tag once you drag it to the truck, or when you get home. If the animal is down, before doing anything else, take the time to properly notch the date and month and then attach the tag to the animal.

Properly leaving evidence of sex is another common blunder, but the process is very simple. If you are not going to leave the head attached to your animal, leave the sex organs attached to one of the hindquarters. With antlered animals leave the penis or scrotum attached, with an antlerless animal leave the vulva or udder attached. Remember, with an antlered animal the antlers must accompany the carcass if they are detached. In addition, leave evidence of species attached as well. This could be as simple as leaving the tail or antlers on a deer or leaving a fully feathered wing on a grouse.

During the early fall, the temperatures can be extremely warm. Unfortunately, every year there are a few hunters who don’t plan well and end up wasting meat. This is not only a violation but it breaks the code of ethical hunters. If you have any doubt that you can get the meat packed out before it spoils, don’t take the shot.

Please plan for this by bringing adequate amounts of ice and coolers and hunt within a reasonable distance from your vehicle. In addition, know where you will take your animal before you even go. Ask yourself, “Will I take it to grandpa’s cooler or the butcher?”

Mistakes happen to the even the best hunters. The difference between an ethical hunter and a careless hunter is honesty. Every hunter knows somebody or has been in a situation himself or herself that resulted in an honest mistake. It doesn’t matter if it was accidentally taking two turkeys with one shot, or killing a bull trout because it was hooked badly, call your local conservation officer and explain what happened. We can make things right if you make the effort to contact us. However, if we have to contact you, do not expect leniency.

For those hunters that intentionally violate the law, you are jeopardizing the privilege to hunt, and you are stealing from your own community. Before you go spotlighting, hunt over salt, or party hunt ask yourself is it worth it? Will I be in hot water with my family, friends, or even lose my job? Don’t fuel the anti-hunter sentiment and ruin the hunting privilege for the honest sportsmen.

Take the time to avoid these common mistakes and have a safe hunting season.

Please get those kids out with you hunting and teach the next generation how to ethically and responsibly enjoy our resources.

Leave No Child Inside

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Author info

Matt Haag Matt Haag is an Idaho Fish and Game Conservation Officer.

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