Hunting > Whitetails

Eight Ways to Ruin Hunting

Don’t be a goon. Avoid situations that make all hunters look bad.


Hunting is a time-honored tradition practiced in this country since its earliest days. However, not everyone in society hunts, or approves of it. While sportsmen should never apologize for their pursuits, as long as they’re legal and ethical, those same laws and ethics dictate that we should make an effort to be considerate of both our nonhunting neighbors and fellow hunters alike. Hunting is already under attack by those who don’t understand it. Heck, some hunters even spend a great deal of energy fighting against other’s types of hunting. Committing the following acts will just give our enemies another log to throw on the fire.

This remains one of the biggest complaints to law enforcement from nonhunting landowners and hunters alike—somebody is hunting on their land that doesn’t belong there. People spend a lot of money to own and keep up their land and no matter the rationale or desire of the trespasser, they have no right to be there. The perception of hunters as law-breaking heathens is only supported when a person catches people hunting on their land without permission or the legal right to be there. And while it’s almost human nature to want to push the boundaries of your property, resist the urge to cross that property line. In fact, even border sitting and shooting game across the line where you have to retrieve it from another property is unethical and illegal unless you have an express agreement with your neighbor.

Driving Around with Exposed Game
When a hunter shot a remarkable buck in the old days, the natural urge was to load it on the tailgate and drive it around the county, showing the trophy off to all who were willing to gawk. The problem is that not everyone wanted to see it. As awesome as a fellow hunter may find your success, the little old lady who rehabs lost cats or the little girl who just watched “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” won’t be so enthused. “To heck with them,” you say. Yeah, maybe. But better yet, how about just being considerate? I’m sure there are some things that go on in society that you don’t care to see or hear. Think about that the next time you feel the urge to parade your trophy around. Such behavior can work against you, too. Hunters are inherently jealous, and if your property gets a reputation for producing local monsters, you might find others outbidding you for the right to hunt there.

Bragging About Your Exploits
Along the same lines as the hunter who drives around with his game is the guy who strolls into the neighborhood store or PTA meeting and brags loudly about all the deer he’s shot. You know the guy. He’s the one talking loud enough for everyone to hear, just certain they’ll be impressed by his hunting prowess. Unless they hunt, you can bet they aren’t. Even among fellow sportsmen, many will be put off if the story comes off as being told by a braggart. Hunters love to share stories and that’s great. Just share them with who you’re talking to and not everyone else within earshot. And when you’re done telling your story, remember to give your audience a chance to share theirs as well before you ramble into your next epic tale.

Breaking Game Laws
This one isn’t even close to optional or up for discussion. It’s wrong, plain and simple. And while there are certainly people in every walk of life who just flagrantly ignore the law and do as they please, when it comes to hunters, most game laws are not so blatantly broken as they are bent. Not tagging game before it is moved, using a buddy’s tag, shooting one bird over the limit—you can try to rationalize all of these things. The problem is, you’re still breaking the law and if you get caught, you’re lumped in the same pile as the guy who shoots game out of season or doesn’t bother to get a license. Make every effort to understand the laws where you hunt and follow them.

Hunting Roads
It may be legal to hunt on or along the roads where you live, but unless you are in extremely remote country, avoid it. It’s a frightening sight for a family—even a hunting one—to round a corner and find a gun-toting person they don’t know aiming a gun across the roadway or even in their direction. I remember when a buddy and I drove around a bend one day as a hunter shot at a deer crossing the road between us. The gun’s blast was sent right in our direction. Despite the fact that the hunter had just technically broken the law by shooting across a roadway, he looked at me with disgust because we had just interrupted his shot. It was unfortunate timing for him, but the roadway was public and had I had the inclination at the time and wanted to waste the rest of my morning (I was on the way to a hunting spot myself), I could have called the sheriff or game warden on the guy and really ruined his day.

Shooting Near Homes
Most states have laws that require hunters to stay a certain distance from an occupied dwelling when they hunt, but even if they don’t, it’s just basic courtesy to not set up next to somebody’s home and start shooting. Unless it is your home or the people there really know you, folks aren’t often comfortable with it. When you are hunting an area near homes, be careful to know exactly where people are apt to be and never shoot in their direction. If you have an early spot away from a house and one near, go to the far one in early hunts so you don’t unnecessarily wake up landowners or tenants who might be sleeping. Again, it just comes down to basic courtesy.

Reckless Behavior
Avoid shooting near or toward farmer’s livestock as well. This is another quick way to lose the right to hunt a property. Along those lines, don’t rut up farm and logging paths unnecessarily, don’t race up and down roads trying to cut off game or get to another location, don’t drive through fields or leave gates open or litter or anything that you wouldn’t want somebody to do on a place that you owned. These actions can impact how you are viewed by your fellow hunters every bit as much how you are viewed by nonhunters. Be a model citizen, especially in the field.

Harassing Hunters
Yep. You read it right. Oddly, more harassment of hunters comes from other sportsmen than the classic image of the protesting anti walking through the woods banging pans together. Hunters can be very jealous, and I’ve seen them drive back and forth along a property line or roadway to disturb or turn game from a hunter, run boats right past a guy’s decoy spread and fire guns nearby to ruin another hunter’s outdoor experience. Usually it is because they are worried game they want to shoot will wander over to the neighboring property or a property they used to or want to hunt. Don’t be a jerk. Remember the golden rule your kindergarten teacher taught: Treat others as you would have them treat you. Hunt your own land and be a good neighbor. Celebrate their achievements as you would have them celebrate yours. Only then do we all really win.

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15 Responses to Eight Ways to Ruin Hunting

Beverly smith Canedo wrote:
January 02, 2014

We've lost four dogs in ten years to a bow hunting club!

James Konen wrote:
December 16, 2012

Jo, sounds like you have a bunch of law-breaking "Gun Goons" up there in N.Dakota. The people you mentioned aren't hunters, they're a bunch of law-breaking criminals and vandals. We have some of the same here in Wyoming, but they're the exception not the rule.

Jo wrote:
December 05, 2012

I use to open my land sometimes to hunters but never again. If you say no, they disrespect you with rude comments and the animals are everyone's property speech. I know that and have no beef with that. it's when I find people who willingly trespass,shoot into your place from anothers and retrieve....sick law here in North Dakota opens that kind of illegal activety to occur all the time....heard one wounded deer story after another. Hunters who cut my fence,shot the glass out of my car and put arrows into my building, hung dead pheasant hens on my gate and set traps for my livestock or children to step in that really grate me. I even found the game wardens son in my place hunting breaking all kinds of laws i.e. no orange,trespass, vehicle off road,weapons on my property when he tried the wounded deer story.etc.... I now only allow my niece to take pheasants as she clearly obeys all the laws and respects landowner rights. I just rarely find the hunter who follows the rules and I understand because he is handicapped by all the ones who don't.

MrTokarev wrote:
November 27, 2012

I hate this idea that we hunters need to be ashamed of our "filthy hunting habit" to the point where we can't brag or show off our kills. The antis don't want us to hunt, period. Not showing off is just causing other hunters to not realize we're all in the same fraternity of hunting. When I hear someone brag or if I saw a deer tied to a car, I'd recognize that guy as "one of us" and probably give him a kudos. While rude hunters are certainly a problem, the real enemy are the antis who'll strip us of our hunting rights if they have the chance, regardless of how we hunt.

NRA Outdoors wrote:
November 10, 2012

Thanks Doug, a very good article that we need more of. In today's society our image as hunters is everything, lets not give the anti's any ammunition.

Dave Frost wrote:
November 09, 2012

To Doug, RE:Driving Around with Exposed Game I am tired of the 'we don't want to offend the sensitive' attitude in America. Most of them don't worry a bit about unsolicited advice about bad food choices in a restaurant. I imagine you are opposed to open carry too, if so your article should not be in an NRA magazine

eddie rabbitt wrote:
November 08, 2012

Well said, Ron S. I used to believe that hiding your kill so not to offend people was the way to go, until i figured out that antis hate us and our culture no matter how we hide it. But it's bigger than the antis. We are law abiding, providing a valuable service and feeding our families. For this we should be proud! Wouldn't it do our nation's children--and other non-hunters--good to occasionally remind them from whence the food we eat actually comes? Teaching this to children early has proven to build strong, reasonable adults. It's the kids who do not understand life and death and do not understand that food does not magically appear in cellophane who should worry us. Don't shove it it anyone's nose, but don't feel you have to hide your fresh steak either. Go proudly in that meat wagon, and know you are a provider for the people!

Jim Moto wrote:
November 08, 2012

Hunters are a passive minority. The "anti's" are actively trying to take hunting away from us. Hunters need to be more proactive and to not bring negative attention to themselves. Good writing.

Dale wrote:
November 07, 2012

Better check your local game laws, some states require the Game to be EXPOSED.

faultroy wrote:
November 06, 2012

I agree with the comments about hunters. It is just appalling how little respect hunters have for landowners. I've had game shot and dumped into my creek to rot. Unfortunately there is still the attitude on the part of many that they have a "constitutional right" to hunt as they see fit--on other peoples' property of course!!! Just expect more of the same with so many people assuming that they have to take no responsibility for their actions. A lot of hunters give hunting a bad name.

Jason wrote:
November 06, 2012

As a Georgia hunter I found my self in a situation of having to load my kill on a hitch rack on the bk of my truck. I found my self a little concerned that it would offend some one. How ever after loading the game and taking it home I got zero negitive responses. Rather more interest and thumbs up. So... I would say its ok. Don't hide our sports end result. Be tastful however it's hunting.

Sprint 20 wrote:
November 06, 2012

I agree totally with the all things mentioned here. I used to hunt deer with a recurve bow, poachers made me quit. Four wheel drive trucks driving through farmers fields jack lighting deer. I am a property owner, and an upland bird hunter. I have had to run people off my small piece of property repeatedly. Until you own property, you cannot believe what so-called hunters will do. It is enough to make property owners "antis" for life.

Ron S. wrote:
November 05, 2012

I agree with these all however hiding our culture will not stop the anti-movement.

Kevin M wrote:
November 02, 2012

Doug, You forgot the classic: heading to the liquor store in your blaze orange coat! Great way to reinforce the drunken slob image.

Max from Colorado wrote:
November 02, 2012

Great article, and a good reminder of how hunting exemplifies the core values of caring, honesty, respect, and responsibilty. I hope you write more on hunting ethics and how it can build strong character. Thanks