Don’t Forget the Basics

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Here in Wyoming we have what are called “Walk-In Areas,” private properties that contract with the Department of Game and Fish to allow hunters and anglers hassle-free access. It’s a great program and one I happily donate to every year when I buy my licenses. One of these properties is directly across the river from me. I spend a lot of evenings in a ground blind overlooking the Shoshone River and observe quite a few hunters on the other side, and I could write a book about the mistakes they make.

The No. 1 no-no I see is hunters sky-lining themselves while they peer down toward the river. As often as not, they get into a conversation with a hunting partner, and I can hear them some 400-plus yards away across the river. I may not always be able to make out exactly what they are saying, but I can hear human voices, and so can the game. I’d say that more than half of the deer hunters I see on that property are guilty of this.

Running neck and neck with sky-lining is a lack of patience. A hunter or hunters will come over the edge, scan the river bottom for perhaps a minute, see nothing and move on. On several occasions I have seen deer plainly that these folks could not. I think that perhaps these hunters have been watching too many television hunting shows. A tip: Most hunts take longer than 22 minutes.

I could go on for pages, but just one more, and it’s a very personal one to me. Last year one intrepid hunter walked down to the point where the river bottom breaks off. He was exactly 343 yards from me. I know that because I lasered the spot previously. He then decided to look over the “greener pastures” across the river. However, he did not have a binocular. So he used his riflescope. When he got to my blind, he locked on me. I take deep umbrage of anyone pointing a firearm at me...ever. My editors have forbidden me to divulge what my reaction is to this, but I can assure you it is severe. What saved this moron from that reaction was other hunters opening up on some deer on an adjoining property, causing him to lower his rifle. If you can afford a rifle with a scope, a 4x4 pickup and all the other trappings that we take into the field, you can afford a binocular. This kind of behavior violates every basic rule of gun handling and hunting. It is indefensible.

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