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Ethics Check – August 2008

Ethics Check – August 2008
by Bob Peck

“A peculiar virtue in wildlife ethics is that the hunter ordinarily has no gallery to applaud or disapprove of his conduct. Whatever his acts, they are dictated by his own conscience, rather than by a mob of onlookers. It is difficult to exaggerate the importance of this fact.”
 – Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

Very few modern hunters under the age of 45 have ever heard of Aldo Leopold.  To the young, if they have heard of him he’s some old dude in black and white photographs who had something to do with conservation. Asking hunters to pick up books on conservation is like asking them to attend an anti-PETA rally.  We get all riled up about anti-hunting groups trying to stop us but we don’t jump in and immerse ourselves unless we’re immediately threatened.  This doesn’t mean we don’t care it just means the problem needs to be parked in our living room for us to organize and act.

It doesn’t take much to set off an ethics “bomb”.  Hunters do it all the time as we in fight over baiting, high fences, herd management, property rights and whole long laundry list of divisive issue.  We all have an opinion of what’s right and what’s wrong and mostly we’re not shy about expressing those opinions without prompting.  It’s as if our opinions are absolutes and should be followed by everyone but secretly we all know that’s not the case.

What is ethical to some is often painted in black and white absolutes.  To others they see gray. Ethics often boils down to what’s right and wrong.  This is the proverbial fork in the logging road.  Leopold put it this way:

“A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”

In the next few columns I’ll be plucking choice real world and true scenarios to ignite some healthy discussion.  Trust me.  We won’t agree, we’ll likely get mad at each other but hopefully with some care and respect we might just learn something from each other so play nice and be civil and before anyone asks, my opinion is not the only opinion.

So I ask you in this maiden voyage Ethics Check to consider what is “right” and what is ethical about the following true scenario:

You find yourself hunting in a familiar spot without a doe tag but just as you’re ready to pack it in along comes a gravely wounded doe.  It’s not clear exactly how the animal was wounded from your vantage point in the tree stand but it’s clear from the limping and large amounts of blood caked on the fur that this doe is suffering terribly and will be blessed if she makes it through the next 24 hours.  Since you’ve hunted the area for years you know the coyote problem is ongoing.  The doe is stopping every 10 yards and looking over her shoulder.  Eventually she decides to bed down within 20 yards and in clear view of your tree stand.  What, if anything do you do?  Go home?  End the misery?  Call the game warden?

One Response to “Ethics Check – August 2008”

  1. Tyson Says:

    If she’s limping because of a wound like an arrow, or bullet has wounded her, I believe it is your duty to end her suffering. If it appears that coyote’s have hamstrung her or wounded her I say that’s nature let it be, she won’t go to waste. If it appears it’s all internal such as a car hit, I believe it’s the law to contact your game warden he may put it out of it’s misery, or allow you the chance to possably go back with an extra or game waste tag, and finish it. But it all requires honest judgement.

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