By Stephanie Tyski

The leaves have turned in the North Country, which means that hunting season is open for business. Many are rushing for their guns to feel that thrill of walking through the woods once again as they stalk a whitetail or flush a grouse. Before you do that though, I implore you to please take a moment to sit and think about this trip you are going on. Let’s have a conversation about ethical hunting.

I recognize that many of you have been doing this for a while. You’ve passed your hunter’s safety course and have had your license for years. You used to go out with your grandfather, your father, your mother, your brother, your uncle; in short terms, you know what you’re doing. Take this time though to go back to the beginning, back to that book you were given in hunter’s safety where the idea of ethics was first introduced. For those who want to dig a little deeper, I suggest to you Beyond Fair Chase: The Ethic and Tradition of Hunting by Jim Posewitz. Beyond Fair Chase is the reminder for seasoned hunters to be smart and courteous out in the field. The book is broken down into different sections that are dedicated to the ethics of the land, the animals, and other people like fellow hunters and landowners. An ethical hunter is, after all, defined as a person that knows and respects the game being hunted, who is familiar with their hunting grounds, and follows the law and society’s expectations.

We as hunters have a responsibility to the land and to those around us. While it is true that we live on a campus that has a large number of those who hunt, please remember that there are those who do not enjoy seeing a deer carcass or a truck bed of geese. I am new to hunting, and while it doesn’t really bother me to hold a dead grouse in my hands, I am bothered by those dead geese thrown about and treated like trash. To me it is a disrespect, not only to the people around you, but to the land, the animals, and to the image your fellow sportsmen try so hard to maintain.

To those who don’t believe in hunting, we hear you. We may or may not understand your point of view, but please come and have a chat with us. Not all of us are as horrible as some people make us out to be. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about our practices; you’d be surprised that many have a respect that reflects a land ethic similar to that of Aldo Leopold.

There are those however who still hold to the creed “it flies it dies; it’s brown, it’s down”. While maybe made in jest, it’s a saying that implies a lack of care and respect. It ruins the image of responsible hunters and is ammunition to be used by anti-hunters. To put it bluntly, you’re making all of us look like idiots. Hunting is defined as a privilege, not a right.

To all parties in this conversation, please read Beyond Fair Chase. Re-teach yourself the ideas that ring true for everyone. Re-make and strengthen the connections you have to the land, the animals you harvest, and to the ethics of being a sportsman. Remember that it is okay to not take the shot.