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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The hunter orange thread and some experiences I have had recently have made me stop and think.

Last night I was out hunting and I could smell something had died nearby. I stayed in the hills hunting until the sun went down. I decided to see if I could find the dead animal on my way back home. I tracked the smell until I found the culprit. It was a very young buck, that had been gut shot and left to rot. It had little nubs between it's ears 3" long. The legal requirement is 5" or as I was always taught "above the ears" This is the second dead little spike buck I have come across this year that has not been retrieved.

Last year I was hunting with my dad on some property we own that is bordered by some public land. We had done our scouting and were hunting opening morning, as we got over the ridge we had planned to sit on, we looked down and on our land in the gully was three hunters each with horses. Knowing they were loud enough to have most likely scared away any deer, we hiked down to them to tell them they were trespassing and needed to leave our land. As we approached them to ask if they knew that they were on private land they mentioned they had no idea. My family spends considerable time each year maintaining fences on the property and I personally know that every other post on our fence is painted red to signify private property. Each year fences on the property are run down from big game and often cut by other hunters. We also have private property signs posted along the fences for this reason. The hunting party was made up of a father and his son and daughter. When I pressed him to ask what he thought he was crossing when he went over our the fence to cross on our land he changed the subject and almost in a bragging tone said "My son was on that ridge and saw this buck and made a heck of a shot, nearly 500 yards" This buck had two small forks between his ears that were 4" possibly 5". When we told him he had to pack it out the way he came he said "we could let you have this little buck and we will go on our hunting way" I considered this comment pretty irresponsible and will admit it made me pretty mad for a few weeks.

With a lot of guys getting into more long range shooting these days. I think there is a greater responsibility on hunters for safety and understanding the target they are shooting at. I know from first hand experience how difficult it can be to find a kill after even a short range shot. I have looked for hours for a buck that I know I shot within 75 yards and watched it fall into a group of bushes. Only to find it two days later because of the smell. It really bothered me knowing that I couldn't find that deer that I know I had hit. I then had to ask myself if it was ok for me to continue hunting and fill my tag, or knowing that I had shot that one but couldn't find it was my tag filled?

As I look to teach my kids more about hunting I thought I would get your thoughts. In your mind what makes a responsible and ethical hunter? At times can you be a "legal hunter" and not be being responsible or ethical?
 

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Clearly, legal = responsible. So no need in my mind to say that responsible hunters will respect private property, hunting with legal hours, seasons, and other rules. So I won't touch on those.

However, to me responsible means so much more. A list of things that come to mind for a responsible hunter:
- Never uses rifle scope to locate game - instead uses binoculars. The rifle scope is used to take aim and fire at the animal - not locate it. This way, you avoid pointing your rifle at something you don't intend to shoot - like other hunters.
- Don't blow someone else's hunt. If you see another hunter in pursuit, give them their space and let them be.
- Never diminish someone else's hunt. An antlerless or small buck/bull is a trophy to who shot it. Always express happiness in other's success.
-Share the road/trails. Don't be a jerk and block the road with your truck. Be polite.
-If you are hunting with a kid, give them the first shot. Always.
-And in honor of and old forum member, "Pick up yur empties!"

I'm sure many more things could be added to the list. I'm interested in other thoughts as well. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Some really good responses, over the weekend I noticed a few more things. I came across a number of hunters in discussions I found three people on Saturday who had exchanged tags within there kids. "Tim and I hunted on Wednesday but he had a soccer game this morning so I brought Spencer with me" I was surprised at how readily accepted it was to transfer tags amongst children.

We were sitting around a fire discussing some of these things and a guy mentioned the don't use your scope to locate game. A guy chimed in that was the way he was taught, he said the problem lies in the fact that so many guys are hiking around the hills with a bullet in the chamber. He said it isn't so much a matter of safety if you don't have a chambered round. He argued that he was a better shot with his gun because he had spent a lot of time glassing the hill side with his scope.

The following morning I was putting a stalk on a decent 4-point buck and he jumped from something in the distance. As he went over the ridge I heard a shot fired. As I hiked the hill I was met at the top by the guy who had fired at the buck. He told me he had missed and couldn't find it. But reminded me the importance of shooting into the mountain. Know your backdrop, position yourself while hunting, and shoot accordingly.

It has been fun thinking on the lessons that my dad taught me in the early days of my hunting that have become natural for me now. I would like to pass on some of those valuable lessons to my children.
 

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How about this: is it ever illegal to be ethical/responsible? A couple years ago in Idaho I found myself in a situation where we had to track a wounded elk and put a finishing shot on it about 2 minutes before the end of legal shooting light. I've wondered ever since, what if we found it 10 minutes later, wounded and suffering with wolves in the area? Would it be better to be legal and come back in the morning? or better to be ethical/responsible and end it's misery with a 20 yard shot to the head? No cell service. Way back in. No way to get "legal" permission. What would you do? I believe that if you hunt long enough, you're eventually going to find yourself in moral/legal dilemma.
 

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personally, polar, id shoot it then. some may not agree with me, but you're no longer hunting the elk, you're trying to retrieve it. if its wounded, you should ethically end its suffering. even if 10 minutes after shooting light. i mean I'm no lawyer, but i believe there is some latin legal term for "that which is right is also legal" or something to that affect. but anyways, i think you finish the elk. but may thats just me
 

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Good responses, I would also add that to be a responsible hunter means that you teach those you are with how to be responsible if they are young on hunting experience.

As in all aspects of life there are far to many bad examples so it is important to make a point of teaching how to do it right. In my youth my grandfather taught me about everything from liter, to safety, to dealing with other hunters and he never passed up the chance to make sure I knew what was right in his mind even if I had heard it 50 times.

He also taught me that being out in a hunting environment is beautiful. As a kid I would silently think WE HAVEN'T SEEN A SINGLE THING, WHAT IS TO BEAUTIFUL ABOUT THAT. He would always say, Boy isn't that perty.

Thanks Grandpa! It is "perty" no matter if the animals are there that day or not.
 

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Yep, I would shoot a wounded animal after shooting hours if it came to that. As ethical hunters, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to 1) make a quick, clean kill so that the animal doesn't suffer any more than needed and 2) recover the animal. If that wounded animal I have been tracking is in front of me and needs a finishing shot, I believe it's much more likely that I retrieve that animal in the moment rather than waiting for morning and hoping to take up the trail again. I also don't want to see an animal suffer.

I had that ingrained in my head years ago when I slit a whitails throat and watched as it literally took that animal 10 minutes to die (yes, I was very inexperienced in slitting animal's throats at the time and didn't it all wrong). Watching that buck suffer made me promise to never have that happen again if I could help it.
 

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I Agree. You do that wrong ONCE and you'll never want to mess it up again. I once caught a hog with my hounds pretty close to a cabin, so i decided to cut its throat rather than shoot it. Well my blade was shorter and duller than it should have been, and that's a mistake (sight and sound) I'll never forget
 

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Unfortunately, my mentor was NOT the most ethical hunter I've ever met but I have met worse offenders since that time.

I try to instill good practices and ethics in my son as I feel that I am now his mentor and want him to behave ethically AND legally which do not always coincide with each other.

Situational example from this year's GS Elk hunt:

Our hunting party is out in an open area after several days of not seeing elk but getting pretty close. Suddenly a herd of cows (maybe 10) go trotting across the hillside about 100 yards away. I have my son (he had a cow tag and has had great success hunting deer) get down on some logs for a steady rest and tell him "pick one but tell me which one so I can keep an eye on it"...BANG! He never told me which one but I saw that he missed low, again I say "which one are you shooting at?"...at that point the herd stops and groups into a tight bunch while deciding which way to run.

I immediately tell him "Don't you shoot into that group, you have to wait until one of them is clear of the others" Long story short, he did not get an elk but probably could have had he shot into that group of cows. I don't regret the decision to stop him from just slinging lead into a group of animals even though it resulted in tag soup. I explained later that the bullet pass through would likely have seriously wounded animals that he wasn't aiming for and that we would not have had any way of identifying the specific animal he had shot at if they all ran off the same direction.

As I talked to other hunters that week, they were not shy to say that they'd have just kept shooting into the group until one of them fell down or ran off separately from the herd...not the way I want my son to behave.
 

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I wouldn't hesitate to dispatch a wounded big game animal after shooting hours if I had shot it within legal shooting hours. I don't believe in letting them suffer. That being said, a simple .22 revolver or .22 magnum revolver at close range with a shot to the head will put any big game animal out of his misery quickly. A shot into the ear or eye in the direction of the brain is all it takes. If you want, just put one between the eyes into the brain. I can't tell you how many cows, hogs and sheep we killed with a simple .22LR on the farm.
 

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I wouldn't hesitate to dispatch a wounded big game animal after shooting hours if I had shot it within legal shooting hours. I don't believe in letting them suffer. That being said, a simple .22 revolver or .22 magnum revolver at close range with a shot to the head will put any big game animal out of his misery quickly. A shot into the ear or eye in the direction of the brain is all it takes. If you want, just put one between the eyes into the brain. I can't tell you how many cows, hogs and sheep we killed with a simple .22LR on the farm.
Handguns
Utah Code § 23-20-3 and Utah Admin. Rule R657-5-9
You may use a handgun to take big game animals, but the handgun must be a minimum of .24 caliber and must fire a center fire cartridge with an expanding bullet.
If you're hunting deer or pronghorn, the handgun must develop at least 500 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. If you're hunting elk, moose, bison, bighorn sheep or mountain goat, the handgun must develop at least 500 foot-pounds of energy at 100 yards.
Gotta be bigger than a .22 in Utah.

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Gotta be bigger than a .22 in Utah.

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But it is not used to hunt the big game. I can understand the need for a larger caliber if you are using it to actually hunt with. Sounds like we need a DWR clarification on the issue.
 

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Doesn't say hunt. It says "take". You can't use anything less than .24 caliber. Can't use a rimfire. And you can't use anything that develops less than 500 foot-pounds of energy and an expanding bullet.

R657-5-9. Handguns.

(1) A handgun may be used to take deer and pronghorn, provided the handgun is a minimum of .24 caliber, fires a centerfire cartridge with an expanding bullet and develops 500 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

(2) A handgun may be used to take elk, moose, bison, bighorn sheep, and Rocky Mountain goat provided the handgun is a minimum of .24 caliber, fires a centerfire cartridge with an expanding bullet and develops 500 foot-pounds of energy at 100 yards.
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I would agree that this seems to be a bit of a gray area just based on common sense. I would agree that according to the law, someone shouldn't go out elk hunting with a 22 handgun, but for just finishing one off after you've already used the legal weapon to drop it is a bit different.
I'd be interested in hearing what the DWR has to say about that.
 

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I believe that if you hunt long enough, you're eventually going to find yourself in moral/legal dilemma.
I agree with this. Many many years ago I had a amazing pheasant dog. He learned to catch birds at the flush which was fun to watch. Sadly once he caught a hen and mangled the poor thing. I didn't kill it, and there was no way to teach the dog to leave hens alone... it didn't change fact I was sitting there holding a dead hen. Choice was to leave it and let it rot or take it home and count it as part of my limit. Moral / legal dilemma? Yup...

-DallanC
 

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personally, polar, id shoot it then. some may not agree with me, but you're no longer hunting the elk, you're trying to retrieve it. if its wounded, you should ethically end its suffering. even if 10 minutes after shooting light. i mean I'm no lawyer, but i believe there is some latin legal term for "that which is right is also legal" or something to that affect. but anyways, i think you finish the elk. but may thats just me
Absolutely shoot it, like has been said; you are no longer 'hunting' or pursuing the animal, you are locating/harvesting it. Shooting it is the only ethical and legal thing to do at this point.
 

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I didn't mean to hijack the thread, but I'm glad you guys agree with me. Sometimes doing the right thing is more important than doing the legal thing. I think most law enforcement officers would also agree with that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I believe that if you hunt long enough, you're eventually going to find yourself in moral/legal dilemma.
This to me, is one of the reasons why I enjoy hunting. I have learned a lot about integrity, sportsmanship, etc. Through experiences I have had with my own dad and other hunters. This is also one of the reasons why I want my kids to hunt, there are a lot of life lessons/teaching moments that come in to play while you are out in the hills.
 

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With regard to the dispatching an animal after last light. I'd do it immediately, no questions asked. Knight's Code.

I was taught by the Old Man, "Rarely, but sometimes, in hunting the right thing will contradict the legal thing. Avoid actions that are likely to place the two at odds, but if it happens, do the right thing and do not speak of it later. However, if anyone ever asks you directly "what happened?", answer truthfully and be prepared to pay the penalty. That's a responsibility that comes with the license."

In my experience, CO's are pretty understanding in these situations, but they have a job to do too. If you end up paying a fine, pay the fine with your chin up. Losing money hurts, losing pride hurts a lot worse.
 
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