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TJ Nagel has been involved in the outdoors his entire life. Hunting and fishing at every opportunity!

Bowhunter… the Safety of Sport

There are very few things I’ve been associated with over the years that have the ability to give such personal gratification as Archery hunting.  Regardless of species hunted, nimrods have many limitations that other hunters are not presented with in their hunting career.  The ability to ethically harvest any of Mother Nature’s creatures is invigorating to say the least.  Doing so with archery equipment involves an entirely different set of rules.

Every time we enter the outdoor theater, it’s our duty as hunters to abide by the rules and regulations of the state or wildlife agencies we hunt in.  Although some things are very black and white when it comes to shooting regulations, others are far more “grey” than any other color.  It is also apparent that the harvest of a trophy animal at whatever cost is the only acceptable finish to many in the outdoor community.  Just open any hunting magazine or watch one of the dozens of TV shows dedicated to hunting- killing is the only means of showing success.  Often times, this demand for success changes the “rules “of the game for many hunters in the field each year.

One must ask a few simple questions when placed in these circumstances; is the harvest of this animal so important to me that I am willing to break the laws to do so; Is this why I entered this sport in the first place, and how proud can I really be of this harvest if I can’t tell the truth as to how it occurred.

Many times the word ethics is used to describe “responsible” behavior. While the two terms are related, ethics are moral codes or values that go beyond formal laws and regulations. They are referred to as “unwritten laws”–the rights and wrongs that dictate proper behavior. Bowhunter education from family and friends teaches you how to be a responsible bowhunter by helping to lay the foundation for a personal code of ethics.

Ethics are what you use to make decisions about what to do when nobody is watching, or when there are no formal rules to tell you what is right or wrong. In a nutshell, ethics are what you think is right or wrong. When you’re hunting, you have to make the decisions—not your friends or relatives. And just as you practice to become a good shot, ethical behavior must be practiced to be consistent.

Your ethical code doesn’t just happen all by itself. Thinking about what you consider right or wrong, is important. Consider how you’d feel after acting on a decision—would you feel proud or ashamed? And how would it affect other people? How would it make you feel if someone were to tell you the same story?

According to the Bow hunters handbook on ethics,  To make ethics work for you, there are three steps to follow:

  1. Realize that there are moral decisions to make for many of your actions, such as: “Should I shoot now and risk merely wounding the game, or should I wait for a better shot?”
  2. Think about the consequences of those decisions and how they might affect you and others.
  3. Do the right thing.

That sounds simple; in real life, however, few answers are black and white. Your personal ethics will help you sort through the grey areas and any moral dilemmas you might encounter.  It is our duty as professionals to look out for the sport we all love.  Each time a good thing happens in the outdoor theater there are very few if any stories written to share those moments.  It only takes one irresponsible individual that enters the woods to blacken the eye of our sport.  Each time a negative occurs dozens if not hundreds of your fellow hunters could be affected.  Focus on good hunting ethics at every possible opportunity.  Our sport depends on it.


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