There must have been something in the water this hunting season in Montana! Wait a minute, it isn’t just Montana, it has happened everywhere across the West. Montana has just been unlucky enough to have two major poaching incidents this season that really show the ugly side of some unethical people.
Most of us have been there, “If it’s brown it’s down,” as the old adage goes. However, with the rise of the “trophy hunter” and all the field judging and showmanship that comes with taking a great animal, there is more temptation for some to leave an animal they aren’t proud of.
Therein lies the problem, if you can’t keep your finger off the trigger when a small bull or a cow is in the sights, don’t rob someone else of the chance to hunt those animals. Every one of us is responsible for the life we end when we pull the trigger and that means pulling the tag out immediately at the kill site and notching it then and there without delay. Every animal that you harvest is your trophy to claim.
Some of these incidents have happened when elk were bunched up and preparing to leave the country. Others have happened when a hunter killed a once in a lifetime buck and never recovered the animal. One more notable case was a hunter who was approached by a Game Warden in Montana who had a camera crew following him. Sure enough, he hadn’t notched his tag per the requirements of the law and it suddenly turned into a high-profile case. The District Attorney has since dropped the case but it is still a reminder that we must be aware of the laws and do our best to follow them.
Regardless of the circumstances surrounding each of these individual situations, we all have to do our best to follow the rules of the states that we hunt. Every fall we come under the scrutiny of the public eye and as a result we have an obligation to do the things that will uphold our current good standing with the public.
Don’t shoot into large groups of elk, no matter how big the bull is! Invest the money in a good GPS and mapping system that will help you stay inside area boundaries and off of land you don’t have permission to hunt. Read the regulations for the states you intend to hunt and study them diligently! Above all else, remember that every decision you make when pulling the trigger reflects the ethical standards of all of us to the non-hunting public. Let’s not tarnish the activity that we all enjoy and love!
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