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Steven M Kendus

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Hunting Ethics
by Steven M Kendus   
Not "rated" by the Author.
Last edited: Sunday, November 21, 2010
Posted: Sunday, November 21, 2010

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After watching one political ad after another in which candidates question their opponents’ character rather than highlighting their own aptitude, views, and solutions, I can’t help but to think in terms of ethics.

After watching one political ad after another in which candidates question their opponents’ character rather than highlighting their own aptitude, views, and solutions, I can’t help but to think in terms of ethics.

Just as I question the moral values, principles, and conduct of those who we elect to govern us, I apply the same types of questions to those I hunt with.

I expect that most people perform some amount of research before voting for candidates who will make life-altering decisions for them, and I hope that their research is thorough enough to dissuade them from voting for candidates with questionable character. Along the same lines, we should choose our hunting partners wisely because, above all else, we trust those partners with our lives.

Without debate, safety is the number one issue to consider when hunting. We hope that all hunters practice basic firearms safety while in the woods, fields, and marshes, but the reality is that some hunters are unsafe. The Delaware Hunter Education Program requires anyone born after January 1, 1967 to satisfactorily complete a hunter safety and education course before obtaining a Delaware hunting license. Despite Delaware’s strong hunter education program, I have witnessed unsafe incidents – committed by hunters born way before 1967 and hunters born way after – that could have been prevented with basic common sense and greater commitments to ethical hunting.

In addition to trusting the people around you with loaded guns, it is important to make sure your hunting partners have the same approach to ethical hunting as you. Be blatantly clear with all of your hunting partners from the outset of any hunting excursion that you will absolutely play by the rules, abide by all hunting laws, practice safe gun handling, and respect the environment. The ‘one bad apple can spoil the bunch’ rule can be no true r when applied to hunting. One hunter harvesting over his limit, one hunter sprinkling some corn near the goose blind, or one hunter treating a hunt like a competition can all have consequence that affect the entire group.

Some legal consequences for unethical actions include arrests, fines, and confiscation of guns, but from my experience, I can tell you that poor hunting ethics can have far more severe ramifications. One of the worst offenses that can lead to violations of hunting laws and safety practices is someone treating a hunt like a competition where harvest numbers, size, and speed to filling limits outweigh the safety of the group. While guiding an upland bird hunt, I observed one hunter in the party who bragged about his shooting accuracy, wanted to claim every downed bird as his, and always wanted to be the first to shoot. Focusing too much on his competitive nature and not enough on common sense, hunting ethics, and safety, he shot at a pheasant that someone else was supposed to shoot. In his haste and poor judgment, he swung his shotgun barrel across multiple hunters and fired in my direction from less than 15 yards away. With just enough time to dive to the ground, I avoided the close-range shot, and managed to turn my back just enough to see the pheasant fly away unscathed.

Needless to say, I haven’t hunted with that guy again, but the experience was valuable. I now make sure those I choose to hunt with are not only safe, but ethical, as well. Since we hunters are judged as a group, we should all enforce this ethical approach to hunting.

Steven Kendus' Hunter's Journal appears bi-weekly in The News Journal. Kendus is the author of Hunting The First State: A Guide to Delaware Hunting. Follow his blog and podcast at Contact him at

Web Site: Hunting The First State

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Steven M Kendus

Hunting The First State: A Guide to Delaware Hunting - Second Edition

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