Outdoor Ethics: Keeping it legal (even when no one's watching)

  • Article by: BILL MARCHEL , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 5, 2014 - 7:09 AM
hide

Given the lack of enforcement, ethical behavior is usually left to the individual hunter.

Photo: Bill Marchel • Special to the Star Tribune,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

 

There was only five minutes of legal shooting time left when I checked my cellphone.

I was bow hunting for deer on that gray, late October afternoon. I was keeping vigil at a makeshift ground blind — basically a wall of sticks and grass I had constructed a few weeks earlier next to an open meadow in a lowland.

In front of me was a deer decoy I had placed in the meadow upon my arrival. Due to the heavy overcast, it was extra dark that evening, and with just minutes of legal shooting left, I contemplated leaving my blind.

Then it happened. A buck, a big buck, with heavy antlers and a thick, well-muscled body stepped into the meadow only 20 yards away. His focus was on my deer decoy. The problem was the decoy was in perfect alignment about halfway between me and the bruiser buck. Even though his attention was on the decoy, I was directly in his line of sight in the background. I dared not move.

For several minutes the buck remained perfectly motionless, as he assessed my decoy. He seemed suspicious of the bogus deer.

Now, as I stood perfectly still, I wondered how many minutes had passed since I had checked my cellphone. Was it three or four minutes? Or five? If it was more than five, legal shooting time had ended, and if the big buck turned his head and allowed me to draw my bow and shoot, I would have been in violation of game law.

But who would have known?

The odds of a conservation officer watching me from afar were nil. And, of course, an arrow shot from a bow is virtually silent. Only I would ever know — had I taken a shot.

Ultimately, the buck made the decision for me. It turned directly away. With a single bound, it disappeared into the heavy willow brush. By the time I gathered my thoughts enough to check the time, it was several minutes past legal shooting hours. To this day I don’t know whether or not it would have been legal to loose my arrow.

The DNR restricts hunting hours to daylight hours for most species (one half-hour before sunrise until one half-hour after sunset for deer). Safety is the main reason, but so is the welfare of the game being hunted. Shots taken in low light are more likely to wound an animal making recovery extra difficult.

I’ll admit I’m a strict disciplinarian when it comes to bow hunting before or after legal shooting hours even though the odds of getting caught are remote. My premise is that playing within the rules allows me to get the greatest enjoyment out of any outdoors undertaking.

 

Bill Marchel, an outdoors writer and photographer, lives near Brainerd.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

Houston 1 FINAL
Miami 1
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Minnesota 7
St. Louis 3 FINAL
Detroit 4
Baltimore - WP: T. Wilson 10 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: S. Baker 2
Boston 9 FINAL
Tampa Bay 6
Toronto 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 8
Atlanta 5 FINAL
Toronto 3
Washington 2 FINAL
NY Mets 10
Chicago Cubs 5 FINAL
Cincinnati 9
San Diego 3 FINAL
Texas 2
San Francisco 9 FINAL
Seattle 8
Colorado 4 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 18
Cleveland 3 FINAL
Milwaukee 2
Oakland 10 FINAL
Chicago WSox 4
Los Angeles 5 FINAL
LA Angels 4
Kansas City 10 FINAL
Arizona 5
Atlanta 100 FINAL
Charlotte 115
New York 80 FINAL
Chicago 111
Golden State 108 FINAL
Milwaukee 95
Oklahoma City 89 FINAL
Utah 94
Denver 114 FINAL
Portland 120
Nashville 4 FINAL
Washington 3
Arizona 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh 3
San Jose 3 FINAL(SO)
Philadelphia 2
Anaheim 3 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
NY Rangers 2 FINAL
Boston 4
Tampa Bay 0 FINAL
Detroit 4
New Jersey 1 FINAL
Carolina 3
Florida 2 FINAL(OT)
Montreal 3
Ottawa 3 FINAL(OT)
Toronto 4
Los Angeles 1 FINAL
Minnesota 4
Columbus 4 FINAL
St. Louis 2
Buffalo 3 FINAL
Colorado 5
Dallas 4 FINAL(OT)
Vancouver 3
Arizona 78 FINAL
Wisconsin 85
Canisius 73 FINAL
NJIT 78
Notre Dame 66 FINAL
Kentucky 68
San Jose 1 FINAL
New England 2
Orlando City 2 FINAL
Montreal 2
Los Angeles 0 FINAL
D.C. 1
Sporting Kansas City 1 FINAL
New York City 0
Red Bull New York 2 FINAL
Columbus 1
Portland 1 FINAL
Vancouver FC 2
Colorado 0 FINAL
Houston 0
Seattle 0 FINAL
FC Dallas 0
Texas 54 FINAL
(1) Connecticut 105
Dayton 82 FINAL
(8) Louisville 66
(16) Duke 55 FINAL
(4) Maryland 65
Gonzaga 69 FINAL
(6) Tennessee 73
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close