Hunting big game is not as simple as shooting large animals. There are hunting ethics, regulations, and proper handling every hunter must be aware of. Hunting has always been a means for survival since ancient times. Wild game is killed for food and clothing.
Through the ages, big game hunting also became a means to connect to nature or establish ties with wildlife. For any of these reasons today, a hunter must also exercise restraint and discipline so that they can keep their kill without crossing the line.
All hunters, new and experienced, must keep the following in mind:
- Ethical Hunting
Hunters who practice ethical hunting have respect for the hunted game, are aware of the regulations and laws, and behave in an acceptable manner that society expects of them. As many view hunting animals negatively, ethical hunters must exercise caution all the time. Hunters must know the best locations to hunt, not for a hunting spree, but for sport or necessities yet within the dictates of state laws.
There are facets to ethical hunting:
- Hunters must exercise safe and responsible hunting of big game that is also safe and sustainable for the sake of other creatures and their habitat.
- Hunters must not display aggression and recklessness while hunting as it will affect public opinion.
- Ethical hunters must respect the wild game habitat and properly handle and transport hunted wild game.
- Every hunter must acknowledge the concept of fair chase, giving the animal a chance to evade and save itself from the hunt. The use of devices such as two-way radios, electronic collars, and vehicles are against fair chase and considered unethical. Arm yourself with arrows or ammunition appropriate for the game you’re hunting. You may also make use of a Decoy Pro hunting app to lure wild game with realistic moose calls safely. You can connect it via Bluetooth with a speaker and amplifier. Play 5-minute tracks to call wild moose out in the open to make it easier for you to hunt.
- Hone rifle handling and marksmanship skills to be able to make a one-shot kill in the field. Always point to the chest and to the heart or lung area of the game to ensure an immediate fatal blow. It’s also encouraged to get as close to the animal as possible before shooting to make it quick and clean.
- Ethical hunters do not immediately go for the kill. Follow your target, and if the animal is wounded, dispatch it immediately in a humane way.
- When hunting, make sure that you’re prepared to proceed all the way to get as much meat as you can in a proper manner. Harvest the meat on the spot as quickly as you can, but never leave the carcass by the roadside or waterway. If you live nearby and plan to take the hunted game home, make sure that it’s covered without exposing any part of the wild game.
- If you plan to camp out, bring your own firewood, and never chop down any trees and shrubs. Set up camp 20 meters away from any water source such as a river to avoid polluting the water. Never leave any litter or trash behind. Wisely choose your hunting companions to ensure that you share the same values on ethical hunting.
- Protect yourself from the cold and wet weather by wearing the best base layer hunting gear. They are made from various materials such as wool and polyester to keep you dry and snug. Some designs even help regulate body temperature. Overall, they are easy to wear and allows freedom of movement. Wear camouflage designs that blend well with the environment to limit your visibility.
- Avoid trespassing on someone else’s property when hunting. You can, however, ask for permission if it’s clearly a private field.
- Avoiding Game Violations
There are cases of purchasing fraudulent licenses by hunters who try to cheat the system. Some buy wrong class licenses to save money too. Acquiring hunting licenses is only applicable if hunters live in the same state where they want to hunt. There are residency term requirements, and they must have proof of residency as well. Those living outside of the state pay more than the residents. Hunters also pay a high price when they commit violations.
The following are punishments for deceitful intent of buying the wrong license:
- Fines and restitution
- License revocation in almost all 50 states
- Wild Game Care
Hunters mainly hunt to provide food for their families. They either process the meat for immediate or delayed consumption. Hunters who rely on large animals for food practice wild game care through field dressing.
Field dressing helps prevent the spread of harmful bacteria within the meat. Bacteria breed fast when the conditions are right: between 40°F and 140°F. Hunters must control the temperature of the wild game first by removing the entrails of the downed game. It cools down the meat and halts the spread of bacteria when the processing happens in haste.
Here are the steps to field dressing:
- Attach a tag onto the wild game and fill it in with the date and time of kill.
- Lay the game on its back and cut the breastbone skin from the anus to the jaw base. The process is the same for deer, moose, elk, and other big game.
- Take the organs out of the cavity all the way from the backbone. Avoid touching the scent glands at the hind legs and leave the skin to prevent attracting other animals.
- Place the harvested meat and organs in a cool and dry container. Either place the organs in a trash bag for later disposal or place them in a depression or bury it where others won’t find them.
- If you want to process the meat at camp, hang the animal upside-down to allow air circulation to cool it down faster. It also helps you skin the game more easily.
- After skinning, wash the blood and dirt off the game. Allow it to air dry, quarter the meat and place inside clean container bags, and store inside an ice cooler.
Responsible hunting means that you must treat the animal you hunted and its habitat with respect. You must follow laws and practice good behavior, so you won’t bring negative attention to hunting. Your actions will greatly affect state policies on hunting.