About the Study Guide

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You have heard the expression, "That person is a good sport." It means that the individual obeys the rules of the game. Usually a good sport is friendly, cheerful, and willing to help others.

The other side of the coin is a "bad sport." The bad sport takes unfair advantage of others. The bad sport sometimes even cheats in order to gain the advantage. Usually the bad sport has a negative attitude, and the bad sport might even be unsafe.

There is simply no room for "bad sports" in hunting. Whether you hunt with a bow, a muzzleloading firearm, or a modern shotgun or rifle, you are taking responsibility upon yourself. Hunting requires good skills, basic knowledge of wildlife and wildlife laws, and a positive attitude. Don't hunt with a person who shows unsportsmanlike behavior!

The written laws for Washington are easy to find and understand. Some are listed in this book. Most of the important wildlife laws are found in the Hunting Seasons and Rules pamphlet, which you can find anywhere hunting licenses are sold. Everybody is required to obey the written rules and regulations in the Washington Fish and Wildlife Code.

But what about the unwritten, ethical behavior of the true sportsman? It's not easy to write down "unwritten" practices, but here are some examples.

  • It's not illegal to use your shotgun to take a 100-yard shot at a goose.
    No true sportsman would ever think about taking such a shot!
  • It's not illegal to shoot ducks on the water or pheasants on the ground.
    No true sportsman would ever think about taking such a shot!
  • It's not illegal to "hog" shots from your hunting companions.
    No true sportsman would ever think of such behavior!
  • It's not illegal to use a firearm that you haven't sighted in properly.
    No true sportsman would ever think of going afield without practicing with and sighting-in their equipment!

All of these actions are perfectly legal. To a true sportsman, however, none of these actions are right! A real sportsman doesn't need a written law to explain what is right or wrong. True sportsmen obey all laws anyway. The difference between sportsmanlike and unsportsmanlike behavior is following both written and unwritten laws!

You are just beginning your career as a hunter. Nobody expects you to know everything simply by taking this course. You have learned a lot in this course, but a real sportsman continues to learn throughout life. Don't be afraid to ask questions! Watch other hunters and learn from them. Be sure that they, too, are real sportsmen!