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Transcript for Hunting Ethics

Julie McKarley: Hi, I’m Julie McKarley. I’m a conservation officer.

Barry Cummings: I’m Conservation Officer Barry Cummings. Today we’re going to talk about ethics and wildlife law. First, we’ll define ethics. Ethics is behavior that has to do with responsibility, respect, and fairness. Ethical behavior is doing the right thing when no one else is watching, even when doing the wrong thing might be legal.

Julie McKarley: Some regulations are actually based on ethical principles, such as you must make a reasonable effort to find and recover any game that you shoot.

Barry Cummings: Sometimes it’s difficult to understand the difference between illegal and unethical. Some things that might be legal are still considered unethical. For example, there’s not a law that requires you to go out and be accurate with your firearm before you go out and hunt an animal, nor is there a law that says you can’t shoot a moving animal. In the same way there’s not a law that says you can’t shoot a turkey as it’s roosting in a tree as long as the season’s open, and it’s during legal hours. However, an ethical hunter wouldn’t do any of those.

Julie McKarley: Is hunting a right or a privilege? Hunting is actually a privilege. According to the Second Amendment, we have the right to bear firearms. In Idaho, we have the privilege to hunt. And that privilege relies heavily on the voting public.

Barry Cummings: So who is the general public? I like to use coffee beans and Mason jars to kind of demonstrate that.

Officer Cummings shows a Mason jar that is 10% filled with coffee beans.

Barry Cummings: In this Mason jar, is 10% of the jar. This is 10% of the population in the United States are hunters. We’re in this group. You may say that you know more than 10% of the people in your area, where you live, hunt, and that’s probably true. But across the United States, approximately 10% of the population hunts.

Officer Cummings shows a second Mason jar that also is 10% filled with coffee beans.

Barry Cummings: In this jar is another 10%. These 10% are anti-hunters. These are folks that are totally opposite to what you believe, and they represent 10% of the population. So, who’s the rest?

Officer Cummings shows a third Mason jar that is 80% filled with coffee beans.

Barry Cummings: That’s these folks. 80% of the population in the United States, they don’t hunt. They’re not against hunting, but they form their opinions based on what they see hunters do. These folks vote. They own land, and they influence a lot of what we do.

Julie McKarley: Respect is a big part of ethics. Respect for non-hunters, respect for the resource, respect for wildlife, respect for other hunters, and respect for landowners.

Respect for Non-Hunters

Julie McKarley: We’re talking about respect for non-hunters. We’re talking about transporting game discreetly. Being polite and asking people first if they want to see pictures of the game that you just harvested. Not showing up in town with blood on your clothes, camo, and face paint, because that might upset non-hunters.

Respect for the Resource

Julie McKarley: We’re talking about respect for the resource. We’re talking about leaving the land better than how you found it. Picking up trash that you see. For wildlife, you want to try for a quick, clean kill for game that you’re pursuing. Treat non-game ethically just as you would game animals. And don’t waste any of the game meat. Once you harvest a game animal, make sure you pack out all the edible portions of meat.

Respect for Other Hunters

Barry Cummings: Respect for other hunters. Respect other hunters in their hunting area. If you see someone that’s parked at a gate with an ATV, don’t drive past that. Let them hunt that area. Be a safe hunter. Avoid alcohol, drugs, and most importantly, be an ethical hunter.

Respect for Landowners

Barry Cummings: Respect for landowners. Each year it gets more difficult to find places to hunt. Respect for landowners is key, particularly if we continue to hunt a lot of these private lands. And there’s some very simple things you can do. You always ask permission to hunt from a landowner, whether the property is posted or not. And if that landowner gives you permission to hunt, that doesn’t mean you can bring all your friends without first having them ask permission. Leave gates the way you found them. Don’t shoot near the house, respect the crops and the livestock, share your game, and most importantly, remember to say thank you. If you ask a landowner for permission and they deny you that permission, be courteous. Be respectful. They may base the decision next year to let you hunt on how you reacted to their decision.

Julie McKarley: As Barry said, always ask permission first before going on private land. Now, what tells you that land is private? Sign such as no trespassing, no hunting. That means that it’s private land. Orange paint on trees, on fence posts. That also tells you that land is private. Remember, it’s always important to ask permission when going on private land. Even cultivated fields, crops, that also tells you that that land is private.

Now what if you see someone trespassing on private land? What should you do? Well, you should contact your local conservation officer, or you can contact the Citizens Against Poaching hotline.

In a small office, a man sitting at a desk answers a ringing phone.

Speaker: Citizens Against Poaching.

Barry Cummings: So you call the Citizens Against Poaching hotline. Do you know the number? What I tell kids when I’m in the class is look at your pencil. It’s on there. It’s on all the fishing and hunting regulations. It’s a 1-800 number. It’s managed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. What would you tell us? Well first, provide your name and information so we can contact you back if we need to. It’s really helpful. You can still remain anonymous, but it’s important that you leave that callback information for us. Give us a location, description of the vehicle, violation that you think occurred. License plates are great. You may even be entitled to a reward.

So why make the call? First, I’ll ask you, who owns the wildlife in the state of Idaho? The people do, and we’re in charge of protecting that for you. I tell folks we are as effective as you want us to be. Let me give you an example. If a person takes a bull moose unlawfully in Idaho, they have to pay a civil penalty of $10,000. That $10,000 goes back into the fund with the license dollars. $10,000—would you be upset if someone came to your house and stole $10,000 worth of equipment? Or would you be upset, or would you call if you saw someone breaking into your neighbor’s house stealing $10,000? Of course you would. You need to share that same ownership in the resource.

Julie McKarley: Some common violations that we get calls on are trespass. People that are out spotlighting, using artificial light to go after game animals. That typically occurs during unlawful shooting times. Now, lawful shooting times for big game animals are a half hour before sunrise to a half hour after sunset. For waterfowl—ducks, geese—lawful shooting times are a half hour before sunrise to sunset. And you find those times in the waterfowl regulations.

Barry Cummings: Another common violation is shooting from a public roadway. In Idaho, it’s unlawful to shoot from or across a public roadway. It’s also unlawful to hunt with the aid of a motorized vehicle, which includes an ATV. Each year we run into people with loaded firearms in their vehicles. I’ve even had people with loaded firearms laying across their lap looking for game. It’s unlawful, and it goes against every safety rule you’ll learn in this hunter education class. ATVs are a great tool to get you to where you want to go, but park it and go hunting.

While we’re still talking about common violations, we’ll talk about one that’s called party hunting. What is party hunting? No, it’s not getting together before you go hunting and having a big party. Although, that may be fun to do. Party hunting is when people try to fill other people’s tags for them. There’s only one person that can harvest the animal for you, and that’s you. I often see this when I drive into a camp. And I’ll run into a large group of people, and I’ll ask who has tags. And someone will say to me, “We have four tags… We have five tags,” and they’ll be 10 hunters. Out of those 10 people, only those five with tags are hunters. Remember, only you can harvest that animal.

Julie McKarley: Another common violation that we see is when people fail to properly tag their game animal. What I mean by tag their game animal: Immediately after you harvest an animal, you need to validate and affix your tag onto that game animal. When we validate, you need notch your tag for the month and day that you harvested that animal. This is done before you start even field dressing that animal. Before you even start skinning it, you need to attach that tag.

Julie McKarley: To validate a tag, scissors are the best to validate it. But if you don’t have scissors, I prefer to use a downed tree. And I use the outline and trace it along this tree so I don’t cut myself.

Officer McKarley presses a tag flat against a downed tree’s trunk with her left hand. With her right hand, she uses a pocketknife to cut out triangular notches along the edges of the tag.

Julie McKarley: Say you harvested this animal on October 10th. I’m going to go and cut the month out, follow the tracings, pull that notch out, completely notched. You do not just cut a sliver. Say I caught it on the 10th. Now I’m going to move it over to the days. I want to follow that outline for the 10th, and get that notch out. So you can see that I completely notched it. The 10th is out, and October is out for this tag.

Officer McKarley displays the tag to the camera to show that it now has triangular notches—one for the month and one for the day—along its sides.

Barry Cummings: Julie did a great job of explaining the tagging requirements for your animal, but it’s also important to remember that you need to leave evidence of sex attached until you get that animal home. So you had a great hunt. You harvested your animal. You got it tagged. You got it back to the vehicle. You’re traveling home. You see a check station. Do you have to stop? Absolutely. We gather a lot of information from the animals harvested. Let’s just say, for example though, you didn’t harvest an animal. You’re traveling home, and you see that check station. Do you need to stop? Absolutely. The information that we gather from unsuccessful hunters is still important to us.

Julie McKarley: You as the hunter are responsible for knowing the wildlife laws. These wildlife laws can be looked up in the Idaho Department Fish and Game Regulations Handbook. There are several different handbooks, depending on what species you’re going after. Be it a big game, upland game bird, waterfowl. In these regulations you will find where you can hunt, when you can hunt, along with other wildlife laws pertaining to your hunt. As a hunter, you are required to know these laws.

Barry Cummings: We’ve given you a lot information. We’ve talked about a lot of scenarios, a lot of situations. And you’ll do more of that throughout the class. I want you to remember it’s easy to say, when you’re sitting here in this class, that you wouldn’t do that, you wouldn’t allow your friend to do that, you wouldn’t allow someone in your hunting party to do that. And if you did know somebody doing that, you would turn them in. And I hope that’s the case. It’s far more challenging when you’re out in the field. I tell folks that everyone makes mistakes. Nobody’s perfect. It’s what you do after you make the mistake that says what kind of person you are. Remember, be an ethical hunter.

Julie McKarley: And remember, if you ever have any questions or concerns, call Fish and Game. We can answer those questions.

On screen credits:
Conservation Officer
Conservation Officer


Avitamarc Productions

Special Thanks
Coeur d’Alene River Wildlife Management Area

On screen: [Idaho Fish and Game logo] Produced by Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Copyright 2011

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