Hunting Ethics and Fair Chase
In addition to following the law, the responsible hunter develops and follows a personal code of ethics. Ethics are the rules for right and wrong, good and bad that societies and individuals develop. These rules help us to know how we should act in certain situations.
- A person with good ethics is somebody who understands right and wrong, and chooses to do the right thing in any situation.
- A person with good hunting ethics is one who will not do anything in the field he or she knows or feels is wrong, even if it is legal.
Hunters are encouraged to develop their own ethic of fair chase. Fair chase means balancing the skills and equipment of the hunter with the abilities of the animal to escape. Responsible hunters do not take unfair advantage of game animals, even if it’s legal.
But how do we know what’s right and what’s wrong? All responsible hunters obey hunting laws but sometimes we find ourselves in a situation where the law doesn’t tell us what to do. Unfortunately, there is not a “list” of ethical rules to help. In these cases, you must decide for yourself based on your personal sense of what is right and wrong.
If you doubt your decision at any point, don’t do it!
Do we have enough information now to answer the question we started with—What makes a hunter responsible? Let’s list what we have learned. A responsible hunter:
- Always follows the four primary rules of firearm safety.
- Knows and obeys laws and regulations.
- Views hunting as more than killing an animal.
- Develops a personal code of ethics and sticks to it.
- Takes full responsibility for his or her actions.
- Respects people, the land, and wildlife.