As outdoorsmen we all need to do our part to make sure our hunting, fishing and trapping heritage will be continued for generations to come. That means we all have a responsibility to ourselves and future generations to uphold and follow laws, rules and regulations set forth by our game and fish departments. Whichever state or country we are in. Most of these laws, rules and regulations are self-explanatory and pretty much just common sense. But common sense isn't so common anymore.
One thing I have never understood is poaching. Evidently some people get a thrill out of killing something just to kill it. Just typing that makes me cringe. Every year there seems to be cases of poaching throughout our area. When just one of these cases makes headlines it puts a negative spotlight on the hunting community. I am not saying they shouldn't make headlines but I am saying it should put a negative spotlight on criminals, not the hunting community. There is a difference.
Hunters and outdoorsmen give back billions of dollars each year from the tags, permits, licenses, guns and ammunition they purchase that goes directly into protecting and regulating wildlife and public lands. They also give back in the many outdoor clubs and wildlife groups they are members of that give back to the wildlife and communities in which we live. But each time a poaching story hits the news, all of the good publicity we do get goes right down the drain. It gives the anti-hunters ammunition to spew their misinformation throughout the media.
Hunters and poachers should not be used in the same breath. It gives a black eye to the hunting community when media outlets say something like, "Hunters were caught shooting deer illegally." It should say, "Poachers were caught shooting deer illegally." Hunters are not poachers and poachers are not hunters. Hunters are outdoorsmen who care about the game they chase. Poachers are criminals who don't care about anything but themselves.
The definition of poaching: Poaching is the unlawful or illegal taking of wild plants or animals, such as through hunting, harvesting, fishing, or trapping. The law concerned may be a law of property, of regulation, or of local or international conservation and wildlife management.
We need to start policing ourselves. The easiest way to do that is to report any violations that we may see when we are in the field. RAP (Report All Poachers) is the program that the North Dakota Game & Fish uses. Each state has their own program for collecting information on poaching. The RAP program is completely anonymous. So there is no reason not to call. Everyone should have these numbers in their cell phone. These numbers are also on your hunting and fishing licenses.
(Numbers for North Dakota.)
Another thing people get confused about hunters is "Trophy Hunting." People hear the term trophy hunting and they think hunters are just out for something to hang on their wall. People think hunters take the head and leave everything else. When media use the term trophy hunting it gets everyone up in arms and gets the anti-hunters something to bitch about that day.
Trophy hunting to me and to most hunters is taking the oldest, biggest and wisest male animal of that species out of a group of animals. Taking the oldest and the biggest does not hurt the species at all. They are usually past their prime for breeding. These trophy animals are on the downhill in the lifecycle.
I myself do not consider myself a trophy hunter. Just because of the negative connotations it brings up. But I would definitely be a trophy hunter if I had the opportunity to shoot a trophy. I am a little too trigger-happy when it comes to waiting for trophy. I like to fill the freezer. I am a trophy hunter until the snow gets too deep or the temperatures get too low. I guess I am a fair weather trophy hunter.
Littering on public and private land has really gotten to be a problem. It seems you cannot go anywhere without seeing some type of trash. It is really noticeable in the spring of the year when the vegetation has started to grow. There is no excuse for littering. I know a lot of hunters and fishermen who have started bringing garbage bags along just to pick up after other people. This shouldn't be necessary. Please take out what you bring in.
I hear a lot of hunters complain that the landowners are posting up "their" hunting spots. First of all, it is the landowners right to post their land, they have the right to do whatever they want with it. Second of all, with how some hunters treat and disrespect other people's land and property, I can totally understand why landowners are posting up their property. How would you like it if someone came into town and walked around your yard without asking and left garbage strewn around? I bet you would call the cops.
Another thing I hear from hunters is that they still hunt land that is posted because they believe that the landowners did not properly follow the rules for posting land. This is just crazy to me. I can't imagine the amount of arrogance and gall it takes to have this kind of thinking. If you have a no trespassing sign in town, that is all that needs to be done. People know that they are not wanted on this specific piece of property. But some hunters believe that if a no hunting sign isn't properly signed and dated, it is still legally open to hunting because of a technicality. If you believe this, you'd be wrong. I have been told by game wardens that the law is on the side of the landowner, and it should be.
(This sign is legal in the court system.)
I hear a lot of different things every year about no hunting signs. People believe a lot of different things about them. If you don't know, read the regulations for your state. Every state is different of what they require on no hunting signs. Notice it does not say it needs to be dated or there needs to be a phone number. Some states do require this but not North Dakota. Just because the sign has a place for this information does not mean that it is required. Here's what it says in the North Dakota proclamation about posting land.
Because of the above reasons I don't blame landowners for posting their land. So it is up to us as sportsmen to abide by the laws and regulations, report poaching and pick up after ourselves to keep land open. It isn't that hard.
Thanks for reading, Clint