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The former Daily Statesman is now The Dexter Statesman and currently does not have an operating website.

Is there such a thing as "hunting ethics"?

Posted Tuesday, November 16, 2010, at 9:00 PM

Okay, as a resident of Backwoods Missouri, living in the boondocks and surrounded by wild creatures of every assorted species, I am just curious - IS there such a thing as "hunting/hunter ethics"?

I'll tell you what has prompted this question. I was reading along on my Facebook page recently, and one of my former students posted on a friend's link, where he was talking about shooting a deer.

The hunter must have been standing in the woods over the doe's body, posting on Facebook, because it went like this: "lmfao just smoked a doe and they other doe is just walking circles around it like what's going on."

For those of you who aren't used to that stupid text-talk, I assume that "lmfao" means "laugh my fat a** off."

The post was disturbing to me on several levels, which had nothing to do with the size of the hunter's posterior. First, that young hunter is a former student of mine, which makes his callousness so much more disappointing, not to mention that his spelling, grammar and punctuation are just downright criminal.

Seriously, I find it so disrespectful for a hunter to laugh and make fun of these creatures which they hunt. Native Americans harvested deer and other wildlife for their own survival, but I never heard tell of them ridiculing the animals they killed.

One of the other smart-aleck young men who responded to the post said, "shoot the other one dumba**" This, of course, brings up a whole new question: Are these young men so careless as to shoot whatever wildlife they so please, with no regard for Missouri law? Do hunters not still have to purchase deer tags which specify "doe" and "buck"?

I also find it unethical for the hunter to shoot up the countryside with the attitude that any creature that moves in the woods is just there for his personal target practice.

I was curious about the deer population, so I went to the Missouri Conservation Department's webpage at www.mdc.mo.gov and looked into the history of the white-tail deer in Missouri.

I found that deer were plentiful in the state until they were over-hunted in the late 1800's and early 1900's. By 1925, the deer population was estimated to be 400! Can you imagine?? We take the current population for granted, for sure, with this year's total killed at 91,236.

According to the Conservation site, the laws passed during these early times were just token laws with no enforcement until 1937, when the Conservation Commission was established. This commission closed deer season from 1938 - 1943, so that in 1944 the population had rebounded to 15,000.

In 1944, the commission opened a two-day bucks-only season in 20 southern Missouri counties, and the state was stocked with deer from Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota.

Today, the yearly deer kill in Missouri is typically 300,000. The total deer population is estimated at 1.4 million with 40% being bucks - both button bucks and antlered bucks.

We do have a very healthy deer population in the state, and I can see the rationale for population control.

My question is - Is there a form of ethical behavior when it comes to sports hunting for deer?

In the above situation, I'm sure the doe which my insensitive former student was laughing at was a young doe still traveling with her mother. I see no way in which that scene is laughable.

Rather, the whole situation evokes images of my first viewing of the Bambi movie. I sat in the darkened theater feeling a mixture of grief and rage at so senseless a slaughter of motherhood. I guess it's natural for women, who are traditionally more nurturing than men, to be horrified at such scenes of destruction.

I can hear my more callous readers, muttering, "Oh, c'mon! Get real!"

My question remains: Is there such a thing as hunting ethics? For example, I sit in my living room and hear a veritable barrage of rapid fire gunshots from the land to the north. Is someone shooting a whole herd of deer? My son says they're obviously shooting at a running deer, something he doesn't do - for a variety of reasons. First, it's a matter of control. If you're banging away at a running target, there's too great a chance of hitting something else besides the deer.

Wild, uncontrolled gunshots can also travel so much farther than the immature, careless hunter realizes. I've heard of cases in which gunfire hits vehicles traveling on country roads or highways. When we first moved to the Tillman area, bullets whizzed all around the house.

Another issue disturbs me - How many of you are seeing the deer lying dead beside our highways and country roads? A friend of mine saw four lying beside the highway between Advance and Dexter yesterday. Most of these animals are not the victims of vehicle collisions. Rather, they are animals who were fatally wounded by a hunter who was too lazy to track the deer down and at least make use of the meat. Is this ethical?

I realize that I'm opening myself up to criticism with this blog, but so be it! If you had to sit in my living room and dodge bullets, you might feel the same way!

From the hills of Tillman, Missouri, this is your rural reporter Madeline, keeping her head down and her powder dry.

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

There are ethics and manners in hunting. They probably should not be legislated, but nobody should shoot any animal for just pure satisfaction. Shooting should be done for eating, defense, and (in the case of garden pests or predators) for property protection.

-- Posted by swift on Tue, Nov 16, 2010, at 4:46 PM

There are many ethical hunters out there (I was raised by one) that obey the rules: purchasing their deer tags, hunting in a safe and humane manner, killing for food to eat not just a trophy on the wall. By humane hunting I mean not shooting yearlings and making sure of a kill shot instead of just shooting to wound and then having to track a suffering animal across the wilderness. If by chance a shot did go wide and didn't immediately drop the deer, it was always tracked until found unless the deer simply was only grazed and obviously not seriously injured.

Unfortunately, many so called hunters out there just go deer hunting to drink and shoot their guns to get their jollies. They don't have respect for nature, property lines, laws, or common sense. I'm sickened by the hunters that use methods like spot-lighting, dog chase, baiting, etc.

May the stray bullets stay far from your home this year, as well as mine.

-- Posted by farmwife2 on Tue, Nov 16, 2010, at 10:21 PM

Such behavior seen everywhere nowadays. In the woods and on the road, civility seems to be a thing of the past. Where have all the folks with good manners gone? Life is just too fast paced, slow down, enjoy, smile more and be a good neighbor.

-- Posted by Dexterite1 on Wed, Nov 17, 2010, at 6:24 AM

Farmwife2, thank you for that wonderful lesson on ethical hunting! It was exactly what we needed in this discussion!

-- Posted by goat lady on Wed, Nov 17, 2010, at 7:35 AM

Take only a clean shot, know your target, track a wounded animal, use what you take, take only what you can use, respect the fences, gates, and signs, always ask permission, have gun safety as part of your mantra, NEVER leave trash, casings, shells, or evidence of your passing save some cracked brush, obey the regs and use your tags, and enjoy your time in the Missouri outdoors, you only go around once, regards, kkr

-- Posted by kkcaver47 on Wed, Nov 17, 2010, at 12:22 PM

Oh, wow! kkcaver, we should have these rules framed! In fact, I may do just that!

-- Posted by goat lady on Wed, Nov 17, 2010, at 7:35 PM

I have a question this morning - If the Missouri Department of Conservation estimate for deers "harvested" in the state this season is around 92,000 so far, how much higher would the total be, if the department could count the ones lying on the ground dead and not turned in on a tag? I'm wondering if the 300,000 figure mentioned on the website can include the unaccounted-for deer?

-- Posted by goat lady on Thu, Nov 18, 2010, at 6:43 AM

I remember when my dad and brother hunted, along with their friends, and it was as much about the gentlemanly manner of the sport as it was about the ducks (quail, fish) they brought home. I truly believe that one of the reasons my brother became a good man was because he was taught how to hunt and fish by my dad, who respected hunting and fishing as a privilege.

-- Posted by lovebooks on Thu, Nov 18, 2010, at 2:48 PM

Right On the Money, Lovebooks, my Dad and I sat in a duck blind with your Dad and Bro more than once down on the old duck club, your bro and I learned about sport from two of the best "sports" in the woods or on the water!!!Thanks for a memory or two, regards, kkr

-- Posted by kkcaver47 on Fri, Nov 19, 2010, at 2:45 PM

Awww, kkr, that was sweet.

-- Posted by lovebooks on Sun, Nov 28, 2010, at 2:03 PM

My husband a minister has been asked to go hunting out of season by other ministers in the past when he was able to go and he would refuse to go and was surprised that they wanted to hunt out of season. We also see deer lying on the highway side of the road. We wonder why.I usually assume it was hit by a car. Hunters I think believe the deer just got away. Some are killed and wasted not for food but for fun. Myself I think they are too pretty to kill. I know some have to be killed for over population

-- Posted by stellaI on Sun, Dec 5, 2010, at 12:37 PM

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Madeline DeJournett
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at advancensc@sbcglobal.net.
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