True hunters don't practice wasteful hunting, but how can it be deterred?
Hunting is a privilege. Ask any game warden, lawman, or lifelong hunter.
Those who love the sport and respect the game we chase will tell you how fortunate we all are. To be able to hunt whitetail deer, turkeys, and every other wild animal (that outsmarts most of us regularly) is a privilege most hunters treat with the respect it deserves.
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However, there are way too many so-called hunters who lack respect and compassion for the beautiful animals we hunt. For those hunters, wasting an animal is commonplace. To them, shooting a nice buck is simply a chance to saw off a nice set of antlers and leave the rest of the deer to waste. These hunters have neither the time nor the care to properly utilize the animal they just shot.
Lackluster Wanton Waste Laws
While some states have strict wanton waste laws to combat the careless disregard of downed game, several states provide little to no protection for wasted animals. States like Tennessee allow a hunter to kill an animal, tag it, and let it hang or lay until it rots without penalty. There is nothing to force these hunters to utilize the meat from a downed animal. The law simply requires the animal be accounted for and reported to the state as killed.
This kind of lackluster law simply isn't enough to protect wildlife. Gathering kill statistics does nothing to truly prevent the wasteful disregard of unethical hunters.
Wasteful hunting should result in stricter punishments, like reasonably short jail time, probation and loss of hunting privileges. The penalties should be stiff enough to get the attention of those who think it is acceptable to shoot an animal just for the sake of shooting.
Conscientious hunters never waste an animal. We have far too much respect for the animal and our sport. It is time to make sure every hunter who shoots an animal shows that same level of respect.
Hunting is a serious sport. As hunters, we are responsible for respectfully taking a life and that responsibility should never be taken lightly. It is up to each and every one of us to ensure that every time a trigger is pulled or an arrow is sent, that the animal we take is utilized properly.
Failure to use the meat from a downed animal is not only wasteful; it is completely disrespectful to both the animal and the sport we love. To keep our sport alive and to keep the wildlife population healthy, we must find a way to continue hunting while eliminating the wasteful practices of those who hunt for all the wrong reasons. Punishing hunters who fail to utilize the meat from a hunt is the first step in preventing unnecessary loss and careless waste.
Why Laws Just Aren't Enough
Current wanton waste laws in several states just aren't enough. It is up to us as ethical hunters to assume the responsibility of properly using as much of an animal as possible.
Game wardens in most areas are stretched pretty thin. They are asked to cover a lot of area with a minimal number of personnel. Most have their hands full with license checks, poachers, and trespassers. In states where wanton waste laws are lackluster or non-existent, game wardens are usually tied up with other concerns and either don't have the time or interest to pursue wasteful hunters.
If game wardens are not there to protect the interests of downed animals as well as live ones, then they are only doing half their job.
Where game wardens fail, ethical hunters can succeed. We must police each other. It is not our responsibility to confront other hunters one on one, but we can make a difference in other ways. If a hunter practices wanton waste in an obvious way such as leaving a deer hanging for weeks without cleaning it or is caught tossing a carcass that is just missing antlers, then it is up to the rest of us to take action.
Get photos, contact the newspaper, or call the local television station. Do whatever it takes to call attention to the act. Do it without confrontation but find a way to make the act known. Sometimes simply making the general public aware of unethical practices is enough to start the ball rolling toward change. If ethical hunters take action, hopefully lawmakers will follow.
We must protect and preserve the game we want to hunt and that includes eliminating the act of wanton waste. In order for the sport we love to survive, it is up to us to take action.
The waste of wildlife has to be stopped. Ethical hunters have to take control of the future of hunting. Where the laws fail, it is our responsibility to succeed.