Sportsmen have many responsibilities

Sportsmen have many responsibilities Each year the Game, Fish and Parks Department is confronted with complaints and challenges related to hunters. According to Game, Fish and Parks Secretary John Cooper, most of the complaints come from landowners and fellow sportsmen who have witnessed irresponsible behavior by someone hunting in the field.

Many times the complaint centers on littering, trespassing, shooting from a motor vehicle, or shooting too close to livestock or occupied houses. "Whatever the complaint, most circumstances boil down to a real lack of common sense and lack of respect for both private property and wildlife resources. First and foremost, hunting requires a person to act responsibly. Responsibility by hunters can help to avoid and eliminate the label of 'slobs' that sometimes gets tacked on sportsmen," Cooper said.

Below is a list of guidelines Cooper recommends for hunters to set as standards to become a more responsible sportsman:

1) First and foremost, respect the rights of landowners. By asking permission every time one hunts, hunters can adhere to the landowner's wishes. Many times this involves keeping safe distances from livestock and buildings, knowing where and when not to hunt, and reporting the irresponsible people who break the law or damage property.

2) The sportsman's gun is a weapon. A dangerous tool, when or if it is used irresponsibly, can be utterly devastating. By checking the sights and practicing to improve one's shooting skills, a sportsman can understand their gun's limitations and their own skills.

3) To eliminate any chance of an accident, a responsible sportsman should shoot only when he or she is absolutely certain of the target at which they are shooting. Make sure the target is in fact legal game. This also helps to reduce poor shooting and the loss of wounded game.

4) Select the proper ammunition. Sportsmen have the duty of selecting the best bullet or shotshell charge to ensure clean and humane harvesting of game. Improving your shooting skills and knowing proper killing ranges are critical to responsible ethics.

5) Use a dog when hunting birds. A sportsman displays his or her commitment to being responsible by seeing that their hunting dog is well trained. A well-trained dog increases the enjoyment of the sport and helps one to find downed or wounded game, a step to avoid wasting a valuable resource.

6) Sportsmen should value what they harvest. A sportsman is responsible by taking only what he can use, making sure that game is not wasted as food, avoiding unnecessary public displays of dead game, and treating animals with thr respect that they deserve. Basically, clean and care for your game properly.

7) Show that you are thankful for the privilege of hunting. A sportsman's responsibility dictates that he pick up spent shells and other litter … every time they hunt. This includes not cleaning birds or other game in road ditches or public areas. Leaving an area better than the way one found it is just good manners and shows respect for public and private property.

8) Responsible sportsmen do not have to take a limit. You can have a great day simply by recognizing the challenge of the hunt, the pleasures of being out in nature, the companionship of good friends, and the simple rewards of just being responsible.

9) Take "competition" out of your hunting! Trying to shoot more and bigger game in order to satisfy a macho ego and earn bragging rights at the bar or coffee shop is the wrong reason to hunt. Most often, such attitude leads to unethical and illegal behavior.

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