“Why would you shoot this?” “He would have been a good one next year” “Thanks for getting to your stand late and blowing all the deer out” “GET OFF MY PROPERTY LINE!” It is fair to say that among those who take to the field with hopes to harvest game, have had these encounters with others in the field which made the entire experience anything but enjoyable. This comes in many forms: confrontation with neighbors, other hunters belittling another hunter’s trophy, stolen tree stands and trail cameras, etc. The list goes on and on. This topic is more prevalent today than it ever has been before. Why? Should we not as sportsmen and conservationists be celebrating where the sport is today? There is more to be thankful for than topics we should be fighting each other about.
Just the other day I listened to a fellow hunter and good friend describe one of these ill experiences with an adjoining land owner to a property he was hunting. This friend of mine has permission to hunt a piece of property which he has for several years. The adjoining landowner whom had planted a food plot earlier in the year claimed that my friend was “cutting off deer on their way to his food plot” based on his tree stand placement. The neighbor proceeded to talk on his cell phone while this friend was trying to hunt in an effort to frustrate him to finally leave his stand. Stories like this seem all too common these days. The amount of turmoil among the hunting community is at an all time high. Again, why? Could it be that hunting property is at an all time premium? Is the popularity of the sport at an all time high with more hunters struggling to find land to hunt? Could it be that the sport is being sensationalized via all of the media outlets? To some degree, all of these things and more you can answer yes to. It seems easy for a hunter today to fall victim to having these ill thoughts towards fellow hunters. Do we not have other groups trying to fight us already, while trying to strip our right of hunting away for good? Animal rights activists/groups are relentlessly trying to do this exact thing every day! Are we not helping their cause by working against each other rather than with one another?
When we fight against each other, what are some of the possible issues this creates beyond the confrontations themselves? Maybe a landowner that granted you permission to hunt is in the middle of a debate on property lines with a neighbor that otherwise never would have happened if a civil discussion would have taken place to reach an agreement. Now the neighbors are in an uncomfortable position. Perhaps an argument between two hunters while in the field becomes so heated that local law enforcement is called to the scene. Citations are issued for disorderly conduct, etc… This hits the newspaper as part of the weekly law enforcement announcements. Now those hunters involved have a name for themselves as someone who cannot control their temper. The worst case scenario I can think of is what took place in Rice Lake, WI a few years back where the result was several funerals because of a situation that got out of hand. These are just a few examples of how this type of behavior has negative effects beyond just the confrontations themselves.
There certainly are situations where fellow hunters simply do not respect hunter’s property, hunting rights, or are downright impossible to work with or talk to. In these situations you are forced to call the authorities. But in most instances when we encounter these situations, can we not take the high road and work with one another? The outcome when a mutual agreement is reached is far better for the future rather than becoming bitter towards one another. When we work together, relationships are built, and the outdoor experience becomes that much better. Although at times it may be our knee jerk reactions when we see other hunters in the same area or see someone harvest an animal you have been chasing for years to have a degree of animosity. We really should embrace their same passion we have when we take to the field.
Have you experienced the benefits of sharing the same passion with someone else in the outdoors rather than reacting in a negative way?