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Hunter Ethics; Do the right thing, not the easy thing

Posted on March 19, 2013

Jerry DavisIs it as important to recognize someone for the state’s hunter ethics award (the La Crosse Tribune/Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources hunter ethics award) as it is to report a violation of the state’s hunting regulations?

Maybe not, but if a hunter takes the time to nominates a fellow hunter, that means he, or she, is probably an ethical hunter, too.  And it makes one feel good to report a good deed just as it makes someone feel good to be formally told they were acting ethically.

The committee had twice as many nominations for the 2012 award (actually an adult and a youth award) as last year.  Further, there were more nominations this year than ever before.

Still, only two people will be formally recognized by a plaque and certificate.

These two paragraphs summarize my feelings, having served on the committee since its beginning, 16 years ago.

I said of the adult winner, Kevin Zarecki, of Portage:

“It’s not the taking of an animal as much as it is being able to walk out of the woods knowing you did the right thing for yourself, the resource, and others who were hunting with you.  Kevin Zarecki will likely always remember his 2012 deer hunt, always feel good about what he did, and what he didn’t do.  Experiencing an ethical hunt can be bigger than any trophy. ”

Zarecki walked away from a deer both he and another hunter shot at and hit.  It would have been a trophy to either hunter.

Then, there was this one, a tale of a 17-year-old hunter who spent the better part of two days looking for a doe he hit, only to see her run away, but likely to survive.  He also passed on shooting a buck.

“Ethics is not something that is easily taught.  Maybe it comes partly from intuition.  Maybe it comes when young hunters learn, and then hunt with ethical hunters.  But surely the final examination in this outdoors course is realizing and practicing what is right and what is wrong, when you are with others and when you are alone.  Zack Reeves will have a deer story to tell the rest of his life, about a deer that got away, and another one he let get away.”

Do the right thing in 2013; hunt ethically, even if it means doing something for someone else; even if it means going home without a deer.

Nominations are due and should be turned in to a conservation warden by the end of December.

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