TV hunting shows should focus on ethics

Ok, I’ll admit it. I occasionally watch hunting shows as broadcast by The Outdoor Channel. I don’t watch most of them, but I occasionally watch hunts for moose, sheep and any other game animal that doesn’t appear to be trapped behind a high fence.

Bill Busbice Jr. apparently had a show that aired on an outdoors station, and from what I’ve been told, it was fairly popular. I don’t know Bill Busbice Jr. and I’ve never seen his show, and for that I’m glad.

Busbice is, or rather was, the host of a show called Wild Game Nation and he owns a ranch in Wyoming. He is accused of shooting a bull elk and an elk calf and letting the smaller animal rot.

The case began on Oct. 16, 2016 when a local game warden received a report from a group of hunters of a possible wildlife violation they witnessed on the ranch owned by Busbice. Apparently, there was a younger man with the hunter who had a video camera and appeared to be filming the hunt. They watched the hunter shoot one elk, presumably a cow, and then shoot a bull. The first elk fell within around 60 yards of where the bull went down.

“They observed the hunter and the cameraman walk up to look at the bull and then leave the area,” said Game Warden Chris Baird.

The hunters reported they observed Busbice and another man walk to both carcasses, leave, and then eventually return and retrieve the bull elk with a backhoe. The problem was they left the calf out in the field to go to waste.

Apparently, Wyoming authorities didn’t buy Busbice’s claim that he inadvertently shot the calf while he was attempting to shoot a bull elk because Lincoln County Circuit Court Judge Frank Zebre sentenced Busbice to one-and-a-half years of unsupervised probation and ordered Busbice to pay $23,000 in fines and restitution. In addition, he will lose his hunting and fishing privileges across 45 states until 2019. Two of his show’s sponsors quickly pulled out as well.

Busbice has issued a feeble explanation and apology for his actions but they’re hard to swallow. In his posted apology, Busbice said, “I have never and would never intentionally poach. This incident is not reflective of who I am as an outdoorsman. I have spent over 40 years speaking out against poaching and will continue to do everything I can to rebuild trust with the outdoor community.”

Oh, really? If he’s such an ethical outdoorsman, how does he explain the fact he was previously cited in 2016 for purchasing a resident elk tag even though he was not a resident? He was also cited for purchasing more than the authorized number of deer tags and paid $1,430 in fines for those violations.

The larger problem as I see it is the example this incident sets for younger hunters. As I said earlier, I don’t watch most of the hunting shows currently being broadcast because of what I perceive as often overlooked or unethical behavior of the so called “stars,” not to mention the disrespect for the game being killed. After they kill an animal, I get sick to my stomach watching these so-called “hunters” high-five each other, fake a belly laugh, and say things like “Ah, smoked that sucka,” or, “he’s only a raghorn,” or “he’s a cull or management buck.”

It’s obvious in many cases these guys and women are shooting deer or turkeys that are feeding along a well-used road on the bait that has been previously placed there. By watching shows like these, young hunters are getting the wrong impression of what hunting is all about.

Ethical hunting is defined as abiding by the rules, taking only appropriate shots, respect for the game being hunted and respect for the rights of fellow sportsmen. These are the values we should be teaching any youngster in our tutelage. Sadly, this isn’t always the case.

Benjamin Disraeli said it all when he noted, “The real measure of a man’s character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out.”

Categories: Bloggers on Hunting, New York – Mike Raykovicz

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