The decades I have spent out in the wild hunting and fishing on public lands I have learned that there are two kinds of people in the world. There are people that understand what it means to be polite and have some sort of etiquette, and there is the vast majority of people that do not. People get so wrapped up in their own selfishness that they tend to forget that they have to share the world with others. This is true in every facet of life to include hunting. So as a hunter you need to exhibit at least some level of self-awareness and try and show some proper etiquette. You need to know where you are and where other hunters are, you need to be aware of the noises you are making, and I am saddened I even need to bring this up, but you need to pay attention where your rounds go when you fire. Public lands can be a lot of fun to hunt on, but can quickly become dangerous when people don’t pay attention.
When you are in the woods on public lands, you need to automatically assume others are out there as well. You may be in a vast wilderness but you would be surprised how often you walk up on someone that you had no clue was there. Hunting is a mixture of stalking, spotting, and hiking, but above all it requires silence. We wear orange for a reason so make sure you don’t head out without some blaze orange on. People need to see where they are and in turn you need to be able to see where they are. So while you are scanning for animals, scan for people too. You would be surprised at how once you have spotted that game you are after, how quickly you can lose track of your surroundings. Buck fever is real and can be deadly. I was hunting for Antelope in Montana with my fiance. We were in a great position and we waited for hours for the right shot. We must have watched them walk over 2 miles to get on our position, and right as I was about to fire my fiance tells me to halt. Someone was walking across the field, which in turn spooked the Antelope and put that hunters life at risk. I was not paying attention to him, I was watching the buck I was going to shoot. He was doing the same I am sure and did not notice us, despite being in orange. So you really need to pick your head up and look. You are not the lone ranger out there, so don’t make a mistake that will cost you or someone else.
I mentioned how hunting has a lot to do with being quiet and in silence. You need to be able to hear what is around you for signs of animals, but also you need to be quite because you don’t want to give up your position as well. So before you REACH that location don’t walk around making a lot of noise an racket. Some people may already be out there and in another location you are unaware of, and now as you bee-bop through the woods singing songs and making noise you are scaring game away from me. You are also not doing yourself any favors and I only mention this because it happens…often. This carries over to course to hikers and others that share the wild with us hunters. Be aware that it is hunting season and others are out there too, and they have every right to be there so at least have some common sense and courtesy. When you are driving to where you want to go hunting, don’t blast music while barreling down a dirt road. It makes a lot of noise and that noise carries far in the thin air of the fall and winter. Its pretty simple, write down all the things that annoy you that other people do when you are hunting, and don’t do them. If more people did that, there would be less issues, on a macro scale.
Now this seems…painfully obvious to anyone with a functioning brain stem, but you ARE responsible for the rounds that leave your weapon and travel downrange. You are accountable to whatever it hits, be it a deer, personal property, or someones livestock…or even a person. Once you pull that trigger you cannot take it back, the deed is done so you need to be aware. I have gone hunting a few times and have heard the tale-tell crack of a round passing overhead as it breaks the sound barrier. While it is good for getting the heart rate up and feeling alive, being shot at is not something one wants to have happen while hunting. So pay damn close attention to the world around you. Bullets do funny things when they hit twigs, branches, rocks, animals, ect and no matter what that round does once you fire, you are 100% responsible for, so do me and yourself a favor and pay attention when you are firing your weapon. Don’t be that guy.
Hunting on Public land can be very rewarding, but it can also be very frustrating. As a hunter you should be doing what you can to no frustrate other hunters. The golden rule applies here and it never goes away. You need to be aware of yourself, where you are and where other hunters are relative to you. You need to be cognoscenti of the sounds we make either in the field or traveling to our spot, and above all we ARE accountable for the rounds we fire so we MUST know where they are going. The bottom line here folks is simple, pay attention. This is not complicated stuff but I want people to be aware. Don’t be the reason someone gets seriously hurt or seriously annoyed. Go out and hunt just be self-aware. It won’t kill you, and it will save others. Stay alert, stay alive.
Born in North Carolina, raised all over the world and currently living in the Rocky Mountains above Montana. I have spent most of my life fishing, hunting, exploring and adventuring. While the adventure continues I have started to jot a few of them down and write. I Love Fly Fishing and sharing what I know with others. Fish on!