Hunting season is here once again, and I think we need a reminder of what is proper behavior in certain situations; hunting faux pas, if you will. People…parents especially, it is not okay to push down a new hunter to get a shot at a trophy buck. There is no rule that states a first time hunter only gets first shot if it’s a crummy forked horn. Experienced hunters are supposed to be mentors and examples of good sportsmen.
The proper way
You must prepare the new hunter in advance by stating such gems as “you can’t eat the horns” and “young bucks are preferable to those nasty old ones”. You may only take the shot when the new hunter has visibly lowered their gun. The kill must be then accompanied by a statement such as “I figured I would just take this nasty old one so we can concentrate on getting you a nice young buck.” Besides, it’s difficult to make an accurate shot standing on a child’s head to keep it down.
Another technique experienced hunters use is the old “I’ll drop you off and pick you up at the top of the hill”. It is guaranteed that the driver will then spot a trophy animal around the very next corner. The fledgling hunter, meanwhile, will observe many deer-shaped rocks and tree stumps but nothing living as he trudges up the mountainside. The experienced hunter may have to wait several hours to have the new hunter help pack his downed animal to the vehicle. It will be a good “learning” experience.
Another axiom a beginner needs to learn is “you can’t eat the tag”. This is just a clever way of saying you have to get your butt out in the hills and find an animal to attach the tag to. The new hunter must learn that there is no guarantee an animal will even be found the first time out. In fact, it is very unlikely. In recent years tree-deer and Fish and Game robot deer have flourished, causing territorial pressure on traditional deer. It is a fact there are less deer, at least in the areas that I hunt. I tried tagging a tree-deer one year, but that brings a whole ‘nother government agency into the mix. I actually did eat my tag that year. It was very bitter.
A bit on tree-deer
As responsible hunters it is also inappropriate to constantly point in every direct with an excited look. I know it’s funny to see your son or daughter shaking like a leaf peering through their scope trying to find a deer that isn’t there. The new hunter will already be keyed up, seeing an animal in every patch of brush. Mother nature has a knack for creating surprisingly deer-like rocks and trees; and if you stare at anything long enough, it will seem to move.
It is always advisable to accurately identify your target before firing a shot. Let the new hunter make the determination on their own, whether or not, they have a real or imagined deer in their sights. After the fact, you can show your superior hunting wisdom by saying “I knew that’s what it was the whole time”. Of course, it will ruin the illusion if you push your child down and shoot a deer-shaped sagebrush.
Perhaps the most important lesson for hunters of any experience to learn is expediency. It is important to hunt with the end in mind. The end of a successful hunting trip gets you home safely with a properly tagged animal, or at least gets you home safely. If, upon entering your favorite secret hunting area, you observe a hunter or hunters on every surrounding ridge; it is safe to assume there are no deer within miles of your location. It is also likely that you closely resemble a deer to one or more of those hunters. It would be expedient to return home immediately and hunt big game on the Xbox or Playstation. Please do not push the new hunter down to cover your retreat.
Now that we have covered the instances it is inappropriate to physically or psychologically interfere with a beginner, there is one situation you can be given a pass. A hunter fresh out of hunter education will often carry a supply of food and water with him. He will have consumed all of it climbing that first mountain. An experienced hunter will leave his food in the vehicle, usually because he doesn’t want to carry it, or didn’t plan on hiking quite that far. Upon reaching the vehicle, the famished child will say something like “What is in your lunch my favorite father?” It would be expedient to push the child down to retrieve what is left of your meal. If the kid is very large, you may want to consider standing on his head.
Tree-deer and unfilled tags may suck, but Idaho certainly does not.