Fair chase is the bedrock of the hunting heritageWORTHINGTON — As I was sitting in a waiting room at the doctor’s office the other day I was reading a poster on the wall that started out with the words “everything that I ever need to know I learned in kindergarten.” Although I had read these words many times in the course of my life, it was a fresh reminder of just how simple ways of acting can make the world a better place.
By: Scott Rall, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — As I was sitting in a waiting room at the doctor’s office the other day I was reading a poster on the wall that started out with the words “everything that I ever need to know I learned in kindergarten.”
Although I had read these words many times in the course of my life, it was a fresh reminder of just how simple ways of acting can make the world a better place.
Rules of common sense can be simple and very effective, regardless of where you come from. Many of the kindergarten lessons on the wall poster can be carried over into most aspects of everyday life.
As I was sitting there, I came to the second lesson on this list that was as simple as “play fair.”
This hit home to me as I had just finished reading an article in a Field and Stream magazine about how many states were banning Internet hunting.
Internet hunting was starting to spread in certain areas of the United States. This is where an individual (notice I did not call them a hunter) could sit at a computer and actually shoot an animal.
How does this work you would most likely ask?
A gun would be mounted in a stand in the woods or other deer habitat. A camera would feed the image back to the computer screen. This gun would be controlled by computer and operated by the slob shooter sitting next to his or her computer. They would aim the gun with the use of a joystick.
When the deer or other game comes in range, normally after the timed feeder is operated, the computer operator would aim the gun, push a button and the gun would fire. The animal would be hit, missed or wounded.
The mere thought of this infuriates me beyond words. Anyone who could even think that this is hunting has to be from another planet.
Luckily, states saw what was happening and immediately started passing laws to make this type of activity illegal. Add to this the fact that no follow up shot could be made, and this adds to how bad this smells.
The key word in this entire process that is absent is something called “fair chase.” Every ethical sportsman understands the meaning of fair chase. We teach this in every firearms safety class that I had participated in.
In the hunting world. fair chase is described as the ethic, lawful pursuit of game that does not give the hunter an improper advantage over the game pursued.
What does this really mean? It means that you don’t shoot ducks that have landed on the water. This is referred to as shooting them on the set. I would also not shoot a rooster that was sitting stationary in the roadside or shooting a dove that is sitting on a high line wire.
Fair chase is really just doing what is right — giving the game a chance. Driving around hunting deer from the window of the truck at 40 mph also qualifies as no fair chase.
There are some folks who think that enclosure hunting contains the element of fair chase.
Enclosure hunting is when a deer or other big game animal is released into a fenced area and the human (notice I did not say hunter) pursues this animal until he is successful.
When the animal is unable to flee there is no fair chase.
Some will say that if the fenced area is 25,000 acres that fair chase exits then. I could not disagree more. Fenced is fenced, and there is no debate on this issue for every ethical sportsman.
States are starting to either limit or eliminate fenced big game hunting preserves, and they have my very vocal support.
The proponents of fenced game hunting will counter with the argument that game farms exits all over the county for pheasant hunting, and that this activity is similar to fenced hunting. Birds are released in the morning and hunted in the afternoon of the same day.
The fact that game farms are numerous and offer many pheasant hunting opportunities is true. The very significant difference in every case is that when the bird flushes and heads for parts unknown, there is more than a realistic chance that it will be successful in doing so. The hunter has to shoot well, and with the folks that I hunt with occasionally, the pheasant survives more than 50 percent of the time. The element of fair chase exits in pheasant hunting regardless of where you do it.
I have listened to stories told over the years of shooters bragging about this or that and how they were successful in bagging an extraordinary amount of game. Most of these stories normally include little or no fair chase. I can take no satisfaction in bagging any game if I have not taken it legally, ethically and with all of the fair chase requirements met.
Fair chase is the bedrock of our hunting heritage and there is no more important behavior that all hunters should display when in the field this season and every season that follows.
The non-hunting public supports ethical hunting to a great degree and following the rules of fair chase will help ensure that they continue to do so. Practice and promote fair chase with everyone that you come in contact with. Teach it to the youth so they can incorporate in their growth and love of the sport. The future of hunting depends on it.
Have a great hunting season, and I look forward to seeing you in the field somewhere.