Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Thinking about hunting ethics

This spring has been a roller coaster ride of weather and nature constantly waving her little finger over the land causing floods with evacuations, roads being washed out, and in general making life difficult in North Dakota. There is light ahead because in some areas the rising waters are beginning to stabilize—sort of—there is still a lot of water in the fields to flow down to the rivers. Shoot, the way it is going it is going to be a few more weeks before I’ll be able to go fishing. Right now however, what I’d like to do is find a field that I could actually reach that is under the flight path of the thousands of geese around here. In time I know the rivers will return to their course, the bogs will shrink to sloughs and the ground will be dry enough to walk on without sinking past your ankles. If I am lucky it’ll all happen while the snow geese are still in the area and I’ll be able to get in some good snow goose hunting. Until then I’ll have to be content to watching the thousand-bird flights that pass over my house several times a day. Maybe tomorrow on my drive to Fargo I’ll be able to get some photos of the geese rafting on the flood waters. It is an amazing sight!

How many of you are familiar with the writings of Jim Posewitz? He hasn’t written any best sellers but he has written two books that I believe are very important to the future of hunting, Beyond Fair Chase and Inherit the Hunt . These are small books and each one can be read in just a couple of hours. What I believe is important about these books is that Posewitz tackles the tricky question of hunting ethics.

The question of hunting ethics is the source of many debates and I often find myself being at the heart of many discussions over hunting ethics. What has caught my eye in Posewitz’s book Beyond Fair Chase is that he has offered a comprehensive ethic for hunters and I’ve been working with it in the last installment of my three-part series for Whitetails Unlimited. Here is what he has posited as a Twenty-first century ethic for hunters:

“A person who knows and respects the animals he hunts, follows the law, and behaves in a way that will satisfy what society expects of him or her as a hunter.”

This is on page 16 of Posewitz’s book and in the next few chapters he takes the short, three-part statement apart and offers his evidence on how and why it works as a hunter’s ethic. What I have found, in my own work, is that Posewitz has written what I believe is a workable ethic. There is a great deal more to the discussion around the question of ethics in the Twenty-first century but the Posewitz Ethic can be applied to nearly every problem—at least that is how I see it.

What do you think? glg