It wasn’t long ago that a good friend of mine came banging on my door all a-quiver with excitement over the beautiful ten point whitetail buck he had managed to bag at my family farm. Stuttering and giddy, he retold the story of the kill over and over, and then showed me the tag he had, freshly printed, from his computer, (in Ohio, we tag deer electronically now, at least that’s how we check them in). In any event, I happened to notice that he had indicated on the tag that he had harvested the deer with a shotgun, and I knew that shotgun season didn’t open for three more days… My friend, (we’ll call him Tim because that’s his name), hadn’t been paying attention to changes in the game laws, and he though that gun season opened on Thanksgiving Day that year. It was actually a very simple but costly mistake. No, the Ohio DNR never came looking for him like I suspected they would, but he got so worried they might that he packed up everything he had and moved to Key West Florida. So, here are some tips for having a successful hunting season this year, and by that I mean one that does not involve a trip to court under a capias.
- Make sure of the season. I know that, in your area, trout season might have opened up on the same day for the last one hundred years; to the point that it has become a family tradition to go trout fishing on the first of April and you have been doing it for 80 of the one hundred years… but just for precaution, make sure you pull up the local and state game laws… just to be sure. Things change and so do procedures. Wildlife management is an evolving science.
- Check for zones. I was never so happy to have missed a shot one year, when I let loose an arrow at a turkey and later discovered that turkey season was only open in the Northern region of my state that year.
- Be cognizant of trailcams. Though I am no advocate of poaching outside of a survival situation, I am understanding of the fact that mistakes happen and I do believe in the concept of mental culpability. I’m reminded of the time a friend of mine shot a deer which ran into a thicket and stopped to look at him. He shot her again to put her down humanely, (he was sure he hit her the first time), and then… you guessed it, found two dead deer in that thicket. His first shot had been true and the mortally wounded deer ran into a thicket where her twin was bedded down and dropped at her feet. Said twin stood up and got shot too. THERE WAS NO INTENT TO BREAK THE LAW IN ANY WAY! This is a law abiding citizen who did the right thing, he called the game warden. Even though both deer were killed on his property and he had seven children, five of whom were of legal hunting age and all of whom were entitled to tag two deer each, he still paid a hefty fine. Simply because he was honest. I bring this up only because I recently read an article about a similar mistake which happened involving an elk that was shot on a trailcam, and the errant, (not criminal), hunter was prosecuted.