Monday, October 29, 2012

Road Huntin' Slobs

We were sitting on the couch, as we had just finished lunch after our successful morning pheasant hunt.  The morning temperatures had been in the upper teens, probably closer to zero with windchill. So, it was nice to take  a little break, warm up and come up with the game plan for the afternoon, which featured Huns and sharptail on the menu.

We were based in northern Montana at a quiet farmhouse, miles from a small town, hundreds of miles from something classified as a city.  On an average day, two or three vehicles may pass by, so when shotgun shots rang out, just outside the house, we rushed outside, as if we were under attack.
As my host headed down the driveway, additional shots were fired, in a slough adjacent to the gravel road. Surprised to see anyone home this weekday afternoon, the road hunters attempted to race back to the truck, ejecting shells as they jogged to the awaiting getaway car, its engine still running. My host was more cool-headed than I predicted, explaining that no one is allowed to hunt near the farmyard, especially without permission.  The "hunter" in the backseat, quickly tried his best to diffuse the situation, by offering us a cold beer from the 18-pack at his feet. The driver, who was let of the hook since he was from town, offered a number of excuses, the most memorable being the doozy in which he "had meant to ask permission, but didn't want to bother anyone during work hours".  The leader of the dumb-pack had continued to ramble on, telling my hunting partner where else we could find roosters on my host's land.  Thanks.

What is lost in the whole issue of seeking permission first, is the overall impression that road-hunting types make on non-hunters and more importantly, the farmers and ranchers that own the land.  I always have been curious about the rural folks that have to erect no hunting signs on their driveways and next to their homes. Now I know why.  Guys like this give all of us hunters a bad name.  If you fire your gun near my house,  can I trust you to not shoot the windows out of my combine or to not sprinkle lead into my herd of milk cows? Doubtful.  Instead of enrolling their entire ranch or farm into a hunter access program, based on one encounter with knuckleheads, you and and I are also banned from running our bird dogs or taking our sons or daughters deer hunting.  Beer cans and shotgun shells on the road tell everyone that hunters are slobs and they don't have respect for the countryside or those that make it their home.

This is preaching to the choir, but hunting on private land is a privilege, not a right.  Shooting off roads and littering is endangering the future of our sport.  Please clean up your act.  Even during work hours.

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