Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Shot Gun Shooting Ethics & Etiquette PART 1 - From a South African Perspective

Common sense and good manners Ethics are defined as: "The science of morals in human conduct". When it comes to wingshooting, the rules are both moral and pragmatic - they are there for us and our companions safety, and they are there for the benefit of the quarry (an animal, bird or fish that is hunted), the land owner and the sport. They can also change with time and place. Most rules of conduct are simply common sense and good manners. Some people have not had the chance to learn good hunting manners, others simply have grown up in a society with different values. The simple purpose of shooting etiquette is to ensure that all participants will enjoy the shoot. One individuals actions will always affect the hunting group, so be considerate.

What to wear on a shoot Always vital to dress the part - dress for the weather and terrain, therefore khakis, camouflage, etc., are the norm. It is always a good idea to check with the group leader or the landowner as to the correct gear to wear. Hunters regard hunting as a serious 'business', simply put, dress like a slob and you will be taken for a slob.

Use the right gun One should also consider whether or not the gun fits the occasion. Handguns and shotguns do not mix. Yet a surprising number of people carry handguns on bird shoots, and it is just not acceptable. To bring your son armed with a .22 rifle is also not only unacceptable, but highly dangerous. A bird shoot is neither the time or the place to teach a youngster to shoot a rifle.

Do not litter It is not acceptable to leave empty cartridges, can, boxes and rubbish littered the length and breadth of a sunflower field. We should be aware the damage that ingested cartridge cases can cause to wildlife and other animals, which is why it is so important to pick them up.

Put those guns away All too often some unthinking shooter leaves his loaded gun leaning against a tree or vehicle, which might accidentally fall over and injure someone. If you are not using your gun, unload it and break it or bag it. A gun slip is an inexpensive item and also helps to protect your gun.

Self-restraint and control

Hunters who beat their hunting dogs in public tend to acquire a reputation that sticks for life - so think twice before you do it. As for those so called hunters who ride up and down in vehicles and shoot at anything with feathers, well, words fail me. Any shooting from vehicles either stationary or moving, is deeply distasteful and totally unethical. Some so called sportsmen only stop shooting when they run out of ammunition, regardless of bag limits. They even shoot birds on the ground, thereby breaking the most basic rule of ethics: SHOOT ONLY ON THE WING.

Bag limits are a very important ethical issue. A really ethical hunter will always count wounded game as part of the bag. The average wingshooter expends far too little effort on recovering wounded birds, gives up far too easily and excludes them from the the total bag. Regardless of legal limits, it is important to know when to stop. Always shoot only what you will eat or use. Otherwise it is mindless slaughter. The golden rule is: Respect for Life.

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