Can’t We All Just Get Along?

As the 2004 hunting season gets into full swing I’m reminded about the many instances in my past when there have been conflicts between different sporting interests. This fall let’s all strive to better recognize that others may be enjoying the outdoors and that we may have to modify our actions so as not to cause disruptions to everyone’s fun.

A prime example of what I’m talking about occurred roughly 15 years ago while I was firearms deer hunting on my farm. In Minnesota, the deer season I choose only allows hunting with a shotgun for two days (one whole weekend). That means that if you want to take fond memories from a hunt it is compressed into about 20 hours (daylight) of deer hunting opportunity. Well, on this particular occasion I was sitting in my deer stand when a trespassing hunter with a dog pushed through the area hunting pheasants. Needless to say, a hunter walking with a dog leaving scent can literally disrupt deer activity patterns for several days afterwards. That year I did not get a deer and obviously I blamed my misfortune on this irresponsible hunter.

I can also think of at least three times when I have been deer hunting and found someone else sitting in my deer stand. Now I realize hunting on public land this is a risk you take, but each of these occurrences were on my property. Imagine my surprise on one particular morning when the hunter saw me coming toward the deer stand and decided to quickly vacate the area. A chase ensued and although I never caught the hunter…I did retrieve several items of his hunting gear that he dropped along the way. This newly acquired property helped to temper the frustration I was feeling that morning thanks to this trespasser.

On two other occasions when I have found hunters sitting in my deer stand they have refused to vacate the stand. One even threatened to call the sheriff…which I promptly encouraged him to do. Again, the problem was trespassing and both of these hunters plead ignorant of just whose property they were actually hunting.

Another of my big frustrations used to be with coonhunters. Theirs is a sport that takes place during the nighttime hours and often their dogs travel up and down the river valley covering several miles during the hunt. Again, I can understand that controlling dogs that are hot on the ’coon trail can be almost impossible, and incidents of trespassing will occur. But is it necessary for coonhunters to participate in their sport on the eve of firearms deer season? I’m a firm believer that deer can scatter from a small woodlot and it only takes this minor little disruption to break deer from their normal daily patterns. When you have two days to hunt you want things to be as routine as possible out in the deer woods, especially if you’ve been trying to pattern the deer movement..

Not everything who frustrates me involves trespass. I’ve had other conflicting encounters with fishermen who buzz their boats next to where you are fishing, possibly spooking fish. I’ve had trappers remove critters from my traps and keep the fruits of my labors. I’ve had duck hunters who overslept arriving at the marsh late and then try to place their decoy spread out during the prime shooting time of daybreak. I’ve had turkey hunters stalk (a very unsafe technique) the sounds of my calling. I’ve even had other hunters who could not control their dogs attack my young hunting pup who was out on her very first pheasant hunt.

The point I’m trying to make with all of this is strive to be more considerate with your outdoor activities. I realize to some extent conflicts will occur thanks to no fault of the parties involved. But often times simply realizing that others may be adversely effected by your actions can help increase the satisfaction for everyone. Indeed, the outdoors has become a more competitive place as the places we recreate on seem to be more limited with each passing year. But we can all get along provided each of us puts a little more effort into making it happen.

© 2004 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.