By Stuart Spitz
In most every aspect of life, there are certain unwritten rules, taboos, or "don'ts," which people recognize. No less the case with deer hunting. I am no "old fogy" when it comes to most things… heck, I was even able to toss my buggy whips last week, so you know I'm a happenin’ guy. But I have noticed over the past decade or so what at least appears to be a lessening of the common courtesies that most deer hunters value. And while not angry, I'm saddened by this latter day lack of civility, and down right "don't give a damn" attitude.
There are some very obvious things that we should all know well enough not to do: Use someone else's deer stand or blind and then either trash it or steal it. Tearing down someone else's deer line or taking a trail camera. Going through a deer camp and carrying off anything that isn't nailed down and sometimes even the stuff that is nailed down.
Sure, you can contact a warden or law enforcement agency, and they will make an effort, but if the perpetrators are out-of-towners, it's going to be tough. I've heard stories from guides that there are gangs of thugs who literally scout out areas, trying to find lucrative pickings… especially firearms, ammunition, booze and bow and arrows (both compound and crossbows). Let's just say deer camp isn't what it used to be.
Here are a few suggestions… and I don't feel real good having to make them:
*Make your deer camp cabin secure. I mean deadbolts, and compound windows for starters. And whatever you do, never leave firearms or ammo laying around. Better yet, some of us have even invited non-hunters to join our deep camp outing as observers. That means they get lots of fun, lots of beer, lots of laughs, a good sheepshead, poker or euchre game and while we're all out hunting, they sleep-in and relax. As one guy said, "it allows me enough space so I can temporarily forget the old saying: 'Needles and pins. Needles and pins. When a man marries, his trouble begins." And I know, that works for both genders!
*Be on the outlook for things out of the ordinary. If you hunt the same general area each season, you're going to recognize both people and things. Usually lots of the same people come to the same areas, become friends, and everyone can watch each other's back. When you see a group of people without blaze orange, deer tags, smoking like hell, and "citified" when it comes to clothing or actions, it should raise a red flag and you can give them one helluva look. That'll usually put them to high tail it out of there. And what you should then do is call a warden or law enforcement to report what you've seen.
*As for "common courtesy," it's not that common anymore. Don't be noisy in the woods. Don't bring anything alcoholic in the woods with you. Don't go into someone else's obvious hunting spot or area. The woods are big. Those same deer are going to be in another untaken area. It drives me nuts when I see hunters who know better deliberately hunting in someone else area… deer stands, blinds, notwithstanding.
*When you park your vehicle, don't box anyone in. Walk the extra 20 yards and find another spot. A few years back, we had to get someone in for emergency medical attention and two other vehicles had boxed us in. We were lucky that a warden was coming by, and he got us to where we needed to go. Use common sense.
*Don't leave the woods like a garbage landfill site. Nature belongs to all of us. It's our duty to maintain our wilderness areas, and if that means picking up and disposing of a burger wrapper, plastic bottle, or your used toilet paper, then do so! If I ever catch anyone doing these types of things... well, I wouldn't hurt them, but it surely would enter my thought process. What I would do if I caught someone? I sure as heck would call a warden… in a hot second.
*Finally, be courteous. Pass someone and offer a "good morning," or ask them "how you doin‘?” Don't be a miserable SOB. I was with a hunting group once, and one of our guys said good morning to someone before we entered the woods. The answer: "Shut the you-know-what up- - can't you see I'm hung over?" 'Nuff said. Good hunting… and make it happy hunting, too