THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO TAKE INTO THE FIELD: FAIR CHASE
Actually, the most important thing is you, because Fair Chase is inside of you.
Hunting presents us with challenges unlike anything we do in our lives. How you choose to overcome these challenges and how you measure success says a lot about you as a person and as a hunter.
Success Earned Fair and Square
Somewhere in our hearts there is a very important truth that says it is always better to take on a challenge fair and square. Ever hear your parents or teachers saying, if you look for shortcuts, you’re only cheating yourself? In our innermost thoughts and beliefs, cheating or taking a shortcut makes the experience or success less of a big deal. It is also true that going against a tougher challenge is more worthwhile than an easy one. It’s like playing a game with your younger brother or sister and you always win. You might keep playing for their sake, so they learn, but to you personally the victories aren’t that meaningful. Challenges teach us and require us to develop skills. Not being sure you will come out on top requires you to try harder and work harder in everything you do. Hunting Fair Chase is like this, but there is more to it than how we approach a challenge.
Honoring the Animal
We prepare and practice for the challenge, and once in the field we rely on our hunting skills and knowledge of the animals we pursue. Getting ourselves ready is part of the fun of hunting. But hunting Fair Chase has deeper meanings. For most of us, interest in hunting begins with a fascination and an appreciation for the game we hunt. When we see ourselves as a part of nature and connected to the game we hunt and not separate from it or them, that’s when you know you’re hunting Fair Chase. We respect the things we care about, and the game we hunt should be no different. This respect brings honor to the hunt and to us. When you respect something, you don’t have to rely on knowing a list of rules. Doing the right thing just comes naturally. That’s Fair Chase. Doing right by the game and yourself. But there is still more to Fair Chase.
Our Responsibility as Hunters
Our role as hunters is very serious because the goal is to take the life of an animal. This means that we have to be honorable in our intentions and our actions. Hunting Fair Chase means accepting that most times the animal gets away. If we take a shortcut or cheat or hunt where it is easy or a sure thing, we dishonor the animal and ourselves. This reflects poorly on hunters and hunting.
Remember, hunting is a privilege, not a right, like the right to own a gun, which is guaranteed by our Constitution. A privilege is something that can be lost or taken away, so a privilege is something that has to be earned repeatedly. As long as people see hunting as being done with respect and honor, they will continue to support it. Hunting Fair Chase ensures that people will not vote against hunting and respect hunters for their commitment to wildlife conservation. If we behave in this way, there is a better future for us and for the animals, and for the wild places they call home.
Hunting is Personal
Hunting is not a competition among hunters. As Fair Chase hunters, we are only competing with ourselves. We go into the field with the right ideas and we stay true to them. What we gain each and every time is the enjoyment of going into nature and observing and understanding our surroundings with the eyes of a hunter and daring to take on a great challenge without knowing how it might turn out. We all might hunt for similar reasons, but our approach and what we do at the moment we decide to shoot an animal or not, this is deeply personal, and as it should be.
Too Much Advantage
What can test Fair Chase is relying on technology that gives us too many advantages over the natural abilities of animals. We have the gear and the gadgets that can appear to be a replacement for the need to practice, and hone your skills as a hunter. While it may be claimed that using new technologies will make you a more ethical hunter because it will improve your shooting skills, nothing and nobody can make you a responsible hunter but you. At some point when the challenge is gone, hunting becomes just shooting. How much technology to use is also a choice you must make, but you should always check the laws in the region you are hunting. Many of these laws place a limit on the use of technology so that our success is not too high and the game does not become overhunted. This is what wildlife conservation means. Conserving some today so there will be game to hunt tomorrow.
If you are still wondering about Fair Chase, remember one thing: the measure of a hunt is really a measure of ourselves. Of course, success can be measured by the game you bring home. Taking the game you seek is a good outcome of a Fair Chase hunt. But when you don’t, that doesn’t mean you were a failure. Fair Chase hunting is one of those things where getting a “participation trophy” actually does stand for something. It means you took up the challenge; you respected the game, yourself, and other hunters enough to approach the hunt fair and square; you didn’t get your game, but that doesn’t mean you came home empty-handed. As Fair Chase hunters, we hunt the experience. That’s the difference between hunting and shooting.
Ultimately, hunting is very personal and how you feel about yourself is what matters most.
Did You Know
· The Boone and Crockett Club is the oldest hunter/conservationist organization in North America, founded by Theodore Roosevelt in 1887 before he became the 26th President of the United States.
· Fair Chase, as defined by the Boone and Crockett Club is the ethical, sportsmanlike, and lawful pursuit and taking of any free-ranging wild, native North American big game animal in a manner that does not give the hunter an improper advantage over such animals.
· The “fair” in Fair Chase means honorable, genuine, or appropriate under the circumstances.
· Hunting is not a sport. The “sport” in sport hunting means a sporting approach, which is the foundation of Fair Chase.
· Fair Chase is more a matter of “the spirit of the hunt,” than a set of written rules or laws, although many game laws are based on the principle of Fair Chase. It is a sportsman’s view of how hunting should be conducted.
· Fair Chase and the Teddy Bear have something in common. Read about it at www.boone-crockett.org > Ethics > Birth of Fair Chase