Imagine this: you are in the woods during hunting season, deer hunting on a piece of property owned by one of your friends. She tells you that there are too many does running around, eating crops and destroying property, and she wants your help to cull the herd. She clearly states that she does not want anyone to shoot the antlered deer, just the does. She then gives you four special non-antlered damage tags; you also have your own state antlered tags. Both does and bucks are legal to harvest at this point in the season.
After sitting in the woods for hours, you hear a loud noise. You look over your shoulder — it’s the biggest antlered deer you have ever seen! He is just over the property line, but appears to be heading towards the fence line. What would you do?
Your decision comes down to a matter of ethics: the balance between what a hunter is allowed to do and what a hunter should do. The way we think about or judge the right thing to do comes from our surroundings, including the people we associate with. Some influencers on individuals when deciding to do the right thing include:
Our individual ethics shape who we are and what we will do, particularly when no one is watching us. It forms our character and defines us as a group of individuals called safe and ethical hunters. Our individual and cultural ethics involving hunting define us — positively or negatively — to other hunters and to the general public who are non-hunters.
Others judge your ethics through your attitude and behavior, not just your words.