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  1. #1
    Senior Member MuleyFever's Avatar
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    So, what would you do? Ethics edition.

    I was just hunting in CO for mule deer with my muzzleloader. Got to the basin Friday and set up my camp to start hunting Saturday. Come Monday this group of 3 deer that I have been watching since Saturday are heading down the ridge so I go to intercept them. One buck looks like a shooter. About this time a hunter comes up over the rim and starts watching me and the deer. I get close enough to the deer to take a shot but don't because I am still unsure on size, they go into a strip of brush but me being on the ground I can't tell where they go. The hunter up on the rim sees it all and knows where the deer went. I head up to my camp from where I can glass the area the deer went but not the farther side as it slopes away from me. I need to move over to another knob about 400 yards from my camp. It starts raining so I sit in my tent for a short time until it stops. I get out and the hunter has now moved down to where I needed to be to glass up the area the buck went. I decide to just go down to the area and try to turn up the buck but cannot so head back up to camp. The other hunter who was able to see the buck then goes in and kills it. I was up at my tent when I heard a shot. It was so dark I figured he was just shooting of the round because of the rain. I ended up seeing them cleaning the deer the next morning and asked about the shot. He said it was a close shot and he could see the silhouette of the deer so he shot and left it overnight because it was too dark to track it.


    I am not upset about the deer as I went and looked at it and it was a nice buck but not what I wanted. However, I question the ethics of the other hunter. Should he have talked to me about it? He could see I was hunting the deer. He walked right past my tent to kill this deer. I feel like in the other guys shoes I would have approached the hunter I watched and asked if he was hoping to kill the deer and if so shown him its location and went to find another deer.

    What do you think?

    To add to this story they also were not wearing orange, trying to hide, and when I went to where they were cleaning the deer I saw a whole front quarter laying in the weeds. I think the top part was a bit shot but it looked like a lot of good meat. Maybe just those things with their behavior is rubbing me the wrong way.

  2. #2
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    Me I would have let you try and take that Buck. A lot of people would probably feel different and go to great lengths to justify their actions. Ethics can be a tricky subject. As far as blaze orange I cant remember the last time I saw a ML hunter wearing the required amount. Try doing that in any of the rifle seasons and see how fast you get a ticket.

  3. #3
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    Assuming you were hunting public land, and the fact that game belongs to the public, it's first come first served. With that said, I would never do what that guy did. On the other hand, I have moved to positions others would push deer to, and let them push bucks right to me.

    You mention it was almost dark, but had been raining. That insinuates he made the shot after shooting hours. Yet, due to the weather, it may very well not have been.

    If they left an edible front quarter, obviously it would be wanton waste. But you don't mention going back to confirm. As such, I don't see anything actionable.

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  5. #4
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    Maybe I didn't follow the story...but once you hit camp and sat in your tent- you aren't watching anything anymore.

    I'll go to great lengths to give other hunters their space...but, if critters are moving past your camp and you're not pursuing them...I'd think you're not interested and they're fair game to take.

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  7. #5
    Senior Member MuleyFever's Avatar
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    I'm not looking for anything "actionable" just wondering how others feel. Good point about the storm causing it to get dark earlier. Again, just wondering how people think they would handle seeing another hunter looking for a deer they were on first but can't find when you know where it is. Would you dive into another hunters "area" they were in first to kill a deer? I just don't have it in me to enter into an area (all within 700 yards of my tent) another hunter is obviously working. At least not without talking with them.

  8. #6
    Senior Member Where's Bruce?'s Avatar
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    If the kill was during legal shooting hours then I don't give it another thought. I focus on my hunt. Other people's actions can only upset you if you let em. I choose not to let em.

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  10. #7
    Senior Member woodmoose's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hodgeman View Post
    Maybe I didn't follow the story...but once you hit camp and sat in your tent- you aren't watching anything anymore.

    I'll go to great lengths to give other hunters their space...but, if critters are moving past your camp and you're not pursuing them...I'd think you're not interested and they're fair game to take.


    yeap, I agree with that,,,,once you hit that tent you weren't hunting anymore,,,,,,,

    the rest is just conjecture (minus bit about blaze orange),,,,

  11. #8
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    Ethical standards in a lot of respects are personal and IMO should be shared but not imposed on others. Hunter violating the law is a different subject. Was the shot before the close of legal shooting time is the legal and assuming yes, then was there adequate light to make a responsible shot due to cloud cover is the ethical. We don't know the answer to the first and he may have way better eyesight than I do is the issue with the second. Considering you were watched moving in then off of game would indicate to me that you had made the decision not to pursue that particular animal. I couldn't fault someone for taking an animal in that situation. I do not disagree that the neighborly thing to do would have been for the other hunter to make contact to confirm your intent but in my experience that is a personal want seldom fulfilled.

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  13. #9
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    One other related issue is the environment each hunter is accustomed too. Some folks that hunt out west are accustomed to hunting around a lot of people and in much closer proximity than many folks are. Because that is what they are used to they do not necessarily perceive they may have infringed on another's hunting space. My normal and someone else's normal are probably not the same and considering how many different states are represented on public ground in western states I can't help but think that is at play many times.

  14. #10
    Senior Member MuleyFever's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Btaylor View Post
    One other related issue is the environment each hunter is accustomed too. Some folks that hunt out west are accustomed to hunting around a lot of people and in much closer proximity than many folks are. Because that is what they are used to they do not necessarily perceive they may have infringed on another's hunting space. My normal and someone else's normal are probably not the same and considering how many different states are represented on public ground in western states I can't help but think that is at play many times.
    This is a good point and one my Dad in WI hit on when he said "was he from WI"? My Dad was joking but his point was that people there are all over each other as there are so many hunters.

  15. #11
    Super Moderator tugrivercopper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Btaylor View Post
    Ethical standards in a lot of respects are personal and IMO should be shared but not imposed on others. Hunter violating the law is a different subject. Was the shot before the close of legal shooting time is the legal and assuming yes, then was there adequate light to make a responsible shot due to cloud cover is the ethical. We don't know the answer to the first and he may have way better eyesight than I do is the issue with the second. Considering you were watched moving in then off of game would indicate to me that you had made the decision not to pursue that particular animal. I couldn't fault someone for taking an animal in that situation. I do not disagree that the neighborly thing to do would have been for the other hunter to make contact to confirm your intent but in my experience that is a personal want seldom fulfilled.
    I have to agree with this statement, he watched you pursue, and ultimately not shoot and go back to camp. I can see the person figuring "well for whatever reason that guy didn't kill the deer, maybe it wasn't big enough for him or inserts ****** reason here" so he figured he would, since you went back to camp. I guess that's the risk we all take hunting public land, we all scout enough to know what's around and occasionally glimpse what we are after and know it's there, but it's never a given that it will be there tomorrow because someone else may find what we are looking for as well

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  17. #12
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    Coming from a state with mostly private land, I have a different take on this than what may be popular with most public hunters. If I see a guy hunting an area, I'm not going to follow him around waiting for him to either leave or slip up. Just not worth my time or effort when I can be paving my own way. I know it isn't illegal to do so, but to me it seems like a lazy way to go. I also don't want to hunt that close to other people I don't know, because I don't trust them or their judgment. Hunters can get trigger happy at dusk, and this dude shot at a silhouette! Imagine if you were that silhouette... I know that it's a far cry from the original question you asked, but I feel like it plays into the ethics portion of what you're asking.

    The other hunter didn't do anything illegal from what I can gather, so I can't fault him. I just personally wouldn't have done the same.

  18. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by tugrivercopper View Post
    I have to agree with this statement, he watched you pursue, and ultimately not shoot and go back to camp. I can see the person figuring "well for whatever reason that guy didn't kill the deer, maybe it wasn't big enough for him or inserts ****** reason here" so he figured he would, since you went back to camp.
    That's the way I read the description of the situation. He held back while you did your thing and didn't run in on the deer and blow your opportunity (which would be legal still but not good on the karma scale). If you pushed the deer to him then I wouldn't think anything of him shooting it either. The fact you went into your tent to me would be a clear signal you stepped out of the driver seat so to speak on this deer. Just because you saw it and tried to make a play on it doesn't reserve you the sole chance at it for the weekend or such even if that means they walk right past you in your tent. Its a public land dance but it sounded like he acted reasonably in that regard. Shooting light is black/white based on what the clock says in terms of being legal if you noted it. Waste you don't know unless you go back and look.

    I haven't ran into much overlap out here as I drift away from other hunters. Opening morning on an antelope hunt last year I ended up in a pumkin patch (lots of tags and limited good public land apparently) when the sun came up. 30min in I spotted a decent buck coming towards public and I drilled it the moment he stopped once on public. No clue it others saw it also and were going to take a shot but I viewed that as a free for all and I took the shot on it first and most importantly it crumpled on the spot versus running and someone else shoots it as well which you hear of at times.

  19. #14
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    Personally, if it was a buck I wanted I'd have done what the other guy did. You had a shot and didn't take it, you sat in the tent while he was in the rain positioning himself on the deer. It's public land, a public resource, and you made the call not to pull the trigger. It's not like he sabotaged your opportunity at the buck.

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  21. #15
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    You were in your tent while the other guy was out hunting.....fair is fair.

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  23. #16
    Senior Member Vids's Avatar
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    I agree with what most people are saying here. You were stalking the animal, left the area, and the other hunter has no idea whether you are coming back or packing up camp to go home. He had an opportunity that may have been lost if he spent time to talk to you about it.

    You mentioned you wouldn't hunt an area within 700 yards of someone else's tent. That's a circle with a half mile radius, a big area. If I gave every hunter I saw that wide of a berth I'd have nowhere to hunt. I'm from MN and agree that it's a different mindset. I grew up hunting public land where you usually had 100-200 yards between hunters during firearm deer season, so when I am hunting out west it doesn't bother me at all if there are several other groups hunting the same basin as me. Sometimes more people moving around is better, I've killed more than one animal that another hunter pushed to me.

    My $.02 on the other issues - Shooting at/near dark, not enough info to say whether or not it was legal. Sounds like it was one shot and he found the deer so it couldn't have been too big an issue. I probably would have tracked it that night though. Leaving a quarter behind - I don't like that at all. Even if it's shot up, I still bring it home to salvage what I can.

  24. #17
    Senior Member MuleyFever's Avatar
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    Good points guys. Thanks for the discussion.

  25. #18
    Senior Member Where's Bruce?'s Avatar
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    ...the thread ending needed something like this:


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  27. #19
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    Unless the guy shot after legal shooting time, I don't see the issue.

    Put yourself in his shoes. ML's are short range weapons. You got in close, backed out and then left. I personally wouldn't assume you were planning on coming back later, wait out a storm etc. etc.

    Maybe you were going to pack up and head home?

    I'd go kill that deer.

  28. #20
    Senior Member seldomseensmith's Avatar
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    We have all been on hunts where other hunters dictate our actions to some degree. While I consider how my actions affect others I don't ever go ask someone their intentions. I think you are giving them way too much power in that moment by doing that. They may tell you of all their noble ideas with regard to that animal and then like you did, go sit in their tent leaving you in an awkward situation. Your actions spoke. You either gave up in that moment or were not interested in that animal. Either way I would say you green flagged him.

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