The Macquarie Dictionary defines etiquette as: “conventional requirements as to social behavior; proprieties of conduct as established in any class or community”. That fantastic Australian reference also defines a dickhead as: “a foolish person”.
Deer hunting has stacks of ‘unwritten rules’, most of them seem really obvious to people who have been in hunting for a long time, but we shouldn’t assume that newcomers know them.
Some them are important because they protect our social licence…the way that hunting is seen by the broader public. Some, because they prevent conflicts with other hunters or parties of hunters. Some simply because you don’t want to be a dickhead if you can avoid it.
Much of what was initially hunting etiquette is now codified in game laws in Australia – in that regard regulation actually followed the boundaries that hunters had already set for themselves.
There are clear safety rules and a number of regulations that are at least as important as etiquette – we won’t go over them here.
Below are a few basic points of etiquette that new (and old) hunters should be aware of. It’s by no means an exhaustive list.
General rule is, first in best dressed – if you arrive at your planned spot and other hunters are already there try to work in with them so that everyone can enjoy the hunt. Have a ‘plan B’ and a ‘plan C’.
If a mate takes you to their spot it’s bad form to start going there without them and really bad form to start taking other people there (or tell others where it is).
Leave them as you found them – either on private or public land – if it’s shut when you get to it, shut it behind you.
Put them out before you leave. If you burn firewood that someone else left there, replace it before you leave.
Drive on them, don’t make them.
Drive so that you rip tracks up as little as possible to get in and out of where you need to be. The more tracks get trashed, the more likely they are to be closed permanently.
Park off the track in a way that allows other vehicles to get around you.
Other people’s stuff:
If it isn’t yours, don’t touch it.
That goes for tree stands and trail camera’s as well as camps and other equipment.
Whether on private or public land, be wary of stock (Cattle, Sheep etc) – avoid working with dogs where they could interfere with stock or shooting game where doing so could spook stock.
The big exception to this rule is accessing another hunter’s ‘stash’ in an emergency – if you do this make every effort to find out who owns it and let them know (and offer to replenish).
If you come across hounds in the bush with a tracking collar on you shouldn’t assume that they are lost – best bet is to leave them alone – if they are somewhere where they could get in trouble tie them up safely and contact their owners (details on the collar).
If you shoot a deer off someone else’s hounds you should try to secure the hounds and take note of which dogs arrived first, and how far behind the deer they were. You should also try to contact the hound crew as soon as possible and let them know what has happened.
Rule of thumb is that the shooter keeps the trophy and goes ‘halvies’ with the hound crew in the meat.
Hound hunters generally shouldn’t mind you shooting the deer as long as you are not ‘seagulling’ (deliberately dropping in over their hunt). Don’t be a seagull!
Pretty simple, if you take it in, take it out.
Leave offal and unrecovered carcasses etc. well away from tracks and watercourses.
Cover it up – preferably with a breathable cover like a game bag or a doona cover. It’s better for the meat and better for not looking like a dickhead.
Especially if you’re hunting with others, have your gear dialed. Nobody wants to waste precious hunting time waiting around while you get everything sorted or while you hobble out because you didn’t bother to break your new boots in.
We’ve no doubt missed heaps of really good rules here.
The simplest rule – respect the game, the forest and other people and don’t be a dickhead.
Treat other bush users and other hunters how you would like to be treated and we should all get along pretty well.