Hunting ethics might sound cut and dried but they are not. There are literally thousands of game laws and rules at both the state and federal level. There is no way a hunter can learn, know and follow every single game law on the books. It is impossible. I am lucky enough to have a lawyer and a couple cops in my family and this is what I learned from them, directly and indirectly, about what to do when you get busted by law enforcement for anything.
First off, learn to prevent getting caught by following all known game laws and hunting rules. The big disclaimer from the authorities is that ‘every hunter is responsible for knowing appropriate game laws.’ In other words, they are actually saying you should not go hunting unless you know all the game laws. Most people know the general laws, but most people don’t realize all the small and hidden laws.
Ted Nugent learned this sad fact when he got busted for “attempting” to take an extra black bear in Alaska a couple years ago. He wounded a bear, looked for it for days and just like most hunters, he went back to the stand to hunt some more because you can’t put your tag on a bear that isn’t dead. What he didn’t know was that Alaska had a new, obscure rule that your hunt is over when you wound a bear.
If you ever do get approached by a game warden or caught doing something wrong by a game warden, shut your mouth. Literally, shut your mouth. You have the right to remain silent and that right is guaranteed in the 5th amendment of our Constitution. Even if others perceive it as rude, you have the right to not say a word to any police officer or any game warden.
Never try to talk your way out of anything. Modern game wardens are not wildlife managers anymore; they are cops trying to raise money through court costs, tickets, fines and bail money. Their only job is to bust you or make you incriminate yourself with your own words. By being silent, you are not being rude or thumbing your nose at the law, you are just exercising your rights and protecting yourself.
In Part 2, I will give you a couple of examples of some good hunting trips gone bad due to ignorance of game regulations.