The nature-friendly hunter’s motto is: Leave the woods the same as when you came. Well, minus an animal or two of course. If you are going to be camping overnight, try to disturb as little of the environment as possible. Don’t clear brush unnecessarily. Try to envision your trip as an overnight stay at someone’s home. You are a guest in the habitat of many animals and some you aren’t even aware of.
Always bury your campfire to ensure that it will not reignite and cause a full-blown blaze in the wilderness. Check your fire several times before leaving the area. Forest fires can be devastating to natural areas for years afterwards. If left to spread out of control, a forest fire not only endangers the lives of animals but the lives of citizens and firefighters as well.
Bodily functions are an unavoidable part of life. When relieving yourself, bury your fluids and excrement with dirt to prevent disturbing territorial boundaries of animals.
If you pack it in, pack it out. Do not leave trash lying on the ground. Return your campsite as close to its original condition as possible before leaving. Double check your gear before hiking out so that you don’t unintentionally leave anything behind. Pack your food in airtight containers to avoid attracting any hungry neighbors.
If you are installing a tree stand, choose a mature, healthy tree. Smaller trees may be permanently damaged by the combined weight of your gear and your body. Consider tying back stray branches instead of cutting them. Choosing a mature tree will provide you with more choices in large branches to fasten your safety cord to as well.
A few safety tips
Be aware of your surroundings. Watch for bad weather and leave tree stands at the first signs of high winds to avoid injuring yourself and the tree. Keep your eyes and ears open for flash floods. Dress appropriately for the predicted weather in your area. Dressing in layers is helpful. Don’t forget your safety orange clothing to alert other hunters in our area of your presence.
Be on the lookout for stow-aways in your bedding or gear like snakes, scorpions, or spiders. Shake out all bedding and clothing, including your boots, before putting them on or packing them away for the day. You wouldn’t want to pack an unwanted visitor and bring him home with you.
Bears, badgers, or other aggressive animals may be encountered when hunting. Keep your eyes open and attempt to avoid any confrontations with any animal that you are not stalking. Keep in mind that this is the animal’s home and you are the guest. Try to back quietly away from an animal without disturbing it. If an animal attacks you, cover your head with your arms and roll into a tight ball to protect your head and torso from injury.
Teach your children to respect nature and the environment when hunting together. The best way to teach is by modeling respectful behavior while showing your children the basics of successful hunting. This ensures that the joys of hunting can continue for generations to come.