Joe Martino column sig

With the youth and early archer deer seasons just a couple of weeks away, and the firearms season in mid-November, I thought I’d pen a column about how you can make deer season more enjoyable.

Be prepared: You’ve had all year to get ready, so there is no excuse, right? Everybody is busy these days, and sometimes being prepared costs money too, so it is always easier said than done. Be that as it may, things like practice with equipment, knowing an effective range and making sure treestands are safe and secure are all musts before that first hunt. If you have not readied these things, do so before embarking out for the season.

Be respectful: Being respectful towards landowners is an obvious act of appreciation for them allowing you to hunt on their property. Being respectful to other hunters is also a crucial aspect.

Placing a treestand on the property line of two properties if you only have permission on one of those properties may be legal, but it is not respectful to those hunting the adjoining property. Even if no one is hunting on the adjoining property, doing so without the neighboring landowners permission is not respectful. Even if you do set a stand on the line, without permission to hunt the other side, you are not allowed to shoot over there.

If you shoot a deer that runs onto property you do not have permission to hunt, you are not allowed to go onto that property to retrieve your deer without landowner permission, either. As a responsible hunter, you are obligated to make very attempt at recovering downed game. Besides being morally correct, it is also the law. Not doing so results in wanton waste. If a landowner denies you permission, however, you cannot. Always try to secure permission to do so by acting respectful and courteous.

Try to work with hunters on neighboring properties, rather than against them. It is always much nicer when everyone works together toward a common goal. Sometimes that is not possible, but even then, remain cordial and do your best to keep a civil relationship.

Enjoy the experience: Too often, hunters feel as if their worth is directly related to the deer they kill. Hogwash. Hunting is all about enjoying the experience and, occasionally, the taking of an animal. The earliest of hunters were judged by an ability to cement their family’s survival with game meat, not by waiting on the biggest buck. Some hunters today seem to think in order to be a good hunter, you have to take a trophy deer. While there is nothing wrong with holding out for a big buck, there is also absolutely nothing wrong with shooting any deer that makes you happy. Any true hunter realizes this.

Have fun: Really, that’s it. The bottom line is to have fun. If you aren’t doing that, you shouldn’t be out there. Don’t place pressure on yourself or feel like you need to live up to some standard. Other than safety, legal and ethical standards, the only standards you have to live up to are your own. Hunt for yourself, not anyone else.