Editors Blog

What Would You Do?

It was not penned with deer or deer hunting in mind, but a form of situational ethics — the theory of “the ends justifing the means” — has definitely crept into our camps.

This topic gained wider exposure and took on new meaning when we published Scott Bestul’s article, “What Would You Do?” in the December issue.

The article was one of the most-read pieces we published this past year, as evidenced by a surge in activity on our Web site. Included in that traffic is a link that is still generating debate at deeranddeerhunting.com.

In the article, we presented four hypothetical situations, ranging from the ethics of shooting locked bucks to hunting from stands on or very near property boundaries. Although we provided multiple-choice options, there were no right or wrong answers — just a starting point for each discussion.

In one scenario, we asked what you would do if you discovered a neighbor’s penned deer escaped and was seen roaming your land. Would you let the deer’s owner onto your land to “hunt” the trophy buck with a tranquilizer gun so he could return it to his pen? Or, would you deny access and try to kill the deer yourself? Your opinions ranged from indifference to passionate pleas on both ends of the spectrum.

“If it’s really a game farm buck, then I don’t want him anyway,” wrote Woods Walker. “I like to hunt WILD deer, not life support systems for large calcium deposits.”

Kuzco16901 wrote, “I would tell the guy ‘tough luck.’ I would be as polite as I could. I doubt he would let me onto his land no matter what the reason, mostly because I do not agree with hunting fenced animals. To me, that is not a sport … it is killing.”

Another interesting comment came from longtime Web contributor Shaman, who wrote: “If an escaped political prisoner comes through my woods, I see nothing. I hear nothing. No deer here. Best keep moving if you want to catch such a dangerous fugitive. Give me your number, I’ll call you if I see anything. Do I shoot him? Heck, no. I want him to have as much fun with my does as possible.”

In another scenario, Bestul paints a scene where the hunter comes upon a buck hopelessly tangled in a barbwire fence. As the hunter ponders whether or not he should put the deer out of its misery and tag it, an even larger buck appears (well within shooting range), yet is unaware of the hunter’s presence.

Which buck would you kill?

“The trophy goes down,” wrote Shaman. “The trapped buck then gets my full attention. If he’s that close to death, my bullet is not going to save him much, and this is far from a fair-chase kill.”

Hilltop disagreed. “I had already decided to free the deer before I read the part about a bigger buck,” he wrote. “So, I would take the bigger deer and free the smaller one.”

Dtrain56 offered another view. “I would shoot the wounded deer, tag it and have some nice jerky.

And from Squirrelhawker: “We do not hunt in a tidy, controllable vacume. At least, I do not. Stuff happens. Sometimes we need to roll with it as long as it is legal.”

What are your thoughts? To check in with your opinions, Click Here.

To Read Scott Bestul’s article, “What Would You Do?”