Ethical behavior is not mandated by laws or regulations, but by an individual's sense of right. Ethics generally cover behavior that has to do with issues of fairness, respect, and responsibility not covered by laws. For instance, it's not illegal to be rude to a landowner when hunting on his or her property or to be careless and fail to close a pasture gate after opening it, but most hunters agree that discourteous and irresponsible behavior is unethical.
Hunters must agree to treat the outdoors, the activities we are participants in, and each other with respect. The future of hunting belongs to those who are willing to accept full responsibility for their actions. Sportsmen accept responsibility not only for their actions, but also for perpetuating wildlife and maintaining a high caliber of sportsmanship.
Some rules of ethical conduct:
- Always think of safety first and shooting game second.
- Respect the rights of landowners. You should never go on private property without permission and remember that cooperation and respect are the keys to getting permission to hunt.
- Know your gun and what it can do. Maintain your equipment so it functions properly and does not pose a safety threat.
- Shoot only when absolutely certain of your target and make every effort to locate crippled or lost game.
- Pick up spent shells and other litter.
- Clean and care for your game properly.
- Alcohol and hunting can make for a dangerous combination.
- Be mindful of local regulations and always be properly licensed. Taking game out of season and before or after legal shooting hours is poaching, not hunting.
- Realize that just being out there is what a good hunt is all about and you can have a great day without taking the bag limit.
All residents born after June 30, 1979, must successfully complete a hunter education course that is approved by the Department of Natural Resources before a hunting license can be obtained. The SCDNR offers a 10-hour hunter education course which includes classroom instruction and hands-on experience in hunter safety and hunting techniques. In addition, students learn about hunting ethics, hunter/landowner relations and basic conservation and wildlife management principles.
Hunter Education Home study courses are available for emergency only for the course, if one is not available in your county or within a 50-mile radius of your county. You can obtain a workbook home study or a CD-ROM home study by calling 1- 800-277-4301 or 803-734-3995.