Moments of Choice

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Published on: Oct. 2, 1997

Last revision: Oct. 27, 2010

disappeared behind some brush. Why doesn't he just come those last few yards? You are convinced he can hear your loud breathing and pounding heart. The turkey gobbles closer, then you hear another gobble to the side. Your excitement level soars. Can there be two birds?

Finally you sense a movement over by the big oak, you slowly inch the gun around, your finger on the trigger. Steady now, there's the movement again, well within range. Should you shoot?

Never take a shot until you've positively identified that movement as a bearded turkey. The prime factor in most turkey hunting accidents is "the victim is mistaken for game." Always be sure of your target before pulling the trigger. A safe, ethical hunter will pass up unsure shots and wait for a safe, clear target before considering a shot. Don't make a tragic mistake you will have to live with the rest of your life.

You are preseason deer scouting when you top a small rise in a gravel road. Up ahead you see a pickup truck stopped in the road with a gun barrel sticking out the window. You notice a small group of deer in the adjoining field. There's a loud shot and a deer goes down. The pickup pulls over to the edge of the road. What should you do?

Report the violation as soon as possible. It's both your duty and responsibility to report wildlife violations. Timely, factual reporting is important in apprehending wildlife violators. Do not contact the violators. Try to get as much information as possible, including the license plate number, color and make of the vehicle, the number of people involved, physical descriptions, time of day and any other helpful information. You may report the violation directly to a conservation agent, call a Conservation Department office or contact Operation Game Thief at 1-800-392-1111.

Using our outdoor resources is a privilege. With every privilege comes a responsibility to make the right decision. Unethical behavior is not always illegal behavior, and just because something is legal doesn't mean it's ethical. Learn and be aware of the unwritten law of sportsmanship. Do things because they are right, decent and respectful to other people and our natural resources.

Work to improve your outdoor image at every opportunity. Plan ahead by taking time to learn the laws and traditions of whatever activity you pursue. Always be prepared to make the right decisions when you face your moments of choice.

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