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Hunting ethics


Coldfeet

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While reading the posts about ATV's and grouse hunting, I noticed the words "ethical" and "unethical" used quite a bit, and this brings to mind a debate I've been having with my brother regarding the "ethics" of grouse hunting.

My brother has three dogs, two of which are excellent bird dogs and the third is still in training but is showing promise. I do have a dog, but the only thing it's good for is digging holes in my yard and chewing stuff. (I put him in the garage for one night last winter due to the extreme cold outside and I came out in the morning and had no power in my garage. I later discovered that he actually chewed through the conduit and ripped the power line in half that led up to the circuit breaker. I think this might have something to do with why he's so dumb. You'd think that 220 volts would have killed him.) I've tried to take him hunting, but he just does not seem to be the hunting type. I walk when I go grouse hunting, no dog, no atv, no truck, and I hunt on my own land.

My brother thinks that I am unethical for "groundswatting" grouse and not waiting for them to flush, but my side of the arguement is that I like to eat grouse and I am not necessarily in it for the sport. I like to be out in the woods and I enjoy the walk. I am also what you call a "meat hunter", and if I don't like to eat it, I won't hunt it. For this reason I do not hunt ducks or geese or pheasant. I've hunted all three in the past and, yes, it is fun, but they taste like crap. I haven't hunted pheasant in the past 5 years and I haven't hunted geese or ducks in at least 10 despite many invitations and opportunities to do so. I'm kind of getting off track here so I'll try to stay on the subject. Because I walk without the aid of a good hunting dog, I feel that it is perfectly ethical for me to shoot grouse while they are on the ground or in a tree. It also has the added benefit of a good clean shot and I usually end up with no pellets in the meat. My brother gets furious when he sees me do this. To him it is just as unethical to shoot a bird on the ground while walking as it is to shoot one from your vehicle. I, of course, disagree.

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You are as ethical as the same guy who shoots them on the fly in my opinion. I shoot some on the ground and some in the air, depending what opportunities there are. Ask your brother if he spooks his deer first so that they run so it is more of a challenge. Why does his argument not hold true here? To each his own, carry on with you think is the right thing to do. As long as it can be done by law, go for it! Good luck. Oh, you think ducks, geese, and pheasants taste bad? I would have to argue that point but I guess that is another topic!

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Now I know that there are many, many people that shoot birds on the ground, and I have no problem with that. I however only shoot flushed birds. I was always taught to never shoot at a bird unless your gun is above shoulder height. This is for the saftey of other hunters but mostly becuase of my dogs. If you can see a bird on the ground chances are the dog you're with can either see it or smell it, and even the best bird dogs have been known to chase a bird that they can see. A guy I know lost a dog in South Dakota due to someone "ground swatting" a pheasant. He thought that the shot was safe and pulled the trigger only to hear a cry from his buddies lab. So even though I follow the same "rules" as your brother, I do it for totally different reasons, saftey, not ethics. I say if you like to eat grouse and you are hunting in a safe and legal way, swat away.

[This message has been edited by setterguy (edited 09-25-2003).]

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In my humble opinion, I think that groundswatting grouse is more ethical than shooting them in the air. Much higher chance of a clean kill and much lower chance of cripples. Now are we talking about "ethics" or about "sportsmanship"? I would say it is not as "sportsmanlike" to groundswatt a grouse as it is to shoot one in the air, but I have definitely done it myself.

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I, too, only grouse hunt on foot with no dogs. (Although last time I was out, I thought it might be nice to have a dog's companionship while I am hunting.)I prefer to shoot at birds in flight, as it is more exciting, and more challenging. But, I have probably shot 50% on the ground. Since I don't have a dog to scent them, I have to rely on my own sight and hearing to see the birds first. I don't ground shoot pheasants (or rabbits while out pheasant hunting)while hunting with dogs for the reason mentioned above.

I will also shoot rabbits that are either moving or sitting still. Again, the moving shot is more difficult, and a greater test of skill, but I won't pass up an open still shot.

Perhaps I need to construct a diagram that shows the relative ethics and sportiness of the various elements in grouse hunting (ie gauge,# of shells, single flush/re-flush, wing shooting/ground shooting, on foot/with dog/on horse/on atv/on atv with dog.)

Probably the most ethical would be to euthanize the grouse while it is sleeping. The least ethical would be to napalm a large area of the forest and see if there are any fried grouse when it is done. (That would also be the least sporting.) The most sporting would be to use a blow dart while standing on your head.

Nels

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I dont have a problem with anyone taking birds on the ground. Setterguy has a very good point with hunting with dogs and the direct danger to the dogs.. it should be common sense and practice not to take birds on the ground when hunting with dogs.

Myself .. when I'm grouse hunting and the dog is not along... I'll swat the bird on the ground and continue to shoot at birds that flush... providing its in a safe direction. I usually hunt by myself.

The fact is I also hunt for groceries, and will take what presents safe, and legal opportunity.

Call me unethical, they still taste the same.

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I hunt Pheasants and Grouse with my four English setters, I never shoot pheasants on the ground because of the dogs and other hunters safety, but if your alone on the ground or in the air and you enjoy the game you harvested and the outdoors go for it. Good hunting. Grouse in the crock pot with cream of mushroom soup, slow cooked, good eating.

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Side of the road or air, I'm there to have fun and get birds. 4-wheelers, trucks and a run with a good dog- either way it's fun for me. Seems that that the one's that don't get many birds are the ones that are pissed off. I do it all and get many birds each way. There's just something special about tagging one with your favorite dog! It's gun time and ya gotta love it- Any Way! -NS-

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I wouldn't condemn anyone for shooting a bird off the ground.

Setterguy, it's nice to hear these words from you "I say if you like to eat grouse and you are hunting in a safe and legal way, swat away."

[This message has been edited by Dave (edited 09-25-2003).]

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Like I tell people all the time. I'm grouse hunting, not flying grouse hunting. In my opionion a bird shot sitting almost always results in head/neck shot and equates to better use of the meat. I take them any way I can get them. As long as it's safe and legal it's all good.

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I guess I'm not that hungry for wild game - I get plenty thru the year - that I need to ground swat a grouse. I won't shoot a pheasant on the ground or a duck on the water either. It may be legal but its definately unsporting. Yet we're always dreaming about that 'one shot and out standing shot on deer' in order to finish them off cleanly. I guess my distinction is that you use birdshot on birds, so lets make it sporting. I don't feel good about my shot when I shoot a grouse on the ground or a duck on the water. Plus as I stated earlier, I don't need the meat that bad.

To each his own.

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  • 2 weeks later...

A dog can never be smarter than his owner. Just a humorous note I heard a trainer once say. Ha ha. Anyways, when I hunted without a dog I thought I rarely hit the grouse I shot at on the fly. Now, with the second best dog I have ever had, she finds about 9 out of 10 that I shoot at (my best dog used to get so fed up in the off seasons she would stop hunting. One time she sat at the bottom of a tree and barked and barked until I broke the brush and shot the darn bird out of the tree. Oh well, she was another story...). Makes me think I wasn't very ethical in the past by either not using a dog or only shooting on the fly. 6 of one, a half dozen of the other.

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Groundpound away my man. Do it safely, of course. But we each hunt our own hunt, if someone doesn't like the (legal) way I do it, that will be the last time I hunt with em'. A holier than-thou-attitude has no place in the woods.

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The questions I consider in the field are -
Is it legal?
Is it safe?
Is it effective (ie: clean kill)?
Does the game have a sporting chance?

If I can answer yes to the first 3 and would like to have something for the table, I'll take the shot. If table fare isn't a factor, then the last question determines the choice.

I haven't hunted waterfowl much lately, but hunted daily back in high school. I remember wounding (and not retrieving) more ducks that I shot on the water than wing shots. So I curtailed those shots considerably.

The point is if your best shot at a clean kill is while the grouse is on the ground then take it. My best shot at a duck was on the wing.

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we're talking grouse here! pound em' on the ground if they give you the chance! If you wait ,you go hungry. It's alwats fun shootin em in the air but heh a mans gotta eat!

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