In the world of hunting, there are a lot of written rules that have much to say about what you can't do out in the field.
There are also a lot of unwritten rules that dictate what you shouldn't do.
Though you might not find them in any hunting handbooks, experienced hunters can pass along a lot of suggestions that'll keep you safe and ethical on your excursions. Here's a list of 10 "don'ts" outdoorsmen should keep in mind.
10.) Don't always take the first shot
Whether you're hunting waterfowl or upland birds, it's common courtesy to set up a shooting system when hunting with buddies. Hunters can rotate or pick a region to shoot (left, right, middle). Just don't let your trigger finger get too itchy.
9.) Don't let someone else do all the dirty work
This goes for gutting and cleaning fish, birds and big game. But it also applies to other duties, such as cooking, cleaning and packing. Everyone doing their share makes those chores a whole lot easier.
8.) Don't cross across another hunters path when pheasant hunting.
When you're on a hunt, it's inevitable that you're going to encounter others. It's important to know how to handle yourself when that happens. Not only is it rude to interfere with someone's hunt by doing that, it can also be dangerous to get in someone's shooting lane.
7.) Don't intrude on another hunter's spot
Cozying up next to another hunter while duck or goose hunting won't win you many friends, and neither will encroaching on a big-game hunter who's found a spot to sit and watch. It's a big countryside -- make sure you leave some elbowroom.
6.) Don't wear red while turkey hunting
The red resembles the wattle of a tom turkey, and unknowing hunters take shots without thoroughly realizing what they're pulling down on. Wearing bright colors usually seems like a safe idea when hunting, but only camouflage should be worn when turkey hunting.
5.) Don't oversleep
After weeks of planning and preparation, don't disappoint your hunting partner by oversleeping. Set as many alarms as you need to wake up. (I have three alarms on my cell phone, two alarm clocks and a wristwatch alarm to get me up on those early mornings -- seems to get the job done.)
4.) Don't trespass on other's property
Most hunters know not to venture onto other's property, but it can happen by accident sometimes. The point is, if you don't fully understand the lay of the land where you're hunting, hunt somewhere else. It's not worth getting a ticket or getting into trouble with a disgruntled landowner.
The same applies for hikers and sightseers, who, from my experiences, are more often guilty of trespassing onto private property.
3.) Don't text while hunting
This one may surprise a lot of people. It's definitely a new-age issue, but one that's becoming more prevalent among younger hunters who get cell phone reception out in the field. I've seen people do it (they know who they are), and I can say with confidence that it's my biggest pet-peeve.
2.) Don't shoot at sounds
This is the other side of the "don't wear red while turkey hunting" bit. It's one of the basics of hunting -- don't take a shot unless you know what you're shooting at, but people still get overzealous and accidents ensue.
1.) Don't leave a wounded animal
I covered this with the last column I wrote, and it deserves to be mentioned again. If you have enough time to go on a hunt, you have enough time to follow your shot. Leaving a wounded animal is never an option.
Reporter Mike North can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.