Hunting in Colorado is not just about the kill. Where licensing regulates most game hunting, there’s a code of ethics that goes along with it. In what is known as “fair chase” as stated by the Boone and Crockett Club, no hunter shall take unfair advantage or pursuit over the animals being hunted. This means having adequate knowledge of both the environment and the animal so that a kill can be made quickly. It also includes respecting the customs of the land so that the practice can remain sustainable. Baiting an animal or promoting distress in order to kill is looked down upon among hunters, including Theodore Roosevelt who famously declined to shoot a bear tied to a tree. Such admiration earned him the honor of having a stuffed bear named after him — the Teddy Bear.
Another important tenet to remember is to identify and confirm your target. Take caution to look at the surroundings and make sure there is not another animal behind your target. Mistakes happen with even the most experienced hunter, so it is important to know what to do in this situation. Colorado Parks and Wildlife separate mistaken kills into three categories: accidental harvest, careless and negligent. Remember the acronym STOP (sit, think, observe, plan) if you ever find yourself in this situation. Report the incident to an officer and take accountability for the action. Steps like this contribute to conservation and sustainability practices amongst hunters.
As September is archery season for elk, take some time to research your hunting locale. Many options exist, including Middle Taylor Creek, a 493-acre wildlife area, not far from Westcliffe. Keep in mind your fellow hunters and talk to a local outfitter if thinking about setting out in a certain area. This can greatly improve your overall trip and prevent the saturation of hunters at any one spot. Bow hunting can be a very satisfying alternative to hunting with a rifle, especially when all measures are followed. Hunt responsibly, respect the rules, and respect the land.