Incidents in November 2014 near White Gulch, Montana, were a blow to the hunting community. In one event, near a U.S. highway intersection, a herd of about 250 elk made its way onto ground open to public hunting. The herd had no coverage and were allegedly surrounded by vehicles while hunters shot them from a public road. Another similar event happened later the same month, also near the White Gulch area, with reports of vehicles being used to trap a herd of 500 elk in open land easily visible to onlookers.
Photo courtesy of Tom Kuglin, Helena Independent Record.
This type of pursuit has been labeled as “flock shooting”, and isn’t supported by ethical hunters. “Things like shooting from public roads, shooting from vehicles, not wearing hunter orange, they’re [rules that are] not that difficult to follow and are some of the things we see in these shootouts,” said Kelly Flynn, Republican member of the Montana Legislature and Chair of the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Committee.
Others share Flynn’s concerns with the kind of effects such incidents could have on hunting. “Hunters respect the game they pursue, and anyone who would flock shoot does not respect the game,” said Nick Gevok of the Montana Wildlife Federation.
So in response, the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Region 3 Citizens Advisory Committee, Boone and Crockett Club and other pro-hunting partners have come together to promote a novice campaign called “Hunt Right”.
The Hunt Right campaign predates this year’s hunting season by releasing a 30-second PSA to be aired on local television stations and radio, and a print-version for brochures, billboards, and online ads. Social media channels and stickers will also be used to help spread the word.
Boone and Crockett, founded in 1887 by Theodore Roosevelt and George Bird Grinnell, is the oldest wildlife conservation organization in North America whose mission is to maintain the highest ethical standards of fair chase and sportsmanship, is happy to lend their support. “We applaud this local leadership in hunter ethics, and we hope it serves as an example for all sportsmen across Montana and around the nation,” said Keith Balfourd of Boone and Crockett. “A fair-chase approach to hunting brings like-minded hunters together under a common flag. How we, as sportsmen, conduct ourselves is vitally important to the continued public support of recreational hunting. This includes the support of non-hunters as well as landowners,” Balfourd concluded.
The fair chase ethics of the Boone and Crockett Club have helped influence many of the game laws implemented today which have helped to gain, and keep, public acceptance of the sport.