'Twas the Night Before Hunting Season

Growing up on a small farm in southwest Missouri and coming from a family whose roots are deeply embedded in the tradition of hunting, I was more excited the night before hunting season began than I was on Christmas eve. I would toss and turn amid visions of big bucks or strutting turkeys for what seemed like hours. Just about the time I would fall into a deep sleep, Dad would wake me up saying, “Come on, son, it’s time to go.”

The fire that kept me awake as a 9-year-old still burns just as bright today, 30 years later. What has changed, however, is that I’ve come to appreciate how hunting gives me the opportunity to share outdoor adventures with the people who mean the most to me.

Because I value hunting so much, I take precautions to protect it, and I hope other hunters will, too. All of us who take part in this time-honored practice can help ensure that the tradition of hunting will be passed on to future generations by being responsible hunters and following a certain code of ethics.

Respecting Landowners

Trespassing is landowners’ biggest complaint when it comes to hunting. All it takes is one bad experience for landowners to take their property off the list of possible places to go hunting, ruining it for everyone.

Always seek permission before hunting another person’s property, and don’t wait until the last minute. A county plat map, available at most county courthouses, can help you determine who owns property in the area you’d like to hunt.

Showing up at a landowner’s front door on opening day wearing your camouflage and carrying your rifle or bow to ask a landowner if you can hunt his or her property is like showing up in a tux on prom night to ask a gal for a date.

Make your visit months before the season begins and do it during a time of day when you won’t be interrupting dinner or getting someone out of bed. You may strike out more times than not, but sooner or later you’re going to hit pay dirt in the form of a honey of a hunting spot.

A good way to get access to private property is to ask about furbearer hunting or trapping. Few farmers wish they had more coyotes on their place. While a landowner may be hesitant to let a stranger hunt deer or turkey, a good way for