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Thread: A duty to recover wounded game

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    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
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    Default A duty to recover wounded game

    I think we can all agree that we, as hunters, have an ethical duty to make every reasonable effort to recover game we have shot at and wounded, but what about a legal duty? I don't wish to get into the weeds about what constitutes reasonable or wounded but a thread will go where it will...

    For argument's sake let's say wounded is defined as, in the judgement of the shooter, a "probably mortal" wound, and reasonable is defined as having exhausted all readily available means to pursue and recover said wounded game short of putting one's life in jeopardy.

    After reading through the thread on the Homer bio's use of a contracted airplane I checked the regs for references and outside of brown bear hunters being required to "punch" their tags and make a report on wounded but unrecovered animals, there isn't any.

    Given the emphasis the state puts on this issue I am surprised there is no specific language in the regs on this.

    So, to the forum: Should the Alaska Hunting Regs 1) Contain language on the duty of hunters to recover wounded game? and 2) define the legal limits of means and methods for recovering?

    I feel this should be included in the regs and located in the general information pages in the beginning and not scattered throughout the book
    If cave men had been trophy hunters the Wooly Mammoth would be alive today

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    Member Frostbitten's Avatar
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    If it's unenforceable, then it's a moot point to create the rule...and the variables of the "judgment of the shooter" and a "probably mortal" wounded critter are clear show-stoppers.

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    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
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    I should have been clearer. I was not suggesting those as a legal standard, only as a baseline assumption for the discussion. By "probably mortal" in the judgement of the shooter I meant gut shot or broken leg vs an arrow that hits the point of the shoulder, pentrates only a couple of inches and falls out.

    That aside, what about defining the limits (or not) of means and methods?
    If cave men had been trophy hunters the Wooly Mammoth would be alive today

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    Quote Originally Posted by Erik in AK View Post
    I should have been clearer. I was not suggesting those as a legal standard, only as a baseline assumption for the discussion. By "probably mortal" in the judgement of the shooter I meant gut shot or broken leg vs an arrow that hits the point of the shoulder, pentrates only a couple of inches and falls out.

    That aside, what about defining the limits (or not) of means and methods?
    I don't know how you would be able to define the limits of means and methods simply due to how many different forms of hunting are out there. People have no requirement to have any form of communication with them in the field, so that rules out any way to require outside assistance such as air support or calling someone in with a boat to help search or access areas unreachable by land transportation.

    While I agree that there needs to be a great level of importance on doing whatever you can to recover a wounded animal, I don't know how you could address it legally in any simple manner.

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    Member Happily's Avatar
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    I think using an airplane falls into the grey(really not so grey) area of I can say I was looking for one that was wounded but really just having air support find a moose for me

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    I think using an airplane falls into the grey(really not so grey) area of I can say I was looking for one that was wounded but really just having air support find a moose for me

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    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
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    Thanks for that, Happily.

    Things like the Homer bio use of the plane. Near as I can tell he hasn't violated the law because the law does not address what method he adopted to recover his moose BUT this case underscores my question:

    If defining acceptable means and methods is too complicated or broad for the state would it be easier to outline a likely narrower list of unacceptable means of recovery?
    If cave men had been trophy hunters the Wooly Mammoth would be alive today

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    Member ak_cowboy's Avatar
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    I feel that a hunter should make every effort to retrieve an animal that he's shot. I don't see anything in the regs that stop you from retrieving an animal with an airplane that you've killed. If it's mortally wounded before the plane shows up, what difference does it make?
    I think the regs should define what reasonable means, and we should pursue all wounded game until we find it (dead or alive) regardless of regulations, but due to morals and ethics

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    I want to say that it should be OK to track a wounded animal with a plane, but my mind is telling me that this allowance would be abused and taken advantage of. For every hunter that honestly wounds an animal, locates it, and recovers it, there will be three hunters that locate, shoot, kill, and claim to have wounded it. How could this be enforced? I want to think it can be done, but I just don't think people can help breaking the law. These are my opinions on the matter, and I could perhaps be persuaded to think otherwise
    Responsible Conservation > Political Allocation

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    Quote Originally Posted by Erik in AK View Post
    I should have been clearer. I was not suggesting those as a legal standard, only as a baseline assumption for the discussion. By "probably mortal" in the judgement of the shooter I meant gut shot or broken leg vs an arrow that hits the point of the shoulder, pentrates only a couple of inches and falls out.

    That aside, what about defining the limits (or not) of means and methods?
    Some years back I made a bad shot on a deer near Cordova. He went down and was on his back kicking and the next thing I knew he was up and gone. I found blood and pieces of leg bone and started following the trail which quickly dried up as h entered into a jungle of windblown hemlock and spruce. I retraced the trail several times but each time the blood sign ended at the same place. So I started doing slow circles trying to find him. I was just sick as I knew I had blown a leg off him. And I was determined to find him. In the course of searching I passed on a couple other nice bucks and several does, but never could locate him. Just before dark I made my way back down the mountain to my boat, and at first light I was on my way back up. The second day was similar to the first. I saw lots of deer, but not the one I wounded. That evenng, with a heavy heart I gave up the search as a big storm was coming the next day.

    Fast forward a year and I was looking at some pictures a friend took of a hunt he made that year with a friend. The friend had what appeared to be a doe at first with a leg missing from the knee down. I asked my friend if this was actually a buck that had shed it's antlers and he looked surprised at e and said yes. Then I asked where it was shot and it turned out to be at the bottom of the mountain I'd wounded the buck on the year before. I told him about that buck and said it appears to me your friend shot the buck I wounded last year. He said the wound had healed over and the deer seemed to be getting along fine.

    So a leg wound is not always fatal, even if it's bad.
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    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
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    Hoose you raise a fair point but what's stopping that from happing now? Maybe it does happen but my hunch is it's not happening with any significant frequency otherwise there would be witnesses and reports, and possibly charges.

    Forensically it's very easy to age wounds, so an animal shot twice for appearance sake but under suspicion of being taken as you describe could be sorted out by a lab pretty easily if the state wanted to pursue the matter.
    If cave men had been trophy hunters the Wooly Mammoth would be alive today

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    Member cdubbin's Avatar
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    So....are we going to allow helicopters to retrieve sheep and goat carcasses from wilderness mountaintops? Jetboats in restricted waters? What about a salt lick with a set-gun or land mine next to it to dispatch wounded critters? Recovery "methods and means" should follow the same restrictions as the pursuit.
    " Gas boats are bad enough, autos are an invention of the devil, and airplanes are worse." ~Allen Hasselborg

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    I'm sure it is already happening, just not very often. Like I said, I want to think people can be ethical and if they were, they should be able to use any means to find a wounded animal
    Responsible Conservation > Political Allocation

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    Member martentrapper's Avatar
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    A short while back we had a thread on back up hunters. I mentioned a discussion I had with Wildlife Trooper Sgt. Justin Rodgers. According to the definition of hunting, and the definition of take, each person needed a license and tag to pursue game.
    I believe the same would apply in recovering wounded game. Until you have a dead animal, you are still hunting and must observe the restrictions on hunting.
    In the bio's case, if his use an aircraft and radio communication resulted in finding a CARCASS, he would have been good to go to retrieve it. If the aircraft use finds a still living, albeit wounded, animal he must follow the same day airborne restriction and seek the animal the next day.

    Another story: Some years ago outside of Nome, a spring bear hunter stopped his snogo, got off, and fired a shot or 2 at a bear. He felt he wounded the animal and gave chase on his snogo. Turned out a wildlife trooper observed the whole shoot and chase. The hunter caught and finished the bear and the trooper rode up and gave him a citation, saying he had not wounded the bear. The hide was confiscated and some time later the trooper, hunter, D.A., and some F&G guys all stretched out the hide and counted bullet holes. The number of holes in the hide agreed with the hunters statement of wounding and the citation was dropped.

    Anyway, I think the regs are vague, but until death do us part from the regs of hunting!!
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    First off- we do have a moral responsibility to pursue wounded game. I don't see much in the way of a legal requirement in the regs and I think it would be hard to enforce if not impossible at any rate. Also, we have to realize that we will all- if we hunt enough- lose an animal. Some hunting, such as wingshooting or waterfowling, have relatively high rates of wounding loss as a matter of course and while losing a big game animal is more unusual- it happens even to the best of hunters from time to time.

    When you start talking "reasonable" effort - that varies from hunter to hunter and location to location based on terrain, ability, weather, injury, etc.etc. As an individual I would know if I exhausted myself and available resources...to codify that into law would be a whole other matter.

    I'm leery of allowing methods to pursue wounded game that aren't legal to pursue game in the first place... the abuses would be non-stop. Sure, lab forensics could sort out what happened when- but wow, the costs to do that would be exorbiant.
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

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    Units 1-5,8 require any wounded bear (black or brown) to be considered harvested. Old Ted Nugent got in trouble for that on a black bear hunt, as I recall.
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    Member martentrapper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JuliW View Post
    Units 1-5,8 require any wounded bear (black or brown) to be considered harvested. Old Ted Nugent got in trouble for that on a black bear hunt, as I recall.
    A notched tag normally means a dead animal and resulting legal salvage requirements. I'm curious how the state can require a hunter to notch his tag and relieve him of the salvage requirement.
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    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by martentrapper View Post
    Until you have a dead animal, you are still hunting and must observe the restrictions on hunting.
    Excellent point.
    If cave men had been trophy hunters the Wooly Mammoth would be alive today

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    I learned to track from my dad and uncles who hunted with cartridges much less potent than what we use today. Tracking is a learned art. Getting down on your hands and knees and being patient will yield results. Flag the trail as you track.
    I trained my dog to track blood trails by taking her out on several of my bow shot moose after I recovered them and putting her on the trail. A few years ago she got the chance to drag me to a moose a friend had shot with his bow. She got to find the actual moose instead of a gut pile.
    I am willing to help people find a hit animal. Just don't ask me to perform a miracle after you have tromped all over the area indiscriminately looking for sign.
    Hunt Ethically. Respect the Environment.

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