Development of a Sportsman

By Glen Wunderlich
Outdoor Columnist
Professional Outdoor Media Association

As a lifelong adult hunter, my purpose is to develop sportsmen’s knowledge in an effort to promote hunting for those that choose to hunt. Because the true sportsman engenders good will, one can help his own cause by adhering to certain guiding precepts. But, before getting into those, just what is a sportsman? According to a Mr. Webster, “A person who can take loss or defeat without complaint, victory without gloating, and who treats his opponents with fairness.” Relative to hunting, a sportsman, it follows, is a person who can go home empty handed and be satisfied. The sportsman, therefore, chooses only shots that he has a very high likelihood of making. Adopting certain principles leads to discipline in the field, which translates into fairness to the quarry. If you have had your share of missed shots, or just want to have as much as possible going for you when you do take a shot, read on.

If the goal in hunting is to bag game, then one may become a failure at sportsmanship. When a hunter becomes undisciplined…taking shots that are beyond one’s capability, taking shots at running deer, bad angle shots, a little too dark, etc, he crosses the line. If we choose to be sportsmen, we must pass on all but the best opportunities. And, as a result, we will have less wounded game hobbling about. If ever we sportsmen will be able to bridge the gap between hunters and those against hunting, being disciplined in the field is the best place to start.

Nobody wants to see injured animals. Granted, it happens sometimes, but we should constantly strive to minimize bad shots. Crippled deer can be seen by anyone and some people, reacting to what they see, may attempt to limit every hunter’s rights through the legislative process. So, a sportsman must develop the single-shot mentality, knowing that some situations permit the prey to live another day. He knows there can be no wild shots and that bullet or arrow placement is the key – not firepower.

So, if the goal in the field were not necessarily to bag game, what would it be? I am not suggesting that bagging game is not good; however, if the hunter becomes obsessed with a kill to brag about, then he very well may become the type of hunter that gives those opposed to hunting a valid reason to oppose hunting for everyone. I say let’s not give the “antis” any more fuel for such a fire.

A sportsman can be content as he witnesses the wild world waking up or going to sleep. He is content being one with nature before the sun comes up. He marvels at the sight of a coyote, a wood duck or even a squirrel as they go about their daily business of survival. And, at the same time he is totally prepared to take home his prize. But, if luck doesn’t go his way, he believes his patience will be rewarded another day. Make your goal to be satisfied with the outdoor experience that you have no matter what the day may bring, and by definition, you will become a true sportsman.