An often overlooked aspect of hunting is the other hunters with which you may have to share space. When we envision a perfect hunt in our minds, it does not include pulling up to a favorite hunting area just to find another hunter already set up and ready to go, yet this is a reality faced by many of us. In some cases, we will be the one late to the game, having lost out on prime real estate, or we may find ourselves being the first hunter there just to have someone else show up and be unhappy to see us. Either of these scenarios can be upsetting, and it is possible that negative reactions will be experienced on both sides, which is why proper etiquette, courteousness, and graciousness go a long way towards salvaging a day in a crowded field.
Photo: Pink Tentacle
It goes without saying that you should not hunt on land you do not own or have permission to use, but it is also best if you avoid land owned and used by other hunters for training and conditioning. This is especially true of land someone uses to condition and train pups, as they many have made efforts to stock the area with rabbits. If this is the case and you hunt on that land, especially if a full harvest is made, then the person who conditions and trains there will be at a loss, having their supply of training rabbits depleted. This is a good way to ruffle some feathers and not be granted the privilege of coming back.
When you are invited to hunt somewhere, be it on private land or as part of a hunting party, remember that it is you that was invited, and that invitation many not include a plus one (or more). This does not only apply to bringing along another hunter, but also applies to bringing non-hunting friends who just want to tag along in hopes of scoring some meat or otherwise entertaining themselves. Hunting parties are usually kept at a manageable number of attendees by the organizer, and having extras show up can complicate things. This is especially true of non-hunters who do not understand the mechanics of a working rabbit dog or those in training.
Photo: Petersens Hunting
When it comes to sharing space with other hunting parties, don't attempt to assert yourself and claim space by stepping on the toes of others. Instead of staking a claim and trying to push someone out, be courteous. Those people probably were not expecting to contend with another hunter either, so respect that by not turning your dogs loose in close proximity to where they are hunting. This could result in rabbit dogs being injured or even accidentally shot. Ideally others will do the same, but preparing yourself for the worst and hoping for the best will help get you through, and sometimes you will have to be the bigger person.
Photo: Vet Street
As your hunt comes to a close, be sure to pack it in and leave the area just like you found it: clean. Pick up your trash, leaving nothing behind that wasn't there when you arrived. If the area wasn't as clean as it should be, it won't hurt if you restore it to a better condition by picking up a little extra. Everyone should respect both nature and landowners, so taking an extra five minutes to help tidy up is good for all involved. If things are kept shipshape, there will be less reason for hunters to complain to landowners, which can result in all rabbit hunting privileges being revoked.
Photo: Ozarks Walkabout
The goals of rabbit hunting are to have fun and acquire meat, but it is also important that you take steps to preserve the sport by using good etiquette. Always show up ready to go with all applicable permits and licenses as well as rabbit dogs that are healthy and current on vaccines. Then, while you're hunting, be mindful of those that will share the same space, be it on the same day or the next one. A few small steps towards good rabbit hunting etiquette will ensure enjoyment for all and plentiful hunting for years to come.
Do you have any etiquette tips you would like to add? Do you have pet peeves regarding the behavior of other hunters that you would like to make suggestions regarding a change? Let us know in the comments!