Outdoor Skills – Hunting Q&A

"I read Geoffrey Norman's The Right Way in the August 2002 issue. After 50-plus years of hunting, I never realized I should always count crippled and lost birds as part of my limit. Do I also count fish that get off my line as part of my limit, or only those that break the line? What about those I release? If the bird limit is three and I kill two and cripple one, do I tell people who ask that I got my limit? I ask because I would like to be legally and politically correct. --T.P. P.S.--It's obv

“I read Norman’s piece, too, and can’t quite see what you’re so upset about. He was only suggesting that hunters and anglers be a little more considerate of what’s known as “”the resource”” these days. Personally, I do tend to count crippled and lost birds as part of my limit, but I don’t lose many, because I practice a lot with my shotgun, use premium ammo, and always hunt with a good retrieving dog. As for fishing, I live in Montana, where thousands of trout addicts travel from all over the world to fish every year. Most have become advocates of absolute catch-and-release, and if they aren’t, the local guides often force them to release every trout. I’ve heard a lot of anglers and guides brag about how they caught and released several dozen trout in a day. Every study done on releasing trout indicates some mortality occurs, anywhere from 3 percent to as much as 10 percent, depending on water conditions, technique of release, etc. So anybody who catches and releases several dozen trout in a day has killed a few. They should probably limit themselves to a certain number of trout released, instead of just piling up bragging numbers. “”Do I tell people who ask that I got my limit?”” Who cares? That was one of Norman’s points. For too many decades, Americans have believed that “”filling your limit”” was the definition of a successful day afield, whether hunting or fishing. I sometimes take my limit, and sometimes don’t, but whether I do or not rarely relates to the enjoyment of my time afield. If you haven’t learned that in 50-plus years of hunting, then I feel sorry for you. “