Rules of Fair Chase

Pope and Young Buck
Pope and Young Buck

A Breed of Their Own

Bow Hunters are a breed of their own. They take pride in the increased difficulty that they endure to harvest a trophy buck with their bow. They often don't like to be lumped into the same category as hunters that use modern firearms. Some may see this as arrogance, but it is the challenge associated with bow hunting that drives a bow hunter to go against the odds.

I have been an avid bow hunter for the past 15 years. I have harvested nice bucks over the years with my Remington .270 and my .50 caliber Knight Disc rifle. I never got that same feeling of accomplishment from taking a deer with a rifle that I felt from taking a deer with my bow. I've felt more pride when harvesting a lesser quality buck with my bow, than I felt from a better quality buck with a rifle. So I guess I can be lumped into that 'arrogant bow hunter' category.

The Pope and Young Club is one of North America's leading bow hunting and conservation organizations that promotes and participates in wildlife conservation and wise use of our natural resources. They advocate and encourage responsible bow hunting by promoting quality, fair chase hunting, and sound conservation practices.

Pope and Young maintains a record book of amazing quality deer that are harvested by bow hunters. It is a life-long dream of many hunters enter a buck for consideration and have it accepted into this record book. Hunters must follow and adhere to specific rules and regulations in order to have their buck qualify for this prestigious record book.

This concept of Fair Chase Hunting is based on ethical hunting practices, which we will take a closer look at.

The Rules of Fair Chase

The Rules of Fair Chase is an ethical standard that the Pope and Young organization has defined that relates to the manner in which the hunt is conducted. Simply stated, these rules are the ethical and lawful pursuit of free-ranging wild game animals in such a manner that does not give the hunter an unfair or improper advantage over the animal.

There are 7 core rules and 1 broad rule that make up the Rules of Fair Chase. It states that game animals should not be harvested under the following conditions:

  1. If the game animal is helpless, in a trap, in deep snow, water, or on ice.
  2. From any powered vehicle or from a powered boat.
  3. By the use of a spotlight at night.
    This is actually against the law most cases.
  4. By the use of poisons or tranquilizers.
  5. While the game is enclosed in a fenced in area that they cannot escape from.
  6. By using any type of powered vehicle to herd the game toward an awaiting hunter.
  7. By the use of electronic devices used for locating, attracting, or pursuing game, or that guides a hunter toward such game. This also includes the use of a bow and/or arrow that has any type of electronic device attached to it. This includes bow mounted rangefinders such as the Leupold Vendetta.
  8. Then there is the broad rule which states "Any other condition considered by the Board of Directors as unacceptable."

It is All About Respect

My own interpretation of the Rules of Fair Chase is that it all comes down to respect. Respect for the game that a hunter is attempting to harvest. Respect for the tradition of hunting that has been passed down from prior generations. Without respect, it is hard to have pride in an achievement.

Whether a bow hunter is striving to someday enter the Pope and Young record book or not, their Rules of Fair Chase should be considered by all hunters as an ethical way of hunting.

I understand that hunting is not for everyone, and there are many people who are strictly opposed to it. I don't want this Hub to become a forum for Pro-Hunting or Anti-Hunting debates. I can respect that some people are opposed, and also respect that it is a tradition and way of life that has been passed down through many generations. No matter what your stance is on hunting, I hope that everyone can appreciate the rules implemented by the Pope and Young organization.

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