An avid outdoorsman, award-winning author, host of the TV show MeatEater and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation life member, Rinella attended RMEF’s Elk Camp national convention to share his wit and wisdom as the Friends of the Foundation breakfast featured speaker. Specifically, he talked about the importance of hunting ethics by presenting “six pieces of advice I have for us (as hunters).”
Hunters live in a broader culture and that broader system is making decisions regarding wildlife.
In other words, stay up to speed on vital political issues including land and wildlife management. Be knowledgeable and active in the voting booth or others will vote and decide your way of life for you.
We need to understand our surroundings and our quarry.
What is the land you’re on? Who owns it? What are the needs of the land? What are the particulars of a given species? Limit the stuff we don’t know. Know where we are to avoid trespassing issues.
We need to know our history better.
Hunters have a lot to be proud of. We are part of a vast effort that led to the recovery of elk, deer and a variety of game and non-game species. Know the story and learn how to tell it to others.
We need to master our skills.
A lot of hunters think the hunting opener is a one-day deal where you bag your game and then look forward to next year. Hunters need to remain actively engaged as practitioners, know the limits of their equipment and how to use it.
Know the ethics.
Don’t assume that your buddy has the answers. If you have a question, your state regulations will contain 99 percent of the answers. Never turn to vigilantism.
Put the animals before yourself.
Rinella had a friend who once asked “If you love buffalo so much, why did you kill one?” He explained that hunters need to spend a lot of time in understanding the difference between one animal and “animal-ness.” His buffalo hunt required he know and recognize the sex and age of his specific quarry. Hunters need to know the same and teach their children and others how to articulate that point. Rinella closed by referencing writer Thomas McGuane who recalled a conversation in which a non-hunter challenges a hunter:
“Why should (deer) die for you?” the non-hunter asks. “Would you die for deer?”
“If it came to that,” the hunter replies.
Rinella’s books include The Scavenger's Guide to Haute Cuisine; American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon; Meat Eater: Adventures from the Life of an American Hunter; and the newly released 2-volume series The Complete Guide to Hunting, Butchering, and Cooking Wild Game.
Below is a video that shows how he responded to a question he faces all the time: “How can you justify the killing of animals?”