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Santa Hats and Hunter Ethics

Photo by Kyle Jameson

From Thea

Sometimes a Santa hat makes us think about things other than being naughty or nice.

The Outdoor Campus is the home to 20+ HuntSAFE classes every year. Volunteers and state conservation officers teach the classes to hundreds of youth and adults each year, all over the state. One of the greatest, and most necessary, messages we teach is hunter ethics.

Ethics in hunting covers asking permission to hunt, leaving the land better than you found it, adhering to fair chase rules and respect for the animal you harvested.

Respect can mean so many things.  Don’t drive around town with a dead deer displayed on your vehicle. Plan to eat what you shoot, or donate the meat. Ensure the usable parts of the animal are not wasted. Respect the animal that you shot by being responsible.

So, every year when we decorate The Outdoor Campus for the holidays, we pause a bit to consider our decor. It’s easy to plop a red, fluffy Santa hat on all our taxidermy mounts, but should we? Frankly, they look adorable with the hats, but is it right? Is it respectful?

Our jury is still out. I like to err on the side of caution normally, but seeing a child squeal over the deer in the hat is a joy. All our mounts here were either taken by poachers, road kill or hunted legally, so we can rest assured the greatest respect was given the animal after death in one form or another.

Santa hats for all as of now.