Respect your game and hunting — cover your trophy

It’s a great feeling to bring down a massive bull elk, a big ol’ muley or a whopper of an antelope. But not everyone wants to see it.

When you’re coming home from a successful hunt this year, you’ll probably be pretty proud of your achievement. And deservedly so. Hunting takes skill, perseverance, dedication, and wit. It’s not easy to get close enough to get a shot. Heck, sometimes it’s tough to even figure out where the animals are. So you have a right to be proud of your trophy, whether it’s a little raghorn or the monarch of the mountain.

But not everyone feels the same way as we do. There are a number of people out there who just don’t care to see dead game animals. Some of those people may be a little offended if you drive past with a carcass displayed in plain view. Others might be downright militant in their opposition.

Most of the time, I like to see what other hunters are coming home with. It’s thrilling to look in the bed of a pickup and see a great big 7-point bull elk. But when that elk’s head is cranked around and propped up in an obvious attempt to get people to notice, even I feel a little bit queasy.

I wrote a column a few years ago stating the importance of covering your game on the trip home. I got a few letters from people who told me I was caving in to the PETA crowd. I see their point, but I don’t agree. I’m not saying we need to hide the fact that we’re hunters. I just don’t think we need to rub our rights in their faces. That’s a good way to turn public sentiment against us.

We need to keep from giving the anti-hunters any leverage. It’s important to treat the wild animals with respect. That includes the trip home. A deer head strapped to the hood of the truck isn’t respectful. Loading an antelope in the bed so that its head hangs over the side isn’t, either. If it’s possible, keep the whole critter out of sight to passing motorists. If you drive an SUV or have to put the carcass on a trailer, wrap it in a light-colored tarp. Not only will that keep it out of view, it’ll keep the meat cool and help to prevent it from spoiling.

Wait until you get home to show it off. Get it mounted and hang it in your home. Take pictures to work. Be proud. But get it back to town first.