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Young Bowhunters Speak Out

Last year's winner Ross Dary with Uncle Joe Lasch.

The Bowhunter staff really takes pride in our annual Youth Hunter Essay Contest (YHEC). First conceived by Technical Editor Dave Holt, the YHEC has touched the lives of hundreds of enthusiastic young bowhunters over the past 10 years. Joined by able outfitters like Parkland Muskwa in Saskatchewan and our big-hearted archery industry partners, we've been able to recognize and reward these great kids for sharing their thoughts, feelings, and experiences about various topics of vital interest to all of us.

The editorial staff just wrapped up judging and selection of winners for the '06 contest, and once again we're thrilled and humbled by the experience. We're thrilled that so many young people honored us with their thoughts; humbled because while we're limited in what we can do for them, their boundless spirits never fail to provide us with limitless inspiration. Clearly, given the pace of life in today's challenging world, it means something when a young person takes the time to speak out. Maybe we should listen more to what they're saying.

While you'll have the chance to read Grand Prize Winner Nate Corley's essay on the makeup of an ethical bowhunter in the upcoming Big Game Special, following are some slightly edited gems pulled from many of the other outstanding essays (alphabetical by author):

"An ethical bowhunter is a person who always has respect for other hunters and all of nature." Chase Alexander, age 13

"Checking all equipment thoroughly and knowing the limits of your own bow should be required practices for every ethical bowhunter." Jacob Alexander, age 17

"Ethical bowhunters join their local hunting organizations so they can work with other hunters to improve the availability of hunting lands and work together to encourage legislators to pass laws that will improve our sport." John Barnard, age 17


"An ethical bowhunter must be a good influence to others by putting his best foot forward at all times." Dusty Birge, age 17

"During the season you should do plenty of checkups on your bow. Make sure the string is waxed and that your sights and rest haven't been bumped." Zach Bruce, age 17

"An ethical bowhunter would trim the brush from their shooting lanes because even a twig can deflect an arrow." Travis Cain, age 14

"An ethical bowhunter will always go out of his way to protect what God has created for us and ensure habitat is suitable for wildlife." Tyler Christopher, age 17

"Ethical hunting is ensuring that there is no danger that could result from a person's actions." Jessica Clemente, age 15

"An ethical bowhunter is supportive of youth bowhunting because he knows young archers are the future." Jack Craven, age 17

"An ethical bowhunter is someone who is respectful and who creates for himself a foundation of unwritten laws that positively guide his actions in every situation." Charles Davidson, age 17

"Ultimately, being an ethical bowhunter is a personal choice. Choose correctly - be an ethical, honest, and responsible bowhunter." Logan Dorminey, age 17

"To make quick and safe decisions, you have to be ready mentally and physically for any kind of situation. Doesn't matter; you've got to be prepared." John Ellinger, age 14

"We're always hearing about poachers and those who don't follow the laws. This only leads those who don't hunt to think badly of us. It is important to our sport to make those same people think good things about us." Brad Farthing, age 13

"If an ethical hunter ate a candy bar he would hold onto the wrapper instead of throwing it on the ground." Matthew Forba, age 14

"In essence, the ethical bowhunter makes the right decisions when nobody is watching and when there are no formal rules to guide him." Brittany Giancola, age 14

"Respect for other people and their property is something an ethical hunter will not take lightly. He will always abide by the landowner's wishes concerning things such as where to drive and park his truck." Caleb Gingerich, age 17

"He is careful not to infringe on other hunters' places, especially their 'honey holes,' and he steers clear of their treestands and blinds." Joshua Gingerich, age 15

"The best shots are broadside and quartering away. The ethical bowhunter always waits for the right range and angle before shooting." Roland Granata, age 15

"A wise bowhunter appreciates the skill it takes to use a historical weapon the way it was used by ancestors long ago. A notable attribute of an ethical bowhunter is the level of understanding he demonstrates." Alex Gyllstrom, age 17

"An ethical person isn't someone who shoots deer just because they're there or to impress their friends, but someone who hunts because they love the outdoors and occasionally some wild game in the freezer." Anthony Heller, age 16

"If a bowhunter makes a good shot, he should know how to track and field dress the animal so there is no chance of spoiling the meat...they must make sure they process and freeze the meat properly." Zach Herold, age 15

"He will behave and speak inoffensively, showing sound hunting principles and proper etiquette to nonhunters, children, future hunters, and beginning hunters." Alex Hettinga, age 14

"Ethics is not only knowing what shot to take but also knowing where to set up a stand far enough away from the neighbors' land..." Tyler Hoff, age 14

"A bowhunter's spirit is lifted higher than anyone else because he gets more in-tune with nature -- part of that is ethics. He or she must study and learn about the quarry they are pursuing." Richard Hutton, Jr., age 16

"The first step to being an ethical bowhunter is to become very comfortable with one's bow setup." Scott Hoffman, age 14

"...Being an ethical bowhunter will make my successes much greater than if I had taken shortcuts." Bradley Johnson, age 13

"An ethical bowhunter understands the fact that hunting is not all about killing." Kyle Johnson, age 14

"An ethical hunter would tag an older deer, leaving the younger one to develop." Cole Johnston, age 15

"In order to be an ethical bowhunter we need to practice the craft until it becomes an art." Haley Jones, age 17

"An ethical bowhunter studies the anatomy of deer to make sure that he knows where to aim." Carson Kauffman, age 14

"An ethical bowhunter practices fair chase hunting in all situations he experiences. The hunter knows better than to use hunting methods that give him an unfair advantage because he knows he isn't cheating anyone but himself." Blayne Kesse, age 16

"They are motivated to teach beginners. They show the beginners how to track, stalk, call, and things to make shooting easier." Matt Kippley, age 12

"It's not just about killing an animal for bragging rights. It's about enjoying your experience in the outdoors. Every day should be a new adventure." Brandon Kleinhans, age 17

"People who do the right thing in the woods are the same people who are ethical at school, at work, and at home." Kelly Knight, age 15

"Through upright conduct, the ethical bowhunter portrays a positive image to a nonhunting society, which in turn preserves the privilege of carrying on this awesome tradition of bowhunting." Nichole Lepp, age 17

"Practice, Practice, Practice! You can't expect to shoot an animal, let alone kill it, if you don't practice. Practice is the key to getting good at anything, including bowhunting." Jenn Leslie, age 15

"Knowing where the vitals are and being able to get the arrow there is basically what bowhunting is. Ethics means doing it correctly the first time and making sure the animal doesn't suffer." Vic Leslie, age 15

"Ethics is a word that comes to the mind of many hunters, but few know what it means." Dylan Levra, age 16

"Truly ethical bowhunters will contribute back to the hunting world by helping one another and making memories not just for themselves but for others also." Miles Locke, age 14

"The bow will shoot where it's pointed, but the user is the one who decides if the shot is a good, ethical shot." James Loder, age 16

"It's not the deer that you brought home that makes bowhunting fun but the time you spent with others while doing it." Jason Marsh, age 16

"Helping a fellow hunter drag his trophy buck out of the woods not only shows courtesy but forms a respect that is second nature among ethical bowhunters." Ryan Matney, age 13

"It has become increasingly rare to find people who are willing to work for their achievements. My dad and I have been successful in hunting, but we don't follow the path of least resistance." Josh Matteson, age 17

"He doesn't just take the antlers or horns of an animal and leave all the meat of the animal as waste..." Brendan McGann, age 14

"Bowhunters are sure to be safe while on the ground, in their treestands, and when they're shooting." John McMahon, age 12

"They will not violate any law of any magnitude, especially involving environmental concerns, such as driving an ATV on a restricted trail or through a creek." Ross Meyer, age 16

"People who take 60-70 yard shots at elk are, in my opinion, in need of a lesson taught to them." Sean Murray, age 15

"Being an ethical bowhunter is about the...character of a bowhunter, how we're going to feel about ourselves after each decision we make and how others perceive bowhunting by our actions." Garrett Myers, age 14

"My first belief is that an ethical bowhunter must make good shot selections." Connor Nash, age 14

"An ethical bowhunter knows his surroundings and bow and is aware of people, especially little kids. If you're not aware of your surroundings, somebody or something could get hurt or damaged." Kris O'Rourke, age 12

"To be an ethical bowhunter you must keep the deer population in check, even if it means taking a doe instead of a big buck." Tyler Olsen, age 13

"Reading hunting regulations carefully will give great tips and keep the hunter out of trouble." David Pelchat, age 17

"Conscientious hunters don't get up and move around when they can be scaring deer off for themselves and other hunters." Mike Petrillo, age 14

"We're all human and make mistakes, but an ethical bowhunter will...ensure that those mistakes are few and far between." Caleb Plumlee, age 16

"A bowhunter who hunts ethically is able to make wise decisions under pressure whether he/she is hunting in the woods or conducting their everyday life." Matthew Pointer, age 17

"Keeping the land clean is an ethical practice. We always try to leave our campsite better than we found it." Christopher Poteet, age 12

"...Makes sure that his or her clothes fit nice and comfortable. Checks and makes sure that nothing will get caught when releasing the bowstring." Angela Raber, age 13

"...I'm finding out that it is also not always about shooting something but about learning more and spending time with family and friends." Beau Rapier, age 12

"Ethics might seem like a small thing to many people, but in the woods the importance of ethics is immense." Chad Redman, age 14

"If someone is a trophy hunter and does not use game meat, it should be given to a friend who will eat it or to a charity that cooks it for the homeless." Jacob Rodgers, age 15

"I also realize some people may be offended by the experiences of hunters. I believe nonhunters have the same rights to their beliefs about hunting as I do." Heather Samson, age 17

"Ethical bowhunters are willing to take animals that are not wall-hangers but animals that need to be taken to help balance out populations and keep those populations healthy." Jarod Scudder, age 17

"He shows respect to nonhunters and does not display weapons or harvested game in a manner that may be disturbing to them." Kyle Seiss, age 15

"As a young bowhunter, I believe that being ethical is the key to being successful." Jack Shull, age 13

"They do not put down others over simple matters such as equipment choices, but instead they are always looking ahead to promote our sport." T.J. Souther, age 17

"...Have your treestands all put up for the deer to get used to the stands and all your branches cut so you can shoot all around you." Mark Stanley, age 14

"Bowhunters must always

make sure they can make a clean shot so the animal will die quickly." Benjamin Sutton, age 17

"Influencing youth in a good way shows a good name for bowhunting. Youth are the future of bowhunting, so we must help them to be ethical." Heath Tieben, age 16

"In becoming an ethical bowhunter it takes work and the desire to develop strong personal traits. It takes time to become an ethical bowhunter, but it is important for personal growth, the game we hunt, and the sport." Shelby Van Etten, age 13

"...The most important ethic is for a hunter to respect herself. If a hunter doesn't respect herself, she won't be able to keep herself safe, be safe around others, or make the right decisions." Kylie VanArsdale, age 14

"Even if he doesn't shoot an animal, a bowhunter will be successful because he acted responsibly in his sport." Benjamin Weldon, age 15

"An ethical bowhunter is someone who waits for the right shot." Austin Wells, age 13

"Ethical bowhunting starts with the best archery equipment you can afford." Garrett Williams, age 12

"He is an ambassador in the public eye who represents all that is good about bowhunting, both as a sport and as an integral part of wildlife management." Matt Williams, age 17

"An ethical bowhunter will gain permission to hunt and then scout and trim shooting lanes so the shot is perfect." Grant Williamson, age 15

"A hunter needs proper education, training, and safety." Christopher Woolleyhan, age 16

"Responsibility plus respect equals reward." Mark Worner, age 17

For details on Bowhunter's 2007 Youth Hunter Essay Contest, don't miss the upcoming December issue, due out October 3, 2006.

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