Verify whether your shot hit an animal or not. Inspect for blood or other signs of wounded game. Follow the trail until you're absolutely sure.

Know your limits and avoid exceeding them. If you only practice to 200 yards at the range, don't shoot beyond that in the field.

"A peculiar virtue in wildlife ethics is that the hunter ordinarily has no gallery to applaud or disapprove of his conduct. Whatever his acts, they are dictated by his own conscience, rather than by a mob of onlookers. It is difficult to exaggerate the importance of this fact." —Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac



Leave a wounded animal. Do everything you can, including putting a bird dog on the scent, before giving up.

Shoot into a herd or at running animals. Odds are you'll wound the game, subjecting it to a slow and painful death.


Ethics, unlike laws, are specific to each individual. Every hunter must develop his own set of rules for honorable behavior while afield. However, like honor, a basic code of conduct exists. The following tenets should be followed at all times:

  • Follow Fair Chase principles, giving the animal a reasonable opportunity to escape.The contest is between its survival instincts and your skill and cunning. Too many technological advantages reduces it to mere killing, not hunting.  Do not take advantage of an animal in distress.

  • Make a clean kill. Avoid shooting at running animals, through obstacles, or from great distances. Only take shots you're certain you can make. Avoid wounding an animal at all costs.

  • Develop your skills. Attain and maintain hunting abilities that allow you to make better choices and cleaner kills. Shoot your weapon often, and from the positions in which you'll find yourself while afield.

  • Know your limits. And do not exceed them. This goes for your equipment, too. If an animal is too large or too far from the vehicle for you to pack it out without spoilage, don't take the shot.

  • Be safe. Know your backdrop and practice proper weapon-handling. Do not endanger yourself or others.

  • Show respect.
    • For the animal. Like you, wildlife are living creatures just trying to make a go of it in this world. Give them the respect they deserve. Do not waste harvested game.
    • For others. Close gates behind you, be courteous to other hunters, and be considerate of non-hunters.
    • For Montana. Know and honor local and regional customs.
    • For the environment. Regard the landscape as holy ground and treat it as such. Do not litter or drive over fragile vegetation. Support conservation efforts. 
    • For the future. Behave in a way that reflects well upon hunting and hunters, helping to ensure that future generations will enjoy the same privileges we do today.