Kentucky Public Land Hunting Etiquette - A Public Land User Story

Public land hunting 101: Etiquette, Emergencies, and Education 

Public land hunting can be a rewarding experience.  There are more than 85 Wildlife Management Areas in Kentucky, which provide ample opportunities to explore, hunt, fish, and preserve. Each person that utilizes WMAs during their time out and about should remember they are not alone in their adventures. Which is why as good stewards, proper hunting etiquette, preparation for emergencies and adequate education for future generations is essential.

Let’s talk etiquette. Be considerate of those who are hunting in the same area. During the opening weekend of muzzleloader season, my husband and I encountered a few examples of good and bad etiquette.

Upon arrival to the WMA, we saw a vehicle that was in front of us going to the same area that we normally hunt.  Not a problem you know public lands in public hands right?

Normal etiquette will be to talk and say OK I’m going to this area, which area are you planning on going to? Avoiding any conflicting hunting spots.  However, this did not occur. This truck pulls down the single lane road and blocks it.

On the second day of hunting, we arrive and no one is parked at our normal spot.  We grab our gear and arrive to our selected location over an hour before daylight. 

About two hours after daybreak, we see blaze orange headed our way and we do the polite thing, stand up, whistle and wave our orange to notify them to where we’re at. They do the right thing! They give a thumbs up, turn around and proceed to another spot.

Midday, I hear a rustle in the brush. My hopes of venison for dinner are diminished as I see the same hunters walking through the middle of our shooting lane. Void of any regard of what their presence did to our hunting area.

Emergencies: failing to plan, is planning to fail.  As previously mentioned, we encountered hunters on our first day. We were not deterred by their actions until we met up with them on the single lane road.

We approached the truck to find a man leaning over someone on the ground. It was his wife and she had apparently lost consciousness and was needing medical care. I was able to arouse her long enough for her to tell me she was having severe back pain and very nauseous. 

Before we could call 911, she passed out two additional times. I was able to stabilize her long enough for her husband to meet the ambulance. Several times I felt CPR was imminent as her heart rate was weak and her breathing shallow.  Had my husband and I not been knowledgeable in emergency care, I shudder to think what could have happened.

Conservation education is essential.  During this hunt we had some interesting encounters. The encounter that disturbed me the most was the lack of education exhibited by a group of young teenagers. The last day of the hunt we had moved away from the previously disrupted hunting area to a new spot. Within moments of settling in, a group of ATVs rolled into WMA. Engines roared and loud voices filled the air and traveled into the hollow we were hunting.  I am unsure if they knew it was hunting season. Or if they were aware of the disruption to the WMA they were causing. But it is an excellent example of how lacking proper conservation education has become.

This is one opening weekend that I won’t soon forget. I was reminded how far people have gone away from good manners, adequate outdoor skills, and why what we do as BHA members is so important. 


Submission By: Samatha Lewis - Kentucky BHA District 7 Board Representative

About Samantha Lewis

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