Bourjaily: Ethics Question

Pop ethics quiz: you're pheasant hunting, and your dog catches and kills a hen pheasant. Only roosters are legal. Do you leave the bird in the field or take it home?

Jed pointed then caught an injured hen pheasant last week. She did not survive getting caught. In this case, there was no ethical dilemma. The hen was so thin and weak she could barely fly. She wouldn't have amounted to much for dinner. A solemn burial under a clump of weeds was the only choice.

But, sometimes dogs kill perfectly healthy birds. On the one hand, there are laws against possessing dead hen pheasants; on the other hand, there are laws against wanton waste of game. Ethically it doesn't sit well with me to leave edible game in the field.

I would be tempted to take a healthy bird home. My friend Rick the Hunter Ed instructor says the official answer to the question when it comes up in classes is, leave it, and then you will never have to explain to a Conservation Officer why you have a dead hen.

Dead hen. Bring it home or leave it. Discuss.