Say what you will about modern deer hunters, the Sander family understands ethics and lives that way. Last fall, they not only allowed a young man to track a wounded buck onto their hunting property, they sacrificed hunting time to assist in the recovery. For their unselfish efforts, David Sander, his 16-year-old son Colton, and David’s uncle James, were awarded the state’s Hunter Ethics Award for 2011.

Dan McQuire, who nominated the Sander’s for the award, told this story to the Wisconsin Outdoor News, the bi-weekly outdoor newspaper. “My son, Jacob, 15 shot a buck about 8:15 on opening day. This would be his third buck, his largest. The hit was a little too far back to put the buck down immediately.

The buck left our hunting property and ran onto David and James Sander’s land. They were hunting there with David’s son, Colton. Colton was the first person we approached. He came down from his treestand to talk to us. He then talked to his father and uncle, who gave us permission to search the property. Their reaction is the reason we nominated them for the award.

“These three hunters, in one way or another, gave up part of opening day to help us track the wounded buck. Everyone then agreed it would be best if we left the deer and came back the next day to continue the search. The Sanders said they would stay out of the area for the rest of Saturday and they would help us search the next day, too.

“About 11:00 a.m. Sunday we continued the search and found the deer, dead, in the area where the Sander’s said it would most likely be. Putting all that together, these hunters gave up five hours of their opening weekend, which no doubt reduced the chances of them seeing and getting deer themselves.”

The Wisconsin’ Hunter Ethics Award is given annually to a hunter (or group of hunters) who demonstrate highly ethical behavior during the season. The honor was created in 1997 by retired DNR warden Steve Dewald, and retired La Crosse Tribune outdoor writers Bob Lamb and Jerry Davis. Since 2000, there has been a youth category as well. For more information on this unique and notable program, visit the Wisconsin DNR website.