Don’t get us wrong, hunting partnerships make for some of the strongest bonding experiences. This is why so many hunters bring their parents, spouses, kids, and best friends hunting. Many hunters would readily tackle a grizzly to save their hunting buddies—and at least a few have.
However, there is always that one in the group that you dread seeing again. Whether it’s a close friend or just someone you recently met, you never quite have fun in the woods when they’re around. Perhaps even worse, your freezer has a tendency to remain empty if they’re there.
Here’s five good—and obvious—reasons to drop your partner. You’ll probably find the woods a lot more pleasant, and probably safer, in their absence.
1. Has no notion of basic gun (or bow) safety
Above everything else, safety is the first and most important priority in hunting. This includes the safety of both yourself and others. Nothing will convince the average hunter to ditch his or her hunting buddy faster than someone who you can’t trust with a firearm.
No matter how nice hanging out with your partner is, if they do stupid things like muzzle sweeping you constantly, set your ears ringing with unnecessary shots, or worst of all, take shots that endanger you, it may be time to give them the boot.
This also goes for people who decide that hunting season is the best time for target practice. If they want to sight in their rifles or just have fun, they can go to a range. At least then they’ll have a decent backstop and won’t scare all your deer away.
In these circumstances, it’s not rude at all to cut the hunt short and send them back home as soon as possible. Just be sure to tell them what they did wrong so they don’t endanger other hunters in the future.
2. Too lazy
These are the ones that want you to do all the walking, scouting, talking with the landowners, field dressing, and carrying out the animal. The only part they don’t want you to do for them is the shooting, and even that part they can’t do well.
This is only acceptable if they’re a rank newcomer at hunting and you’re guiding them through all the steps—or if they’re really young and can’t physically do most of those things. Otherwise, they should be carrying their own weight. Sometimes literally.
3. Is never prepared
There’s two types of this, and both are equally frustrating. The first is the “borrower.” They’ll call you up just before the day of the hunt and ask to borrow gear, clothes, a rifle, and even extra ammunition. Yeah, sure, it is understandable if they haven’t been hunting regularly, but it really is something they ought to get on their own. Help them out the first time and let them know what kind of supplies they should get for the next trip. If they ask to borrow your stuff again, then maybe it’s time to stop being generous.
The second type is the “opps, I forgot it” guy. These are the hunters that show up at the deer lease and have forgotten something vital, forcing you to loan them the item or hunt without them. Everybody makes mistakes, but not everybody makes them consistently.
4. Thinks following regulations is for chumps
So you’re looking forward to going hunting but have no concrete plans yet. Your hunting buddy then says something that stops you dead in your tracks.
“I heard this guy has tons of bruiser bucks on his land and he’s on vacation. We should take advantage of that.”
“Why don’t we ‘hunt’ from the road? It’s much easier.”
“Hey, how about sharing tags?”
Or worse yet, they start breaking regulations like there’s no tomorrow while you’re in the field. Yeah, these are the people you won’t be inviting back anytime soon.
5. No common sense
Hunting has its ironclad rules, but most of the things that frustrate your fellow hunters are the small things. Such as making too much noise, drinking too much at camp, buying a lot of expensive equipment and not knowing how to use it, trying to steal shots or being a glory hog, violating hunting ethics, or just not knowing how to hunt properly.
Just like everything else, common sense will go a long way in the woods. There are plenty of stories out there about hunters shooting the plexiglass blinds of their ground blind, pretending—and even dressing up as—wild animals during hunting season, or putting tree stands behind a thick screen of leaves and branches. The moral of the story is: don’t hunt with a fool.
Image courtesy Michael Johnson/US Fish and Wildlife Service