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Missouri's firearms portion of the deer season is over. Now it's the archers' turn.

Hunting has been a time-honored tradition not just in our country but in our world's civilization. It's evolved beyond a way to feed ourselves and our families. It's an essential wildlife management tool that serves as a sustainable natural resource. It contributes to our economy. Our country's rich hunting heritage also is about camaraderie, exploration and teaching children the virtues of patience, discipline, safety and responsibility.

Unfortunately, a few irresponsible, unethical and law-breaking hunters can malign the reputation of the whole sport. We've see examples of that here in Missouri recently, including:

- The Associated Press reported one hunter was killed by his grandfather and another was wounded by a friend during the opening weekend of the firearm deer season.

- The Columbia Daily Tribune reported another person was mistaken for a deer. A 20-year-old was shot in the hip by his 21-year-old friend just after sunset Saturday on private land near Hallsville, about 15 miles northeast of Columbia.

- KMOV-TV reported more than 1,000 citations have been given during this year's deer season. The most common violation, more than 250 instances, have been for hunting without a permit. The total cost total for the fine and court costs is $289, the station reported.

- KTVO-TV reported this past week that juveniles in Ralls County admitted to poaching a deer from the road.

These incidents represent only a small minority of hunters. Most are knowledgeable, responsible and ethical.

What can we all do to keep the sport (and its reputation) pure? If you are a hunter armed with a weapon that can kill, take your responsibility for safety seriously and obey the law.

Something we can all do: Don't let the few rogue hunters get away with illegal activity. Report it to the Missouri Department of Conservation at 1-800-392-1111.

News Tribune

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