Responsibilities of the Christian Sportsman by Randy Rowley


On November 29, 1991, the Burp and Poot Club changed its name, by a majority vote of the members present at a Club meeting, to The Fellowship of Christian Sportsman Club. While it was relatively easy to define the meaning of our former name, the same is not true of the current name. The term “sportsmen” refers to a hunter or fisherman who abides by the written law and places an ethical code or code of honor on himself.

The ethical hunter knows the limits of his shooting ability and gun. Although it is legal to shoot at a running deer 500 yards away or take a shot at a fleeing dove 70 yards in the distance, a true sportsman would never consider it. A sportsman works hard at his shooting skills. He always checks the accuracy of his rifle before deer season and gets all the practice he can. He hunts and fishes only in sporting and fair ways. He never takes unfair advantage of the game he is pursuing (such as shooting a dove in a tree or a duck on a pond). A sportsman takes every precaution to avoid wounding game, and if he does, he stops further hunting and combs the countryside to find it. He will even abandon his own hunting to help another hunter find wounded game.

Many articles on ethics and sportsmanship have been published in hunting and fishing magazines. The NRA published its Hunter’s Code of Ethics in the October 1991 issue of The American Hunter. It states:

  1. I will consider myself an invited guest of the landowner, seeking his permission, and so conducting myself that I may be welcome in the future.
  2. I will obey the rules of safe gun handling and will courteously but firmly insist that others who hunt with me do the same.
  3. I will obey all game laws and regulations and will insist that my companions do likewise.
  4. I will do my best to acquire those marksmanship and hunting skills which assure clean, sportsmanlike kills.
  5. I will support conservation efforts which can assure good hunting for future generations of Americans.
  6. I will pass along to younger hunters the attitudes and skills essential to a true outdoor sportsman.

Another article, published in the November issue of Outdoor Life, entitled “Hunting Camp Etiquette” by Ernie Moore states (shortened to make this article more readable):

  1. Know the camp rules and observe them.
  2. Permission to visit camp is for you, not you and your friends. Trying to include others in the invitation is insulting the host’s friendship.
  3. An invitation is not perpetual. The invitation was for a specific date or period. Invitations do not include the same week every season.
  4. Stay with the game plan. Stay put until the agreed upon hour. Don’t complain about your spot and don’t cheat with that old excuse about being cold and having to move about.
  5. You can ask for advice, but don’t ask for favors at camp. The adage “Guests always come first” shouldn’t be adopted by the guest himself. Don’t inconvenience your host in any way.
  6. Pay your way. Everyone in camp should pay his share for the grub. It’s also a good idea to not show up empty-handed. Whether it’s coffeecake or sodas, bring something with you.
  7. Offer to do the dirty jobs. Doing dishes, disposing of trash, and chopping or hauling wood-all of these and more are camp chores that a guest can do and should. Help the cook, sweep the floor, haul water. Make yourself useful and ask for those jobs. Also allow time to help clean the place before leaving. Rest assured the guys who usually have to do it will notice.
  8. Police yourself. Don’t scatter equipment around the place and clean up your own mess.
  9. Know your quarry and limits. Club limits are often stricter than limits set by the state wildlife department. The club may ask you to kill a doe to thin the herd or catch and release fish. Follow orders. If you see a coyote, fox or bobcat, don’t shoot unless you obtained permission beforehand.
  10. Respect the property. Close any gates that you opened, pick up empty shotshells, and know ahead of time whether such things as portable tree stands are tolerated.

A “Christian is by definition a follower of Jesus Christ. It is a person who recognizes that he has sinned (rebelled from God), acknowledges that Jesus came to earth and took the punishment for the sins of mankind, has asked Jesus to forgive him of his sins, and asked Jesus to come into his life to be his Savior and Lord. One of the greatest attributes of Jesus during his stay on earth was his selflessness. He gave and gave and when he grew weary he gave some more. A Christian denies self and gives to others. When he is slapped on his right cheek he offers his left; when he is forced to go one mile, he goes two.

By the aforementioned definitions, a sportsman is similar in some respects to being a Christian. This makes us pause and ask “How can a person observing my actions as a sportsman discern that the driving force of my good sportsmanship is my relationship to Christ?”. The following are examples of how others can see Christ’s unselfish love in us when hunting and fishing:

  1. If hunting with an inexperienced hunter, allow him the first shot at a bird or game animal. Shoot only if he misses.
  2. When hunting with a group allow less experienced hunters to choose the prime spots.
  3. Never shoot at a bird that is heading directly at another hunter (especially if the shot is a passing one). You will probably miss and make the bird veer away from a high probability kill shot.
  4. Allow the end man to shoot first when hunters are in a line (such as along a fence) and a bird is flying down the line.
  5. Never go after another hunters wounded birds or game. The wounded animal is the responsibility and property of the hunter who injured it.
  6. Know the limits of your shooting abilities and strive to improve them.
  7. Do not become possessed with who can bag the most birds, the buck with the largest rack, or the most or largest fish. Such contests encourage hunters to shoot at birds or animals out of range and thus lose respect for the game. Christian Sportsmen should concentrate on making clean kills, not at shooting at anything that moves in order to bag more game.

No one has ever said that being a Christian Sportsman is easy. It takes discipline, guts and a denial of self. It is infinitely more easy to be selfish and develop an every-man-for-himself attitude. A Christian Sportsman will bag less game, shoot less shots, walk more miles, and spend a lot of time helping others; but, having experienced both sides of the outdoorsman’s coin, being a Christian Sportsman is the only way for me.

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Bible Verse of the Day

A little that a righteous man has Is better than the riches of many wicked. For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, But the LORD upholds the righteous.