Tagging, or validating, your critter kill is a legal responsibility. Without proper identification or your legally tagged harvest, you will be in violation. Legal Validation is the most common ticket issued in Montana, and other states.
A decade ago, I was antelope hunting with my son and a friend. I had placed them about 3oo yards apart, to watch the area for herds of antelopes. I routinely traveled to each rookie to make sure all was well. My pack and single shot rifle were with my son, when I heard him shoot. At the same time, a herd of lopes came into range of me and my buddy. I mentored him as he shot his buck. The herd passed and “Tail end Charlie” loped into view. My buddy handed me his rifle and said, time for you!
I shot my buck and said, “Just leave it lie until I can help my son and bring back my tag.” I went back to my son and went through the gutting and tagging ritual. We were dragging his buck to my friends kill site when I was greeted by the Game Warden. We were 5 miles from the truck in a no drive area, but…
My friend had gutted his buck, and mine, and moved them to a nearby ditch. Of course, my buck had no tag. I was rewarded with the first, and only, ticket of my life!
I took my son to the courthouse to argue my case. The woman Judge was not very flexible. She said that “the tag must be in the field at all times”. My tag was on my pack, in the field. She then told me that the mistake was gutting and moving the downed buck. My friend, in trying to do me a favor, technically broke the law, for which I was ticketed. Oh Well!
The only good news about this story was that the Game Warden transported all 3 bucks and us to the truck 5 miles away. I looked at the ticket as the taxi ride fee.
Legal validation varies from state to state. Know what the rules are! The first thing you must do is tag the critter correctly. Fill out the tag completely and attach it to the critter. In Montana, many hunters use electric tape to secure the tag to the antler or a shin. I also have inserted the tag into the ear and safety pinned it. The tag needs to be secure enough so it will not blow off or get torn away.
The legal tag also needs Proof of Sex in some cases. Montana used to require that the sex parts stay attached. You can now remove them and place them in an attached sack.
In areas of CWD, the brain/head and spinal cord must not leave that zone. Some state supply zip tie tags, or other unique systems. All are designed to keep hunters honest and gather data for them and management purposes. Know the rules and follow them.
It is also important to stop at any check stations when traveling after the hunt. Even if you have not tagged out, hunters are required to stop. Other questions and issues may need to be addressed.
Most hunters are honest. Laws and regulations are needed to address the law breakers. These laws regulate poachers, not hunters.
For more Montana Grant, tag him at www.montanagrantfishing.com.