DVS/Hunter Ethics Award goes to Cody Hanson
BARNEVELD—Cody Hanson, of Plum City, was awarded the 2017 Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Ethical Hunter Award by Chief Warden Todd Schaller of the DNR and Nick Laufenberg, of Vortex Optics, in Barneveld.
The award was presented May 17, 2018 at the new Vortex Optics Headquarters. Vortex Optics, a worldwide company, has been a corporate sponsor for the award the past two years, gifting the ethical hunter an item from their line of rifle scopes, binoculars and rangefinders manufactured in Barneveld.
Hanson was hunting with Payton Koff, 13, opening day of 2017 Wisconsin gun deer season, on public land in Pierce County.
"A nice eight-point buck came and stood 12 yards from our ground blind," Hanson said. "I told Payton to hold off until we could see better. It was just a bit too dark to make sure of what may have been beyond the target."
The two hunters sat for a few minutes, watching and whispering, and then the buck ran off.
"We were right to wait I told Payton. I know he was bummed not being able to take the shot, but better safe than sorry," Hanson recalls telling Payton. "It's the first day in the season and another buck is likely to come along."
But none did. The two hunters finished the season without shooting any deer, but with memories and making plans for the 2018 deer season.
Payton's mom, Pauline Koff, nominated Cody for the ethical hunter award after hearing the story of how he rightfully explained to her son the ethical thing to do.
"They still had fun and were very excited about seeing a buck that close," Pauline said.
"About 50 years ago my great-grandfather was shot while hunting on public land when another hunter mistook him for a deer during poor light conditions," Cody said. "The hunter just didn't know his target for sure. That ended my great-grandfather's hunting, and everything else."
After the season, Cody and Payton talked more and realized the special moments they had with a buck standing 12 yards away.
In discussing the nominations, Steve Dewald, one of the four committee members explained that every hunter understands the need to follow the law.
"However, this year's ethical hunter went beyond the legal requirements, holding himself and a young companion to a higher standard," Dewald said. "By reinforcing the importance of also being ethical in the presence of a young hunter, his actions fit the theme of the award, which is behavior that reflects positively on the tradition of hunting."
Bob Lamb, another committee member who, along with Dewald, helped to initiate the award said, "There was a great group of nominations for the 2017 award, but this one stood out because of the ethical behavior shown toward the young hunter by his older companion.
"Although shooting hours were legally open, the young hunter listened to his companion, followed his suggestions, and also remembered his hunter education of knowing your target and what is beyond," Lamb added. "This example of ethical behavior is exactly what this award is all about."
The Ethical Hunter award was created in 1997, by Lamb, Dewald and Jerry Davis, all of whom are committee members along with Warden Schaller.
Nominations for the 2018 award are due Jan. 15, 2019 and can be sent to Warden Schaller, any committee member, or any Wisconsin DNR field warden.
Submitted by freelance writer Jerry Davis