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Help your fellow hunter by following the law

• Nov 20, 2015 at 3:00 PM

This past Sunday, Nov. 15, marked the opening of firearms deer-hunting season across Michigan.

While thousands of blaze orange-clad hunters headed to the woods, one hunter was not sitting in his stand Sunday morning — Zeeland’s Derek Hassevort.

Hassevort recently pleaded guilty to illegally killing a mother bear, admitting that he knew the sow had cubs with it when he shot the female bear with his bow earlier this fall in Oceana County.

The media is having a field day with Hassevort’s recent case, using the situation to villainize all hunters — calling them ruthless killers, gun nuts and loose cannons — while throwing around words like butcher and slay to describe what was otherwise a legal hunt by Hassevort.

We in no way condone Hassevort’s actions. If he truly did know the bear he killed was a mother with cubs in tow, then he deserves to pay the price for his actions. He broke the law and jeopardized the life of those cubs. The fine he’ll have to pay, along with the loss of hunting privileges, are a very fair punishment to his crime.

Hunters everywhere need to realize that they’re held to a different standard.

The solution? Follow the law. Don’t trespass. Don’t harvest animals out of season. Learn the laws specific to where you hunt and the species you’re hunting, and follow them.

When you break game laws while hunting, you’re not only harming yourself, you’re hurting hunters everywhere, and dragging their collective name through the mud.

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