Bylaws for your hunting club should contain rules that govern the day-to-day operation of the club. The bylaws should be tailored to local conditions that affect the club, its relationship with landowners(s), and the well-being of the land and wildlife resources. They should be kept simple, brief and understandable for the benefit of the members and yourself. Bylaws that are too complicated and detailed for the basic needs of the club are hard to manage or enforce adequately. Bylaws should be written to address the needs and operation of the club or group’s interest and be flexible enough to add other rules, as needed, based on the club/group’s growth, changing needs, changing wildlife regulations, or changes you see a need to make. Some examples of items that need to be considered when drafting bylaws are as follows:
Guest privileges and/or regulations.
If your lessor and your club agree to grant guest privileges, each club member needs to be aware of the clubs regulations concerning inviting guests. It is recommended that you have a waiver for members and for guest(s) to sign, a sheet of hunting safety tips and any club or lessor restrictions or hazards (may need to include a map of the leased area) that they need to be aware of on the property.
Safety for members, for the landowners, and/or property.
In an effort to minimize the chances of an accident or damage to the land or animal population, it is recommended that you not have more hunters than the acreage will accommodate safely. Keep in mind that a .30-06 bullet can travel 1,000 yards.
Land management and stewardship of the property.
Remember that you would like to hunt for years to come and depleting the populations of game or fowl, by taking too many in a given year, may ruin your hunting for the future. Always be respectful of your landowners property by not leaving your trash or making paths that can erode with subsequent weather conditions. Remember, you would like to have your lease renewed next year.
Appropriate disciplinary procedures for all members and guests, if allowed.
It is always easier to have your plan(s) for discipline laid out ahead of time and your members aware of the action to be taken than to have to come up with an “action plan” after the fact. It will save accidents, broken friendships and withdrawn leases.
Rules of the hunt for all participants.
All hunters need to abide by the state laws, bylaws of the club and restriction of the landowner(s). Important considerations are distances to be kept between hunters, number of hunters allowed on the property on any given day, etc. Alcohol consumption should be strictly prohibited while hunting. It is recommended that children younger than 14 not be in the field with hunters. They are not as visible, due to their size, and are not old enough to hunt in most states.
Strict adherence to all state and federal wildlife regulations.
Be sure everyone is properly licensed and knowledgeable about the laws regarding hunting in your state.
Functional/operational committees, such as camp operation and maintenance, stand or blind placement and maintenance, food and cooks for organized hunts, and such.
Organization prevents confusion and arguments once you arrive at the hunting or camping site. Someone needs to be appointed the leader for the day so there is a “go to” person if problems arise.
Maintenance of appropriate member and landowner(s) relations.
It is very important that all the club members and guests work at keeping the landowner(s) interests in mind. You are on their property by “good faith” that you will respect his land and restrictions. We recommend that a list of all your hunters be given to the landowner so that they know whom has permission to be on their land.
If management for quality deer management is a club/group objective, this needs to be made clear in the bylaws.
There may be some expectations by your landowner in regards to how he wants this done so be sure to have a clear understanding with the lessor in this matter.
Any club/group self-imposed management requirements, such as no dogs, use of trailing dogs for retrieving cripples, or for flushing game. Are other species allowed to be hunted during regulated seasons, such as turkey, squirrels, raccoons, waterfowl and such, and doves? Obviously hunting club/group bylaws are essential for many organized hunting operations, and if you have concerns about the legality of the bylaws and their enforcement, you may consult a lawyer. Clearly one of the most important considerations must be that all members and invited guests must understand and agree in writing to the adopted bylaws for them to be useful and effective. The items listed above for consideration are not all you need to consider. The list can be expanded based on the desires and needs of you and the membership. These guidelines are as important for a group /club of 2-3 members as they are for larger clubs, being organized helps prevent accidents. If you are hunting alone, be sure someone knows you are hunting and where you are planning to go.