“The Longest Yard”
It seems that the more time goes on the more I hear about people harvesting game at longer and longer distances. Whether it be shooting a deer at over a hundred yards with a bow or shooting an elk at over a thousand yards with a rifle, their has been a steady increase of the frequency of these stories. Along with these stories usually comes a blitzkrieg of criticism which is inevitably followed by some harsh words. I read it on forums all of the time. Someone posts a story of how they took an animal at X distance and how proud they are of this accomplishment. Half of the people give the guy crap for shooting too far and the other half applaud him for making such an incredible shot. Where do I stand in all of this? Usually, in the middle. Like all arguments, there are two sides, and I understand them both. This topic walks a thin line between ethics and skill, both of which need to cohesively exist is order to make an accurate judgement on what is too far of a shot.
Taking a long shot definitely can strike an ethical chord in a good amount of folks, and for good reasons. It isn’t fair to the game that we pursue for us to just start flinging arrows and bullets at them, wondering if we are going to hit them or not. To not know if you are going to kill that animal when you squeeze the trigger should be a wake up call. If you hold any deal of care about our wildlife, you will take that into consideration.
As far as being ethically sound is concerned, I think that is going to vary from person to person. We are all our own individuals with differentiating views and skill levels. What is a good shot for one, may not be the best shot for another. It is our job though, to be honest with ourselves so we can make the right choice. Are you going to pull the trigger or try and get closer?
A few variables to consider are:
- How windy is it?
- Is the animal in a relaxed state?
- Are you in a relaxed state?
- How confident are you in taking a shot at that distance?
I will be the first to say that we are not all created equal. There are just some individuals that are absolute monsters on the range and continue to impress everyone around them with their undeniable skill levels. This should not go unnoticed in the mountains. Far shots are EXTREMELY common out west and if you train for them, I don’t see why one shouldn’t take them if all other variables are sound. Once again, this all comes back to being honest with yourself. Just because your friend got a perfect shot on a deer at over a hundred yards with his bow, doesn’t mean that you should try that out. Your skill level is going to depend on your commitment. You ABSOLUTELY can become a great long distance shooter with a lot of hard work and patience. Isn’t that how we get good at anything?
Where skill borders on ethics though is when you start talking about the animal moving before the arrow or bullet actually gets to them. That is something that you cannot control and also deserves your attention. I don’t care how good of a shot you are on paper, it isn’t going to help you if that deer decides to take a few steps while your arrow is sailing through the air. Heck, depending on the distance, it might mean that you miss the animal completely!
With the ever advancing world of technology hunters are starting to get more and more proficient with their gear. Bows are getting faster and faster putting those longer shots more in reach. More speed equals farther shots and greater kinetic energy down range, making kills a lot more possible. Does that mean that we should take them though? Maybe. However, just because we can do something, doesn’t always mean that we should do something. I feel that we should take advantage of these great technological jumps, but at the same time remain true to ourselves and not take the hunting out of hunting. For instance, bowhunting has always been about the challenge of getting close and having that intimate experience with the animal. I am not saying that we should all be traditionalists with our bows, but I am saying that we shouldn’t forget why we hunt with archery equipment. The same holds true with rifle hunting. With all of the advancements in rifle scopes, that 1000 yard shot keeps getting closer and closer with 500-600 yard shots being extremely common in today’s world.
In the end it is ultimately up to you. All of the above mentioned can severely influence how well you will place that bullet or arrow. I am telling you from personal experience that taking an unethical shot will stick with you forever. One might say that it was a good thing that this happened to me. That had it not happened, I wouldn’t have learned the valuable lesson that I did. We are not perfect and we indeed make mistakes, but hopefully I have influenced you to think twice. Trust me, it isn’t worth it not to. It could be the difference between you coming home with a clear conscience and coming home sick to your stomach. Let me know how you feel about the subject in the comments below!