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Thursday, April 10, 2014
Lead cover up
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Outdoor robbery

Long-range shooting becoming an issue for big game hunters
The word “ethics” is one you will seldom, if ever, see me writing about. Why? Because “ethics” can mean totally different things to different people, and what someone considers “unethical”, may be considered totally ethical to someone else.

On the one side of the discussion you will find those anti-hunters who consider any hunting whatsoever as “unethical,” and members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) who even consider fishing as unethical. On the other side are hunters and fishermen who consider their sports as challenging and healthy, resulting in the utilization of a natural resources and good, healthy food. And within the law, and the confines of the North American Wildlife Conservation Model that has governed hunting practices for decades.

Even within the hunting and fishing communities, however, you have those who consider some things unethical. The recent “hunting” of wild pigs from helicopters in some states where the pigs are causing untold damage comes to mind. Is that unethical? Not really, but I wouldn’t, personally, exactly put it at the top of my wish list for a hunting experience.

Some consider hunting with bears as unethical. I know a lot about that one, since I’ve been on many, many bear hunts with and without hounds. And anyone who thinks a hound hunt for bears is easy, simply doesn’t know anything whatsoever about what that entails. It’s all in the eyes of the beholder, and it’s none of my business how other sportsmen enjoying their sport, as long as it’s within the law.

The new issue raising its head in the hunting community, however, is that of long-range shooting when applied to hunting. According to the Boone and Crockett Club, “the ethical issue isn’t the 350-yard shot. The real concern, as Boone and Crockett sees it, is hunters not trying to get a closer one.”

This, of course, is the result of improved and specialized guns, gear, bullets and optics that have made it easier and easier to make accurate shots at what used to be unheard of distances.

B& C posed the question: “But many hunters wonder how it all fits with traditional, ethical standards. How far is too far to be considered fair chase?” Well, Boone and Crockett has adopted a new position statement to help define the ethics of taking game from long range. “It’s not about distance; it’s about intent,” said Bill Demmer, B & C Club president.

He explained, “Hunters have varying degrees of marksmanship skills and capabilities. Some are steady only out to 100 yards. Others are very efficient at much longer distances. All kinds of field conditions also factor into what is or isn’t an ethical shot. So, within reasonable sideboards, it’s impossible to use distance as a measurement of fair chase.”

But the Club firmly takes issue with hunters who choose shooting long rather than trying to get close. They say that intent is what separates hunting from merely shooting a live target.

For me? I prefer the closer the better, and I’ve learned that from many, many guided hunts with professional guides who will always try and get their hunter as close to the quarry as possible for the final shot. There’s the rush of the adrenalin coursing through your body as you close the distance; the unknown of a possible errant breeze sending your scent to the quarry; and the untold pride of pulling the trigger on a big game animal in close range that has no idea you’re anywhere around.

Personally, I will always hunt as close as I can in preference to spotting an animal I want and pulling a trigger at 400, 500 or even 600 yards. Heck, I can hardly see a deer at that range! But that is a shot that some can now make most every time they pull the trigger if they have the equipment and shooting ability.

But is that “unethical”? I’m not going there. All I’m going to say is that you won’t ever see me doing that. The closer the better, and the vast majority of big game animals I’ve shot in my life have been at 100 yards or less. And I like it that way.

Reader Comments
Totally agree, this long range shooting is punk and not for hunters. It is more shoot and pray, in My opinion. 98 % of them can not and will not make a ethical shot. They need to learn to hunt and get within at least 300 yards or less, or not shoot. As for the bear hunting, correct, those that condemm it have never tried it. They would not and could not last five minutes on a lawful/legal bear hunt, just the walking would do them in.
Bill K
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