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Gun Digest Book of Long-Range Shooting, 2nd Edition This article is an excerpt from…

Gun Digest Book of Long-Range Shooting, 2nd Edition

Get the most recent advances in guns and gear to extend your range for hunting, informal target shooting, and formal competition. Discover new tools for long-range shooters both in the field and on the firing range, with coverage of new developments from advances in military applied combat theory. Learn more

 

 


Long-range shooting ethics.

 

Just because you can make a long-range shot on a game animal, doesn’t mean you necessarily should.

What I’m about to say at this point in the ranging story will not fly well with some, but it needs to be addressed.

I have a problem with big-game hunters over-extending range in order to bag a trophy deer, elk, or whatever. I do believe the big-game sport hunter needs to curb their range limits, so as not to wound game in the process.

While 600-, 800-, and 1,000-yard shots are very spectacular, I believe they need to be reserved for varmints and paper targets. Long-range shots on game are very workable, but long-range in this case should not exceed the dead-on killing limit of the cartridge and the shooter. In other words, give the animal you’re hunting a break by working toward a clean, humane kill.

At 400 to 1,000 yards, you know as well as I do that anything can happen to that bullet en route to the target, and the game animal will pay the price for a less than well-thought-out move on the hunter’s part.

Some time ago, I watched a television program in which hunters were shooting elk from one mountain across to another. That, my friends, is no longer hunting, but an exercise in the use of advanced ranging equipment, rifles, and big cartridges. At best, it is simply shooting and little more. Be responsible when using these new and, yes, very effective tools.

As we move steadily through the 21st century, we see new developments all the time in both guns and loads for long-range work. Word has it that some folks are in the process of building an ultra long-range sniper rifle off a Russian anti-tank gun system that will drive a bullet of about 37 millimeters to a target in the next county. There is also word that a 40mm sniper rifle is under development by still another group of experimenters. The point is to never say never, but always remember that nothing, regardless its size or design, takes the place of woodsmanship, shooting skill, basic know-how and, most of all, ethics, by the hunter in the field.

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11 COMMENTS

  1. I am 43, and have been deer hunting since I was about 15. My longest shot ever to down a deer is about 70 yards. I consider my range to be up to 100 yards. I hunt in Minnesota where it is a split of about 30% woods and 70% fields and prairie. I have in-laws in the Dakotas where, by necessity, they take longer shots because it is all wide open. You just aren’t ever going to get to with 50 yards of an animal where they are.

    Could I take shots of 250, 300, 400 yards? More? Sure. But I don’t. I don’t want to wound a deer, and frankly it isn’t fun to me. Hunting, to me, is about being outside in the elements. It is about understanding the deer’s habit and patterns, and being able to ever-so-slightly outwit them in nature. Taking a good, clean, CLOSE shot is just the icing on the cake for all the other homework you did.

    I am now teaching my kids how to hunt, and we have a few rules on shot selection. 1) Don’t shoot at running animals; 2) Don’t shoot anything if you can’t tell what it is with your naked eye (buck vs. doe, etc.). High-powered scopes are great but the animal should be close enough so you can look at it and say “hey, that’s a nice buck”. 3) No “what the heck” shots where you just do a hail mary and let it rip. If you shoot, it needs to be a well-placed, very high probability kill shot.

  2. While I do not favor long shots on game – I like to get as close as possible, after all it’s called hunting, not killing – I am not opposed to all of those who wish to take long shots. I am, however, opposed to the reasons why some “hunters” take those long shots.
    Some individuals practice and hone their shooting skills to make a long shot reasonable. They may have taken game at shorter ranges and wish to use their skills at long shots. No shot is necessarily a killing shot, at any distance, so if someone has the skill to make a long shot reasonable, I say go for it.
    On the other hand, I often read about hunters who, on their “hunt of a lifetime,” take a long shot on the last day of a hunt so as to (with luck) make the hunt “successful.” I don’t agree with that. If I had to kill an animal on every, or any, hunt for it to be “successful” I would have given up years ago.

  3. There seem to be fewer and fewer hunters today. When I was a young man I thought an old man I knew was the best hunter in the world. He used a single shot .22 short to hunt deer and always made a one shot kill. He always shot them between the eyes. He said any other place is a waste of meat. I think he could have used a big stick just as well. That man was a true hunter. He knew what the deer were going to do before the deer did and had the patience of Job. He did not get a deer every time, but he never wounded one either. He knew the game and he knew his weapon and had great faith in his ability to get close. I have tried to live up to his principles all my life. I am seventy now and still love to hunt, but most of it today is with a camera. That way I don’t have to drag or clean a carcass unless I have some one younger with me for the heavy lifting.

  4. I personally have seen a downgrade in woodsmanship and hunting skills since this tactical and long range shooting fad has hit the scene. You can get by with just about anything from 1,200 yards away but when within 20 yards when bowhunting you learn a lot what NOT to do and to pay close attention to EVERYTHING! This goes quadruple when on the ground actively stalking! Sure they can hit something at super long range, but SHOULD they? I’m not insecure enough to have to prove my marksmanship, I had enough of long range when was deployed. Hunting critters is all together different than hunting men!

  5. I have, in younger days, shot 1,000 yards with .308 Wincheater, .45-70 Gov’t, and .45 front stuffer. I am also a photographer, and between them I am very good at judging distance.
    I have made several long-ish one shot kills because I knew my capabilities and those of the rifle I was using- Whitetail at 320 yards, and a runing Elk at 130 yards. I have succesfully harvested near 100 deer with single shots.
    I can not tell you how many shots on a big DOE I have passed up, even those at less than 200 yards, because I could not guarantee myself of a clean one shot kill. Probably near two dozen. [I won’t shoot a buck unless there are NO doe present- bucks just don’t taste as good, and there are WAY too many doe!]
    I also can not tell you how many times I have had to trail someone elses’ shot deer because they were shooting further than they: (1) PRACTICED and (2) HAD AN INKLING OF THE DISTANCE. Probably well over 30.
    Last year I ran into a guy who hunts in the upper half of Virginia, and swore to me he was making 700 yard kills on Whitetails. I talked him into telling me where he was hunting, which is on a WMA open field, that is about 230 yards corner to corner.
    No, the vast majourity of people have no idea what a “distance” is unless they are standing on a foorbal or soccer field…

    • Oh, yea, forgot to mention, I doo NOT like to drag any game anilam any distence, much less an EXTRA 320 yards from my vehicle!
      Now I hunt facing the direction I came into the woods from, so it drops closer to my car than I am.

  6. I totally agree with afastchevy.

    Ethics in general don’t get enough attention in today’s society, but as hunters we are under the microscope by the anti hunting groups, and teaching our youth to be recless is just plain wrong.

    A serious hunter takes into account the probability of a humane kill as well as rapid retrieval of the animal. Neither is possible @ 1000+ yards.

    The use of social media and television to encourage high risk behavior continues to reinforce anti hunters and to disgust responsible people.

  7. Most hunters I know are once a year hunters, even the well healed ones. With their rushed and hurried lives they simply do not have the time or the tremendous amount of money that it takes to be a good field shot from the 3 major shooting positions , which are prone, sitting and standing. Most can barely hit a big game animal at 25 yards let alone at extended ranges but many do indeed blaze away at long range and hope for the best which often results in a horribly wounded animal left to linger and die a painful death. I have seen this happen many times in over 50 years of big game hunting when observing other hunters and what they do. Hunting under field conditions in bad weather and when one is fatigued is an entirely different experience then shooting off of a bench at the range or off the hood of a car which in my opinion should be illegal in all the States.

  8. I AGREE WITH THIS ARTICLE 100%….THIS SHOOTING INTO THE NEXT COUNTY,IS OUT OF HAND….TURN ON ONE OF THE HUNTING CHANNELS,AND YOUR CHANCES OF SEEING SOMEONE TAKE A 750 YARD SHOT OR LONGER ON AN ANIMAL,IS PRETTY GOOD…AS FAR AS IM CONCERNED,ITS GIVING THE WRONG MESSAGE ABOUT HUNTING,TO YOUNG PEOPLE IN PARTICULAR,AND ALL HUNTERS,IN GENERAL..THE BEST ONE YET,WAS A FIRST TIME ELK HUNTER,WHO JUST HAPPENED TO BE 11,TAKING AN ELK,AT 1376 YARDS,WITH HIS FATHERS COMPANY RIFLE..,WHO BY THE WAY,WAS STANDING BEHIND THE YOUNG HUNTER,GIVING HIM “WIND DOPE” INFO,BECAUSE THE FIRST SHOT,WAS HIGH!!!!!!!!…THE SECOND SHOT,FOUND ITS MARK,ALBEIT A LOW HIT,AND EVENTUALLY,THAT BULL,WENT ABOUT 75 YARDS,INTO A PILE,AT THE BASE OF A PINE TREE….THE ENTOURAGE,AT THAT POINT,WAS HIGH FIVEN,EACH OTHER,ETC,ETC……IT TOOK THEM ALMOST 5 HOURS,TO GET DOWN AND ACROSS THAT CANYON,BEFORE REACHING THAT ELK….THEN THE FATHER,WHO OWNS A NEWLY POPULAR GUN COMPANY,I WONT MENTION THEM,,,WHY GIVE ANY CREDENCE,TO THE COMPANY…JUSTIFIED,THAT HIS BOY IS QUALIFIED AND PROFICIENT,IN THOSE KIND OF SHOTS,BECAUSE,HE HAS SHOT TARGETS,AT THAT RANGE BEFORE… ARE YOU KIDDING ME…….JACK OCONNOR,MUST BE ROLLING OVER IN HIS GRAVE….I CAN ONLY IMAGINE,HOW MANY NEW TO HUNTING YOUNG PEOPLE,WILL LOOK AT THAT,AND SAY…..HOW COOL IS THAT!!!! WELL,HOW MANY WOUNDED ANIMALS,DO YOU THINK THERE WILL BE,BECAUSE OF THAT SPECTICLE….THIS IS NOT WHAT HUNTING IS ABOUT….THESE TV SHOWS,SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF THEMSELVES,LET ALONE THE FATHER OF THE 11 YEAR OLD,FIRST TIME ELK HUNTER…..
    ITS REALLY JUST,ALL ABOUT THE DOLLARS….SOMEONE WHO WATCHES THOSE SHOWS,FIGURES,HE HAS GOT TO HAVE ONE OF THOSE RIFLES,AND ON AND ON AND ON…….ITS JUST UNBELIEVEABLE…

  9. If this ethic is to be held in high regard then bow hunters need to stop hunting. Most bow hunters have to wait out the animal they hit for bleed out and then track the blood trail to find the animal. Sometimes darkness stops them from locating a hit animal and the next day is used to hopefully find a complete un-attacked carcass of their kill. Stopping the animal in their tracks is a perfect scenario but all to often if does not happen even up close with a cartridge fired shot. Humane is in the eyes of the shooter and will forever be. If your going to preach this then go over to the bowhunters page as well and be prepared for the outcome.