A shot too far

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I spoke to a good friend who has never hunted with a bow and arrow until he bought a crossbow two years ago. We discussed how the season played out and he told me he shot a beautiful ten point a few days before the archery season ended. I was happy for him because of his fine trophy, but my elation soon turned to concern after he told me the details of the hunt.

“I was hunting a friend’s farm and saw this buck step out of the woods and he began feeding in the picked corn field,” my friend informed me.  He went on to explain how he put the crosshairs behind the buck’s shoulder and squeezed the trigger.  “It was a great shot and he didn’t go far,” my friend said.  What concerned me though was the distance he said he shot the deer. “85 yards,” he said with a big smile.

Being a gun hunter for almost fifty years my friend thought nothing of taking an 85-yard shot even if it was with a crossbow. I felt I had to say something.

“Deer are quick, agile and nervous creatures who you know are constantly alert to danger. An arrow is not a bullet, and in the amount of time it takes an arrow to reach a seemingly calm deer, the animal can react to the sound of the shot and it could lead to a totally unwanted result,” I explained.

I went on to tell him that most experienced bowhunters have had deer duck the string at the sound of the shot and the results are almost never good. I went on to explain that in addition to taking a shot this long the arrow is at the mercy of the wind and even a slight gust or perhaps an unseen twig could affect its flight resulting in a wounded animal.

No one wants to gut shoot a deer or to lose one so, at the risk of sounding like I was envious of his success and that I was preaching to an experienced hunter, I risked voicing my opinion further about taking a shot that long and calmly enumerated the things that could have gone wrong.  Thankfully, my friend wasn’t offended and hopefully what I said sunk in.

I can’t blame him or anyone else for that matter for taking long shots at deer because several manufacturers of crossbows tout their accuracy out to a hundred yards. It was last season when one crossbow manufacturer placed ads in several outdoor magazines that said, “Meet your new rifle.”

Another manufacturer boasted minute of angle accuracy from their top-of-the-line crossbow model. Personally, I was taken aback by these ads because in my opinion they were sending the wrong message to newly minted bowhunters. Before the letters come pouring in about this being an anti-crossbow piece, it is not. It makes no difference to me as to what device a person uses to hunt deer because these decisions are personal.

My concern is that taking too long a shot or taking a questionable shot can possibly result in a positive outcome such as in my friend’s case, or it can make us regret our decision. To some, killing a deer and then assuming “bragging rights” is all that matters, but personal ethics will enable us to sleep better at night knowing the long shot we passed up means the hunt can continue and that a fine animal won’t be wasted.

Categories: Bloggers on Hunting, New York – Mike Raykovicz, Whitetail Deer

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