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joshtribe 12-03-2004 05:22 PM

The Ethics of Shooting a Running Deer
Ok folks,

Here is a scenerio that just happened earlier today involving my dad and my brother. They went out to hunt this afternoon, I already got my deer so I stayed at home. Before they went into the woods where we have our blind, they figured they'd flush the deer out of an adjacent woods that we also have permission to hunt in. The plan was to push these deer into the woods where the blind is located, then they would sneak into the blind and wait for them to approach. It was getting a little late in the afternoon, so they were in a hurry. They had to walk along the edge of a field where they didn't have permission to hunt in order to get to the woods they planned to drive. They were not prepared, they didn't have a plan, their guns weren't at the ready, and most importantly, they were not prepared mentally. My brother was in the lead with my dad following him as they approached the woods. All of the sudden, a doe leaps out of the woods heading in the opposite direction they wanted the deer to run. My brother fumbled madly with the safety. Then a good sized 6 pt buck leapt out after the doe. Without thinking, my brother raised his shotgun and fired, pumped, and fired again. He saw no reaction from the buck, so he thinks he missed.

Here's the deal. My brother is a really a safety-oriented, level-headed, ethical hunter, but there for a brief moment, he lost his cool in the rush of buck fever. And he feels really really depressed about the whole thing...he's beating himself up over it pretty bad. Because, (1) the buck was in the field he didn't have permission to hunt in, (2) he didn't stop and think about what was beyond his target (roads, houses, other hunters, etc.), and (3) the buck was running...he broke his self-imposed restriction of not shooting at a running deer.

On the first two counts, he was wrong, but as far as shooting at a running that wrong? The reasoning behind his philosophy, a philosophy I find myself agreeing with, is the fact that when shooting at a running deer, the risk of a non-lethal shot is greatly increased. We believe in the "one shot, one kill" idea, so the thought of maiming a deer doesn't agree with us. Secondly, he believes that when shooting at a running deer, the shooter has a tendency to not think about what is beyond his target...there is not enough time to analyze the risk.

I was just wondering what all of you more experienced hunters think about shooting a running deer. Would you condemn it or condone it?


davidmor 12-03-2004 06:13 PM

RE: The Ethics of Shooting a Running Deer
Although I will take a standing shot over a running shot any day of the week, if you drive hunt, you will take running shots. I have two groups of guys I hunt with. One group only does stand hunting so the deer are almost always standing still. This my favorite way to hunt. The other group I hunt with we stand hunt in the mornings, drive the middle of the day, and stand hunt in the evenings. We are extremely safety oriented and we all know where everyone else is, where our safe shooting lanes are, and most importantly where we CANNOT shoot. We all have radios so the drivers are always in contact with the shooters so that the shooters know when the drivers are coming out of the woods. We also set the shooters so they are either far enough apart to be safe (we use slug guns), or use the lay of the land to create barriers between us so an accidential shooting would be impossible. My opinion is that drive hunting shouldn't be done with rifles. IMO it is just too dangerous. Yes the risk of a non-lethal shot goes up on a running deer but that is where self control comes in. If the deer is running away from you, don't shoot. If it is running towards you, you need to know your shooting skill level before pulling the trigger. I personally don't shoot if they are running at me. (one exception, 3 years ago I broadside shot a buck through the lungs and he turned and charged me. I shot him in the chest and killed him. Then I changed my shorts!) If they are running broadside I will shoot. Out of all the running deer we have shot, I can only think of a few that we actually needed to track and kill. All of the rest either dropped in their tracks or only went less than 50 yards before piling up. I guess the ethics involved is directly related to your shooting skill level. If you can't hit a moving target, you shouldn't be shooting at running deer. That would not be ethical IMO.

UncleBubba 12-03-2004 07:18 PM

RE: The Ethics of Shooting a Running Deer
I have taken a few running shots during the days of dog hunting and never missed a deer with a lever action Marlin. A scope gun is a much different story.
He should not beat himself up for taking the shot but should exhaust all efforts to track a possible kill.

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