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Q:
Would you shoot at a running animal (particularly deer)? I was in the barber shop the other day and saw an article in a hunting magazine and the guy that wrote it said he would and had killed lots of deer and bear that way. I wouldn't, but I don't have much experience. I think even if you can you shouldn't, because sooner or later you will miss and running game just makes it easier to miss. I miss deer standing still. So, would you do it?

Question by Chewylouie. Uploaded on December 15, 2012

Answers (19)

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from 99explorer wrote 1 year 18 weeks ago

There was a time when deer populations were so low that running shots were not frowned upon as they are today.
I found many deer carcasses in the woods, probably a great distance from where they were shot.
Shooting at running deer today is borderline unethical, IMO.

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from Pathfinder1 wrote 1 year 18 weeks ago

Hi...

Lots of hunters have killed running deer. Before the advent of tree stands, bait piles, lures, etc., most deer seen in the wild were not standing still.

If you can get the running deer in your sights, you should be able to hit it. I also understand that not everyone is a marksman, though.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 18 weeks ago

Good post. I wouldn't shoot at running game as well. And from a safety standpoint. Guys post about there NEVER being an excuse for not knowing what is in your background when you shoot for safety reasons. Virtually impossible to do so in many situations if you shoot at running game. And, as you say, far easier to wound, and never recover a deer.

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from DakotaMan wrote 1 year 18 weeks ago

I can and do shoot running game, especially coyotes, deer and antelope. Most of them that I have shot have been on the run. I trained at an early age to do so with lots of practice and thousands of rounds. I also grew up shooting doves, ducks, geese and quail on the fly daily and that is similar but much more challenging. To me, a deer looks like a mighty big target in my sights compared to fleet and dodging quail.

Where hunters sit in a tree stand and wait for deer to wander in, shooting running game is usually frowned on. In those situations, deer are usually posing for the shot. I suspect that those hunters also wait for their ducks to land before shooting and I don't know how they get a quail.

If you stalk in open canyons and walk prairie draws or if you block in the neck of a timber while other hunters scare them around, most of your shots will be on the run. If you shoot multiple antelope out of a single herd, your second shot is almost always a rapidly moving one. As with all rifle shots, you must first be aware of safety and where your bullet may land.

A miss has no affect on the deer but the risk is that too short a lead will place a shot in the hind quarters, ruining a lot of meat. That is a risk but quite rare if you are prepared and take good shots.

I shoot a 25-06 to reduce the risk of a bad lead and have never actually hit a deer in the hind quarters but it IS a risk. I do not like hunters that are not prepared taking such shots though because they do have a chance of crippling animals needlessly. These need to be well aimed shots with a good rifle and lots of practice.

In shooting deer running through the trees, I try to find an opening ahead of the deer and wait until they cross it. If this is not possible, I take well aimed shots and accept shooting a tree on occassion. That is why reloading for a second or third shot quicklly is necessary to get the deer before it is out of sight. I have never crippled a deer nor lost one. They are usually located right where I hit them if not a few feet from that location. I have on rare occassion seen antelope hit two inches from the heart roll and run a quarter of a mile; but that happens when they are standing still too. They are tough critters. The saving grace there is that they are on the open prairie and you can watch them until they fall dead.

Even if you call coyotes, it is common for multiple animals to approach so running shots are necessary unless you want to limit yourself to one coyote. If you want to be a better hunter, it pays to practice and master running shots. If you don't do that, it is far better to hold your shot for a poser.

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from ITHACASXS wrote 1 year 18 weeks ago

Yes I would and have and will again when the shot is close and clear.

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from crm3006 wrote 1 year 18 weeks ago

As DakotaMan points out, clearly and in detail, it is not very hard to make a shot on running game, especially something as large as a deer, with practice. I think a lot depends on the type of hunting you do, and your skill and confidence in yourself and your rifle. If you don't have the confidence, don't try the running shot.
As an aside, I tend to wonder how the great shotgun expert who posts above manages to hit moving ducks and upland birds? Does he shoot on the pond and ground? The world wonders.

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from 1ojolsen wrote 1 year 18 weeks ago

I have shot 5 or 6 deer in the run. Stay calm and its not too hard. We used to take a tire and secure a target in the center and roll it down a hill for target practice. Works great.

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from bruisedsausage wrote 1 year 18 weeks ago

Yup, I shoot running game (not at them) Obviously not entirely ideal, but I have 100% confidence in my abilities and won't pull the trigger unless I feel comfortable. Maybe things are a bit different out here in the West but it's not exactly uncommon.

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from WILLHAM48 wrote 1 year 18 weeks ago

It all depends on how much you practice, and how confident you are in your shooting skill. If you think you are going to wound the deer, or give it a slow death, then don't take the shot.

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from DakotaMan wrote 1 year 18 weeks ago

I have a dear friend who was born and bred in the South. He is a VERY good hunter (he has won the state turkey calling championship in Georgia, South Carolina and Florida). I was turkey hunting with him a few years ago. We were having a tough time finding turkeys and it was almost time to go.

He finally called in a big old turkey and it stopped about 75 yards away. Then, unexpectedly, it took wing and flew right over his head. I followed it in and away but waited for him to take his shot. It never came!

I asked him why he didn't shoot the turkey. He looked shocked and said, you can't shoot turkeys while they are flying. Wow! There IS a difference out there in the West bruiedsausage. That turkey's head was easiliy twice the size of a quail and it was flying real straight and real slow... pretty easy shot. I have noticed that people make up their own ethics rules all over the country and they vary considerably from locale to locale.

Now living in Georgia, I notice that southeasterners seem to get upset if you shoot running deer. In South Dakota and Wyoming, hunters seem to laugh at those who wait for their game to pose. As a matter of fact, I've heard the phrase "He must like deer tag soup!" muttered more than once while eastern hunters watched big muleys run away.

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from Chewylouie wrote 1 year 18 weeks ago

In the woods (in the east) it is harder to see deer and when they run you only have a tiny space of time to shoot before you can no longer see them. I can see how in the west where it is more open, it would be easier to get a shot at a running target, because you can see it longer. Also, there would be a better chance of me deciding to make a shot if I hd iron sight, instead of a scope.

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from 99explorer wrote 1 year 18 weeks ago

In the eastern woodlands, a typical running deer scenario is the sight of a bobbing white tail bouncing away through the thicket after you have been busted.

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from crm3006 wrote 1 year 18 weeks ago

In Texas, we have such varied terrain that shots tend to be anything from standing broadside to shooting through an opening in the brush. At times, deer just will not cooperate by standing still and broadside. That is when you either trust in yourself and your shooting skill, or eat your tags. I never thought of it as a matter of ethics, just a matter of whether you got your deer or came back to camp and told about the one that got away.

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from scratchgolf72 wrote 1 year 18 weeks ago

i have and will shoot moving deer. all of my targets have been within 50 yards using a centerfire rifle, no different then swinging through a crossing pheasant with a shotgun. throw up the rifle, get on him in the scope, swing with him and squeeze when it looks right. it usually happens quick to its just instinct.

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from DEER30 wrote 1 year 18 weeks ago

I have taken shots at running deer as well. Usually with success. I am not shooting at a running deer 200 yrds out, but a running deer under a 100 is a shot that can be made.

But I have also passed on running deer when I didn't think I could pull it off.

It depends on your skill level, confidence, and the environment.

If you are confident that your skill level can put a running deer down quickly and cleanly, then it is ethical. If you do not pocess the skill and are just spraying bullets hoping to hit something, than do everyone a favor and wait until the deer stops or for the next one.

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from scratchgolf72 wrote 1 year 18 weeks ago

you probably watch a lot of hunting shows on TV dont you? where the deer steps out into the field, the guy picks up his binoculars and looks it over for 20 before finally deciding to shoot it after it stands picture perfect for a broadside shot...

doesnt happen like that in the real world, as stated above you will be eating a lot of tag soup in certain places of the country if you cant hit running game. it was a necessary skill when i grew up hunting in southwest PA.

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from Chewylouie wrote 1 year 18 weeks ago

scratchgolf-I don't watch a single hunting show. I have almost shot at a running deer before but it stop just before I shot so I had a still target. Were I hunt, if a deer is running, then it is running away from you, so you don't have a shot, or, you don't have enough time to get your gun up before it is gone again.

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from DakotaMan wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

99, I understand what you are saying about the eastern woodlands. When I first arrived in Georgia, I went on a hunt through those woodlands and was amazed to see the density of the timber and how I could walk for 20 miles without seeing a clearing or a pasture. I was trained to be ready though, expecting to get a shot off in about a second or less. I was taught that when that tail goes up, the deer tend to bound so even though they are going away, their head and shoulders often clear the brush on their upward leap. My aim goes high ahead of the tail and I pick up their head as it rises.

I shot one like that a couple years ago. It jumped up 30 yards from me and bounded toward a canyon 15 yards away. I hit it high just behind the front shoulder when it was about six feet off the ground. It flew over the canyon edge before it hit the ground and rolled all the way to the bottom of the canyon. I thought it unusual that my southern friend was still watching as I lowered my rifle. I think it is different training more than anything.

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from scratchgolf72 wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

chewylouie...its called a texas heart shot...crosshairs go right where the tail connects to the body, shattering the spine and driving that bullet all the way up into the chest cavity...can make for a messy gut job but with a good bullet a sure kill.

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from Pathfinder1 wrote 1 year 18 weeks ago

Hi...

Lots of hunters have killed running deer. Before the advent of tree stands, bait piles, lures, etc., most deer seen in the wild were not standing still.

If you can get the running deer in your sights, you should be able to hit it. I also understand that not everyone is a marksman, though.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from DakotaMan wrote 1 year 18 weeks ago

I can and do shoot running game, especially coyotes, deer and antelope. Most of them that I have shot have been on the run. I trained at an early age to do so with lots of practice and thousands of rounds. I also grew up shooting doves, ducks, geese and quail on the fly daily and that is similar but much more challenging. To me, a deer looks like a mighty big target in my sights compared to fleet and dodging quail.

Where hunters sit in a tree stand and wait for deer to wander in, shooting running game is usually frowned on. In those situations, deer are usually posing for the shot. I suspect that those hunters also wait for their ducks to land before shooting and I don't know how they get a quail.

If you stalk in open canyons and walk prairie draws or if you block in the neck of a timber while other hunters scare them around, most of your shots will be on the run. If you shoot multiple antelope out of a single herd, your second shot is almost always a rapidly moving one. As with all rifle shots, you must first be aware of safety and where your bullet may land.

A miss has no affect on the deer but the risk is that too short a lead will place a shot in the hind quarters, ruining a lot of meat. That is a risk but quite rare if you are prepared and take good shots.

I shoot a 25-06 to reduce the risk of a bad lead and have never actually hit a deer in the hind quarters but it IS a risk. I do not like hunters that are not prepared taking such shots though because they do have a chance of crippling animals needlessly. These need to be well aimed shots with a good rifle and lots of practice.

In shooting deer running through the trees, I try to find an opening ahead of the deer and wait until they cross it. If this is not possible, I take well aimed shots and accept shooting a tree on occassion. That is why reloading for a second or third shot quicklly is necessary to get the deer before it is out of sight. I have never crippled a deer nor lost one. They are usually located right where I hit them if not a few feet from that location. I have on rare occassion seen antelope hit two inches from the heart roll and run a quarter of a mile; but that happens when they are standing still too. They are tough critters. The saving grace there is that they are on the open prairie and you can watch them until they fall dead.

Even if you call coyotes, it is common for multiple animals to approach so running shots are necessary unless you want to limit yourself to one coyote. If you want to be a better hunter, it pays to practice and master running shots. If you don't do that, it is far better to hold your shot for a poser.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from crm3006 wrote 1 year 18 weeks ago

As DakotaMan points out, clearly and in detail, it is not very hard to make a shot on running game, especially something as large as a deer, with practice. I think a lot depends on the type of hunting you do, and your skill and confidence in yourself and your rifle. If you don't have the confidence, don't try the running shot.
As an aside, I tend to wonder how the great shotgun expert who posts above manages to hit moving ducks and upland birds? Does he shoot on the pond and ground? The world wonders.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 1ojolsen wrote 1 year 18 weeks ago

I have shot 5 or 6 deer in the run. Stay calm and its not too hard. We used to take a tire and secure a target in the center and roll it down a hill for target practice. Works great.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 99explorer wrote 1 year 18 weeks ago

There was a time when deer populations were so low that running shots were not frowned upon as they are today.
I found many deer carcasses in the woods, probably a great distance from where they were shot.
Shooting at running deer today is borderline unethical, IMO.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 18 weeks ago

Good post. I wouldn't shoot at running game as well. And from a safety standpoint. Guys post about there NEVER being an excuse for not knowing what is in your background when you shoot for safety reasons. Virtually impossible to do so in many situations if you shoot at running game. And, as you say, far easier to wound, and never recover a deer.

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from ITHACASXS wrote 1 year 18 weeks ago

Yes I would and have and will again when the shot is close and clear.

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from bruisedsausage wrote 1 year 18 weeks ago

Yup, I shoot running game (not at them) Obviously not entirely ideal, but I have 100% confidence in my abilities and won't pull the trigger unless I feel comfortable. Maybe things are a bit different out here in the West but it's not exactly uncommon.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from WILLHAM48 wrote 1 year 18 weeks ago

It all depends on how much you practice, and how confident you are in your shooting skill. If you think you are going to wound the deer, or give it a slow death, then don't take the shot.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from DakotaMan wrote 1 year 18 weeks ago

I have a dear friend who was born and bred in the South. He is a VERY good hunter (he has won the state turkey calling championship in Georgia, South Carolina and Florida). I was turkey hunting with him a few years ago. We were having a tough time finding turkeys and it was almost time to go.

He finally called in a big old turkey and it stopped about 75 yards away. Then, unexpectedly, it took wing and flew right over his head. I followed it in and away but waited for him to take his shot. It never came!

I asked him why he didn't shoot the turkey. He looked shocked and said, you can't shoot turkeys while they are flying. Wow! There IS a difference out there in the West bruiedsausage. That turkey's head was easiliy twice the size of a quail and it was flying real straight and real slow... pretty easy shot. I have noticed that people make up their own ethics rules all over the country and they vary considerably from locale to locale.

Now living in Georgia, I notice that southeasterners seem to get upset if you shoot running deer. In South Dakota and Wyoming, hunters seem to laugh at those who wait for their game to pose. As a matter of fact, I've heard the phrase "He must like deer tag soup!" muttered more than once while eastern hunters watched big muleys run away.

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from Chewylouie wrote 1 year 18 weeks ago

In the woods (in the east) it is harder to see deer and when they run you only have a tiny space of time to shoot before you can no longer see them. I can see how in the west where it is more open, it would be easier to get a shot at a running target, because you can see it longer. Also, there would be a better chance of me deciding to make a shot if I hd iron sight, instead of a scope.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from 99explorer wrote 1 year 18 weeks ago

In the eastern woodlands, a typical running deer scenario is the sight of a bobbing white tail bouncing away through the thicket after you have been busted.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from crm3006 wrote 1 year 18 weeks ago

In Texas, we have such varied terrain that shots tend to be anything from standing broadside to shooting through an opening in the brush. At times, deer just will not cooperate by standing still and broadside. That is when you either trust in yourself and your shooting skill, or eat your tags. I never thought of it as a matter of ethics, just a matter of whether you got your deer or came back to camp and told about the one that got away.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from scratchgolf72 wrote 1 year 18 weeks ago

i have and will shoot moving deer. all of my targets have been within 50 yards using a centerfire rifle, no different then swinging through a crossing pheasant with a shotgun. throw up the rifle, get on him in the scope, swing with him and squeeze when it looks right. it usually happens quick to its just instinct.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from DEER30 wrote 1 year 18 weeks ago

I have taken shots at running deer as well. Usually with success. I am not shooting at a running deer 200 yrds out, but a running deer under a 100 is a shot that can be made.

But I have also passed on running deer when I didn't think I could pull it off.

It depends on your skill level, confidence, and the environment.

If you are confident that your skill level can put a running deer down quickly and cleanly, then it is ethical. If you do not pocess the skill and are just spraying bullets hoping to hit something, than do everyone a favor and wait until the deer stops or for the next one.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from scratchgolf72 wrote 1 year 18 weeks ago

you probably watch a lot of hunting shows on TV dont you? where the deer steps out into the field, the guy picks up his binoculars and looks it over for 20 before finally deciding to shoot it after it stands picture perfect for a broadside shot...

doesnt happen like that in the real world, as stated above you will be eating a lot of tag soup in certain places of the country if you cant hit running game. it was a necessary skill when i grew up hunting in southwest PA.

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from Chewylouie wrote 1 year 18 weeks ago

scratchgolf-I don't watch a single hunting show. I have almost shot at a running deer before but it stop just before I shot so I had a still target. Were I hunt, if a deer is running, then it is running away from you, so you don't have a shot, or, you don't have enough time to get your gun up before it is gone again.

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from DakotaMan wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

99, I understand what you are saying about the eastern woodlands. When I first arrived in Georgia, I went on a hunt through those woodlands and was amazed to see the density of the timber and how I could walk for 20 miles without seeing a clearing or a pasture. I was trained to be ready though, expecting to get a shot off in about a second or less. I was taught that when that tail goes up, the deer tend to bound so even though they are going away, their head and shoulders often clear the brush on their upward leap. My aim goes high ahead of the tail and I pick up their head as it rises.

I shot one like that a couple years ago. It jumped up 30 yards from me and bounded toward a canyon 15 yards away. I hit it high just behind the front shoulder when it was about six feet off the ground. It flew over the canyon edge before it hit the ground and rolled all the way to the bottom of the canyon. I thought it unusual that my southern friend was still watching as I lowered my rifle. I think it is different training more than anything.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from scratchgolf72 wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

chewylouie...its called a texas heart shot...crosshairs go right where the tail connects to the body, shattering the spine and driving that bullet all the way up into the chest cavity...can make for a messy gut job but with a good bullet a sure kill.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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