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June 17, 2011
Ethically, How Far is Too Far with a Bow?
By Scott Bestul
Have a look at the video below—all the way to the end, including the kill shots—and tell us what you think: From an ethical standpoint, how far is too far with a bow?
I wish I could do that with my recurve, it is obvious that this man has many hours of practice under his belt though.
I'm gonna go with the typical "However far you're comfortable with making a humane kill" answer. I've seen my buddy drop jackrabbits and prairie dogs at 110 yards, he got his last antelope at 90+ yards. If I tried that, I'd just be pissed I lost 25 bucks worth of hardware...
That guy is awesome!
Those kind of shots are not for everyone. I'll go so far as to say they are for very few people. Five years ago I would have said that any shot over 45 yards was unethical. Today, with a laser range finder, adjustable yardage sights, faster more forgiving bows and a lot of practice you can take those shots. Again just because you can doesn't mean you should. Unfortunately using the properly brain seems to be the most difficult hunting discipline to master. Just as a side note, the book The Witchery of Archery talks about taking 100 yard shots with a recurve bow back in the 19th century. In the end the ethical shot is really the archers choice.
It seems to me the real question is not whether you can make shots @ longer distances but what happens if the animal that you are shooting at at those distances moves when it hears the noise from the release and takes the arrow in the guts?
There is no magic number. Take the yardage where you can consistently make target shots and subtract 10-20%. This guy s/b able to make a 75 yard shot in a real hunting situation. I'd take a morning / broadside shot @ 50 yards if the wind was favorable, but probably pass on the same shot at dusk.
I have to agree with jjas, since I've seen deer jump 20 yard shots. At 75 they could've run 10 yards by the time the arrow gets there.
I have friends like him. We spend a lot of time together looking for their wounded deer.
Practice makes perfect i guess. I passed a shot on a doe before dark at 27 yards 1: because i had only practiced out to about 20-23 yards and 2: it was getting dark and tracking a gut shot deer in the dark sucks. I practiced more and by the end of the season i was able to make that shot if presented to me.
For every archer there is a differet answer. I have seen some that should never shoot beyound 20 yds. and others that are able to shoot beyound 100 very well, and still others that can hit the bulls eye at 50 yds every time but can't hit an animal at 10. The best answer i would say is to know your limits and the limits of your equipment and never exceed them no matter how tempting. My longest shoot to date is 65 yds on a deer dead through the hart.
JJAS and F150green, a lot more time then not, when a deer is that far they don't jump the string for some reason. Either they didn't even hear it or its so far away that it doesn't suprise them so much. If not, then 20 yard shots are not ethical, because I've seen a pile of deer jump the strings on shots that close.
Silverback quote "a lot more time then not"......
So "a lot more times then not" the deer aren't going to hear it. But it happens and the deer is wounded. Plus, let's play along and say the deer doesn't hear the shot....yet takes a step just as you release.....or let's say the wind carries your shot off course @ 60 yards...it happens.
Point being....I'd rather minimize wounding a deer by keeping my shots close than run the risk.
Ever hear of "instinct" shooting?
First, toss the high dollar range finder.
Second, toss the sight.
NOW, grab a nice recurve, long- or stickbow and get it on!!!
More people have the ability to shoot "instinct" than will EVER try it.
The equipment is MUCH cheaper, quieter and requires a lot less "tuning"!
Just like anything else, start at 10 yards and work your way back. When I say work your way back, I don't mean measure another 10 yards and practice again. Take several steps back, concentrate on the target and loose the arrow, adjust as necessary until your "gut" kicks in.
No. 1 - Concentrate!
No. 2 - Relax!
No. 3 - Toughest step. BELIEVE in yourself and allow your instinct to take control.
The brain is an absolutely amazing machine that can make any calculations and adjustments needed, if you'll just listen!
Try it sometime.
Google Fred Eichler or Byron Ferguson for further instructions.
JJAS, My point was that I think just as many deer jump (ducks) the string at close range. So, knowing your shot and ability means the same at close and far range. Wounding is not being minimzed because of a futher distance.
I never take a shot unless I'm certain that I can make the shot. Call me conservative or whatever, but for me, I want the deer on the ground, not wounded and suffering. My grandfather taught me that it's better to pass up a shot for another day than make a deer dinner for the local predators.
Yeah Yeah you've practiced the shot so much that you can make a video of it and put it on you tube to impress everyone and encourage leigions of young hunters to attempt the same thing while hunting deer, When we see deer with arrows sticking out of their butts we'll know who to blame, this idiot!
What's your definition of ethical?
Deer jumps the string at very close range and receives pour hit (high, low, gut shot), yet I find the farther out, the less chance the deer will jump the string and quite arrows (vanes whooshing) in flight is a plus to!
Surely if they practice at shooting at that range, they will figure it out when they go broke replacing lost arrows!
See, I don't like videos like this because people who are new to archery may look up some info, find videos like this, and think it's alright to take those long shots. Just not a good idea in my book.
After watching his right arm on the shot, his hand stays right there by his face which tells me he punches the trigger. I started out by punching the trigger and there is too many variables involved in a surprise release but when you are punching the trigger, a lot more muscles work than you realize. Just a bad idea anyways, but he is shooting longer distances than normal people so I bid him good luck and hope the animals are killed cleanly.
shooting at live animals at that distance is not a good idea no matter how good you are. save that kind of stuff for competition or just impressing your friends. noone is impressed with wounded, suffering animals!
this man obviously practices quite a bit, and i commend him on that. to shoot that far with a bow at a live animal [not wounded] is a big risk, flight time is very long,how many of us had a deer jump the string at 20 yards? saying this, when i shot competivly, i was putting in 50 or so arrows a day, and 4 3-d courses a week. at the same time,i made a 51 yard shot at a doe [clean kill] but i had watched the doe feed for 15 minutes, and felt very comforatable, usual shots are at less than 30 yards, not because i don't feel that i can hit, but too many variables to ensure a clean kill in my opinion.
There is nothing wrong with what he is doing. He obviously is good enough for it. My problem with it is that it takes the "archery" aspect out of bow hunting.
Just an observation, but after reading through all of the posts it seems like the majority doesn't have as much negativity in regards to long range bow hunting as they do with long range rifle hunting. I don't have a problem with either, I was slightly surprised at the responses to this though.
Save the long range bow or rifle shots for the range. If they cant get close enough for an ethical shot, they should chalk one up for the deer or whatever and try to be set up better next time.The thing I really hate to hear is, "he was so huge I had to try it", as if the bigger the animal the more right they have to try a shot they have no bussiness taking.Its the old I will never see him again so I gotta try it, thing.
Even if you make a perfect shot, there are just too many things that can happen from the time you touch the release and the time the arrow arrives. I think that it is great to practice at longer distances because it makes those 20 yard shoots seem really easy.
i regularly practice with my bow at ranges of up to 80 yards...ive got it to where i can consistently hit a grapefruit size target at about 75 yards....but i sure aint taking that shot in the woods lol...i cant really shoot farther then 30 yards where my stand is located so taking long range shots in the field isnt really something i can do. last deer i shot with my bow was 5 paces from the base of my tree, i could have jumped on his back if i wanted to from the stand.
Long range practice is great for making the normal hunting shot seem easier, but everyone has their own personal max 'effective range', which I think are the key words in this blog. I like to practice to 60+ but would never shoot past 40yds hunting. Between adrenaline, wind, animal movement, etc I think there are just too many variables to cause a bad hit, even if the shot was on target. As hunters we are responsible to make ethical, killing shots on game, its our 'duty'. Every bowhunter should practice regularly, we owe our best shot to every animal we shoot at.
all i have to say is that if 90 yd shots are to become a normal thing for archers then they should lose the privelege of a separate archery season. Even out here in the west most rifle shots on deer and occur at 100 yds or less. I sometimes hunt with a traditional muzzleloader and my max range is 100 yds. In my opinion too much can happen to an arrow in 100 yds. Practice ranges are different than hunting situations.
Well, if that was a video of Fred Bear shooting a sheep at 80 yds I would wager to say alot of comments would be different.
Taking shots that far out is not ethical FOR ME. Obviously Mr. Congemi gets his practice in on a regular basis, I can only pracice out to 80 but my hunting shots are shorter.
Western hunting is not whitetail hunting, the shots are often a little longer. After humping the hills at elevations between 5,000 and 10,500 ft if I get a shot within MY range and don't have the terrain to stalk the extra 20-30 yds I take the shot dependent on other conditions. Why? Because I practice.
On the other hand, I found a bull elk that died a crappy death with an arrow way to far back and high. The elk did not even meet the antler point restrictions for that GMU.
Point is, the ethical shot distance is different for everyone. The "hunter" that shot the elk I found was obviously lacking in ethics to begin with. As long as a hunter has a concern for hunting ethics and the desire to humanely kill his game the hunter WILL make the ethical decision based on his/her skills,eqiupment and the conditions at hand, be it 20 yds or 80 yds.
Thirty years ago, when I practiced alot and my vision was better, I could have made 70 yard kill shots routinely. 90 yards would have been pushing the envelope. But it seems to me that bows have gotten better, and trajectories flatter, such that a person who practices ALOT can regularly make those shots. Good on them I say.
Was I into bowhunting again, which I may soon be, I'd want to learn how to make those shots. Not because I'd seek them out, but because I'd know that in a pinch I could do it. Anyone who can make those 90-yard shots will have no trouble with 30-70 yards.
Fred Bear was a very good hunter, he didn't need to shoot long distances!
When it comes to those shots there is no doubt that it is not for the average archer like myself. Great video and an awsome outdoorsman showing his skils!
I wonder how many animals he's crippled and made suffer that aren't being posted on youtube?
It's not about what your skill level is. At all. There are no skills that can make an animal sit still while that arrow is in flight. There is no argument against this.
Same goes for rifles, but at much longer ranges. There's a video of an extreme range shot on an elk. The shot rings. The elk moves forward, then back, then impact. What if the elk had only moved forward? It would have been gut shot.
The shots this guy is taking are inhumane and unacceptable.
"Even out here in the west most rifle shots on deer and occur at 100 yds or less."
Gee, that's funny. A lot of people (Western Experts talking down there noses to stupid old me who has never ever been out west) on here tell me that you have to take much longer shots to get your game out there. Hmm... Either they are right or they are severely lacking the skills you possess to get "so close".
while i do agree to shooting an arrow or bullet at much longer distances requires a little bit of luck and a great deal of science, it does not make practical sense. you want to shoot at a hundred yards with a bow, save your energy and use a gun instead! by the time you let go of that arrow, that deer could have moved ten yards or better yet the wind could have moved the arrow also. people (and i say people not hunters) who shoot a gun at over 300 yards to hit an animal is not hunting. why dont you use a 50cal barret to hit the animal too! hundreds of years ago our ancestors were able to get within yards of an animal for a hunt but technology today has allowed us to pretty much take an animal right from our own couches at home.
What is really amazing is it appears he is using a whisker biscuit. Not exactly ideal for long-range shots...
@ Shane -- The "west" is a big place. On the northern plains you get alot of long shots. In AZ 100 yards is pretty common, but you can also have situations where 300 yards is what you'll get.
Aren't the physics a lot more for a bow, though? I waited for someone to talk about that.
It's been a long time since I had my compound, but shooting targets at different ranges really showed me how much of a drop-off in power there was.
In any decent rifle and ammo, the difference between 100 and 200 yards is negligible, like with my .30-06. But the penetration on target with my bow went downhill pretty fast after about 40 yards.
If you're playing mortar with your bow, it's too far.
As a bowhunter, I always believed the true satisfaction and challenge was getting as close as possible to my quarry. If I want to reach out and touch something I would shoot everything with my 7mm.
Truthfully, how far is to far is determined by the users consistent ability to accurately deliver a lethal projectile which will result in a swift and humane death for the intended prey. No more/ no less
Here's the thing, taking long shots is fine, but when you mess up and wound an animal, be prepared to take some flak. I'm less inclined to to bust someone who screws up a short shot becuase s*&! happens. But when you take a long shot, especially with a bow, you are adding variables that aren't needed, you are changing the game, not the animal. It's one thing for the animal to jump the string and turn slightly as you pull the trigger, but don't complicate matters by adding range when it's not needed. If you have to pop a moose at 67 yards with a bow then you're not doing your job. I've practically walked up to them with gun in hand. I shot one last year with my rifle at 40 yards.
Has anyone ever seen that old video of Fred Bear shooting a dall sheep at about thirty paces. The critter was facing him, behind a knoll and the brisket was obscured by the knoll. Ol Fred drew his recurve to about half draw and lobbed one in the Ram's chest. It went about 40 yards and died. An excellent demonstration of archery technique, but not too ethical, IMHO.
Anyone who knows his bow, has a newer compound, or has a mutlipin sight can make long shots. we do it all the time as a goof when practicing. But hitting a foam target or a plastic deer that cant move, and is in the wide open is far different than actually making that shot for real. at that distance i cant even see around the pin enough to place my shot. could i hit at 60 or 70, yeah, but my range is 40 yards max....
Good comment, Hurckles. It shows maturity when you know that just because you can do something, it doesn't mean you should.
Concerning Fred Bear. His maximum range was 40 yards. Not saying he took longer shots but his max range was 40 yards.
This 8 year old, putting all of us to shame!
I live and hunt in Ohio to pull off a 100 yard shot on a deer with a shotgun is tough enough,to try it with a bow no way.The thermals that we get from valleys and cross winds is to risky.Even a open field would be almost impossible with all the variables. For me personally i would not go over 35 yards,the arrow speed is going to drop regardless of the poundage of the bow. I hear these guys grunt when they pull back and lock into a full draw drop the temperature down to 30 degrees,in a tree stand and have been setting there for 4 or 5 hours I don't think they could do it..Its a neat thing to watch on a target,but to try this on a deer that's going to move I feel is a recipe for trouble.
I can understand practicing at that range to make a short shot a walk in the park, but I don't think you should be trying much past 40ish in a real world situation.
as long as you're consistently shooting the same area with no problem there is no reason to have a limit, but id put the absolute max range at 130 yrds.
I agree with Firstbubba and shoot longbows exclusively. Every year at a organized shot in Michigan they put you in a drawing for a 3-D target if you could hit a fist size balloon at 60 yards. I was shooting a lot and amazed the compound shooters by hitting it every time that I entered. However, I would never shoot an animal at that range and always try to get within 30 yards of whatever I am hunting. Getting closer to the animals that I hunt has made me a much better hunter not only during the archery season but the firearms seasons as well.
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