January 04, 2008
Would You Take This Shot?
By Scott Bestul
Reader Chris Brown sent in the You Tube video link that’s posted below. It depicts an anonymous (to me) bowhunter shooting a mule deer buck at what he claims is 103 yards. While I couldn’t see the arrow impact, the buck turns up dead in the ensuing frames, so I assume he made the shot. And of course the shooter notes that the bow—a PSE X-Force—is responsible for the animal running only 100 yards before expiring.
Since this blog is not afraid of debate, you probably recognize what I’m doing by including this clip. But before I turn you loose on the topic of 100-yard bow kills, allow me a few thoughts.
* First, the long held mantra of 20-yards-and under as an acceptable shot distance for bowhunting is largely outdated. Today’s bows -- especially those like the X-Force (which I mention only because of the video) -- shoot at 300 fps and up and are capable of accurate, killing shots well beyond 20 yards in the hands of even a moderately-skilled bowhunter.
* Individual skill/experience is a far better predictor of what constitutes an “ethical shot” than the equipment itself. Example: my friend Rod White, who earned an Olympic Gold Medal in archery. Olympic shooters fling arrows -- shot from recurve bows with no sights -- at targets 100 meters away and group them in fist-size wads. Also, I know of at least two other bowhunters who routinely practice, with hunting gear, at 100-yard targets. Trust me, the vitals of an elk standing 50 yards away in a meadow do not present a tough shot for these guys.
* That said, hunting is an imperfect art performed in an uncontrolled environment. Unlike targets, animals can move or shift unexpectedly ... and can suffer terribly if your shot is untrue. And, of course, we are anything but perfect in a hunting situation; with unforeseen factors like wind, weather, and the incalculable effects of buck fever wearing on us.
So now I will open up the debate. You have a hotter-than-a-pepper new bow that flings arrows 350fps. You’ve practiced out to 80 yards all summer. The buck of your dreams appears at 65 steps on opening day.