BuckTracker: Is Shooting a Locked Buck Ethical?

Exhibit B was sent to me this week by a reader/hunter who grew up in North Dakota, but now lives in Wyoming. According to the accompanying message, the ND hunter pictured spotted one of the bucks the day before the firearms season opener and realized it had locked horns with another whitetail. She took no action. The next morning she came back to the scene, shot one of the bucks, called a game warden, and received a special permit for the other deer.

Lock2

Obviously (the Internet being what it is) I have no way of knowing if the details of this particular hunt are entirely factual. But even if they’re not, this story—and the video—bring up an interesting dilemma: Assuming it’s legal to do so, is the shooting of one (or both) locked-up bucks an ethical act?

Lock1

I’d like to hear the thoughts of BuckTracker readers on this one. Though it’s stretching things to classify such a hunt as "fair chase" (locked-up bucks obviously cannot flee their pursuers, even if they are free-ranging deer), the case can surely be made that killing one or both bucks is not unethical.

Obviously, had someone not happened on the scene, Nature would have provided a much crueler fate for these animals than a bullet or an arrow. Also, consider the stress these fighters had already endured. Even if a "rescued" buck walks away, will he indeed survive…or is he little more than a dead-deer-walking?