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* First, the long held mantra of 20-yards-and under as an acceptable shot distance for bowhunting is largely outdated.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.