Ideally, every time we take aim on a game animal we would squeeze off the perfect shot, the bullet would execute absolute perfect performance upon impact and our quarry would pass on to that great big alfalfa field in the sky, hardly aware that any transportation between here and there had taken place. Unfortunately the reality is, how we imagine it going in our heads and how it really goes seldom are the same thing.

One of the main reasons I wax contrarian to the increasingly popular practice of extreme long-range shooting in hunting applications is because a lot can happen in between the time you trip the trigger and when the bullet makes impact. Animals are living, moving, eating and breathing. Regularly they make course adjustments, which to our eyes may be completely senseless and altogether unanticipated in any possible way. These unexpected movements can and regularly do happen to hunters even at more regular hunting distances as well. Nobody wants a wounded animal making tracks for the brush. Sometimes supplemental bullets are needed to seal the deal.

Sure it’s our egos telling us that we never miss, and we never need more than one shot. Anyone who has hunted very long knows that is a stinky, sticky substance not to be confused with Shinola shoe polish. A relative of mine, who is quite new to hunting, recently took her first buck. When relating the story to me she was sheepish and a bit nervous. Not because the buck was something to be teased about, it wasn’t, but because she felt she had failed to deliver the quick, single-shot death that she feels every animal is entitled to. After making a less than ideal first hit, the buck was pursued in short order and dispatched. Her heart was still heavy as the buck had to suffer awaiting the second, finishing shot.

This was a good experience for her for many reasons. First, it’s a reminder to take that extra bit of time when pulling the trigger. Secondly, it’s a reminder that we need to have a conscience whenever taking a life. The fact that it pulled on her heart strings is proof that she has the proper respect for the game she pursues. Thirdly, we need to be prepared. As I mentioned at the outset, sometimes despite our best plans things go wrong. Sometimes, it simply takes more than one shot. Having the respect to finish the job rather than just moving on is the difference between an ethical hunter and a dime store yahoo in my book.

The binary bottom line here is to work to always sharpen your skills but to operate within your limitations while making every effort to make one-shot kills yet being fully prepared to place additional shots if necessary. Learn from mistakes you make and grow from them. We owe it to the creatures we pursue to be the very best we can at our craft. Anything less than our best efforts should always be eschewed.

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Dale Valade is a local country gent with a love for the outdoors, handloading, hunting and shooting.

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