The moment of truth arrives, and the hunter takes their best shot. The critter goes down for the count. All hunters are taught to approach the critter carefully and make sure that the animal is dead. Usually, the hunter is taught to approach the animal from the rear and touch the eye with a stick to make sure that the critter is dead.
Dead means that no breathing, movement, and sensitivity is evident. It is also important to allow the critter time to pass. Normally 15-30 minutes is not too long. It will take some time to reach the critter, and the hunter may need to descend from a tree stand or cross a valley.
Years ago, I met a limping hunter returning to his truck. His right leg was covered in blood and his pants were ripped. I asked if he needed help and he said he would be fine. Apparently his son had shot a spike buck and it was still alive when they got to it. The shot was high, and the buck was struggling to get to its feet. He decided to get in front of the deer while his son tried to finish it off. As he got into the position, the buck attacked him. The 6-inch-long spike tore into the Dad’s leg ripping his heavy pants, slicing his leg and knocking him down. The buck was obviously not dead.
An Alaskan bear hunter recently was hunting with a friend on the northern Kenai Peninsula. They shot a 200-pound black bear uphill from their position. The injured bear began rolling downhill toward them. An avalanche of debris began to follow. Suddenly they were both buried in bear, rocks, logs, and debris. One hunter was seriously injured and needed to be airlifted to Anchorage for care. The story mentioned “the hunter was in stable condition, but the bear was confirmed dead!”
Finish what you started. Make sure that the critter is dead before closing in. An ethical hunter prides themselves on a single well-placed accurate shot. If you need to shoot again, consider a lethal shot that will dispatch the critter without ruining more meat. Know the anatomy of the animal to understand the appropriate shot placement such as the head, high neck or… It may not always be pretty, but it will be merciful and prevent suffering.
Once the deed is done, you can now safely relax, unload, and unwind.
For more Montana Grant, find him at www.montanagrantfishing.com.