I recently read an article by Dave Petzal. This experienced marksman and writer asked the question “Have hunters exceeded what is a fair rifle range? How far is too far?
For years, most hunters targeted game and targets under 300 yards. Rifled shotgun slugs were 100-yard guns on a good day. Military training and weapons could score even further. Dave talks about military snipers testing their limits. Snipers in the Vietnam War managed kill shots beyond 1000 yards. Since then, accuracy with rifles have broken the 2-mile range.
Hunters are now stretching their limits with better ammo, optics, range finders, and weapons. Fine tuned triggers, different powders, and a lot of trigger time have made snipers top shots. Is this ok for Hunters?
Hunting is more than just shooting. It requires stalking, reading sign, experience, and becoming intimate with the game animal hunted. Many of us have no problem with a Sniper taking out a Terrorist at long ranges but is this fair to the wild game? When does hunting exceed the definition of “Sportsmanship?”
The limit of “fair” may be clarified by what is the range that wild animals can smell, see, hear, and use their senses for a fair chance. After a half of a mile, the advantage quickly changes to the marksman. You can throw away all the other true “Hunting skills” if you need only use the wild critter as target practice.
My longest kill shot was 450 yards at a bull elk. My single shot 30-06 did the job but most of my hunting shots during my life have been under 200 yards. My longest archery shot was 18 yards.
Perhaps the question should be’ “Do you want to have sex or make love?” Harvesting a critter at great ranges fills your tag but a close in, and intimate, encounter is certainly more rewarding. Closer shots require more hunting skills. Longer shots require more shooting skills. Sadly, these longer shots are less fair for the limited survival senses of a wild critter on their best day.
Technology, lasers, optics, and shooting enhancements have certainly come a far way. How far is enough? What is a Fair Hunt? What firearms are best suited for hunting?
Our shooting ranks are certainly evolving faster than the critters we hunt. Evolution moves more slowly. Just because we can, should we?
For more Montana Grant, target him at www.montangrantfishing.com.