One of the most questioned topics throughout the bowhunting community boils down to ethics. What is an ethical shot, and how can you ensure a quick, humane kill on whatever trophy you decide to take a shot at? Through careful thought and consideration, we have decided that the ethics pertaining to an archery shot comes down to the individual’s comfort and confidence in their ability at different yardages and situations.
Here at TNT, we often discuss different situations, and fantasize about shots that will likely never happen in reality. Ultimately, it usually ends in a heated argument about what shots we would, and would not end up taking in a field situation. On one hand, Tyler usually feels comfortable reaching out to about 75 yards on a trophy whitetail, while Trey stays within the 50 yard range. The argument ensues when the question comes up of, “What if that deer takes a step forward in the time it takes the arrow to reach the point of impact?” On the flip side, you may also ask, “What if I have a once in a lifetime buck at 70 yards?”
You see, this is where we as hunters run into trouble regarding the shots we do and do not take. Neither of these opinions are wrong, and in fact, both can be equally successful. Chris Brackett of Fear No Evil has been recorded as shooting a whitetail at 127 yards with his bow. The hunter needs to be able to decide for him or herself what their comfortable range is, then practice accordingly. If you want to be comfortable and confident shooting at 70 yards in the field, you need to be able to consistently practice shooting 70 yards in the off-season, and during the season. As well as yardage, we have a responsibility as hunters to make the right decision regarding a clear shot path to our trophy. This may mean passing up on a great animal, but as ethical hunters, we need to consider the well-being of the animals we pursue as our top priority.
This past summer, we got trail camera pictures of what would end up being our #1 hit-list buck, HighTower. Immediately, Tyler claimed that this was the buck that he was going to kill. It was not a hope or a question; it was a statement of determination. November 11th rolled around, and neither of us had seen Hightower from a stand, until I got a call from Tyler, who rarely ever calls. Before even picking it up, I knew something had happened. I distinctly remember his whisper coming through the phone, and the immense amount of emotion that the small voice carried with it. At 9 a.m., I was informed that he let Hightower walk at 30 yards, as he stayed just beyond slight brush that would have made for a dicey shot. I still remember the feeling of disappointment when I got the news, but I also remember the overwhelming sense of pride that I felt following that moment, as I came to a realization that the game we chase deserves our utmost respect, and it’s our responsibility to make the right choice.
After this moment, I understood that the ethics we practice as archery hunters goes further than being skilled at shooting long distances. It’s the ability to swallow your pride and face disappointment in a tough situation. It’s putting the animal before yourself, and taking action as necessary. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us, and as always, shoot straight.