Long Range Shooting: Is it Ethical?

There may not be a more controversial topic in hunting circles than that of long range shooting.

Many big named hunting personalities have come out against it, calling it unethical. Despite this the practice keeps growing. More and More rifle systems are being built that are capable of killing animals at great distances.

It is such a topic of conversation in hunting circles even the Wall Street Journal weighed in on the topic. Here are some of the highlights from that article.

The biggest argument against long range hunting is summed by David E. Petzal, of Field & Stream magazine, “The animal should have a chance. If you shoot at an animal from 500 yards or farther, you’re depriving him of his tools. You negate his eyesight and his hearing and his sense of smell.”

This Statement is backed up by the Boone & Crockett Club which “finds that long-range shooting takes unfair advantage of the game animal, effectively eliminates the natural capacity of an animal to use its senses and instincts to detect danger, and demeans the hunter/prey relationship in a way that diminishes the importance and relevance of the animal and the hunt.”

Proponents of the practice say it makes for a cleaner kill. In a document from TrackingPoint, a top company in Long Range hunting equipment, states, “Without TrackingPoint 14{5c20afc010e65415aecac9ea1262ea64a0924a29c29fc9ad7cafd2eeb769a435} of animals shot suffer and require two or more shots to be killed. Many are never found…With TrackingPoint 99.5{5c20afc010e65415aecac9ea1262ea64a0924a29c29fc9ad7cafd2eeb769a435} of animals are cleanly harvested.”

Some States have already taken a proactive stance against long range hunting. This year in Nevada, the state wildlife commission proposed outlawing electronically controlled firing systems on big-game rifles, a measure that could effectively ban some long-range shooting systems. “To their credit, our wildlife commission is taking a stand on technologies they feel are going beyond the fair-chase ethic,” says Tyler Turnipseed, Nevada’s chief game warden.

The popularity of the practice is growing. There are about 14 million rifle hunters in America, about 5{5c20afc010e65415aecac9ea1262ea64a0924a29c29fc9ad7cafd2eeb769a435} are using new long-range systems, estimates Gunwerks founder Aaron Davidson. “And I would expect that 5{5c20afc010e65415aecac9ea1262ea64a0924a29c29fc9ad7cafd2eeb769a435} to turn into 50{5c20afc010e65415aecac9ea1262ea64a0924a29c29fc9ad7cafd2eeb769a435},” Perhaps the biggest thing holding back that number is the price point.

Rifles can go anywhere from a few thousand dollars to upwards of $20,000. Something not mentioned in the article, but should is that in the long run it may lead to fewer hunting opportunities. As hunter success rates increase conversely the amount of tags issued Game management departments will go down. For example if in a certain unit the Game Department wants to allow 10 elk to be harvested and they know hunter success in that unit is 10{5c20afc010e65415aecac9ea1262ea64a0924a29c29fc9ad7cafd2eeb769a435} the will issue 100 tags. If hunter success rates rise to 50{5c20afc010e65415aecac9ea1262ea64a0924a29c29fc9ad7cafd2eeb769a435} they will only issue 20 tags. That leaves out 80 hunters that would love to spend time perusing an elk.

We should always be careful about implementing new technologies into hunting. It can make us more lethal, but if animal numbers do not increase alongside that technology it could hurt hunting. Everyone loves to be successful, but the kill is not the only aspect of hunting. The journey and adventure are also important. Many hunters have had amazing days in the field without ever taking an animal.

If you want to see the complete article in the Wall Street Journal Click HERE