One Shot One Kill, Single-Shot Mentality

By Glen Wunderlich

Long Shot Deer
Long Shot Deer
Glen Wunderlich
Glen Wunderlich

Lansing, Michigan – -(  Many years ago, while in the third grade, my father decided I was going to play the violin.

I never showed any interest in music, but because he had played it, so would I.

At least I went through the motions during music class and even private lessons.

I recall being in my bedroom – probably in the first week of my short musical career – and sawing on those strings as fast as I could. The sound emanating from the instrument resembled a combination of fingernails on the blackboard and that of a cat when its tail is stepped on. Even I couldn’t stand it; it was obnoxious noise, pure and simple.

Similarly, during firearms deer season, it’s inevitable that some hunter with a case of buck fever, will flail away at a running deer until the gun runs dry. My instinct is that such hunters are as skilled as this young violinist once was with the same result: nothing but noise.

A simple solution to eliminating the fruitless, knee-jerk, firepower response is to develop the single-shot mentality. My epiphany took place some 40 years ago, while afield with a single-shot pistol hunting squirrels. An unsuspecting fox squirrel scampered across the trail no more than 50 feet in front of me and all I could do was smile.

Much like the violin, good shooting techniques must be developed. Having a magazine stacked to capacity won’t do it, either. In fact, it may lead to the very nature of missing by relying on backup shots.

As I watched a video of one of the world’s top rifle shooters, Franz Albrect, he paused to explain a lesson his father had taught him when he was a youngster. His father asked Franz if he could hit a distant target, but when Franz responded by saying, “I will try,” his father stopped him. “There is no trying. Either you can or you cannot.”

There is a time and place for trying, but it’s not in hunting situations; it’s at the practice range. There a shooter is able to test different loads until he is satisfied with accuracy.

Once sighted in, it’s time for developing techniques including rapid fire. Reactive targets such as resetting spinners are perfect and are relatively inexpensive. A can of spray paint can be used to refresh the targets, as often as you wish.

However, recycling cans by placing them upside down on sticks works just as well, because they’ll move noticeably when hit and can take dozens of hits before needing replacement. Plastic water bottles filled with water or inexpensive party balloons make good practice targets, too. Just add a few friends and a stopwatch/timer and you’ll have the proper ingredients for some friendly competition.

But, when heading afield for a hunt, I still like the single-shot firearms. They are simple, accurate, and some are relatively inexpensive, yet entirely effective with one well-placed shot. And, since only one shot is at hand, you’ll be required to learn the discipline of a sportsman and the single-shot mentality.

About Glen WunderlichCharter Member Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA). Outdoor writer and columnist for The Argus-Press ( and blog site at  Member National Rifle Association (NRA), Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC), member U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance (USSA), Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA), Commemorative Bucks of Michigan (CBM). Adjutant of Perry, Michigan Sons of Amvets Post 4064 and Chairman Perry (MI) Youth Hunt Extravaganza, a sanctioned event of Perry Sons of Amvets held the third weekend of September each year.

  • 6 thoughts on “One Shot One Kill, Single-Shot Mentality

    1. When I was old enough(11y/o) my dad bought me a bolt action single shot .22…a Marlin, if I remember right. After what seemed like ages of safety lessions I finally got to shoot and I was taught the value of one shot…one kill in hunting. When he thought I was ready…he gave me 3 rounds and sent me out bag a tree-rat or two. I came back with three. I’ve never forgot the importance of all that and have taught my sons the same.

    2. People often claim something can’t be done, when the truth is THEY are just not capable of doing it. In reality one shot kills happen all the time. Hunters who claim otherwise are likely poor shots. So Chuck how did you know you shot all those deer in the heart with .30-06, 00 buckshot and 12 gauge slugs when another hunter shot and claimed them (I guess you have X-ray vision LOL)? More likely you made a poor shot and the deer escaped to be later shot by a competent hunter who rightly took the deer home that you claimed to have shot through the heart. Excuses for poor marksmanship.

    3. All that sounds wonderful and sportsman like. I bought into that when I started hunting when I turned 18 and bought a single shot shotgun. Mind you I did not grow up in a hunting or outdoor family, and grew up in New Jersey where today, if you shot a firearm on your property, a full swat team would respond. After missing my first pheasants, I bought a pump 12. And got better. But we all don’t live in the ultimate sportsman’s life you so describe here, and all of us try to be. I have shot bucks in the heart with a 30/06 or 12 gauge slugs and double 0 buck only to watch them drop, get up, and run, probably dead on their feet only to watch a nearby hunter drop them and claim them, just saying it sounds all wonderful in your article, but not in reality…just saying

    4. I’ll bet a lot of “anti-gun” politicians have a “single-shot mentality” when it comes the guns we will be ‘permitted’ to own.

    5. 100% agree Glen. Only one shot is the way to go or when teaching/training. Learning the discipline of a sportsman is the most difficult aspect to teach young or old. Start with a muzzle loader. You need to work to load it now don’t waste the shot, chances are you won’t get a second.

    6. I was taught, and encouraged, to shoot by my father and his dad, my grandfather, both of whom had lied through the Great Depression. They instilled in me(sometimes with the aid of a swift kick in the ass) to ALWAYS MAKE THE FIRST SHOT COUNT. Even before I read the works of that Great Sage Bill Jordan, it was drilled into my thin little skull to “take your time, QUICKLY!” These lessons I have passed to my children and am working on passing them on the my grandkids.

      As an aside: my 7 year old granddaughter can knock the nose off of a fly at 25 yards with grampa’s .22.

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