By Glen Wunderlich
USS – Michigan’s firearms deer season begins in less than one week and many hunters will be sighting in their favorite deer guns from now until then.
Assuming hunters have or will have achieved acceptable results at the range and all manner of paraphernalia has been readied for the big day, each hunter must decide in advance what would constitute an acceptable animal.
Unlike target practice, however, inherent variables in the field can complicate matters. Are you really ready for the shot?
Here are a few thoughts before the trigger is pulled.
To begin, I must confess that I do not care to use the term “harvest”, when speaking of game animals. If we are talking corn or beans, then fine. If you are offended by the word “kill” relative to hunting, it’s time for a reality check. Hunters kill; farmers harvest.
By studying the aspects of an ethical kill shot, hunters can think ahead to scenarios that will accomplish the goal consistently. If you are after meat exclusively, then a shot at the pie-plate sized vitals of heart and lungs will maximize meat in the freezer. However, the trade-off is that the animal may run off over 100 yards or so before expiring.
Beyond the task of tracking, there may also be the issue of the wounded deer crossing property lines – another factor that may come into play. Understand that just because you shoot a deer, you have no legal right to enter someone else’s property without their permission.
If a property owner does not allow you to retrieve your deer, he is within his rights; at the same time, however, such a landowner has no legal right to a deer he did not kill legally.
If this happens to you, contact a conservation officer to settle the matter.
Another option that only comes by thinking ahead is to take the high-shoulder shot – one preferred by antler hunters or anyone wanting to anchor a deer in its tracks.
The flip side of the coin means less meat, though – a lot less.
Making a game out of hunting may serve to pressure hunters into doing things that fly in the face of their original definition of what constitutes an acceptable deer or worse yet, an acceptable shot. Stay within your known limitations. If you want to compete at deer camp, stick to the card table.
Another question relates to the practicality of a given shot. Is rain or heavy snow predicted? Or, is it raining or snowing heavily already? If you fail to make the perfect shot, how will you recover the animal? Do you have a tracking dog available? If not, under trying conditions, sometimes it’s best to hold fire.
Finally, deer drives that force deer to run are to be avoided, because they compel hunters to go beyond their limitations. Just how many shooters can keep 9 out of 10 shots within a 6-inch circle with the target bouncing around at 30 miles per hour -one in 10,000? While I certainly understand that such techniques have the potential to be effective, they are highly more probable to wound animals. Flailing away also violates an all-important rule of gun safety, as well: Know your target and what’s beyond it.
Many states have come a long way reducing the number of hunting accidents. Let’s all build on good, safe hunting tradition; the future of hunting demands as much.
About Glen Wunderlich Charter Member Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA). Outdoor writer and columnist for The Argus-Press (www.argus-press.com) and blog site at www.thinkingafield.org 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).