Where do you say no?
In a recent column I suggested a rifleman should have the skill to make running shots on game. I also said once you have such skill it shouldn’t be used except to stop wounded game from escaping.
I feel much the same about long-range shooting at game. We can debate what “long range” means. Certainly your definition is as good as mine. For long-range enthusiasts and target shooters, long range starts at around 500 yards. The best modern equipment has the accuracy and power to kill big game at 2,000 yards and further.
I enjoy the challenge of long-range shooting. I think every rifle shooter should be capable of making long-range hits, as well as running shots. But just as I don’t encourage taking shots at unwounded running game, I’m not very enthused about long-range shots at unwounded game.
Discussing ethical issues is a risky business in this era of moral relativism, where expressing values is decried as being “judgmental.” I’m aware of the argument “as long as it is legal” we mustn’t criticize what others do.
I’m not so sure. In some states there are no caliber restrictions on big-game rifles, other than “no rimfire cartridges.” In such states, I could hunt elk with a .17 Rem or .22 Hornet, shoot them (or at least at them) at 1,200 yards, and be completely legal. And no, I don’t want more restrictions, my point is we need to set higher standards for ourselves than just “is it legal?”
It may not be written in hunting regulations, but I believe we hunters have a moral obligation to kill the animals we hunt as quickly and painlessly as possible. I realize not everyone agrees. It astonishes me how callous and indifferent some are.
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