My .02 :
1) I bet we all agree that throwing shots out beyond 500 yards without proper practice and knowledge is fairly irresponsible.
2) Most of us do not have access to a place to learn the craft of long range shooting with enough ability to actually hunt with it.
3) Those that do have the equipment and skill to hunt at long range are not taking wildly risky/irresponsible shots. Challenging, but their level of ability is different from the average guy.
I echo the sentiments of those that feel like we shouldn't be telling each other how to hunt or what hunting is or isn't. That's the exact mindset of those who are against it all together and would argue that hunting itself is stupid and unnecessary. I am well aware that every year a few guys will buy some expensive gear and think they can try long range shots. VERY FEW will connect on those shots. Unless you have tried it, you have no idea how hard a 1000 yard shot is. Then there are the idiots who will sling a shot out at long range hoping to get lucky...they wont. If they do and wound an animal, that is a shame, but they are the extreme minority and not worth even discussing. There will always be idiots like that.
The whole premise here is that somehow long range hunting is not really hunting because the animal is so far away. With all due respect to the animals, hunting is about the hunter. If he has the time, money, and skill to put himself atop a ridge and artfully bag an animal on the next ridge over, he's a hunter in my book and an elite one at that. Anyone can bow hunt or pop a deer at 200 yards. Very few will ever possess the skill to make a shot beyond 500 yards and I think that at least a small portion of the angst against long range hunting is that it is by its very nature something that few have access to trying to learn.
I don't want to start this up again. I just want to ask you a simple question. What is the difference between someone taking a 1000yd shot on an animal, and someone taking a 1000yd shot on a target? How are they different? Couldn't the target shooter take the same shot on an animal? Would he then be a hunter?
Fair question. From a certain point of view there is no more difference than a 25 yard bow target in your back yard and a 25 yard shot on a trophy game animal with a bow. Now lets look at the significant differences:
1) Known distance. Target shooting at 1000 yards is generally done on a pre-set range due to safety space limitations. Long range hunters have no such advantages. Even with the best range finders and repeat hunts in the same area, game animals are unpredictable. Is that elk at 917 yards or 971 yards? Get the math wrong and its a clean miss 100% of the time. Unlike misjudging 217 versus 271 where the shot will likely still hit the animal, but in a way that may leave it wounded.
2) Adrenalin -per the above comparison, there is a big difference in the amount of concentration and self control involved in shooting a bow in your back yard versus at a game animal. Target shooters aren't typically faced with oxygen deprivation, heavy clothes, packs and pounding hearts from hiking up a ridge either.
3) Repeat shots - On a long range target, I can blast all day until I get the wind and dope right. Game animals don't stand still for very long in general and even less so with dirt licking up around them. Even when I do figure out the dope, if I try to use it in a hunting situation without accounting for different temperature, altitude and wind, its a miss 100% of the time
4) Environment - Target shooting at long range can be done 365 days a year. One can decide it's too hot, cold, or windy today to shoot. Hunters are restricted by set seasons, generally cold, and with totally unpredictible winds. Long range target shooters have the advantage of shooting on their range in the same direction with the same sun angles, and same prevailing winds on most days.
Comparing hunting to shooting is about like comparing the driving range to a golf course. There are similarities and extreme differences. The skill needed to master a driving range is modest compared to shooting par on a golf course.
Have done a bit of long range shooting, I will hold to my main point that for every 100 guys that think they are going to go out and successfully take a long range shot on game, only a handful of the best practiced and luckiest will connect. There is no need to fear the rise of long range hunting as tied to a massive increase in wounded animals. It's just way too hard to hit ANYTHING past 500 yards to make the slightest difference on the sport. Take a look at how many long range rigs are for sale accross the net and you begin to see that many people thought they could throw enough money at their rifle to be successful at long range and then found out that it's a challenge that money alone can't solve.
I don't bow hunt, but I have a tremendous respect for the amount of skill it takes to get within bow range of an animal and then to execute that bow shot often holding draw for a long time. The challenges that bow hunting present are in the same class as what draws people to long range hunting....ITS NOT EASY!
Fair answers, but #1 bothers me, and the main reason i'm not a fan of such long shots. Should a 1000yd shot be taken at an animal if the exact yardage and wind speed isn't known for sure?
Not a big deal on a target. A very big deal on an animal.
Also, let me touch back on my original questions. Does someone who can deal with the conditions in the field compared to a target shooter. Make him a better shooter, or hunter?
Thanks for the honest dialogue Pete.
In reference to #1, all I can tell you is that if taking a shot with less than a 50% chance of a hit makes you uncomfortable, then I do understand your objection to it. The lower probabilty of a hit is exactly what makes taking such a shot attractive and exciting. The consequence to the animal is that of all animals shot at at long range, FAR fewer are hit or killed than other types of hunting. If your concern is that there is a higher % chance of wounding, I think you can look at it this way: For all of the animals shot at under 400 yards, X percent will be hit and killed and Y % will be merely wounded and never recovered. We hear tons of these stories every year.
At long range, the % of X (hit and killed) is WAY lower per shots taken, and Y (merely wounded) may be higher than those wounded at shorter range. For example (made up numbers): For every 100 shots taken inside 400 yards, 80 might be hits and 65 might be DRT with 15 not recovered. At long range, you MIGHT get 15 total hits per 100 shots and maybe 5 are not lethal. Don't know if those numbers are anywhere near reality, but I'd agree that there may be a larger % of hit wounded and not killed, but the total numbers are going to be tiny in comparison to closer range. When we hunt at traditional yardages, we accept the possibility that some of our shots may result in wounded game...even if we are dead certain it's a layup shot, things still happen. If you accept the same premise in long range, then now we are just debating what an acceptable % might be. For some, the shot needs to be 90% sure to drop instantly to feel ethical about it, and I respect that.
My broader perspective is in the area of bird hunting> I shoot hundreds of shells a year at hundreds of birds, and the nature of the chaotic, fast pace of wing shooting makes it impossible to be certain every shot taken will result in a clean kill. Like most waterfowlers, I detest sky busting birds that are beyond reasonable range, but that reasonable range involves a ton of subjectivity. As a result, I'm sure that ther are dozens of birds that I have shot at that flew off and died (based on thousands shot at). That is acceptable to me.
For your final thought, I would absolutely argue that someone who can deal with field conditions and still make the shot is a better hunter than someone who can merely make a long shot on steel. Being a better hunter has more to do with putting yourself in position to make a shot and then making it. But that is only my opinion and what would impress me more.
I'm certain that there are far better civilian shooters from an accuracy perspective than many military snipers, but can they make that shot under battlefield conditions? That's what makes snipers better marksman, but that is purely my subjective opinion. They are 2 similar, but very different pursuits, yet both involve making a 1000 yard shot.
Perhaps a big point of view difference here is that I see long range shooting and long range hunting as related, but totally different pursuits. The guns and ammo are actually VERY different. I would never long range target shoot with Nosler Accubonds, and I'd never hunt with Sierra Match Kings.
Just so you understand me, because you may have missed my past posts. I was taught to hunt from my dad in the early 50's. His style was still hunting in timber. He drove it into me to never take anything but safe shots. It's how i've hunted big game all my life. I do take long shots for coyote hunting, but a miss or wound doesn't bother me like it would for deer and elk.
Not to brag, because it's nothing to brag about, but i've never lost an animal. (big game). That's not really had to do if you have the discipline to pass up unsafe shots. All my skills revolve around getting close. 100yds is a long shot that I rarely take. What needs to be practiced is running shots, but even then they aren't taken unless conditions are perfect. Most of my shots with a gun could be taken with a bow. Probably 90% were taken with a 30-30 for deer and elk.
So, you can understand why I might cringe when I read about 1000 yd shots. All I can hope is that whoever is doing them, has the skill to make the shot.
Bow hunters definitely love the challenge of up close and personal , and personally I see no hunting skill in long range shooting, and that is basically the only skill I see is long range capability .for me no thanks , I'd rather hunt for my game and go home empty handed ,than bench shoot an animal .
I appreciate the honest discussion Pete and I respect your approach to hunting 100%.
Az Mtn runner - I understand that long range hunting has no appeal or point to you. It is far more complex than just "bench shooting an animal". Just because there is no traditional stalk involved doesn't mean there are no hunting skills involved. Hopefully, we as sportmen do not condemn those who choose to hunt in a way that is uninteresting or "not hunting" to us.
For example, it is my view that modern muzzle loaders are just as effetive as rifles at ranges where 90% of kills occur (under 300 yards). I think a muzzle loader season is unneccessary unless you are going to only leyt guys use primitive style muzzle loader. Likewise, in some states, you can bow hunt with a cross bow. Again, I think that is dumb and not fair to true archers. HOWEVER, I would never criticize those that enjoy those two variations of muzzle loading and archery, because I appreciate the freedom we have to pursue what makes us happy (life liberty and the pursuit...). The day we start telling each other how they should or shouldn't hunt is the day we have joined forces with those who wish to regulate us out of existence all together.
I suppose part of the fun of getting on the internet is to argue about stuff with people in order to vent our opinions. Nobody ever gets their mind changed or changes anyone else's. That said, I will sign off of this thread and thank all who have engaged in the discussion in a civil way.
Let me address your ML comments. I completely agree that the ML season should have been kept more primitive. However, Colorado has tried to keep it that way. They banned inlines, but it only lasted one year. Too much pressure from the manufacturers. They tried to ban BH 209 powder, but again they failed. They are sticking to no scopes, pellets, or sabots. This in itself limits a muzzleloader to much shorter distances than a CF gun. Unless you have eyes like an Eagle. The average guy with somewhere around 125 yds max distance. That puts it right back to the distance of a traditional sidelock muzzleloader. Even with a scope and sabots that other states allow. 300yds is quite a stretch. Way to much drop to the bullets, and wind will blow the bullet around quite a bit. Much much harder than CF guns that are only dealing with a few inches. You also have to deal with no fast follow up shot.
I'll tell you what i'd like to see in Colorado. Give us a primitive ML season. You'd be required to use a sidelock, primitive sights, black powder, and a round ball. (PRB) Give us a bit longer season during the rut like archery, because we'd have to get close, and being able to call them in would help. As it does in archery.
Then they could pick a later time in the year, and have a modern muzzleloader season. You would be able to use inlines, sabots, scopes etc. Maybe even let them use smokeless muzzleloaders too. Maybe it could be combined with the rifle seasons. This way everybody is happy, and the DOW doesn't lose any money on tag sales.
Then you have to look at archery. Compound bows were never the intention of giving bow hunters a month long season. A compound bow is the inline ML of the archery season. It was suppose to be a primitive hunting season. That's why more time was given to get it done. I know my local warden wishes the season was shortened to be like the other seasons. Compound hunters are something like 90% right now. So, it's become a problem. I wouldn't be surprised to see the season shortened. I have no dog in that fight. Just talking about what i've heard.