Bowhunting: When NOT to Take the Shot
As a bow hunter, there are few things more exciting than eyeing a massive buck or elk when you’re out in the field. As an ethical and responsible practitioner of the sport, however, there will be times when you’ll have to refrain from taking a shot and just sit back and watch the strapping animal walk out of your sights forever.
Whether it’s a bull moose, a whitetail doe, or a turkey, all game animals should be treated with respect and dignity by the hunters pursuing them. This means avoiding putting any animal through undue and prolonged suffering by passing on a shot that is unlikely to take down your quarry on the spot. These shots often result in wounded animals fleeing into the woods to die a long and agonizing death.
Here are five types of shots where a bowhunter is best advised to hold on to their arrow:
Out of Range Shots
A bow hunter should resist the the temptation to take a shot on an animal that is outside of their maximum range in the field. Even if you’re a deadeye at 80 yards out on the practice range, the fatigue and excitement you experience during a hunt can affect your accuracy to the point where your effective range in the field is as little as half that distance. Additionally, the amount of kinetic energy an arrow loses over long distances reduced its lethality, increasing the likelihood of a wounded animal running off into the brush.
Another shot that can be quite tempting is the head-on shot. A head-on shot with a bow rarely results in a kill, however, as the breast bone of a deer will often dissipate much of the arrow’s kinetic energy and prevent it from delivering fatal damage to the internal organs. Moreover, even if your arrow successfully passes through the breast plate, the splintering of the bone and damage caused by the shot is likely to ruin much of the meat the animal offers.
“Texas Heart” Shots
A shot taken at an animal directly from the rear, known as a “Texas Heart Shot”, is another shot that bow hunters should refrain from taking. The pelvis is the largest bone structure in an animal and is likely to block any arrow from passing through the animal’s internal organs at this angle.
While shooting through foliage and other obstructions presents little challenge with a rifle, even leaves and flimsy branches can significantly alter the flight path of an arrow, which can result in a bad shot. If your arrow doesn’t have a clear path towards its intended target, it is best to hold on to it until you can get an unobstructed shot.
Remember to always practice safety and responsibility when out in the field. Reckless or poorly placed shots should always be avoided. If you aren’t confident in your ability to strike a fatal blow to your target at any angle or range, you owe it to the animal to save your arrow for another encounter.
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