Let’s be very clear: the 1,010 yard shot shown in the video showed incredible skill on the part of the marksman.
But is this fair chase hunting, and is it ethical?
Over at Empty Cases, Richard Mann gave same thought to the ethics of long range hunting, and opines:
I don’t know a single human that must hunt for food to survive. If one exists, I could care less the techniques they employ to get their animal. When a whitetail backstrap is all that stands between you and starvation, ethics seem much less important. However, for the sport hunter, ethics is and always will be part of the equation. Some trek only a few hundred yards from their truck. Others climb to the top mountain. Some use dogs for deer – legally. Others think it near the equivalent of a sin. Some hunters struggle to hit a deer at 100 yards; others can put them down with regularity at five times that distance.
The ethical answer is not what others consider appropriate. Ethics is you operating within the law and your abilities. When you step outside of either, hit or miss, you have bridged the ethics gap.
Hunting is about hunting but all hunting is about the shot. Regardless the animal, only shots within your abilities should be taken.
Bottom line: Don’t let your inability to perform a task result in labeling it as unethical. Every man has to know his limitations, those who operate – hunt and shoot – within those limitations are ethical. For those who can shoot, long-range is a lot further than it is for those who cannot. Long-range hunting is definable by the individual, not the hunting community.
I do feel compelled to note that Mann’s article only specifically referred to shots of 500 yards and in, not double that distance.
Writers at Peterson’s, Outdoor Life, Sports Afield, and other outlets seem to all hold that 400-600 yards is the maximum distance for an ethical fair chase shot, and those are opinions from very seasoned hunters with thousands of hours afield and a great deal of skill.
Boone & Crockett have obviously been disturbed by the trend towards ever-longer shots, and felt compelled to offer a position statement on the matter.
The Boone and Crockett Club believes the term “long-range” shooting is more defined by a hunter’s intent, than any specific distance at which a shot is taken. If the intent of the individual is to test equipment and determine how far one can shoot to hit a live target and if there is no motivation to risk engagement with the animal being hunted, this practice is not hunting and should not be accorded the same status as hunting.
The Boone and Crockett Club maintains that hunting, at its most fundamental level, is defined by a tenuous and unpredictable relationship between predator and prey. This is an intrinsic, irrefutable and intimate connection that cannot be compromised if the hunter is to maintain the sanctity of this relationship and any credible claim that hunting is challenging, rewarding, respectful of wild creatures, and in service to wildlife conservation. This connection is built upon many complex components that differentiate hunting from simply shooting or killing.
The Club finds that long-range shooting takes unfair advantage of the game animal, effectively eliminates the natural capacity of an animal to use its senses and instincts to detect danger, and demeans the hunter/prey relationship in a way that diminishes the importance and relevance of the animal and the hunt. The Club urges all hunters to think carefully of the consequences of long-range shooting, whether hunting with a rifle, bow, muzzleloader, crossbow, or handgun, and not confuse the purposes and intent of long-range shooting with fair chase hunting.
I can (and have) made first-round shots on targets out to 960 yards on targets, but I’ve never thought about attempting a shot beyond 350 yards while hunting game animals. I typically still hunt or stand hunt in terrain where the longest shot I will likely see is well under 100 yards. That gives game animals a chance to see me, hear me, and smell me. That makes it a challenge. That makes it fair chase hunting.
Sniping a deer over 1,00 yards away? I’m not sure what it is, but is isn’t fair chase hunting.