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Old September 28, 2013, 07:56 PM   #1
JohnKSa
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Interesting comment relating to long-range hunting...

I was reading an article in the November 2013 issue of Shooting Times by Joseph Von Benedikt, the hunting editor of the magazine. In it he commented that he took a 138yard shot on an axis deer and hit it too far back because the deer took a step just as he pulled the trigger. That step was enough to move the shot 6-8" from the intended point of impact resulting in virtually no blood trail and a very long recovery process. (They did eventually find it.)

138 yards isn't really a long shot and therefore the time-of-flight really wasn't particularly long. The poor hit was due exclusively to the lag between deciding to take the shot and when the finger can finally make the trigger pull.

I think about things like this when I hear people talking about taking very long shots on unwounded game. The same lag between deciding to shoot and actually shooting will still be there, but as the range stretches TOF becomes a significant issue as well. Von Bendikt's shot was at least lethal, but that could have changed had the shot been taken at 500 yards. The additional TOF would have allowed the deer to move farther before the bullet reached it, resulting in a true gut shot.

What it boils down to is that it doesn't matter how good a shot you are, how skilled you are, how many times you made this shot on paper at the range. Unless you can anticipate every move the animal makes (obviously unrealistic), taking a very long shot is always going to be a risk.
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Old September 28, 2013, 08:29 PM   #2
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Yep. Hunting is a sport, not a sure thing, with prey that often have excellent senses and a will to live (and/or fight). If it weren't we wouldn't need many bullets, and meat would be harvested like daisies.
As for 138 yards, there is a large amount of large game taken in the west at 2-3 times that range. The larger game didn't get big by letting humans consistently get within 50 yards of them.
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Old September 29, 2013, 12:58 AM   #3
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Those of us with supernatural powers don't need to worry about such things.
I can sense exactly what the animal is going to do, before its muscles even know. And, I can make the bullet go where ever I want with telekinesis.







I do agree. The longer the shot, the greater the risk.
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Old September 29, 2013, 07:27 AM   #4
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I took this mulefoot sow with an easy head shot that missed the head, whizzing by the eye and smashing into the top of the neck/shoulder juncture. The rifle's zero was proper. Wind was nil.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSPUs0Gv6Ms

What happened? When I did a frame by frame analysis, in the last two frames before the screen goes black under recoil, the hog swung its head, less than 2", but enough to miss my intended POI. From one frame to the next, the time difference show 0.14 seconds. In other words, I had already gotten my visual cue and had sent or was sending the brain signal to my trigger finger to fire.

It was still a good shot because behind the head from my POV were all the vitals. I was going to hit something good, but it was the alternative impact area and not the top of the head as planned...and the difference, even at such close range, was in an extremely short amount of time.
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Old September 29, 2013, 07:57 AM   #5
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I tend to believe its the hunter not the game that causes un-explained muffed shots, short, medium, or long range.

The culprit in my opinion is follow through, or lack there of.

Everyone want's to see if they hit, so instantly after firing one tends to drop the rifle or raise the head for a "look see".

You can see this on the range, not just in the field. If one is shooting paper w/out a spotting scope so they have to walk down range to check the target after firing a string, they tend to shoot better then, say shooting steel, where the want to see the hit, or the gong wobble.

As a side note, long range shots on game are like tiny sub minute groups on paper. No one ever talks about the muffed shots long range, just like they don't post pictures of the dozen or so large groups before they luck into the tiny group.

It's human nature.
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Old September 29, 2013, 08:44 AM   #6
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"Everyone want's to see if they hit, so instantly after firing one tends to drop the rifle or raise the head for a "look see".

More so with a ML Try to peak over the smoke..
Y/D
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Old September 29, 2013, 08:48 AM   #7
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I didn't see the Shooting Times article, but sometimes its hard to admit that you just made a bad shot. I don't buy the likelihood of a standing animal moving forward fast enough after the trigger was pulled to cause a shot too far back at such a short distance. I don't know the cartridge he used and I can't calculate the flight time, but sometimes it's hard to admit we screwed up. If we things go wrong, it's never our mistake, we don't learn.

I almost made a worse mistake a few years ago. I was regularly hitting white painted 8 inch gongs at 450 yards by sighting with the top elevator on my 40-82, and it occurred to me that the exact place where I had my line of gongs was in a high pasture field on a well-used deer crossing. Any where else, even at a hundred yard shorter distance, and I would miss. The 40-82 was only moving at about 1800 fps, and if I miscalculated the distance by only a few yards, I would be way off on any really long shot. Before I made the mistake of trying a deer at the exact spot where I placed the gongs, it came to me why I shouldn't try. The hang time of the bullet was so long that after each shot I could almost set the rifle down, start making a sandwich, and wait for the sound of the bullet knocking over the gong. In that hang time I could easily hold perfectly for the chest cavity of a deer, and in the time it took for the bullet to reach him he could move, and I could wound him. I dearly love long range shooting at targets, but so much can go wrong, as I get older I find myself less and less inclined to try it on big game animals.
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Old September 29, 2013, 10:24 AM   #8
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It's also called hunting, not shooting. There's a huge difference. Think of all of the myriad skills required to close into ethical gun range (or archery, muzzleloader, spear, whatever) of your quarry before taking the shot. Use those other skills mankind developed over tens of thousands of years and really hunt. Shooting is, well, shooting. I've got no problem with someone shooting prairie dogs at long range. I DO have a problem with people taking extreme range shots on a big game animal and risk crippling the animal from an errant round. This applies to those taking too long a shot with a bow as well as a rifle.
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Old September 29, 2013, 11:19 AM   #9
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Quote:
Everyone want's to see if they hit, so instantly after firing one tends to drop the rifle or raise the head for a "look see".
LOL, when night hunting, if I lift my head, I can't see squat once I'm off the scope.
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Old September 29, 2013, 05:36 PM   #10
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I guess part of one's hunting skill is learning to read animal behavior, being able to have a reasonably accurate presumption as to what the critter is likely to do in the next second or three.
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Old September 29, 2013, 07:22 PM   #11
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Predictions are probabilistic. It's impossible to say for certain that a browsing animal won't take a step or won't move its head. One can minimize the chances through experience and observation but they can't be eliminated.
Quote:
I tend to believe its the hunter not the game that causes un-explained muffed shots, short, medium, or long range.
I tend to believe that this is the cause of most misses, but I've watched enough "gun camera" video to know that it's not always the case.

The advent of small video cameras, or scopes that record video provide definitive data, on occasion, to show that a good shot can be turned into a bad shot if the animal moves at just the wrong time.
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I don't buy the likelihood of a standing animal moving forward fast enough after the trigger was pulled to cause a shot too far back at such a short distance.
As I mentioned, time of flight was not a significant issue in the case I cited. The issue was the lag in the reaction time of the shooter.

Between the time that we make a decision and our bodies actually carry it out there is a lag of up to 0.2 seconds. Between the time that we see something and actually are able to perceive it there is another lag. According to the article below, "certain forms of motion perception take a second or longer to register".

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/...of-perception/

So even if we completely dismiss time of flight, there can still be a lag of 1.2 seconds between the last visual input that registers and the time we pull the trigger.

As pointed out, even at close range that can make a significant difference in the point of impact on an animal that moves at just the wrong time. At longer distances when TOF begins to be a significant contributor, the issue becomes more severe.
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Old September 29, 2013, 07:32 PM   #12
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Of course, there's also the other side of the coin...

An animal at 500 yards might take 3 steps instead of one, taking what would have been a gut shot at 100 and turning it into a clean miss.

To me, it's a bit like trying to say you're going to leave 30 seconds later to avoid a car accident, when you have no way of knowing if by leaving later you might put yourself in the accident or avoid it, or there might not be one either way.

The animal moving at 100 might cause a gut shot, the animal moving at 500 might cause a clean miss.

One might argue that 500 is "safer". There are 3 options at that distance, miss, clean kill or wound with unknown ending. Two out of 3, 66%, are acceptable. At 100, there are two options, clean kill or wound with unknown ending. 50% acceptable. Hm.

It's a predictions game with completely unknown odds and completely unknown variables, just like trying to predict a car accident.

To me, it's like driving a car. Sure, there might be an accident but as long as everything seems ok and I'm careful, I have no way of predicting it whether it be a 1 mile drive to the gas station or a 200 mile cross state trip, a 100 yard shot or a 500 yard shot.
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Old September 29, 2013, 07:45 PM   #13
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Leaving earlier or later to avoid an accident is attempting to manipulate factors entirely beyond the control of the driver.

The range on a hunting shot is certainly something that the hunter can control.

Given that the goal of shooting is to aim properly and hit where we aim, to down the animal and to do so cleanly, it isn't logical to say that having less control over achieving that goal is better than or even equivalent to having better control.

While it's certainly true that the longer shot might result in a miss that was so bad that it missed the animal entirely, having less control over where the bullet hits is still a bad thing in terms of achieving the goal of hitting where we aim and downing the animal cleanly.
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Old September 30, 2013, 09:44 AM   #14
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There is no doubt in my mind that the longer the shot the more risks involved but these are all factors that must be taken into account to minimize them. As for the lag time between the brain and the trigger finger, wow that is a while. If a person has that much lag time I certainly hope they take it into account while driving, specifically while behind me on the highway
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Old September 30, 2013, 04:08 PM   #15
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Quote:
As for the lag time between the brain and the trigger finger, wow that is a while. If a person has that much lag time I certainly hope they take it into account while driving, specifically while behind me on the highway.
Aren't you funny, LOL, but I would stay off the road IIWY when I am driving.

The point of the trigger pull issue from the vid above was to show how quickly even a close range shot can end up missing an exacting mark because of animal movement. Just image how much further the animal can move if it has half, 3/4, or a second or more to move between the time when the signal is given to pull the trigger and when the bullet arrives down range.
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Old September 30, 2013, 06:40 PM   #16
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All this make a case for the largest target available. Heart lung, and spending enough time on paper at distance to cause you to realize your limitations. Gongs seem good enough, but paper at 400 yds. is humbling. The most popular gongs are usually too large to represent a safe shot at that distance. Shoot from field position, NOT BAGS ON A BENCH.
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Old September 30, 2013, 07:58 PM   #17
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I'll back John up on the reaction time. Once upon a time when I had to memorize the ejection seat sequence for the mighty T-37 "Converter", human factors experts measured the time from recognition of the need to eject to the ability for the body to move at .3 seconds. If applied to this scenario, which depending on how you look at the factors involved, could be quite similar... Excitement, adrenalin, channelized attention... They share a lot of similarities.
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Old September 30, 2013, 09:30 PM   #18
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I'm really perplexed by this issue. For a few reasons.

1) This isn't a terrorist holding a knife to your wife's throat and your world crumbles if you miss. Yes, we have a responsibility to make our best shot but we're killing this thing on purpose. We do our best, we make reasonable choices, we regret mistakes, but it's not earth-shattering if the shot goes bad. It happens to every hunter. It happens to every hunter. Yes it does. Sooner or later. It's not the end of the world.

2)The whole point in the article is that this can happen (I'll hold my doubts on the details) at even 100 yards. That being the case, how do we arbitrarily draw a line and say "This percentage is ok, but this percentage isn't."? It's entirely arbitrary. How do we assign an acceptable error limit and why is that limit, no matter the number, unethical at 5 yards farther?

3)If we pick some completely arbitrary distance, say 500 is too far so we'll say 350? Rifle bullets are easily 10x faster than the fastest arrows and might be 20x faster than a recurve or long-bow. At 295fps launch, an arrow covers 50 yards in about 0.6 seconds, a 139gr Hornady 7mm-08 round covers 500 yards in about 0.6 seconds. That being the case, is a shot at 35 yards the ethical limit for a modern, high-speed compound bow, regardless of the shooters ability? Is the ethical limit for a recurve 15 or 20 regardless of the shooters ability? If not, why not?
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Old September 30, 2013, 10:17 PM   #19
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I shot at and missed a deer at 810 yards. The deer I intended to shoot was a nice buck. I dialed the trajectory and dialed the windage. I was looking at him and my level. Just as my brain told my finger to put the last amount of force needed to break the trigger, the deer began walking. I killed the doe standing behind the buck that I wanted to kill. I knew that the 7 RUM would probably get her too, I had a tag and did not care. As it turned out, I only got her. When shooting long range, stuff happens. You just have to accept that fact or refuse to shoot long range.
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Old September 30, 2013, 10:53 PM   #20
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As for the lag time between the brain and the trigger finger, wow that is a while.
Well, the lag between brain and trigger finger is probably only about a fifth of a second (0.20 seconds) but the lag between perceiving certain types of motion and then consciously acting on it can be much longer--up to 1.2 seconds.
Quote:
Yes, we have a responsibility to make our best shot but we're killing this thing on purpose. We do our best, we make reasonable choices, we regret mistakes, but it's not earth-shattering if the shot goes bad. It happens to every hunter. It happens to every hunter. Yes it does. Sooner or later.
The fact that accidents are inevitable isn't sufficient rationale for failing to take reasonable precautions. It's one thing to acknowledge that they happen and that in some ways they may be unavoidable, but it's another to say that since they happen and are unavoidable it doesn't matter if we do things that we know will significantly increase the chances of an accident.
Quote:
That being the case, how do we arbitrarily draw a line and say "This percentage is ok, but this percentage isn't."?
It's a judgement call, and every shooter will have to make it for himself/herself and then live with the consequences.

The deer in the story was hit fatally and was recovered in spite of the fact that the bullet hit 6-8" off the aiming point. Had the range been longer and the other circumstances the same, the shot would likely have not been fatal and the animal would have escaped wounded.

How much longer? It's very hard to say. It's clear that there is a limit, beyond which shooting at an unwounded game animal is unethical, but the specific threshold isn't the point, the point is that it's a factor that needs to be considered with gravity.

Without getting into specific numbers (which will vary based on a number of things) I think it's safe to say that anyone shooting at an animal so far away that they know that they can't react in time to keep a well-aimed shot in the killzone due to TOF delay needs to rethink the decision to take the shot.
Quote:
Is the ethical limit for a recurve 15 or 20 regardless of the shooters ability?
TOF can be surprisingly long for arrows due to their much slower velocity. The same general principles apply, but the numbers will be different and the ranges shorter.
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Old October 1, 2013, 07:00 AM   #21
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I can see a cave man scolding his hunting partner in some guttural language for making a bad throw.

Distances have changed. But, I doubt the learning process has. Nor, the disposition and talent of various hunters.

Do your best and encourage those around you to do their best knowing that it doesn't always work out perfectly.
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Old October 1, 2013, 08:12 AM   #22
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Quote:
I shot at and missed a deer at 810 yards.
I don't doubt it.

As long as it's legal to each his own and let your conscience be your guide. But for me part of hunting is getting as close as you can before making the shot. The deer I hunt here in Alabama get hunted hard from the start of bow season Oct 15th to the end of gun season January 31st. That is 3 and a half months of being pursued by hunters. As a result they are some of the most human shy and skittish deer in the country. But you would be hard pressed to spook one of our deer from 800 yards even on open ground sitting in your truck flashing the headlights and honking the horn. So if you are taking 800 yards shots at game animals it is because you want to not because you need to or have to. It would be a sad ass hunter that could not stalk closer than that. People who take shots from this range are doing it on purpose just to see if they can still hit the animal from that range. It's simply using animals as live targets for long range target shooting games. And if you pull it off then yeah, great, that's a fine shot. But it's certainly no great hunting accomplishment. And hitting a metal gong from 800 yards away would be equally impressive and just as much of an accomplishment. I also do not believe that anyone alive can consistently make these 800 to 1000 yard shots first time every time under varying field conditions. Although the internet certainly seems to be a magical place where they exist in great numbers. LOL!
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Old October 1, 2013, 08:37 AM   #23
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If one learns to stalk game, and desires to hunt in a sporting manner he should not take 800 yard shots. Even 500 yards is a very long shot and the max that shots should be taken. 300 is a better number.

Somehow extremely long range shots have become the rage for some. It is not sporting, and not really hunting, just shooting. It goes along with riding ATVs to the max instead of walking.

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Old October 1, 2013, 09:59 AM   #24
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"Hunting" is the art of getting close enough to your prey, and in the right position that a clean and consistant kill is very likely within your ability as a shooter, and within the effective range of your weapon.

Those are all judgement calls that vary greatly between hunters and weapons, so there is no majic forumla or specific numbers to rely on.
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Old October 1, 2013, 11:33 AM   #25
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As a long time bow hunter of deer and bear (this is related), I am cringing now as bow technology has improved, at how often I hear guys tell of attempting shots on big game at 40-45, even 50 yards.

Yes, the bow under a good archer's guidance can accurately place an arrow that far. What the deer/animal has time to do between that arrow release and the arrow's arrival... I blame a lot of this on lack of wood craft, as an above poster said.

Getting close to game is part of the hunt. Whether close is 25 yards with a bow, or 200 yards with a gun, I feel strongly about it.

Less instant gratification, more work. No wonder it's losing popularity!
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