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Old September 18, 2009, 07:32 AM   #1
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Shoot or No Shoot?

There are many threads here about shooting wild animals for self defense. There are threads about animal attacks and maulings. We somethimes wonder why the victim wasn't armed. I know I carry a gun when I take nature walks. I have yet to encounter any creature that would pose a danger to me. If I do, I hope I have the witts about me to take appropriate action. But, what is appropriate action?

If I spot a mountain lion fifty yards away and he doesn't seem to notice me, could I, or rather should I shoot it? I see a bear crossing a meadow a hundred yards away. She could care less about me, do I shoot? In other words, I wonder when would I shoot a dangerous creature? I am not talking about game laws or regulations, just the morality of it.

For self-defense, I have absolutely no qualms about shooting any animal. I also do not want to kill anything needlessly. I am not some sort of environmental whacko, far from it, but blasting away critters for no purpose at all is not cool to me.

Has anyone here ever thought about this? At what point would you pull the trigger on a dangerous animal? Is it on sight regardless of the circumstances? Do you wait for some sort of aggressive behavior directed at you? Is distance the deciding factor? Is shooting you first or last reaction?

I just hope I will make the right decision when I am faced with it.
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Old September 18, 2009, 07:43 AM   #2
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If I am fortunate enough to spot a large predator before it sees me I will freeze and stand very still. I will stay in that position as long as I have sight of the predator.
I would consider myself very lucky to have this situation.
If the animal noticed me and started moving towards me I would get in ready mode with gun in hands. First shot would be in the ground if it continued to come at me. Chances are this would be enough to scare it away.
Once it comes within 50 yards and shows no sign of stopping it's advance then all bets are off.
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Old September 18, 2009, 07:52 AM   #3
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+1 Dragon

Tough to determine the intention of a predator until very close.
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Old September 18, 2009, 02:23 PM   #4
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Agreed except for the warning shot, that is wasted ammunition. I have had a mountain lion cross in front of me no more that 50 yards away and she paid no more attention to me than if I had been another cholla plant. Half that distance from black bears, I just stand very still and they do what they do and then move along. Not unless they are looking at me and coming towards me would I ever consider using my gun.
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Old September 18, 2009, 02:26 PM   #5
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I don't care if it is the last one of it's kind... if it charges or stalks me and is obviously after me... I am gonna call my SD rights into play when I do my best to eliminate the threat.
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Old September 18, 2009, 02:47 PM   #6
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Chances are, by the time you see the cat, it's on you or one you're with. Them mountain lions are sneaky little bastages.
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Old September 18, 2009, 03:06 PM   #7
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At 100 yds or even 50 I wouldn't shoot a predator animal unless I noticed strange behavior on it's part (signs of rabies, etc) or it seemed to be taking an unhealthy interest in me. I have seen bears and a mountain lion up close and they took no more interst in me than anything else.
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Old September 18, 2009, 03:32 PM   #8
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OH NO!!! There are wild animals out here!!!!! KillII Kill!! Kill!! Oh, sorry Mr Ranger, I was just defending myself from the bear and the lion.

If that sounds plausible to you, go ahead. I hear state prisons are very nice. But seriously, if you are out in "the wilds" and you happen to see a predatory animal (bear, wolf, lion, etc), and that animal is not threatening you in any way, why on earth would you think it's OK to shoot? Both of the animals you mentioned are controlled species, meaning you have to have a license and tags to take them legally unless they pose an imminent threat to you or your property. As far as being a threat to you, be serious. You have a better chance of a McDonalds 1/4 Pounder killing you than a cougar or a bear. This is just like the old nursery rhyme: "Leave them alone and they'll go home, wagging their tails behind them".
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Old September 18, 2009, 04:03 PM   #9
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Here in the Rockies, Johnny Law has gotten very good, and very intent on reading the layout of your "attack" and whether or not your shoot is justified. Many people have found their way to the county confines shouting his innocence. No serilously, you have to have fairly decent evidence that you were under attack for it to be justified. 100yd=meet Bubba
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Old September 18, 2009, 06:08 PM   #10
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Using common sense when walking/hiking in predator habitat goes a long way. I hike in cougar/timber wolf/black bear/grizzly bear habitat on an almost daily basis for my job. Chances are, unless you are deliberately stalking a wild animal, it will know you are there long before you know it's there, if you ever even see it, especially cougars and wolves (but generally the average person has very little to fear from them under normal circumstances.) Bears can be stumbled upon occasionally, in a situation where both parties are surprised, but this is where common sense should prevail. They are generally either timid or at worst indifferent to your presence. They are normally only aggressive under a handful of scenarios: they feel you are threatening to steal their meal, they feel you are threatening to harm their cubs, or they feel you are threatening to harm them. I have had numerous bear encounters (excluding the practically domesticated ones at the local dump) and in all but one of them, the bears have been of the timid variety and took off running immediately upon spotting me (or my trusty hound bearing down on them.) One encounter involved an 'indifferent' bear. He wasn't aggressive at all, but no amount of shouting, arm waving or rock throwing would dissuade him from going about his business in a very nonchalant, leisurely manner. In fact, he almost seemed mildly amused at the crazy shirtless human carrying on and making a fuss. After a few minutes, he trundled on his way and didn't return.
Also, sometimes even when they seem aggressive, they are just 'bluffing.' They may go so far as to charge, but will stop short, stomping the ground, swiping their paws and chuffing and snapping their jaws. I have a friend who recently had a run-in with an aggressive bear that did exactly that. He had wrecked his truck 30 km from his camp and was walking back. He could hear a bear in the bush stalking him for some time before it ran out and charged him. He didn't have a firearm with him so he picked up a big rock, stood his ground and luckily the bear stopped about 10 feet from him and put on the aforementioned aggressive display before my friend threw the rock at it and it turned tail and ran. Now, I'm not suggesting that I would let an encounter get that far if I had a firearm, but it just goes to show that, just seeing a predator or any other potentially dangerous wild animal is certainly in no way an excuse to fire at it. You should be reasonably certain that it intends to do you harm. I carry a firearm with me on hikes, but I hope that I never have to use it to kill a wild animal in self defence.
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Old September 18, 2009, 06:25 PM   #11
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Reading your post (OP), I think you're confusing hunting with self defense.

If an animal poses no immediate threat to you (mt lion or bear passing by, no matter whether that's at 100 yard or 3 feet), but you kill it, then you were hunting. In that case here in the US, you better have the proper hunting licenses and/or tags, and the season better be open. If not, then you'd be committing an illegal act and would be considereed a criminal by law.

In that case, you would be the aggressor (hunter), and shot the animal without it posing an immediate threat to you.

Sorta like if you shot another hiker because you thought he MIGHT attack you. That'd be murder. But if the other hiker had a weapon, and was threatening or trying to kill you, then that would be considered self defense in most states.

An animal is no different. In general, if a "reasonable person" would think that the animal was attacking you, then you'd be justified in shooting it in self defense.

If the animal is attacking you, then the animal is the aggressor instead of you.

Bears are known to "false charge" at times. It's a bluff meant to scare you away. You've no way of knowing it's intention when it charges though, and some have killed people. So, if it's charging at you, and is close enough to pose a threat to your life and/or well being, then shoot it if you can. If it's not threatening you, then let it pass and be on your way.

A mt lion that's passing by you doesn't necessarily pose a threat. One that's stalking you very well might. There's the difference.

And no, I've never really thought about such things when it comes to animals. To me, the answer seems rather obvious. Not that all situations will be cut and dried one way or the other, but in general if you don't feel threatened, then don't shoot unless you're actually hunting that animal.


Last edited by Daryl; September 18, 2009 at 06:34 PM.
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Old September 18, 2009, 06:35 PM   #12
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Start shooting instantly and your relatives can come visit you every Sunday in the crossbar hotel. Just because you see a large predator doesnt mean they will attack you. I fortunately live in an area that has many of both species and I see bears many times a years and an occasional cat. I have never been charged by either but I have been challenged and a quick route change elimanated the threat. However just last year on my property a female forest ranger was stalked by a lion unknown by her and witness by my neighbor that frightened it away, so it does happen. You will know when it is time to shoot.
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Old September 18, 2009, 11:24 PM   #13
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A mt lion that's passing by you doesn't necessarily pose a threat. One that's stalking you very well might. There's the difference.
That's the problem with Mt Lions. If it's stalking you you aren't going to see it until it is either on you, or about to be on you. So unless you stumble upon a cat on a kill or one that is wounded, you should be alright.
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Old September 19, 2009, 12:43 AM   #14
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Wear lots of bells, that way the next hiker will hear the bear jingling.

The odds are pretty good you won't see a bear or a cougar.
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Old September 19, 2009, 02:35 AM   #15
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We see Mt. Lions in the American River Parkway right here in town but we haven't had to shoot one too many deer to eat so they are happy.
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Old September 19, 2009, 02:44 AM   #16
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Bear warning and bells...

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Old September 19, 2009, 05:49 AM   #17
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As always hogdogs, a most adequate post. Thanks for the laugh! The only thing I`ve ever shot in the woods, other than what I was hunting, was four dogs that were in a pack of about eight. I came out of a thicket and they had a deer down. Two rather large dogs attacked, they were the first to go. The blast scared the rest and they ran. Wished I`d had gotten all of them.

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Old September 19, 2009, 07:33 AM   #18
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Great question, one I have often pondered. I came close to such a decision a couple of years ago.

I was hunting this area with my dog. She was on the other side of a ditch. She was an area that was covered in short grass and light scrub. Anyway, she all of sudden came to a stop. There was something in her path, the way she acted, it was something unfamiliar to her. I decided to cross the ditch to see.

What I saw was a shock. No more then a twenty feet in front of her was a badger laying up next to some brush. All I had was my 20 gauge loaded with 8-shot. Yes, at that range I konw a blast of bird shot should do a critter in. I did raise the gun and point it at the badger. The badger was completely frozen, I know that they can quickly change attitudes with dire consequences to both man and dog. Then another thought crossed my mind.

What if I shoot and the shot isn't immediately fatal? My dog might rush in and then I would be rushing my dog to the vet' if it survived. I backed myself and the dog up slowly. I have no idea where that creature went and I don't care.

I still wonder to this day what prevented that badger from attacking my dog. I am grateful my dog had the sense not to attack it.
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Old September 19, 2009, 09:03 AM   #19
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My area is bum-deep in lion poop, but outside of Big Bend National Park nobody's ever been seriously messed with by a lion. Followed, yeah, but apparently just out of curiosity. We have the occasional bear, but very, very rarely.

So, I've never really worried. I generally have some sort of adequate gun with me whether deer hunting or quail hunting; or maybe my Redhawk for my favorite military officer, "General Principles".

Anything not headed for me in a hostile manner? I'll just watch and enjoy.

Badgers? We have a few. They don't bother anything. They're fun to tease. Poke 'em with a stick, they get all growly and go humping and harumphing off toward the brush in high dudgeon. They can't run fast enough to matter.
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Old September 19, 2009, 05:55 PM   #20
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In This Case

Don't shoot! The coyote that is!
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Old September 19, 2009, 06:12 PM   #21
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Walking in woods near towns and cities you're more likely, I think, to be threatened by a pack of feral dogs. I have no qualms about shooting them if they're aggressive towards people.

Most wild critters are wary of humans and will do the same things we do. Keep a watch on the target and avoid approaching. Only when they start closing in should you start getting worried. I've had a mt. lion watch me from less than 50 yards, but I think s/he was more curious than anything. Or waiting for me to leave before crossing the road I was on.

The one rule of thumb I have is that if I come across the young of a predator (bear, mt. lion, wolf, even pigs) then I will immediately backtrack to avoid meeting mama.
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Old September 19, 2009, 06:55 PM   #22
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even pigs
You dang right you better avoid striped feral piglets... Not only will their own momma defend but any adult hog in ear shot is likely to come runnin' ready to run you over and show you why we hog doggers call them "SWORDS"
That squeal at any age is a call for help and it often gets answered.
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