Contributors to this thread:
Do you keep shooting?
This is just a subject I think should be talked about each year, this should come up before hunts start but it always comes to mind after hearing about all the hunts on the internet.
If you shoot an elk and cannot find it do you keep on shooting until you kill one that falls where you can find it? or do you use the rest of your hunt to find the elk dead or alive? IMO most people don't know the full extent of their shot because it happens so fast and it is often very different than one thinks they saw, it is such a fine line to know definitively whether or not the elk will survive. So is it okay to shoot more than one elk? just cause you looked for it and couldn't find it doesn't mean you didn't kill it..........it is so easy to say "I am sure he will survive" and move on.
To put it another way, if the elk you shot dies and you just "couldn't find it" then you move on and kill another one are you in essence poaching by killing 2 elk with one tag...........how sure can one be that a shot animal survived without actually finding and seeing the wounded animal.
My hunts have usually ended unless I can verify without doubt that he is alive and well, only then will I move on to a different animal. Last year I shot a Coues deer and tracked it for two days and he went about 3 miles before I lost his track, I had found him twice and could see by the wound that he would probably survive for awhile but the reality is that he was going to die from those wounds or from some other way that would be a direct result from me wounding him, other way being a lion or other predator, my shot killed that deer!
I think it’s a personal decision, Iv cut my tag on one occasion and not on another my only two experiences. In talking with the wardens a wound loss percentage is built into the licenses issued other than in otc obviously.
Man, it too early to make popcorn.... I know where this thread is headed
Never to early for popcorn! Add bacon bits for breakfast popcorn, Parmesan for lunchtime popcorn, maybe some nice cheddar popcorn or that sweet kettle corn stuff for mid afternoon lol we all know where it’s going but what the heck strap in and enjoy the ride!
"I know where this thread is headed"
Unfortunately, we are obligated to endure it, until it's certainly dead! ;^)
I search until I'm confident the meat isn't salvageable, which is about 2 days during archery elk season in Colorado. After that, I keep hunting.
I did find a bull I killed 3 days after shooting him, once. Maggots and magpies had made a mess of him. I cut the antlers off and hung my tag on them. Bitter sweet reward on that hunt.
A few years ago my son hit the biggest deer he had ever shot at. We tracked it a couple hours that eve. Went back next morning and tracked it till four that afternoon and ran out of trail. The next Tuesday, three days later I found it, cut the head off and took it to him. It's your call, you did shoot it and it did die, do whatever you think. He tagged the antlers.
I’ve always admired the guys who would notch a tag if they felt they’d made a good shot, whether they found it or not.
If you bring antlers off the hill without punching your tag, I hope you get a chance to explain your decision to the Judge.
That said... Where you have multiple tags, it doesn’t matter much, does it?
So long as you’ve made every reasonable effort to recover your animal, you can only learn and move on to do better next time.
From a scientific standpoint, unrecovered animals are accounted for when setting harvest and population objectives.
Personally, it's a case by case decision and always trying to avoid the need to make it.
All depends. Some outfitters stipulate if you draw blood, you're done. Last year I stuck a big bull low. I was following the "rule of thumb" shooting for the center of the ">". I was in line but low with only an inch or two of penetration. I thought I made a great shot and heard him fall. So there I was quietly fist pumping thinking about the texts and pics I was gonna send of a Gila Monster I just knew was taking a dirt nap. After 45 minutes of hearing him get up and fall back down I wasn't fist pumping anymore. I nocked an arrow and made my way towards the sounds only to misjudge where the sounds were coming from. He jumped up 50 yards to my left and took off like a rocket with nearly the whole arrow sticking out of his leg. Should I have stopped hunting? Knowing where I hit him, I tried to get back on him the next morning and think I may have jumped him up but again the elk was outta there in a hurry without me ever laying eyes on it to know for sure if it was him. After that I got back to the task at hand.
Personally, I will exhaust every "reasonable" effort to find the animal. And have. Doesn't always work out. Yes it sucks when you think you've made a great shot and lose the trail. It happens. That's hunting. Nothing goes to waste in the elkwoods. Anyone who says it's never happened to them is either lying, or hasn't been hunting long enough for it to happen. If it hasn't happened to you, it will, and it sucks when it does.
Happens to the best shots and the worst and all in between
Interesting part is what choice the hunter makes
Elk are big tough critters. It is possible to hit one and they will live a good life from there after. I do believe the part of the tag you sign and detach is called the 'carcass tag'. Without a carcass to attach it to... then what is it? It's not a 'hit him or thought I hit him.. maybe... but he lived' tag..
As I said it's the choice the hunter makes
I always loved to show up and the client wounded an animal but hit him really good, he is done
3 hours later, no animal and the new story was, probably did not hit him good and he will live!!
LMAO. GOT TO LOVE IT!
It's a personal choice. Had this happen on my bull hunt this year. Story below.
In all, I think too many arrows fly, and too many deadheads found. I am guilty of this for sure. Some say, "they'll make more elk"...which is fine, but if every bowhunter says that, then it can't be good for kill totals, our view to the public eye, and seems counter to the intent/advantage/morals/principals of bowhunting anyway.
Again, I'll admit to getting excited and taking shots in the past I shouldn't have. I'm not trying to be all high and mighty. Take a good shot, and do everything you can to find him dead/alive. If you don't, then you make your choice.
The G&F considering a percentage for unrecovered animals is fine but totally separate from the legal aspect. The decision to resume hunting a different animal without factually knowing he didn't die should never be taken lightly because killing two elk with one tag is not just a simple infraction, the purpose of the thread was to bring up how fine a legal line the decision is. The problem is that the chances of getting caught are minuscule so when weighing the decision to move on basically has no negative ramifications even tho the infraction is very serious in the eyes of the law.
I get the reasonable effort to recover the animal because at that point there is no dead body and you have exhausted your ability to confirm that you actually killed it or just wounded it. The bottom line is that a tag gives a hunter the right to kill one elk and just because a hunter shoots one and searches for two days and there is no sign doesn't necessarily mean the elk didn't die, it just means you couldn't find it. I just find this issue interesting and an important conversation given the legal and ethical aspects of it.
A question for all, say you own a nice ranch and you sell tags every year, what policy would you have when it comes to shots and unrecovered animals? also take into consideration the legal aspects.
Just to be clear, I am no saint and have hunted for 40+ years, I have done, seen and been around some crazy stuff.
if it’s a legality question your asking as with all legality questions on Internet forums it’s a question for law enforcement not a bunch of random guys online. But having had this conversation with multiple wildlife officers in Colorado after making a true valid effort to track and recover an animal it is not illegal to continue hunting at least here. The time that I wounded and did not recover the animal but did make the decision to cut my tag I was told that I made a valid effort and to continue hunting by the wildlife manager for that area.
So my question is... if you search for two days and cannot find it... how are you to know it died? So at that point you haven't killed anything. Why would you punch your tag if you are not 100% that animal is dead? I've seen elk killed with a broadhead lodged in them that was at least two seasons old and previous to his harvest, he was bugleing and chasing cows as healthy as could be. Maybe the guy that shot him the first time punched his tag because he thought he hit him good but didn't find him and assumed he died in some deep dark drainage.
The first bull I killed in 2012 had a broadhead stuck in his neck. The bull I killed in 2013 had a muzzleloader round lodged in his back an inch or two from his spine. Elk are both tough and fragile. Like you say, there's a fine ethical line. The hard part is figuring out where you draw that line
“In all, I think too many arrows fly, and too many deadheads found.”
Am inclined to agree; because you can bet that no Rifle season hunter ever ran across a dead bull without “knowing” for certain that A) a bowhunter killed it and lost it; B) that they would definitely have had a shot at that bull had it not already been dead; and C) that they would NEVER have wounded and lost it even on a 400-yard shot. Because that’s how people tend to think when they’re frustrated and angry...
Funny thing: on shorter shots, it’s a lot easier to hit where you’re aiming; it’s a lot easier to see where you hit; and it’s a lot easier to find the spot where the animal was standing when you hit it.
It’s amazing how poor a blood trail you’ll find when you’re looking 20 feet away from where the blood fell. And it only gets harder from farther away.
I have no idea how people ever recover an Elk on a long shot into a sage-filled meadow when the animal runs off with the arrow. Eliminate the exit wound and if you don’t see it fall, you’re pretty well screwed, aren’t you?
Yes, I know how to mark a downed bird, etc.
Just sayin’.... those blood trails that can be followed at a brisk walk are not a given.
"Eliminate the exit wound and if you don’t see it fall, you’re pretty well screwed, aren’t you?"
If I bring something home, I cut the tag. If there's nothing to bring home, there's nothing to tag. Personally, I've never cut a tag for an animal that's still running, or an animal that coyotes may/may not eat in the coming weeks. But if a guy wants to do so, that's totally fine. Maybe I can still shoot the animal he notched his tag for ;)
It's a tough call. For me, it really depends on how confident I am that I actually killed the animal. But I normally will not punch my tag unless I bring something home. Unless you have the shot on film, it is really hard to be able to assume that just because you THINK you hit an elk good, he's going to die. They are a lot tougher than we give them credit for.
Years ago, I read an article in Bugle magazine about a bowhunter who shot a bull early in the season and hit one lung and then ended up calling in and shooting the same bull 3 weeks later as the bull was bugling and chasing cows.
Being a part-time butcher, about half the really big, really old bulls I cut up have some sort of bullet or arrow wound from a prior hunting season. I've seen a shattered shoulder blade that was healed back together with a muzzleloader slug embedded in the scar tissue, pulled mushroomed rifle bullets out of backstraps or other muscles, and found more arrow pieces and broadheads than I can remember. They are tough animals and don't die easily if they aren't shot with a good enough shot.
A pretty typical thing I find in elk carcasses is part of an arrow or a broadhead lodged in the shoulder between the ribcage and shoulder blade as a result of a hard quatering shot that slid along the ribs and never entered the chest cavity. That shot often looks like a slam dunk and they can even leave an impressive blood trail, making it seem sure that you will find him dead just over the next rise, but you never do, and then the trail dries up.
I shot a really nice bull two years ago and thought for sure he was a goner but he never left a blood trail. I saw the arrow hit him solidly in the chest, perfectly broadside, just a bit higher than I was aiming, and I knew for sure he ended up feeding the coyotes. I was sick about it and just about punched my tag. The following October, a friend of mine shot the same bull with a rifle and found 12 inches of my arrow encased in scar tissue spanning the inside of the chest cavity. I'll post pictures and tell the whole story sometime.
It’s all going to boil down to how I feel about it at the time. And I firmly believe how YOU feel about it should decide what YOU do about it .
Just got off the phone with a very nice New Mexico game and fish employee, who confirmed that like in Colorado a tag is not required by law to be cut until you take possession of that animal. Hope that helps answer the question for you on the legality side Mrelite.
I'm with APauls.
Here's an example. My hunting partner once shot a nice 6x bull on a steep downhill quartering away shot. The arrow got penetration almost to the fletching. Very little blood, no exit wound. We looked for the bull for two days with no luck. My partner ended up punching his B tag on a cow but didn't hunt a bull after that.
The next year he shot a very nice 6x bull on that same steep ridge about 150 yards from where he hit the bull the year before. While quartering and deboning we found his broadhead from the year before. The arrow hadn't entered the body cavity, but instead deflected along the top of the ribcage.
My game processing buddies tell me they regularly find broadheads, muzzleloader balls, even bullets in elk brought in. I don't buy the "draw blood, hunt is over" philosophy. But how YOU feel is all that matters, as Grubby suggests.
We cut up a whitetail once that had about an 8 inch piece of hedge stop rammed directly in the front of his chest. It was all healed around it and no infection, may have been there a couple years. These guys are wild and tough.
For me and most of the guys I know and hunt with, If it's not on the ground, dead, it isn't getting tagged! But in all truthfulness, I have only lost one animal I shot!
It died in a tiny ditch that me and my buddy walked past 50 times in 2 days. It was overgrown with brush and he just disappeared in it! The only way we found it was the birds, and that was day 3.5.
It sucked, and I was bummed, but I kept hunting but did not get another opportunity! If I had, I would have shot if it was a good shot!
Just to be clear, the deer died 20 yards from were I shot him. Very thick and very hard to see. He was with five other deer and at the hit on the deer, it was like a deer bomb went off! Deer running everywhere!
"Just got off the phone with a very nice New Mexico game and fish employee, who confirmed that like in Colorado a tag is not required by law to be cut until you take possession of that animal. Hope that helps answer the question for you on the legality side Mrelite."
I never said you had to legally punch your tag, what I said was that it is illegal to kill more than one elk on a tag, it is solely up to an individual not to kill 2 elk on one tag.
;-) we are all tracking what your sayin....
In order for it to be illegal to kill two elk on one tag, it must first be confirmed you already killed an elk and have posession of it. Crow and coyote food is not posession of it.
We have a nice little collection of broadheads (slick trick, rage, montec, among most) and 30 cal slugs pulled from elk from previous wounds from obviously mutiple past seasons in the meat shop.
9-1/2 times out of 10, if you don't hit something important, they ain't gonna die.
I keep hunting if I can't find them after what I feel is an extensive effort.
Great topic. Nothing new in answers. Same ones for 38 years But they bring back some great times. Good stuff!!
I hit a bear high on a Tuesday. Couldn't find anything after a long search.
On Friday I killed a bear from the same stand not even thinking it was the same bear but sure enough my broadhead was stuck in a vertebra.
Boiled it out and had for years until my lab found it and chewed it up.
Slightly off subject but in the thought NOTHING goes to waste nature takes it all and in an abstract way its kinda it's to begin with..... and I gotta a guess there are more hungry bellies out there than us sitting at home
I have punched a tag twice after wounding an animal that I didn't recover in order to punish myself. I've wounded a few others. I don't get too upset if I wound an animal that I feel will survive. If I make a fatal shot on an animal and don't recover it, it boils my blood.
I am not out to bash anyone but would like the conversation expanded past the concept of it's no big deal and nothing goes to waste in the forest. I do agree that nothing goes to waste but the determination of a lethal hit is often not attainable by many hunters out there. I know that the experienced experts "usually" can figure it out but we all know the masses are not experts, they can barely execute a shot when they are shaking in their boots, when their shot goes off they have no idea what happened after that arrow left the bow. IMO many young people have an instant gratification problem, they would give up looking after a few hours and quickly say the shot wasn't lethal, it's just too easy.
There is another thread that started "Take the shot". With the ease of moving on and with no legal ramifications coupled with the nothing goes to waste in the forest mindset, does taking a shot, any shot become the norm for the masses, if nothing goes to waste and I can move on willy nilly why not take the shot? So does the ease of moving on after hitting an animal promote poor shot selection among young or inexperienced and some seasoned hunters? I personally have made shots that did not go as planned so I've had my share of decisions, so like I mentioned before I am not condemning or saying anything to anyone.
I think taking the shot, any shot, has been the norm in bowhunting for a loooong time. The concept of high ethics and deep guilt is a relatively new development.
I've read many of the stories of the old timers, watched old videos, including Fred Bear and Howard Hill. Often they simply tried to get am arrow in the animal somewhere. Running shots, shots in the ass and neck, longbow attempts at well over 100 yards. Fred Bear shot two polar bears in the butt to get them to turn around for a better shot angle. If they didn't recover it, there was no wailing, gnashing of teeth, punching of tags. They just shrugged and moved on to the next opportunity.
Take the "moral high ground"...or, try to justify my Thousand Dollar non-resident Elk Tag, by putting something in the freezer. It's really a "no brainer" for me. Not that I have had to make that decision very often, over my 20 plus years of bowhunting elk.
Personally, I haven't hunted with anyone over the Years, who hasn't felt sick inside after a bad hit, and I have always seen them put in a couple hard days of searching. Even if the hit is "suspected" to be lethal...the animal is basically not fit for human consumption, if down for a couple days.
Sometimes the only thing that can somewhat cure those blues, is being successful on another animal.
I carved the tag with no recovery twice. 1) found skeleton and rack months later 2) found deer next day and processed it.
funny how it’s not a big deal to some when talking about wounding animals on this thread. Yet they are quick to bash the long range hunter in other threads. The hypocrisy of it all
Talking about two different things. Nobody "tries" to wound an animal. It happens at 5 or 500 yards. This thread is about how the individual deals with it when it inevitably happens. The long distance shooting discussions revolve around the odds of wounding - think geometry, angles, and uncontrollable variables - which we (should) all try to minimize if we have an ounce of ethics.
I lost the biggest Bull I likely will ever shoot...for sure it died eventually.... once I saw it wasnt looking good sat in my truck and cried like a broken hearted teenager...went back several time of the next couple of months...Jaq you and Mr Elite heard the blow by blow...
It was the last day in the season so not faced with the dilemma...but it boils down to a personal choice ......but in my mind nature got all that one....nothing wasted...but still gives me a gut punch 6 years later
Good stuff! The times I've been to Alaska the aura is that you better not take the shot if you don't think that animal is going to drop because if you can't find the animal or that meat comes out of the field spoiled you will probably have to answer for it in one way or another. It seems as there are always planes flying overhead and they can see most everything live or dead and they have no problem radioing G&F to check something out. I imagine hunters are generally on their best behavior in Alaska because there are real ramifications to their actions, not so much in the lower 48.
For those who've been on outfitted hunts where it's "blood and done", did that stipulation mentally affect your shot selection? Seems like it would bring an added element of pressure that could affect the shot. Like a kicker who never misses a field goal, then blows a chip shot to win the NFC championship. Or the guy who has killed hundreds of deer and misses a 15 yard shot at the buck of his life.
Question for outfitters who stipulate that too. How much time will you put in to finding that animal for someone who has paid thousands of dollars for a hunt? And do you live by those same ethics if you make a bad shot during a personal hunt?
I wish everyone would approach EVERY shot with a “draw blood & you’re done” mindset.
Things don’t always work out according to plan, but there IS something wrong (IMO) with the idea that anything less than a sure thing is a shot worth taking.
I agree, GF, but I bet 99% of bowhunters take shots they "hope" they can make. I've been guilty of that myself. Sometimes it works out. But in my 48 years of bowhunting big game I've come to accept that there is no such thing as a "sure thing" unless maybe a rifle shot at 20 yards. I watched a guy I was guiding miss a whole moose at 50 yards with a scoped ..338... With a tree for a rest. Watched another guy miss a big bull elk at 70 yards, with a rest. I shot under my first 6x bull at 7 yards, killed him when he stopped at 25.
I am not going to throw a tag away because of a wounded animal but I am also not taking low percentage shots like a jackass either. Having lost a couple animals over the years because of my own poor decisions and being able to accept that and understand whose shoulders it lies on has helped me to avoid those events continuing to happen. The guys who make excuses for bad shots and lost animals will likely continue to do so.
I have worked with about half a dozen outfitters that have a blood and done rule. I believe it does make a difference in shot selection for most people, although some really wealthy guys don't seem to care. Jaq's observation about this policy adding pressure is interesting and there is no way to really measure it in my opinion. I have seen guys miss shots with rifle and bow that seem to be from nerves, whether the rule is in effect or not. I will also say that some outfitters are a little more flexible with bowhunters on this because you can see the arrow. If an arrow bounces off or has little to no penetration some outfits will let a guy keep hunting. With a rifle there is not much left to interpretation as you have no real idea where the bullet hit, and everyone I know is steadfast in enforcing this.
“I bet 99% of bowhunters take shots they ‘hope’ they can make. I've been guilty of that myself.”
Well I’m CERTAIN that you’re the only one...
Comes with maturity as a hunter, no? And it not infrequently turns out that inexperienced hunters have a bit of a learning curve before they get clear on the difference between real-world confidence and practice-range competence.
I sure did!
Fortunately, no animals were harmed in the making of this realization. All of my “hopeful” shots were clean misses, but screwing up that bad a couple of times had the necessary, sobering effect.
The experts have spoken. Sounds like it’s ok to wound as many as it takes until you find one as long as it’s not over a 50 yard shot, but be damned if you wound one from 80 or 90 yards because the animal can move in that time.......
If I draw blood I cut the tag. It is more of a penance thing for me and an honor to the animals. If I make the decision to shoot and take a life and for some reason; personal failure to make a killing shot, limb deflection (also my fault), animal "jumps" the string (also my fault as I decided to shoot an animal that is not relaxed) or a myriad of other reasons it is not the fault of the animal and they deserve a quick clean kill. I'm sure everyone does all humanly possible to retrieve a hit animal, but if we fail to find the animal there are only two outcomes for the animal: 1) death; or 2) pain and suffering from a wound we inflicted. When outcome two happens I cannot in good conscious keep hunting with a tag that I have already chosen to use for a kill. I just don't see it as a action that honors the animals. As had been said many times previously, it is a personal thing. I don't begrudge those who keep hunting unless the wound was inexplicably caused by incompetence (which happens very often). I venture to say most of us know when a bad shot is due to incompetence.
That is way most skilled archers train to shoot 3 arrows on the run to cover all angles, quartering to - broadside - quartering away. This method works perfectly only on 3D targets unfortunately.
Day before yesterday I called in a great muley to 20 yards on the ground He was quartering-to the whole time and I never had a broadside shot until he finally turned and trotted off. 25 years ago I would have taken and made that shot. Since then I've learned (fortunately not with a lost animal, butbwith two recovered by pure luck) that it is a killing shot, but rarely leaves much, if any, blood trail, even with an exit wound. He was BIG, and I bet 90% of bowhunters would take that shot on a buck of that caliber. I won't anymore.
There’s a lot of restraint that comes with having been there and done that, eh?
I can’t claim any big trophies, but that’s not what I’m after anyway...
Tags are hard to come by in good elk areas. Plus they are expensive!! I wont ever notch my tag until i confirm death by my own eyes. Possession is my only requirement. However, i dont randomly sling arrows hither and thither. I consider myself a very ethical bowhunter, even though i have lost too many damn animals in my lifetime. Also , killed a tandem dump truck load too, it all evens out i think .
I feel like I can answer the thread title with "ALWAYS" regardless of what the question is lol.
"I consider myself a very ethical bowhunter".
Probably 100% of us feel that way too. However in the end, it depends on who you ask. There are plenty out there who are quick to call someone unethical because they lack the same skill set as someone who can and has done something they can't or haven't done. If that makes any sense ;)