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How Far Is Too Far?

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Hornaholic's picture
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Just curious to see where everyone stands on this? At what distance do you think shooting at big game with a bow crosses the line from reasonable and ethical to ridiculous and where do you set your own personal limits?  85 yards

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dmchapman82's picture
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I think a responsible hunter is limited by his ability and his equipments ability as well. If you are putting together good groups at 70 but at 80 you suck. There is your limit. Also when it comes to equipment, a hunters responsibility is to do some research and find out what amount of KE his arrow is holding at certain yardages and when this number drops close to or below what it takes to penetrate, that is your equipments limit. South Dakota for instance has a minimum draw weight of 40 lbs which on average produces enough KE at a short distance to kill a deer, but at 40-50 yards, that number becomes questionable. It is in my opinion that if you are not sure you and your equipment can kill the animal, dont take the shot! As tempting as it may be!

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Eric Welsh's picture
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When I am shooting alot I feel comfortable at 80 yards. It all depends on the hunter. I know guys that shouldnt be shooting past 40 yards.

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Hornaholic's picture
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I agree with both of you, it all depends on the person. Somebody that never practices past 40 should never shoot past 40. It all depends on how you practice and how much you practice. The picture above is broadheads at 85 yards.

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Forest_Crawler's picture
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I am of the belief that you shoot at the longer distances to make the shorter ones feel like chip shots. I routinely practice out to 70 yards, but won't take a shot on an animal past 60. Fortunately for me, I haven't had to take a shot at an animal past 40 ever. I am sure it will happen, but I try to focus on getting as close as I possibly can.

Most people don't think about the animal. I feel that you owe it to each animal you shoot at to make a clean, quick kill.

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idahohunter32's picture
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Just as everyone here mentions, I agree also. The antelope I shot last year was standing broadside at 82 yards when my Muzzy passed clean through. When gearing up for Antelope I practice at these longer distances just for reasons like this. But I know plenty of people that feel comfortable at 40 and 50 so they think that 80 isn't much different when it makes a world of difference. I know guys that can shoot better groups at 100 yards than those at 60 yards. So in agreeance with the majority here, yes there is a limit on how far but it all depends on practice. 

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Forest_Crawler's picture
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Here's another thought to be tossed around... like idahohunter32 says (and I am not picking on him), 'I know guys that can shoot better groups at 100 yards than those at 60 yards.' While that may be true, a target isn't moving around or can jump the string like a live animal. Thoughts?

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idahohunter32's picture
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 Well said Al, at these longer shots there is so much that can go wrong. As soon as that arrow leaves, the animal can turn or as you said jump the string and you could get an ugly shot on the animal causing it to suffer. Just like you had mentioned in your previous post and I agree with also is that you owe it to the animal for a quick ethical kill. 

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BnC Buck's picture
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Sounds like ya'll have it, I agree go with what you practice making good tight groups. I haven't shot a deer or turkey over 16 yrds but I want to be ready if that time comes to be able to shoot farther. I practice up to 40 but where I'm hunting that's prob the max I'll have to shoot with all the timber we have.

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The biggest thing I see as a failure to this is guys practice these groups over and over again with field tips then slap on broadheads shoot at 30 or sometimes 40 but only one arrow and figure they are still good at 70. You have to shoot broadheads over and over again at these ranges before shooting at an animal your bow slighlty out of tune won't alawys show up bad at 30 but will at 70 when changing from field to broadhead. You also have to consider the animals alertness as well. I shot at an alert elk at 42 yrds and he managed to take a broadside shot to the neck by spinning so fast. so i wont shoot far at an alert animal anymore. On the other hand on open desert I took a mulie at 65 yrds that had no clue he was even hit in double lung clean pass thru 2 yrs ago on the last day of season. But my broadheads never come off my hunting bow I go through a couple targets a year. And practice out to 70 because we do a lot of open desert hunts.

Hornaholic's picture
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You brought up a great point bowkill36, Way too many people just assume their broadheads fly the same as their feild points and that is rarely the case. I am like you, I shoot broadheads basically year round except switching out to hit a 3D shoot or something like that. I usually wear out 2-3 broadhead targets and at least one 3D target every year along with at least a half dozen broadheads to practice with. I also use the real broadhead to practice with and not some "practice" version that comes with some broadheads. I also agree that shooting at an alert animal is a very bad idea. 99% of the practice I do is beyond 70 yards and usually closer to 100 yards, I practice for the long shot and pray for a close one. Like Al stated above if you can consistantly put them in the kill zone at 70+ it makes those 30 yarders feel like a chip shot.

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Roemer's picture
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You folks hit the nail on the head here. With all the great flying broadheads, high energy bows, and every growing technology on the market today, There is no doubt our range as bowhunters is growing. But each persons range is far different. Every situation draws the line for each shooter. Having the ability to make the snap decision whether to take or pass a shot is what defines you as a bowhunter!

I passed the same deer last year at 15 yards, but killed him a month later out of the same tree at 45. The shot at 45 yards presented itself easier, and I passed through him with ease.

 

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lilswab's picture
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There are some great points added by all in this post.  What absolutely burns me is the guy at the local archery shop or Cabela's bragging that he smoked his buck/bull at 70 yards and he would shoot anything at that distance. 

This is bad for archery for many reasons. I will list them below:

1.  Archery is a skill sport, based on practice.  This scenario does not explain how long someone has to practice to become proficient with his equipment before such a shot can be performed. 

2.  Even though shot can be made does not mean that it should be made!  Arrows cannot be called back.

3. In the P&Y books, most trophies that are entered were taken within 20yards!  A good archer should be a good hunter and work on getting closer rather than work shooting farther.  Practice shooting well and also practice on being Sneekee.

Shooting far is a lot of fun while practicing.  I love to shoot far. I practice at distances at 100yards regularly and it makes me a better archer.  I am convinced of this.  However, shooting at long range while hunting is not the best case scenario. As archers we need to do the best we can to kill the animal we are hunting as effectively as possible.  Every archer is different and has different capabilities.  I do not expect someone to do what I do.  But I hope that every archer does respect the animal they are hunting. For the respect of the animal it up to us to try our best to take shots that will have the best chance of killing and not take shots in hopes of killing the animal.  This a great topic and I hope it continues.

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Eric Welsh's picture
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I myself am guilty of taking shots that I probably should not have. I have been bow hunting for close to 15 years now and am 90% self taught. When I was younger I would take any shot I could get, and lost a lot of animals.

I think that it is important to practice patience, so that you take the "right" shot. The "right" shot being the one that YOU feel comfortable making...evenif it is 80 yards.

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 Chuck Adams wrote an article about this a few months back I believe in Bowhunter magazine. Here is his formula and I believe it is a good rule as to how far you can shoot. Whatever your pattern is in practice, add 50% for real world shooting. Based on this, if you are shooting a 5 inch pattern at 30 yards, add 50% for the field which means that you would shoot a 7.5 inch pattern. Now take into consideration the size of the vitals on the animal you are hunting. A mature mule deer is about 10 inches and an elk is about 16 inches. which means you would be ethical in this shot. Now if in doing the math, your field pattern was 12 inches, you should not take the shot on the mule deer but would still be good on the elk.As Chuck stated in the article, no one can say what your max range should be but you.I know that when I am shooting good groups at 70 yards in my back yard, I cannot do the same consistently in the field. My blood is pumping from working  into position, the terain is never flat, and my nerves are on edge. If you want to see what you can do, run up and down some hills then shoot a stumb at a long range that you know the exact yardage of. If you do not SMOKE the stump. maybe you should rethink your max.

Hornaholic's picture
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Very true SMOKE, Thats why I think it is super important to practice real world shots. Although nothing can duplicate having a live critter in your sights setting up a 3D and shooting some steep angles and walking or running up hills before a shot adds a lot to a practice session.

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bulridn's picture
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I dont know if any of you are going to bowcast at the bird or have heard of it but it is excellent practice for what you are talking about here. It will test your skills and let you know where you should be shooting. they set up a 3D course at the top of the ski hill at snowbird and you have up and down angled shots, short shots, long shots. its a blast you guys should check it out!   If you want to the site is fmpbowcast.com

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i am in agreance with all above. i have shot 4 deer past 58 to a max of 62yds. all were calm and unaware. a alert animal will jump at 15yds let alone 50. i know lots of guys who cant hit a deer at 30 and are amazed to see me shoot at 80. just lots of practice, good equipment, and lots of tuning

BTBinOHIO's picture
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I practice regularly out to 50 and shoot shots up to 100 yards, mostly just for fun. Ive been hunting for many years and believe it or not the farthest ive ever attempted a shot at an animal with my bow is 32 yards.  I think it all comes down to whatever your comfortable with and respect for what your shooting at. Could I kill a deer at 50 yards? Probably pretty easy 4 out of 5 times but im not 100% confident so out of respect for the animal I dont try it.

TobyR.'s picture
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I think it is definitely a personal decision.... personally I set myself at 30 for Texas Whitetail.  With a rangefider and calm nerves and conditions I'm confident out to a looong way, but at a critter with the heart pumpin' and wind blowin' is another story. Add to that the fact that the critter probably wont be in the same place by the time the arrow gets there..... It's just not worth the risk for me.  Now hogs, pasture rats, 4-legged fireants .... that's another story!!  I will definitely let 'em fly!!'

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