Guns Rifles

The Ethics of Long-Range Hunting

John Snow Avatar

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I like to shoot long range, so I understand the appeal someone might find in killing a deer at 500 yards, or some other way-out-there distance. And given that a good number of people in the gun and hunting industries have focused on marketing long-range hunting, it’s little wonder that aspiring marksmen are signing up for classes and purchasing specialized rifles, ammo, and optics to give this a try.

But is it really hunting? And is it ethical?

These are two questions the Boone and Crockett Club addresses in a recently released policy statement.

B&C’s position mirrors the stance that the other Outdoor Life editors and I have espoused for years.

Namely, that it is our responsibility to get as close as we can to the game we hunt in order to increase the likelihood of a humane kill. In keeping with the ethic (and ethics) of Fair Chase, we also try to stalk close in order to test ourselves against an animal’s instincts. Part of the test is for us to overcome its natural defenses.

Of course, what constitutes a responsible shot is ultimately a decision that everyone who takes aim at an animal needs to make for themselves. There’s no way to define that given the variables in skill, terrain, environment, and gear, along with the other factors that come into play.

But the bottom line is pretty simple. Animals should never be used as target practice. If you can get closer, you owe it to the animal—and to the future of hunting—to start stalking and narrow the gap. And then, make a killing shot.