Would You Shoot a Deer in its Bed?

The stalk was flawless. For once, the wind was right, the sun was at my back and I didn't break a single twig or flush a nuisance pheasant.

The buck never knew I was there, never knew I was watching him through my scope for 10 minutes inside of 100 yards. Finally, I pushed off the safety and slipped a bullet just behind his elbow. He kicked once, then slumped over and lay still.

The buck's death wasn't the highlight of the hunt. The stalk was. But I also took a great deal of satisfaction in my ability to kill an animal that never knew I was there, dealing death only a baseball throw away.

I shot that buck in his bed. To me, that's the best measure of a humane kill, to take a wild animal without ever causing anxiety. The buck never got to his feet, never pumped adrenalin-laced blood through his nerve-tingled body. Never fired his hair-trigger instinct to run in terror.

But to the world of televised hunting, I just committed an unforgiveable sin. Video producers have two unbendable commandments: Thou shall not kill an animal before the videographer grants permission, and thou shall not shoot an animal in its bed.

I don't get it, but as I've roamed the country this year, I've talked to other hunters--regular folks who don't hunt with an entourage of videographers and sound technicians--who also have this self-imposed refusal to shoot an animal in its bed. They claim it's unethical, because the critter is in a compromised position. Their reasoning, I guess, is that the animal can't immediately sprint away. And also that it can be harder to deliver a killing shot, because a bedding animal's vitals are more obscured than a broadside presentation.

Still, I'm confused. Is it ethical, or not, to kill an animal in its bed? Chime in with your perspective.

Photo: glaciernps