Hunting Ethics

aidan_downey

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Mar 2, 2020
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Hey guys so I had something pretty unreal happen to me last weekend while bow hunting elk. I shot a herd bull in the morning around 8am. Arrow went in only about 8 inches and looked like it may have clipped the back end of his shoulder blade when he flinched when the bow went off. Unlucky and I should have drifted off his shoulder more. I saw he was pouring blood but seemed to not act sickly but made his way down the hill over a little rise back to where his cows were. After seeing how much blood was coming out of him and where the arrow was/penetration I figured I must have only got one lung. So I decide I would sit on him for 5-6 hours hoping he would either bleed out, or settle back down so I could sneak in and get another arrow in him. After sitting there for about 45 minutes I see two spikes and a raghorn coming up the bottom towards me. I don't think much of it and after about 15 minutes they disappear behind the hill where my bull and his cows are. Right as they disappear two guys come running down the hillside next to me. I whistle and stop then and go over to talk to them. I explain my situation. They tell me that they really need to kill a bull and that they are going down after that raghorn and will try not to bump my bull. To back up we are in a trophy unit about 5 miles away from the vehicles. I can't believe it. I think well since they are going down there I might as well try and sneak in and see if my bull is dead or if I can get another arrow in him before they blow the whole thing wide open. As I make my way down there and start tracking can see he is coughing up blood which pretty well confirms the one lung shot. Suddenly I here crashing and look up to see the spikes and raghorn round the corner and take off up the hill past me. 2 minutes later just below the rise where I can't see that hillside erupts. Can't see any elk but assume it's my bull and his cows. Sure enough 30 seconds later the guys come over the hill inform me it was infact my bull they saw trailing his cows as he disappeared over the hill side towards private. They tell me they have shot that raghorn and his mechanical didn't deploy right and only got about 2 inches of penetration. They leave and wish me luck. My question is, is it unrealistic to assume that people would have common respect for their fellow hunter and back out and leave elk if it meant another person could get/have a chance at their own? Or is it just part of the game and it's every man for himself now? Just want to know if my anger and frustration is misguided? Thanks guys and sorry for the long post!
 

bsnedeker

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Ethics and courtesy are not the same thing. The bottom line is those guys don't owe you anything, and they were out there for the same thing you were. You put a less-than-ideal shot on a bull...how long were those guys supposed to wait in your opinion before going after the other elk?

I think the situation you laid out you all did the best that you could in a tough situation. Now, I will say that if it was me I would have chilled on that hillside with you for 45-60 minutes as that would have been the courteous thing to do in my opinion, but ethics don't come into this at all from what I can see.
 

Moserkr

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Those guys showed no respect first and foremost for the wounded animal. You did the right thing by approaching them to explain the situation. They should have backed out or waited it out with you, which would be a courtesy as stated above. Ethically, waiting out a dying animal for more than an hour isnt too much to ask from other hunters. They knew going in would bump your bull and all the elk. Just as easy for them to wait to make a play that benefitted all parties, and gave the best chance of recovery to an already wounded animal.

Maybe Im just different. I would have offered you a hand in helping get your bull first, and put my ambitions on hold out of respect of the animal, regardless of your shot.
 
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aidan_downey

aidan_downey

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I would agree in the sense that you're right they don't owe me anything. BUT we as hunters owe the animals everything. Without them there is no hunt. Ethically I think wether it is my animal or not I am going to try and get that animal down in anyway I can. If that means backing out of a situation because someone else is waiting either for another opportunity or the animal to die then so be it. I think we owe the animals everything and should give them the respect they deserve. As far as time to wait for that animal to die and forestall their hunt I would argue either wait it out and see how the situation develops and if they can move in on those smaller bulls when they distance themselves from the herd. Or move on and find other elk in the trophy unit... Which frankly wasn't very hard. But that's what makes the world different everyone is entitled to their own opinion.
 

Pacific_Fork

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They should have done the right thing and backed off or waited with you. Especially in a trophy unit and they are chasing raghorns. My money is on them being new elk hunters. Did they recover their wounded bull? If not how did they know their mechanical failed??
 

bozeman

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YOU put a 'iffy' shot on a bull (your words) and OTHERS are to wait for YOU? If respect for the animal is so paramount, why the 'iffy' shot?
 
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aidan_downey

aidan_downey

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They should have done the right thing and backed off or waited with you. Especially in a trophy unit and they are chasing raghorns. My money is on them being new elk hunters. Did they recover their wounded bull? If not how did they know their mechanical failed??
No they did not. Watched them drive away that evening with nothing in the back. The one guy said he thought he saw the arrow open up during flight, that's all I know.
 

Pacific_Fork

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No they did not. Watched them drive away that evening with nothing in the back. The one guy said he thought he saw the arrow open up during flight, that's all I know.

Hunters have a really bad habit saying what went wrong with their equipment when they dont even have evidence/recovered animal. He probably just made a bad shot but wants to blame the broadhead, although I do advise against mechanicals anyways...
 
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aidan_downey

aidan_downey

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YOU put a 'iffy' shot on a bull (your words) and OTHERS are to wait for YOU? If respect for the animal is so paramount, why the 'iffy' shot?
It was a shot I totally felt comfortable with. He was slightly downhill, quartering away at 40 yards. Shot placement was good. BUT he flinched and dug in when the bow went off and move that front quarter back just enough to have that arrow just knick it and slow it down enough to only get one lung. It's a shot I would take again any day. Just come off the shoulder other inch or so next time.
 

Like2hunt

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Yep that’s hunting public land. It really sucks that some people don’t always make the courteous choices and only care about getting something killed no matter what. If it was me you’d have had someone to help you pack him out after he expired.
 

Xprmntl

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Since they were going toward where you thought your bull was, anyway, why didn't you just join them so you could maybe get in another shot, or be in a better position to track the bull?
 
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aidan_downey

aidan_downey

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Since they were going toward where you thought your bull was, anyway, why didn't you just join them so you could maybe get in another shot, or be in a better position to track the bull?
I did go down when they went down to try and track where I last saw my bull and to see if I could get another shot.
 

TSAMP

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So did you trail blood all the way to the private?? I'd focus more on things you can control, rather than the other hunters.

The property boundary rules out west are for sure a bummer, but I can see why they are in place.

It seems from anecdotal evidence, most people are never able to gain access to pursue their wounded animal??
 

Laramie

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To make sure I'm following- you waited about 45 minutes before the two guys came in. Assuming it took at least 15 minutes for the two guys to move in on the elk before getting their shot, the bull you hit had been hit for at least an hour. The injured bull stayed with his cows to follow them uphill. From my experience, it is unlikely that bull was mortally wounded. If he was, he would have likely broken off from the cows and not headed uphill.

Perspective is often not reality. Here is a bull feeding that I'm 99% confident the hunter thought he had killed. Buddies had him on camera acting completely normal.
1632846301641.png

I'm not saying this is exactly what happened in your situation, but it sounds at minimum possible.

As to the ethics, it's hard to form an opinion without being there and/or hearing both sides. My guess is you told the guys you had been waiting 45 minutes and they figured your bull is either dead or not going to die based on the shot description. As to what size of animal a person should be hunting, that is up to each guy to decide. They have every right to pursue a raghorn if they so choose. Guessing from the description, they were likely new elk hunters and would have been pretty excited to get him.

Last question - Did you contact an LEO or landowner in an attempt to continue following the bull you hit?
 

Laramie

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So did you trail blood all the way to the private?? I'd focus more on things you can control, rather than the other hunters.

The property boundary rules out west are for sure a bummer, but I can see why they are in place.

It seems from anecdotal evidence, most people are never able to gain access to pursue their wounded animal??
Not true at all - I know of several occasions where a game warden was able to help a hunter gain access to recover an animal.
 

Dos Perros

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There are all kinds of folks out there. I don't know what I would have done, but I hope I'd have had the guts to do the right thing. Usually the hard thing to do is the right thing. I think if you showed me blood on the ground I'd have either helped you get him or found a new spot.
 

Dos Perros

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@Laramie I've seen a gutshot deer breed a doe and I'm certain that buck died. Sure there are outliers, but odds are both your animal and my animal would die from a condition caused by the arrows.
 
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