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Hunting is not a right, but a privilege and one that bowhunters must protect by hunting ethically and shooting responsibly.
As bowhunters it is not only our goal, but also our duty to exhibit bowhunting ethics and sportsmanship by making every shot count to hunt ethically. We owe it to the animals we pursue to only take the shots that we are prepared to make.
How do you ensure you’re practicing ethical bowhunting? Here are five practices to keep in mind when considering ethical bowhunting:
One of the best ways to exhibit bowhunting ethics is by being as deadly as possible. This is something that requires a commitment to practice. The more we practice shooting in different scenarios, the more deadly we become, and the more able we are to make every shot count. Preparing to bag the big buck and devoting time and practice to developing a sixth sense for recognizing an ethical shot will give you a profound sense of confidence in your ability. Practice regularly to stay sharp, focused, and in sync with your equipment.
Always hunt with a new, sharp broadhead or one that you have sharpened to a razor’s edge. A dull broadhead will definitely kill but will greatly minimize the blood trail and increase the chances of the animal suffering a lingering death often going unrecovered by the hunter. Sharp broadheads and a comfortable, sufficient draw weight ensure arrows penetrate the animal’s hide, muscles, and organs to inflict quick death.
You must know your effective shooting range, and only shoot when your quarry is within it. Don’t take risky shots, such as shooting when a deer is moving or obscured by brush or branches. Only release your arrow when you’re certain you’re taking a clean, well-placed shot.
The most important factor in a killing shot is placing your broadhead in the vitals. Lethal shot placement requires knowing deer anatomy and shooting angles to determine where to aim.
Although a shot to the brain is likely the quickest, most lethal shot, it has a small margin of error. Therefore, bowhunters should target the deer’s much larger chest cavity, which includes the heart, lungs, and major arteries, giving bowhunters a wider margin of error.
The final responsibility, and perhaps the greatest one, is to pass along an ethical hunting culture to younger hunters and novices to the sport. The most powerful way of doing this is to lead by example. Young people and those less experienced pay close attention to how the hunters around them conduct themselves, and they mimic the actions and ethical choices of those experienced, mature hunters.
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