One of the dilemmas of early season hunting is the weather can be unseasonable until things begin to stabilize later into the fall season. So, today I ask the important question…if a trophy animal presents itself within shooting range and there is a chance the elevated temps could spoil the meat before it can get handled properly, will you let it go?
I know for many hunters this situation can present itself and be one of the most agonizing decisions a hunter will ever make. You could have spent countless hours in the deer stand or on a difficult stalk only to let the animal see yet another day thanks to prevailing temperatures and circumstances beyond your complete control.
Let me explain. Back in 1996 I was hunting antelope in Montana and my season was winding down. I was in day five of a six day hunt and the heat of the open range had taken its toll on me. More importantly, it had taken its toll on my coolers as my supply of camp ice was quickly dwindling. Past experiences had taught me how much ice to bring, but past experiences did not have to endure the high heat as I witnessed on this trip.
My partner and I belly crawled up on some nice antelope where they were within easy shooting range. I glanced through the herd and picked out the buck I wanted to take.
But I hesitated. Indeed, I did not feel right about what I was about to do.
You see, I knew back in camp I did not have the ice necessary to deal with the meat I would likely harvest. Moreover, I was on a rough section of the ranch where it was over an hour to the ranch house…and another two hours to the closest city where I could have found a processing plant with a cooler or, at the very least, more ice.
Call it improper planning if you will, but the point is a shot taken at this point would have resulted in a nice animal bagged but a beautiful animal’s meat all but wasted by the act. I chose NOT to shoot and ended up going home empty-handed from the western hunt.
These type of tough calls are all part of hunting. Consider the deer hunter who sees a trophy deer but at the edge of his shooting range. Sure, it might be reasonable to take such a shot, but hunting at extreme ranges also increases the odds for an extended recovery. If you know there’s even an increased chance for a delayed recovery and perhaps wasted meat, is it ethical to take the shot? It’s a tough call. It’s also a very personal call.
This scenario can play itself out many different ways. Marginal shots while upland bird hunting when your normal canine partner is not with you to aid in the quick recovery…I think you get the picture. The main goal of hunting should be the preservation of the meat being harvested, but it’s easy to forget during warm weather conditions how the precious time clock begins ticking quicker the moment the shot is taken.
I’m anxious to hear your thoughts on this subject. Have you ever taken a chance you later lived to regret? Have there been days you could have hunted, but rather chose not to for this very reason of high heat perhaps leading to spoilage? Is it even ethical to shoot a game animal when the odds are stacked against the hunter for obtaining a wholesome meat product to take home?
©2013 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.