I’ve gotten a lot of questions about where I stand on hunting and shooting from long distances, although I usually tend to stay out of these matters, because I figure that everyone has her or his own reasons to hunt.
People always have their own driving motivations and passions, and hunting is a personal experience. It is rooted in being alone in the wild and connecting to Mother Nature. This can be done no matter what weapon you choose to hunt with or how far you choose to shoot from, but for me hunting is all about the stalk and getting up close and personal with animals in their natural habitat. Bowhunters often criticize rifle hunters because they don’t get as close to the animal they are stalking before they are able to take a shot, but the same is now happening with traditional hunters and a technique that some in our sport are calling precision hunting.
I HONESTLY HAVEN’T MADE up my mind on how exactly I feel about the new wave of long-distance shooters as hunters. I agree that hunters should be able to take long shots here and there when the conditions demand it; in some cases, a long shot may be your only shot. Open plains, for one.
I have taken animals out to around 500 yards when I’ve run out of cover and conditions were calm enough for me to feel comfortable with the shot. I certainly do not go looking for animals to shoot at 500 or more yards, but then again, the rifles and scopes I am using are sighted to shoot well at around 200 yards because that was where I put them when I sighted them in at the range.
I always try to close the gap and to get as close as possible. This is probably because I am a decent shot but my accuracy increases as the target gets closer, as is the case with most people. I also like to see the animal up close, and I enjoy the challenge of staying still as a statue when the animal looks my way, and then moving ever so slowly to get just a little bit closer and shorten the range.
It is always a gamble to take that step or move to the next tree for a better shot. You have to weigh the likelihood of the animal running with the advantage you gain by moving in. I like to hear them breathing and see where their eyes are looking. I like to be able to smell them as I sneak in closer and closer. These little details are lost when you start shooting from long distances.
THERE’S SO MUCH TECHNOLOGY being released these days in relation to long-distance shooting. Scopes are more powerful and more versatile than ever. The best way to really experience everything these rifle/scope combinations have to offer is to shoot targets or animals at long distance.
It takes skill and practice to take an animal at 1,000 yards. I can understand that it must give the shooter some serious satisfaction to take long shots like that and be successful. I only worry about what happens when a shot at that many yards goes slightly awry. What will the result be when whatever species you’re shooting at is hit poorly and a follow-up shot is needed but the brush or landscape will not allow it? It seems like a perfect scenario for inexperienced long-distance shooters to end up wounding suffering animals.
Hunting for me is about the experience. Guns are the tools of my trade, but my hunt does not revolve around my tools; it revolves around the animal. I can understand the skill and the allure of long-distance shooting and precision hunting, but I think it is safe to say that it is not for me. CS Editor’s note: Brittany Boddington is a Los Angeles-based hunter, adventurer and journalist. For more, go to brittanyboddington.com or facebook.com/brittanyboddington.