I seem to think a different than most but here goes anyway.
I don't think that there is such a thing as an unethical shot. Bear w/me here...
There are dumb/stupid and other adjectives that may be applied to the shot but the implementation of "ethical" is incorrectly used. It's the results that are "unethical".
I don't shoot at big game any farther than I have shot at paper under similar conditions. If I am not comfortable/confident of hitting where I desire I wait or try to create a better opportunity. All of my LR targets are kill zone size for a deer or elk. The closer I can hit to the center of the target the better for game such as yotes.
I agree more with Ridge Runners post on this one as he described the process very well. 5 to 6 minutes to make the LR shot is a fair estimate of the time it takes. Rushing that time tends to increase the opportunity for an "unethical" hit.
Every once in awhile something will go wrong. Those times should result in complete surprise.
Also a complete miss on a LR shot on big game is a major relief. Especially when one can rethink the steps and find the error.
I agree with most of your post, most of all not shooting beyond what you have shot on paper under similar conditions. Under field conditions if anything I might pass a closer shot that I can make at the range 10 out of 10 times due to bad cross wind, canyons etc.
I don't agree with a time period on what it takes to make a clean long range shot, and I'll explain. Again I dont believe in long range hunting by yourself. Have I done it, yes. Have I picked my shots more carefully yes. Did it limit me you bet. There are times when I had a deer in the open and watched it for 20 minutes and let it walk, due to no spotter, didn't like the way it was acting. If I had a spotter I would have taken the shot. As stated before some watch for the animal to stop for a 1/2 second or so. On my rifle 750 yards starts putting me into the 1+ second of flight time. I know how far a deer can move in a 1/2 second. I shot a goat in 2005 at a little over 550 yards after the shot, all I heard was great shot etc. The first thing I thought to myself was AVERAGE shot, GREAT SPOTTER! That goat was spotted hauling ass, Ran to the truck for the rifle dropped in the dirt got out my range card and started dialing. because Chris Matthews was already on the ground ranging. All I had to do was listen and adjust. Three of the same range readings 556 556 556 I went hot heard hold, hold, hold send it. Dead goat it all lasted less than a minute. With out a spotter it would never of happened. I wont knock anyone who goes out by them self. But after you've been out with a good spotter that you trust and knows animal behavior you will be changed. Again not knocking anyone I just feel the shooter should be shooting and the spotter should be spotting and feeding info.
"Fast is fine accurate is final"
I can see where a spotter would be a help, but can't for the life of me understand how you could watch a deer for 20 min and decide not to shoot, but say you would have taken the shot if you had a spotter.
its either a shot/no shot situation no matter how many people are on the ground. game animals are creatures of habit, they usualy say take 3 steps stop and graze, 3 steps stop and graze, they do it cause they do that everyday.
Rutting bucks are tough, early in my LR hunting I spotted 5 bucks chasing a doe, one 8 point looked decent, I spotted him at 9:20 AM and decided to take him, the chase was on and the chosen buck was constantly either after the doe or fending off the other bucks, finaly they went accrossed the ridgetop out of sight only to return a few minutes later, with a 6th buck in tow, I finaly dropped the hammer on that buck at 475 yards, the time was 1:49 PM, 3 times I had the wrong buck ranged and was just about to shoot, would a spotter have helped? possibly, but its just as likely to have made the confusion worse trying to find a running buck on a timbered ridge 5 football fields away.
RR you answered your own question. Similar situation chasing a doe across the rear of a bean field, about as far as I was willing to shoot. In and out of the woods got on him a few times spent too much time trying to read him and get set for the shot. One time almost squeezed it off right as he took off. To answer your question I'll never know if a spotter would have made the difference in getting a shot off. I can tell you for sure it would have made a huge difference in me just concentrating on the shot only. and if i heard SEND IT. It would have been sent with out hesitation. I dont think there is a long range hunter out there that would chose to hunt by themself if a good spotter was available. That being said in the last several weeks I've filled a bunch of crop damage tags by myself. Alot easier this time of year while eating beans. During the season it would most likely be a joint effort, deer walking a hedge row spotter asks are you ready, spotter gives a quick whistle and off it goes.
Just me I believe in the long range game rifle scopes are for making the shot and bino's and spotting scopes are for spotting, I haven't found a way to use both at the same time.
If I had to hunt by myself, sure I would but again I feel it would limit me. Just my .02
"Fast is fine accurate is final"
I shot a goat in 2005 at a little over 550 yards after the shot, all I heard was great shot etc. The first thing I thought to myself was AVERAGE shot, GREAT SPOTTER! That goat was spotted hauling ass, Ran to the truck for the rifle dropped in the dirt got out my range card and started dialing. because Chris Matthews was already on the ground ranging. All I had to do was listen and adjust. Three of the same range readings 556 556 556 I went hot heard hold, hold, hold send it. Dead goat it all lasted less than a minute. With out a spotter it would never of happened. I wont knock anyone who goes out by them self. But after you've been out with a good spotter that you trust and knows animal behavior you will be changed. Again not knocking anyone I just feel the shooter should be shooting and the spotter should be spotting and feeding info.
Don't let rimfire BS you that was an excellent shot. He was under pressure. He had to hurry and get set and dialed, I as well as others were watching and it was a thing of beauty.
range it,check the wind, dial in correction, aim and only one shot
well it happens like that on occasion, I once shot a whitetail for an audience of about 15 bear hunters. the doe came out into a field, a buddy wanted some venison, so after getting permission from the landowner, I retreived the rifle from the truck, set up, ranged, checked chart, dialed it in, the rifle cracked, bang/flop, all in about a minute and a half.
Hunting the timbered ridges here, most of the deer you see, just seem to disapear before you can get on them, I lose half of them making the switch from binos to rifle, then lose more between rifle and rangefinder. Here in wv, we are limited to the places where you can even see 500 yards plus, in the timber without snowcover, its mostly a matter of luck unless you glass an area enough to know where the game will be. The snow helps but not often we have it during deer season.
I agree with Rimfire about having a spotter. I beleive that the shooter should be concentrated on the shot and only the shot with an occasional adjustment of the scope when called out. If the spotter is on the range finder and on the spotting scope with the corrections called out as well as letting you know the best time to shoot, the shot will most likely be a much better shot and find it's mark easier. If there is a trusted spotter available, I beleive it is wise to use one. However, I too will not knock those who go at it alone.