Did you pass up a shot on game this past year?

Len Backus

Staff member
May 2, 2001
Long range hunters stress to the uninitiated that we pass on shot situations that don't allow a (let's say) 95% condfidence level of a killing shot result. What kind of shots at game did you pass on this last year? How tempted were you?
LEN: I passed on a 140+ 10 pointer because I was down to my last buck tag, and I'd been seeing a 175+ class buck quite a bit. I ended up eating the tag, but I DID get a shot at the 175+ buck. Unfortunately, a little doe who was directly under my treestand spooked at the very moment I was about to release my arrow and the big buck ducked in reaction to her spooking. The arrow flew exactly where it was aimed, but he was no longer standing there when it arrived!! He should be 180+ in fall of 2002.

One the moose I shot in Alberta.

I first spotted it at 1550 yards but no adequate rest in the elevated stand. I began closing the distance and eventually found a spot with sufficient support and proper view for a shot at 439.

This was my first ever moose opportunity and I didn't want the critter getting away. There was no way I was going to take a less that sure shot.

Passing on shots is a routine thing, I don't give it much though for game I routinely hunt. Can't say how many critters I passed on this year due to unsure shooting conditions. I know for sure a 10 point buck (smallish but very nice). Several does due to positions the does had taken, sky-lighted without a backstop.
Passed on a fork horned moose at 1000yds, moving across a swamp couldn't get the range until later just before dark, but was beyond my scope adjustment and practice anyway, not this fall though.

Passed on a 9'+ brown bear at 750yds, feeding on a moose kill, I had my daughter with me, my drop chart and practice was only worked on religously to 700yds, beyond that I had inconsistancy with the scope at the outer edge of the adjustment. I could have held over, I knew the extra drop, and as I recall there was a little wind at 9 o'clock that bothered me also. It stacked up too much against me.

This was a very big bear too, probably bigger than the 9'3" squared one Brian and my brother shot up there the year before. If everything would have been right, I would have killed him from there, things were far from right though, for one thing my brother was not with me and I would NOT have went after him alone down there.

I shot my moose at 50' behind the ear this year, second to last day of season, I actually passed on him a couple days earlyer thinking he had too many points, turned out one side was leagel.

Complicated laws up here you realy have to look close and be sure. I passed on about a 55 incher the season before because I couldn't teel how wide he was at the time, had to be 50" or more.
I passed on a nice 10 pt whitetail at 500+ yds. Long for me at the time with a 7stw. It was extremely cold, I was not set up well, and could not get still and positioned. I got rained on, got wet and my body shook too much. Did not count on lack of warm clothes stopping a shot, but it did.

[ 02-17-2002: Message edited by: headshot7 ]
This year my goal was to take a mule deer (28" +) within the ranges of my custom 308. I spent the summer practicing to 750 yards. This was the effective range of the 175 gr SMK at an average of 1K ft. lbs. I was averaging 2.2" groups at 500 and about 3.5-4" or so at 750. During my guiding I spotted several really nice bucks that the clients passed on due to distance (whew !!) One in particular caught my attention. Now I had my target I just needed some time to go after him. I filled my last hunter early and I had the last 3 days of the season to myself. I watched the first day on several draws that were within his routes and my range. Just at dark the first night he was on his way down to the fields but I ran out of light ( even with the Ill. ret. ) First thing in the morning I was back up to the spot way before light. I watched him leave the fields at first light. All he had to do was follow the does and he would be about 675. PERFECT!!! OK here he comes.... wait ... what the ... 3 does that were not in "his" group are one draw over.... **** he smells one of them... hessitates and begins to stroll over to them.... 800, 850, 900, 950, 1000, all the way out to 1200 yards, gotta let him go ( Hence my next project 300 RUM!! ) Never did see him again on the last day. He is still around evey night and my managers actually picked up the left side of his shed antlers.

If I could figure out how to post pics on here I could show you a good pic of him 1 week after the season.
Anybody that deer (rifle) hunts in PA knows that new legislation states only one hunter per tree

On the first day of deer season, in my elevated stand I had 9 deer at 450 to 500 yards, standing broadside, very low wind, BUT I could see ORANGE with my naked eyes. I did hit the deer with the range finder and watched them for about 10 minutes but never pointed my rifle in their direction because I could see orange.

I had 6 deer cross a harvested corn field in front of me at the 300 yard mark but because they were hauling the mail at the time and jumping up and down over the corn stalks I didn't even attempt to get on them with the rifle.

I killed a 6 point on the second day at a known 420 yards, broadside. I killed a doe the second week at 400 yards, broadside. I hunted all but 2 days of the season. I did see deer other days but it was either to windy or they weren't broadside, so I didn't take the shot.

I was set up on the edge of a prairie affording up to 650yd shots in the waning minutes, of the last day of hunting season here in SW Florida when a buck and doe magically appeared in the middle of the prairie running away from me.

I can only speculate how they got there with me carefully and repeatedly glassing back and forth with my 10x Nikon binoculars.

Anyway I quickly calculated them to be at approximately 275yds (orange tape reference points) and going directly away. The shot would have been very difficult even if I had been ready for it with great light conditions.....

I passed on the shot and watched what appeared to be an 8pt buck with a good but not great rack disappear into the thick stuff at the far side of the prairie with his doe in tow, without so much as a backward glance at me.

I suspect that someone or something else than myself spooked them as I had the wind and was pretty well hidden and usually where I hunt the deer feel pretty safe beyond 300-400yds and will inevitably stop to check for pursuit at that range which is often a big mistake....

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