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Is it better to wait for the best possible shot opportunity, or should you take the first good opportunity? And does bow hunting vs. gun hunting make a difference?

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  • Is it better to wait for the best possible shot opportunity, or should you take the first good opportunity? And does bow hunting vs. gun hunting make a difference?

    Is it better to wait for the best possible shot opportunity, or should you take the first good opportunity? And does bow hunting vs. gun hunting make a difference?

  • #2
    I think it definitely makes a difference when it comes to which you are holding(a gun or a bow). I would rather pass on a deer than take a marginal shot with a bow. Just how I am. With a gun that is different. Number one a deer wont "jump" a bullet...when you pull the trigger that bullet is wherever you pointed it. Number two a follow up shot will be much more likely with a gun. And while that topic is up...I guess you also need to further expand this question to types of guns. There are many shots I would take with a rifle that I may pass on with something such as a muzzleloader.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by JM View Post
      I think it definitely makes a difference when it comes to which you are holding(a gun or a bow). I would rather pass on a deer than take a marginal shot with a bow. Just how I am. With a gun that is different. Number one a deer wont "jump" a bullet...when you pull the trigger that bullet is wherever you pointed it. Number two a follow up shot will be much more likely with a gun. And while that topic is up...I guess you also need to further expand this question to types of guns. There are many shots I would take with a rifle that I may pass on with something such as a muzzleloader.
      Good comment JM, the difference between gun and bow use is spot on ! And hft, there is a real gray line between
      a good opportunity and the best opportunity and just when to decide which is which. I have failed to make the correct
      choice more than once, but if one fails to be correct, it is better to decide to wait for the best opportunity, now if we can
      only predict when that is all would be easy, right ?

      Comment


      • #4
        I'm strictly a rifle hunter and have always believed in, "Take the shot you've got, don't wait for a better one." Of course, this does not apply to gut shots or butt shots since I've haven't gotten that hungry yet. I'm still indecisive about straight-on frontal shots since I've seen a number of deer poorly shot from this angle, and some lost. Others have been hit perfectly, but this involves the bullet travelling the full length of the deer and making a real mess to clean. Also, frontal shots tend to produce a poor blood trail unless you are using a bullet heavy enough to make an exit wound out the back end.

        So, I guess what I'm saying is to wait for a good shot, though not necessarily the best shot.

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        • #5
          I didn't have a lot of success in my early years of hunting either with bow or rifle. I was too hesitant. I was always waiting for the "perfect" shot. While they sometimes happen, I've learned to take the 'good' shot and good shots are good shots.

          My definition does change depending on what I'm holding. I still won't take a quartering to or head on shot with a bow. I have no problem with either with a rifle. My experience with head on shots, though limited to two, with my .270WSM has been vitals turned to jelly in one case, and in a case where I shot slightly high, a completely severed spine with damaged lungs and liver behind that. Bow... I'm just not going to do that.

          Quartering two with a rifle I tend to target the near shoulder which does a fairly efficient job of stopping progress while destroying the organs behind. Again, I wouldn't risk sufficient penetration of the shoulder with my bow.

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          • #6
            I've done both: Waited and waited for a better shot, and taken the first shot that I felt confidence in. Depends on the situation and how the animal is behaving, and sometimes it just depends on me. Once I saw a buck five times in an hour before I shot him; I could have killed him on any of his visits past my spot, but he was sort of on the small side and that was a year when I had no doe permit and nearly the whole season off from work. Finally I killed him when he came by and walked right up to me; it was maybe a ten-yard shot. That was certainly the best possible shot, but my waiting wasn't for the shot; it wasn't really waiting at all, more like changing my mind about wanting him, so I guess it's not a very good example. Overall, and as one would expect, I've been able to expand my definition of "good" shot as I've become more experienced; I feel very comfortable now with shots that would have seemed iffy to me years ago.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by JM View Post
              I think it definitely makes a difference when it comes to which you are holding(a gun or a bow). I would rather pass on a deer than take a marginal shot with a bow. Just how I am. With a gun that is different. Number one a deer wont "jump" a bullet...when you pull the trigger that bullet is wherever you pointed it. Number two a follow up shot will be much more likely with a gun. And while that topic is up...I guess you also need to further expand this question to types of guns. There are many shots I would take with a rifle that I may pass on with something such as a muzzleloader.
              Interesting. I never thought about dividing single-shot and repeating firearms before. But that makes sense.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by pineywoods View Post
                I'm strictly a rifle hunter and have always believed in, "Take the shot you've got, don't wait for a better one." Of course, this does not apply to gut shots or butt shots since I've haven't gotten that hungry yet. I'm still indecisive about straight-on frontal shots since I've seen a number of deer poorly shot from this angle, and some lost. Others have been hit perfectly, but this involves the bullet travelling the full length of the deer and making a real mess to clean. Also, frontal shots tend to produce a poor blood trail unless you are using a bullet heavy enough to make an exit wound out the back end.

                So, I guess what I'm saying is to wait for a good shot, though not necessarily the best shot.
                I would take a frontal shot with a gun without hesitation, provided I had a solid rest or the range was relatively short. I've taken several with a muzzleloader, and in every case the deer dropped in its tracks.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Good points all. I should have clarified, I wasn't comparing specific shot angles, etc. when asking if bow hunting was different than gun hunting. Obviously what constitutes a "good shot" with a gun might not be the same for a bow.

                  I definitely have a different mindset when bowhunting than when gun hunting. With a bow, I will usually wait for a slam-dunk shot. Sometimes that's the absolute best possible shot, sometimes it isn't, but in general I try to hold out for a very high-percentage opportunity. This represents my current philosophy, and unfortunately I had to learn some things the hard way. I used to be much more aggressive with my shot selection, which lead to a couple of wounded deer, and a couple more I killed due to luck more than anything.

                  With a gun, I tend to take the first shot that I know is within my capabilities. I've always been a gun hunter at heart, and I'm much more confident with a gun in my hands than a bow. There aren't many shots I won't take with a gun, within my effective range. I won't take running shots, except when the animal is already wounded or something. But other than that, if I have a shot that I know I can make, I take it, regardless of whether or not I might be able to get a better one.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by huntfishtrap View Post
                    Good points all. I should have clarified, I wasn't comparing specific shot angles, etc. when asking if bow hunting was different than gun hunting. Obviously what constitutes a "good shot" with a gun might not be the same for a bow.

                    I definitely have a different mindset when bowhunting than when gun hunting. With a bow, I will usually wait for a slam-dunk shot. Sometimes that's the absolute best possible shot, sometimes it isn't, but in general I try to hold out for a very high-percentage opportunity. This represents my current philosophy, and unfortunately I had to learn some things the hard way. I used to be much more aggressive with my shot selection, which lead to a couple of wounded deer, and a couple more I killed due to luck more than anything.

                    With a gun, I tend to take the first shot that I know is within my capabilities. I've always been a gun hunter at heart, and I'm much more confident with a gun in my hands than a bow. There aren't many shots I won't take with a gun, within my effective range. I won't take running shots, except when the animal is already wounded or something. But other than that, if I have a shot that I know I can make, I take it, regardless of whether or not I might be able to get a better one.
                    My father is who taught me how to deer hunt(rifle hunting...I taught myself archery), and something he told me that I still follow today is that you should assume the first good opportunity you have may be the only chance or the best chance you have, so take it. By that I mean the first shot you know you can make is the one you should take with a rifle. I agree with you with archery...I go for a "slam-dunk" of a shot.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      With the shot angles taken out of the equation... I don't know.

                      When I actually get out to rifle hunt I generally have 2 or 3 days of the 2 week season out in western PA. The bucks have improved dramatically in the past 10 years, but still, if you see a shooter, and you have a shot, you'd be highly advised to take it. Archery seasons in my unit run from the middle of September to the end of January.. then it all gets a bit more subjective. I'm out for meat, and would prefer if I take a buck it's a decent buck.
                      I generally buy 2 doe tags and we can take one buck per year with your general license. If I have a doe tag free, a mature doe that gives a good shot is in mortal danger at any point.
                      A buck gets put through an algorithm that involves lots of variables like size of antlers, size of body, time left in season, is there venison in a the freezer..? It all depends.

                      I've eaten tags on several years where I was completely skunked after passing over young, but legal deer early in the season. It makes me hesitant to pass on the first good shot on the first legal animal I encounter.

                      I'm having trouble with the concept of being more likely to take a questionable shot with a rifle than a bow. There are more good shots available with a rifle just due to energy. But questionable shots are still bad shots. I could argue that other than being gut shot, a deer is more likely to shake off an arrow hit to deep muscle than the additional trauma and bone crushing energy that a rifle will deliver.. but you're still likely to be hard pressed to find that rifle deer you shot in the rump.

                      Full disclosure, I just recovered a doe that I hit badly after a branch deflected my arrow into it's lower rear leg breaking it. It didn't go far due to terrain, a bad break, and a lot of luck. But the shot that I was presented with looked great, other than not seeing that branch in the flight path in the shadows.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by jcarlin View Post
                        With the shot angles taken out of the equation... I don't know.

                        When I actually get out to rifle hunt I generally have 2 or 3 days of the 2 week season out in western PA. The bucks have improved dramatically in the past 10 years, but still, if you see a shooter, and you have a shot, you'd be highly advised to take it. Archery seasons in my unit run from the middle of September to the end of January.. then it all gets a bit more subjective. I'm out for meat, and would prefer if I take a buck it's a decent buck.
                        I generally buy 2 doe tags and we can take one buck per year with your general license. If I have a doe tag free, a mature doe that gives a good shot is in mortal danger at any point.
                        A buck gets put through an algorithm that involves lots of variables like size of antlers, size of body, time left in season, is there venison in a the freezer..? It all depends.

                        I've eaten tags on several years where I was completely skunked after passing over young, but legal deer early in the season. It makes me hesitant to pass on the first good shot on the first legal animal I encounter.

                        I'm having trouble with the concept of being more likely to take a questionable shot with a rifle than a bow. There are more good shots available with a rifle just due to energy. But questionable shots are still bad shots. I could argue that other than being gut shot, a deer is more likely to shake off an arrow hit to deep muscle than the additional trauma and bone crushing energy that a rifle will deliver.. but you're still likely to be hard pressed to find that rifle deer you shot in the rump.

                        Full disclosure, I just recovered a doe that I hit badly after a branch deflected my arrow into it's lower rear leg breaking it. It didn't go far due to terrain, a bad break, and a lot of luck. But the shot that I was presented with looked great, other than not seeing that branch in the flight path in the shadows.
                        I don't think anyone here, including myself, is advocating taking questionable shots, either with a gun or a bow. A bad shot is a bad shot, and shouldn't be taken except under certain special circumstances. My point was that I'm more likely to wait for the best possible shot when bowhunting than I am when gun hunting. For example, if I have an open, 150 yard shot with my muzzleloader from a solid rest, I'll almost certainly take it, even if the deer is on a path that might bring it closer to me. There's no reason to wait - I will make that shot 10/10 times if I do my job. But with a bow, if I have a broadside shot at a deer at 35 yards, I might pass it up if I think the animal will come closer or give me a better angle. I can make that 35 yard shot, but I'm more likely to wait for an even higher-percentage opportunity when I have a bow in my hand. I don't know if that's due to a lack of confidence, or just a realization that you have less margin for error in archery. Hope that makes sense.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by jcarlin View Post
                          With the shot angles taken out of the equation... I don't know.

                          When I actually get out to rifle hunt I generally have 2 or 3 days of the 2 week season out in western PA. The bucks have improved dramatically in the past 10 years, but still, if you see a shooter, and you have a shot, you'd be highly advised to take it. Archery seasons in my unit run from the middle of September to the end of January.. then it all gets a bit more subjective. I'm out for meat, and would prefer if I take a buck it's a decent buck.
                          I generally buy 2 doe tags and we can take one buck per year with your general license. If I have a doe tag free, a mature doe that gives a good shot is in mortal danger at any point.
                          A buck gets put through an algorithm that involves lots of variables like size of antlers, size of body, time left in season, is there venison in a the freezer..? It all depends.

                          I've eaten tags on several years where I was completely skunked after passing over young, but legal deer early in the season. It makes me hesitant to pass on the first good shot on the first legal animal I encounter.

                          I'm having trouble with the concept of being more likely to take a questionable shot with a rifle than a bow. There are more good shots available with a rifle just due to energy. But questionable shots are still bad shots. I could argue that other than being gut shot, a deer is more likely to shake off an arrow hit to deep muscle than the additional trauma and bone crushing energy that a rifle will deliver.. but you're still likely to be hard pressed to find that rifle deer you shot in the rump.

                          Full disclosure, I just recovered a doe that I hit badly after a branch deflected my arrow into it's lower rear leg breaking it. It didn't go far due to terrain, a bad break, and a lot of luck. But the shot that I was presented with looked great, other than not seeing that branch in the flight path in the shadows.
                          I hear you. And I don't disagree. I have learned an appreciation for a deer's ability to move enough in a fraction of a second to cause a problem. I have taken deer at 30 yards but probably wouldn't do it again. I recall very specifically on a doe that was hit well and taken cleanly watching her head come up and hoof stamp in the time (4/10ths of a second?) that it took for the arrow to fly 90 feet from my old Champion Firehawk. A couple of years ago at 15 yards and 12 feet elevation I saw another completely duck an arrow. Can still see it. Arrow diving towards vitals, deer's legs buckling, florescent fletching in the ground, deer standing full height again completely blocking view of fletching. They can move a lot in the brief moment between sound and arrow reaching a destination. Not to mention my own difference in accuracy. On a still target if I've been practicing 50 yards isn't a big deal to hit an 8 inch target.. if the wind is right, the lighting is good, the distance is familiar, I'm focusing, and my hearts not hammering, and the target doesn't flinch or just take a step.. archery is different.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by jcarlin View Post
                            With the shot angles taken out of the equation... I don't know.

                            When I actually get out to rifle hunt I generally have 2 or 3 days of the 2 week season out in western PA. The bucks have improved dramatically in the past 10 years, but still, if you see a shooter, and you have a shot, you'd be highly advised to take it. Archery seasons in my unit run from the middle of September to the end of January.. then it all gets a bit more subjective. I'm out for meat, and would prefer if I take a buck it's a decent buck.
                            I generally buy 2 doe tags and we can take one buck per year with your general license. If I have a doe tag free, a mature doe that gives a good shot is in mortal danger at any point.
                            A buck gets put through an algorithm that involves lots of variables like size of antlers, size of body, time left in season, is there venison in a the freezer..? It all depends.

                            I've eaten tags on several years where I was completely skunked after passing over young, but legal deer early in the season. It makes me hesitant to pass on the first good shot on the first legal animal I encounter.

                            I'm having trouble with the concept of being more likely to take a questionable shot with a rifle than a bow. There are more good shots available with a rifle just due to energy. But questionable shots are still bad shots. I could argue that other than being gut shot, a deer is more likely to shake off an arrow hit to deep muscle than the additional trauma and bone crushing energy that a rifle will deliver.. but you're still likely to be hard pressed to find that rifle deer you shot in the rump.

                            Full disclosure, I just recovered a doe that I hit badly after a branch deflected my arrow into it's lower rear leg breaking it. It didn't go far due to terrain, a bad break, and a lot of luck. But the shot that I was presented with looked great, other than not seeing that branch in the flight path in the shadows.
                            But then again.. a good shot is a good shot. A bad shot is a bad shot.
                            I think JM's follow up shot is the best argument I've seen when it comes to the difference between bow's and rifles. If anything, I'm more likely to wait for a better shot because my season is longer and there's not the same sense of urgency, I'm more likely to be bowhunting nearer to home, whereas I hit much bigger woods when rifle hunting. A deer can move a good long ways where I rifle hunt without leaving a state forest boundary and causing a property problem. Archery, there aren't many places in my unit where a deer could travel a half a mile without crossing a few property lines, and some places where in that space it could cross dozens once it got out of the lot you were hunting. It's a serious consideration.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by jcarlin View Post
                              With the shot angles taken out of the equation... I don't know.

                              When I actually get out to rifle hunt I generally have 2 or 3 days of the 2 week season out in western PA. The bucks have improved dramatically in the past 10 years, but still, if you see a shooter, and you have a shot, you'd be highly advised to take it. Archery seasons in my unit run from the middle of September to the end of January.. then it all gets a bit more subjective. I'm out for meat, and would prefer if I take a buck it's a decent buck.
                              I generally buy 2 doe tags and we can take one buck per year with your general license. If I have a doe tag free, a mature doe that gives a good shot is in mortal danger at any point.
                              A buck gets put through an algorithm that involves lots of variables like size of antlers, size of body, time left in season, is there venison in a the freezer..? It all depends.

                              I've eaten tags on several years where I was completely skunked after passing over young, but legal deer early in the season. It makes me hesitant to pass on the first good shot on the first legal animal I encounter.

                              I'm having trouble with the concept of being more likely to take a questionable shot with a rifle than a bow. There are more good shots available with a rifle just due to energy. But questionable shots are still bad shots. I could argue that other than being gut shot, a deer is more likely to shake off an arrow hit to deep muscle than the additional trauma and bone crushing energy that a rifle will deliver.. but you're still likely to be hard pressed to find that rifle deer you shot in the rump.

                              Full disclosure, I just recovered a doe that I hit badly after a branch deflected my arrow into it's lower rear leg breaking it. It didn't go far due to terrain, a bad break, and a lot of luck. But the shot that I was presented with looked great, other than not seeing that branch in the flight path in the shadows.
                              I've had a couple of interesting run-ins with string-jumping. One involved the buck in my OL avatar. He came straight in to within 10 yards, without ever giving me a shot, and spent what felt like an eternity standing there right under my stand. How he didn't smell me I'll never know; my theory is that it had something to do with the frigid single-digit temps that day. Anyway, when he started to walk away I tried to draw, and another deer busted me. The commotion caused him to spook, and he ran a short distance, then started circling back around me toward where he'd come from. He finally stopped in an opening, and I quickly guessed the range at 40 yards. I shot, and knew almost instantly that I'd misjudged the range. The arrow was dropping way too fast. When the arrow was about halfway to him, he started to drop and whirl, and it ended up hitting him perfectly, right through the top of the heart. I can't take any credit for the shot, though, because I'd say he dropped a good foot or more, right into the arrow.
                              The other occurrence involved a coyote. It came trotting in one cold morning, and started sniffing around in the grass at about 12 yards. I thought, finally - had a slam-dunk shot at a yote, and released the arrow. The yote was almost broadside when I shot, quartering away just slightly. His left side was toward me, which is an important fact. I would not have believed it if I hadn't seen it, but that yote somehow managed to turn more than 90 degrees by the time the arrow arrived, because it went IN his RIGHT eye, and came out the left side of his neck. I know that's the direction it took because it stayed in him, sticking out both sides. Incredibly, it didn't even kill him; I had to finish him off with another arrow. I know coyotes have extremely fast reflexes, but I am still in disbelief over it moving that much in the time it took my arrow to travel 12 yards. And my bow wasn't slow, either.

                              Comment

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