Mike: I hunted 30 days last year and saw one shooter that I figured would go in the low 150s. That’s a heck of a buck where I hunt. He was standing in a thicket and all I could see was his head and rack. Not much neck. I planted my scope behind his ear and clicked off the safety. He was about 100 yards away and I had a good rest. But I couldn’t do it. Now I’m second-guessing because I’ll probably never see a buck that big again around here. Should I have pulled the trigger? Doug, AL
Doug: Hell no, you did good! I cannot think of single instance when you should shoot a buck or a doe in the head. It just doesn’t feel right to me; it does not show a beautiful deer the respect it deserves. For that matter I don’t like the neck shot either.
Something the great hunting and shooting expert Jack O’Connor wrote long ago has stuck with me:
“Once I found the carcass of a fine buck with the nose and mouth shot away; it had starved to death… (And) even if you hit the brain and kill the animal in its tracks, the resulting sight is likely to turn your stomach. I once pulled down on the head of a buck about 60 yards away and killed him. The light, high-velocity bullet blew up the animal’s skull. One look at the pulpy, shapeless head, the bulging eyes, the antlers askew—well, I was almost ready to quit hunting deer.”
Agreed. We’re supposed to be the “overseers/protectors” of our deer herds, and treat them with respect. We hang antlers on the wall to respect the animal and the memory of our hunt. Exploding their head or risk giving them a slow and miserable death is unacceptable.
If you didn’t pull the trigger, you followed your conscience and did the right thing. I found a deer walking through the woods with her jaw hanging down from a bullet through the lower jawbone. My brother filled his tag with her but I cannot imagine how slowly whe would have died. Sometimes just seeing a big buck is good enough. Good job on passing an iffy shot.