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Is It Ethical to Shoot a Deer in Its Bed?

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Is It Ethical to Shoot a Deer in Its Bed?

Is it unethical to shoot a bedded deer?

My personal definition of “fair chase” is behavior that allows a wild animal a decent chance to escape my pursuit. That’s what makes hunting so exciting to me: it’s a toss-up whether my knowledge and technology will prevail over an animal’s instincts and ability to hide and flee. Over the past week, the Montana deer I’ve been hunting have had the advantage.

But last month in Utah, I prevailed. I shot this tall-racked mule deer in his bed at 352 yards with a Montana Rifle Co. rifle chambered in .280 Ackley Improved. I had spotted the buck at sunup, but didn’t have a decent shot. So I watched him bed with the rest of his herd, then I moved, got the wind right, and approached his bedding area from a different direction. After several hours of glassing tight cover, I found him, bedded broadside to me in the cool shade of an aspen grove.

Because he was laid up on a steep sidehill, he offered nearly the same profile that he would have given me had he been standing, so it was a fairly easy task to hold just below his spine and drop a 140-grain Nosler AccuBond through both lungs and his off-shoulder. He never moved from his bed.

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