I know a guy who shot a cow in WA without a cow tag. He was 17 and his dad was spotting. His dad put spikes on it and told him to shoot. He did. When they got up to it (along with a couple of other guys), there were no spikes. They got the hell out of there in a hurry. Very irresponsible hunting and I don't want to start a debate on this case.
However, that would be a situation where you'd kill an animal and leave it to rot.
In this case, there were two cows, which seems less likely to be a mistake and more likely to be idiots who wanted to kill something.
There is never a case when you leave an animal you shot to waiste. If you shoot an animal by mistaken identity you should still salvage what you can and you "should" turn yourself in.
years ago my dad and I were hunting deer and he missed a buck and hit the doe behind it, dad didn't see the doe or see her drop, but as that buck was running off he shot him too. Not knowing at this point what had happened we went to look for blood at the first location, only to find a dead doe, exactly what I told him he would find. Going over to look at the buck we found another doe, evedently he missed the buck again and hit another doe. I watched all of this happen from about 75 yards away and really thought the second deer he hit was the buck. niether one of saw another doe, and he was a big 4x4.
We still didn't leave those deer to waste. He made me tag one and he tagged the other, now he wasn't going to turn himself in but wasn'i about to let them waste. He was 46 years old when this happened and hadn't missed a year of hunting since he was 8 and only going one year without a deer (or two), HE HASN'T HUNTED SINCE THAT DAY, and I try to get him to go every year.
sorry this was so long, but being a hunter has responsabilities.
Most people would opt to leave the illegal animal behind, rather than to lose their rifle and face felony charges of poaching. Many, many stories about people who end up with five figure fines for illegally shot animals. This guy was hunting in a dense area -- if you gut out an animal, people know. So, there was no option of gutting out the animal and not getting caught, like Ssp's story.
Not saying it's right, responsible, etc. Not saying I'd do it, not saying anyone here would/should do it. Just wanted to respond to the 2nd poster with a scenario where people would leave an animal behind.
I don't think its right for someone to leave an animal they shot behind!
If you shoot an animal in which you don't have tags for by mistake, then you should contact the authorities and explain your situation. If it was an honest mistake (which can happen), then I doubt you will be punished for it. It's all about taking responsiblity for your actions, and has a lot to do with ethics.
Unfortunately mistakes do happen though, but it's your responsibility to own up to that mistake! As Ssp pointed out with the story about his father, he made a mistake, he didn't report it to the authorities though, but at least he didnt waste the meat.
Obviously someone who is poaching doesn't have any regard for wildlife, so I don't expect that perosn(s) to own up to anything. I just hope that those assholes get what's coming to them!
I have had friends who have accidentally killed a doe or a 2 point in a 3 point area before. They gutted the animal and called the game warden. The game warden came out and asked questions and looked over the site. In both cases they were fined $70 and given a few points fine but was allowed to continue to hunt.
Colorado has a law........18
"Kill and abandon big game. Killing big game, removing only the hide, antlers or other trophy parts, and leaving the carcase in the field are illegal. (Felony)
If you get a felony, your days of hunting are over. Turn yourself in and do the right thing.
From the books that I have read, there is a lot of importance in knowing every nook and cranny of your hunting territory as well as the animal that you are hunting. So scouting as much as possible, just walking the land, will give you a good idea of what's around the corner or what's on the other side of a hill. Which can be very beneficial.
Making your own maps of human and deer trails, and different types of foliage such as group of pines,...