Well, preach as I may to the group of guys I hunt with, once again I found myself finishing off cripples, thanks to lousy shooting, most of it at ranges these gents had no business considering - and yet did.
Here are what seem to be the contributors:
1. Expensive ("sexy") ammo that costs $40-plus per box (standard calibers). The guy shooting this stuff says it's too expensive for him to do anything but "zero" his rifle with. RECOMMENDATION: Switch to PowerPoints or CoreLokts - you can buy three rounds for the price of one. That leaves two "extras" to use up at the range learning how to shoot. I've never had any issues with cheap factory ammo not performing on game - unless, that is - I miss the target.
2. Range Estimation. One guy's 150 yards was my 300. His rifle should have been "dead on" at 150, since he sighted it in 1.5" high at 100 (never quite understood that). So, he held dead on, and knocked the buck's front leg off at the knee. RECOMMENDATION. Buy a decoy and see what it looks like at different ranges, forget the fancy rangefinder - by the time you unholster it, your deer is going to be gone.
3. Ego exceeds skill. Guy sees decent (i.e. "bigger than any of the other guys have shot this season") buck, so HAS to have it. First shot from 250 yards blows another front leg off (there seems to be a trend here?), second shot hits him in the back behind the shoulder blades and paralyzes him. This one stares me in the face as he's frantically trying to get back up before I put one in his neck from 10 yards.
Guys, seriously, I'm tired of hearing stories about how we're going to shoot animals from afar. Yeah, there are some of you who I'm certain are capable of that. However, there aren't that many of us who have 1) the time (patience?), 2) the cash, or 3) the facilities anymore to CONSISTENTLY be shooting at long ranges. I have ready access to a KD (Known Distance) range where I've worked with my .30-06, a .308, and a .22-250 out to 600 yards. I send a lot of lead downrange, but consider myself pretty "unreliable" beyond 300 yards. To me, it's not worth the risk of crippling a fine animal. It's shameful to boast of something so potentially wasteful.
And I'm tired of shooting terrified, crippled deer at close range for someone else.