Every sport has its a-holes. You know the ones...the enthusiasts who think that their level of commitment or money paid on equipment grants them royalty status, whether it be at the gym, bowling alley, in the woods, or at the shooting range.
A lot of public ranges I've shot at have been uncontrolled, and the guys I can't stand are those that set up with a spotting scope worth more than any rifle I own, and a rifle worth more than my first car. They then make it very clear that they own the range and everyone else exists at their discretion. Heaven forbid that you should ask for the range to go cold so you can go downrange and change a target. After dealing with the condescension, eye-rolling, and huffing, he might grant you a boon and allow a peasant like you to proceed.
The worst experience I had with one of these guys was when I was at a range with my son. After the line had been firing awhile, I sensed that others were as ready to take a break as I was. So I called up and down the line: "Cold?" I got confirming yells from both sides on down the line and people benched their weapons. My son and I were the first ones in front of the line, and had gone maybe 5 yards when the guy with the tricked out M-1A and Swarovski spotting scope on Station 1 sent a round downrange. We and the other shooters all started yelling, and he responded going off on a red-faced rant about US being unsafe. It didn't matter what the rest of the line agreed to..HE wasn't ready to stop.
It takes all kinds I guess. The important thing and only thing I care about with other shooters is that they be safe and act in regard to everyone else around them. I'd have been more than ticked if someone sent a round down range after the line was cold.
I'm betting the same folks that seem to think they own the public range are the same saps that seem to think the public land they hunt is their "private" reserve as well. Nothing ruins a day faster than some jack*ss getting all fired up about how you walked right through his set up or spoiled his hunt for the day...50 yards from the rig. And have you ever noticed the hunters you meet several miles from the rig are all about everyone's hunt, not just their own.
I think you're right. I once ran into a guy who was all kinds of ticked off because my bear stand was only about a mile away from his on the other side of a mountain -- on public land. Can't prove for sure that it was him, but when I went out to set up the next spring, my stand had been cut down out of the trees...and the boards were cut in half to make sure it couldn't be reassembled. He and his buddies basically staked out an entire valley and wouldn't tolerate anyone anywhere near it...and this was in the middle of millions of acres of public area just short of the Yukon River, so it's not like there were a lot of people up there.
That sucks. That kind of stuff just plain ruins my hunting experiences. I'd rather just go somewhere else than have to deal with the jerks. I suppose that just helps validate their ridiculous behavior. But then again, if their behavior is so irrational there just isn't any reasoning with them either.
Fortunately, there's a bunch of great public land and many more great hunters than there are a-holes. And on the flip side, few things add more to my day than running into another hunter and swapping stories or info and making a new friend in the process.
I must admit that I have missed a big game animal with a rifle. And not only was it a bull elk, it was the largest bull that I have had in my sights with a tag in my hand. But, as with most "missed shot" stories, I have an excuse. Moisture doesn't really ever bode well for hunting equipment. When moisture (either rain or snow) gets into a firearms barrel, nothing good takes place. A couple rain drops down there can change the point of impact drastically and a barrel jammed with snow after a...