By Mark Kenyon

Today the Boone & Crockett club released a statement of position on a topic of current debate in the hunting world, this being the increased popularity of hunters taking exceptionally long shots at game. Today’s rapid improvements in weapon and optics technology has allowed for increased accuracy at extremely long distances, but how far is too far?

The Boone & Crockett club, being the original standard bearer of “fair chase” and hunting ethics, contends that a specific distance probably can’t be set as too far, but “too far” does still exist. According to their statement, “The ethical issue isn’t the 350-yard shot. The real concern, as Boone and Crockett Club sees it, is hunters not trying to get a closer one.”

In their official position statement, the club expands upon this by saying the following:

The term “long-range” shooting is more defined by a hunter’s intent, than any specific distance at which a shot is taken.  If the intent of the individual is to test equipment and determine how far one can shoot to hit a live target and if there is no motivation to risk engagement with the animal being hunted, this practice is not hunting and should not be accorded the same status as hunting. 

The Boone and Crockett Club maintains that hunting, at its most fundamental level, is defined by a tenuous and unpredictable relationship between predator and prey.  This is an intrinsic, irrefutable and intimate connection that cannot be compromised if the hunter is to maintain the sanctity of this relationship and any credible claim that hunting is challenging, rewarding, respectful of wild creatures, and in service to wildlife conservation.  This connection is built upon many complex components that differentiate hunting from simply shooting or killing. 

The Club finds that long-range shooting takes unfair advantage of the game animal, effectively eliminates the natural capacity of an animal to use its senses and instincts to detect danger, and demeans the hunter/prey relationship in a way that diminishes the importance and relevance of the animal and the hunt.  The Club urges all hunters to think carefully of the consequences of long-range shooting, whether hunting with a rifle, bow, muzzleloader, crossbow, or handgun, and not confuse the purposes and intent of long-range shooting with fair chase hunting.

I’m a big believer in maintaining fair chase and the “tenuous and unpredictable relationship between predator and prey“, and for that reason I personally agree with the position that the Boone & Crockett club has taken here. But at the same time, I realize everyone draws their own line at different places when it comes to how technology impacts the way they hunt.

Whether it be the distance of a shot, the fancy mechanics of a bow, the use of remote cameras, or scent elimination chemicals and machines – the questions will always be asked … How far is too far?

I suppose it’s a question we can only answer for ourselves.

What’s your take on long distance shooting? How far is too far? Do you agree with the Boone & Crockett club?