Hunting a moving target

Dancerpro

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Apr 18, 2021
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This year is shaping up to be my first (since I was a kid) hunting season. I have been talking to hunters for several, trying to get an idea of what to do to accomplish a successful hunt. One thing that has not come up, leading the animal. It seems as though everyone advises waiting till the animal stops. However, as a kid I remember hunters talking of leading the animal. Best of my knowledge, you don't lead a stopped animal. What changed? Why wait till the animal stops? The only thing that comes to mind is, easy(ier) shot and I understand that. What happens if the deer does not stop? Am I just supposed to watch supper WALK away. I get it if it is running, to many possibility of things going wrong, but walking.

My personality is to take chances and that is where these questions come from. I want to be a responsible hunter, with ethical practices and the only way to do that is to fully understand what hunting ethics mean and how to apply them to my life. You folks have been most helpful and I hope you'll be patient a while longer. There is a light ending this tunnel and I hope to be joining your ranks in the coming season. Your advice is helping to shape the hunter I'll become, thank you.
 

RobertD

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Leading is generally something you do on moving targets with shotguns. Examples being most birds, rabbits, etc.

You don't lead with a rifle so much because you don't really need to. Rifle bullets travel faster than shotgun shot.

Your last question: For deer or other game with a rifle, you should learn to stop them vocally and then take your shot. Simply be ready with your rifle and make a small sound like a calf or lamb calling out to its mom. Just a quick "baah" sound. Don't worry if it's a buck, they will stop just as sure as a doe will.

This usually gets them to stop and scan the area for a minute, at which point you take the shot. I did it to a buck this past season. It's a good and simple skill to learn.
 

44hunter45

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Hey @Dancerpro , welcome to Hunttalk.

This is essentially an ethics question. Our first priority as hunters is to make a clean kill and cause as little suffering as possible to the animal. For many of us, running shots are considered beyond our skill or simply too risky. One of the things Steven Rinella says that I like is that questions of when to shoot, or how far, are answered by whether we are KNOW we can make a clean kill shot vs we THINK we can make a clean kill shot.

Then there is a safety component. We need to have a safe backstop to every shot we take. While it is possible to do this swinging through for a lead on running game, it is more difficult.

The answer is a little regional, also. In the East and SouthEast, you will likely see more hunters taking moving shots on game. In the West, it is far less common. Having said that- my dad grew up wing shooting birds in Ohio. He regularly made running shots on deer. I've tried it twice in my 50 year hunting career and missed both times. My oldest son shot his first deer while it was walking, Dead Right There.

North Idaho, where I hunt, is very thick forest and I still hunt quite a bit. I have never had any anxiety over letting an animal go if I thought the shot was not sure or safe.

As for, "watching supper walk away,", I would bet a VERY high percentage of us on Hunttalk do not talk moving shots on game, but we put meat in their freezer every year.
From time to time here on the forums, you will see threads pop up about whether it is safe to hunt with a round in your chamber. The answers you see might surprise you. Many experienced hunters, especially in the West, say they do not move with a round chambered. As you get more time in the field, as time it takes to decide shoot or don't shoot gets less.
 

np307

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North Carolina
If you're close enough to stop a deer with your voice, then do so. If you're too far to do that then you're probably too far away to be taking a shot on a moving animal anyway.

Deer that aren't spooked actually stop walking a lot. It can get a little frustrating in bow season here waiting for one to finally clear into a lane.

I havent had a deer yet that I felt I had to shoot on the move. Most of the deer I see are at 50 yards or less so it really isn't tough to stop them.
 

Lost Arra

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Aug 10, 2015
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Leading is generally something you do on moving targets with shotguns. Examples being most birds, rabbits, etc.

You don't lead with a rifle so much because you don't really need to. Rifle bullets travel faster than shotgun shot.

Your last question: For deer or other game with a rifle, you should learn to stop them vocally and then take your shot. Simply be ready with your rifle and make a small sound like a calf or lamb calling out to its mom. Just a quick "baah" sound. Don't worry if it's a buck, they will stop just as sure as a doe will.

This usually gets them to stop and scan the area for a minute, at which point you take the shot. I did it to a buck this past season. It's a good and simple skill to learn.
I'm a big fan of "baah" but I've found that "hey deer" works too.
 

blackbeard

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Apr 2, 2021
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South Dakota
I grew up doing deer drives, you do need to lead a moving deer. It'll just depend how much you lead based on how far the animal is and how fast it's moving. Deer drives have seemed to fade away here as well so standing shots are more common, no lead and more ethical.
 

OntarioHunter

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Every year I shoot thousands of rounds at the trap/skeet/clays range. Consequently I have some confidence taking running shots at big game. Shooting a rifle is not the same as a shotgun, but the basics of shooting moving targets are the same, particularly follow through. Most who shoot moving targets with a shotgun rarely squeeze the trigger. They fire fast and hard and because they're firing multiple projectiles, they can get away with it. The trick to shooting big game on the fly is 1) not jerking the trigger like with a shotgun and 2) staying on the animal 3) which involves some anticipation of its movement. It's very difficult to accomplish all of these factors at the same time. It requires TOTAL concentration ... on the target. Forget about the trigger or the recoil. I have actually shot quite a few animals on the run with borrowed guns and I couldn't tell you what the recoil was like or how the trigger behaved. This includes the thumper .375 I used to shoot a galloping cape buffalo bull last year. IMG_1740(1).JPG

Follow the bullet into the animal. That's how I shot both these bull elk on the fly ... in the head! And forty years before ever shooting a round of trap (but I was a duck hunting junkie). 20210627_175333.jpg 20210402_110825.jpg
Truth be told, I have missed more standing big game than running. Two reasons: I won't take a running shot unless it's a good one. And second, for standing shots there is a greater opportunity to overthink it. The smaller the window (i.e. running shot), the greater the probability I will shoot instinctively. Actually, thinking back over fifty years in the field, right now I cannot remember missing but one shot at a running animal and that was last year. Kudu bull jumped a grown over fenceline just as I shot. He came back that afternoon and I got him standing at 440 yards.

For big game I prefer a standing shot but can make a running shot work if it's a good opportunity at reasonably close range. However, I am basically a good shot (qualified expert at everything in the Army) with a LOT of experience shooting moving targets. For the average hunter I wouldn't advise it. The animals don't deserve to be messed up and die miserably.
 

OntarioHunter

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Those who would tell you it's necessary to lead a running deer with a rifle are either jerking the trigger hard (which is almost instinctive when shooting at moving targets) or shooting at animals that are too far away for ethical running shots. When the trigger is pulled hard the shooter almost invariably stops staying on target. No follow through. It is possible to anticipate the loss of follow through by adding a lead and still hit the animal. But where exactly will the animal be hit?
 

220yotekiller

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Oct 15, 2017
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I will not take a moving shot on a unwounded animal, when I was a kid with bad judgement I took moving shots and missed more than I hit. I finally quit and started hitting darn near everything I shot at (within resonable ranges). Often using a simple cow talk call or a diaphragm call will make game at least pause long enough to get a good shot off. I would rather take a 300 yard standing shot than a 100 yard moving shot.
 

Redman

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I can't count the number of times I have stopped a deer and I or someone I was with killed it when I whistled at it. Though I have taken shots on moving animals (walking not running) I only do as a last resort.
 

FoodIsMemories

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SW MT
Leading is generally something you do on moving targets with shotguns. Examples being most birds, rabbits, etc.

You don't lead with a rifle so much because you don't really need to. Rifle bullets travel faster than shotgun shot.

Your last question: For deer or other game with a rifle, you should learn to stop them vocally and then take your shot. Simply be ready with your rifle and make a small sound like a calf or lamb calling out to its mom. Just a quick "baah" sound. Don't worry if it's a buck, they will stop just as sure as a doe will.

This usually gets them to stop and scan the area for a minute, at which point you take the shot. I did it to a buck this past season. It's a good and simple skill to learn.
Adding to this, my dad went back for the pickup at last light when I was a kid and left me in the blind. He said they’ll come out soon and if you need a second shot just whistle loud as you can, I know how to whistle with my fingers since I was a kid and sure enough that whistle stopped that deer for another look after a 30.06 shot went off.
 

Dancerpro

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Apr 18, 2021
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80
We are not starving and that whitetail is not charging you. Don’t listen to the bullshit and just say no to winging shots at moving animals.
That is one thing for sure, I don't just wing shots and I don't think any hunter who believes in hunting ethics would do such a thing. However, you seem to have a strong opinion. May I ask why? I was taught to talk to those smarter than yourself, when it comes to subjects you are trying to learn. I work to hard to purchase the items needed to hunt. I practice accuracy at several distances on a range I had built on my property. Honestly, I believe my hunt will be a failure, if I cause the animal any unnecessary pain. This question comes from what I was taught and what I'm seeing on videos of current hunts. There is a discrepancy, that I have not seen answered, in any format. All you folks are smarter than me when it comes to hunting and that's why I ask questions the way that I do, I am asking my teachers a question, that I have no clue of the answer or even how to ask it, due to inexperience. Call it a gut feeling, but the way you answered, tells me there's more to the story.
 

longbow51

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Aug 2, 2020
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Basically, there is little opportunity for most of us to get good enough at moving targets to be sure of hits. SEAL, Army, Marine snipers, OK. Most of us aren't. Even if you hit the animal, you are just as likely to gut shoot it, or waste meat.

Just don't.
 

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