There is definitely a difference between not knowing you've wounded something and leaving it to rot versus knowing you've done so but it is still extremely negligent and these hunters' negligence is not a great excuse in my opinion. So, I do think punishment in a scenario like this is still valid as otherwise what's to stop them and other hunters from continuing this behavior and robbing more ethical hunters of opportunities for years to come.
As it stands now, there are no consequences for those that are willing to take marginal shots at wildlife (except in states like Alaska).
The last deer I arrowed and didn't recover swam halfway accross the snake river and then went under. I watched it's head dissapear. Tell me how I was to get that one. Even Fish and game said, "Keep hunting."
The pheasant I dropped and didn't recover the other day was in the mouth golden retriever last I saw. It ran onto adjacent private property and nobody was home. I knocked on the door and tried to find a phone number. The dog happily shredded that bird while I waited for someone to show up. He is definitely contender for keepaway champ i tried catching him. Any dog owners on here think I should have put the 12 gauge to Fido's mellon in their front yard and got my bird? That's what it would have taken.
The cow my buddy archery shot a few years ago caught one blade on the back of the leg. Just below chest level. Zero body damage. About a 1 inch cut. Confirmed with binos. He drew blood. Both of us agreed that elk would be just fine.
Sometimes no matter what you do you're not getting that one. Lumping me into the same group as Rambo shooting into a herd is not going to happen. I would not notch my tag or count that bird in my bag no matter what people say in any of those circumstances.