Shots you passed on

lefty315

Handloader
Sep 29, 2004
838
124
One of the other threads got me thinking, which is dangerous and bad for my health. I've read a lot where people are saying they ran out of cover, or couldn't get any closer, or the animal was heading for cover so I took the shot at xxx yards.

Before anyone's heart rate jumps up, I'm not asking for your justification of how well you shoot or admonishing anyone for the ranges you shoot at game. I'd like to hear about the shots you passed up, the range and why.

One comes to mind when I was on a cow elk hunt for a permit I had drawn. It had been raining steady for hours and showed no sign of stopping snytime soon. I still had an hour of legal hunting time left and here comes a cow. I immediately dropped to my knees, threw the muzzle loader onto the shooting sticks and had the cow dead to rights through my peep sight at 60 yards. Should have been a dead elk and tag filled, but.....The cow was at a weird quartering towards me angle that I didn't care for. I can't really describe the angle other than I thought what would happen if my bullet hit a bit right and glanced to the outside of the shoulder vs the inside. I would have taken the frontal shot any day of the week, but not that angle. I also thought of trying to track an elk in the pouring rain if I did wound it. End result, tag soup that year.

Curious to hear your passed shot stories.
 

Thebear_78

Handloader
Sep 30, 2004
2,954
350
I have one that comes to mind.

I was moose hunting in the mountains at a spot we have hunted for years. The moose tend to stay very high in the early pat of the season here so we always get to a high vantage point and glass whee three valleys come together. It allows you to cover a lot of ground with the spotters.

The evening before we had spotted a nice bear down one of the valleys eating berries on a shelf about half way up. It looked to be a very nice interior bear. It had a very light colored body with darker chocolate colored legs. What is commonly referred to as a toklat bear. so we made a plan to sneak around the back side of the hill in the morning and get above where we had seen it.

Everything was working according to plan, we got in position in early afternoon and settled in to start classing. After an hour or so of glassing I spotted the bear, it was on another shelf munching berries about a half mile further down the valley. I made a hasty plan of attack and headed out leaving my buddy to signal the bears location when I got close. I got over another hump that should have put me within a couple hundred yards of the bears location but it was gone and my buddy had lost sight of it. It was on a triangle shaped shelf covered with berries and a few dwarfed trees. Above it was above tree line leaving mainly loose rocks and liken with no real avenue to get close, below the triangle shelf it dropped quickly into an AST steep jungle of alders and brush.

I watched the bear moseying along hoovering up blueberries like a large furry vacume cleaner for a long time the whole time anywhere from 350-224 yards. Well within my comfortable range limitations. I shot it over and over again with my range finder! I had a good rest using a 2.5-3" round alder. I was shooting a 300 win mag with 180gr partitions. I just never could get "the shot" I was looking for, the angle just never seemed right. Somehow it was like that bear knew exactly how to stand to keep me from getting a broadside shot. I knew if I took a raking shot and only took out a shoulder without getting both lungs or heart that the bear would bail off into that thick jungle of brush and I would have to crawl into that mess to get him out. I knew for a fact that even on 3 wheels he would be able to out maneuver me in that steep brushy slope and the denseness would make swing a rifle nearly impossible.

Eventually he wandered into the brush never to be seen again. I can still replay the whole thing like watching a movie in my head. I was really disappointed but glad I held out instead of trying to force a lower percentage shot. Having crawled into thick brush looking for wounded Bears before and since I try to take every precaution to not find myself in that position again. It is absolutely no fun


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

DrMike

Ballistician
Nov 8, 2006
35,473
2,256
In 1993, while hunting moose some 250 km north of Dawson Creek, I passed on a moose standing broadside at about 600 yards. The rather magnificent bull was within a couple of steps of the tree line. Had I missed or wounded the beast, two steps and it would have disappeared into the bush. To reach it would have required trekking across a rather nasty quagmire. I'm not sorry I passed.

On that same trip, I passed on a large black bear that came busting out of the bush about 100 yards across from me. It ran through the marsh at high speed for about forty yards and found cover to my right. I chose to see what startled it and caused it to run, but nothing ever came out after it.

I passed on my first grizzly, and it was only about 85 yards. I could get my breathing under control and had no desire to wound such a magnificent animal. It finally tired of waiting for me to shoot and turned and wandered into the bush.

A few years ago, I passed on a rather grand six-point elk because I could not get a clean shot. The herd was at about 300 yards, but the bull was just in a bit of a dip and didn't give me a clear shot at the vitals.

I have passed on several good mule deer. My best whitetail was at about 250 yards during a blinding snowstorm. However, the animal was standing broadside and unfrightened. BlkRam pointed out a good whitetail standing just inside the tree line on one occasion. I couldn't see what he was pointing out. After pointing to the deer several times, he grew frustrated and said, "If you don't shoot him, I will." At that, I finally could make out the deer. I launched a 139 grain Hornady IL, which dropped the fine buck so fast we wondered if I had missed. That shot was offhand. A man to whom we were talking was so astonished that he questioned whether he had actually witnessed the shot. The longest shot on a mulie that I've taken was about 325 yards. I've shot a running black bear off-hand at ~225 yards, which was about as far as I cared to shoot off-hand at that time. That shot, with my .356, tumbled a fine bear that squared almost six foot. I've hammered moose at about 300 to 400 yards, and elk at similar distances, though the average shot is closer to 125 yards or so.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
I've passed up more caribou over 500 yards than I'd ever care to count...but caribou are plentiful and it's pretty easy to find another one if a stalk doesn't work out.

I passed a Dall ram at 600ish (pre rangefinder)...heart breaking. He was quartering too giving me the evil eye and there was no way to get closer across the scree slope between us. My partner wanted me to cut loose and drop it in like artillery...pretty glad I didn't try. Beautiful ram, but I ate tag soup on that one. Must have set there staring at him for a good half hour hoping he'd get curious, but he went the other way and we never saw him again.

I've passed several really nice moose, but it had more to do with recovery than actual shooting. They were all in my comfort zone for shooting...just too far to pack em out!
 

Blkram

Handloader
Nov 25, 2013
1,995
559
I've passed on several shots over the years, and for several reasons...
Too far
Wrong shot angle
Could not get steady or hold steady enough to feel confident in not taking the shot
Some type of barrier rendering recovery impossible or extremely difficult (swamp, river, ravine, canyon, cliff face, etc.)
Wrong animal (wrong species, too young, curious and came to within feet to check me out and I could not pull trigger or release arrow, cow with calf, and on several instances a feeling that I was to not harvest that particular animal -taught to listen to the spirits)
 

c. schutte

Handloader
Jan 24, 2012
578
0
passing shots..................man, that is the story of me!

Most of my hunting is in Texas on privately owned land. Many of those places have age or antler restrictions. So, you can guess that there has been many bucks that were just not quite old enough.

One was a buck while bow hunting. He was old enough and big enough but hung out where I could not see him until he at last stood broadside at 13 yards. By then it was too dark............................

Saw a real monster while hunting the Del Rio area with my two boys. We were driving out to an area and on the way this old boy was running with a doe and was every bit of 24" wide, heavy dark brown tines, big bases, huge thick neck and every bit of 6 years old. Probably a 155 to 160" buck. The only problem was he was on the wrong side of the fence!

There has been more and for sure there will be more passed shots to come. There has also been a few times when I pulled the trigger when I should not have and those memories are still there too. Don't want to add to those.................
 

pre6422hornet

Handloader
Jan 24, 2012
974
1
One comes to mind from recent years.

6 miles deep into the Pecos Wilderness and 15 minutes before legal shooting light on the second morning of the Oct 10-14th Bull Elk season in New Mexico. I am standing there in the middle of a meadow as a magnificent 6x6 is standing at 209 yards broadside. The meadow grass is preventing me from sitting or kneeling and still be high enough to be over said grass. Full value 35 mph wind from the north ( right to left) as the bull is facing south. He is a the bull. My hunting partner whispers " He is big". Coming from a guy who has shot 6 Pope and Youngs in 9 years in NM and had just brought home a 370 class bull from the Gila 10 days before tells you something. Dark brown tines and polished white tips. 5 or 6 cows and a smaller bull is there as well.

He knows we are standing there, my hunting partner and I. Through the scope I have him dead to rights even while standing on my legs unsupported. I practiced at 200 all summer. Just not with a 35 mph cross wind. My partner asks me one last time " Can you make that shot?"

" yes I can.... without the wind". I lowered the muzzleloader and watched him slowly walk into the dark timber.

That was tough... Walk 6 miles carrying your entire 6 days worth of gear on your back to have possibly the bull of your lifetime at 209 yards and not be able to shoot. But I would do it again? In a heartbeat I would.

PS... 3 hours later I shot that smaller bull in the group after a 3 mile chase. Just as satisfying.
 

super-7

Handloader
Jun 27, 2009
838
1
I have passed up shots for various reasons. Some because of light or weather conditions, some because of local ( undetermined background) , some because well today I'm not dragging anything out of that hole.
Some were animals that were on the bubble of what I was looking for. Sometimes it's just nice to sit and see what else shows up.
I guess that's one of the reasons I like waterfowl so much , on a good day I may shoot off a box or two of shells depending what comes in .
I fired one shot all last fall hunting big game. Develop loads , shoot targets , shoot iron, shoot tannerite. It's fun but hunting is not shooting.
Sometimes the regret of passing an animal knaws at you a bit , likley not as much as wounding and loosing an animal.
One year I hunted a particular Mule buck , I passed up some do able shots , shots I had a very high percentage of making , but each time something wasn't quite right. I never did get that buck and never new what happened to him. Maybe the bad winter kill here a few years back got him but he disappeared during the rut and we never had him on cam again. Some regret , but some satisfaction knowing I made the right choice at the time.
Bow hunting is even more involved with choosing the best shot under various conditions. It's part of the hunt and part of maturing as a hunter.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

salmonchaser

Handloader
Dec 13, 2013
3,583
1,098
Two years ago I drew a tag for one of Oregons best elk units. I chased a bull we called super freak. After 10 days of fog rain and snow I finally had him at 425; but going straight away. I was able to hold steady but couldn't bring myself to take the shot. A moment later a smaller six point stepped out, slightly quartering. Filled my tag right there.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Guy Miner

Master Loader
Apr 6, 2006
16,772
1,788
Late December last year, a young man and I were both holding cow tags. We stalked a bedded down herd and patiently waited. He had first shot of course. Finally his cow stood, and two shots from his .300 Weatherby had her down.

I'd been ready to shoot one as well, but as soon as he shot, the herd was up and moving around, covering each other... I was very worried that I'd get two elk with one shot, so I held fire. We had a pretty good size group of people with us. Most went with the young man to take care of his elk. Two people came with me, and an hour later I had a chance again, and took my cow elk. But I passed on the first one because the shot opportunity went all to heck when the herd got on their feet and started milling around.


Several times I've passed on shots because I couldn't clearly count the antler tines on a buck, to make sure the buck was legal.

I'm a real fan of a "good" shot opportunity. Have probably passed up quite a few shots that simply didn't look good to me. Poor or no backstop. Moving game at mid/long range.

Passed on a black bear last August at 15 - 20 yards, with my .30-30, because he didn't seem quite big enough. Coal black bear I'd called in with a mouth blown predator call. That was a hard shot to pass. A week or two later I shot a bigger bear, at considerably longer range.

Years ago, hunting with my traditional .50 cal muzzle loader, I'd been trying to ambush a bear I saw moving on the ridgeline. At closer range, I finally spotted the cub tagging along behind her. At about 20 - 30 yards I stood up and said "Hi Bear" frightening her off, hoping I wouldn't have to shoot her. That worked.

Ya, it's smart to pass on shots when something just isn't right.

Guy
 

lefty315

Handloader
Sep 29, 2004
838
124
Guy, your comment about counting tines reminded me of an elk hunt I did locally on private property several years ago.

Opening morning found me in the fog listening to elk bugle on the neighbors property. About 25 minutes after daylight the fog lifted to where I could see about 200 yards. A line of elk came into an opening where a large bull stopped broadside at 80 yards. It's a 3 point minimum or antlerless area but the rack was a full size rack so I thought I'm good. Something looked weird so I used my binos to look at the rack. The brow tines were every bit of 14 inches long, then both sides of the rack went way out and way up never providing another tine, fork or even a bump. Weird, it had to be the world record 2x2 elk of all time. I passed and 5 minutes later was tagging a nice rag horn bull.

I talked to a retired game warden that was hunting the neighbors property. He had the big bull at 15 yards for several minutes and couldn't find a 3rd point to make it legal. Had that bull been in the timber I have no doubt I would have probably pulled the trigger, just based on the size of the rack. Then I would be in trouble.
 

Polaris

Handloader
Dec 16, 2009
1,223
0
Not to drift too far off topic, but I'll discuss one I should have passed first.

About 10 years ago, on a decent buck whitetail, .280 rem, 154SSt, range aprox. 100 yards across a brushy draw and between saplings about a 4" window. Sitting, slung up steady. High confidence for me with this rifle on 4" window. Deer quartering sharply towards me and downhill presenting high near shoulder/bottom of neck, passing through right lung, possibly spine at bottom of neck. A bang-flop shot but...exactly what the OP was concerned about happened. Bullet impacted to the outside of the shoulder and deflected along heavy bone creating only a flesh wound. Deer dropped at the shot, but almost immediately sprang back up and ran through the brushy draw presenting no opportunity for follow up shot. Almost a mile of trailing failed to recover. That was one I wanted back. Not sure if I got a deflection off an unseen twig, if the deer moved slightly on the shot, of if my anatomy was incorrectly identified through the partial screen of trees/brush and hit my aimpoint but not the right point on the deer. Shot felt good on the break. Only silver lining was another hunter on an adjacent property killed the buck later that day.

What went wrong in my mind: Target obscured, aiming point questionable. Too much faith in firepower to do the job rather than precise placement. Lack of patience, had been a couple years since I filled a tag. Bullet... open for debate, sharp profile vs blunted profile and straight line penetration.

I have since passed on several similar scenarios threading a needle through the trees, and been more patient and used terrain to better advantage limiting the temptation to take such questionable shots.
 

DrMike

Ballistician
Nov 8, 2006
35,473
2,256
Guy's comment on counting points is a necessity for us. Mule deer must have 3 points on one side. Elk in the zone I usually hunt must have three points or better. Moose must be either a fork horn, have ten points on one side or have a tri-palm for the brow tine. When an animal is standing against the alders or just inside the timber, counting points can be a challenge. I've certainly passed on shots almost every season. Now, I'm cautioning Noah to wait until we can be certain. It is very difficult for him to pass on a shot, but he is a quick study when it comes to the regulations.
 

Europe

Handloader
Jun 18, 2014
1,123
94
Lefty, the one that will always stand out in my mind was when we were in Africa. My husband and I waited in a blind for a Leopard to appear. A huge male finally showed up. I watched him through the rifle scope for possibly 10 minutes and never pulled the trigger. To me he was so magnificent, I just could not shoot him. When I put my rifle down and looked at my husband he just smiled and said is this another " female thing". I loved that man for not getting upset at me. But he did lovely tease me for years after that.
 

Blkram

Handloader
Nov 25, 2013
1,995
559
My wife Susan has bugged me for quite sometime about a young cow moose I passed.

We had been hunting hard as much as possible that season and had not harvested a moose or elk yet. It was now post-rut for the moose.

One day we were driving down a back road in the back of the community pasture when we came across a large cow moose with year and a half old twins, a bull and a cow calf pair. They were far enough back in the woods and moving slowly away from the trail. As I followed them along, I was unable to get a clear shooting lane at the right time for the young bull. At one point, I would have been able to take either one of the cows, but did not have a place where I could get a steady rest, to make the shot of about 150 yards back into the bush. We saw this same group on two other occasions with similar results. And I did try to take that young bull on each occasion and passed on another opportunity to take the mature cow. It just was not meant to be.

On the same day as the third unsuccessful opportunity, we came across a 2 1/2 year old cow moose by herself in a spot that I could have easily harvested her with my recurve. Something just didn't seem right about shooting her, and we continued on. Susan questioned my not trying to harvest the cow, and I could only say that I wasn't supposed to shoot that animal. The cow was in the same general area a while later as we came back out of the area. Again Susan questioned me. I gave her the same response. A week later we found this same moose at the very back of the pasture, standing right in the trail. A 50 yard shot and we could have driven the truck right to her for recovery. Again I passed and had to give the same response to my incredulous wife, that I was not supposed to harvest that particular animal. Something inside me just kept saying "No", and I had to listen to the spirits. She still bugs me about it to this day. But that's OK. I'm just glad she didn't ask me if it was a "male thing"! LOL
 
Top