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Thread: How Far Would You Dig?

  1. #1

    Default How Far Would You Dig?

    I know we've all read the threads concerning ethics and moral obligations to then animal and wanton waste etc. I am sure most of us on the forum would do everything possible to track and harvest an animal that we have wounded. I know for myself, I have tracked wounded deer, bear, moose, sheep, and even a wounded wolf once. I know my own personal morals ethics requires that I won't give up on tracking an animal until I have found it, or if I am certain that I have lost the ability to track an animal because I have done everything I know possible to track the animal but have lost the ability to due to a lack of blood or sign. But how about small game? How far would you track a wounded grouse, ptarmigan, or hare? Yesterday I was presented with this question and I must admit I had to do some soul searching. I was rabbit (hare) hunting, and I wounded a rabbit and it went down a tunnel under a HUGE pile of snow. Normally I let me beagle go down the hole and chase or drag it out, but I didn't have my beagle with me (what good is a beagle in 3-4 feet of snow anyhow?). So, I proceeded to dig by hand. After about 15-20 minutes of digging with very little success, I began to wonder, how far should I continue this futile effort? Well, to make a long story short, eventually I managed to chase the wounded rabbit back out the hole (luckily), and dispatch it. But I thought I would post this thread to see what other people's opinions are on the subject. Is it really worth it for a rabbit? Is the value of the life of a small game critter any less than a large game animal? Where should we draw the line if there even is a line?

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    Member Arcticmayhem's Avatar
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    I think this is something that every hunter should have set in his mind before he pulls the trigger. It is a good question and something we as sportsmen should be aware of. In the case of rabbits, I always make head shots. That way, 99% of the time it will either be a clean kill, or a clean miss. But if I did happen to wing one and it got away, I wouldn't be to broken up about it unless it was the only rabbit I saw all day. There is no limit in my area, and plenty of rabbits. I hate to see an animal suffer, but that is why I try to make the first shot count. I might spend 5 minutes stomping the snow caves in to see if he came out. With squirrels, I have left plenty to die in the tops of trees after they climbed out of sight with a pellet in their guts. When I was a kid, sometimes I would climb up after them, or shake them out, but not any more. Looking back, it was probably not a good idea to climb into the skinny branches with a wounded squirrel. For animals that do have bag limits like ducks, I usually count animals shot but not found against my limit, since I did take the animal. You never know if you might find it again later.

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    Member sayak's Avatar
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    I wouldn't dig for a rabbit, especially since there is going to be a major die-off soon anyway. Also, foxes, coyotes and birds gotta eat.
    Almost any other type of game I will track. Still, good for you for having ethical intentions.

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    Ya know very good question.Personally I feel very little difference towards big or small game. If I take a critters life or attempt to I make every possible effort to recover it,doesnt always go as planned and in that case more then likely another critter is feeding on my dinner but not for lack of tryin.Bushwhack very good question and very respectful answer..

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    I make a reasonable effort for small game. like, say in galena, I was hunting with a buddy and he shot a ptarmigan, fell out of the tree behind a brush pile so we didn't see it land. well we could not find it, so we searched for 15 minutes using all the tactics I know and still didn't find it, I think that was a pretty good effort, and after we left we got on some more ptarmigan and made sure to get closer and only take good shots on them.
    Eccleasties 8:11 Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, There for the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil.

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    Member 4merguide's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushwhack Jack View Post
    Is the value of the life of a small game critter any less than a large game animal?
    The fact that you even thought this tells me the kind of person you are. I too believe life is life....from the smallest trout to the largest bull moose. There is no bias in nature and all are equally important....even IF we don't believe so. I too will do everything in my power to recover a wounded animal.

    The other day I finally hit a bunny on the road.....been dodging them forever this winter it seems. But I quickly stopped and turned around. If I hadn't of messed it up too bad I had every intention of taking it home and eating it. But unfortunately it was a mess, so I left if for the critters.

    Personally I just hate waste. Especially these beautiful creatures that we hunt. How far you go to recover a wounded animal is totally a personal thing. Something that you, and you alone will have to live with. So it can only be answered by you.

    Fortunately up here hardly anything goes to waste. Something usually ends up with a good meal.

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    Member MNViking's Avatar
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    I've done some serious digging in the snow after hare's. I've head shot hares with a .22 and had them still get down a hole, but usually I only have problems when hunting with a shotgun. Once they get down in a snow hole in a willow/alder patch they are almost impossible to find. I usually dig until I either find it or start getting too sweaty and tired.
    Finally, Brad Childress is GONE!

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    Member Smokey's Avatar
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    Good Post Bushwhack, kudo's to you for your ethics!
    I try to not put any animal I pursue on a higher shelf than another - if I shoot I look as hard as I am able to. Sometimes things will stop your search that may injure you and thats just life. I helped a friend track a doe deer he shot and took its lower jaw off - it knocked it out and he thought it was dead - he gave me his gun and asked me to tote it back to the truck while he drug the deer to a pickup spot - when he went back it jumped up and ran off. I came across the blood on the way to the truck and tracked it to a stream that we could simply not cross safely and sadly had to let this deer go even though it was mortally wounded. I have never forgot that and it always helps remind me to take the best shot I can at game to ensure this does not happen again.
    I also shot a fox with a shotgun once in a plowed field that I stalked up on - I did not know it was laying on a den - it managed to go down the hole. I came back with a shovel and dug down almost 3 1/2 feet then started going sideways - I finally had to give up as it was just too much dirt to move. I even tried a strand of barbed wire shoved into the hole hoping to snag it as I assumed it was dead...
    Every hunter should do their best to retrieve game or not shoot.... However some will get away - waterfowl is one of the hardest I would say to recover all of....
    When asked what state I live in I say "The State of Confusion", better known as IL....

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    Member Frostbitten's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MNViking View Post
    I've done some serious digging in the snow after hare's. I've head shot hares with a .22 and had them still get down a hole, but usually I only have problems when hunting with a shotgun. Once they get down in a snow hole in a willow/alder patch they are almost impossible to find. I usually dig until I either find it or start getting too sweaty and tired.
    My boy and I had that happen a couple years ago. He shot a bunny who subsequently went down a snow hole in the alders and died. My boy went in after it and when he finally got a hold of it all I could see was one of his boots, which is how I pulled him (and the bunny) back out. Yet another advantage to taking your kids hunting...they can get in places where us old farts cant. He thought it was a hoot!!!!

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smokey View Post
    Good Post Bushwhack, kudo's to you for your ethics!
    I try to not put any animal I pursue on a higher shelf than another - if I shoot I look as hard as I am able to. Sometimes things will stop your search that may injure you and thats just life. I helped a friend track a doe deer he shot and took its lower jaw off - it knocked it out and he thought it was dead - he gave me his gun and asked me to tote it back to the truck while he drug the deer to a pickup spot - when he went back it jumped up and ran off. I came across the blood on the way to the truck and tracked it to a stream that we could simply not cross safely and sadly had to let this deer go even though it was mortally wounded. I have never forgot that and it always helps remind me to take the best shot I can at game to ensure this does not happen again.
    I also shot a fox with a shotgun once in a plowed field that I stalked up on - I did not know it was laying on a den - it managed to go down the hole. I came back with a shovel and dug down almost 3 1/2 feet then started going sideways - I finally had to give up as it was just too much dirt to move. I even tried a strand of barbed wire shoved into the hole hoping to snag it as I assumed it was dead...
    Every hunter should do their best to retrieve game or not shoot.... However some will get away - waterfowl is one of the hardest I would say to recover all of....
    Quote Originally Posted by Frostbitten View Post
    My boy and I had that happen a couple years ago. He shot a bunny who subsequently went down a snow hole in the alders and died. My boy went in after it and when he finally got a hold of it all I could see was one of his boots, which is how I pulled him (and the bunny) back out. Yet another advantage to taking your kids hunting...they can get in places where us old farts cant. He thought it was a hoot!!!!
    Those are some funny stories guys! Thanks for sharing. Smokey I know what you mean about waterfowl. I stopped hunting waterfowl since my old chocolate lab died. She used to find em for me whenever I lost them.

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