The Deer That Came Back to Life: Why Hunting Morals Matter

When you’re out hunting with a group, the rules of hunting may change a little bit, but your basic hunting manners should still remain.

I recently spoke with an experienced hunter who had joined a hunting club not long ago to try hunting in groups. (See our previous story on driving deer in groups.)

Brace yourselves for this story because you won’t believe it when you read it.

Last year, altogether, this hunter and his group had taken down 17 deer—some buck, some doe—showing that driving can be effective when executed correctly and safely.

This year, as the annual hunting trip commenced, the veteran hunter had made his first kill. It was a nine-pointer and his first buck of the season, and it seemed like it would be another promising year.

Feeling good after his first buck, he went out with his group the next day, only this time he was a driver rather than a sitter. Surely enough, one of the club members took down another buck, but unfortunately, it was with a poor shot.

The buck had not been killed but was severely wounded, and the hunter was the first to approach the fallen buck. Upon discovering that the buck was still alive, he was prepared to ease this buck’s suffering.

Through years of hunting, he had been taught by his brother of certain hunting morals, passing them down to each of his sons. One important moral was to not allow your prey to suffer. Be sure you have a way to ease its suffering should you fail to kill it with one shot.

Before this veteran hunter was able to mercifully kill the wounded buck, the hunter who had shot the buck stopped him. This man knelt down and proceeded to gut the buck while he was still alive.

Yes, you read that correctly: the buck was still alive. Frantic and agitated, the buck actually kicked this man who was attempting to gut him, and rightfully so I might add.

Thrown off-balance and wielding his knife in his flailing arms, the man accidentally drove his knife into the face of another hunter. 

I regret to report that the buck did die, slowly as the rest of the blood left his body. The injured man has been hospitalized and the perpetrator penalized.

The incident was discussed over dinner which concludes the hunting trip every year. Still, all of this could have been avoided had the hunters kept to the moral code. Disappointed with some of their hunting practices, our friend hopes to instill a few changes in the club to foster more humane hunters.

Regardless of whether you hunt for sport or forage the entire animal, as I believe you should, ensuring that your beast is dead before cutting it open is probably the best practice.

Photo credit: Dreamstime