By Mountain Pursuit
The Best of the West TV show, website, and youtube channel, focus on extreme-range big game hunting.
The Wild Sheep Foundation, one of America's largest and most venerable hunting advocacy groups, is listed as a sponsor of The Best of The West Television Program. Mountain Pursuit is urging The Wild Sheep Foundation to pull it's sponsorship of this program.
Extreme-range hunting violates the ethic of Fair Chase.
The Fair Chase ethic is based on maintaining the balance between hunter and game. Any technology or method which tips that balance in favor of the hunter is unethical.
Key to that balance is the ability of the game to detect the hunter, and therefore elude him.
In it's 2017 White Paper, "Exploring New Technologies," the Wyoming Game and Fish Department wrote, "The ability for a game animal to elude a hunter increases significantly at distances greater than 300 yards." The White Paper went on further to define long range hunting as anything in excess of 400 yards.
The "Best of the West" YouTube channel includes videos with these titles and kill shots far in excess of 400 yards. Below are some of the titles from The Best of the West YouTube Channel.
- "624 Yard Wyoming Bighorn Sheep Kill Shot"
- "Jeremy 925 Yard Elk!"
- "Wyoming Antelope/Mule Deer - Long Shot Joe"
- "775 Yard Mountain Goat Kill Shot - Wyoming"
- "742 Yard Kill Shot on Wyoming High Country Mule Deer"
- "Wyoming Elk at 663 Yards"
- "Shooting Woodchucks at 1,100 Yards"
Not only does extreme range hunting violate the tradition of Fair Chase, but videos and television shows which celebrate this activity cast a cloud over big game hunting with the non-hunting public.
Extreme range hunting shots are taken far outside the game's ability to detect the hunter, and in the eyes of the general public, the game has "no chance" of escape.
By endorsing and promoting extreme-range hunting, the Wild Sheep Foundation is helping to erode the American general public's support for big game hunting.
Following are some of the general public comments on YouTube below the "Best of the West Kill Reel - 2017 Long Range Kill Shots":
- "There is no hunting. That's only Killing!"
- "Be sure to show the gut shots and broken leg shots at those distances ... just keeping it real."
- "Assassins, not hunters in the least"
- "Hey Best of the West. I took an antelope once, you know what I did to get it? I crawled on my stomach for 30 minutes creeping closer and closer until I was within 150 yards through knee high grass and prickly pear cactus. That shot you guys took at an antelope was shameful, you were a half mile away."
The Wild Sheep Foundation, with it's sponsorship of The Best of the West TV show, is sending the wrong message to the general public about the American hunter's commitment to the Fair Chase ethic.
Honoring Fair Chase, and protecting big game hunting for future generations are key issues for Mountain Pursuit.
Specific to extreme range hunting, Mountain Pursuit has proposed and endorsed regulations which set a maximum shot distance limit of 400 yards for all big game hunting.
"We urge the Wild Sheep Foundation to pull its sponsorship of The Best of The West TV show," said Mountain Pursuit Founder Rob Shaul, "and join Mountain Pursuit an re-committing to the ethic of Fair Chase and working to protect the heritage and tradition of big game hunting in America for future generations."
In 2017, the Wild Sheep Foundation issued a press release supporting the Boone and Crockett Club's "Hunt Fair Chase" Initiative, which highlighted concerns with extreme range hunting. "A Shot Too Far" essay at huntfairchase.com states, "Long-range shooting, extreme long-range shooting, sniper hunting—call it what you will, but there is no denying this trend is pushing the limits of ethical hunting and fair chase, leaving us with more questions than answers."
It continues, " If your intent is to hunt the animal, get as close as possible for a sure shot within your maximum-effective range, with a concern for a high-probability, safe shot, you’re hunting. If your intent is to see how far you can hit a live target and/or best your last performance, you’re shooting. There is nothing illegal about extreme long-range shooting. There’s nothing in the hunting regulations about maximum allowable distance, but this is a website on hunting ethics."
"The Wild Sheep Foundation's endorsement of the Hunt Fair Chase Initiative does not align with it's sponsorship of an extreme range hunting TV show and YouTube videos," said Shaul. "We urge the Wild Sheep Foundation to pull it's sponsorship of The Best of the West productions and plant it's feet firmly with Mountain Pursuit on the side of Fair Chase and hunting ethics."
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About Mountain Pursuit - Mountain Pursuit is a western states hunting advocacy nonprofit which champions ethical hunting, license preference for resident hunters, conservation and new hunter education and recruitment. More at www.mtnpursuit.org.