By Mountain Pursuit
Kiviok Hight, a long-serving pro staff member fo clothing manufacturer, Sitka Gear, has taken Mountain Pursuit's "400/50 Pledge."
By taking the 400/50 Pledge, Kiviok has voluntarily agreed to limit his maximum hunting firearm shot to 400 yards, and archery hunting shot to 50 yards.
Mountain Pursuit's 400-yard Firearm Shot restriction is rooted in Fair Chase.
The essence of "Fair Chase" is maintaining the balance between the predator and prey. Specifically, game animals should have a reasonable chance of avoiding detection and if detected, eluding the hunter. Technology which tips this balance in favor of the hunter is simply unethical.
According to the biologists at the Wyoming Game & Fish Department, the ability of big game to detect a hunter past 400 yards is greatly diminished.
Technological advances in lightweight, sub-MOA hunting rifles, advanced, high powered scopes and optics, ballistics calculators, wind meters and premium ammunition loads have all worked to extend hunting shot distances way past 400 yards. Today there exists extreme range television hunting shows, social media channels, and outfitters who specialize in extreme range hunting.
All of this technology has worked to put the hunter outside the game animal's ability to detect him, and therefore, shots past 400 yards are unethical.
Ethical hunters should avoid 400+ yard shots simply based on Fair Chase. Just as important is the non-hunting public perception of extreme range hunting. A 2017 study of attitudes toward hunting showed that 87% of US non-hunters have a favorable view Fair Chase, subsistence-based hunting (hunting for food.). It's obvious to non-hunters who see video of extreme range hunting that the animal has no chance - and this fact works to turn them against hunting and jeopardize hunting's future.
Mountain Pursuit's 50-Yard Maximum Archery Hunting Shot Distance pledge is not rooted in fair chase, but rather rooted in protecting special archery seasons.
Wyoming and all other western states have early, archery-only seasons for big game, where only archery equipment can be used to take game. Rifle hunters tolerate these early seasons with the understanding that archery hunters must get much closer to the game to kill, and therefore, harvest rates are lower than rifle seasons. Increasing effective ranges of compound bows (70+yards) and crossbows (100+ yards) may threaten this rifle hunter tolerance, eventually leading to the limitation or elimination of special archery seasons.
Limiting maximum archery shots to 50 yards or less honors this gentlemen's agreement between rifle hunters and archery hunters, and helps protect special archery seasons.
"In 22 years of elk archery hunting," Kiviok wrote after taking the 400/50 Pledge, "I haven't shot over 35 yards."
Click HERE to take the 400/50 Pledge.