Letter in the NY Times re: Donald Trump Jr.’s Hunting

To the Editor:

According to news reports, Donald Trump Jr. spent Earth Day shooting prairie dogs in Montana. His guide was Greg Gianforte, a Republican candidate for Congress and himself a hunting enthusiast. Prairie dogs are not killed to be eaten, but strictly for fun.

Fun? What’s wrong with these people? How can killing defenseless rodents in their natural habitat be seen as fun? This fact further underscores how pathetic and callous the Trump family is. C’mon, Don Jr., really?!

SCOTT CITRON, NEW YORK

Trump Junior’s plans for Saturday morning in Montana causing controversy

Apr 19, 2017 6:38 PM PDTUpdated: Apr 19, 2017 6:38 PM PDT

Trump Junior’s plans for Saturday morning in Montana causing controversy
BOZEMAN –We are learning more about Trump Junior’s plans for Saturday morning and it’s sparking some controversy with local environmentalists. The Ravalli Republic reported that Gianforte told a crowd in Hamilton Monday that he plans to take Donald Trump Jr. Out to shoot prairie dogs.

It’s important to note that shooting prairie dogs in Montana is completely legal, but at least one wildlife advocate says it is far from ethical.

Dave Pauli Senior Advisor for Wildlife Policy with the Humane Society of The United States said, “I was disappointed I guess that any national or international politician or celebrity would have the opportunity to come to Montana in the spring and their first choice of things they want to do is shoot prairie dogs.”

In a Facebook post posted on Wednesday, Pauli voiced his frustrations about the idea of Gianforte and Trump Jr. Spending their time in Montana shooting prairie dogs.

The Facebook post has garnered a lot of attention with more than 300 likes and 400 shares in just a few hours. And there are plenty of comments on both sides of the issue.

Ruth Gessler Farnsworth simply said, “Awful.”

While Jeremy Parish said, “totally legal and encouraged. Just like the coyote slaughter in most states.”

Shane Scanlon Communication Director for Greg Gianoforte says Ginaforte is proud to hunt in Montana. Scanlon released a statement saying…

“Hunting is a big part of gain forte’s life; he’s a sportsman and an outdoorsman and tries to get out when he can. He’s just looking to have a good time with Donald Trump Jr. and shooting some prairie dogs this weekend.”

Pauli says he’d rather see the duo hit a shooting range.

Trump Junior’s first appearance in Montana will be on Friday in Kalispell, from there he will visit Hamilton and close out his trip in Bozeman.

He’s attending several fundraisers for Gianforte who is running against Democrat Rob Quist for Montana’s lone congressional seat.

A detailed analysis of the Trump-Palin-Nugent-Kid Rock photo

http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/20/politics/donald-trump-sarah-palin-kid-rock-ted-nugent/

Washington (CNN)Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as well as rock stars Kid Rock and Ted Nugent were at the White House on Wednesday night, dining with President Trump and snapping a few pics in the Oval Office. “Asked why I invited Kid Rock and Ted Nugent I joked, ‘Because Jesus was booked,'” Palin wrote on her website.

This photo was taken of the quartet:

It is, in a word, amazing. I spent a fair amount of time studying it — cue Twitter outrage; “Don’t you have anything better to do?????” — and I have a few thoughts.
Donald Trump: The President is, of course, talking. What is he talking about? Something on those papers he is holding up. I zoomed in until my eyes blurred to try to figure out what the papers on his desk say. No dice. Maybe you have better eyesight than me? Here’s the close-up:

The look on the president’s face says something like “See, now, isn’t this interesting” to me. Or maybe, “Then I figured out…”
Kid Rock: Robert James Ritchie — and, no, I didn’t know Kid Rock’s real name without looking it up — makes this whole photo for me. He’s the unquestioned star. First of all, the hat: A+. And then “The Thinker” pose: A+++++. Whatever is on those papers Trump is showing RJR, he finds it totally fascinating. In fact, I wish one day I could find something in life as interesting as Kid Rock finds what the President is saying.
Ted Nugent
: First off, I sort of respect the fact that The Nuge didn’t abandon his trademark camo cowboy hat even though he was going to the White House. You do you, Ted. When it comes to the rest, Nugent is the anithesis of Kid Rock. Whereas K. Rock is all attentiveness, Nugent looks more dutiful than anything else. “OK, this guy is the president. He’s talking about something. I am looking and acting interested.”
Sarah Palin: The angle from which this photo was taken makes Palin’s facial expression unknowable. Which makes me sad. But, given how good the rest of the photo is, I won’t get greedy.

87% of B.C. Grizzly Deaths Due to Trophy Hunting

https://www.desmog.ca/2017/04/12/87-b-c-grizzly-deaths-due-trophy-hunting-records-reveal?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=DSCWeekly&utm_campaign=April_13_2017

Grizzly bear trophy hunt

Eighty-seven per cent of known, human-caused grizzly bear deaths in B.C. are attributable to trophy hunters, who have killed 12,026 grizzly bears since the government began keeping records in 1975, according to data obtained by David Suzuki Foundation.*

In 2016, 274 grizzlies were killed by humans — the vast majority of which (235) were killed by trophy hunters.

B.C. currently sanctions a legal trophy hunt by both resident and foreign hunters. Non-resident hunters killed almost 30 per cent of the grizzlies in the 2016 hunt.

The trophy hunt has become a hot election issue with the NDP and Green Party vowing to end the hunt if elected. An Insights West survey conducted in the fall of 2016 found 91 percent of British Columbians are opposed to trophy hunting.

Meantime, Tweet: The @BCLiberals are the party of choice for international #trophyhunters http://bit.ly/2p7i3c2 #bcpoli #bcelxn17 #grizzlyhunt #BanBigMoneythe B.C. Liberals are the party of choice for international trophy hunters — who donated $60,000 to the Guide Outfitters Association of B.C. to help prevent an NDP win.

The Canadian chapter of Safari Club International posted to Facebook: “NDP have vowed to end the Grizzly hunt in BC if elected. SCI chapters from CANADA and the USA banded together donating $60000.00 [sic].”

The Guide Outfitters lobby to continue trophy hunting, which attracts wealthy customers from around the world who pay as much as $20,000 for a hunt. The annual spring bear hunt began April 1.

Source: David Suzuki Foundation

B.C. Premier Christy Clark is a vocal supporter of the trophy hunting industry and a past winner of the Guide Outfitter association’s President’s Award.

B.C. has some of the weakest political donations rules in Canada, which allows anyone (including foreign corporations) to donate unlimited amounts of cash.

The New York Times recently called B.C. the ‘wild west’ of political cash and a Globe and Mail investigation revealed that lobbyists are routinely making political donations under their own names while being reimbursed by corporations — something that is illegal.

The B.C. NDP and B.C. Green Party have vowed to ban corporate and union donations if elected while the B.C. Liberals have promised to appoint a panel to review campaign finance rules if re-elected.

* Article updated to clarify data is based on known, human-caused grizzly bear deaths and does not include natural mortality (most of which is unknown).

TV hunting personality Chris David guilty of breaking Sask. wildlife laws

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon/chris-david-wild-tv-hunting-alberta-saskatchewan-1.4065846

Jason David, also known as Chris David, had his unlawful kill aired on Wild TV

CBC News Posted: Apr 11, 2017 11:39 AM CT Last Updated: Apr 11, 2017 11:39 AM CT

Former hunting television personality Jason David, also known as Chris David, was recently fined after being found guilty of breaking Saskatchewan wildlife laws.

Former hunting television personality Jason David, also known as Chris David, was recently fined after being found guilty of breaking Saskatchewan wildlife laws. (Facebook)

A television celebrity from Alberta has been fined and suspended for unlawful hunting after a trip to Saskatchewan that aired as an episode on Wild TV.

Jason David, 43, also known as Chris David on shows like The Hunting Chronicles and No Limits TV, came to the Grenfell, Sask., area to shoot white-tailed deer in 2011.

But the visit ended up playing out in the courts after an investigation by wildlife officials.

They found that the deer had been shot in the wrong wildlife management zone and was then unlawfully taken back to Alberta.

David was recently fined $5,600 after a Broadview, Sask., provincial court judge found him guilty on several charges under the Saskatchewan Wildlife Act.

He also received a one-year hunting suspension.

The TV shows also pulled the plug on David’s appearances.

Chris David kill

David, shown here after a successful hunt in northern Alberta in 2010, has been banned from hunting for one year. (Facebook )

Oklahoma May Legalize Hog Hunting From Helicopters

https://www.usnews.com/news/offbeat/articles/2017-03-28/oklahoma-may-legalize-hog-hunting-from-helicopters

Oklahoma could soon join Louisiana and Texas in allowing hunters to shoot feral hogs from helicopters.

| March 28, 2017, at 1:06 p.m.

Oklahoma May Legalize Hog Hunting From Helicopters
The Associated Press

FILE – In this Feb. 18, 2009, file photo, the shadow of a helicopter hovers over feral pigs near Mertzon, Texas. Oklahoma lawmakers are considering a bill to allow hunters to shoot feral hogs from helicopters. Aerial gunners are already used to help control feral swine in Oklahoma, but the work can only be done by trained, licensed contractors with support from the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture Food and Forestry. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File) THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma could soon join Louisiana and Texas in allowing hunters to shoot feral hogs from helicopters.

The Tulsa World (http://bit.ly/2neDl3i ) reports that aerial gunners are already used to help control feral swine in Oklahoma. But that work can only be done by trained, licensed contractors with support from the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture Food and Forestry.

Lawmakers are considering a bill to expand the law to private operations.

Under the proposal, private landowners, companies and pilots would have to apply for a state license and be responsible for the activity. But hunters on board the aircraft wouldn’t need a license, nor would they have to provide their names to the state.

The agriculture department says its agents killed more than 11,200 feral hogs, mostly by air, last year.

___

Information from: Tulsa World, http://www.tulsaworld.com

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press

Tags: Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas

Donald Trump Jr. Is His Own Kind of Trump

Donald Trump Jr. is the Trump who has not always seemed at ease with being a Trump. He grew up in the penthouse of Trump Tower but was happy to escape the gilded trappings of his Manhattan childhood to spend parts of the summers hunting and fishing with his maternal grandfather in the woods of what was then Czechoslovakia.

After graduating from his father’s alma mater, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, he tended bar in Aspen, Colo., rather than immediately join the family business. Several months later, on Feb. 25, 2001, during a Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans, he was arrested on charges of public drunkenness and spent 11 hours in jail.

“I think, like anyone else, I made my mistakes,” Mr. Trump said of his arrest. “We have to be honest with ourselves. I’m not good at it, moderation. You have to have the conversation, be a realist, and say, ‘I guess I’m not doing myself any favors.’”

In 2001, Mr. Trump, the eldest of the five children from Donald J. Trump’s three marriages, went to work for the Trump Organization in the same building where he had grown up. He rose to executive vice president, and his status as a family member in good standing was on display when he appeared as a boardroom adviser on “The Apprentice,” the NBC reality show that re-established his father as a celebrity mogul nearly two decades after he had captured the public’s attention with his first best seller, “The Art of the Deal.”

Now Donald Jr., 39, has completed his own apprenticeship.

Since his father was sworn in as president, he and his brother Eric, 33, have taken over management of the Trump Organization, with Donald Jr. overseeing commercial licensing and much of the international business and Eric managing the golf courses, among other duties. Donald Jr. is also a rising figure in Republican politics and a robust defender of the family name. As a public speaker who brings in an estimated $50,000 per speech, he has impressed conservatives with a rough, straightforward manner that belies his cushy upbringing.

Like his father, he uses Twitter to thrash liberals and lend support to those who are friendly to the president’s populist agenda. Given that he is a skilled outdoorsman and a member of the National Rifle Association who owns dozens of firearms, among them a Benelli Super Black Eagle II (for hunting waterfowl) and an AR-platform semiautomatic rifle (for marksmanship competitions), Mr. Trump also connects with heartland voters in a way that his more refined sister Ivanka may not.

Photo

Donald Trump Jr. with his father and his mother, Ivana, and her father, Milos Zelnicek.CreditRon Galella, Ltd./WireImage

While Ms. Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, have lately elevated their social profile in Washington and Palm Beach, Fla., while keeping close contact with the president, her oldest brother has largely avoided the balls and benefits, preferring to hunker down in Midtown during the workweek and spend weekends in the Catskills with his wife, Vanessa, and their five children.

“Don is the more chill version of any of the kids,” said Dee Dee Sides, who has known him since the early 2000s.

He came into his own as a public figure during the presidential campaign. On the stump he was equally at ease before crowds in both Mississippi and Michigan, and television pundits gushed about his political future after his bluntly effective speech at the Republican National Convention, with some mentioning him as a potential mayoral candidate in New York City.

“I don’t know if I could go all-in at that,” Mr. Trump said of a political career. “There is a part that is incredibly enticing. But it’s not human most of the time.”

Even as he embraces his new status in business and politics, Mr. Trump sounds, at times, as if it is some kind of anomaly.

“If I could miracle myself away,” he said, “I would live out West.”

Into the Woods

Mr. Trump’s friendships are rooted, for the most part, in hunting and fishing, sports that do not appeal to the golf-loving patriarch of the Trump family. He said he decided early on not to measure himself against his father.

“I think people are often surprised, but I never defined myself as, ‘I’m the business guy who has to supersede what my father has done,’” he said. “He’s a totally unique individual. Somehow having to top his accomplishments is never the way I perceived things.”

Photo

Donald Trump Jr., Donald J. Trump and Ivanka Trump on an episode of “The Celebrity Apprentice” in 2009. CreditAli Goldstein/NBC

He developed a distaste for living in public at an early age. In 1990, his father separated from his mother, Ivana Zelnickova, a Czech model and skier, after having an affair with the model and sometime actress Marla Maples. Donald Jr. was 12 at a time when gossip columnists, some encouraged by his father, chronicled the family soap opera. During this time, Donald Jr. did not speak to his father for a year, New York magazine reported in 2004 in an article about the Trump children.

Before the divorce, Mr. Trump found a role model in someone quite different from his father: his maternal grandfather, Milos Zelnicek, an electrician who was an avid outdoorsman. In the summers, he stayed at the Zelniceks’ home in a town near Prague for six to eight weeks at a time, and his grandfather schooled him in camping, fishing, hunting and the Czech language.

“He needed a father figure,” his mother said in a telephone interview. “Donald was not around that much. They would have to go to his office to say hello to him before going to school.”

Mr. Zelnicek, who died in 1990, allowed his grandson a freedom not readily available to a child of Fifth Avenue. As Mr. Trump put it: “He said: ‘There is the woods. See you at dark.’ I think I felt a little trapped in New York City.”

Despite the advantages of wealth, Mr. Trump said his life at home was not always easy. “In our family, if you weren’t competitive you didn’t eat,” he said. “You had to fight for what you wanted.”

His mother recalled walking into the breakfast room one morning and noticing that the chandelier was broken: “Ivanka said it was Don Jr. So I put him over my knee and spanked him. He said, ‘Mom, it wasn’t me!’”

It turned out that Ivanka lied, the former Mrs. Trump said.

The divorce was made final in 1992, and Mr. Trump’s father married Ms. Maples the next year. Donald Jr. went to boarding school, the Hill School in Pottstown, Pa., where he practiced skeet shooting, and then it was on to Wharton, where he rowed crew and joined the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity. People who knew him then saw him as distinct from his parents.

Photo

Donald Trump Jr. addressed the Republican convention last summer. CreditJosh Haner/The New York Times

“He wasn’t into the gold,” said Jennifer Ireland Kubis, a New York real estate agent who dated one of Mr. Trump’s college friends. “He was trying to escape it.”

The young Mr. Trump also earned a reputation for hard partying, which seems to have continued until the Mardi Gras arrest. He no longer drinks, and he has suggested that the discipline of the sporting life kept him from going over the edge: “I know that the benefits I got from being in the woods, from being in a duck blind, from being in a tree stand at 5 o’clock in the morning, kept me out of so much other trouble I would have gotten into in my life,” he said in a speech at a fund-raising banquet for the 2016 Western Hunting and Conservation Expo in Salt Lake City.

During his first year in the family business, he spent weekends at the Mashomack Preserve Club in Pine Plains, N.Y., where he ran into Gentry Beach, an acquaintance from college who was working at a Manhattan investment firm.

“We loved being outdoors,” said Mr. Beach, who grew up in Dallas.

Mr. Beach, 41, introduced Mr. Trump to Thomas Hicks Jr., 39, a Dallas friend whose father, an equity investor, once owned the Texas Rangers. Through the years, the three have hunted white-tailed deer in Texas, birds in Scotland and pheasant in Hungary.

“For some people — you see that in New York a lot — they go hunting once every other year and they talk about it at a cocktail party for the next two years until they do it again,” Mr. Trump said in an interview. “For me, it is the way I choose to live my life.”

Being friends with Donny, as his closest friends call him, can be tricky, given the divisiveness of his father’s politics. Ms. Sides, for one, said she did not discuss politics with her friend. “Our views are different,” she said. “Don has never asked me, and he would not ask.”

It was his father who introduced Mr. Trump to Vanessa Haydon, the woman who would become his wife, at a fashion show in 2003. A onetime model with the Wilhelmina agency who once dated Leonardo DiCaprio, she had grown up on the Upper East Side. At the time of their engagement, Mr. Trump accepted a ring from the Bailey Banks & Biddle jewelry store in Short Hills, N.J., in exchange for publicity, recreating his proposal at its Short Hills Mall location in New Jersey. Soon afterward came an unflattering headline in The New York Post: “Trump Jr. Is the Cheapest Gazillionaire: Heirhead Proposes With Free 100G Ring.” Even his father joined in the criticism, saying on the CNN talk show “Larry King Live,” “You have a name that is hot as a pistol, you have to be very careful with things like this.”

Donald Jr. and Vanessa were married at the Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach on Nov. 12, 2005, 10 months after his father married the former model Melania Knauss. These days Vanessa Trump’s Twitter account, with the handle @MrsVanessaTrump, frequently retweets her husband’s posts pertaining to family life, many of which include photographs of their weekends in the Catskills, where they fish and shoot, and ride A.T.V.s and snowmobiles.

Business and Politics

Although Mr. Trump has been charged with holding down the family business without input from his father — who resigned his position in the company without relinquishing his financial stake — he took advantage of his new standing within the Republican Party to dine last Saturday with a group of political heavyweights that included Senator Ted Cruz of Texas at the annual Reagan Day fund-raising dinner, where he delivered a speech.

He told the crowd that he had had virtually “zero contact” with the president since the election, but added that he had found it difficult to resist the pull of politics. “I thought I was out of politics after Election Day,” he said, adding that he had thought he would “get back to my regular life and my family.

“But I couldn’t,” he said.

Two weeks before the Dallas speech, Mr. Trump found himself in the role of real estate tycoon during a stop in Vancouver, British Columbia, for the opening of a Trump International Hotel and Tower. Although the building unveiled that day was, at 63 stories, the city’s second highest, the city’s mayor, Gregor Robertson, skipped the event after demanding for two years that the Trump name be stripped from the building’s facade.

The president’s son began his talk with a poke at the news media: “I’d like to thank the press,” he said. “Just kidding.” Outside, about 100 protesters waved signs and shouted “Love Trumps Hate.”

To a large degree, his public image has been shaped by photographs that surfaced online in 2012 and re-emerged last year. They were taken during a hunting trip in 2010 arranged by Hunting Legends International, a safari company based in Pretoria, South Africa. A licensed guide accompanied Donald Jr. and Eric, along with a ranger from the Zimbabwe national parks department, who monitored the hunt.

One photograph shows the Trump brothers taking a helicopter to the Matetsi, a region of Zimbabwe abundant with elephants and endangered leopards. Another shows Eric with his arms wrapped around the limp body of a dead leopard. Perhaps most disturbing to nonhunters and to those who do not hunt endangered or vulnerable species was the picture of Donald Jr., knife in one hand, the bloody tail of an elephant in the other.

He argues that the economic benefit of such safaris to African communities is often overlooked. Further, he said, the controversy allowed him to connect with other sportsmen. “There were people who I didn’t know who were hunters,” he said. “And, from that perspective, I get invited a lot.”

What is lost on nonhunters, he said, is the sense of community that is part of hunting trips. “Too much of hunting has turned into the notion of the kill,” he said. “It’s a component, the meat. But so much is experiential, so much is relationships. It is sitting in a duck blind with seven people, cooking breakfast. For me, it’s been a great way to see the world. The least interesting part is the three seconds it takes to pull the trigger.”

More: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/18/style/donald-trump-jr-business-politics-hunting-twitter-vanessa-haydon.html?_r=0

‘That’s karma’: Infamous lion hunter’s death celebrated online

https://www.rt.com/viral/370432-ponzetto-lion-hunter-death-online-reaction/

© Max Rossi
 
Controversial Italian hunter Luciano Ponzetto has died after falling 30 meters (100ft) down a ravine. His death occurred while he was hunting, prompting many to describe it as “karma”.

Ponzetto, who became a figure of controversy after posting images of his trophy kills online, slipped on ice and fell down a ravine according to Corriere Della Sera. The 55 year old had been hunting birds in Colle delle Oche near Turin in Italy when the accident happened.

It seems the photos Ponzetto posted previously hadn’t left a good impression, with social media users rejoicing in Ponzetto’s death, or “divine intervention,” as it was described by some.

More: https://www.rt.com/viral/370432-ponzetto-lion-hunter-death-online-reaction/

Hunting’s Newest Controversy: Snipers

http://www.wsj.com/articles/huntings-newest-controversy-snipers-1481316596

The sport is divided on the ethics of using long-range shooting systems to take down game

Experts from Gunwerks train customers for high-angle long-distance shots at the company’s Long Range University Course in Wyoming.
Experts from Gunwerks train customers for high-angle long-distance shots at the company’s Long Range University Course in Wyoming.PHOTO: NATE ROBERTSON

During his first 25 years hunting big game, Robert Phillips never killed from farther than 250 yards. He wasn’t certain how to calculate the pull of gravity on a bullet traveling farther than that, not to mention the harder-to-calculate effect of wind.

But four years ago, Phillips invested in a rifle and sighting system that does all that calculating for him. On a hunt in New Mexico this fall, Phillips downed an elk with one shot from 683 yards. His longest kill with this new gear came at 1,180 yards, four times beyond any conventional range.

“From that distance, the animal isn’t frightened. It’s not jittery. And you’re not jittery either,” says Phillips, a home builder in Columbus, Ind.

In this ancient American sport, the newest thing is a long-range-shooting system that measures distance, determines wind effect and fires high-powered ammunition. These systems turn hunters into snipers by taking the guesswork out of calculating the effects of gravity and wind on a bullet traveling as far as a mile. Applying technical expertise to firearm sighting systems, new players such as Gunwerks and TrackingPoint are winning shares of a market long dominated by venerable brands like Remington and Winchester. “A TrackingPoint Precision-Guided Firearm ensures never-before-seen precision at extreme distances,” says the website of TrackingPoint, based in Pflugerville, Texas.

Of about 14 million rifle hunters in America, about 5% are using new long-range systems, estimates Gunwerks founder Aaron Davidson. “And I would expect that 5% to turn into 50%,” says Davidson, a mechanical engineer who started his company in 2006. In the hopes of spurring such growth, Davidson’s company produces a cable hunting show called “Long Range Pursuit,” which he says gains about 300,000 viewers a week.

But as if big-game hunting weren’t controversial enough, many of the sport’s own practitioners disapprove of long-range hunting, calling it a violation of a tradition known as fair chase. Getting close to a deer or elk requires stealth and patience. Within 300 yards, the snap of a twig or sudden shift in wind can alert a wild animal that danger is near, sending it under cover. For the hunter, evading a wild animal’s exquisite senses can be one of the greatest thrills of the sport.

The animal should have a chance. If you shoot at an animal from 500 yards or farther, you’re depriving him of his tools. You negate his eyesight and his hearing and his sense of smell.

—David E. Petzal, Field & Stream editor and a hunter since 1960

“The animal should have a chance,” says David E. Petzal, Field & Stream magazine’s field editor and a hunter since 1960. “If you shoot at an animal from 500 yards or farther, you’re depriving him of his tools. You negate his eyesight and his hearing and his sense of smell.”

Long-range shooting is the latest new technology to come to the attention of state wildlife officials, who in various places have limited or banned hunters from using drones, trail cameras and night-vision equipment. This year in Nevada, the state wildlife commission proposed outlawing electronically controlled firing systems on big-game rifles, a measure that could effectively ban some long-range shooting systems. “To their credit, our wildlife commission is taking a stand on technologies they feel are going beyond the fair-chase ethic,” says Tyler Turnipseed, Nevada’s chief game warden.

In a 2014 statement, the Boone and Crockett Club, a 129-year-old conservation and record-keeping group, said the club “finds that long-range shooting takes unfair advantage of the game animal, effectively eliminates the natural capacity of an animal to use its senses and instincts to detect danger, and demeans the hunter/prey relationship in a way that diminishes the importance and relevance of the animal and the hunt.”

Hunting big game ought to be as difficult as hitting a fastball, says Field & Stream’s Petzal. “If you practice it ethically, most of the time you won’t succeed,” says Petzal, who once went 17 seasons without taking an elk despite hunting for one every year. “I’m talking about 2-3 weeks up and down mountains year after year with nothing to show for it,” he says.

Mike Jernigan, a disabled veteran, uses his TrackingPoint 300 Winchester Magnum.ENLARGE
Mike Jernigan, a disabled veteran, uses his TrackingPoint 300 Winchester Magnum. PHOTO: MIKE JERNIGAN

Proponents of long-range hunting acknowledge that it can improve a hunter’s chances of making a kill. But what’s wrong with that, they ask, given that hunters often spend tens of thousands of dollars on equipment, travel and licenses in pursuit of animals whose numbers are abundant—sometimes overly abundant? They also say that long-range systems don’t eliminate the element of chase or the grind of hauling heavy equipment up mountains. “It’s no cakewalk,” says Phillips, a 65-year-old Gunwerks customer.

As for ethics, proponents say that super-accurate sighting systems make hunting more humane at any range, by killing animals instantly, thereby reducing the risk of wounded prey escaping. “Without TrackingPoint 14% of animals shot suffer and require two or more shots to be killed. Many are never found,” says a TrackingPoint document. “With TrackingPoint 99.5% of animals are cleanly harvested.”

South Carolina home builder William Sinnett bought a TrackingPoint system not only for himself but for his business partner, who had a habit of jerking when he fired upon a big-game animal.

“He had a tick, so he’d just wound an animal, and sometimes we’d find the animal and sometimes we wouldn’t,” says Sinnett, a former military sharpshooter. Since using the TrackingPoint system, however, “my business partner hasn’t missed a shot,” says Sinnett.

Proponents of long-range shooting also argue that the virtues of creeping close to a big-game animal are overblown. They note that bow hunting—which requires extraordinary stealth—often wounds rather than kills. “Bow hunters wound animals that get away—and that’s unethical,” says Phillips.

One factor likely to limit growth is cost. While a conventional deer rifle can be bought for a few hundred dollars, these ultra-sophisticated rifles and shooting systems can cost a few thousand dollars up to nearly $25,000.