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Posted on Thu, Oct 18, 2012 : 11 a.m.

Doe bow hunt: Hunters often deliver a kinder death than nature does

By Rick Taylor

The date was Oct. 3, 2012 and I headed out to my favorite bow hunting location for an afternoon hunt. I quietly put on my hunting clothes, grabbed my bow and arrow and climbed into my tree stand.

I put on my safety harness and used my lanyard to carry up my bow and arrow. I settled in and began to relax as the sounds of nature filled the air. The weather was a balmy and the sun was shining, a gorgeous day all around.

I’ve been a bow hunter now for 18 years, and I’ve never lost the excitement of getting out in the woods and hope I never do.

There wasn’t any wind to speak of which is a problem for most hunters. Whatever slight breeze does come around has a tendency to swirl since there isn’t a defined wind direction making it more likely for a hunter to be scent detected.

I had been in my hunting location for an hour or so when I saw a mature doe come into view. I made the decision to shoot a doe even before showing up that day because my freezer was empty of venison.

I turned on my video camera and began to roll tape. I slowly grabbed my bow and waited for a broadside shot to present itself. A smart and ethical hunter, and there are many of us out there, will always wait for such a shot.

I quietly pulled my bowstring back, picked a spot and let the arrow fly. The placement of the shot was perfect as the doe fell over dead in seven seconds, as witnessed later on video (reader discretion is advised - the link contains a brief non-graphic clip of a doe being shot). As always, I sit in my stand after the hunt and think about two things. First, I’m thankful that the deer died quickly. Secondly, I’m thankful for the meat that will be used to feed our family.

Sadly, I’m used to getting picked on by those who think I’m ruthless for killing an innocent animal. I think there’s some truth to that quite honestly; that deer did absolutely nothing to me, and yet I killed it anyway.

At the end of the day I look at any deer I’ve killed as a food source; it’s as simple as that. I look at deer the same way most meat-eating people look at cows, pigs and chickens. Sure, they’re nice and cute but at the end of the day we’re going to eat them, so who are we really kidding?

Fred Bear was the most famous archer and bow hunter of all time. He said, “The death I bestow upon an animal is far kinder than what nature had intended for it.” It’s easy to ignore or dismiss that quote but is he correct? I think he is, without a doubt.

Right now, we’re suffering the effects of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) in Michigan including Washtenaw and surrounding counties. Thousands upon thousands of deer are dead from this disease that is extremely contagious and 100 percent fatal upon signs of the disease.

Deer are infected through the bites of tiny flies infected with the disease. Most importantly, deer infected will hemorrhage (or bleed) throughout their body-both inside and out. They get severe fevers, bloody discharges, ulcers and swell in the face, tongue, neck and eyelids.

The infected deer have a 100 percent mortality rate and take about seven days to slowly and painfully die a miserable death. Most, if not all of the infected deer die in or near water sources in an effort to cool themselves down. Of course, this brings up another problem of contaminating our water sources. Fortunately, the first few frosts we get will kill off the flies that infect the deer.

So, I think it’s important for people to honestly ask themselves a simple question: Was Fred Bear correct in saying a hunter kills an animal more humanly than nature planned for it? I can only speak for myself in answering this question, and my answer is, “Yes.”

Rick Taylor warmly welcomes your story ideas and comments. Feel free to email him at



Mon, Oct 29, 2012 : 8:28 p.m.

Excellent article, Rick. You have a great youtube channel as well. Your bow hunting skills look top notch. If you ever get out to hunt pheasant drop me a line!

Rork Kuick

Thu, Oct 18, 2012 : 6:04 p.m.

I've found 4 carcasses in my area, mostly late September, all probable EHD. Ghastly and a horrible way to go, yes. I shot a doe who only got 30 yards Oct 5. Like Rick's story, it is a great relief to know right away that the shot was good. I didn't tell myself I had done her any favors though. I kill domestic chickens, turkeys, ducks, rabbits, and sheep, but I have 10 times more respect for deer. After killing a deer, I give thanks to the deer and nature, but I do something more: I make promises. I promise to protect wild places and things by my words and actions, and to do volunteer work as a steward for the Rec areas, Metro Parks, and other pubic land. Consider adding it to your tradition.

Rick Taylor

Thu, Oct 18, 2012 : 5:21 p.m.

Thank you to all who have commented to this story. I'd like to make a point about the actual life and death of wildlife which just happens to completely contradict the movie "Bambi". There's this notion out there that a deer gets old and tired one day and it decides to walk to a peaceful meadow, take a nap and die in its sleep. That sounds beautiful and makes us feel warm inside. Unfortunately, that couldn't be further from the truth in nature. The honest truth of the matter is that a deer will ALWAYS die by starvation, disease, predation or accident-ie: car accident or getting hung up in a fence, etc... You may ask yourself how a deer could possibly die by starvation or disease? Simply stated, deer eat grasses, grains along with natural minerals in the ground. These above mentioned items wear their teeth down dramatically as they get older. On a side note-wildlife biologists use the "wearing of teeth" to determine the age of a deer. Once deer get to a certain age their teeth are essentially gone and can no longer eat leading to starvation, the shutting down of organs leading to death. Again, there's no meadow in this picture. It's at this time in a deers life when coyotes come along and find an easy meal. Sadly, wolves and coyotes don't always wait for the deer to be dead before feeding on them. Again, feel free to contact any wildlife biologist to verify this information. I know this is frustrating to tell you this but there is no "meadow" so please come to that reality. Again, feel free to talk to any wildlife biologist and they will tell you the same when it comes to the life and death of a deer let alone other wild animals. I've accepted the fact that there are those out there who can't stand what I do; I must admit that I wish the distain wasn't so visceral. But, the facts are the facts and Fred Bear had a point worth considering.

Rork Kuick

Fri, Oct 19, 2012 : 12:10 p.m.

Might do better explicitly arguing at the level of the population, or even whole ecosystem, rather than the individual deer. Killing deer does do some good, though not for the particular deer you just killed. It's plants, other deer, and animals competing with deer that benefit, and as a human gardener and car driver I get some benefit too. Hunters help with stewardship by directly culling, with the money from licenses and taxes (some used on non-game species), and via volunteer work. There's economic winnings for certain businesses too. If you've never seen huge winter die-offs in the northern lower 10-30 years ago when populations were about at carrying capacity, count yourself lucky. Back then (and even now) some hunters just wanted as many deer on the landscape as possible. It was really dumb.


Fri, Oct 19, 2012 : 12:12 a.m.

Again, specious. It would not be so if the only animals targeted for the kill were those showing signs of wasting, either as a result of disease or malnutrition secondary to "wearing of teeth." You and I know that the most prized kill is the biggest and meatiest of the species, hardly representative of the animals you characterize as better off culled than allowed to die by natural means. If you still believe your own story, perhaps the late physicist Richard Feynman's words would be of some use: "The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool."

Sarah Rigg

Thu, Oct 18, 2012 : 4:43 p.m.

A typo in the headline has been fixed.


Thu, Oct 18, 2012 : 3:49 p.m.

Two points: 1) Your framing of the killing of the animal versus letting it die naturally a slow, painful death implies (though does not overtly state) that those you kill were destined to die a slow, painful death in contrast to a death at the end of its natural lifespan without the imposition of a misery-causing infection. This is specious. 2) Although I am not able to put myself in the mind of a deer specifically, as a fellow living creature I have to believe that, short of a demonstrated, fatal illness in the deer resulting in apparent agony, I think most deer would rather take their chances with nature than with a hunter. Please, stop using this pseudocompassion for the deer as an excuse to kill it. Most of us know better.


Thu, Oct 18, 2012 : 4:01 p.m.

Fail. He states "At the end of the day I look at any deer I've killed as a food source; it's as simple as that. I look at deer the same way most meat-eating people look at cows, pigs and chickens. Sure, they're nice and cute but at the end of the day we're going to eat them, so who are we really kidding?" He's not making any excuses and he doesn't have to.