Wounding and Suffering in Hunted Animals: The Dirty Secret Hunters Do Not Want You to Know

By Joe Miele, President of CASH

[Warning: graphic images]

Deer mounted with arrow through chest, blood left in from nose and mouth.
Photo sent by Natalie JARNSTEDT


Photo sent to C.A.S.H.

Anyone who has discussed the topic of hunting expressing even a mild displeasure of the “sport” has undoubtedly encountered the retort, “It’s better that an animal die a quick death than suffer from disease or starvation.” Never mind that those who say such things know exactly zilch about wildlife management and carrying capacity. Those who are prone to making such statements have no idea how often hunters wound animals and fail to retrieve them, or how much “cleanly” hit animals suffer for the sake of “recreation” [wreck creation]. Exactly what happens to the animals who are hit and not retrieved is anyone’s guess, but there are four possible scenarios: a few survive the attack and live compromised, shortened lives; some run off and die relatively soon after hiding themselves well enough to go undetected; others have their skin heal over the wound and a massive infection develops that causes a lingering, painful death; while others are attacked by predators and in their weakened state are unable to flee and have no chance for survival.

As I began writing this article, I browsed several hunting message boards and websites to see what hunters have to say about wounding animals and not being able to retrieve them, and about what happens to animals after they are shot.

What did I find out after doing a little research on the prevalence of wounded animals among hunters?  I learned that wounding happens far more often than hunters will admit to us, and even more often I thought.  It truly is a nightmare for wildlife during hunting season.

In an article published on the website of the Sun Journal of southern Maine on November 9, 2014 (Outdoors in Maine: Dealing with wounded deer) V. Paul Reynolds, editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal, wrote “Most deer hunters will sooner or later in their hunting careers wound a deer and not recover it. It happens.”

In his monthly column for the Northwoods Sporting Journal, Wildlife biologist Mark McCollough tells us that because no studies of crippling loss have been done in Maine, the Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife department relies on a 1964 estimate from Chet Banasiak (a former Maine deer biologist), that crippling loss represented 15% of the kill, and poaching was 20% of the kill. With numbers like 15% and 20% of animals being crippled by hunters, any of us would rightfully be disgusted and outraged. But McCollough went on to say that, nationally, studies of wounding from archery and firearms are more in line with 50% and 25% of the legal kill limits. This clearly shows how barbaric hunting is, especially bow hunting, which on account of these numbers alone should be immediately banned nationwide. If the public understood this truth there would be much less support for hunting and greater opposition from those who normally do not speak out for animals.

Most of this horror takes place deep in the woods where few are there to witness it, but every so often the public is given a glimpse of the cruelty and savagery of hunting.

An article from the Daily Camera (Boulder, CO) from September 8, 2014 entitled “Wildlife officials: Moose shot by bow hunter at Brainard Lake was legal, ‘clean’ kill” contained a graphic description of what happened to an animal who was “quickly” killed by a hunter.  Describing a case where a bull moose was shot by a bow hunter near Brainard Lake, Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokeswoman Jennifer Churchill said it was “the cleanest kill you can hope for.” After hearing a cow call that he later realized was a hunter calling the moose in for a shot, an eyewitness to the “cleanest kill you can hope for” described it this way:

“Then the calls stopped and I heard this kind of blood-curdling, moaning scream sound and tree branches breaking,” Clark said. “Then (the moose) was running full speed toward us with another bull coming right behind it. We had a second or two to decide which direction to run.  At that time, I saw blood coming out of the side and kind of connected then that he had been shot.”

A “blood-curdling, moaning scream” from a bleeding moose running full-speed is as clean as a hunter can hope for.

Writers to hunting websites have a lot to say about what happens when animals are shot.  On the website www.wiredtohunt.com, a hunter talks about gut-shooting deer: “Typically when you hit a deer in the gut, it will hunch up and walk or trot away in a strained position. These animals are lost of (sic) the hunter pursues them as they will run for miles though mortally wounded.”  A deer who runs for miles after being shot will not be retrieved, and if she was gut shot it is a near certainty that she will die of a massive infection.

When hunters tell you that they do not cause animals to suffer they are lying, possibly in an effort to make what they enjoy seem acceptable or necessary in some way or to make them not look like the monsters they are.  Despite the lies that are commonly told to us, members of Field & Stream’s online forums talk candidly when they don’t think C.A.S.H. is reading their words.  From a thread posted to http://tinyurl.com/fld-nd-stream-hit-him, here are the words of three different hunters:

–  “I shot a buck this morning at 30 yards, broadside, when i hit him he went down right away spun around in circles. after he stumbled back to his feet and drunkenly ran off he made three of these death moan sounding noises that i have never heard, i called my ol’ man and a few other fellow archers and they said they have never heard these noises before. it was like a extremly loud buck grunt that lasted for 5-10 seconds. “

–  “I shoot my first doe at 40 yards with a muzzle loader and dropped her in her tracks. I was young and waited and from my stand and I herd the same sounds you describe except the last one had a blood gurgling in it. I shot her just behind the shoulder and got both lungs but she was still able to vocalize for 4 minutes before she past. Those sounds will not fade from memory.”

– “When I was a kid I shot a big doe with my slug gun that made the sounds that you describe. The hit was poor and I missed both lungs. It was gut shot. The sound the deer made is very unnerving and you will not forget it.”

Hunters posting to
http://www.archerytalk.com/vb/showthread.php?t=408864  had this to say:

– “A few years back, I shot a doe with an old black powder rifle and hit her in the spine way to far back. She let out several screams that will always stay with me.”

– “I shot a mature doe 3 yrs ago that let out a blood curdling scream when I dbl lunged her, damndest thing I’ve ever heard.”

– “several years ago i shot a squirrel with my bow. as it tried to climb back up the tree with my arrow hanging out, it was screaming loudly like a woman,”

– “I have heard the most awful noise come from a deer. kinda sounded like a dieing rabit. Its one of things that make you contemplate quiting”

Archerytalk.com is a good source for hunters talking candidly about the horror of their “sport”.  Take these comments for example, from a thread about the death moans of bears posted to

– “I shot one this year that only went 30 yards and did the moan when he expired. Boy do they bleed a lot when they’re hit well.”

– “I don’t know anything about it except that I don’t really enjoy hearing it. Maybe if I shot the bear and it was a sure sign that I made a good shot it would be different.”

– “I’ve seen elk, deer and antelope make that same type of bawling sound when they were dying. In every case, it was a situation that required a finishing shot.”

But it’s not just bears, elk, squirrels, and deer who scream and cry when shot.  Coyote hunters had this to say on

– “Yeah they can cry like a dog when wounded or with a fatally hit. It is not good for coyote hunting to post videos like that, but we who shoot coyotes have some of them. If you shoot a coyote and it starts crying shoot it again and wait for another one to show up, many times another coyote will show up to what happened. Also if you shoot a coyote and it drops to the ground and starts rolling around flailing its legs shoot it again or it might jump up and run off. That’s because the coyote does not know what happened and it starts to fight the shot as if something is directly attacking it. And if you shoot a coyote and it starts crying it can attract unwanted attention, so try to make all shots bang flops. I have to respect coyotes because they are one of the toughest critters compared to size and weight. I have seen them surviving with only a half a jaw and on two legs.”

There is no doubt – hunting is a vile, barbaric, disgusting sport and those who willingly take part in it are disturbed.  Only a sociopath or psychopath could enjoy themselves when needlessly subjecting animals to such cruelty, horror and torture.

C.A.S.H. is pushing for the day when all hunting is outlawed and when those who hunt are locked in jail. It’s the only place they deserve.


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Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting / C.A.S.H.
P.O. Box 562
New Paltz, NY 12561