Spot and Stalk Muley Video: An Important — But Hard — Lesson in Shot Placement

This bowhunting video is tough to watch. Period. But it drives home the reason to do everything you can to ensure a quick kill.

Spot and Stalk Muley Video: An Important — But Hard — Lesson in Shot Placement

I’ll be honest: As I watched this 27-minute video, I had decided not to share it on this website and discuss it. But I changed my mind. Let me explain.

During the first half of the video, I couldn’t understand why nearly 90 viewers had given it a thumbs-down rating on YouTube. After all, the footage was topnotch, and there was no swearing or anything in poor taste. However, the video becomes tough to watch — at least for me — after the host/hunter Jason Beaulieu makes a marginal hit on a big muley.

Beaulieu is bowhunting public land in the Badlands of North Dakota. This is a challenging adventure. It’s evident that Beaulieu is an accomplished archer, and he’s not in the field flinging arrows and hoping to get lucky. Just the opposite. When he finally closes the distance on a mature muley, he ranges it at 70-ish yards and then decides to stalk closer.

While I’d never attempt a 70-yard shot at a game animal with a bow, the internet is filled with hunters who do. Beaulieu is able to stalk closer, and when he finally releases the arrow, the buck is feeding (relaxed) at a slightly quartering-away angle at a distance of 51 yards. 

Even though 51 yards is well beyond the range at which I’d attempt a shot, especially in strong winds, I think Beaulieu is very confident in this scenario. Even so, his arrow strikes a bit too low and too far back, resulting in a one-lung plus liver hit.

The reason I’m sharing the video is because I think it’s a good — but hard — lesson in shot placement. As I read through the 145-plus comments to the YouTube video, a shocking number of them say the shot was good. Many of the comments are similar to this one: “Looked like a perfect shot, but the buck just didn’t want to die.”

Another comment: “It was a good shot the way the deer was standing. If you watch the video, he hit it so the arrow went to the opposite shoulder. It was actually a well-placed shot. It initially looked like it was too far back, but where it went through was right behind the opposite shoulder.”

I disagree. It was not a perfect or well-placed shot. And even if some viewers want to think otherwise, Beaulieu admits in his comments that it was too far back. (Click here to watch a short video I filmed back in 2012 that explains why many bowhunters incorrectly think a shot low in the chest and a couple inches behind the front leg is an ideal bow shot. It’s not!)

Sadly, some comments cross the line (in my opinion) and slam Beaulieu for attempting an unethical shot. I give him credit for writing thoughtful replies such as this one:

“If a broadside, un-alert, with a slight quartering away upon impact at 51 yards is unethical, then so be it. Sometimes reality isn’t perfect. This wasn't staged or a canned hunt where conditions allow perfection at every level. I could have easily edited out 3 minutes of that footage to give everyone the happy feeling of perfection. It wasn't, by 2 inches on entry. Glad you were able to make it to that point in the video, thanks for watching.”

Watch the video and then check out my additional brief comments below, which will make more sense after you know more of the story.

If you watched the entire video, you’re no doubt wondering what happened to Beaulieu’s second arrow, and whether it helped kill the buck. You might also be curious as to why he waited only two hours before attempting another stalk. After all, it’s common knowledge that it will usually take much longer than two hours for a one-lung and/or liver deer to die.

Beaulieu’s second arrow didn’t hit the deer. The buck moved and the arrow missed.

Regarding the timing of a follow-up stalk; in Beaulieu’s own words: “As it always seems, there were a couple factors adding into that decision. First, the heat; second, we had coyotes popping in and out of the draw that continued working closer and closer (you can hear them while I'm putting the tag on him). Last, the direction I wanted him to go was back up and out the way he dropped in (terrain that we couldn't see into), I made the decision after a couple hours, knowing if he went direction that he ended up going we could still see him bed up and then at that point give him more time. I figured worst-case scenario is I wouldn't get an arrow in him and we'd have to hope the coyotes would hold off long enough. Lots of emotions and replaying that shot thinking no way he's still up! There's the short but long worded thought process; all is well that ends well, luck was no doubt in our favor. Thanks again for watching!”

FYI: Beaulieu’s gear included a Mathews Monster MR7 bow; Easton FMJ 340s, 29-inch arrow; Slick Trick 100-grain, four-blade broadhead.

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