I received a Remington 870 as a Christmas present this year (great shotgun, thanks for asking), and as part of my research into Remington I found the following article. So, I'm interested...is this article pretty much, pardon the expression, on the mark? ------------------------------------ How Many Shots Bag a Deer? Studies show hunters usually fire two to seven shots for each deer bagged. The reasons are varied and might surprise you. By Patrick Durkin Hunters in whitetail-rich areas often say opening morning of gun season sounds like a Civil War re-enactment. In fact, maybe its me who always says that. As I sit in my treestand in Wisconsins farm country, I find myself doubting the woods could hold enough deer to support such fusillades. But then I remind myself some deer get shot at more than once, and weve become accustomed to taking multiple shots. After all, weve had semiautomatic shotguns and rifles for 100 years, and lever-actions longer than that. Plus, a skilled rifleman can work a bolt-action nearly as fast. I also muse that maybe some of that shooting is a holdover from the muzzleloading era, and that those first "priming" shots pay homage to the "fouling shot" required in the original black-powder days. The difference, of course, is that were priming ourselves, not the barrel. Speaking from experience, it seems too easy for modern hunters to squeeze off a quick first shot when the adrenaline is pumping and you know a follow-up shot is only a second away. Not only that, but everyone hates to fail when they shoot at a deer. Who isnt tempted to take their shot at redemption with a second, third, fourth and maybe even a fifth shot at a fleeing deer? New Yorks Lawrence R. Koller, who wrote the deer hunting classic Shots at Whitetails in 1948, said this about the agony of missing: "The primary consideration in deer hunting is to hit your buck. Weeks of anticipation, days of deliberation in choosing rifle, load and sights, plus plenty of shooting practice, all total zero if you fail to connect. Added to this is that sinking sensation in the pit of your stomach when your trophy vanishes in the timber, well under its own power." One-Shot Exceptions Despite the best teaching and encouragement to the contrary, many of us do not hold out for a one-shot killing opportunity. For whatever reason, multiple shots are more common with deer hunters than one-shot attempts. And, like it or not, this is not a new phenomenon. Consider this comment: "It is a good rule always to try to get as near the game as possible At the same time, I am a great believer in powder-burning, and if I cannot get near, I will generally try a shot anyhow, if there is a chance of the rifles carrying to it. In this way, a man will now and then, in the midst of many misses, make a very good long shot, but he should not try to deceive himself into the belief that these occasional long shots are to be taken as samples of his ordinary skill. Yet it is curious to see how a really truthful man will forget his misses, and his hits at close quarters, and, by dint of constant repetition, will finally persuade himself that he is in the habit of killing his game at three- or four-hundred yards." Some might consider that writer unethical, but the man behind those words is President Theodore Roosevelt. As we know, TR is the father of the Boone and Crockett Club, and was a founding force in the United States conservation movement. That quote is from his book Hunting Trips of a Ranchman. What about deer hunting in the new century? With all the shooting Eastern hunters hear every year on opening day, has anyone tried to figure out how many shots are fired for each deer thats bagged? Granted, some guys sit on their stands and count the number of shots they hear during the first few hours so they can reveal their data to friends back in camp. The trouble is, that doesnt give us a success rate. For that, we need researchers, and several of them actually have studied the ratios of shots fired and deer bagged. Not surprisingly, however, these ratio vary, depending on several factors, including hunter numbers, deer densities, deer movement, season lengths, hunting methods and firearms types. For instance, the more hunters who go afield in a short season, the more intense the competition and pressure will be to "get your deer." Also, the more deer in the woods, the more the likelihood for multiple shots. In turn, the more hunting pressure, the more likely whitetails will be moving. And the more whitetails move, the less likely theyll present stationary targets. A 1972 study at Wisconsins Sandhill Wildlife Area a state-owned, 9,000-acre fenced research facility found 6.5 shots were fired for every whitetail registered. Other studies at Sandhill varied a bit from the 72 study, ranging from 3.1 to seven shots for every deer bagged. Studies elsewhere usually reported fewer shots fired per deer killed. Research in Illinois, Ontario and South Carolina found the averages were 4.7, 1.6 and 1.2 shots per kill, respectively. Why such variance between states? One obvious difference between Wisconsin and those other studies is stiffer hunting competition. Even though hunter numbers at Sandhill are restricted, deer hunters in Wisconsin as in other huge deer hunting states like Michigan and Pennsylvania often grow up in competitive hunting environments. In 1972, Wisconsin had 518,000 gun hunters, and in 2001 they numbered 688,261. For perspective, Illinois and South Carolina have fewer than 200,000 firearms hunters today, and Ontario has about 165,000. Bag Limits and Herd Size The Sandhill studies reported by John Kubisiak, a former researcher with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, provide insights into how shooting habits change depending on various factors. For instance, the worst shooting performance, a 7.4-1 shots-to-deer ratio, occurred during the 1963-68 rifle/shotgun hunts when any deer could be shot and the Sandhill herd was estimated at 32 per square mile of range. Next worst was a 7-1 shots-to-deer ratio during the 1970 rifle/shotgun hunt when the herd numbered 44 per square mile. Deer were plentiful and any deer could be shot, so lead filled the air. Lest anyone think those numbers are skewed by a few individuals who just happened to "shoot more and shoot more poorly," 71 percent of the 1963-68 hunters and 91 percent of the 1970 hunters fired more than one shot. The best shooting performance, a 3.4-1 shots-to-deer ratio, occurred during the 1987-89 rifle/shotgun hunts when the population was 41. That year, hunters had to be sure they were shooting a deer specified by their permit. Some hunters could shoot any deer, but usually held out for one of the enclosures famous trophy bucks. Meanwhile, the rest of the hunters had to shoot an antlerless deer, so they usually waited until the deer was close enough for a careful look at its head. Firearms Differences Another factor studied at Sandhill was what happens to those averages and shooting ratios when hunters use handguns or muzzleloaders. Perhaps surprisingly, even though muzzleloading rifles can only hold one shot at a time, these hunters fired 5.3 shots for every deer they killed during the 1977-78 seasons. What factors were at work? These hunters, using sidelocks and flintlocks, could shoot at any deer, so many of them werent selective. Another factor was that this was the states first special hunting opportunity for muzzleloaders. Its possible many of the hunters were inexperienced with muzzleloaders, and some were using one for the first time. The group taking the most shots, however, were handgun hunters in 1970 who fired 14.2 shots for every deer bagged. From 1963 to 1970, hand-gunners also shot more rounds than their long-gun counterparts. Post-hunt interviews with successful hunters those years found handgun users fired eight shots for each deer bagged, while long-gun hunters averaged five shots per deer. Further, 35 percent of successful handgun hunters killed their deer with one shot, and this group averaged three shots and two hits for each deer they bagged, suggesting many of them were effective shooters. These hunters tended to take shorter shots, with the average being 40 yards. Of 63 deer bagged by handgun hunters, 39 percent were within 25 yards of the hunter, and 79 percent were within 50 yards. In addition, 58 percent of the deer were walking or standing when shot with a handgun, and of those running, 71 percent were within 40 yards and none was farther than 60 yards. First Deer, Second Deer Another Sandhill researcher, Professor Thomas Heberlein from the University of Wisconsin, found differences in shooting behavior when hunters shot at more than one deer. Most shots taken at the first deer were 50 yards or less. If they shot at a second deer, it was usually between 50 and 100 yards. Also, about one-third of the first deer they shot at were standing, while nearly half the second deer were running. Most hunters only took one shot at a second deer, but they often fired at least twice at the first deer. And whether they fired at one deer or two, more than half of the hunters missed their first shot. The first deer were more likely to be killed with follow-up shots because they were usually closer and standing still when first fired upon. In this scenario, by firing repeatedly, hunters bagged the deer three out of five times. On second deer, however, because so many of them were running, hunters usually got off only one shot, so they bagged only two of every five deer on their second attempt. Further, 37 percent of the hunters who got a shot at one deer failed to bag a deer at Sandhill. What about the differences in success of standing vs. running deer? Heberlein found about 70 percent of deer walking or standing were killed. Success dropped to 37 percent when deer were running, and less than 10 percent on a second deer if it was running. Fun With Numbers After bouncing all those numbers around in our heads, it seems only natural that we try to figure out how they translate into the number of total rounds fired during a firearms season. Given the averages discussed, lets be conservative and say North Americas gun hunters fire 3.5 shots for every deer bagged. At that rate, Wisconsins hunters would have fired 1.85 million rounds during the 2000 firearms season to bag the states record gun-kill of 528,494. But if Wisconsins hunters fired 6.5 shots for every deer bagged in 2000, they fired 3.43 million rounds to achieve that harvest. Using 3.5 shots as the average, how many shots might have been fired in the rest of the nations top 10 deer states in 2000? Lets look: Texas hunters would have fired 1.51 million shots to bag 431,927 deer; Pennsylvania, 1.49 million shots to bag 426,078 deer; Michigan, 1.4 million shots to bag 400,000 whitetails; Georgia, 1.33 million shots to bag 380,000 deer; Alabama, 1.3 million shots to bag 372,000 deer; New York, 969,034 shots to bag 276,867 deer; Louisiana, 896,000 shots to bag 256,000 deer; Mississippi, 850,5000 shots to bag 243,000 deer; and Missouri 771,732 shots to bag 220,495 deer. In other words, hunters in the top 10 whitetail states in 2000 fired an estimated 12.34 million shots to bag 3.54 million deer. Conclusion With all that lead and copper flying, you might assume the deer woods are unsafe. Actually, deer hunting has never been safer. In Wisconsin, for example, whether the number of shots fired by its nearly 700,000 hunters in 2000 was 1.85 or 3.43 million, the state recorded only 21 shooting accidents, including two fatalities, during gun season. Further, eight of those shootings were self-inflicted. Therefore, only 13 of a possible 3.43 million shots, or .0004 percent, struck another person. Compare that with 1970. During that season, the number of Wisconsin gun hunters was 502,000 and 13 of them were killed by gunfire. In addition, the deer kill in 1970 was one of the lowest on record the past 40 years at 72,844. Its difficult, if not inaccurate, to say hunters in 2002 are better shots than their counterparts in 1970. We can say, however, that when todays hunters miss, their bullets are less likely to hit another person. If nothing else, that might bring some reassurance on opening morning when gun shots seem to be erupting from every hollow and hilltop within hearing range.