It happens to even the best of us. We asked 10 prominent Canadian hunters to share the story of their most memorable missed shot—and what they learned from it
An outfitter, the host of several award-winning TV shows, including Uncharted and The Professionals, Jim Shockey is arguably the world’s most recognizable hunter.
“Once I was testing a new ignition system for muzzleloaders. The prototype grouped three shots inside three inches at 100 yards. When I went hunting with the rifle, however, I proceeded to completely miss a total of three times. None of the bullets hit closer than several feet from any of the Argali rams I’d crawled through miles of snow to reach in Kyrgyzstan. I fired the muzzleloader back at camp after each of the first two misses, and all of those shots were perfect. After my third miss in the field, however, I made three more shots back at camp that wouldn’t have hit a barn door. It was not my fault, and the ignition system never made it past the prototype stage.
Another time with a muzzleloader, I missed a 90-metre broadside shot at a 183 Boone and Crockett whitetail in central Saskatchewan. After later reviewing the footage of the hunt, I saw that the bullet hit the snow halfway to the buck. As it turned out, the -30°C temperature that day was outside the sabot’s performance envelope, a problem the manufacturer eventually addressed. I got that buck later in the season on a warmer day. Again, while I remember the miss, it was not my fault.
I once guided an archery hunter for black bears near the beginning years of my outfitting career. He was a world-class shot, with numerous trophies in archery tournaments to prove it. He swaggered into camp telling me his dream was to have a big boar stand up in front of him, so close he’d be able to see the whites of its eyes. That was the shot he wanted.
Compartmentalize the memory, lock it in a box, throw away the key and move on
If you’ve ever had a big bear stand up on its hind legs close to you, massive and menacing, I can assure you the experience will make your hands sweat, the hair on the back of your neck stand up, your heart race and your body quake. Well, that’s exactly what happened to my client when his wish came true. He drew back just like he’d dreamed and released the arrow, but forgot some important fundamentals, such as aiming.
The bear popped and slobbered at us after the arrow whizzed harmlessly past it, then dropped to all fours and walked off, leaving me with a jellyfish for a client. Shaken and confused, he proceeded to completely miss three more good bears. He wanted to quit and go home, but I convinced him to stay, and we practised shooting at camp until his confidence slowly returned. When we finally returned to the forest, he made a perfect shot on a beautiful boar.
All of this begs the question, why can’t I remember any misses that were actually my fault? A reporter once asked golfing legend Jack Nicklaus to tell him about a bad shot he made in his career that still bothered him. The Golden Bear’s reply? “I don’t remember ever making a bad shot.”
Me either. The moral of the story here is to learn from your mistakes. Then compartmentalize the memory, lock it in a box, throw away the key and move on.”