Wounding rates in shooting foxes (Vulpes vulpes)
One-hundred-and-ninety-nine shooters in England, Wales and Scotland shot at fox-shaped targets in 35 shotgun regimes including .410 and 12 bore using No 6, BB or AAA shot sizes at 25, 40 or 60 yards, with open and full choke barrels, and skilled, semi-skilled or unskilled shooters. A further 16 regimes used rimfire rifles at 50 yards (both supported using a gun rest and unsupported) and centrefire rifles at 100 and 150 yards, by day and by night. The targets were life-sized paper foxes, traced from a longitudinal section of a real fox and mapped with the internal anatomy. For shotgun trials, the targets were moved across a gap, allowing the shooters 3 or 3.5 s to take aim and fire. For rifle trials, the static targets were raised up for 4 s and then lowered. Fifteen dead foxes, shot with the same ammunition, ranges and angle as in the shooting regimes, were assessed for internal injuries caused by each regime. Ammunition was tested in comparative card-penetration tests. A total of 1085 shotgun shots and 885 rifle shots at the targets were scored as 'killed', 'seriously wounded', 'lightly wounded' or 'missed'. As shooters' skill level increased, the 'kill' rate increased, the 'miss' rate decreased but the 'wounding' rates stayed much the same. No 6 shot 'wounded' because of poor penetration. AAA had poor pattern density at ranges beyond 40 yards. At ranges of up to 40 yards, both AAA and BB shot performed well, BB being the optimum. .410 shotguns with No 6 shot 'wounded' but seldom 'killed'. Rifles 'killed' better than shotguns and 'wounded' less. There was no regime that had no probability of 'wounding'; however, the latter varied dramatically across the trials with different types of gun, ammunition and shooters' skill level. Mitigating factors such as the use of second shots or dogs are discussed.
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