I guess I am just an old Fudd at heart. So many of the Indisputable Truths that get bandied about online aren't, never were, and probably never will be.
If you check out Traditional American Wild Turkey Hunting by Ed McIlhenny (first published in 1914) you'll find out the preferred method of hunting turkeys was shooting them off the roost. The preferred weapon was a rifle.
Teddy Roosevelt eschewed hunting in raised stands over salt licks and perpetrated the myth that salt blocks will bring in deer during the Fall season. The truth is that salt should be applied in March, and the big rush at the lick is over by August-- at least in my neighborhood. By September, you may see deer, but they won't be using the lick. TR's experiences with salt and treestands comes from a summertime hunt in (IRC) July in Pennsylvania. However, folks today still try and copy what he was trying so hard to ban, and the sale of salt blocks skyrockets the week before season starts.
Jack O'Connor used to shoot deer in the butt when he was hunting in heavy brush. This was called an "anchoring shot." You then trailed them for a while until you could put in a coup d'grace. Teddy Roosevelt did the same thing, and if memory serves me correctly TR once shot a doe 14 times, before reducing it to posession. So much for 1-shot kills.
Let's not just throw rotten tomatos at TR and J O'C. Meschak Browning would try for whatever shot he could and was pleasantly surprised if the deer fell over dead. Usually his hunting trips ended with him wrestling the deer until he could plunge his knife into its chest. James Audubon drew all of his wonderful bird pictures from specimens he shot. That's why he usually got the position of the necks wrong-- birds necks become distorted and curve backwards when rigor mortis sets in.
The bottom line is that most of what we visualize as ethical hunting behavior has little to do with historical tradition. Most of the great outdoor legends, were still alive, would be invited to leave the camp, if not arrested outright. Whatever we we practice as ethical today is but a shadow of what has come before.
It is mostly a matter of fashion. Our grandfathers would roll in their graves if they saw us shooting does. Shooting a deer without antlers used to be considered the ultimate sin. Never mind the fact that two generations earlier than that, hunters preferred doe to buck, due to the quality of the meat.
It took D&DH magazine about 15-20 years ago to put to rest the myth that bait piles are an unfair advantage. Sure, they will bring in deer, but it tends to bring them in during the dead of night. D&DH was the first popular magazine to publish a study that showed that hunters were no more likely to shoot deer over bait as an unbaited site. Hunting over bait piles is not unethical, it's just generally not as productive as one might think.
Food plots? Listen, when the white oak acorns are dropping in my neighborhood, you can sit all day over your food plot and never see a deer. I pity the guys who spend a couple grand every year on food plots only to have the deer mysteriously vanish in late October. Do not talk to me about food plots being an unfair advantage.
Now we have QDM stirring the water, and everyone is worried about buck-to-doe ratios. The truth is that you will seldom get things skewed beyond a 1-3 ratio, and most deer hunters do not control enough acerage to effectively enforce a plan. Then states start putting on antler restrictions, and the next thing you know, a 12 year old boy may wait years before he can bag his first shootable buck. No wonder kids are staying home with their video games!
In a few years, the deer herd may get so far oversized in urban areas like mine, I predict that the state will promote running them off cliffs. Everyone will fall out on a chilly November afternoon to do their civic duty. Shiny aluminum baseball bats will be issued ,and the whole community will beat the bushes and gradually herd the deer to special state-run cliff sites. Then we will all spend the rest of the day finishing off the wounded and butchering the rest. In places like Cincinnati, where the deer herds are so large and the professional football is so bad, I see this catching on rather quickly. Paul Brown Stadium will be empty, but 100,000 people will join in to drive deer off the newly prepared cliff at Mount Pisgah. Reefer trucks will be lined up for miles. As we bludgeon the stragglers, we'll talk dissmissively of the old days when folks tried to do this all piecemeal fashion with guns and bows, and we'll talk glowingly of how civilized we have become.