Hunter Prep 101: Summer View

The male entered the field as if he owned it. Its tall, eight-pointed shelf gleamed in the early morning sunlight. His neck was thick from the grind, and steam rose from his nostrils with each breath. It was a real trophy.

The hunter aimed his hunting weapon and set his sights on the deer’s massive chest. He was confident on the 80-yard shot, as last deer season he had taken a deer at this same range with no problem. As he recovered from the recoil of his shot, he saw the stallion turn, intact, and then walk out of the field. No blood, no hair and no money. It was a clean foul.

How could this happen? How could that shot miss? Was it him or was it the gun? These are legitimate questions that can be easily answered. It was the hunter’s fault that the deer was lost. The gun did everything it was supposed to do. The function of the gun is to put the bullet where the shooter is aiming. The simple fact in this case, and thousands of others like it every year, is that the hunter was not targeting the deer.

Oh, he may have had his sights on the deer, but very often that has very little to do with the aim of the projectile. The fact that the gun hasn’t been fired for over a year is the problem. Preseason viewing is essential for success. It must be done before each season.

In fact, I recommend shooting your gun at a regularly, all year. Half a dozen shots from sandbags before the season will definitely help, however, shooting

several boxes of shells throughout the summer will help get you ready for that big hit in the fall.

A good “rule of thumb” I use is to look back over the last two or three deer seasons and count the average number of shots I take each year. For every shot I intend to take during the season, I shoot a box of shells in preparation. This gives me great confidence and security both in my team and in myself when I put me crosses on his chest.

This tip applies to more than deer hunting and deer hunters. Predator and vermin hunters can also benefit from these tips. If you like to hunt squirrels with a .22, practice is crucial. Every time you fire a single projectile at a target or animal, your success is directly proportional to the amount of your practice.

Until now I have made mention and reference to long weapons with scope. I am well aware that not all deer hunters use scopes on their guns. Does that eliminate them from the need to aim their weapons? Absolutely not. Every time a gun goes in or out of a case, there is a chance of hitting sights, even irons. Any time your gun travels in a vehicle, there is a chance of misaligning the sights. Every time you fire your weapon, there is a chance to change your sights. Why take the risk? Shoot your gun frequently and check your sights or scope every time you move or use the gun.

Firearm hunters should also heed this advice. Due to the size of the pistols, they are more likely to be bumped or even dropped during handling. Many of today’s hunting pistols also have scopes. This increases the chances that the sighting device will go out of adjustment.

A valuable trick I learned the hard way, many years ago, was to use a product called “Loctite 222” on all the threaded screws on my sight and scope. I even use it on my scope mounts and rings. Like I said, I learned this lesson the hard way…

I was hunting deer in NE Missouri. She had still been hunting when I slipped up with a good deer. He was a marksman and he moved with a couple of females. I decided to stalk the big male to get a better chance. As I quickened my pace to stay with the deer, something in me jerked. I stopped and checked all my gear. Nothing was loose. I hung up my 308 Winchester and took off again. The rattle returned.

I had to ignore the annoying little noise as I approached the deer. The deer was standing about 60 meters in front of me. He had an open shot. When I raised my gun and looked through the scope, the scope looked like an “X” instead of a cross. The rattling noise I had heard was my scope rolling inside the rings.

I returned to the van where my partner, Roger Lewis, was waiting for me. I told him my story. “Why the hell would you screw on your visor without Loctite?” he asked. Needless to say, I have used it ever since.

He told me about a very competent bench and black powder shooter from southeastern Missouri named Elvis “Crawdad” Adams. Looks like “Crawdad” was helping a friend look at a new rifle. The gun fired bullets all over the target. They were prepared to return the gun to the store. Roger suggested “Loctite” and it saved the shooter a lot of trouble and hassle.

Regardless of what weapons you have looked at, having and keeping them in your sights allows you to be ready for the shot of your life.

Man shooting off the table.

Regardless of what weapons you have looked at, having and keeping them in your sights allows you to be ready for the shot of your life.

So here’s your “to do” list for fall success, as a result of preparing for summer:

  • Your first and last step should always be to clean your gun. Yes, that’s right, thoroughly clean your gun before and after each practice session. Your assumption that nothing has changed with the gun since the last time you cleaned it is just that: an assumption. The extent to which you break your gun to clean it is personal preference. However, I will tell you that wiping the exterior with a cloth is not enough.
  • Most of us look at our guns at a shooting range. These ranges are likely to be perfectly flat. Most of our shots on the field are not. Find a safe place to shoot your gun at up and down angles. The bullet’s trajectory is not the same at an angle as it is flat.
  • Check and recheck your scope and scope mounts. Here do not leave anything to chance. You will regret not paying close attention to these details.
  • Finally, protect the finished product. Once you’re 100 percent satisfied with what you can do with your gun, take steps to make sure your efforts haven’t been in vain. If you have a hard case, that’s great. Not everyone does. Either way, handle your weapon like an egg. If you throw your gun in the truck as luggage, you just wasted all that time and effort.