The buck stepped into the field like he owned it. His high, 8-point rack glistened in the early morning sunlight. His neck was thick with the rut and steam bellowed from his nostrils with every breath. He was a true trophy.
The hunter, who at his own request will remain nameless, leveled his .30-06 and put the crosshairs on the buck’s massive chest. He was confident in the 80-yard shot because last deer season he had taken a deer at this range with no problem. As he recovered from the recoil of his shot, he saw the buck whirl, untouched, and leave the field. No blood, no hair, no buck, it was a clean miss.
How could this possibly happen? How could he miss that shot? Was it him or was it the gun? These are legitimate questions that can easily be answered. It was the hunter’s fault that the buck was missed. 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 just like it every year is, the hunter was not aiming at the deer.
Sighting In Is Essential
Oh, he may have had the crosshairs on the deer. But quite often that has very little to do with where the slug is aimed. The fact that the gun had not been fired for over a year is the problem. Pre-season sight-in is essential to success. It should be done before EVERY season.
In fact, I recommend shooting your weapon on aregular basis, all year. A half-dozen shots off sandbags before the season will definitely help. However, shooting several boxes of shells throughout the summer will help you be ready for that one big shot in the fall.
A good “rule of thumb” that I use is to look back over the past 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 one box of shells in preparation. This gives me a large measure of confidence and security in both my equipment and myself when I put my crosshairs on his chest.
This advice holds true for more than deer hunting and deer hunters. Predator and varmint hunters too can benefit from these tips. If you enjoy squirrel hunting with a .22, practice is crucial. Anytime you shoot 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 scoped long-guns. I am very aware that that not all Missouri deer hunters use scopes on their rifles. Does that eliminate them from the need to sight-in their guns? Absolutely not! Every time a gun goes into or is taken out of a case, there is potential to bump the sights. Every time your gun rides in a vehicle, there is a potential to misalign the sights. Every time you fire your gun, there is potential to change the sight. Why take the chance? Shoot your gun often and check the sights or scope every time you move or use the gun.
Handgun hunters should also heed this advice. Because of the size of handguns, they are more likely to be bumped or even dropped during handling. Many of today’s hunting handguns also have scopes. This just increases the odds for knocking the sighting device out of adjustment.
A valuable trick I learned the hard way, many years ago, was to use a product called “LOCTITE 222” on all my sight and scope threaded screws. I use it even on my scope bases and rings.
I learned this lesson the hard way. I was deer hunting in northeast. Missouri. I had been still-hunting when I slipped-up on a nice buck. He was a shooter and he was moving with a couple of does. I decided to stalk the big buck to get a better shot. As I picked-up my pace to stay with the deer, something on me “rattled.” I stopped and checked all my gear. Nothing was loose. I slung my .308 and took-off again. The rattle returned.
Make Sure Sight Is Secure
I had to ignore the bothersome little noise as I approached the deer. The buck was standing about 60 yards in front of me. I had an open shot. As I raised my gun and looked through the scope, the crosshairs looked like an “X” instead of a cross. The rattle I had heard was my scope rolling around inside the rings.
I returned to the truck where my partner, Roger Lewis was waiting. I told him my story. “Why in the world would you screw-on your scope without LOCTITE?” he asked. Needless to say, I have used it ever since.
He told me about a very proficient bench-rest and black-powder shooter from southeast Missouri named Elvis “Crawdad” Adams. It seems “Crawdad” was assisting a friend in sighting-in a new rifle. The gun was throwing bullets all over the target. They were prepared to return the gun to the store. Roger suggested “LOCTITE” and saved the shooter a lot of trouble and aggravation.
For a fine selection of Scopes, Sights, Bore Sighters, Scopes and Mounts click here.
For a fine selection of targets, click here.