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.
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4 Responses to “Get Sighted In For Hunting Season”
Is money everything when it comes to buing a good scope?
Good article on sighting. I am relatively new to deer hunting and I want to be smart about learning. I like the Loctite 222 idea, I have already had a scope get loose at the range.
Kenneth D. Cox
What is best scope to mount on 45/70 Martin stranght wall ammunition 300 grain Hp. What best scope to use on this heavy rifle. I’m pushing 80 years old and eyes sight isn’t what use be I will be making shot of 150- 175yrs. I need a scope will hold up under this cal gun.. Can you tell me what scope should be looking at for gun 45/70. Thank for your keep up good work. Kenneth Cox
I think you’re talking about a Marlin 45×70, tossing a 400gn Bullet. AmmoGuide lists these numbers for a typical rifle/carbine with NOMINAL PERFORMANCE of…Bullet Weight:405 gr Muzzle Velocity: 1,330 fps Muzzle Energy:1,591 ft-lbs. At 1300 FPS the gun will have some healthy drop t 175 yards. I would likely just choose some regular glasses that give you a clear organic vision at 200 yards (you have to spot the animal first).
I shoot a 9×62 Mauser and when I first had it I fitted up a good Leopold I had, and it frankly didn’t help much except at the range. So, I took off the scope and just sighted the iron sights at 100 yards using a decent pair of glasses to get a good natural sight picture. I was attempting to adapt my rifle to my old eyes. When I changed my thinking… to adapt my vision to the overall requirements that hunting demands, the situation improved. I can hit pretty good with my “hunting glasses.” The scope I had to fiddle with and I was never really pleased with it.
With my scope, I could spot the animal but then have to take off the glasses to aim. A second shot got problematic, particularly if the first was not solid and the animal was moving. Those issues were worse in the rain or dim light.
IMO, there are many many scopes at very reasonable prices, but a scope on a big bore? Not at my age. I also shoot a 6.5mm Creedmore that shoots like a laser. But that is a different world.