By: John Simeone
I guess no one told you, riding around on a four-wheeler all day will vibrate your scope out of zero; here are ten more dumb things we do to miss a deer. You bought a thousand-dollar deer rifle, with a scope and from my observations over the years, you don't have the slightest idea how to use it. It is not so much to miss a deer, but wounding one should be avoided at all costs. We owe it to the game animal to make a clean shot. If your ego will allow and you really want to do better…read on.
A one shot sero. Rezero your rifle if you change scopes like I did on the 325 WSM
- Sighting in for the wrong distance. Many hunters zero a deer rifle for 200 yards. This is good for Mule deer hunting in Colorado, but it is doubtful you will see a local white-tailed deer at 200 yards in this country. Most are taken inside 50 yards. When you zero for long range you will generally overshoot all the close shots. Depending on the rifle, I zero from 50 to 100 yards, dead on.
- Hunters fail to learn about telescopic sights. Many people think having a scope on the gun makes them invincible. You can’t just attach one to a rifle and go hunting. It requires a good deal of tuning and range practice by the hunter, not the gunsmith, to get zeroed in.
- They actually think they can shoot through brush. A 30-06 bullet regardless of it’s weight can be deflected off course by a twig the size of a matchstick. Close in misses at standing game are many times blamed on the rifle when it is actually no more than a blade of high grass. You have to insure there are no obstructions before you take the shot.
- Mixing brands of ammunition. If you zero a rifle with a certain brand of factory ammunition with a certain bullet weight, stick with it. Using any other brand or weight bullet will cause the rifle to lose its zero. Close is not good enough.
.22 practice makes Aunt Sandy a shooter to be reconned with
- Cleaning or not cleaning the bore. A cold barrel shot from a modern rifle with a clean bore will very well be high or off zero. It is best to fire a fouling shot at the range and hunt with a fouled bore, this will not hurt the rifle at all. Those who have semi-auto rifles must keep the chamber clean. Muzzle-loaders, are the exact opposite, you must swab out the bore after each shot to insure precision accuracy with Black Powder or Pyrodex. Yes, you can shoot some modern inlines 50 times without cleaning it, but what they didn’t tell you is, you can’t hit anything if you do it that way.
- Setting the scope at high power. If you have a variable power scope on your rifle, lets say 3X9 power, keep the scope set at 3 power to allow for the widest field of view. 9 power is for the rare long shot and you should have time to twist the power ring. If you keep the scope on high power it will be very difficult to find the target in such a small viewpoint. Better take a clean rag with you to wipe off the moisture on the scope, they all fog up from time to time in high humidity.
- Shooting steeply down hill or from an elevated stand,can sometimes cause a high shot depending on the distance and angle. It deals with the law of gravity and bullet trajectory.
The TC muzzel loader is a great hunting tool, but it requires a lot of study to master
- Failure to judge distance properly. 100 yards or 100 steps, the length of a football field, I find that many hunters think that a mere 100 yards is about 300 yards. Consequently they aim high and miss. One good rule of thumb is, if you can see a deer’s eye without a scope, it is less than 100 yards. Close shots can be just as difficult as a long shot, if you know you are going to be within 50 yards you might consider a shotgun with buckshot in some cases.
- Too much gun or not enough. You need at least a 243 Winchester or a 30-30 to be adequate for deer hunting, and neither kick very hard. A 30-06 is the standard and may be the best. Any thing over a 7mm Remington magnum requires expert skill to control recoil, and the power is not needed for deer hunting. Too much kick can mean a lot of misses.
- Failure to educate yourself about your equipment. This strange taboo about reading in this area (Louisiana) is what keeps the Game Wardens in business (No body reads the game regulations). Why hunters can’t study a bit on the subject of their equipment is beyond my comprehension. A little study on the Internet, library, operator’s manual or a magazine rack will answer just about any question you have on this subject. If you don’t know what you’re doing and don’t practice you will, in fact miss a lot of deer.
It hurts to spend a lot of money on a fine deer rifle only to miss an easy shot. Technology in the hunting world doesn't mean you will be successful. Only a lot of good range practice will make a difference. Everybody misses a shot now and then, but if you're serious about putting some venison in the freezer, get out there and practice a bit. Pass it on.
If you liked this article check out our guns and ammunition section. We have loads of information for the hunter or marksman from ballistics articles to basic shooting information.