Any seasoned hunter will agree that preparation is everything.
As the final days of a long summer come to a close, we always seem to naturally anticipate the coming of deer season.
The taste of autumn winds becomes rich, yet the symptoms of buck fever debilitate us and can mess with our daily obligations.
Although the pure elation of opening day seems tangible, your most coveted months are useless without proper practice and preparation.
While there's a long checklist demanding our attention, cleaning up our shooting skills should be at the top every year.
Fortunately, we were able to collect some of our favorite range day drills while testing out Savage's new 110 Ultralite chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor. It's a heck of a deer gun, and we got to use it in several procedures that we know will help in the long run.
Shooting a Quarter-Sized Group From 100 Yards
Unless you're hunting big country with endless visibility, chances are you sight your rifles in for 100 yards like the rest of us. That's usually the sweet spot for deer hunting in the woods or brush in most parts of the country.
However, at 100 yards, you realistically should be on the money with every shot. At this range, you should be sure every time you pull the trigger that you're going to shoot the deer exactly where you want to hit it.
Hesitation is a hunter's kryptonite, especially when the perfect shot does present itself. So, go into the hunt feeling extra confident by dialing in those groups ahead of time.
Adjusting From a Different Range Than Your Zero
Let's say you did sight your rifle in for 100 yards. What are you going to do if the perfect shot shows up at 150? Are you just going to hope it gets closer?
No. The key is to be one with your rifle, knowing exactly how much to adjust for the difference in distance.
Start by shooting 50 yards farther than your zero, and then continue to move up, remembering how much you had to adjust for each.
There's nothing worse than spotting that big buck at a distance much different than your zero, but if you're prepared to adjust, it won't make a bit of difference.
Firing From a Not-So-Perfect Position
You aren't going to have a shooting bench and sand bags out in the field, so learn how to use your hunting gear now.
If you carry shooting sticks, bring them to the range. Try shooting prone if you're able to (although some public ranges won't allow it).
Try using your pack or your jacket as a rest and remember what felt the most comfortable when you have to improvise for a surprise deer.
Even if you're one who hunts out of the same box stand every weekend, these drills will only make you appreciate that shooting position even more. It will also give you confidence that should translate into a good hit, which is what all hunters should strive for.
Hitting a Group From 300 Yards
Shooting is kind of like running. Mental conditioning will expedite your physical performance if you push yourself enough.
If you run a mile every morning, running 3 miles sounds like a nightmare. But if you push yourself to run 3 miles for a week, running that single, daily mile will barely feel like a challenge.
If you can get to the point where you can shoot a tight group from 300 yards, that 100 yard shot you're hoping for will feel like a walk in the park.
Additionally, if you're cutting through an open field and happen to spot that trophy buck standing at 300 yards, you can take an ethical shot.
Cleaning Your Firearms as a Group
One of the worst things a hunter can do is neglect their firearms. For this reason, it's imperative we start the season with good habits.
Doing it as a group holds each of you accountable, but it also presents an opportunity to catch a step you've maybe been missing over the years, or vice versa. If you clean the together, they'll all be on the same schedule, so you won't have to try and keep track of separate timetables for separate guns.
Take care of the firearm you rely on to fill your freezer and it will reward you with success in the field season after season!