It's crazy to think that hunting seasons will soon be opening! Now is the time to ensure you’re prepared. An easy way to do that is by putting in time at the range. Bring the gun or guns you intend to use this fall and take the time to shoot them both off the bench and on sticks.
Not only do I like to check things over to ensure my hunting rifles are still zeroed, it’s also a great time to see if anything needs to be updated or swapped out. I usually check everything from the rings on my scope to my sling to ensure nothing is rusted or loose.
This is also a great time to try out a variety of new ammo. Many hunters fall into the habit of shooting what they’ve always shot, but ammo manufacturers are constantly innovating and introducing new rounds that are made for specific applications. For example, I use the Winchester Deer Season XP, as it’s made specifically for taking down deer. It has a large polymer tip for rapid trauma and a better transfer of energy. What that means for you as a hunter are larger wound cavities and faster knockdown power. If you can take a buck straight off its feet, the tracking job is simple!
Another thing to consider is learning your effective range. This means being able to consistently shoot tight patterns in a variety of conditions, and understanding your own limitations along with the limitations of your equipment. Once this is determined, you need to apply this in the field. It doesn’t matter the size of the game or difficulty of the hunt; each hunter owes it to the animal to only take shots with which he or she is comfortable.
Lastly, remember that you will probably be wearing more clothes during the hunt, you may be winded from running or climbing, and not every hunting situation will allow you to get in your favorite shooting position. It’s important to determine your favorite and most accurate position, but also practice shooting from a variety of others.
I tend to take most shots from the sitting position, resting my arm on my knee along with tripod shooting sticks, but there are times that standing to see over the tall grass is necessary. I’ve also been on hunts with steep angles where shooting prone was the only option.
To better prepare yourself for the fall, the two most important things you can do are ensure you’ve practiced the various shooting positions, and know your maximum effective range.