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GETTING READY TO SHOOT

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/09/2009 at 10:27
John Barsness View Drop Down
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his is the 9th in a series of monthly articles written for opticstalk.com by John Barsness, co-author of the on-line magazine Rifle Loony News (www.riflesandrecipes.com).

 

            Most of us don’t get to hunt as much as we’d like, primarily because the world is becoming increasingly urban, and hunting is a rural activity. Country people can often go hunting every day, even if just for an hour or two, but urban people often only get to hunt a week or two every year, usually while they’re on vacation.

            This has had several side-effects. Because we can’t actually go hunting very often, we can’t practice all its arts. It’s hard to learn to track, read sign, stalk, still-hunt, etc., when we’re a long ways from any semi-wild country. So instead we tend to obsess about equipment, whether the latest hunting clothes, binoculars or our rifle. Especially our rifle, because that’s the one thing we can practice with, at least every other Saturday when we make the trip to the nearest range.

            We also tend to cram all our hunting into a short period each year, usually traveling somewhere else. Often we even book a guided hunt somewhere, but even if we don’t our hunting is liable to be a lot more expensive than that of a rural hunter who drives 20 minutes to a good hunting spot after work. Even if urban hunters don’t book an outfitted hunt, they often buy plane tickets, rent cars and stay in motels. This means more money is riding on one or two shots.

            Now, hunting isn’t supposed to be all about the kill. Instead it’s supposed to be about spending time in the great outdoors, especially with friends and family. But if we don’t get something now and then we might as well be golfing, a much more predictable way to spend time (and money) in the outdoors, with no pressure to come back with physical proof that we actually played 18 holes. The result is that we really do want a successful hunt, instead of just talking about what a great time we had (as golfers often do).

            So we research the best rifles, bullets, scopes and other gadgets, and head to the range now and then, mostly shooting off a benchrest. As a result when we do actually get a chance to take a deer or elk or whatever, we’re mostly prepared to shoot a paper target at a range, not an actual animal in the great outdoors.

            I have done some guiding in my time, and also simply accompanied many urban hunters, due to the side-effects of my job. (I also get to hunt over half the days of the year, partly because of living in rural Montana.) Urban hunters encounter many difficulties when making the sudden transition from workplace to Out There, but one of the biggest is simply not being ready to shoot at game.

            One example is the typical whitetail hunter on a stand. This stand can be up a tree or in a ground blind, or even against an oak. But how many of us take the laser rangefinder out of our pocket and range some nearby stuff so that when a deer appears we can aim instead of range? Even when hunting from a stand the opportunity for a shot is often momentary, especially during the whitetail rut, when all the magazine articles and TV shows tell us we should be out hunting.

            A doe may run into a clearing, then stop to look back. The odds are she’s looking back for the buck that’s chasing her. This is what whitetail does do: play hard to get. The thing to do is aim at the doe, even if you don’t want to shoot her, because then you’ll be ready to shoot when the buck steps out. But does the average urban hunter do this? Not exactly. Instead he brings up the binocular he bought a month ago, after spending a Saturday afternoon comparing the tiny differences in a dozen binoculars at The Great Big Hunting Warehouse. When the buck steps out, also pausing for a moment (because in November he’s an optimist, and there might now be two does), our hunter drops his binocular and fumbles for his range-finder. By the time he gets his range-finder out both deer are gone.

            Don’t laugh. I’ve seen this sort of thing too often, even before most of us carried laser range-finders. One November morning I guided a pair of mule deer hunters along a ridge in some ponderosa pine breaks. By easing through the pines along the ridgetop we could look down into the open draws below the ridge, and each draw had the potential to hold mule deer. The hunters had already decided who would shoot first (a time-saver itself) so when I glassed the second draw and found a buck along the edge, I picked up my rangefinder and whispered, “It’s just about 200 yards, and that’s a good buck.”

            Instead of shooting, the guy who was supposed to go first stood glassing the deer. After maybe 10 seconds the deer wandered into the trees and disappeared. Only then did the guy turn to me and say, “You’re right, that was a good buck!”  

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/09/2009 at 10:57
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Good, sage advice!
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/09/2009 at 13:47
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Thanks for the great article, lots of info that will help me when I start hunting again....taking some notes.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/09/2009 at 19:08
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I've mentioned this before on this forum, but it bears repeating in light of the finer points you make in your article, John.
 A very accomplished Colorado elk hunter gave  me this advice; " When you're hunting (elk)you have to be ready to kill one every SECOND you are out here! They just don't give you a lot of time..."
 I've found that to be pretty useful advice for most of the big-game hunting I've done. Sometimes you have a little more time, but you'll be able to take advantage of that extra time only if you get the rifle on that critter RIGHT NOW!
 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/09/2009 at 20:05
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/10/2009 at 05:07
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It's also good to have bullets.  LOL!

http://www.opticstalk.com/forum_posts.asp?TID=6021&KW=hunting&PID=42383#42383

I can laugh about it now but then I could kick myself.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/10/2009 at 06:04
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Very good article and 100% correct John.
I cut my teeth on bushbuck off hounds. When we bring newcomers along they spend their first hunt saying all day long "What was that"!!! as the buck appeared for seconds before dissapearing back into the heavy stuff.
Shoot first, range afterwards, is my motto.
 
 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/10/2009 at 11:00
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8shots,
 
Hound hunting for bushbuck must be a blast! I have mostly hunted them like most people hunt whitetails here anymore: Sit and wait in a likely spot. The fun part has been that th ebucks that have shown up often need to be stalked, since they didn't come out close enough for a shot. Have done a little sneaking through the bush and that sometimes works as well.
 
The biggest bushbuck I have even seen, however, was in the thick stuff along the Limpopo. He stood maybe 75 yards away way longer than it would have taken to shoot him--and I had a 12-gauge with birdshot in my hands, because we were hunting francolin!
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/12/2009 at 02:27
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Hunting them off hounds is quite a thing. Calls for quick reflexes and even quiker shooting. We shoot with rifles, not shotguns. Iron sights are the best as a scope is to slow to pick up.
Sadly this method of hunting has been banned about 5 years ago.
The bush in the Eastern Cape and Natal is very thick, making walk and stalk impossible.
The only method left is to sit and wait for them to sun themselves, a rather unsporting method in my opnion.
The other sad part is that the local natives put snares in the bush. By pushing hounds through the bush a lot of snares were picked up. The hounds would stand and howl untill somehow released the snare.
Now this practise is left uncheked.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/12/2009 at 12:11
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     Very interesting. There are a few areas still left in the U.S. where deer can be hunte diewth hounds, and a number of places where bear, mountain lion and pigs can be hound-hunted, but using dogs on deer is defnitely fading away. This is at least partly because the area where it was most common (the South) is being broken up into smaller properties, and dogs don't recognize property lines.
     I have heard a lot about hunting bush-pig with dogs, especially in the Eastern Cape. That sounds like a heck of a hunt!
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/12/2009 at 12:29
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Good article John, I'll be the first to admit that I spend way to much time at the bench and not enough time in actual field positions.  I will focus more on this in the off season, the equipment I have is more than satisfactory for all my hunting needs, what I need to do is polish my hunting skills.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/12/2009 at 16:21
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One really good way to develop field-shooting skills is to hunt small game, whether varmints or edible.
 
I started hunting with a "rifle" when I was eight, going after big grassshoppers here in Montana with my Daisy Red Ryder--which I then use for trout bait, particularly if they were still wiggling. Graduated to a .22 when I was 12, a single-shot with really poor open sights, so bad that even a 12-year-old couldn't use them very well beyond about 20 yards, because the front bead was too big for the rear notch. But I learned how to get close!
 
I still like to hunt squirrels and, especially, cottontail rabbits, and going after foxes and coyotes in the winter is also really great practice. Then again, I live in small town in Montana where it's easy to get out and do all that--plus shoot ground squirrels and prairie dogs in the summer.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/12/2009 at 16:47
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Great to be close to the great wide open isn't it John? I live in a little town, but am 8 minutes away from a large hilly pasture that mimics my mule deer hunting ground. This has become my shooting range. Many of my shots out there take place in hunting conditions. Now I feel bad for the people who live in cities.Sad
 
Great article John.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/12/2009 at 18:09
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Great article, John. I'm fortunate that even though I live in a large city (by Montana standards) I am close to some decent shooting and hunting areas. This morning, in a snow storm,  I dropped off two of the kids and drove too fast down the Interstate to a turn-off that led to a spot about 5 miles in I've never hunted for a 3-hour whirlwind hunt. It didn't produce a shot, but a few minutes after my turn-around time arrived I came across the tracks of four cows. That kind of pursuit is usually futile but I did it anyway and had the best time hunting I've ever had. It was just fun and invigorating and I was ready to shoot the whole time.

When I go to FS land to target shoot I will use a bipod but fire just as many shots offhand or kneeling (my favorite). I also literally run around with a .22 and aim at the target from all kinds of vantage points. It isn't as good as having something moving, but it simulates the irregularity of field shooting and the adrenalin often experienced by hunters that drives your heart rate up. I still have much to learn about hunting and so far this season haven't gotten that elk yet. I plain missed a shot at 75 yards after running up a hill to intercept a cow. My two kills this year were both off the bipod - an antelope @ 200 some yards that I didn't bother ranging (and I was also prone after a bullet flew 10-20 feet over my head) and a mule deer doe @ 330, which I first guess-timated through my mil-dot reticle (and came up 30 yards short), then ranged with the laser and dialed in. On that shot, the herd of six were all staring at me, but I was able to take two minutes to set up the shot and place it right behind the front legs.

I envy John a little bit because I can't even get two weeks a year of full-on hunting, but you have to count your blessings. At least I get out some and have some good places to go.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/13/2009 at 02:11
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Originally posted by John Barsness John Barsness wrote:

    
     I have heard a lot about hunting bush-pig with dogs, especially in the Eastern Cape. That sounds like a heck of a hunt!
 
John, then you may find this interesting/funny!
 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/13/2009 at 13:52
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good article..
your right... I was fortunate enough to grow up in a small town where as kids we would go out with a 22 or shotgun almost daily

it's obvious that with my oldest son who is 12 and while he has killed 3 deer and a hog, as 99& of his shooting is done at the range, he struggles with being able to get on game quickly because we live in the city and he doesn't have the ability to go shoot 500 rounds a day of .22 like we did..

If hunting from a new  blind, the first thing I do is to range find a few key items to get a lay of the land..  then away it goes
if out stalk hunting it stays in the pack

good read, thanks
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/13/2009 at 17:09
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Originally posted by John Barsness John Barsness wrote:

 
I started hunting with a "rifle" when I was eight, going after big grassshoppers here in Montana with my Daisy Red Ryder--which I then use for trout bait, particularly if they were still wiggling.
 
I probably would have just shot the trout directly.
  (Eliminate the grasshopper "middleman"...)
 My Dad knew a guy who used to stand on the highway bridge and shoot trout in the Black Earth Creek, ( now one of Wisconsin's premier and world-renowned trout streams), with a 30-06.
 Smack dab in the middle of the village of Cross Plains!
 
 I doubt that would go over very well these days.


Edited by RONK - November/13/2009 at 17:10
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/14/2009 at 09:22
John Barsness View Drop Down
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I have, ah, ecountered a few trout shooters in my time as well. One guy particularly liekd to do it in a side-channel of the Bitterrot River behind his house outside of Missoula, Montana, when a good hatch got the trout coming to the surface. He found it a particular challenge to head-shot them when they came up to take a floating bug.

8shots, that is a hysterical story! I was semi-invited to go on a bush pig hunt once, but all the guys who did it were at the oldest in their early 30's, and I was already in my 50's. Even though I try to stay in good shape, I knew I couldn't keep up with them! (Plus, I was still looking for one of those darned Cape kudu....)
 
To several others,
 
One of the big reasons hunters are slightly declining in numbers in the U.S. is that we are becoming an increasingly urban country. This not only keeps kids from relatively easy access to hunting (and hence shooting, though that doesn't seem to be a problem in some inner cities), but it disconnects us more from the reality of where food comes from. I know quite a few urban people that are not only puzzled (if not anti) about hunting, but don't have a clue where wheat and corn are grown! Or even that they ARE grown.
 
Of course, that's happening in other parts of the world as well. We tend to think of California as a crowded place, but Germany is slightly smaller than Montana (which is smaller than California) with almost 100 times as many people. Which is why less than 1/2 of 1% of Germans hunt, and the ones that do tend to be well-off. Norway, on the other hand, is also about the same size as Montana and Germany, but has less han 5 million people--and hunting and shooting are still very popular there.
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