Go ahead. Buy a new rifle. Mount a new scope. Try five different kinds of premium ammunition. You’ll still miss ... unless you practice.
Ho hum. Are you bored yet? Well, you won’t be bored when you miss your next mule deer at 350 yards or your next whitetail at 50. So don’t.
The most accurate and powerful rifle/scope/ammo combination in the world counts for nothing if you’re not skilled enough to take advantage of it. And darn few of us are skilled enough—unless we really, really practice.
Consider this your wake-up call, your threat and your promise: If you truly dedicate yourself to the right kind and amount of practice (including spending several hundred dollars in ammo costs), I promise you’ll save thousands of dollars over a lifetime of hunting.
More importantly, you’ll get your game. Priceless. No more wasted tags. No kicking yourself for missing the world-record elk at the edge of the woods at dusk from 387 yards. No regrets at passing that poke at a Booner mule deer because you couldn’t find a steady rest. Never again passing up a chance at a whitetail with just his neck showing through a gap in the trees at 156 yards.
Practice properly and you’ll be a modern-day Daniel Boone, a regular Deadeye Dick or Jane. Shoot, Dick, shoot. See Jane shoot. See Dick and Jane with their big deer!
OK, so what’s proper practice? Field shooting. Forget benches and sandbags. Remember bipods and tripods. Dedicate yourself to learning proper form for shooting prone, sitting, kneeling and even standing. Learn how to anticipate potential shooting positions in varied habitats so you don’t waste time looking when you should be firing.
This is the huge difference between a great range shot and an outstanding hunting shot. The hunter instinctively knows how and when to grab the steadiest shooting position possible in the shortest amount of time. She doesn’t waste time trying prone when there is tall grass or boulders in the area. He doesn’t stand wobbling in the breeze when he knows he has time to kneel and place his rifle on shooting sticks. She knows to put her back against a sagebrush, her forearm in a tripod yoke, and her elbows on her knees to get a bench-like steady shot to take out a pronghorn at 500 yards.
That’s effective field shooting, but just part of it. You also need to know your rifle/bullet and trajectory inside and out. When does the trigger break? How can you smoothly get the rifle off your shoulder and aimed at a target? What power is your scope set at? Which way does the dial turn to increase power vs. decrease power? How many clicks equals one MOA? How many clicks must you dial to be dead on at 425 yards? How far will your bullet drift in a quartering 15 mph breeze? What sub-reticle in your scope puts you dead-on at 350 yards?
Information. Knowledge. Experience. Skill. It all comes from practice, and lots of it ... in the field. Grass, rocks, hills, wind, varying distances. Find a place. Go there. Practice. Study. Learn. Enjoy feeling competent and confident.
The deer are going to hate you.