Some hunters do stupid stuff. Partly because they watch too many folks acting like hunters on TV, and partly because there’s no hunting school to go to. I think it’s also somewhat because gun and outdoor writers continue to repeat the stupid stuff they’ve read by other writers who’ve done the same thing. Just because you and everyone else has heard something so many times does not mean its good advice. Sometimes writers write—and people repeat and believe—stupid things. Here are five stupid things deer hunters need to stop doing.
Stop Neck Shooting Deer Granddaddy said you should neck shoot deer because it puts them down quick and damages less, good meat. Well, your granddaddy was half right and half wrong. Neck shots only put deer down quick if you hit the spine. Most hunters don’t know where the spine is in a deer’s neck, and even fewer can hit it. Aim one-third the way up the body, straight above the leg. You’ll get your deer and only lose about one serving of venison. That’s better than a bad neck shot that loses all of your venison and all your antlers.
No More Magnums A .30-30 Winchester will kill any deer, in any state, as good as any other cartridge. For that matter so will a .223 Rem. The only thing extra a magnum gives you is further reach, a sore shoulder and a bad flinch. Out to distances most hunters can actually hit a deer—in the right spot—magnum cartridges are just loud excuses for demonstrating your masculinity, for buying expensive ammunition, and for taking more Excedrin.
Burn Your Shooting Bench What worldly purpose does a shooting bench serve unless you’re sighting in your rifle or testing ammunition? None. For that matter, you can sight in your rifle from the prone position and maybe you should. If you think practicing rifle shooting has anything to do with a shooting bench, you might also believe penicillin will cure cancer. Little groups don’t matter—if a one-hole group is your goal just shoot one shot. Being able to hit a deer in the kill zone, under field conditions, matters most. Practice in situations, and from positions you’ll likely shoot from while hunting.
Fix Your Darn Trigger The single most important interface between a hunter and rifle is the trigger. If your trigger does not break crisply and without creep, start practicing your rock throwing, it might be the best chance you have to hit your buck. There’s no excuse for a rifle with a bad trigger so stop hunting with one. And here’s the thing, if you only shoot from a shooting bench, you might not know how bad your trigger really is. Gunsmiths can fix triggers that suck for less than $200. With some help from Timney you can fix your own trigger for even less.
3 to 9 is Just Fine It seems nowadays everyone wants to play sniper; they want a riflescope with enough magnification to read the New York Times at 100 yards. You don’t need that much magnification on a deer rifle and it can even be detrimental to your shooting. Magnification magnifies your wobbles. (You may not know your wobbling because you’re shaking so bad from buck fever or too much coffee.) Stop hunting with big honking scopes. A three to nine riflescope can make any deer you shoot at, out to 300 yards, appear as though it’s no further than 30. If a 30-yard shot is too far, maybe you need to get your protein at the grocery store.