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- Category Hunting
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- Prostaff Member Dan Braman
This was my 23rd year guiding hunts and I am still amazed at how little people prepare for hunting situations. In preparing a to be a successful hunter one must look beyond just setting up sand bags and "squeezing" the trigger. The highlights of this preparation, in my opinion, are, safety, woodsman ship, and practical shooting.
Gun safety is above and beyond anything else. One accident with a firearm and the words," I'm sorry" just won't help. I can't remember the last person that stepped into my vehicle that I didn't have to remind to not have a round chambered. There is absolutely no reason for a bullet to be in the chamber while in the vehicle. Although the rifle may be on "safe" doesn't mean that it always will work. The muzzle should never EVER be pointed in any direction remotely close to anyone. I believe that 99% of gun accidents could have been avoided if people would stop being so overly at ease with what they have in their hand. Respect your firearm; you bought it to kill animals with, it will kill your friends equally as dead.
Another thing that blows my mind is that people never understand the importance of being quiet. I would estimate that I went on 50 - 75 deer stalks this year. 95% of those I was wondering why I had a heard of cattle walking behind me. I wonder, do people think just because they can't be seen that they can't be heard? Is it truly the case that one must tell almost every hunter to watch very carefully where you put your feet? Wouldn't it be common sense to duck under a hanging limb rather the bend it back so that it sounds like a covey of quail blowing out of a clump of grass, when you let it go?
Lastly, unless you are hunting sheep or prairie dogs it is rare that you have a three-point rest while on a bench or lying on your stomach with a backpack for a rest. Many times shooting sticks are used, most especially in situations where stalking is a predominant way to hunt.
I think in the beginning teaching your son/daughter to shoot from a bench is the only way to go. In doing this one can get their children familiar with firearms, work on gun safety, and teach the basic fundamentals to shooting. Things like eye relief on the scope, trigger squeeze, how to hold the rifle, etc. can all be established right there on the bench. Likewise, one can learn to load and unload, adjust their sights and more. The bench has many purposes and for those purposes it can't be beat. But...when it comes to practicing for an actual hunting scenario the bench simply doesn't get it done. One needs to practice on sticks, backpacks, your knees, and your elbow. You should practice for any given scenario. Once that is established you should begin speed work. There is absolutely no reason why you can't find your target in your scope, steady your rifle, and fire in a total of five seconds. I know that sounds fast but, if you take a moment and count, one one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand, four one thousand, five one thousand, it took much longer then you most likely thought. I can count off the top of my head 14 different occasions this season where I had my hunter on sticks with a broadside shot for 20 to 40 seconds and they just couldn't get ready. "I'm not steady, I can't find him in the scope", were two of the many comments I heard. Hunting wild whitetail deer that aren't confined to a high fence are not going to stand there and just let you get everything perfect. I believe that your time is well spent before hunting season practicing different ways to get on your target and different ways to increase your speed of shooting. It also is a good idea to have someone stand a distance from you in the outdoors. Have them turn there back and you sneak up to them without being heard. When practicing this don't do it in a well-manicured yards, do it in dry leaves or dry twigs with low hanging branches. Also, walk with someone and ask him or her if you are being quiet. Your feet on the ground sounds different to someone near then to your ears, directly above your feet. I will tell you it is impossible to move with total silence, but it is best to try and be as quiet as physically possible.
Hunting is obviously a sport that I love and I truly want each and every hunter to be as successful as they possibly can be. I think it is important that people practice for real life scenarios and don't always count on that easy perfect shot. Football coaches have their players practice with and without pads. Lets consider the "without pads" the bench. The players are going through the motions honing the basic fundamentals of whatever their jobs are. They are creating muscle memory. When they practice with pads they are creating a live game scenario in which this muscle memory comes into play. Practice is something everyone uses to perfect his or her game of choice. When it's game time practice is over and it's now time to react. Get your gun ready on the bench; get you ready off of the bench. Safety above all, increases your aim/fire speed, and learn to be quiet. Good Hunting!