When mounting a scope on a gun, it's recommended you boresight it,
or align the crosshairs with the barrel, before attempting to sight it in. This saves both
time and ammo! Here's a method which works on most bolt-action rifles & handguns.
if the gun is loaded; if so, unload it.
the scope on the gun if it's not already mounted. Make sure the scope and
mounts do not
interfere with the operation of the gun (by conflicting with the throw of the bolt
handle, for example).
the bolt from the gun. This is usually very easy and only requires holding
the trigger back or engaging another type of release while pulling back on the bolt.
the gun on a solid rest of some type that won't mar its finish. On cushions on
the hood of your truck, across the back of a sofa, or in a solid shooting rest are all
choices that will work.
looking through the bore (barrel), carefully align the barrel with an easily
identifiable distant object. It can be as close as 40 feet, or as far away as you like.
the gun, take a look through the scope and note how far, and in which
direction(s), the crosshairs are from the object in the previous step.
the crosshair adjustment screws on the scope, adjust it (see Tip 2 below).
through the bore again. If the gun has moved, re-align the bore with the
the scope again and re-adjust as needed.
Repeat steps 8 and 9 until the bore and scope point at the same spot.
After boresighting, head to the shooting range to sight it in and start shooting at
close range (I recommend starting at 25 yards, no farther than 50 yards).
Congratulate yourself on a job well done and a saving of ammunition and range time!
Always keep guns
pointed in a safe direction.
When adjusting a scope in this manner, you must go the opposite
direction stated on the scope. Example: The bore is aligned with a target, but the
crosshairs are right of it. You must turn the windage adjustment screw "right"
to correct this.
Similar results can be had for guns other than bolt-actions through the
use of a boresighting tool. These are expensive to buy, but most gun shops own one and
will boresight your gun for a small fee.
Although it's a sad state of affairs when one has to defend something as basic and
wholesome as hunting, from time to time the need will arise. Here's how to best present
our side of the story.
Be sincere. If you don't act like you believe what you're saying, why should anyone
else? Put your heart into it, the same way you do when you're hunting.
Be polite. I can't stress this enough, especially in forums and all public places. If
you let one blowhard get to you and you lose your cool, you've just slammed the door in
the face of any others who might have been reading/listening.
Let your love for animals show. One thing that non-hunters always have a hard time with
is that hunters actually love the game we pursue. Tell them about the time you've spent in
a tree stand watching fawns play, etc.
Keep it simple. Remember, although you might have grown up around hunting and/or guns,
the folks you're talking to probably did not. You're usually starting from scratch when
you start explaining that hunters do a whole lot more than kill.
Be ready to answer their comebacks. Many non-hunters have been spoon-fed lies about
hunting for years. For example, many believe that "trophy hunters" do not use
the meat from their kills, which is untrue. Set the record straight.
Never concede on an important point. Some things can be agreed with without compromising
our position, others cannot. Yes, hunting is barbaric and sometimes brutal. No, hunting is
not wrong, and is not murder.
Tell them what hunters have done for wildlife. Within the past 100 years, wildlife
populations have increased across the USA. This is largely due to hunters footing the bill
via Pittman-Robertson and other hunting funds.
Don't talk down to them. So they haven't ever sat in the chill of dawn awaiting a flock
of ducks or a big buck... that's no reason to belittle anyone. Ignorance is usually
defensible, but arrogance rarely is.
Be positive. Wear a smile; folks will almost always be more willing to listen to what
you have to say.
Know when to quit. Sometimes you'll find you're dealing with tightly closed minds that
can't or won't concede that they could be wrong. In that case, you're sometimes better off
agreeing to disagree.
Don't pick fights. If you see or hear someone defaming hunting and/or hunters, then by
all means, jump in and set them straight. But don't go starting a debate for its own sake;
it's always harder to reach people when they're on the defensive.
Take your time. You don't have to immediately convince anyone that hunting is wonderful.
Your goal is to demonstrate that it isn't wrong, and to plant a seed of respect for
hunters and hunting.
Don't discuss killing any more than necessary. Lots of folks are super-sensitive when it
comes to killing animals, and they don't want to hear much about it. Right or wrong,
you're ahead if you can learn to respect their wishes
As hunters, we are rightfully expected to do so in a responsible way. Here's how to
make sure you don't hurt hunting by setting a poor example.
Use care and common sense with guns. Don't wave your gun around, point it at anyone or
prop your chin on the upturned muzzle. Don't shoot at any target without a safe backstop.
Don't take wild shots at game.
Follow up on all shots, even if you think you missed. If you cared enough to fire a
shot, you'd better be prepared to track and retrieve the game.
Don't flaunt your kill. Sometimes it makes more sense to transport game in view of
others, and sometimes it doesn't. Use good judgment, because your decision could
negatively affect how non-hunters view hunting.
Respect other hunters. We'd all love to have the woods all to ourselves, but that's not
possible for most of us. If you find you've set up next to another hunter or walked into
an area he's hunting, the thing to do is leave quietly.
Keep the woods clean. This can't be stressed enough, although I shouldn't have to
mention it at all. Leave any hunting or camping area cleaner than it was when you arrived.
Carry out all of your trash and any other you may find.
Be respectful of non-hunters in the woods. I know it's tough to be patient when a group
of idiots on mountain bikes barrel past your stand in the middle of deer season, but
there's no sense in acting like a jerk about it.
Respect the belongings of others. Most hunters won't mind finding someone sitting in
their stand, as long as it hasn't been abused. Leave cushions, straps, ropes, etc, alone
and don't leave a mess. Should you find hunting gear, leave it.
Show your respect for animals by taking only the best shots. It the game can't be hit in
such a way as to put it down immediately, then you shouldn't take the shot. Quick, clean
kills are the kind to strive for.
Know the law where you hunt. There is no reason to go hunting without knowing what's
legal and what's not. Take a little time to learn before you hit the woods.
Obey rules and regulations. If the regs tell you not to drive objects into trees, don't
drive nails or screws into trees! Whether it makes sense to you or not, obey the rules.
If you should run into non-hunters while hunting, politely tell them that there are
hunters out there and ask them to hike/bike/ride their horses some other time or place.
Tell them that hunters pay for most public areas, not general taxes.
There's absolutely no reason to let your deer go to waste. Here are some pointers on
keeping your venison fresh until it can be processed.
Place a layer of ice in a cooler (a forty-eight-quart cooler will hold a deer of up to
140 pounds or so, live weight).
After dressing and skinning your deer, quarter it (see Tips for more on quartering).
Immediately after removing each portion, bag it (kitchen garbage bags work great for
this) and place it in a cooler over the initial layer of ice.
Place a layer of ice, then more meat, until you're done.
If you'll be camping for several days before butchering or processing the meat, check
the ice and replenish as necessary.
When quartering, separate each leg, the
neck, and the ribs from the spine. Then trim out the backstraps and tenderloins from the
spine. On many deer, this leaves nothing useful on the spine, which can then be discarded.
Place larger portions in one bag; smaller portions may share a bag.
Keep the drain plug on your cooler(s) open. This allows melted ice to drain, preventing
it from damaging the meat.
Removing surface rust from a gun without damaging the finish can be tricky if you don't
know how, but there's really nothing to it. Keeping your gun free of rust helps preserve
your gun's beauty and value.
Find some light oil, fine steel wool, and a suitable work surface that won't scratch up
Check if the gun is loaded; if so, unload it.
Apply some oil on and around any rust spots.
Making sure to keep oil present at all times (add some if you need to), gently rub
rusty area with steel wool.
Wipe with an old rag or paper towel occasionally to remove rusty oil and to inspect the
Repeat as necessary until no rust is left.
Apply a light, even coat of oil to all steel surfaces.
Always keep guns pointed in a safe
Never use abrasives, like sandpaper or emery cloth, on your gun.
After removing rust, keep that spot oiled and keep your eye on it. It will often be the
first spot to rust in the future.
Accurate shooting is not only a necessary skill for hunting, it makes target shooting a
lot more fun!
Know your guns. Learn how they work, what ammo they shoot best, how to maintain them,
When you're getting ready to fire, hold your breath. Either take a deep breath and let
about half of it out, or just take half a breath and hold it. This will reduce wobbling on
Squeeze the trigger. Don't pull it or jerk it.
If you flinch, learn to control this. That gun you're shooting isn't going to hurt you;
you're on the safe end. The quicker you convince yourself of this, the sooner your
accuracy will increase.
Be surprised at the shot. Properly fired, a rifle or handgun should surprise you when
it discharges. Obviously you know the gun's going to fire, but the exact instant when it
does should not be anticipated, since this leads to flinching.
Use a solid rest. Accuracy will usually increase dramatically as you learn to shoot
with a rest.
Use a sling. If no rest is available, a sling is a fine shooting aid. Wrap it around
your left arm (for right-handed shooters) to pull the gun into your shoulder. Even
grabbing the sling near the forend and pulling it to the shoulder helps.
Take care of your guns. All guns need love and proper care, so learn how to clean and
maintain your guns, and do it! (OK, maybe they don't need love... but they like it!)
keep guns pointed in a safe direction.
As a beginner, ignore teasing or ribbing from others about your shooting. As long as
you continue to improve your shooting skills, you should be happy. After all, those other
guys used to be beginners, too.
When the day comes when you can pick up your buddy's gun and outshoot him with it,
don't gloat too much.
This most basic of shooting skills is also one of the easiest, once you know how.
Here's how to get on target without burning up a pile of ammo.
Check your gun to make sure it's in good, safe working order.
Make sure the ammunition you have is the correct cartridge for your gun. Use only the
ammo your gun is marked for!
Find a safe place to shoot, such as a public shooting range or other location with a
sufficient backstop and a guarantee that no one will cross your line of fire.
If you plan to do your shooting on private land, get permission. If on public land,
check the laws governing it. Trespass with a firearm is a felony!
Start out at close range; around 25 yards for a rifle, 15 yards with a handgun.
Use a solid rest, and take your time. Before each shot, take a deep breath, let half of
it out, then hold it.
Fire two or three shots and note their location on the target. If they are fairly close
together, you're ready to adjust your sights. If they're not, then you're probably not
resting steadily or are flinching.
Once you've shot a reasonably tight group (one or two inches with a rifle, two or three
inches with a handgun), adjust your sights.
Move the rear sight in the direction you want the bullet to go. For example, if you're
shooting low, raise the rear sight. If you're shooting left, move the rear sight to the
If you're using a scope, adjust the crosshairs in the direction indicated on the scope.
If you're shooting low and left, turn the screws "up" and "right" the
respective number of clicks (see tip 2 below).
Shoot another group of two or three.
Re-adjust your sights.
Repeat steps 11 & 12 until you're on target. For rifle shooting, you'll want to
fine-tune the sights, usually at a distance of 100 yards. The point of impact will
sometimes be noticeably different between 25 and 100 yards.
Always keep guns pointed in a safe direction.
With a scope, the per-click graduation will usually be marked, i.e. 1/4" per click
at 100 yards. Remember this will make it 1/8" at 50 yards, etc. Estimate the distance
you're off and adjust accordingly.
Some "fixed" sights can be adjusted. If the rear sight is in a dovetail
notch, you can drift it to correct for windage error. Do not hit it with a hammer! Use a
brass drift and hammer, or if in doubt, have it done for you in a gun shop.
An alarming number of hunters fall from tree stands each season. Here's how to stay
safe while hunting from above.
Never use a stand if you doubt its safety. Whether or not it's sturdy isn't the only
question; if you doubt it, you'll be nervous and unlikely to enjoy yourself.
Use extreme care. It's your life, be careful with it! Be more cautious than you think is
necessary, because redundancy can save lives (i.e. Using two chains instead of one on a
hang-on type stand).
Avoid leaning. Many self-climbing stands can flip to the side if weight is unevenly
distributed. Excessive leaning can also cause other types of stands to slip or fall, and
makes it easier for you to lose your balance.
Inspect any stand before using it. Whether it's yours or not, take a good look every
time you use a stand. Metal fatigue, wood rot, and poor construction can all cause a stand
Don't trust your life to fabric straps. Some models of hang-on stands use straps similar
to seat belt material to secure them to the tree. I advise you to back this up with a
sturdy chain before trusting them with your weight.
Replace s-hooks with "quick-links." These are chain links that screw shut upon
themselves, and they are much more trustworthy than s-hooks, which can straighten out and
dump you from a hang-on stand.
Don't go any higher than you're comfortable being. You're out there to enjoy yourself,
not to make yourself miserable. Ignore anyone who tells you otherwise; the biggest buck
I've ever seen was killed by a guy on a six-foot ladder stand.
Never climb, or use a stand on, a dead tree.
Take the time to get familiar with any stand before using it. Learn its strengths and
weaknesses and keep them in mind while using it.
When using a safety belt or harness, slide the end that's attached to the tree up until
there's almost no slack. This will make any fall shorter, and will help prevent injuries.
Just put one foot in front of the other, right? Actually, there's a bit more to it than
Slowly. Unless you're being pursued by a pack of rabid wolves or a similar threat,
there's no reason to get in a hurry. By moving slowly, you'll be safer and much less
likely to spook game.
Carefully. A credo my Dad taught me is, "Watch where you put your feet." This
has saved me more than once from stepping on a rattlesnake or into a hole. It also helps
you remain undetected by game if you're not stomping blindly on limbs & leaves.
Quietly. Unless you have to crash through some nasty brush to get where you're going,
you can usually remain fairly stealthy in the woods. By moving slowly and watching what
you're doing, you can cut way down on the noise you make.
Be aware of what's around you. Realize that around every bend could be a deer, or a mama
bear with cubs, or just about anything. There have been times when I've seen more game
while walking in than I did from my deer stand.
Pick up your feet. Foot-shuffling seems to be a symptom of youth; I see many young
hunters doing this. Hunters need to learn to pick their feet up and step over and around
obstacles, rather than kicking them out of the way.
Savor it. Why are you out there? To enjoy yourself. If you're not having fun,
something's wrong. Heck, call me masochistic, but I even savor the times I've been caught
in thunderstorms... well, I savor the memories, anyhow.
Watch where you're going. Make sure you know how to get back to your vehicle or camp!
Know when to turn back. Make sure you have a reasonable idea of how far and how long you
must walk to get back, and allow yourself time to do so. This is especially important on
afternoons in unfamiliar territory.
Always keep a compass in your pocket. A GPS is handy as well, but a compass is more
dependable and easier to use.
Wear comfortable shoes with ankle support. There's nothing like blisters or a bruised
or twisted ankle to make walking miserable.