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Avoid the Half Moon Club (Scope Cuts)
By Tim H. Martin

Avoid the Half Moon Club (Scope Cuts)

Have you ever noticed how many hunters — even famous ones — have a little scar on one eyebrow or across the bridge of the nose? That's the telltale sign they've been cut by a riflescope.

Whether you call it a scope ding, joining the Half Moon Club or, as they say in South Africa, a Bushveld tattoo, scope cuts are avoidable if hunters learn two easy-to-forget things.

1. Brace that Butt!

The majority of scope cuts occur when the hunter fails to brace the firearm's buttplate firmly against the shoulder. Usually, this occurs in stands that have shooting rails.

Because the rail does much of the work in propping the gun, it's easy for a hunter to be complacent about shoulder bracing, especially in the heat of the moment when a deer appears.

When my 10-year-old daughter shot her first deer, it stood only ten yards in front of the shooting rail, requiring a steep, downward angled shot.  To compensate, she'd lifted the butt of the rifle high on her shoulder instead of standing, but I was so intently focused on the deer, I failed to notice the .243 wasn't against her shoulder.

Even with light recoil, the rifle's jolt had little to absorb it, and my little girl paid the price with a bruise on the nose. I paid the price later when my wife saw the cut.

2. Square Your Face

Another major contributor in scope cuts is the angle of the face in relation to the scope.

Because not every shot occurs directly in front of the hunter, there are times we have to lean to one side or another to make the shot. This can cause the face to lose its square alignment with the scope; therefore, one corner of the scope is much closer to the face than usual. I accidentally became a member of the Half Moon Club this way.

While deer hunting from a shooting house in South Texas, a bobcat appeared in a sendero (road-like clearing) to my far left. This shot required me to quickly re-set up in the far left shooting window and lean awkwardly across an empty chair.

I whistled to stop the bobcat in the clearing and wasted no time firing my .300 Win Mag. The cat and I hit the ground about the same time.

Had I taken a half-second longer to consciously square my face, it would have saved me a bloody nose, a two-day headache and a scar.

Other factors such as improper scope relief and heaviness of caliber play a part in scope cuts, but if you'll remember to brace your firearm's buttplate solidly against your shoulder and square your face to the scope in awkward shooting situations, you'll enjoy a long career without that popular little scar.


Rubbing It In
Many hunters believe rubs to be the most reliable form of buck sign. Some believe that the bigger the rub the bigger the buck. To an extent, both are true. The big advantage of rubs is that they’re less likely to be made randomly than scrapes. Rubs ...
 

The Secondary Rut
 If you don’t tag out during the primary rut, you have a second chance. The secondary rut occurs about 28 days after the primary rut is over. Any adult doe not successfully bred during the primary rut will come into heat again on the 28th day of...
 

Hunting The Pre-Rut
Keep your eyes open for the first signs of the rut, because the pre-rut is one of the best times to bag a buck. The first rubs signal that bucks are getting interested but are not yet quite all the way "there." At that period, buck grunts work well,...
 

Sorting Out the Sign
So what’s hot — rubs, scrapes, trails, bedding areas or feeding areas? Actually, they all are. An area containing all these things indicates a high amount of deer activity. However, don’t bet the farm on any one of them. Split the difference. Hunti...
 

Population-Control Hunts
With the whitetail deer population exploding nationwide and with the whitetail’s particular ability to live close to human habitation, the public perception of "Bambi" is changing. Ask any non-hunting suburbanite who has had a few thousand dollars of...
 

Venison Care
Clean, cool and quick are the watchwords of good venison care. A clean shot, clean field-dressing and quick cooling of the carcass are the key steps to good-tasting venison. Immediate field dressing is best, as this starts the all-important cooling p...
 

Cutting To The Core
Sometimes even the best plans don’t work out. Usually this is when the season is winding down time is running out. Under those circumstances, you might have to break the rules and hunt a buck’s core area. It’s a risky maneuver, and just one tiny mist...
 

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Don’t think a mature buck is dumb, even during the heat of the rut. He might move more than usual; he may move more in daylight than usual; and he will certainly venture into unfamiliar territory while chasing does. This goes against his native cauti...
 

Rubs for Results
While there’s much debate on the subject, rubs can be a reliable form of buck sign. Bucks use (some) rubs to define their territory. Glands in the buck’s forehead produce an oily substance that contains a scent peculiar to that buck — a signature sce...
 

Bucks and the Acorn Connection
Oak trees of some species are found throughout the range of white-tailed deer. That’s good, because deer love acorns. However, they love some acorns more than others. White oak acorns are preferred because they have less tannic acid than red oak aco...
 
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