By Jason Pope
We all look forward to deer season throughout the year, yet generally don't spend near the time on the range that we should.
Some hunters prepare by sighting-in rifles shortly before the season begins. I've even heard of guys doing this the night before opening day, sighting-in by the headlights of a truck or ATV. This sighting-in session might even be the only practice they've had before sitting in the treestand.
What good does it do to anticipate deer season for months if we don't make the shot count when the moment of truth arrives?
The best advice I can give is to shoot your firearm year round and record the results. There are several solid reasons to do this.
For one thing, rifle barrel harmonics change with the weather. Things like temperature and humidity affect bullet performance, especially at longer ranges.
For instance, if you sight-in on a hot, muggy July afternoon, don't expect the point of impact to be the same when shooting at a buck standing 200 yards across a bean field on a frigid December morning. If you know what your rifle is doing, you won't need excuses.
Shooting year round will also build confidence. With only a few practice sessions throughout the year, you can become scary good. Confidence breeds success.
I also recommend using a set of high quality scope mounts. This often overlooked piece of equipment can ensure your scope will perform as the manufacturer intended. Don't cheap out on scope mounts.
If you decide to shoot year round, keep a notebook handy to record your shot placement on the targets. This will prove temperature and humidity alter bullet placement in different environments. This notebook will also give you insight as to how your favorite guns will perform year after year, and with different ammo.
It takes a little extra time and effort to do these things, but keeping data and shooting year round will make a huge difference in your overall hunting career.
Think of it as being the difference between having a taxidermy bill or getting your shirt tail cut in front of all your friends.