See that small opening about 90 yards in front of you?" the young guide asked. "Keep an eye on it because deer like to cross there, and sooner or later, one will show up."
The guide drove off, leaving me in a 12-foot ladder stand overlooking an obvious deer funnel. I looked around the stand for a shooting rail. There wasn't one. Nor was there any other apparent way to steady a rifle.
It was the first week of the 2005 Alabama deer season. I was holding a single-shot T/C Encore rifle chambered in .375 JDJ. It would be an offhand shot or nothing. Fortunately, I had come prepared.
I pulled from my daypack a thin nylon strap with loops on one end and a quick-release buckle on the other. I looped the buckle end around the foot-wide tree behind me and pulled the strap tight. Hooking the thumb of my non-shooting hand through one of the end loops, I settled down and waited for a deer to show.
Not one but three whitetails emerged from the scraggly vegetation 20 minutes later. As I lifted the rifle to my shoulder, I could feel the strap tightening around my thumb, steadying the gun. When the crosshairs settled on a small spot behind the deer's shoulder, I squeezed the trigger. I couldn't have made a better shot from the bench.
Using opposing forces to steady a rifle is an old sniper's trick, but instead of a strap, they employed a rope knotted or looped at about 6-inch intervals.
The product I used is no longer made, but a 10-foot section of quarter-inch rope works just as well. Tie one end around the tree truck behind your stand so the tag end is just long enough to reach the tip of your rifle's fore-end.
Form a loop at the end through which to hook your thumb. You might have to adjust the length of the rope so it tightens when raise the rifle in a natural shooting position. Experimenting ahead of time will help you set it up quickly. Keep the rope in your hunting pack so it's there when you need it.
-- By Larry Teague, Editor, Gunhunter Magazine
This tip ran as part of the Winter 2011 Issue of Gunhunter Magazine. To Subscribe to Gunhunter Magazine please click here.