Deer gun season is in the sights in Ohio

Don't be "sighting in" on deer this hunting season. Instead, get those firearms sighted in now.

In just a couple of weeks or so, depending on when you read this, you will be slipping into a gray-dark, pre-dawn morning afield with slug-gun, rifle, muzzleloader, or heavy revolver in hand for Ohio’s deer gun week.

Deer will be on your mind, with the hope that one of them soon will be in your sights.

The sights, yes, the sights. Have you checked them? If you use a scope, are the rings securely cinched on the bases? Are the ring screws tight around the scope? Are the crosshairs correctly perpendicular? Or if you use iron sights, open-notch or peep, are they secure, in good condition?

That checked, are the sights on-target – that is, zeroed in for the correct ranges for expected shots?

I just finished another stint as rangemaster at my club’s annual charity sight-in days, and I have seen it all – or close to it – in terms of sight-maintenance, or lack thereof, and zeroing, or lack thereof.

My point is: Now is the time to take time to sight in your field piece of choice. Do not wait till the Sunday afternoon before opener, whacking away at a paper plate, off-hand, at 20 paces, saying, “That’s close enough.” It is not close enough – not by a long shot.

Here in Ohio, 100 yards most often is a long shot. A 50-yard or 100-yard zero is perfectly acceptable, at least for the legal rifle cartridges, muzzleloaders, and slug-guns. Legal handguns are another matter, highly dependent of a given shooter’s capabilities.

At my club’s recent sight-in days, an avid, capable handgunner – and veteran deer hunter – asked me if I would like to shoot his red-dot-equipped, single-action, .45 Long Colt, handloaded with 250-grain bullets. We were on the 50-yard range. I squeezed off half-a-cylinder’s worth of slugs and produced a nice triangle of hits that would cover an area smaller than a tea saucer. Plenty good for killing a deer at 50 yards. One hundred yards? Maybe not so much. But I was impressed with the revolver and its capabilities.

I also was impressed with the gunner’s routine and attention to detail. No wonder he kills deer with a handgun. Yet, at the deer-processing station, all too many times I have seen deer carcasses, awaiting check-in, all Swiss-cheesed with random slug-holes. That is not responsible marksmanship; it is slobbery, and an embarrassment to our kind.

I remain flummoxed over the reluctance of so many hunters to annually check-sight their chosen hunting firearms. There is no excuse for it. Not if you are an ethical, responsible hunter.

So if you have not done so, sight in next chance. “Sighting in” on a deer is not acceptable.

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