You still have time to check-sight that favorite smokepole before opening morning of the Ohio “shotgun” season on Dec. 2. Do it. Today.
Nothing beats confidence when it comes to drawing down on your venison-in-waiting during deer gun-week, and nothing is more pathetic than lame excuses that blame the gun, not the triggerman – over misses, or worse, lost and wounded deer. I know I have sounded like a broken record on this subject over the years in this blog and my regular Ohio Outdoor News column, but it should be that important to an ethical hunter.
I may use any one of three firearms during “shotgun week” and I recently spent two unhurried range sessions checking each of them out. Even my old reliable 12-gauge slug gun, Porky Pig, was off a mite and needed a tweaking. It is one of those heavy bull-barreled single shot H&R pieces, a 10-gauge barrel-blank bored 12-gauge, and with its 1.75-4X Bushnell Trophy variable scope it shoots Hornady SST sabot loads like a rifle.
I never complain about the gun’s 9-pound heft because it has delivered the goods so often, year after year. At day’s end, even a 7-pound gun feels heavy. But this year Porky’s optics needed several clicks of alteration in both windage and elevation to put the loads consistently at a zero that makes it a reliable 200-yard shooter. Mind you, all of my shooting is done on a bench rest at mounted paper targets at measured distances. Eliminating as many variables as possible is the proper starting point for a gun in the hunt.
It took only six rounds for Ole Pork to shine again and I have no doubts about it come opening morn.
Next came First Blood. Its nickname is another story, but it is my old .54 Hawken Thompson/Center caplock, equipped with a tang peep sight and hooded target front sight – this because my old eyes won’t focus well with the inadequate original U-notch rear sight and open front bead.
It, like Porky, is usually consistent. But this Mountain Man’s Gun shot well low and a mite left this time around. The mating of wood and steel can change from year to year because of humidity or temprature in storage and you will not know, either, if a bump or bang, however inadvertent, may have changed point of impact since last shooting. It took seven or eight loadings to dial in the .54 front-end loader. I noticed a black-and-blue shoulder a couple of days later from bench shooting that traditional curved brass buttplate, thanks to 90 grains of loose 777 behind a 425-grain lead Hornady Great Plains Bullet, my long-time favorite. Should have padded my shoulder with the foam rectangles that I keep in my shooting supplies case just for this reason.
Lastly I brought out The Snake, my vintage six-inch Colt Python .357 Magnum. My old friend Lester Gallatin loaded up some 170-grain Speer handloads for me a while back and I have not yet used them all up. Thank goodness. They are superbly accurate loads.
If I am toting this smooth six-shooter in its familiar shoulder holster – that may come after Porky has spoken a time or two – I am confident I can deck a deer if the range is within 40 yards, but no further. I shoot The Snake a lot, up to 1,000 rounds a year, and understand what it will – and won’t – do. My son, Andy, a national shooting champion in his slightly younger years, has taken two deer with his own Snake, so I know what they will do in proper hands.
Well, I urge you to renew your acquaintance with your chosen deer-week arm – slug-gun, muzzleloader, or handgun, as defined legal by the Ohio Division of Wildlife. Be careful out there, be confident after your workout on the range, and good luck.