This summer, fishing takes a back seat to time on the rifle range

Paula put three of four shots into a six-inch square last week from 200 yards, and the lone miss wasn’t off by much. That kind of shooting easily puts her in the kill zone of a moose, although she wants to tighten things up even more before we head to The Rock.

It’s been a bit of an unusual spring and early summer for Paula and me, since we haven’t done much fishing, although I did make a western New York swing earlier this month for some bass and walleye action on Chautauqua Lake and Lake Erie. A cold front slowed fishing substantially, which isn’t surprising; I never seem to time it right when I head out there in search of a big smallie.

But even though the Susquehanna River, just a few hundred yards down the hill from our home, is looking great and would undoubtedly yield some smallmouths, Paula and I instead have been hitting the gun range at our local club.

We’re perfectly fine with that because there’s a good reason for passing up some evening bronzebacks. Paula is prepping for her Newfoundland moose hunt in September and has been busy extending her shooting range out to 200 yards. I’ve come along to mostly watch; she has a great instructor and doesn’t need me in her ear. But I’ve also lobbed a few shots from my .270 out to 200 yards, which is well beyond my comfort zone and typically not the kind of shot we need to execute during deer season.

The results have been mixed, and there have been days when Paula has been outshooting me. She put three of four shots into a six-inch square last week from 200 yards, and the lone miss wasn’t off by much. That kind of shooting easily puts her in the kill zone of a moose, although she wants to tighten things up even more before we head to The Rock.

Paula has also shot multiple clips from her .22 magnum at 100 yards, and while the trigger pull on that gun is a little different from her 7mm-08, her groups have been fine when we take that into account. Her shooting has advanced to the point where the club member who’s been working with her even asked, “What am I supposed to help you with?”

Our shooting sessions have been fun to this point, although we’ll likely fit in a trip to the Susquehanna once in a while. And there’s no question they will pay off, not only on the big moose hunt but during the New York and Pennsylvania deer seasons this fall.

We’re a little concerned, however, that our time on the rifle range is also taking us away from our weekly trap shooting, which we use in preparation for pheasant hunting with our souped-up Lab Finn in the fall. We can still play catchup ahead of the October season, and we’re hoping we can down enough birds to keep Finn progressing as an upland flushing machine.

So we’re not doing a lot of fishing, but we are out there doing something with a purpose. And we’re having plenty of fun along the way.

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