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Category Archives: Black Bear Hunts

STAY CALM

If you’ve had any trouble in the past “keeping it together” when shooting at game,
right now is the time to find a cure.

bow-hunting-wawang-lake

Countless of hunters who practice shooting regularly, months before the season opens, and they still have trouble closing the deal when Mr. Big shows himself. Getting excited is fine — excitement is a big part of why we hunt — but there is a big difference between getting excited and falling apart. We owe it to ourselves to perform under pressure. Even more, we owe it to the game we hunt to stay calm enough to make good shots and clean kills.

Below are six steps that have helped hunters stay cool at the moment of truth.

  1. Practice, Practice, Practice Nearly all bow hunters practice their shooting, but many fail to practice properly. To many average bow hunters, practice means flinging 20 to 30 arrows once or twice a week. This is not considered practice. When preparing for a hunt, practice every possible shot sequence, just as if you were actually hunting. That means shoot a 3D target from every possible angle while wearing camouflage, and shoot from any position that might become a possibility during the hunt. You want to be prepared for all contingencies.

Also practice at distances considerably farther than you will shoot on animals. A typical whitetail shot is closer than 30 yards, but practice regularly to shoot out to 80 and even 100 yards. That kind of practice will leave you very confident for any shots closer than 40 yards.

Lack of confidence is the biggest reason some people get shaken at the shot. They just keep thinking they may not make that shot. There are two things to offer those who lack confidence. One, restrict shots to your comfortable shooting range. Two, practice enough different scenarios that when an animal steps into your shooting lane, you’ll have no doubts about making the shot because you’ve already done it dozens of times in practice.

  1. Run & Shoot Now that sounds kind of dangerous, but it’s not meant in a literal sense.  During practice sessions, sprint anywhere from 60 to 100 yards, then pick up your bow and try to put a kill shot on a 3D target. This simulates the adrenaline rush you get when shooting at game. Some people may think it sounds crazy, but, it builds confidence like no other drill. You don’t have to do this every time you practice, but do it often enough to build confidence in your ability to shoot accurately when your heart is racing — whether from running or from watching a buck walk within range.
  2. Flex Those Muscles! When you see a big buck coming down the trail and your heart rate skyrockets, tense every muscle in your body while holding your breath. Then, after five or six seconds, let your muscles relax, and exhale. Do this several times as needed.

This is especially helpful during frigid hunts, when your muscles are stiff and your circulation is poor. It helps improve blood flow, regulate body temperature, settle your heart rate, and relax your muscles, all of which will calm you down to make a good shot. This muscle-tensing tactic has will help keep your cool on numerous animals.

  1. Focus On The Sweet Spot Once you decide to shoot an animal, you have no need to look anywhere other than the hair, scale, or feather you want to hit. Keying in on that certain spot keeps you calm and focused.   Some people miss when they focus on the headgear because they are looking with their mind’s eye at a beautiful shoulder mount gracing the wall above the fireplace. Don’t worry about the headgear while the critter is alive. You will have years to stare at it — if you focus on the vitals before and during the shot.

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You tend to aim where you are looking. Look at those wide antlers coming your way, and you might put an arrow right through the center of them. Instead, concentrate on the vitals, and that’s where you’ll put your arrow.

  1. Close Your Eyes This isn’t always an option, but when it is, it works. The longer some people look at an animal they want to shoot, the more stage fright they develop. If that’s you, closing your eyes or looking up at the sky will allow you to clear your mind and reorganize your thoughts.

Some people can perform on a moment’s notice, but, others prefer to have some time to evaluate the situation and to analyze every move before actually making it.   If too much time transpires and the nerves start taking over, close your eyes to regain focus before the animal gets within bow range.

  1. The Inner Voices Although you might not have demons and angels on your shoulders taunting you one way or the other, you certainly have inner voices that control your mind when you’re face to face with your prey. Listen to the positive voices and let them build you up.   Feeding your mind with positive thoughts will weed out the negative ones that flow through the minds of so many bow hunters. Doubt is where many archers fail at crunch-time. To eliminate doubt, talk to yourself — positively.

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Pay Attention to Detail

Scent can be your biggest ally or your worst enemy

wawanglakebear
Black Bear are attracted to the aroma of a free meal, but if they catch a whiff of you, you can often kiss them good-bye for a day or two.   Keep your clothing and footwear as scent-free as possible. Be alert at all times while hunting your bait. You will most often see bear before you hear them. With padded feet they move with calculated precision. Remember, when they come into a bait station they know the treats were left by humans.

Shot Placement

Regardless of your choice of weapon, whether it is a gun or bow, learning when and where to shoot can mean the difference between an expedited kill, or, the outcome of tracking a wounded animal. We advise our hunters to wait until the bear is preoccupied with the bait and is facing away while standing broadside or quartering away. Bears are extremely tough, so a double lung or heart shot are always your best option therefore taking your time will be important.

wawangshotplacement

When archery hunting, bows must meet the following specifications.

Crossbows: Draw length must be at least (11.8 in.);

  • Draw weight must be at least (119 lbs.);
  • Bolt head must be at least (0.9 in.) at the widest point; and,
  • there must be at least two cutting edges of straight, sharp, un-serrated, barbless steel.

Re-curve Bow:    Draw weight must be at least (48.5 lbs.) at draw length of (27.6 in.) or less;

  • Arrow length must be at least (23.6 in.);
  • Broad head must be at least (0.9 in. at the widest point; and,
  • There must be at least two cutting edges of straight, sharp, un-serrated, barbless steel.

For bow hunting Black Bear we recommend a compound bow with a draw weight of no less than 50 pounds and a 100 grain broad head

Recommended Knowledge base
www.mnr.gov.on.ca/en/Business/FW/Publications/MNR E001275P.html

For rifle hunting black bear we recommend using nothing less than a .270 caliber.
Other recommended calibers: 7mm magnum; .308; .30-06.  NO 30-30’s

Firearm Information www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/cfp-pcaf/index.htm

The bottom line – baiting is a proven strategy for attracting a wary game animal with a voracious appetite. It involves much more than just tossing out a few tasty morsels. There is a right way and a wrong way to do it and our experienced guides take pride in their skills and knowledge. Keen attention to detail and listening to the guide is the key to your success.

In order to ensure the highest possible success to our hunters we take only an average 14 hunters a year. Should we have an increase in bear sighting throughout the spring and summer we may take a few more hunters but our first obligation is to ascertain a healthy black bear population together with satisfied hunters for years to come.

Most importantly, remember baiting is a ton of work and takes weeks on our part for each hunter. From collecting legal paper work to buying and picking up the ingredients, materials along with travelling for miles and then finally establishing and maintaining each site daily prior to your hunt. It requires foresight and commitment on our part and we do this because of our passion for the outdoors and careful management of our Black Bear.

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Bear Facts to Success

imagesS12UAEG6Simple Fact: The more effort you put into masking your scent, the bigger the Black Bears coming into your target zone will be.

All experienced Black Bear Outfitters have their little tricks to make their bear hunters hunt more enjoyable and also help with their success. If you are new to bear hunting you should know what you are up against. Every hunter wants a big trophy bear and this article should bring you a little closer to that goal, but remember, to thoroughly follow the advice of your outfitter, if you’ve chosen one, and, above all else:  DO NOT DEVIATE from the routine they have already established.

Black Bear hunting to the outfitter is about luring bears to a target zone for their hunting guests by baiting with food the bears like such as high-carbohydrate foods. Bread, pasta and other high starch content foods are rare in nature but it’s what the bears want most so they can quickly store fat for the winter. It’s also about setting up stands at strategic spots where big bears have been scouted. Black Bear hunting for the hunter is all about stealth, with the two biggest factors being sound and most of all, smell.

Black Bear’s Sense of Smell: Olfactory Receptors

imagesN9DAOG1VThe Black Bear has the best sense on smell of any land walking mammal on Earth. It’s really hard for a human to comprehend how well a bear can smell as we basically have to stick our nose in the pot to smell the sauce. Comparing the amount of Olfactory Receptors between a human and a Black Bear is mind boggling.

Olfactory Receptors are microscopic bulbs on the end of nerves in a mammal’s nose. The more you have the better your sense of smell is.

  • Humans:
    6,000,000 Olfactory Receptors (6 million)
  • Blood Hounds:
    1,800,000,000 Olfactory Receptors (1.8 billion)
  • Black Bear:
    12,600,000,000,000 Olfactory Receptors (12.6 Trillion)

A Black Bear can smell 2100 times better than a human. In addition the Jacobson’s organ in their mouth can taste the air, adding to their brains perception. A mature Black Bear can smell your breakfast from 20 miles away if the wind is right. Big mature bears can smell better than smaller younger bears as their noses are larger and more developed. Bears also know what unnatural smells are and associate them with a human presence. This can explain why Black Bear hunters that are not fanatical about the way they smell rarely see big trophy bears. There are procedures you can do to minimize unnatural smells to keep the bears concentrating on the bait that the outfitter has put out for them.  It is wise to check with your outfitter before applying anything new to the bait station that they normally don’t use.

1) Before your bear hunting trip; pick a couple of sets of clothes that you will only wear at the tree stand while hunting. Wash your clothes with scent-free detergent and when done, run them though the wash twice again with no detergent so they are well rinsed. This will ensure your clothes are scent free. If you live in the city and have chlorinated city water then go to a pet store and buy a small bottle of Aquarium Water Conditioner and add ½ oz. to the last rinse cycle you do with your clothes. The water conditioner will neutralize the chlorine in the water and keep the chlorine smell out of your clothes. Remember, they can smell 2100 times better than you so don’t feel silly getting fanatical. Then pack the clothes in a plastic bag to keep them scent free. If you consistently use fabric softener in your clothes dryer it’s best to hang your clothes up to dry because residual clothes softener might go on your clothes. If you are a smoker, do not smoke while wearing your hunting clothes.

Before we go to the next points you should be aware that Black Bears love the smell of mint. If you go on a camping trip in any of Ontario’s provincial parks the wardens will tell you not to keep mint toothpaste or mint gum in your tent because the bears will smell it and go after it. The bears craving for mint can be used to your advantage.

2) Think Mint: Go to one of those hippy tree-hugger heath stores and buy mint soap. The morning before the hunt take a shower using the mint soap. Brush your teeth with mint toothpaste. Chew mint gum while in the tree stand and if you really want to go all the way, have a glass of mint tea before the hunt and even keep a few bags of mint tea in your pockets. This will help cover up any scent.

3) Smoking: If you are a smoker and you smoke in the tree stand you are basically wasting your time if you expect a big trophy bear to come within sight. Wind direction can give you a little luck but it’s not something you should count on. It’s best to wear a nicotine patch while in the tree stand and if you need to; chew mint gum to keep your mind off smoking. Remember to brush your teeth and wash your hands and stop smoking before you put your scent free hunting clothes on.   This would also apply to cigars and chewing tobacco as well.

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Black Bear Hearing:

The shape of Black Bear’s ears is mainly responsible for their great hearing. When detecting sound based on volume a bear’s hearing is about four times that of a human. However, a bear can hear a much broader frequency range; both higher and lower frequencies. Rubbing of cloth or twisting of your tree stand can produce sounds that the bear can hear and the hunter cannot. Big old male bears develop a crowned head and their ears move out to the sides giving them stereoscopic hearing, which allows them to pinpoint the origin of the sounds they hear. This is another reason why big old bears are harder to get.

With this in mind try to stay absolutely still. If you have to move; move very slowly. Take some nose drops before the hunt and if you have a cold or allergies. If your throat is dry and itchy bring some mint flavored lozenges with you. You can also oil the joints of your tree stand to make them a little quieter.

Black Bear Sight:

During the day a Black Bear basically has the same site as a human but older bears tend to be near sighted. As a result they cannot focus on things from a long distance. When one of an animal’s senses becomes diminished their brain rewires itself to compensate by making other senses more acute. This is known as neural placidity. As a bear gets older they become near sighted so the brain compensates by being more sensitive to color differentiation. If the bear sees colors it thinks are unnatural and he sees those colors move the game is up. Bears cannot see the same range of colors as a human. Hunter orange looks gray to them. But they can see dull reds and yellows as well into the blue/green cool color spectrum. This is why there are many different forms of camouflage clothing.

Picking the right Camouflage:

You need to talk to the outfitter when you book your hunt and ask what kind of plants will be at the tree stands. If the hunt is taking place in the southern range of Ontario’s bear hunting country during the fall you may have a mix of coniferous and deciduous trees, thus you will need a camouflage that represents pine needles, pine bark and colored fall foliage. If you are father north in an area with only pine trees you will need a camouflage that represents pine bark and pine needles, which means dark brown and green. You need to blend into the scenery so their bear cannot see any unnatural color pattern.

Black Bears are nocturnal. They have a reflective layer in the back of the eye called the tarpetum lucidum. Just because you can’t see them does not mean they cannot see you. Since dusk is the hottest bear hunting time it’s also when you should concentrate the most on being quiet and motionless.

Bear Size:

In most cases, big ears mean a smaller bear. A small ear is usually a bigger bear. Once a bear reaches three years old (approx. 100 lbs.), the bear starts to grow into its ears. The ears and eyes don’t grow as much as they do in the first three years. Sometimes if a bear has a hard year with food, the ears will look bigger because the bear is thinner. Read our article:  How to Size a Black Bear

Cubs:

When a sow is with cubs, 90% of the time the cubs are in the lead. The cubs will make more noise than a single bear. Most of the time, adult bears make little or no noise.

Sow:

You can’t shoot a sow with cubs in the Ontario spring hunt, and in the fall we continue this policy on our BMA – DO NOT SHOOT SOWS with cubs.. So make 100% sure you know what you are shooting at. Take a really good look around to make sure there are no cubs. A sow’s ears are usually closer together, as a male bear’s cranium grows wider on top and the ears look farther apart. They also look smaller, which is really an illusion.

These tips and techniques are just a guide line for some things to consider and think about. Ultimately the outfitter is the person you need to discuss the different factors with. Bear hunting can be quite different in different regions.

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Your Success Is Our Goal – Black Bear Hunters [with video]

Andy's 475 lb (dressed)

Andy’s 475lb (dressed)

Black  Bear  are  known  predators  and  Ontario  has  the  largest  population of black bear than anywhere in the world. Furthermore, north-western Ontario leads in the concentration of these animals than elsewhere in Ontario, and, rates highest in population concentration  for all of Ontario that also allows for bating practices.

Many deem baiting unfair, giving the hunter a considerable advantage. But contrary to what some would have us believe, it’s far from easy and holds no guarantees!  Bear can sneak in undetected, grab a morsel of food and disappear as fast as they arrived. Bear can also skulk around the bait for hours, never showing themselves. As experienced outfitters we’ve learned that many of our bear will move in cautiously to inspect the provisions. The advantage of hunting in the fall is bear are eager to fatten up for the winter.  The biggest advantage to baiting is that, if and when a bruin finally commits to the bait, it allows the hunter a  an opportunity to assess size, stature and time for shot placement.

About Bear
Black bear habitant range can span from two to 10 miles and resident populations often hold a variety of boars, sows and cubs, so it’s not uncommon to have multiple bears visiting the baited site.  Ontario only offers a FALL BEAR HUNT therefore the chance for the large TROPHY bear is increased dramatically.  Most hunters fear poor coats or hides due to the fall hunt but our area does not suffer that fate. With little to no burrs or ticks, our bear don’t succumb to ticks causing ‘rub’ or dry patchy fur.  We also are known for our high number of white chevrons (patches) to make your trophy even more unique. Black bear

Jon Hanson - Tiffin, IA 440 lb. black bear

Jon Hanson – Tiffin, IA 440 lb. black bear

Black bear have relatively poor eyesight, but outstanding hearing and acute sense of smell. Once they get a taste of your bait, and, as long as it is replenished regularly, they will be reluctant to leave the area.  In fact, once a site is established properly, you can and will see the same bruin day after day.

Location is Critical
Our bait stations have been established for many years (since 1972) and placed along the bear’s natural movement corridor. Heavily  timbered forests near cutovers and waterways often sustain good bear densities.  With berry crops like wild blueberries and raspberries nearby, black bear favor the accessibility and abundance of such forage and most often reside in the proximity.

Claw marks on deciduous trees and there may even be fresh markings, these lasting scars unveil a historical presence. Nomadic creatures, bear commonly travel traditional trails along waterways and natural movement corridors like valleys and ridges.  Finding fresh scat can instill further confidence that bear have frequented the bait.  Keep in mind that well established bait stations offer much more success than new stations since bear follow these game trails year after year.

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Hunting Bears With Bows – Decoy Tactics

Trophy boars are smarter than your average bear. But even the savviest old bruin has a few chinks in his armor. Using a decoy is an exciting way to exploit them. Even weary old black bears will come in spoiling for a fight. Here are three strategies for drawing a dominant, hungry bruin into bow range.

 1

The Intruder
Big boars are solitary animals and will claim a food source as their own, commonly defecating along entrance trails to warn other bears away. To get this bear’s attention, stake a small bear decoy near the food source, positioned with its head down and its backside facing the direction you expect a boar to approach. Attach a few strips of black cloth to the decoy’s ears and tail for added realism and collect some bear scat from another area—preferably from a boar—and with a plastic bag, transplant it on the entrance trails.

Now sit back. Any wise old boar that might otherwise camp just off the food until nightfall is almost sure to investigate when he sees your “intruder.” Keep in mind that a boar may visit a food site daily or stop by every second or third day while patrolling his home turf. Be patient, and don’t let your guard down.

2

The Easy Meal
Black bears are fond of fresh meat and will drop their guard to capture an animal in distress. Any small, furry decoy, like those used for foxes and coyotes, wiggling about in plain sight is sure to catch a passing bear’s attention. With a little luck, the bruin will move in quickly to finish off what he thinks is hapless prey. If he hangs up, though, add a few squeals from a dying-rabbit call to entice him.

If whitetail deer are prevalent in your area, a fawn decoy can be too much for any hungry black bear to ignore. Try a few fawn contact bleats, and if that fails, go to a fawn-in-distress call. Nock a broadhead and get ready. The bear will come in fast, so be prepared to shoot pronto.

3

The Feeding Female
You’ll have to wait a few months to use this setup, but it’s a good one to have in your arsenal. Black bears rut in late spring and early summer and will visit bait sites, looking for a sow in heat. If baiting is legal in your area, position a small black bear decoy with its head in the bait barrel, and hang a few scent canisters soaked with sow-in-heat urine 3 or 4 feet off the ground nearby.

Big boars are ultracautious around bait, so odor control is critical. As you’re setting up, wear rubber gloves and spray the decoy down liberally with a quality scent remover. The boar will approach the decoy warily. Don’t rush the shot. As he investigates, you should have plenty of time to draw.

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Hunting Bears With Bows – Decoy Tactics

Trophy boars are smarter than your average bear. But even the savviest old bruin has a few chinks in his armor. Using a decoy is an exciting way to exploit them. Even weary old black bears will come in spoiling for a fight. Here are three strategies for drawing a dominant, hungry bruin into bow range.

 1

The Intruder
Big boars are solitary animals and will claim a food source as their own, commonly defecating along entrance trails to warn other bears away. To get this bear’s attention, stake a small bear decoy near the food source, positioned with its head down and its backside facing the direction you expect a boar to approach. Attach a few strips of black cloth to the decoy’s ears and tail for added realism and collect some bear scat from another area—preferably from a boar—and with a plastic bag, transplant it on the entrance trails.

Now sit back. Any wise old boar that might otherwise camp just off the food until nightfall is almost sure to investigate when he sees your “intruder.” Keep in mind that a boar may visit a food site daily or stop by every second or third day while patrolling his home turf. Be patient, and don’t let your guard down.

2

The Easy Meal
Black bears are fond of fresh meat and will drop their guard to capture an animal in distress. Any small, furry decoy, like those used for foxes and coyotes, wiggling about in plain sight is sure to catch a passing bear’s attention. With a little luck, the bruin will move in quickly to finish off what he thinks is hapless prey. If he hangs up, though, add a few squeals from a dying-rabbit call to entice him.

If whitetail deer are prevalent in your area, a fawn decoy can be too much for any hungry black bear to ignore. Try a few fawn contact bleats, and if that fails, go to a fawn-in-distress call. Nock a broadhead and get ready. The bear will come in fast, so be prepared to shoot pronto.

3

The Feeding Female
You’ll have to wait a few months to use this setup, but it’s a good one to have in your arsenal. Black bears rut in late spring and early summer and will visit bait sites, looking for a sow in heat. If baiting is legal in your area, position a small black bear decoy with its head in the bait barrel, and hang a few scent canisters soaked with sow-in-heat urine 3 or 4 feet off the ground nearby.

Big boars are ultracautious around bait, so odor control is critical. As you’re setting up, wear rubber gloves and spray the decoy down liberally with a quality scent remover. The boar will approach the decoy warily. Don’t rush the shot. As he investigates, you should have plenty of time to draw.

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Sighting in Your Rifle

So you’ve acquired a new hunting rifle. After saving your hard-earned cash and landing permission from your other half, the gun rests in your hot little hands. It looks great, feels great… it probably smells great… but more importantly does it shoot great? Now its time to hit the range and get this baby sighted in.

Truth is the same holds true for rifles we’ve had for many years. Chances are they don’t require the full-meal-deal, but sighting in, confirming that our equipment is in good working order, or realigning sights is something we should do on a regular basis.

Unfortunately many of us try to kill two birds with one stone. We visit the range infrequently and attempt to sight in and practice shooting all at the same time. It’s important to remember, sighting is very different from regular shooting practice. The process of sighting in involves aligning the scope (or other sights) with the firearm when using a specific bullet and load. Shooting practice involves discharging and often experimenting with different positions to allow our bodies to grow accustomed to the form and function of shooting.

k_wilson_sighting_in2Believe it or not, many of us don’t sight in properly. It never ceases to amaze me how many hunters pick up their guns once or twice a year, assume it’s shooting straight and hit the woods without a second thought. As a professional outfitter I see it all the time. In fact, I’ve seen guests take it personally when, after arrival in camp, I ask them to take a few practice shots – just to make sure their gun is properly sighted in. As though I’m insinuating that they haven’t prepared for their hunt, once in a while I get a hunter who thinks I’m a control freak. Then the truth comes out. After a few shots it becomes obvious; better than half are inevitably in need of scope adjustments. Every one swears that they were shooting one-inch groups at home, but now their rifle requires major scope adjustments. In their defense, a multitude of things can happen to guns in transit. Blunt trauma to cases or directly to the scope itself can throw it way out of whack; hence the need to sight it.

To be honest many of us are guilty of not maintaining our rifle and scope. If you shoot regularly that’s one thing; you’re constantly checking it and tweaking the scope when necessary. In reality, most of us don’t. By in large, recreational hunters pick up their guns a few times each year. Whether you’re tuning a brand new rifle or confirming the accuracy of an old one, here are a few tips for sighting in:

1) Bore sight your rifle before shooting
k_wilson_sighting_in3This first step applies mostly to rifles and scopes that have a new marriage. The first time a scope is mounted to a rifle the gunsmith will usually use a bore sighting tool. This tool is used to approximately align the crosshairs of the scope with the rifle barrel. Unfortunately some folks erroneously rely on bore sighting alone to zero their gun. Remember bore sighting can be precise but most often it only approximates accuracy. If, when you visit the range, you discover that you’re not even hitting the paper at all, consider rough bore sighting your gun. Practical with bolt-action rifles, by removing the bolt, you can stand behind the gun, look through the barrel and center the target. Then without adjusting the gun, look through the scope and make the necessary adjustments to bring the crosshairs in alignment with the target. This should get you hitting the paper in no time, then you can move on to shooting.

2) Shoot from a stable platform and rest
To reliably confirm the accuracy of your rifle and scope, you must shoot from a rest. I’m not sure I should say this or not, but I will. To illustrate the naivety of some, I’ve actually witnessed guys trying to sight in their rifles at the range by shooting freehand from a standing position. Needless to say these are the guys that get frustrated because they’re not hitting anything.

Remember, when we’re sighting in our rifles we’re not testing our shooting skill, but rather the accuracy of the gun, scope and bullet being used. Our goal should be to eliminate or at least minimize human error and allow the equipment to do its thing. With this in mind, a stable shooting bench or table is always recommended. Most shooting ranges are furnished with suitable tables or benches and adjustable stools. If you’re using a portable bench, make sure it is resting level on solid ground. Likewise, it’s imperative to use a shooting rest. In my opinion a vice can be that much better. I really like MTM Case-Gard products (www.mtmcase-gard.com). They make a variety of shooting supplies that are both affordable and practical. Few of us exhibit perfect shooting form. By understanding the biomechanics involved with aiming, breathing, squeezing the trigger and following through we can better acknowledge how to eliminate torsion while shooting from a rest. By cradling the rifle fore-end on a rest or in a vice, we can align our sights with the downrange target and maintain that alignment for a long period of time. Then, by gently squeezing the trigger to discharge, we minimize our human influence thereby allowing the firearm to perform more or less on its own.

3) Begin at close range, then move out to 100 yards and further
I’ve heard much discussion about the standard 100 yard shot and arguably for most bore-sighted rifles, sighting in at that distance is fine. But talk to the pros and most will agree that you should begin at 25 yards if you want to do it right. Making adjustments at close range is easier than at longer distances. At 25 yards you’ll find it easier to acquire your target; it simply appears larger and is easier to center the crosshairs at this short distance. Inaccuracies are simpler to rectify and adjustments can be made quickly at that distance. Remember, inaccuracies are exaggerated that much more at greater downrange distances.

k_wilson_sighting_in1
As you make your fine adjustments to your scope, be aware of the increments and don’t overdo it. For example, with my Leupold VXIII, one click = 1/4 inch adjustment. So, if my shots were hitting consistently two inches to the left of center, I would likely need to dial the adjustment eight clicks in that direction, then shoot another round of bullets. Some folks disagree, but in my opinion it is better to make subtle adjustments, then shoot to confirm that you are working toward the zero mark. As long as there are no fliers, a series of three shots is typically representative of where the gun is shooting. Although with today’s scopes I don’t believe it is as crucial, I still like to give it a firm tap to seat the crosshairs after each adjustment.

When your rifle and scope are in sync at 25 yards, move to 100 yards. Most big game rifle and bullet combinations that are sighted in a couple inches high at 100 yards will shoot a hair low at 25 yards – with most deer hunters this is considered ideal (e.g., I like my 300 Win Mag to be 2″ high at 100 yards). Once your rifle is sighted in, try shooting at 200, 300 and 400 yards to better learn how your rifle, scope and ammunition perform at greater distances.

4) Use the same ammunition that you plan to hunt with
Not all ammunition performs the same. Be sure to sight in your rifle with the load that you plan to hunt with. Ballistics of variable bullet weights and designs (not to mention manufacturers) will perform differently. For instance, Winchester Ammunition’s 150 grain Supreme Elite XP3 (www.winchester.com) will inevitably perform differently than Remington’s 180 grain Core-Lokt, PSP (www.remington.com) shot out of my 300 Winchester Magnum.

If you reload your own ammunition, then you’re likely acquainted with factors affecting bullet performance. Working the right load may take some trial and error, but the same applies – always sight in with the bullet and load you intend to hunt with.

5) Record and reference each shot
Sighting in can be as labor-intensive as you make it. As a rule, several items are required and several more make the job that much easier. As an absolute necessity, we require a table or bench, a shooting rest, our rifle, ammunition and a target. Beyond these basics, the job is much easier with a spotting scope, tripod, and additional targets along with a marker.

As you begin shooting, be sure to analyze and record each shot. I like to use a Bushnell Elite 15-45x 60 mm spotting scope (www.bushnell.com) mounted on a solid tripod. At 45 power magnification, I can see every detail on the downrange target. My scope allows me to closely assess where I hit in relation to where I aimed. Further, many shooters like to keep a matching target on the bench while they are shooting. By checking their shot, then marking it on the target beside them, they can better track their progressions to confirm any scope adjustments and accuracy. This eliminates much of the guessing about which shot was which.

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