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Covering All the Bases-Tom Lounsbury

Tom Lounsbury

Fri, 27 Sep 2013 22:20:57 EDT


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                                     Covering all the bases
By Tom Lounsbury

There is little doubt that the most popular hunting season in Michigan is the annual firearms deer season that opens up on November 15th. Personally I believe that date should become a state holiday, but then that’s me, because I live each year for it. For that reason, I learned a long time ago to take great pains in covering all the bases in regards to preparation for that memorable day which at this point isn’t that many weeks away.
Probably one of the most neglected issues for some until the last minute is sighting in the selected firearm. I was personally quite surprised to discover how busy folks who professionally sight in firearms as a service get within less than a week before opening day. For me, sighting in my selected firearms (and yes, that is a plural statement because I use at least a couple shotguns, a couple handguns, and a couple muzzleloaders depending upon my mood, the location/habitat of that given day including the weather) is a very personal and individual matter that keeps me fully in tune and confident in those firearms. I started doing this more than a month ago and the firearms are all cleaned and ready as I presently go into the countdown mode as the clock ticks away, (which I have been doing since the last day of the firearms deer season last year) and opening day finally eases in almost like it is arriving in slow motion.
Fortunately for me I have a shooting range at my disposal in my backyard, and I know most folks don’t have that advantage, but the Thumb area is blessed with plenty of shooting/club ranges where inquiries can be made presently for the requirements of their use. Often, there are members who can assist in the sighting-in process. Hunters can of course ease over the speed bumps and have the sighting-in done by a skilled professional, and this isn’t a bad way to go at all, but even still, enough time must be left over afterward for the actual shooter to get fully acquainted with the recently sighted-in by someone else firearm.
One matter to consider is scopes, which have become very popular with deer hunters today. A case in point is eye relief, the distance between the shooter’s eye and the rear portion of the scope. What fits someone else in regards to recoil while sighting-in may be a bit different for the actual user/shooter. Getting belted between the eyes by a recoil-delivered scope shortly after daybreak on opening day (I’ve been there and done that and it isn’t a pleasant experience on a cold and frosty morning - it will bring tears to your eyes) doesn’t assist accuracy at all if a follow up shot is required, and it’s not a good way to start the long awaited deer season off. Whatever method you select and if you have not done so already, you are pushing the limit a bit, so to speak.
Of course you have the deer hunters who believe “Old Betsy” never loses zero, even though she hasn’t been fired since the previous season. Well, that might work for some folks, but bouncing around in a gun case during the previous season might have put Old Betsy’s nose out a joint a bit, not to mention some moving around during dusting and cleaning efforts of the storage area by someone else during the off season. Even rugged iron sights that supposedly never move have been known to get knocked askew during storage. Personally, I get reacquainted with my firearms well before opening day, and besides all that, shooting anytime is downright fun.
Then there is ammunition. Firearms can be quite fickle as to what they prefer to digest in regards to their best accuracy, something that should be figured out well beforehand during the sighting-in process (those who sight-in professionally usually take this into account). Your firearm’s preferred ammunition might in all likelihood be a favorite of a whole bunch of other deer guns, so it never hurts to stock up sooner than later, when shelves might be getting bare on certain brands, especially the day before the opener.
Then there are boots. Next to having a properly shooting firearm, I put extreme importance on comfortable, already broken-in footwear. Deer hunting in general requires a bit of walking, maybe more for some than others, but getting around usually requires a bit of “Shank’s mare”. Some boots are advertised as not needing to be broken in, but I beg to differ. If you have ever had a heel blister due to a chafing boot, you know what mean, especially when you have just gotten to your honey-hole hunting spot and you still have to walk back out at day’s end. It pays to wear those boots a bit before opening day, even if you look a little out of place carrying the garbage out wearing your Muk-luks on a balmy day.
Back to shooting, nothing beats keeping in tune with hitting the mark than practicing regularly with a “.22” firearm or air rifle to keep the eye in tune in hitting the mark on a steady basis and it is a far cheaper method than pounding away with your favorite deer gun and expensive ammo. I have .22 handguns that fit this bill as well in regards to handgun hunting and sights especially on all small-bores, match those that I have on my “big-bores” for absolute familiarity.
Probably my best method for preparing for the up and coming deer season is a favorite pastime of mine, which is squirrel hunting. Quite frankly, if you are a fair to middling squirrel hunter, you will do quite fine as a deer hunter. I use squirrel guns (including handguns) that offer similar sights and function as my deer guns, and when you can successfully head or shoulder shoot a squirrel under typical woodland conditions, hitting a much larger deer in the kill zone becomes well, second nature.
A case in point is the 10 point buck I bagged on the opening morning of the firearms deer season last year. I was sitting on the ground against a large tree trunk (which is a favorite squirrel hunting method of mine) and using deer calls. A doe had responded to my calling efforts and was directly in front of me, and her body actions clued me in to slowly and carefully peek over my left shoulder. That is when I saw the 10-pointer that had slipped unknowingly in behind me real close and fortunately (and luckily) for me the wind was blowing directly from the doe (and just missing my position) to the buck, and the buck was really nosing the air to figure out if the doe was a hot date.
This buck’s downfall was lifting his head back and performing the typical lip-curl, which left him just briefly out of focus of his immediate surroundings, which in turn allowed me to automatically shoulder my shotgun, sight in on his kill zone and blow him a 12 ga kiss he never recovered from. I owe plenty of squirrel hunting experiences to pulling me through a moment like that. It works for me anyway.
Yes folks, I’m presently covering all the bases for the approaching firearms deer season, even when I’m out squirrel hunting.

Outdoor event:

Randy’s Hunting Center in Bad Axe will be holding its annual open house on Saturday, September 28th. This will be a wonderful time to celebrate all the fast approaching fall hunting seasons. Representatives will be there from Ruger, Smith and Wesson, Leupold, Redfield, Weatherby, Wicked Ridge, Ten Point and Darton Archery (with their portable archery range). Food and refreshments will be on hand as well. For more information call Randy’s Hunting Center at (989) 269-4867 or go to .

Preseason practice well before the annual firearms "deer season" is a
natural pastime for Tom Lounsbury with a variety of preferred firearms (such
as this T/C G2 muzzleloader), and this includes assuring proper eye relief
when using a scope.

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