Once deer season ends folks usually take a bit of a breather and decompress from what may have been an enjoyable or uneventful few months in the woods.
Putting away the gear, reflecting on the season and thinking about next year — even if it’s seven or eight months away — is a good thing. We always need time to step back for a moment and recharge mentally and physically.
At some point, though, we’ll head back to the range with our bow or gun. Or maybe into the woods for some small game squirrel, rabbit and bird hunting action. Perhaps for turkeys in spring, and hogs or coyotes. It’s almost impossible to not find something to hunt all year long, even if you maybe have to drive a little ways to do it. And if hunting’s not an option, well, fishing is always a possibility.
Our squirrel season in Alabama is pretty lengthy and I love hunting with my Thompson-Center TC .22 Classic LR. It was a short-term offering by the company back in the late 1990s, and I wish I had bought three or four of them. It’s never let me down in the woods and I get compliments all the time about it. Classic, indeed.
One thing about a .22 rifle or any gun is you need to know which ammo it prefers. I’ve tried many brands in mine. Some work great, such as Federal Premium and CCI Velocitor. Others have not. As with any rifle, whether for deer and big game to squirrels and predators, it takes some time on the range to get everything dialed in perfectly.
Here’s the other thing about range time or hunting: we have an inherent responsibility to be safe. Always. One slip-up can be disastrous. One mistake can change lives forever. Being in a rush, thinking, “Aw, I’ve always done it this way,” figuring you’ve been hunting 30 or 40 years and know everything … those are recipes for disaster.
So when you get back to the range this year with your deer rifles or turkey shotgun or favorite .22 or predator rifle, remember these 10 Commandments of Firearm Safety:
- 1. Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
- 2. Firearms should be unloaded when not in use.
- 3. Don’t rely on your gun’s “safety.”
- 4. Be sure of your target and what’s beyond it.
- 5. Use the correct ammunition.
- 6. If your gun fails to fire when the trigger is pulled, handle with care!
- 7. Always wear eye and ear protection when shooting.
- 8. Be sure the barrel is clear of obstructions before shooting.
- 9. Don’t alter or modify your gun, and have guns serviced regularly.
- 10. Learn the mechanical and handling characteristics of the firearm you are using.