4 Ways to Shoot Your Deer Rifle Better This Year

Practice shooting freehand during summer sessions so you'll be comfortable during hunting season not resting on a bench. (Photo: Bushnell)

Practice shooting freehand during summer sessions so you’ll be comfortable during hunting season not resting on a bench. (Photo: Bushnell)

Now that deer season is over, what are you doing to ensure that you’ll be on top of your game next autumn when you return to the woods?

Do you just store your bow, rifle, clothing and gear until late summer and then dust it off to head out again? Do you clean everything thoroughly and make sure it’s good to go? If you’re not doing the latter then you may encounter a problem that could cost you a big buck or doe.

Sure, everything’s worked fine. I have a .30-06 rifle that has shot well for years. Two seasons ago our son slipped crossing a creek and landed on the rifle. I cringed and said it would be a good reason for us to head to the range to make sure it was OK. We did, and the gun was. But I still give it a thorough double-check just to make sure.

Here are some hunting tips to make sure when the season rolls around you’ll be ahead of the curve.

Scope Rings and Mounts: Are your ring screws tight and secure? Is the base OK? No wiggle or jiggle, nothing shaking or rattling? Give them a thorough overhaul to check everything – screws, bases, the works. Be sure to shoot at different distances at the range that you’ll shoot in the field — 50, 100, 150 yards and maybe further if you hunt open fields, like in the Southeast, or out west.

VIDEO: Become a Better Long-Range Shooter

Ammunition that Works Best: Sure, we talk about spending some money for different ammo, going to the range and then trying them all to see what works best. In theory that’s a cool idea. In reality you may be looking at a good chunk of money and, then, some leftover ammo that doesn’t perform well in your rifle. What then? Sell half a box to someone? Stick it in the safe?

The thing to do is to team up with buddies for a range day and split the cost of ammo and share. Someone may have a rifle that loves Hornady and you’ve never shot any, and they haven’t tried your Federal Premium. Someone else may have some Norma cartridges that sing through your rifle. Share ammo, help each other out and enjoy the day. You may find that your rifle loves something else.

Checking your scope, the rings, screws and mounts after the season is good to do to ensure optimal patterning. Plus, it's fun to spend time at the shooting range. (Photo: HawkeOptics.com)

Checking your scope, the rings, screws and mounts after the season is good to do to ensure optimal patterning. Plus, it’s fun to spend time at the shooting range. (Photo: HawkeOptics.com)

Install a New Trigger: If you’re unhappy with your trigger, get a new one. Most rifles today can be outfitted with more precise, adjustable triggers should you want to do so. If you’re not keen on tinkering with the trigger in your rifle then locate a gunsmith, talk with him about what you want and then move forward.

Practice, Practice, Practice: If you want to get to Carnegie Hall, you have to practice. Same thing with shooting a deer rifle better than you do now. Set aside some time each week, if possible, or at least monthly to head to the range. Carve out a little budget money for ammunition. Get a good bench rest like a Caldwell Lead Sled or use what you’re comfortable with, but be consistent. Use your rangefinder to get precise yardages for targets downrange at 25, 50, 100 yards and further. Go, relax, have fun and shoot off the bench and also shoot freehand. Take your big hunting jacket you wear in December or January and shoot with it on, too. Practice, practice, practice.

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