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Print

George Little: “Practice, practice practice”

November 09, 2012 at 07:07 AM

The State Journal-Register

The headline said “Never Miss Again.”

The picture showed a steely-eyed hunter staring down the barrel, tightly focused on the target. Knowing that the only way I will never miss again is to never pull another trigger, I didn’t bother with the tips that always begin and end with the same thing … practice.

Practice is “can’t miss” advice. More deer are shot at and missed than those that are shot at and hit. The buck of a lifetime isn’t going to be in our lifetime if we can’t finish the deal.

Practice shooting off-hand from a distance that you can honestly think you could hit a deer, and then do it some more. If you can hit a 7-inch paper plate from 50 yards, off hand, every time, the experts say you will be a better shot than 85 percent of the hunters who take a crack at a whitetail deer.

Regardless of how much we practice, or how calm or patient we are while waiting for our best shooting opportunity, it is inevitable that we will someday end up tracking a deer we were certain was going to drop in its tracks. Tracking usually begins with high anxiety, and an even mixture of hope and dread.

The best first step is to get collected quickly. Get a mental picture of the last place you saw the animal. Go to that spot, moving slowing, looking for blood sign. If you have more than one other person with you, keep one and send the rest home. Two sets of eyes following signs are better than one. Three or four sets come with that many more pairs of feet, and infinitely more free advice. That increases the chances that some of the signs you are following will end up under someone’s foot.

With two people, one can circle ahead while the other stays on the trail. The object is to find the blood trail somewhere ahead of you and move things along faster. If you lose the sign and have nothing to mark the spot, one person can stand at the last place a sign was discovered while the other circles ahead in the direction of travel. Remember that you cannot track a wounded animal across property lines without the owner’s permission.

Tracking a wounded deer, some things are generally true. Most times they will travel downhill. They will move toward water. If the animal isn’t immediately pressured it will find some kind of cover and lie down. If the blood sign is only a drop or two at a time, that deer is going to be hard to recover. Stay on the trail until there is no more sign. Then backtrack it and make sure you didn’t miss a change in direction.

Finding your deer piled up is only one possible outcome. It’s sad but true that some are never found. That is the worst case, but it will happen less frequently to those who practice their shooting.

Contact George Little at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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