By Bill Miller
So … were you fortunate to get a Quebec hunting trip lined up for this fall? If so, great adventure and memories await whether you’ll be hunting caribou in the Far North, whitetail on Anticosti Island or moose almost anywhere.
Now is the time to be planning and preparing for that hunt. You want to be ready to perform when the moment of truth arrives. Practice … particularly with your rifle … will help you be a better hunter and enjoy your Quebec hunt to its fullest.
A solidly built, well-appointed shooting bench at a properly managed range is the rifle hunter’s best friend … sometimes. As the hunting seasons approach, it is the perfect place to check the sight-in of your rifles.
Commit at least an hour or two with your chosen hunting load to ensure the sighting system is still “on.” If you’re shooting a scope with a built-in ballistic compensation system, then take along your computer print outs and verify the markings out to as far as your comfortable and confident shooting.
But once that’s all done, the shooting bench and fancy rest are no longer such good friends. To truly gain field shooting skills you need to practice shooting in field situations. This can be done at a shooting range, but only if you can get safely away from the bench. You must shoot from the positions and situations in which you’ll find yourself when you are hunting.
For example, practice shooting from prone, sitting, kneeling, and standing positions. While offhand shooting is never recommended at healthy game, there’s every chance it will be necessary if you have to follow up a wounded animal. You must practice it, too.
Practice from the rests you’ll take into the field with you like a bipod, shooting sticks, and a tri-pod. Shoot from improvised rests as well, like your daypack, crown of your hat, wadded up gloves, tree limbs, tree trunks, and boulders (okay, a shooting bench makes a fair substitute for a boulder as long as your now using a fancy vice or rest system.)
Try to put yourself in the physical condition you’ll be in at hunting’s moment of truth as well. A couple laps jogged around the range parking lot prior to firing can recreate the heavy breathing and racing heart you will experience as you hurry into position for a shot at a big bull elk or when you spot that monster whitetail across the cornfield. You’re going to be excited when the opportunity for a shot arrives, but you must calm yourself, focus on the spot you want to hit, let everything else fade into the background for a split second … and squeeze the trigger.
If you’ve done this on the range 100 times and mentally 10,000 times before the hunt … you’ll be ready. Enjoy every moment!