Field Journal's Including Deer and Turkey Hunting, Zeroing Scopes, Trophy care .


Deer Management

There is no question that deer herds must be managed. Because of human populations and changing land practices have led to less available deer land while deer herds have continued to increase, which has led to an overpopulation of deer in many areas. This has compelled people to take more does to keep the balance wildlife. The deer management practices revolve around the need to balance the deer herds in relation to the habitat while still trying to keep deer populations high enough for hunting, with hunting as the primary method of deer reduction. The current practice of keeping deer populations high enough that they can be hunted, and the past management practice of bucks only hunting, combined with the belief by many hunters that they should only shoot bucks if they want to keep deer numbers high, is precisely the reason why there are too many deer, particularly does. It is usually too many does , not too many bucks in a herd and eventually this becomes a cycle and both the deer and the habitat suffer. The effects of this cycle generally result in low buck:doe ratios and lower numbers of dominant breeding bucks, which leads to rut periods that are later, and longer, than they should be. Resulting in poor survival rates of fawns. To add to the problem of too many deer, and less bucks, the interest in trophy hunting for white-tailed deer has become overwhelming in the past few years. This interest in whitetail racks by numerous hunters puts more pressure on the already depleted number of large antlered animals, and further lowers the number of available older dominant breeding bucks. Less numbers of bucks, particularly older dominants, result in less contacts between the does and the dominate bucks. When these contacts are absent the does may come into estrus from as early as mid-October to as late as January. Sex, Social Class and Antlers Antlers Speaking of animals that produce horns or antlers such as deer and elk, and those that don't such as horses. Generally speaking the horns or antlers of individual species are larger on males than they are on females, causing males to look different than females. This in appearance causes the males to be more susceptible to injury and death due to predation and to hunting pressure. Because of this increased predation and hunting pressure males that carry antlers learn how to avoid predators, usually at a young age. Antlers are shed yearly by male animals, making it difficult to tell the difference between the males from the females while they males are not carrying their antlers. The absence of antlers makes the males less conspicuous and therefore less susceptible to predation, giving them a better chances of survival. However, because antlers are used as a means of expressing dominance, and are used to attract females during the rut, they are often present during the rut, making antlered males highly conspicuous and susceptible. Prime age males often carry the largest antlers which makes them conspicuous and highly susceptible to predation. Senior males, may start start losing antler size but, may still carry large antlers, making them also susceptible to predation. Because their advanced age does not allow senior males to escape as easily as younger males they are extremely vulnerable. Both prime age and senior males must try to avoid predation and hunting. The older the animal; the less likely that it will participate in the rut, and the more likely it will choose secluded home ranges, travel at night, and limit it's movements. In the case of the heavily hunted white-tailed deer, which is prized for large antlers, they either learn to avoid hunters, or they are shot at and may die. Each year that a buck survives it will learn more about when and how to avoid hunters. Because of this older whitetail bucks are smarter and warier than younger bucks. These large deer are less likely to be seen. Buck Habits While dominant floater bucks are active in the rut, they learn to move at times and places where they are less likely to be seen. Senior bucks (which may have large or heavy antlers) on the other hand, do not participate in the rut and move less or at night. Some younger bucks may also not participate in the rut low testosterone levels, and other factors. Because bucks look different they are forced to react differently than does in order to survive. It is also known the older the buck is the better it becomes at avoiding hunting pressure and contact with humans. Because hunting has the ability to affect deer health and security they can be considered as Deer are subjected to different behavior throughout the year.

When to hunt?

Before we can answer the question of when to hunt, we need to go over a few things about deer. Deer are nocturnal animals. Nocturnal means that deer can see at night, which is one of the reasons they are more active at night. Deer have more light-detecting cells in their eyes than humans, which aids their nocturnal vision. However, a deer's nocturnal vision is not perfect on a very dark night. A deer will spend more time looking for food and less time eating food on a dark night, than they would on a clear night with a full moon. Deer tend to be the least active on days following a clear night, because their stomachs are usually fuller and they are content to stay near their bedding area until sundown. As sundown approaches the deer will start the feeding cycle all over again. Deer travel to their feeding area from their bedding area in the last minutes of daylight. On the reverse trip they travel from their feeding area to their bedding area in the first minutes of daylight. In most areas you are allowed to hunt from 30 minutes before sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset. This one hour time period is usually the most productive time of day to hunt. Many hunters seem to avoid this hour of daylight, I guess it is just not convenient for them. If a hunter is going to waste an hour of their hunting day, they should choose one at mid-day when deer are less active. A deer's behavior is not set in stone. Their behavior is easily altered by several factors. The most common of these factors are precipitation, wind, hunting pressure and the rut. Deer will usually stay in their bedding area during times of heavy rain or snow. When the storm stops, deer will start moving for a couple of reasons:
  • The trees and brush are usually dripping with rain or snow and this noise will make the deer nervous, so they will move about.
  • They will also start moving if the storm lasted through their feeding period. They will be hungry and out looking for food.
When the wind blows it becomes noisy in the woods and the deer can't hear approaching danger, so they get nervous and start moving. Windy days in the woods can be very dangerous for hunters. The wind can cause tree limbs to fall and even trees can topple over. If you choose to hunt on windy days use extra caution. Deer hunters roaming through the woods will cause deer to move from their bedding area. If other hunters are in your hunting area, this might be a good time to stake out a deer trail or crossing and let the other hunters chase the deer to you. The rut is the period of time when bucks mate with does. The rut usually lasts about a month. In most parts of the country the rut occurs in November, although this varies depending on geographic location. During the rut all deer are more active, especially the bucks. It is not unusual to see a buck chasing a doe during the middle of the day, when they are normally resting. It can be said that the rut clouds a buck's judgment as they are often seen doing things they wouldn't normally do. I have observed a similar behavior in other animals, down at the bar on Friday night! One last factor that seems to have an affect on deer movement is the position of the moon. Most of you have probably heard that the position of the moon plays a big part in the activity of fish. The moon also seems to have an effect on deer movement. The peak of this activity is when the moon is directly overhead.

Deer Calls Determining what call to use is not a matter of which rut phase you are hunting, but which sex and age class of deer you want to attract. Does respond to distress calls and Maternal/Neonatal calls primarily out of maternal instinct. All bucks respond to any call, which may lead them to an estrus doe; particularly a Social Grunt or a Low Grunt. Dominant bucks also respond to Mating calls and aggressive grunts out of the desire to exert dominance. Subdominant bucks may respond to these Mating calls during the breeding phase, but they may not respond because they are afraid of encountering a dominant. If you are hunting for any legal buck it may best not to use mating calls or aggressive grunts. There are four basic techniques for calling deer that can be used anytime during the rut. The fourth technique is not as effective during the Rest Phase and Post Rut because the bucks are exhausted, not as aggressive, and not as interested in breeding.
  1. For does and young bucks; Distress Call or Fawn Bawl.
  2. For any deer; Social or Low Grunt.
  3. For all bucks; Social/Low/Tending Grunt.
  4. For dominant bucks; Social/Low/Tending Grunt or Grunt Snort.

White-tailed Deer Communication
White-tailed Deer use different sounds to keep in contact with each other . Deer also make sounds associated with courtship and breeding behavior. The tone of the call usually depends on the deer; older and larger deer, especially bucks, tend to make deeper sounds.
The Snort is an intense blowing sound produced by expelling air through the nostrils. Deer that see or hear a disturbance but cannot smell the source often use repeated low snorts, foot stomping, head bobbing and tail flipping, to alert other deer of danger. The head bobbing and foot stomping may be used to startle a predator so it may give itself away. A deer's sense of smell is thought to be independent of conscious discrimination, and deer that smell danger usually snort, then flee while flagging the tail.
The Grunt is used in three different forms to express dominance or to threaten another deer. It is also used to locate other deer, which causes them to respond by coming to the call, or by announcing their location by returning the call.
The Low Grunt is used by both does and bucks throughout the year. This is the first level of aggression, used to displace lesser deer. If the lesser animal does not move it is usually rushed and may be kicked with a forefoot by the dominant.
The Grunt-Snort is used most often by bucks during the breeding season in more intense situations. One or more snorts are added to a grunt. The Grunt-Snort-Wheeze is the most intense form of an aggressive call. It consists of a grunt-snort followed by a drawn out wheeze through pinched nostrils.
The Social Grunt is often performed by members of a doe group when they become separated, and it may help deer stay in contact when they can't see each other.
The Maternal Grunt is a low, quick grunt performed at short intervals when a doe approaches the fawn's bedding site. The fawn generally leaves it's bed and joins the doe.
The Mew is used by the fawn when it wants attention, or is given in response to the maternal grunt of the doe.
The Bleat is the fawn version of the bawl, it is given by the fawn when it wants urgent attention, is hungry, or wants care.
The Nursing Whine occurs while the fawn is nursing or searching for a nipple. Mating
The Tending Grunt is a low grunt used by bucks when pursuing an estrus doe. It may consist of a single short grunt, several grunts or a long drawn out grunt.
The Click is a clicking sound bucks may make when looking for of following estrous does. It sounds like someone slowly running a fingernail across the teeth of a comb.

Where and how you place your decoy may determine how successful you are, and what deer respond to the decoy.
  1. For safety use a decoy with blaze orange, hang fluorescent tape nearby, or hunt from an elevated stand.
  2. Don't get unnatural scent on the decoy. Use gloves or wash hands with a scent killing soap when carrying and positioning the decoy, then spray it with cover-up scent.
  3. Place the decoy in a high use area; near trails, rubs, scrapes, bedding, staging or feeding areas with nearby cover so it can be seen by traveling deer.
  4. Don't place bedded decoys directly on trails. Use standing or feeding decoys because deer don't usually bed on trails.
  5. Place decoys upwind of where you expect the deer to appear. Bucks like to approach downwind from cover if they can. This also helps the deer from picking up your scent.
  6. Place decoys in a comfortable shooting distance in a clear shooting lane.
  7. Place a doe decoy facing away from you . Bucks often approach does from the rear or side, presenting you with a shot.
  8. Place a buck decoy facing toward you for a shot. Bucks generally approach another buck cautiously from the front.
  9. Don't place the decoy in between you and where you expect the deer to come from, the deer may see you. Place the decoy off to one side of your stand or blind to distract the deer's attention from your position.
  10. To get the buck's attention on the decoy, place a small white piece of cloth on the ear and tail area, so that it can blow in the wind, or use one of the new tail motion decoys.


Turkey Calls

Locator calls
During the frenzied mating season, toms strut around full of sexual frustration and pent-up energy. They let off steam by "shock gobbling" at an owl's hoots, a crow's caws, a coyote's howls or other calls of the wild. You play off this by using locator calls in the spring to yank gobbles from roosted or strutting birds. Once a tom shock gobbles and reveals his location, you then move in, set up and work him with hen calls. Mimicking the 1- to 8-note hoots of a barred owl is the most popular way to make turkeys gobble. Learn to owl hoot with your voice or buy a reed-style hooter (most every turkey call company sells a model). Owl hooting is most effective when gobblers are still roosted at dawn. The best locator call going is a crow call. Simply blow it hard and loud to make turkeys shock gobble anytime of day (series of 3 or 4 caws work great). Other good locator calls include a coyote howler, a hawk whistle, a woodpecker call and even a peacock screamer. Pack at least 3 locating devices in your vest. Sometimes a tom won't gobble at hoots, but he'll roar like a banshee at caws, howls or other sounds. Box Calls Most long, rectangular boxes are built from maple, cherry, walnut, poplar and other woods. Boxes and their handles are held together with a tuning screw on one end. You chalk the handle and scrape it over the calls sounding lip or board to talk turkey. Box Calling Tips
  • Lay a box lightly in your palm, and keep your fingers off the calls sideboards. Hold the handle in your fingertips and scrape it lightly over the sounding board. Gradually increase handle pressure for louder calls.
  • Try the vertical hold (my favorite). Place a call in your palm, turn your hand sideways and work the handle up and down.
  • To yelp move a handle an inch off one side of a box and work it gently. Don't lift the handle off the sounding lip, just scrape it along.
  • To cluck, lift the handle slightly and pop it on the sounding board. String fast, irregular clucks together to cutt.
  • Box calls are hand-tuned by manufacturers, but you can get higher or lower pitches by adjusting the handle screw.
  • Use dry, wax-free chalk on a box (many call companies sell green, brown or blue chalk for the job). Chalk a box periodically during a day of hunting.

Pot Calls
These friction calls have slate, glass, aluminum or ceramic surfaces glued into wooden, plastic or graphite pots. To talk turkey you run a wooden, glass or graphite peg across the striking surface. Pot calls date back to the late 1800s, and they are more popular than ever today. I believe every hunter should carry at least 2 of them: an aluminum or glass pot for loud, high-pitched calls, and a natural slate for softer clucks and purrs. You should also carry a nice mix of wooden and synthetic pegs. Switching pegs on various striking surfaces allows you to make different turkey tones and rasp. Pot Calling Tips
  • Cradle a pot lightly in your palm and up on your fingertips, where notes can resonate out of the holes in the bottom of a call. Hold a peg like you would a pencil and angle it slightly on a surface to call.
  • To yelp make dime-size circles or little straight lines without lifting a peg from a pot. Work near a call's outer edges for high-pitched notes and in the middle for softer, raspier yelps.
  • To cluck pull a peg inward on a pot in short pops. To cutt do the same thing, but bear down harder on a peg and string together 8 to 10 clucks.
  • To purr pull a peg lightly across a surface in small lines or semicircles. Master purring on a pot and you'll close the sale with a bunch of longbeards.
  • To maximize friction between a peg and striking surface, roughen a slate call frequently with fine-grade sandpaper or an abrasive pad. Use heavier sandpaper or a sanding stone (sold by some call companies) on aluminum, glass and ceramic pots. Also, occasionally sand the tip of a wooden peg.

Push-Peg Calls
This type of friction call is comprised of a little wooden or plastic box with an internal spring-loaded peg that contacts a sounding surface. You push or pull a rod connected to the peg to reproduce turkey vocalizations. Push-Peg Calling Tips
  • For one-handed yelps, hold a box in your palm and push the rod with your forefinger. Or you can hold a box and pull the peg with the fingers of your other hand to produce louder yelps.
  • To cluck hold a box and tap the peg with the palm of your other hand. Speed up series of clucks to cutt.

Mouth Diaphgrams
Diaphragms have thin latex or prophylactic reeds crimped into small aluminum frames. Most calls have a single frame, but some models feature 2- or even 3-stacked frames. A tape skirt covers the frame(s) and acts as an air seal when you call. Hundreds of diaphragms are available from all the turkey call manufacturers. They typically feature 1 to 4 rubber reeds. Many diaphragms have cut, split or notched reeds. A diaphragm with fewer reeds has a higher pitch and lower volume. Calls with 3 or 4 notched reeds are generally best for loud, raspy yelping and cutting. Diaphragm Calling Tips
  • Slip a diaphragm into your mouth with the frame's open end pointing outward. Put the short reed of a multi-reed call down against your tongue.
  • Place a call halfway between your front teeth and the back of your mouth.
  • If a diaphragm feels too big or bulky, you can trim its tape skirt with scissors. But be careful! Too much trimming can destroy a calls air seal.
  • You can also bend an aluminum frame slightly to ensure a tight palate fit.
  • The key to using a diaphragm is jaw movement. Raise and lower your jaws while huffing air up from your chest and across a calls reed (s).
  • To cluck say "puck," popping a short burst of air over a diaphragm's reed(s). String some loud and excited "pucks" together to cutt/
  • To yelp you must tighten and loosen tongue pressure on a diaphragm to make it roll over into 2-note "kee-awks, kee-awks." It's pretty easy to do if your work those jaws!
  • Before calling to a gobbler for the first time, roll a diaphragm around in your mouth for 10 to 20 seconds. This lubes and loosens the reeds and allows the call to roll over into nice yelps.
  • Clean mouth calls with cold water every once in a while.
  • Store diaphragms in the fridge; they should last several seasons.
Gobble Shaker Primos, Quaker Boy and other companies make a black rubber hose (with an internal reed) that you shake to mimic a turkey's gobble. Gobbling on his type of device in the spring is a good way to make other toms shock gobble back.

Defensive Turkey Hunting Tactics

A safe turkey hunter, like a safe driver, is defensive minded. Below are tips one should consider.
  • Select the largest stump, blow-down, tree trunk or rock that is wider than your shoulders and higher than your head to place your back against when calling; a hunter is more likely to spot another hunter when moving to the front or side than from behind.
  • Eliminate the colors white, red, black and blue from your hunting outfit; this includes handkerchiefs, socks, underwear, etc. These are the colors of a turkey gobbler.
  • Select your calling spot in open timber rather than thick brush; eliminating movement is a key to success, not concealment.
  • Be discreet when imitating the sound of a gobbling turkey.
  • A good woodsman can always detect movement in the forest by watching other game or listening for the alarm cries of Blue jays, crows, squirrels or woodpeckers. Be alert.
  • When songbirds, crows or your turkey shuts up, look out. There's a good chance another hunter is moving in on your bird.
  • Never move, wave or make turkey sounds to alert another hunter of your presence. Remain still and speak in a loud, clear voice to announce your presence. These tactics are safer than quick movements. Use common sense.

Fall Turkey Hunting Playbook

Well, it's that time of year again. The leaves are beginning to turn, the air is crisp and fall turkey hunting is just around the corner. Don't wait until spring to fire up the calls and get after some fast-feathered action. Odds are, there's a fall season near you. Here's how to get in the game: Blind Bound While I rarely think to tote a compact, fence-style ground blind to stake around me in the spring, you can bet it is a part of my must-haves when hunting the fall. Less cover combined with the possibility of more eyes converging on my setup as I work a regrouping flock make the advantages of added concealment impossible to ignore. Not only does it allow you to manually work calls like boxes or slates without fear of your movement being spotted, but if you are hunting in the company of a turkey dog, it is helpful in keeping him hidden from approaching birds (and the approaching birds hidden from him!) Match Play Once you get a turkey or turkeys to respond to your calls, match them call-for-call, note-for-note. Doing this will often work young birds into a fevered pitch of calling, which not only makes the hunting more intense, but will often bring the birds right into your setup. Doggone It Of those who have tried it fall hunting with dogs where allowed, I've never met a person who preferred to go the turkey woods alone again. Just as canines add enjoyment to other types of hunting, whether it be the disciplined point of a quail dog or a Lab's determined retrieve, the excited barking of a turkey dog on the flush is enough to snap any hunters heart into overdrive. But be ready, when you hear the barking that indicates your dog is busting birds, you may be able to take one on the break. If not, determine where you first heard the barks, round up your dog and get comfortable, you have a short while before you need to start working the flock back in for a shot. I know a good number of hunters who prefer fall turkey doggin' to anything spring has to offer. Besides the company, a good turkey dog cannot only help you in spotting turkeys scooting over the next ridge ahead of you, but bar none, they offer the safest, most effective way to bust a flock. Any breed that can cover a lot of ground, bark on the flush, then sit still while a hunter works birds back in can be a turkey dog. Historically, hunters used a dog, called a fyce. But Virginian John Byrne, today's most prominent turkey dog breeder, raises a line of dogs developed from a Plott hound. Other breeds resemble setters, pointers or straight-out mutts. While a hunter or hunters walk the woods, a turkey dog will cast out like a bird dog working the surrounding area out and away from the hunter looking for the scent or sight of turkeys, occasionally checking back in with the hunter.A turkey's scent has to be less than an hour old for the dog to smell it. That is unless it is a really large flock. Naturally, the more birds, the stronger the scent. Because deer often frequent the same woods as turkeys, you'll need to break hounds quick from chasing them, or you'll waste your time on too many false breaks and looking for a dog that has run off to the next county behind your white-tailed "turkey." Scattered In the fall, the chief way to hunt is to scatter a flock, then try calling it back in. But don't assume because the birds flew or ran off, that you got a good break. If they all flew off in the same direction, you still have work to do. The goal is to scatter them to all points of the compass. These tips should be consider before making the break:
  • First try to call members of a flock in using lost calls. If unsuccessful, sneak, as close as possible, using whatever cover is available.
  • Identify what the flock is made of (i.e. hens and young birds, gobblers); this will affect the way you call and what strategy you will use.
  • After setting your gun safely down or unloading it first, move quickly toward the turkeys, making as much commotion as possible. Many hunters shout or fire their shotguns in the air. This is an excellent method, but only if you make sure not to shoot so closely that you accidentally cripple a turkey; nor should you ever run with a loaded firearm.
  • If the flock is scattered in all directions, set up at the exact point they flushed and begin calling. Groups of hens and young birds will often return to the call almost right away, unless it is late in the day, in which case they may wait until the next morning. Mature toms may take much longer to call back in, though they will occasionally come right in as well.
  • If the birds spooked in a single direction, don't give up. Mark their landing area and quickly move to that spot to attempt another break.
Dress for Success Want to dodge the wary eyes of a wild turkey flock? Then chunk that springtime camo - decorated with the bright greens of spring leaf out - into your closet or gang box and pick up the drabbest item you can find. While terrain will naturally differ throughout North America, in most areas once the color explosion has expired, the woods fall into dominant shades of brown and gray. Go with a darker pattern that mimics your current surroundings; something that offers a slight mix of beige or muted yellows similar to the hue of reeds or fading leaves. Also, mornings are going to start getting cold, so swap your mesh facemask and light cotton gloves for something heavier, perhaps even an insulated mask and gloves. Make sure your gloves aren't so thick, however, that it makes it impossible to pull a trigger or work a call. If you aren't wearing it out the door, at least make sure you have an insulated coat in the truck or in camp should you need it on certain mornings. It's hard to sit still when you are shivering from a combination of cold and flock-calling excitement. Regardless of the time of year, always dress in layers, so you can peel clothing off or put it on to suit the changing temps and your activity level. Step Out In Style With cooler temps comes the need to keep feet warm. The un-insulated snake boots you donned during spring may leave your toes twitching for warmth on frosty morns. Because you're still likely to do a fair amount of walking in the autumn woods (some hunts it seems that's all I do), you'll want something lightweight, comfortable, still waterproof, but with a little insulation or Thinsulate in the lining -- 400 to 800 grams of the latter should do nicely. Avoid heavy, bulky boots. Merino wool socks or foot liners made of modern synthetics will help wick sweat away from your skin adding to your comfort and warmth while reducing the chance for blisters. Stick with a camo boot when possible as it will help add to your total concealment at a time of year when vegetation to keep you hidden is on short supply. One other thing, because you are likely to do a good deal of walking, make sure new boots are broken in well before you hit the woods.. Perhaps the most challenging aspect of fall turkey hunting is finding the turkeys. Although flocks of three to 300 seem like they should be easier to spot, the focus of autumn birds often lies in finding and feeding on mast, which means they keep to the woods. Flocks can also range between 250 and 400 acres. This means where you find them one day, may not necessarily be where you find them the next or the next ... or the next. Fall birds can be elusive. Not only can they be hard to spot, but also unless scattered apart or dropping from the roost, they remain for the most part, silent. Following are some keys to finding fall flocks:
  • Preseason scouting is crucial. Because a turkey's focus is on food at this time of year, search for mast, such as dropping acorns in oak stands, waste grains in field, wild berries, etc. Keep an eye out for scratching?large v-shaped disruptions of leaves with turkey tracks in the soil?as evidence of where turkeys have been feeding. If the soil is still dark and damp, chances are that the birds have been there in the past few hours, something to keep in mind particularly once the season opens.
  • During the season, get to a good listening spot before daybreak. Young flocks often make a ruckus when descending from their roosts and looking for each other on the ground. Listen for frantic wing beats, loud yelps and cutts and the kee-keeing of young birds. Be quick to locate them though as once flocks gather, they usually go silent except for soft purring, the occasional yelp and the scratching of leaves.
One-Note Wonders When working a busted flock of mature gobblers, set up quickly and use only single-note gobbler clucks (deep and raspy sounding) mixed with the occasional keouck- keouck raspy yelp of an old tom. Gobbles can also work. The sparse calling is true to a longbeard's silent nature in fall. Keep your eyes peeled. The only heads up you'll probably get is the sound of turkey feet shuffling toward you or the cluck-like putt that lets you know he made you and the hunt is over!


Zeroing your scope

Pre-sighting You will save a significant amount of expense and frustration by pre-sighting the scope to the rifle before you take it out for zeroing. Collimating, the most accurate and simple technique for pre-sighting, is the system most often used by gunsmiths. It can be done quickly in the shop before leaving for the range. If a collimator is not available, you can still do a good job of pre-sighting by a method known as " bore-sighting". At the range, set the scoped rifle up on sandbags or other steady rest and place a target at 100 yards. With the bolt removed, look through the chamber and move around the bore until you can see the bulls eye centered in the bore. Without moving the rifle from this position, glance through the scope and note where the reticle is positioned on the target. If the scope reticle is not closely aligned to target center, you need to adjust the base mounting screws. Do not use the scope windage and elevation adjustments for these pre-sighting adjustments or you will run out of adjustment for final zeroing. All ABO (USA) serviced scopes are tested to be certain that they provide maximum internal adjustment range. After testing, the reticle is centered in the scope optically and mechanically. However, variations in rifle receiver dimension, mounting holes drilled out of alignment with the receiver or barrels threaded into the receiver at an angle will cause initial scope misalignment. Therefore, it is important to make all major bore sighting adjustments using the mount adjustment screws. Make only final adjustments using the scope's internal windage and elevation screws. This will prevent running out of internal adjustments. Note: There is no acceptable way to increase elevation adjustments except to shim. Shim stock .010" thick, placed under the rear of the mount base will raise the point of impact about 7". To lower the point of impact, place the shim stock under the front end of the base. Zeroing a scope The range at which a scope should be zeroed is a matter of personal judgment. If you anticipate using the scope at distances of 100 yards or less, naturally a 100 yard zero is appropriate. Mid-range trajectory would be about 1" above the line of sight and you could hold directly on target all the way out to about 125 yards. If the anticipated hunting distances are 200 yards or more, you should zero your rifle at the longer ranges. The MRT for a rifle zeroed at 200 yards is minimal for most cartridges (usually about 1.5" to 2") and you can hold directly on target for ranges out to slightly more than 200 yards. If a 200-yard range is not readily available, you can obtain a satisfactory 200-yard zero on a 100-yard range by zeroing about 1.5 . high. A good rest, such as sandbags or steady rest to reduce sighting errors, will help you hold more steadily on target. Rest the forearm, not the barrel, on the rest. If possible, zero in a no-wind condition to establish a standard zero. If you must zero in a wind, make a note of the amount of drift attributable to wind effect and when finally zeroed, make a compensating adjustment to leave the scope at standard (no-wind) zero. For example: a 15MPH wind from the right at the 3 o'clock position will normally drift a .30-06 factory bullet about 1.5" to the left. When you have finished zeroing in a 15MPH wind, simply adjust the Windage knob 1.5" to the left. This will result in standard no-wind zero. The first time about 25 yards out from the muzzle. You can utilize this fact by firing your first zero shot at 25 yards target. If the first shot prints very close to the center of the bulls eye at this range, you can be confident that it will print on paper at 100 yards. If there is a significant error at 25 yards, make compensating changes to bring the point of impact to zero. Since the distance is only 1/4 of the 100 yard final zero distance, you will need to make 4 times as much adjustment as you would at 100 yards. For final zero, move the target to 100 yards (assuming this to be the desired zero distance) and fire at least 3 shots to establish a pattern. Using the center of this group as a reference, make any necessary adjustments to move the point of impact to center. You should fire another group of 3 shots to verify that this adjustment was correct. Do not trust a one-shot zero as accurate. Note: For maximum precision, allow the barrel to cool between shots. A warm or hot barrel shoots differently than a cold one. In the field a shot taken at game is usually from a cold barrel, so you will want to have your gun zeroed when cold. Making windage and elevation adjustments The elevation knob is marked "UP" with an arrow indicating the direction to turn the knob to move the point of impact up on the target. The windage knob is marked "R" with a similar arrow indicating the direction to move point of impact to the right. Many scopes have a graduated scale around the adjustment knob which increments representing a certain amount of point of impact movement on the target. The most common increment is 1/4 minute of angle which means one click or per increment adjustment moves the point of impact 1/4" at 100 yards.


Trophy Care

You can figure on spending a pretty good amount of money these days to have a shoulder mount of that trophy buck done by a competent taxidermist. So it makes sense to do everything you can to ensure that your buck of a lifetime is a mount, which you are proud to display in your home. The first step is choosing a taxidermist. How do you select a good one? That's easy: just look at their work. Shop around and visit a number of taxidermists. You don't have to be an art critic to pick out the deer that look the best to you. And don't let money be your deciding factor. Sure it is tempting to go with that $200 special, but only rarely will you get the same quality for bargain prices. It is your responsibility to see that your buck gets to the taxidermist in good shape. To ensure that it does, follow these suggestions: Avoid A Neck Shot Many hunters like a neck shot, but if you plan to have a deer mounted, a neck shot is risky. If that bullet exits it might just blow a big hole in the cape. Aim for the shoulder instead. And if a deer is down, but you need to deliver the coup de grace, don't shoot it in the head or neck if you plan to have the deer mounted. And for heaven's sake do not cut the deer's throat to bleed it out. Cut Carefully When field dressing the buck, do not cut up the chest past the breastbone. You can reach up in the cavity to remove the lungs, heart and windpipe without splitting the buck from stem-to-stern, as they say. Handle With Care Many capes are ruined or damaged during transport. If you must drag the buck, do not tie the rope around its neck or the base of the antlers. Try to keep the head and neck up off of the ground as you drag the deer, or better yet lay the deer on a sled, cart or tarp. Don't Snag Hair When you load the deer into the back of your pickup or onto a four-wheeler, lay the deer onto a tarp so that the hair is not snagged, bent or broken. Get To The Taxidermist ASAP And then get the deer to the taxidermist as soon as possible. Most taxidermists charge a little extra for skinning and caping, but it is money well spent. If Not .... If you are not able to get the deer to a taxidermist right away, follow these steps:
  1. Start about a foot behind the legs and make a cut completely around the body;
  2. Cut around both knees;
  3. Cut up the inside of each leg to the armpit (leg pit?);
  4. Cut to the original cut you made around the body;
  5. Take your time to avoid mistakes and skin towards the head of the deer;
  6. When you reach the skull, use a meat saw to remove the head;
  7. And store the head and cape in a freezer or a cool place until you can get it to the taxidermist.