Ah, November. Depending where you are, it’s either deer season already, or it’s about to commence.

Have you scouted out where you’re going to hunt yet?

Are you sighted in yet? Be reminded, “It was sighted in when I put it away last season” is not enough.  Consider:

Guns get bumped and dropped. That can alter point of aim/point of impact.

We traditionalists who like walnut or other wood stocks on our rifles have to remember that wood absorbs moisture. When it expands and bears on the barrel, point of aim/point of impact can be altered by that, too.  The mount screws on our telescopic sights can loosen with time and use, and that changes POA/POI coordinates as well.  Are we absolutely SURE that the ammo we set out for THIS season is EXACTLY the same as what we used last season, and are sighted in for?  Same concerns.

Hunters’ ethics:  We owe the animal a swift, clean kill.  It’s what makes our harvesting the creature more humane than the miserable death a wild animal can expect from old age out there in the wilderness.  If anything has happened to make the shot go somewhere other than where we aimed, the humane demise can turn into hours or even days of the animal slowly dying in agony, not to mention that all that meat for the table is lost.

Take the time to verify POA/POI coordinates, preferably off the bench at the distances from which you are most likely to take a shot in the field.  Then, verify from field shooting positions (kneeling, standing, whatever) that you and your deer rifle are still in tune with one another in that respect.

I suspect there are readers of this blog who can share stories of where the whole point of aim/point of impact thing went well, and where it went wrong.  Those comments are, as always, invited.

Good luck, and safe and happy hunting.


  1. Off topic here Mas, but I am a retired firefighter and in a conversation with a friend we had an argument about whether or not it was a good idea to triage a wounded suspect after a DGU. This is assuming of course that the danger is now passed and the threat has been neutralized. What is you opinion?

  2. Best bet is to follow on-duty paramedic protocol: a criminal suspect who forced good guys to shoot him should not be approached until he has been cleared of weapons by responding police officers. I’m still waiting to see an effective way of applying first aid to a wounded suspect without being vulnerable to secondary attack by that suspect or as yet unseen accomplice.

  3. I hunted deer for the first time in 2015 season – northern Sierra Nevada; carried a fairly heavy scoped 7mm-.08. Didn’t see a buck in 12 days hunting. Season two, this past Oct; carried a CV carbine in 7.62×39. Didn’t see a buck. For NEXT season, I have bought a S & W model69 in .44 magnum. If I don’t see a buck, I’m thinking maybe a slingshot for 2018.

  4. I enjoy 3 gun though I’m a mediocre gamer at my age/health but it’s fun! I shot a local match as a warmup to an away match. I did well at the local match and was psyched for The trip.
    My first stage at The travel match felt good but my score came back with an atypical number of complete misses on any head shots (IDPA targets used).
    I used the next stage to carefully shoot a target where I could see the holes and determine what was up, sure enough about a 4″ high and same left at 50? Yards? What was up? No loose screws, turrets at same numbers as last sight in. Then my Dad noticed a decent scrape on the lower right of the scope, had to be looking for it but obvious once you looked, scope had a shiny spot on one end of the scrape and a “v” dent at that spot, again small but obvious once you knew it was there. That’s what we call a “clue.”
    The only time it was out of my possession between the local match stages and the away match was on the rack at the local match when I was shooting the last stage which was SG then pistol, no rifle. Later a friend who shot the local match told me there had been a small rifle rack domino incident when people who finished early were collecting their rifles and I was off awaiting my turn to fire… they thought my rifle had not fallen so I wasn’t told, no reason to. But clearly it either had or was struck. Cost me two stages before I could do a hasty rezero just in time for the long distance stage!
    No hard feelings, just wish I’d had a chance to take a few sighting shots before the match. Lesson learned.

  5. In 1957 I was hunting moose in Alaska wit a fellow I work. We had hunted all day in below zero weather. That night at our tent camp, i saw that the scope on his rifle was mounted backward. He had borrowed the gun, when he cleaned it he removed the scope and reversed it when he remounted the Weaver rings. He had hunted all day with the scope on backward. I, trying to keep my self under control, suggested that as it was so cold he out to test to see if the rifle would fire as he had oiled it heavly. I but a can in a tree fork and told him to do the test shot. He aimed, lowered the gun, reaimed several times before he confessed,” I can’t see it’. On backward, everything looked 6 times as far away through the 6X scope. When he said that I could not contain myself, I laughed on and on, could not contain it.almost collapsed in the snow from weakness.
    Always a good to check your zero. It can be very unfunny if you do not.

  6. Jo Ann & Ken Tapp: the two moose that I have bagged were automobile road hits in very rural areas, where I was either the only party with a rifle, or somebody handed me a shotgun loaded with slugs. It might pay to study animal accident reports and schedule hunts accordingly.

  7. Best blog post I’ve seen here in a long while Mas, these are good times indeed! Deer Season 🙂

    No sights for my Deer needs thus far this year. My goal was to get a great (and very tasty) Whitetail Doe with buckshot – Mission Accomplished! Going for a buck next… Meat supply is dwindling rapidly. I have been patterning extensively for this purpose for awhile now.

    Lots’O’luck to all out there. Enjoy the venison to those who have it

    P.S. – Jo Ann, you can get one with the .44! I’d have had a huge body Muley this year yet the area I was hunting in has a 4 tines on at least one antler requirement and he was a 3×3 typical. Also saw lots of does and another buck or two but spikers.

  8. It’s funny this email arrived because I just got done spending the entire afternoon mounting, boresighting and shooting two new hunting rifles I picked up at Beckwith Gun shop. It was a pleasure with the election behind us and favorable to be looking at Henry Lever rifles and quality bolt guns once again and not concerned about high capacity guns on some hit list. Yes I’ve always sighted in my guns before each year hunt and many times when I arrived at my destination if there’s a place to shoot.

    I will be enjoying some traditional deer season up north next week.

  9. This blog brought back the best memories. In December 1985, I was hunting in north central MA during the Commonwealth’s three day long, pre-Christmas black powder muzzleloading deer season. The area to be hunted was a large cedar swamp and an adjacent forest near the Otter River.

    My firearm of choice was a Thompson Center Renegade .56 Caliber Percussion Smoothbore Musket, loaded with a .55 caliber patched wall. (At the time, MA Hunting Regulations prohibited use of any muzzleloader fitted with a rifled barrel.) Testing various loads of black powder while sighting in this Smoothbore Musket at 50 meters was a hoot!

    Temps were well below 32 degrees F and the forest floor, covered with a light glaze of ice and snow, required a deliberate choice of each step in an attempt to keep noise to a minimum. I ended up chasing the same buck on three consecutive days. I saw him twice, but in each case, I was not close enough to get an accurate, clear “dropping” shot. The highlight of the hunt was enjoying the total solitude of the cedar swamp and the adjacent forest. The careful, slow moving nature of the hunt allowed my senses to react to the beyond beautiful environment surrounding me.

    The lowlight of the hunt occurred when I crossed a narrow, small creek covered with ice and snow. Without warning, I was standing hip deep in freezing cold water. I cursed and laughed simultaneously. After pulling myself out of the water, I considered building a small fire and changing into dry clothing including dry boots and dry socks stored in my rucksack. I vetoed that idea and decided to move safely but rapidly back to my Subaru 4WD Wagon that was parked three miles north of my position. After finding the correct azimuth on my compass, I was on my way. I was one happy deer hunter when my car became visible in the distance. Yes, my car’s heater worked well!

    No, I had not downed the pursued buck, but the totality of the three day long hunt experience in 1985 makes it remain vivid in my memory in 2016. I still own and go afield each Fall bearing the same Thompson Center Renegade .56 Caliber Percussion Smoothbore Musket described above. The same Musket also serves as an excellent small game-dropping 28 gauge shotgun when loaded with black powder and birdshot.

    Right now, Kittery Trading Post, located in Kittery ME, Toll Free Telephone
    1 (800) 872-4867, currently has FOUR used Thompson Center Renegade .56 Caliber Percussion Smoothbore Muskets in stock! Prices range from $225 to $265. Check out the Ktpguns dot com website, then swoop down like a red tailed hawk on a hapless hare to add one of these fantastic four .56 Caliber Smoothbore Muskets to your gun safe.

    Track of the Wolf, located in Elk River MN, Telephone (763) 633-2500, has in stock all of the necessary gear required to turn a Thompson Center Renegade .56 Caliber Percussion Smoothbore Musket into one of your favorite long guns. The friendly, knowledgeable staff at Track of the Wolf will be delighted to help you accessorize a Thompson Center Renegade .56 Caliber Percussion Smoothbore Musket to meet your specific hunting and shooting needs.

    Make your own “Musket Memory” when going afield in Fall 2016 and Winter 2017.

  10. In paragraph # 2 of the message directly above, “.55 caliber patched wall” should read “.55 caliber patched ball.” Mea culpa.

  11. Several years ago I was hunting deer with a friend along the Missouri river in central South Dakota. The day was miserable with wet, heavy snow falling and visibility severely restricted. I decided I would shoot the first thing I saw and call it a day. A nice, fat mule deer doe presented herself at a range of maybe 75 yards and I raised the rifle and touched one off. She stood there and looked at me. Knelt down and shot again. Still standing there looking at me. Again. Again. Again. Pretty soon I was about out of ammo and the deer was still standing there. I had a pile of brass beside me that looked like I was firing a machine gun.
    Then the deer got tired of the game and ambled off.

    Walking back to where we had parked the truck another muley doe ran past and I dumped her with the first shot.

    I met up with my hunting partner and my son and I were dragging my deer out as he moved over to walk some brush some brush yards over to one side of us and down hill.

    Suddenly a big white tail buck came crashing out of the weeds and my partner shot. I saw his .270 bullet hit the deer behind the shoulder and blood spray the snow covered brush behind him, but the deer just flinched. He made a circle and was about to pass in front of me. I was frantically searching all my pockets for the one remaining shell I knew I still had after my fusillade at the first doe. I finally found it and got the bolt back, inserted the cartridge and got the gun up just as the buck passed in front of me at about 50 yards. I pulled the trigger and the buck hit the ground chin first (Skinning the buck revealed the two bullets hit about two inches apart. The difference in results was my partner was shooting a .270 and I had my .300 Weatherby Mag. No tracking necessary, ever).

    So we went home, tags filled and happy.

    Next year I got the rifle out in preparation for sighting in, and I remembered the frustration of the previous year when I first couldn’t hit anything, then made two nice shots on running deer. I got my gunsmithing screwdriver out and checked the bedding and trigger guard screws.
    Almost finger loose.

    Lesson learned.

  12. Once many years ago I checked my ammo supply a week or so before opening day. I went shopping for bullets-not loaded ammo, I reload. I couldn’t find the bullet brand I’d been using, so bought a competitors version of the same bullet: 180 gr round nose .30 caliber.

    At the range, the few rounds I had with the old bullet went right where they were supposed to go. The rounds loaded with the apparently identical other brand didn’t.

    Even if you buy the same brand of ammunition, you shouldn’t assume (you know what they say) that production changes haven’t been made that might change the point of impact. Or that your hunting buddies ammunition will shoot where yours does.

    Good Hunting and a Happy Thanksgiving to all.

  13. Good hunting and best wishes for filling your freezer to all.

    Happy Thanksgiving as well.

  14. I have a ruger ultralight that prints 4 in lower with 150gr rem loads than my handloads with 150gr magtips at 100 yrds. good groups with both, just different points of impact.

  15. I wonder if the widespread use of scopes may partly be attributable to people not being clear on the concept of POA/POI that is required of iron sights equipped guns.
    Time/place: Mid 60’s, N/E PA, at my father’s group lease deer hunting cabin. After checking their rifles on their target range (25yds at least), they got to playing with the toys they had brought along, mostly handguns. The final gun used was a standard barrel Luger, probably 9mm. Targets were about 8 soup cans sitting on top of the substantial backstop. They had seen this gun before. No one could hit any cans. It was finally offered to me. First handgun I ever fired, IIRC.
    The POI of my first shot was clearly low and left, about 6″. I compensated and hit each can with one shot. Stunned silence resulted. I don’t recall anyone being interested in how I accomplished it. All had scoped rifles for deer. Some of them had served in ww2, but I have no knowledge of their experience, other than one being in the navy on a destroyer.

  16. I sure wish I could go deer hunting, but I am currently out of the country. Good luck and be safe to all the other hunters.

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