Hunting: Taking the shot
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It's just a hint of motion caught from the corner of your eye. Maybe it's nothing.
But as your stare lingers on that nondescript tangle of undergrowth, the deer slowly steps into view. All your training, instinct, equipment and research are on the line during the next few moments. You have, perhaps, seconds to take the shot.
"Before anything else, take a deep breath," said Nick Pinizzotto, an archery eduction instructor for the Pennsylvania Game Commission and outdoors writer from Clarksburg. "The biggest thing is composure. A lot of people get too excited and emotions take over instead of the physical skills they've been practicing."
Before you flip off the gun's safety, consider the safety of the shot.
"Ideally, you'll know the area," said Pinizzotto, "where other hunters and houses may be, so when the time comes you'll know what do to."
Pre-planning the hunt includes determining before first light whether you'll wait for a trophy rack, shoot the first legal buck you see or prefer to take home a doe. Before the hunt, compute distances in every direction with a range finder or by pacing off the range to set points. And consider the logistics of the long drag back to your vehicle -- do you really want to pull a deer up that steep hill?
"When you sight in -- 100 yards is a popular distance -- [take a shot] at 200 yards to see how much it drops," said Pinizzotto. "If you're using a slug gun, you can shoot a target at 200 yards, but know the ballistics of that slug at what it does at 100, 125, 150 yards."
Pinizzotto said most hunters lead too far when firing at a moving animal. Condition yourself to not take an unethical shot at a running deer.
Set the crosshairs or open sight on your spot, inhale, breath out and squeeze that trigger ...
First Published November 29, 2009 12:00 am