It is difficult to make a sure shot in deer hunting if your rifle sights are bouncing around.
This happens a lot. Some of the problem is due to excitement, and that is understandable. More of it is due to hunters needing a little help holding the gun. We have tools to assist us on this point. Available to us are bipods, shooting sticks, monopods and even tripods like photographers use.
Most of us do not shoot rifles nearly enough to be competent with them. Holding the rifles steady enough for accurate shooting is a related issue.
Today’s deer hunting is nearly all getting in a spot and waiting for a buck or a doe to show up. Whether above ground in a stand of some sort, on the ground in a blind or just sitting or standing with our backs to a tree, we ought to take a look at some support for a rifle.
Military firearms training for decades has focused on the four positions that can be used — prone, sitting, kneeling and standing. Instructors emphasize that standing is the least steady of the four.
But in all four positions in deer hunting, props can be used.
Many tree stands today have shooting rails, devices that fold up to provide access then drop down in place for shooting. The hunter can rest a rifle on these rails and greatly improve steadiness — if the rail is high enough to allow it. Attach a bipod to the rifle’s forearm or barrel, and this problem generally goes away.
Bipods range from simple and costing $10 or so to complex with folding and swivel features and requiring much of a $100 bill.
On the lower end are plastic snap-on bipods that affix to a rifle barrel. They work. They help with steadiness. But they do not swivel.
More expensive are bipods that attach to forearm sling mounts and that fold and swivel. Yes, these are nice for hunters in fixed positions and where some added weight is not an issue.
A caution: With any of these devices — bipods, shooting sticks or monopods — be aware of noise when you snap them into use. Sure, it’s just a click, but deer have extremely acute hearing.
Shooting sticks have come on strong in popularity.
Some are homemade. Two pieces of bamboo or other light, thin material and a piece of elastic, and you have a shooting stick. Most, though, are bought items like a pair of shock-corded strong plastic sticks. The latter can be found with pockets that fit on a rifle sling. With a bit of practice, these can be put into position and a rifle made ready in three, four or five seconds, maybe less.
They do work.
Last year on the public land elk hunt in Buffalo Rover country, 8-year-old Rip Finley of Mountain Home had shooting sticks and a .270 rifle. His dad and a helper urged him to shoot when a nice bull elk came into view. Rip shot, and the elk went down. They had a rangefinder with them. Rip’s range on that shot was 224 yards.
Some deer hunters lean toward monopods which are adjustable for height. This makes them suitable for a shooter sitting in a blind, ground or elevated, and a shooter standing. These usually have a V-shaped top that accommodates the rifle forearm.
Steadiness improves deer season success.