Hunter Education – thoughts

Hunter Ed. class Tuesday night, Gun-club picnic tomorrow and we’re bringing a salad (cloweslaw), and the raffle tickets for a S&W Shield 9mm. Which got me to thinking about the poly-stock black scoped hunting rifles the guys in the lane next-over from me were shooting.
Q: Is a scope necessary for ethical hunting and shot-placement?
My only scope is a Nikon .223 point-blank reticle on the Ninja-AR. I won a scope-mount section of rail for a SMLE at the last Gunblogger Rendezvous – it’s a Enfield No.1 low-mount picatinny scope base from GBR repeat-attendee Richard at Special Interest Arms, but I am seriously lothe to drill-and-tap either of my Ishapore rifles.
I can hit pretty well at 100-yards with the .308 NATO, and the Krag, and probably the .303 too – but is it well-and-proper enough for hunting, where a miss that is not a kill allows the wounded animal to flee and die in pain?
I know there are makers of good but inexpensive hunting rifles, which also come scope-equipped. The Savage Club-rifles we had for the Junior Shooters had great accuracy and a very nice triggers. Mossberg also makes a combo-kit hunting rifle as does Ruger and Howa. Maybe I should get something specific for the hunt? September is a ways off and there are also many used rifles in the gun-cases at local shops looking for a good home. Hmmm…
I think I’ll got for a ride on the Gentleman’s Express and check it out…

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10 thoughts on “Hunter Education – thoughts

    • So far last night it was just introductory: about safety, types of guns and the mechanisms of shooting – including black-powder (I think guess because BP has its own season), and becoming an ethical and responsible hunter. Looking ahead in the book for the class however, there’s archery and other types/styles of hunting, like whether you use a blind or a tree stand or hunt open field and upland birds – and where to hit the animal, the vital zones – so it’s a very broad-based course (as far as I can tell so-far). There’s a lot of laws, and in California an extra dose of laws, and after the test at the end if you pass %80 or better you’re able to *buy* a Hunting License for whatever game/season/thing – still a lot I don’t quite understand.
      It doesn’t teach you how to be quiet and stealthy and sneak around trees like a Ninja, but it does talk about “buck fever” – the over-excitement some people get when the see a deer, and the stages people go through as they become more proficient hunters…
      Another class tonight, and then next week too…I think.


  1. If I shot longarms right handed I’d grab one of those Howa combos in a heartbeat (.243 – 7mm-08. .243 ammo is everywhere,will drop our Sierra mule deer DRT and makes for a hell of an intermediate power sniper rifle too.


    • The Big 5 Howa .308 combo is about half-again the cost of the used Interarms Brno-action Mauser, but NEW! I also like the “scout-rifle aspect of that one. Hunter up-here said that the fast .243 is a bit harder on the meat than a .308 but both are equally effective…


  2. The question of do I need a scope is not the right question. The question is how far away can I hit a 6 inch diameter circle every time from the same kind of support I will be using on the hunt. That becomes your maximum effective range on a deer sized target. If you are uncomfortable with how far away you can accomplish that, a scoped rifle will make it a little easier. Most people with iron sights can hold that sized target out to about 50 or 100 yards. With good eyes and lots of practice, maybe 200-250. Most people with a scoped rifle and a little practice can hold that out to 125 or 200 yards, and with serious effort maybe 250 or even 300.

    One of the most accurate rifles I ever shot in my life was a Walmart combo gun. It was a Savage .270 with the world’s cheapest Bushnell scope on top. The owner could not put all of his shots on an 18 inch piece of paper at a hundred yards from a sandbag rest. He asked me how he should adjust his scope to compensate. I said, let me try it and see if there is an accuracy problem. It put 3 shots into one ragged hole at a hundred yards. I told him to go back to the store and buy every box of that ammunition that the store had, showed him where the lot number was. I also told him I would give him $100 more than he paid for it on the spot if he would sell it to me. He did not take me up on the offer.

    Practice from field positions, offhand, standing, kneeling, shoot over your day pack as a rest. You’ll be shocked how lousy you shoot. We all do, once you get away from the bench. Remember, any combination of range, position, rifle, support and ammo you can’t put all your shots a into a desert-plate sized group is too far for an ethical shot on a living animal.

    Finally, when you do shoot a deer, do not sit back and admire your work after one shot. If the animal is still on its feet, and you can still see the vitals, shoot again, and keep shooting until the animal is solidly down or you no longer have a shot. This is basically the same criteria you use for the defensive use of a pistol. With a pistol, shoot until the danger is no longer a threat. When hunting, shoot until the animal is down and anchored. American hunters have a horrible ego problem of trying to say they took every animal cleanly with one shot. I have been thoroughly disgusted at the number of times I have had to help people follow up on these animals because they wanted their one shot, one kill, record. it’s bullshit, and it’s unfair to the animal. Once you let the flag fly on a game animal, you have an ethical duty to do your utmost to anchor that in animal the most humane way so that its life is not wasted, and you can recover the meat and hide quickly before spoilage and in an ethical manner. Shoot, and keep shooting until the animal is down.

    For what it’s worth.


    • Thanks!! That’s all valuable stuff! Also why I figured a moderate scope would be a useful addition: to ensure field-of-view and good shot placement. I doubt that in this landscape of brush and hills and thickets I’ll be shooting over 100-yards, much more likely is closer.


  3. My recommendation, FWIW, is NOT to get a rifle/scope combo. Buy the rifle and get a good quality scope! Usually those combos have cheap scopes in the package. If you’re looking at used, Nikon Pro series, Loopy, or something along those lines is what you want to see on top of the rifle.


    • Agree 100% with Old NFO!

      The scope that came on my Marlin 336 was some Brand-X piece of junk that wouldn’t hold the zero for more than 3 or 4 shots.

      I replaced it with a Nikon, and now that’s all I’ll buy.

      I can’t afford $2000 for a scope, but Nikon makes damn good scopes for $300!


    • I have a Nikon M-223 on my Ninja AR with a “point blank” reticle – it’s good as far as I can tell but, my 200-yard zero wanders just the same as with iron sight – I thought scopes had some kind of magic power to make the bullet fly true!


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