George Block Column
Last-minute preparations for deer hunting take time
Most of us put things off until the last minute, then rush around like a chicken with its head cut off.
Well my friends, this is the last minute and time to get things done. While we are still in the middle of the bear season, deer season, or should I say the traditional deer season, begins a week from tomorrow.
With a family holiday in the middle of the week, time to get ready is becoming short. Hunting clothes that were hurriedly put away or thrown in a corner somewhere need to be found and checked for tears, etc.
Remember that 250-square inches of necessary blaze orange? Find your orange hat and vest. Did you remember to get a hunting license? When working in the store, I was always amazed at the number of people who purchase a license at the last minute.
How is your ammo supply? If the rifle is chambered for an older cartridge, or one that is not very popular, better start looking for ammo now. Some ammunition can be hard to find.
In most instances, one seldom needs more than eight rounds to go hunting. I know you only need one but I feel comfortable carrying eight. Since ammo usually comes in boxes of 20, it’s a good idea to use the other 12 to sight the rifle in.
Even if the rifle was hitting dead on last year, it could still be off now. Many things occur during the course of the year that can shift the point of impact. Bumping or dropping the outfit is an obvious problem, but subtle things like a radical change in the home’s humidity can cause a problem. This can be rare but it does happen.
In other words, shoot the rifle before going hunting. Under dry conditions, wood can shrink and the opposite can occur when things are very moist. Both conditions can affect point of impact.
This is the biggest advantage of synthetic stocks. Humidity doesn’t affect them. In the fraternity of serious shooters, it’s hard to believe but some persons do little more than shoot at a cardboard box to sight in their rifle. Hit the box and everything is fine. In reality, to sight in, the shooter needs a good rest and a safe place to shoot. In most instances, 100 yards seems to be a standard sight-in range. If you don’t have access to a good bench rest and/or a safe range, remember Dormont-Mt. Lebanon Sportsmen’s Club in Linden is holding their sight-in day today. It will run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., depending on need. There is a $3 charge which will be donated to charity.
Actually, just the shooting knowledge of the member helpers is well worth the money. On top of that, at an average cost of $1 per round, using the club probably will save enough ammo to easily pay the $3.
When attempting to do this job at home or across a friend’s pasture, make sure you have a good backstop. Hunting and target shooting are remarkably safe, and we want to keep it that way.
Clubs have safety rules and most of them should carry over to shooting on private property. Never handle a firearm while someone is down range. Never assume a rifle or handgun is empty. Pick it up. Check for a load. Make sure the ammo is right for the rifle. Do not take another’s word for it.
Sight-in time is a good time to check the safety. A lot depends on this mechanical piece of equipment. When shooting reloads, sight-in is also a good time to check for easy chambering and fit in magazine of each round to be carried hunting. Never take things for granted.
It’s still too early to know what the weather will be during deer season, but if it is warm, a special problem comes up. Warm weather and meat spoilage go hand in hand.
I was talking to Chuck Kalb, a meat cutter from Ellsworth, about this the other day. Kalb emphasized the need to get the deer cooled when temps are high. Get it off the ground and place it in the shade.
Get it to the processor quickly, and do not wash with water unless absolutely necessary. Remember, bacteria breeds quickly in warm water.
Kalb says think cool and no water. Kalb has been cutting deer for some time and when he talks meat, I listen.
George H. Block writes a Sunday Outdoors column for the Observer-Reporter.