This weekend we spent some time hunting Blesbuck with two clients, needless to say, they got the animal they were after but we had a couple of mis shots as well as a wounded animal. So it just got me thinking why these things happen.
Like any hunt, things start off at the shooting range to ensure that the hunters rifles are shooting accurately and that they are comfortable before we head out to stalk our pray. The shots on the range are good and the hunters have no problem hitting a 2 inch block at a 100m so now as a PH you feel comfortable that your client will be able to shoot a heart/lung area shot with very little difficulty.
So you head out and you get a shot at an animal within range and the shot is not placed where it should be or at slightly longer range the shot is completely missed or the animal was shot so poorly that you have a wounded animal running around.
After this weekend I thought i’ll put together a couple of pointers so that this does not happen to you on your next hunt.
I think the most important advice I can give any hunter is that you need to practice allot with the rifle you intend to use on your hunt. Dont just stick to the normal 100m range that you are comfortable with, go to a range where you can shoot up to 400m, not many of us will ever take a 400m shot on an animal but what if you have to…. It is important to know how much your bullet drops at 200m, 300m and 400m if your rifle is zero’d at 100m. The only way you will ever be comfortable with shooting longer range shots as required with animal like Blesbuck is to practice at longer ranges until you are comfortable and know your rifles trajectory.
Its important to use the correct ammunition for your rifle, whether you are reloading or buying ammunition each rifle prefers a different grain bullet. The best way to start is by knowing your rifle twist and buying or reloading ammunition that is best suited for your twist. Once you have the right grain point for your rifle you will see significant changes in accuracy.
Your optics on your rifle is very important, make sure you have the best optics you can afford and that you have the correct magnification for your intended range. When you are hunting animal at 100m or less a 6X magnification works perfectly and is deadly but once you start increasing the range you will need to increase your magnification capability to ensure accurate shots.
Make sure you are comfortable both physically and mentally before taking the shot, it is easier to not take the shot than to search for a wounded animal. If you know your rifle and trajectory don’t let external advice from observers make you change you’re aiming point if you feel you have taken all factors into account.
Be comfortable with all styles of shooting. You might need to shoot off sticks or shoot lying or shoot sitting over a rock. Make sure you practice shooting in different positions and not just over the comfortable shooting bench at your local range.
The most important thing is that everyone has a miss or a wound shot in their lives. Get over it and ensure you clear your head before taking aim on the next animal or go back to the shooting range and practice till you know you are ready.
PH, Petrus Geldenhuys