As hunters, we are constantly learning and trying to become the best we can be.
Many lessons are learned from our own mistakes, but you don’t always have to make a mistake to learn. For example, so many issues can be avoided by simply being prepared. This means putting in the time before the season to ensure you have given yourself the best possible chance at success.
Unquestionably the most important is ensuring you are dialed in with your gun. Often times people get so overwhelmed with checking trail cams, planting food plots, ensuring water tanks are full, and scouting that the preparation of shooting can be overlooked. Let’s face it, if you skip this one step you are wasting time on all the other steps. Knowing gear, your effective range, and understanding your ballistics is truly part of the duties as a hunter.
One easy way this can be done is by utilizing the Winchester Ballistic Calculator app both in the field and at home. This app will allow you to test various loads side by side ensuring you get the perfect gun/ammo/caliber combination for your needs.
I personally like to study the app when I’m bored or at home, then bring it out to the range and double check it against my exact gear. It’s amazing how spot on this app is. However, it still doesn’t beat range time. Firing rounds is definitely the most effective way to prepare, but the ballistic app makes it easy to decide on the ammo and to compare and contrast loads side by side out to long distances.
My set up includes a Winchester XPR in a .300 Win. Mag. paired with Deer Season XP in a 150-grain. This is my go-to setup for all my whitetail and mule deer hunts because of the extreme knockdown power. When practicing, I like to use a lead sled on a bench to get everything dialed in. I also usually bring a set of shooting sticks along to shoot off to simulate real field-like experience. With my set up, I’m comfortable out to 300-yards. But I still prefer taking most of my shots within 150-yards and in if at all possible.
Ideally, you want to be shooting throughout the entire year so you are super comfortable and knowledgeable about your set up. If you’re going to take all the time to do the preparation and get out and do the hunt, you might as well ensure you’re as prepared as possible when the time finally comes to make the shot.