So just as deadbeat broke teens shake down their parents for extra cash, I quietly called up my old man, Jim, for some much needed advice. He first stated the obvious "to move in closer", but dismal cover and the eight wary does he, the buck, had with him nixed that idea completely. Then, like the onset of panic from a dirty fart, I heard him mutter the most hideous, gut wrenching, words, "I'll just Google your dilemma, Trav!" Well hell, the fate of my hunt now rested somewhere in cyber space and with my luck Kim Jong-un would instantly sabotage our frantic, and peril, yet silly, web search. There was a brief stint of silence, on the phone, and then an abrupt gasp followed by, "damn, I never knew that Federal had a ballistics calculator on their site." So he punched in all of the ammunition inputs, the firearm setup and environmental conditions, in to this software program, and wham-o, it read like an article on the front page of The New York Times. "Read All About It: Trav's bullet drop is -36.1 inches, wind drift is 20.2 inches and his butt cheeks aren't clinched nearly tight enough." Thereupon learning this, from my dad, I put my cell down, made the appropriate corrections in my scope, took one last breathe and squeezed the trigger.
That single shot, I just made, echoed through the rolling plains of Northwestern Kansas as this ten point buck dropped to the ground from a direct hit to the heart. Was it luck? Sure. However, knowing the ins and outs of my firearm, ammunition, scope, their combined capabilities, plus my own, played an even bigger role. See, the basic principles of success are founded on four elements and one action: honesty, knowledge, creativity, persistence and how to apply them in equal proportions. Example: before I set out that day, I had working knowledge from hours on end, of practice, with that firearm, that scope, that load and I understood how they all would react in different climates, weather conditions, etc. I, too, was painfully aware of my own limitations, pitfalls if you will, and at what yardage my success ratio started to plummet at. And, to be frank, up until that moment I had never harvested anything over 400 yards and hadn't planned on doing so, anytime, in the near future. But, if anything, hunting had taught me this, you either rise to the occasion or head home empty handed and hungry. Thus, I adamantly encourage every hunter to push themselves, out of their own comfort zones, while they're at the range. To dissect their firearms through regular cleanings and maintenance and to comprehend even the most minute detail, the absolute nitty-gritty, about their ammunition, their scope and what makes them such a powerful force to be reckoned with.
Now, long distance shooting can't be defined by a specific number and my interpretation of it is certainly going to differ from yours. It's much like political beliefs, everyone enjoys their own flavor of nonsense. But I, personally, consider anything at, or over, 250 yards to be long distance, and if you aren't 100% accurate around this mark than you clearly need to spend more time behind a shooting bench. Why, you ask? The fear of bad shot placement and failed recovery attempts, come first to mind, and the tact of a follow-up shot as your backup plan is juvenile at best. For proficiency is the key to a clean harvest, at any yardage, and the only way to become a proficient shooter is to act upon the age old saying of "practice makes perfect."
Here's the takeaway, only you can dictate what is or isn't a doable, ethical, shot, in terms of long distance shooting, and to arrive at that conclusion takes a profound sense of reality. Can you, the hunter, set boundaries on how far you are willing and able to shoot out to? Will you adhere to your own rules even if a new world record whitetail comes into play just out of your desired, targeted, range? Can you explain the integral workings of your firearm, ammunition and scope and how you have learned and applied their strengths to your advantage?
If you can answer yes, to all of the above, then you, my friends, are bonafide long distance shooters and I have successfully wasted the past ten minutes of your precious lives. So, please, carry on with your bad selves and forget you ever read this garbage.
Hugs, Handshakes and Happy Hunting.