that the tree I was in was rocking forward and backward. I distinctly remembered aligning the crosshairs just behind the buck’s shoulder while the crosshairs were on an upswing. This created built-in lead, causing the bullet to strike an inch or two over the buck’s back. My equipment was up to the job, but I wasn’t skilled enough to make the shot or realize I couldn’t. Had the deer been closer, the rocking tree would have made no difference. I had selected that tree because many deer trails and single sets of tracks crossed the open powerline right-of-way I was hunting in several places. Rubs and scrapes were obvious in the trees on both sides. I’d tried to set up in the epicenter of activity, but after my miss I knew where the buck had actually crossed. I moved my stand closer to that spot, and hunted every morning before work and on Saturdays. Then, on Nov. 20, 1980, the buck reappeared. I was 30 feet up a longleaf pine. It was 17°F. The wind was calm. I had positioned my stand so I could rest the rifle on the solid tree trunk, rather than a swaying limb. Although he was 225 yards away, the buck saw me raise the rifle. He stared, quartering toward me as the crosshairs steadied on his shoulder. He hit the ground like a ton of bricks. Loading that 8-pointer into my pickup bed felt like the zenith of my hunting career. And, at that time, it was. In hindsight, that was only the beginning. When it comes to taking deer at long range, everything evolves and changes — equipment, conditions, and skills. In the years since “the one that got away,” I’ve taken larger bucks at longer ranges. But that first momentous miss, followed by perseverance and then success, blazed the trail to them all.
Jerry Simmons took this buck from a custom-built shooting house. The range was well beyond 200 yards and the caliber was .260 Remington.
Hitting Deer on the Move
My intent here is not to discuss shooting deer on the run, which is a subject better covered in a hound-hunting article. Rather, I’m talking about making a successful bullet strike on a deer that is walking, which is what I did on one memorable North Carolina whitetail. The buck appeared walking from left to right, apparently trailing a doe that had walked the same path an hour before. The logging road the deer crossed was only 30 feet wide. The deer was walking briskly and the range was greater than 200 yards. I took the shot from a solid rest in custom tree stand on a windless day. A buck walking briskly can cover about one foot before the
bullet can travel that distance. The scope crosshairs were at the front of the buck’s shoulder and the bullet struck behind the shoulder. The buck went down quickly. Had the crosshairs been aligned on the deer’s ribcage, the outcome could have been much different with a long tracking job at best, a lost deer at worst. When a buck presents a shot at long range, any movement in any direction can cause a miss. The farther the range, the more difficult it is to make a solid hit. It’s better to decline the shot if you can’t estimate how much the deer will move before the shot connects and compensate for the movement.
34 • NBS OUTDOOR • Fall 2020
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