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Long pokes have become common currency, resulting in much crippled game. Poor hits far away mean follow-ups that impose more bullet drop and drift and greatly magnify the effects of wobble and rough trigger pulls. Whether on a follow-up or your first shot, a misfire is unnerving. The overwhelming temptation: fire again, quickly! So you yank the trigger and miss. Perhaps the most disheartening of misfires is that of a muzzleloader.

Your only hope, if a primer fails, is to replace it or cock the hammer again. As a misfire can derail your focus, so can awareness of that stack of cartridges in your magazine. The easier it is to fire repeat shots, the more likely you are to rely on them. A single-shot rifle can help you concentrate. So can loading your magazine short of capacity, or hunting with only the four or five rounds in your rifle. One hunter out of ammo finished a wounded but still active elk with a knife.

But once an elk is hit, conserving ammo plummets on your to-do list. How To Help. Real Conservation Matters. Press Room. Elk Camp Mountain Fest. Your first shot can be worth several follow-ups. Most first shots are fired at undisturbed game.

Stricken Elk and Second Chances

Ideally, you have time to aim, let your pulse subside and steady the rifle. Most second shots follow poor first shots. You hurried; you jerked the trigger; you flinched; you fired even as your wobbly position let the sight wander off-target. Differences in bullet path, upset and energy affect animal reaction to hits that look the same from behind the scope. Elk that drop as if the earth were yanked from under them have most often sustained injury to the spine and its nerve bundles.

5 Shooting Tips - Gun Guide

A spinal hit behind the shoulders puts the rear quarters out of service. A bullet to the forward spine short-circuits all support and can itself kill instantly. Alas, organs and tissue around the neck vertebrae occupy a lot of what you see in your scope. If you miss the spine, a neck shot can seriously or fatally injure the elk without giving you a chance for a follow-up or recovery.

The uninitiated have my sympathy. Shoot Deliberately First, second or fifth, the only bullets that count are those that hit. Neglect aiming, and you might as well save the cartridge. Ditto if you accept a sight picture that bounces the sight wildly about the mark. I once missed an outstanding deer because I hoped the reticle would jog onto the target. Hope contributes little to marksmanship.

Long pokes have become common currency, resulting in much crippled game. Poor hits far away mean follow-ups that impose more bullet drop and drift and greatly magnify the effects of wobble and rough trigger pulls.

Shots to the Vital Areas

Whether on a follow-up or your first shot, a misfire is unnerving. The overwhelming temptation: fire again, quickly! So you yank the trigger and miss. Perhaps the most disheartening of misfires is that of a muzzleloader. Your only hope, if a primer fails, is to replace it or cock the hammer again.


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As a misfire can derail your focus, so can awareness of that stack of cartridges in your magazine. The easier it is to fire repeat shots, the more likely you are to rely on them. A single-shot rifle can help you concentrate. So can loading your magazine short of capacity, or hunting with only the four or five rounds in your rifle.

One hunter out of ammo finished a wounded but still active elk with a knife. But once an elk is hit, conserving ammo plummets on your to-do list.


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  • How To Help. Real Conservation Matters. Press Room. Elk Camp Mountain Fest. Your first shot can be worth several follow-ups. Most first shots are fired at undisturbed game. Ideally, you have time to aim, let your pulse subside and steady the rifle. Most second shots follow poor first shots. You hurried; you jerked the trigger; you flinched; you fired even as your wobbly position let the sight wander off-target. Field dress the deer properly. You don't want to have just made a kill and find out you're without tools. If you're close to home or camp, or have access to an ATV or other vehicle, you might bring the whole deer back and hoist it before skinning and gutting the deer.

    If you've got a long hike on foot, remove the entrails and pull the major organs from the rib cage, being careful not to puncture the stomach or intestines. There will be several membranes attaching the organs to the spine, which you'll also need to cut.

    Shots to the Vital Areas — Texas Parks & Wildlife Department

    Generally, most hunters will then "break" the hind quarters and the fore, to make the carcass more easy for packing out, then butcher it later. How many times should I shoot a deer? Where is the best place to shoot a deer?

    If the shot you made is good, you should need only one shot. The heart is located low in the chest just behind the front shoulder.


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    • Yes No. Not Helpful 0 Helpful 5. How do I stay calm when I am worried about the gun kicking and being really loud? I would recommend getting a hunting guide, but they will probably let you load your gun as you are entering your hunting vicinity. Then you can put it down while you are silently staying in one spot.

      Hunter's Guide to Accurate Shooting: How to Hit What You're Aiming at in Any Sit

      You can quietly lift up your gun if and when you start to see a deer approaching. Once it's been determined that you can make a safe shot, you will only need to click off the safety and squeeze the trigger. Not Helpful 5 Helpful 0. Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered. Already answered Not a question Bad question Other.