As with all aspects of shooting, particularly at long range, learning to properly read the wind requires practice and familiarity with the basics.
How can you use natural environmental elements to help read the wind and make adjustments?
- Mirage, which refers to the way light rays are bent due to the heat difference of the ground and the air, can be used, if they’re moving, to help illustrate wind direction and intensity. Read the full article to get a better understanding of how to use Mirage to assess the wind.
- Grass, leaves, tree branches and other flora are good indicators of wind speed and direction. Read the full article to learn how to use these natural clues.
- If you’re hunting in a foreign environment, use a windmeter to measure values and their effects on flora; then, you can estimate wind values at range based on the amount of movement of that particular plant. Read the full article for the benefits of a windmeter.
- Canyons can prove particularly challenging, especially if compound winds are present. Make sure you understand how canyon walls affect wind currents.
Wind is a predictable effect, assuming the values are known and things are constant. Making correct adjustments to overcome those effects — that’s the key to successful shooting.
Read the full article at GunDigest.com for a more detailed explanation of how to use these environmental elements
Special thanks to GunDigest.com for providing this insightful content.
GunDigest.com is a shooter’s opportunity to keep up with what’s going on in the world of the gun.
In this video, former Army Ranger sniper team leader Ryan Cleckner explains how to estimate wind speed, shares a formula for calculating wind drift, and explains how ballistic charts and empirical data gathered at the range can help hunters and target shooters properly compensate for the effects of wind.
Choose the Right BulletOne big, often ignored factor in making long-range shots on big game is terminal ballistics. Far too many hunters pick a cartridge and bullet that are designed for long-range target shooting. The problem in that is that the goal in target shooting is simply to hit the target. When hunting, you must also be able to also dispatch the animal humanely.Long-range target bullets are designed for accuracy and a high ballistic coefficient, which is a measure of atmospheric drag on the bullet in flight. They are not designed for predictable expansion on animals the size of deer and elk. For that you need a hunting bullet, and most hunting bullets will have a minimum impact velocity required to guarantee expansion. Usually, it’s somewhere around 2,000 fps (feet per second), although that can vary from bullet to bullet.Some of my favorite bullet choices for long-range hunting include the Barnes LRX, Nosler Accubond Long Range and the Hornady ELD-X. They are accurate, provide a high ballistic coefficient to retain energy, and will expand and penetrate at long range.
Best Caliber ChoicesThe cartridge must also have sufficient power. The long-accepted rule for hunting cartridges is that the bullet should deliver a minimum of 1,000 foot-pounds (ft-lbs) of energy to the target for deer-size game. There are a few exceptions to this rule, but none apply to long-range hunting.Many of the popular long-range target cartridges drop below both of these thresholds at far shorter distances than you might expect — often at 500 yards or less. The solution is to either pick a more powerful cartridge that can deliver a well-designed bullet with sufficient energy to the target or limit the distance of your shots.
At what distance does long-range shooting begin? In this video, Bryan Litz, Founder and President of Applied Ballistics, LLC, Chief Ballistician at Berger Bullets and champion rifle shooter, defines long-range and extended long-range shooting.
The Shooter's ResponsibilityAnother huge factor in successful long-range hunting is the hunter’s ability to hit the animal’s kill zone every single time. The dirty little secret that many who are promoting long-range hunting keep hidden is how difficult that can be under hunting conditions.Rifles, optics and ammo have improved vastly over the years, and that has extended the ethical distance for shooting at game. What has not changed, however, is the cold, hard truth that you can’t buy skill; you must earn it. Before considering long-range hunting, you should burn a lot of powder to build the skills needed and to determine your MED (maximum ethical distance) to attempt a shot.[caption id="attachment_2594" align="aligncenter" width="650"] Learning to shoot accurately at long range takes practice. Spend time at the range learning to shoot off your pack or shooting sticks to simulate hunting conditions.[/caption]My method is biased to the animal being hunted and sets a tough standard for the shooter. The first step is to determine the distance at which you can hit an eight-inch target every single time you pull the trigger. That means under any weather conditions and from any field position, and not just on a good day or most of the time, but every time. It also means that you can do it when you are cold, wet, miserable, tired, out of breath and stressed.You find your MED number by shooting a lot and by pushing yourself. Go to the shooting range on those nasty days when you would rather stay home. Shoot from the positions you don’t like rather than just practicing what you do well. Try running 50 yards to your rifle, then make the shot when you are breathing hard. It takes a lot of shooting to develop the required skills. The upside is that long-range shooting is a lot of fun.There is a huge difference between a shooter’s ability to hit a target at the range and their ability to humanely dispatch a big-game animal at far distances. Most experienced hunters have learned to control their emotions enough to make the shot, but it’s never 100 percent. Nobody is that stone cold. Once you find the distance at which you can make the shot every single time, subtract 20 percent to allow for the adrenalin and other stress factors when hunting.Long-range shooting is both a physical and a mental game and requires a mastery of rifle shooting skills. Every error you make will be magnified as the distance increases. A wobble of one inch at 100 yards becomes 10 inches at 1,000 yards.[caption id="attachment_2595" align="aligncenter" width="650"] Practice at the range until you find the distance at which you can put all of your shots into an 8-inch group, then subtract 20% of that distance to allow for factors that can affect your shot in the field such as adrenalin or being out of breath.[/caption]It’s important that you be honest with yourself in the evaluation. Your MED will likely be much shorter than you probably expected and no doubt closer than the shots you see other hunters bragging about on the web and TV. Remember, your obligation is to be ethical with the game you are hunting. You are taking a life, and that means something. At least do it right. If you want to test your skill at longer ranges, do it on targets. There is far less heartbreak with a miss on a steel target than if you wound an animal.
Choose the Right RifleThe equipment you choose is important as well. Your rifle must be accurate. The rule of thumb is that a hunting rifle is considered to be very accurate if it can put all the bullets fired into one minute of angle (MOA) which, for practical purposes, equals one inch at 100 yards.For the record, I have tested a lot of factory rifles over 36 years as a professional gun writer. Few can achieve this accuracy mark. For serious long-range hunting, you most likely will need to hire a gunsmith to tune your rifle for accuracy.[caption id="attachment_2596" align="aligncenter" width="650"] An accurate rifle, chambered for a long-range cartridge like the .300 Win. Mag., is critical for long-range hunting. In the author’s opinion, such rifles should be capable of placing all five shots into 1 MOA or one inch at 100 yards every time.[/caption]MOA expands its width with distance. It roughly corresponds to adding an inch for every 100 yards of additional distance. So, at 1,000 yards, one MOA equals 10 inches. That means if your rifle is well tuned and you break the shot with perfect precision, you are only guaranteed to hit a five-inch target at 500 yards. That does not yet include any of the multitude of variables, which can open the group up even more when shooting in hunting conditions.That does not yet include any of the multitude of variables that can open the group up even more when shooting in hunting conditions. For example, if you factor in that one-inch wobble we mentioned, you are now only going to hit a 10-inch target at 500 yards. That’s larger than our eight-inch kill-zone standard for deer (and we have not yet talked about wind or other environmental factors that can affect the shot). In this circumstance, with a one-MOA rifle and allowing for one inch of shooter error, the distance to keep all the shots on an eight-inch target is 400 yards. Already much closer than you expected, right?Better skills and a more accurate rifle can extend that. But, it’s not easy. The alternative is to try the following.
In this video, Former Army Ranger sniper team leader Ryan Cleckner explains the measurement term "minute of angle" (MOA) and how to use MOA adjustments on your scope for sighting in and to compensate for bullet drop at varying distances.
The Long-Range ShortcutIf you shoot a rifle with a modern, high-velocity cartridge and pointed hunting bullets, set your zero for 200 yards and don’t worry about the math.Depending on the cartridge, the bullet will impact one to two inches high at 100 yards and five to eight inches low at 300 yards.For any shot from 100 to 300 yards, simply hold on the critter, perhaps a bit higher for the longer distance, but always on hair (not air), and you will hit the deer.Past 300 yards, it becomes necessary to either hold over or dial up the elevation on your scope. Better yet, simply limit your shots at big game to 300 yards and you’ll be doing the right thing.About the Author Bryce M. Towsley has been writing about guns for 36 years and has published thousands of articles in most of the major firearms magazines. He has hunted all over the world and is a competition shooter in several disciplines. Towsley has several books available on guns, shooting and hunting as well as an adventure novel, "The 14th Reinstated." Signed books are available on his website.Special thanks to StepOutside.org for providing this insightful content.
When it comes to choosing a perfect pup for hunting that can also be a great family pet, pedigree is everything.People have a lot of methods for picking a puppy, but most of them involve trying to evaluate a litter of six-week olds to find the right temperament. This, essentially, is impossible. You can’t look at the behavior of a newborn puppy and accurately predict how it will be as an adult any more than you can with a newborn baby.No matter how timid a puppy seems, or how overtly aggressive a puppy is when compared to its littermates, you won’t be able to make a great call one way or another. By that point in the process, the only decision you’ll really be making is on looks.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7sVCB508XdY&autoplay=1The true method for picking a perfect puppy is to start long before it’s born by studying its pedigree.One of the most common bird dog legends involves the shelter dog, or the accidental farmhouse Lab, that grew into a bird-hunting machine. We love those stories because they give us hope that any old dog can be amazing in the field. The truth is, those dogs are outliers and their field prowess likely benefits from a bit of storytelling license.To get an amazing hunting dog, or at least hedge your bets, you need to dig into bloodlines. Whether you’re looking for an English setter to hunt quail with, or maybe a golden retriever with a nose for roosters, you need to research not only the parents but the grandparents of the litter. This serves a couple of purposes, the first being health.
Bloodline RealitiesDog breeding in America is an unchecked, unregulated business. That’s why so many breeds have reputations for coming down with cancer or developing debilitating joint issues. A well-bred dog will have all of its health checks in place, and that is a major reason for going this route.The same kind of dog, with pure lines and, hopefully, a history of hunt tests, will not only be healthy but will also be smarter than average. Any dog that comes from generations of hunt-test or field-trial winners has problem-solving skills built in, mostly because dimwits don’t excel at tests. This is a great way to hedge your bets with an easy-to-train dog whether you’ll ever run a field trial yourself or not.[caption id="attachment_2519" align="aligncenter" width="650"]
And any dog that sports a solid pedigree will likely possess plenty of drive and athleticism. These two assets are extremely important to hunting ability. If you want a dog that can hunt the big woods of northern Wisconsin for ruffed grouse all day, you want a dog that has some athleticism in his background.
Quick tip: Unlike Europe, we really don't have any breed standards in the United States. This means there isn't any governing organization that polices breeds and ensures quality. The American Kennel Club is the closest organization we have.[/caption]
Reading a PedigreeYou can’t look at a puppy or play with it for a few minutes and determine anything about how it will turn out as a bird dog despite common belief to the contrary.This is the tricky part. The main focus of reading a pedigree will be to look at the parents and the grandparents of any prospective litter. Any generations beyond that are a bonus, but the biggest genetic contributors tend to be the latest two generations. Every reputable breeder will have a website, as well as the pedigrees of all sires and dams, so finding the base information should be easy.[caption id="attachment_2521" align="aligncenter" width="650"] We often focus on aesthetics in puppies, but not on intelligence. The best bloodlines out there will promise athletic, healthy dogs that also possess plenty of mental bandwidth.[/caption]When reading it, look for designations like MH (Master Hunter) or FC (Field Champion) after a dog’s name. Both are good.You may also see NFC (National Field Champion, AFC (Amateur Field Champion) or SH (Senior Hunter), which are all indicative of dogs that have titled and are likely to be passing on the right genes.If you see CH anywhere, pass. That is a show dog designation, and not what you’re looking for in a hunting dog. Show breeding is all about looks and has been disastrous to many of our once-popular sporting breeds.Keep in mind that it will be easier to find a good pedigree in a popular breed than it will be for a more obscure breed. The same goes for color. A lot of people want a chocolate, a red, or a silver Lab these days. The problem with many of these dogs is that they have been bred for color and nothing else, which is very similar to show breeding.Dig into the pedigree and look for the right field trial or hunt test designations before worrying about color — you won’t regret it.
- Health guarantees.
- What the parents or grandparents were used for if it’s not clear from the pedigree.
- How many litters did the parents produce a year?
Always Buy UpWell-bred dogs are worth a lot but convincing the average sporting-dog owner of that is not so easy. This is because they are usually more difficult to find than any run-of-the-mill dog, and they are more expensive.[caption id="attachment_2523" align="aligncenter" width="650"] A well-bred puppy is going to cost at least twice as much as an average dog, which is tough to swallow. The bright side is that it’s a one-time investment into many years of companionship at home and in the field.[/caption]These days, if you want a golden retriever that is field-bred (no show breeding) and boasts a pure pedigree and all of the health checks, you’ll spend at least $1000 and most likely, quite a bit more. You can find goldens all day long for half that price, but they’ll be a total gamble.Quick tip: If you’re unsure how to research quality bloodlines for your next bird dog, enlist the help of a professional trainer.Well-bred dogs are more expensive, and they are harder to find. However, look at it this way: you’re making a commitment that should hopefully last about a dozen years. Spending twice what you would for a questionable dog amortized over the lifespan of a dog you’re going to be very happy with is not much more of an additional investment. Factor in the likelihood that you’ll have a much better hunting dog and the idea of “buying up” is even easier to accept.A lot of people will still scoff at paying that much, and the typical justification is that they only hunt a couple of times each year, so who really needs an in-field rock star? The answer is, they do. And you do, too, probably; even if your days in the field are very limited.
Family MattersThe thing about bird dogs these days is that even when a diehard upland hunter or waterfowler owns them, they only spend a small amount of time actually hunting. Most of their lives consist of being house pets. This means that while hunting skills, instinct and drive are all important, overall trainability and temperament are even more critical.A well-bred dog that comes from a line of thinkers will be much easier to train.My current Lab, Luna, comes from a solid pedigree. She’s a machine in the field, but at home she is incredible as well. It took me two days to house train her, which was a relief because I’ve never had a dog take to that task so quickly. I also had her sitting the first day we got her as a puppy, which I wouldn’t have believed possible until I experienced it myself.None of this came from exceptional training ability on my part, but instead was the result of paying up for a dog that carried the right stuff in her genes.
ConclusionWell-bred puppies are expensive, but they’re worth it. If you’re paying for genetic potential you’re hedging your bets against a litany of issues that might crop up, not the least of which is health and overall abilities in the field and at home.Forget what you think you know about picking a puppy and start researching litters. If that task is too much, enlist the help of a professional trainer. If you do, you’ll most likely end up with a dog that exceeds your expectations at home, and in the field.And who can put a price on that?About the Author Tony J. Peterson has written hundreds of articles for over two dozen national and local publications. Although he covers topics related to all forms of hunting and fishing, his passion lies in do-it-yourself bowhunting for whitetail deer and western big game. Peterson is an accomplished outdoor photographer and currently serves as the Equipment Editor for Bowhunter magazine and Bowhunter TV.Special thanks to StepOutside.org for providing this insightful content.
https://youtu.be/jcZOO5Zqrjc?t=10In this video, Professional dog trainer Bev Millheim offers some sage advice for dog owners that are getting their young dog ready for its first hunting season. Tough the tips are focused on retrievers the substance can be applied to any breed. If Fido will see it on opening day he should see it first in training. Good luck on your first hunt!
Ingredients:1 section of trimmed backstrap, two to three pounds1 cup baby spinach leaves½-cup shredded gouda cheese2 to 3 roasted bell peppers, cut into strips2 teaspoons Cavender’s Greek Seasoning blend or similar, divided2 teaspoons each, salt and pepper, divided
Sauce Ingredients:4 tablespoons salted butter2 shallots, diced¼-cup Kentucky bourbon3 tbsps. heavy cream1 tbsp. olive oil½-tsp. dried tarragonFreshly ground black pepper to taste[caption id="attachment_2489" align="aligncenter" width="650"] With a sharp knife, slice mostly through the backstrap, fold open, then repeat the process with the thicker side of the cut. Open the backstrap completely.[/caption]Start by trimming your backstrap into a flat section as described above. Season the surface of the meat with one teaspoon each of salt, pepper and Cavender’s Greek Seasoning. (This is a blend of mostly salt, pepper, garlic, sugar, onion powder and oregano, along with some marjoram, dill and thyme, so if these are on hand in your pantry you can mix this blend by hand or add individually to taste.) Next, spread the stuffing ingredients over the backstrap.[caption id="attachment_2490" align="aligncenter" width="650"] Layer the stuffing ingredients over the open backstrap.[/caption]Starting along one edge, roll the backstrap up tightly with the stuffing ingredients inside. Loop a section of butcher’s twine under the backstrap, wrap around the roll and tie off tightly with a surgeon’s knot. Trim off the excess twine. Repeat the process two or three more times over the length of the roll.[caption id="attachment_2491" align="aligncenter" width="650"] Roll the backstrap tightly and tie with butcher’s twine to hold the roll together as it grills.[/caption]Season the surface of the roll with the remaining salt, pepper and seasoning blend. Cover the roast loosely with foil and allow it to come to room temperature while you preheat the grill to high. Place the rolled backstrap on the grill and sear for four minutes.Rotate the rolled backstrap one-quarter turn and grill another four minutes. Repeat the process two more times until the roll is seared on all sides. Remove the roll to a warm platter and tent loosely with foil to rest.[caption id="attachment_2492" align="aligncenter" width="650"] While the backstrap grills, start the sauce by sautéing diced shallots in olive oil.[/caption]While the backstrap grills, heat a pan to medium-high. Melt the butter and add the diced shallots. Sauté the shallots, stirring often, until they soften and begin to take on a golden color. Stir in the bourbon and remove the pan from heat. Stir in the cream, tarragon and a few grinds of black pepper.[caption id="attachment_2493" align="aligncenter" width="650"] Remove the butcher’s twine from the backstrap and slice into pinwheels.[/caption]To serve, remove the butcher’s twine and slice the backstrap into pinwheels roughly half-inch thick. Plate two or three medallions and top with the bourbon cream sauce, or slice the entire backstrap, arrange back on a platter and pour the sauce down the center of the medallions. Serve with roasted winter vegetables or potatoes and a spinach salad.[caption id="attachment_2494" align="aligncenter" width="650"] Spinach, gouda and roasted red pepper venison backstrap with bourbon butter shallot sauce.[/caption]
Try Out More Recipes with NSSF’s Game Meat Cooking Series
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLF4EE32869227CCE5Where hunter and classically trained chef Georgia Pellegrini shares recipes from her book, "Girl Hunter: Revolutionizing the Way We Eat, One Hunt at a Time."