by Joe Doggett
Unless your family crest depicts David Crockett on one escutcheon and Daniel Boone on another, the odds of "walking up" a mature white-tailed buck are not very good. In fact, they are terrible.
Ramming around on foot in the brush is an excellent way for the average hunter to spook and scatter game that could have been taken by doing nothing."Doing nothing" means sitting still. Patiently waiting is by far the most popular and effective technique of deer hunting in Texas where most hard-core hunters are huddled in deer blinds or tripods.
Here are several observations that can help turn that vigil into a success:
If possible, arrive at the lease early enough to shoot your rifle from a makeshift rest -- "Just checking." This exercise should be mandatory for the individual who stalled around and failed to properly sight-in at a range.
Try to grab a decent night's sleep. This is not always possible amid the charged excitement around the fire pit of the first night in camp, but do the best you can. It is a sad fact of outdoor expeditions that the worst snorer in camp invariably is the first to fall asleep, and I have no answer (except perhaps a filthy sock) for that depressing circumstance.
Strive to reach the deer stand at least 20 or 30 minutes before first light. This early arrival allows the surrounding brush to settle back down in the wake of the inevitable commotion.
Most important, do not carry a loaded rifle into the hunting blind. Uncertain footing amid darkness might trigger a disaster. Besides, it is too dark to shoot anyway (legal light on non-migratory game is 30 minutes before sunrise). There is no logical reason to transport a loaded rifle into a pre-dawn deer blind or hunting stand.
Carry a penlight in a pocket and use the tiny beam to check the seating. Once situated, use the light to confidently load the rifle. Work the action to cycle a round into the chamber and either engage the safety or lock the bolt arm in the half-raised position. I prefer the half-raised bolt. Locked in that position, the rifle cannot fire and you can tell at a glance that it is in a safe mode (a thumb safety might be hard to monitor in poor light). Either way, priming the rifle in advance minimizes noise and movement should an early deer step out under a gun with an empty chamber.
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