Ready for the hunt?

Is this not what most of us do before hunt? Due to a number of reasons, we don't manage to hunt very often. The few times that you actually manage to hunt, are therefore very valuable. Do you really want to use your valuable time to track wounded animals? Would it not be better to spend more time practicing to shoot accurately?

There are a few ways of hunting in South Africa. In the Bushveld we usually walk. In the Karoo you usually sit in a hunting chair and in the open plains of the Free State you usually shoot from the back of a bakkie.

A better suggestion to prepare for your hunting excursion would be to practice in the way that you are going to hunt. Shoot your rifle in from the bakkie's roof. Or sit in your hunting chair and check the distance at which you can shoot a springbok.  Measure a 100m distance, use your shooting sticks and try to shoot the impala behind the bush. By merely sighting in your rifle according to the way in which you are going to shoot, will contribute hugely to an easier hunt. Let's look at a few additional 'exercises' that one can do before the hunt.

Veld hunting situations:  You can shoot from four positions.  Let's look at the positions and how you can improve your accuracy from each position.

Prone position

To shoot from the prone position is not something we do every day. Grass, shrubs, trees and other objects are usually in the way.  However, if you can, the prone position is the most stable position to shoot from. It is, however, a position which should be practiced. Get into a prone position and decide how you are going to shoot. Does your gun have a bi-pod which you can use, or are you going to twist the sling of the rifle around your arms and rest on your elbow? It is important to practice this position and to make sure that you can shoot an animal at a specific distance from this position.  By doing this you will soon know how far is too far.

Sitting position

It is important to use a means of support for the sitting, kneeling and standing positions. If you carry a walking stick, it can be used to steady the rifle. Should you use a tree or a shrub for this purpose, consider how you are going to push the rifle against the trunk. Are you going to aim past the trunk on the right or the left side? The sitting position is also reasonably stable, but it is a difficult position to take. Should you not be completely comfortable in this position and should you be unable to get up easily, the kneeling position may be better. 

Kneeling position

Although an oryx hunt in the Kalahari will most probably take place from the back of a bakkie, the kneeling and standing position should not be regarded as unnecessary.  Should you shoot a lung-shot and the wounded oryx wriggles its backside into a bush, which cannot be reached in a vehicle, you unfortunately have to get out, move close to the animal and shoot from the kneeling or standing position. Do you carry a walking stick to help with the steadying process? Or does your heart beat so fast that the crosshair moves all over the place? Once again, the kneeling position should be practiced on the range before the hunt. Do you twist the rifle sling around your arms and kneel on your left knee? Or do you kneel on your right knee and steady your left elbow on your left knee?

Standing positions

The standing position is the easiest?  You push the rifle against your shoulder and you shoot! Nice and fast and you don't have to go down. You also don't struggle to get up again and you can see the buck when it runs. There are no bushes in the way and you know where the animal lies. 

No! Unfortunately the standing position is the most difficult position.  And definitely the most important one. Somewhere in your hunting career it will be necessary to administer a second shot from up close. And for this shot you will have no time to sit down, or look for a tree for support. The animal is going to jump up quickly and you want to administer the second shot as soon as possible. Practice this position on the range. See how close you need to be to an object to be accurate from this position. Perhaps it is even more important to see where your rifle will shoot at 30m if it is sighted in at 200m. Will the shot be too high or too low? Will I be able to keep the rifle steady for long enough to discharge your rifle? Will I be able to do it correctly?

The objective of shooting practice is to improve your shooting ability. But first and foremost, shooting practice will teach you what you can do during a hunt. Hopefully you will know then when to shoot and when not to. 

Enjoy your sighting-in and your shooting practice. And remember - hunt responsibly and sustainably!