My son warming up for our African hunt at the range.
By Scott Carpenter – CGB Editor
Preseason. That term means different things to different people depending on where you live and the type of hunting you do.
For my household, it means two things: shoot and hike. Or better yet, shoot, climb, hike and run. That’s four things mind you but who’s counting?
Shooting is the easy part (and the most fun). The rest is less so. Let’s have a look at both aspects.
In terms of shooting new hunters will sometimes ask me how much they should prepare for the season. The answer is a bit of cop out but true. As much as you possibly can. As a kid growing up on the prairies I almost lived with a rifle in my hand. Shooting became a very natural thing for me as a result but unfortunately, times have changed. That means trips to the range for many of us and the more the better.
But before you go there are a few things to consider.
It all starts with ammo selection. The best kind of ammo to shoot through your rifle is always the round that is the most accurate no matter how expensive or inexpensive it is. It doesn’t matter what the internet or your buddy says is best, what matters is what the paper at the range tells you.
It will likely take a little experimentation with different bullet weights and brands to figure out what it is your barrel prefers but once you find the magic combination stick with it and shoot it a lot. You don’t need to carry three different bullet weights for the same rifle for work on different game animals. A moose doesn’t know the difference between a 30-06 150 Gr SP and a 30-06 180 Gr SP and so long as you can put either into the boiler room consistently then you’ll kill game no matter what. Sectional density (determined by the length and construction of the bullet) only matters a lot when you start dealing with large, thick skinned and heavy boned animals like North American bison. For most North American big game species the best bullet is the one that your rifle likes. It’s not sexy but it’s true.
Hopefully, the ammunition your rifle loves will be a less expensive round like Remington Core- Lokt or Federal Power Shok. The less expensive the round the cheaper your rifle will be to shoot and the more you can afford to shoot it. And if the way to Carnegie Hall is to “practice practice, practice” then the way to successfully take game is to “shoot shoot, shoot”.
Living in South Western BC has its advantages and disadvantages. Advantage numero uno – a mild climate. Disadvantage numero uno – lots of people.
We have a long hunting season here but tons of other hunters means lots of pressure on game. So to mitigate this problem we go where the other guys don’t. Around here that means going UP. Way up.
The problem with going up is it hurts. To keep the pain at a minimum I have an exercise routine that I follow year round. If I stray from it I pay (and I have paid dearly on a few occasions). You should know this: the mountains don’t care about you. They are neutral. If you are healthy you will enjoy them. If you are not healthy they will destroy you.
That being said, the fitness regime we follow will vary for all of us depending on a variety factors including age, health issues, current condition level and the type of terrain you live in. For us, it isn’t enough to just jog (although I do plenty of it) because the muscle group we use in the hills is different. So we hike as well.
If you live in BC there’s no shortage of trails to train on. I have four different trails at four different levels of difficulty that I use depending on the amount of time I have and how badly I want to punish myself. I have one I use when I am pressed for time that is a 2.5km loop and 500 feet in elevation gain. I run most of it and try to beat my time each time I go.
I have another that is a 10km loop with twelve hundred feet elevation gain. I jog about half of it where it isn’t too steep and requires a free morning to do.
And I have one that I despise that requires the entire day. It is only an 8km loop but it is 3300 feet in elevation gain over about 4km or 3 miles. That’s 1100 feet of elevation gain per mile. The uphill is rough but the downhill is murder. I have a goat tag for the fall so I am beginning to use this one to get ready. Trails like this will tell you whether or not you are actually ready to do the hunt. I thought I was fit and prepared until I hiked this thigh burner a couple of weeks ago. It’s a good thing hunting season is still almost two months away. My legs took a beating.
Even if you’re not hunting the mountains getting out and walking or running will make your hunting experience way more enjoyable. You won’t be winded after going for a stalk and if you put game down in a bad spot you’ll be in a better place to deal with it. Pulling a moose out of the back of a swamp in Northern Ontario where you might not be able to get a quad to it isn’t any fun either. Better to be prepared physically than not.
Next post we’ll have a look at a few other things like pack, boot and misc. gear selection.
Thanks for stopping by.