I can’t hit the broadside of a barn. Sheeeesh. With my shotgun I mean. I had six or seven chances one day last week and missed them all. The worst miss was at close range. The dogs were telling us there was a bird in a thick patch of thorn bushes right across one of the canals from where we were walking, maybe 10 yards. Ron saw the pheasant before it flushed, the white collar standing out plainly in the dark fall foliage. He pointed it out so we were all ready when it came up. Three arrows flew (Ron, Willie and Cary). A fraction of a second later I shot and the bird was clearly hit. The first thing that Ron said was, “Hey, you shot my arrow!” and we laughed. Next he was telling me I had hit the bird and that he had managed a touch too. The bird had flown on a bit and then crumpled over the adjacent alpha alpha field.
It took us a few minutes to get to a bridge to cross the canal and then another ten before Ripley found him, still alive and still willing to attempt to fly. Ron managed to put another arrow into him, in the air, and then he was in the game vest.
For the next hour or two (and the next miss or two) we enjoyed the hunt. Then, at the end of the day, Ron wanted to do an autopsy to see who had shot the bird. No problem. We are always talking up the hunt. Who had made which shots? How had Ripley done? How had Penny done? I knew that I had hit it so I was more than willing to check the bird out. But after the ladies had cleaned it up, we found evidence that two arrow had made contact but not a pellet hole anywhere to be seen. Damn! I really can’t hit the broadside of a barn.
It must be my shotgun, right? First of all, my choke configuration is kind of messed up for pheasant hunting. We typically are pretty close to these birds when they flush so an Improved Cylinder/Modified configuration would probably be pretty good. Unfortunately my shotgun is Modified/Full. That’s a good excuse to keep handy. Second, Lance the gun fitter put a different pad on my gun at the end of last year. It worked fine then but now i’m noticing that it is a little stickier than i’ve been used to. It must be affecting my gun mount. Another good excuse that I will use when needed. But when I’m really honest with myself, I know that I’ve never been a crack shot and have often had periods of crap shooting. It’s not the gun’s fault.
Ron has some guidance for me:
- At home, practice mounting and swinging the gun. (Obviously not loaded but I’m going to write that down anyway.)
- Get some snap caps so that you can actually pull the triggers.
- Stick a MiniMagLite in the end of the barrel to indicate where the gun is aimed.
- Swing through the shot. DON’T STOP THE SWING!
- Practice until muscle fatigue sets in.
“Do this and I guarantee you’ll never miss again.” I liked that promise so we stopped in Vacaville at “Gun’s, Fishing and Other Stuff” on the way home and I picked up some snap caps. Ready for practice.
At home, as usual, I got caught up with life and didn’t make the effort. When the next hunting opportunity came along it was only just the night before that I brought out the shot gun and snap caps and a mini-mag light and spent 10 or 15 minutes swinging the gun around the family room. I “shot” all of the pot lights in the ceiling and each of the corners in the room. That was easy. Ron never said how much practice was needed. And I’ll never miss again? Wow!
Ripley and Penny scared up half a dozen birds again that day. My shooting? One for six. The one that I hit was a tough crossing shot. The five that I missed were all ridiculously easy shots at rising birds or birds flying straight away from me. So much for Ron’s guarantees. I don’t think i’m going to bother practicing anymore.