PAT NEAL: Meeting challenges of hunting season

Once you get your hunting rifle sighted in, keep it locked up far away from loved ones and hunting buddies.

OPENING DAY OF hunting season must be my favorite day of the year.

Wild meat just seems to be healthier and taste better than the stuff you buy at the store.

Home-raised meat is OK, but I just never had the heart to try to eat a barnyard buddy.

I prefer to eat animals that I don’t have an emotional relationship with.

So, grab your gun, a box of shells, a pair of binoculars, chain saw, satellite phone, fire starter, hydration fluids, license, tags, stamps and the many varied access permits required to go and be in America in the first place, and let’s go hunting.

Finding a place to hunt on the North Olympic Peninsula can be very difficult.

Million-acre Olympic National Park does not allow hunting.

The multinational corporate landlords of private timberlands are charging hundreds of dollars to hunt on their land.

The U.S. Forest Service has just spent the past 20 years taking out our access roads as an excuse to restore the bull trout.

The state Department of Natural Resources closed most of its roads due to garbage dumping, vandalism and wood theft.

Hunting along public roads is illegal.

Hunting on private land is illegal, leaving very few places to look for game.

Next to knowing where you can’t hunt, it’s very important to know if you’re not going to hit anything.

That’s why you want to get sighted in.

Hitting where you aim is an important skill for any hunter.

That’s why it is really too bad that there is no safe public shooting range in Calamity County.

Instead, hunters are forced into the hinterlands to see if the rifle shoots straight.

With the amount of powder being burned in the process, animals are spooked right out of their forest homes.

The animals would have to be in an isolation chamber to not know something bad was about to happen, so they move to town.

If you get your rifle sighted in, it’s important to keep it that way.

You’d think a rifle would just naturally stay zeroed in, but sometimes it doesn’t.

There could be many reasons for this — jealousy, revenge or just plain meanness, to name but a few.

The modern telescopic sights that are mounted on today’s hunting rifles are precise instruments.

It can take countless hours at the shooting range and hundreds of rounds of ammunition to get the adjustments properly adjusted so you hit where you aim.

Conversely, it only takes a few scant seconds to randomly screw these adjustments to a point where the same rifle shoots in circles.

Sometimes, a rifle that will not stay “sighted in” is a symptom of a far deeper problem.

I once watched a guy miss a huge buck from only 50 yards away.

Missing at that range in broad daylight with the aid of a telescopic sight seemed impossible.

Further investigation revealed someone had screwed the adjustments in his sights all out of whack.

Maybe it was just a coincidence our nimrod had promised to take his wife to the mall that weekend but went hunting instead.

He said she said she was OK with that.

Still, he had to go through the whole laborious process of sighting in all over again, only to miss a big bull elk later that year.

I’m not sure that had nothing to do with his skipping out on a huge bingo debt incurred at the lodge the night before.

Once you get your hunting rifle sighted in, keep it locked up far away from loved ones and hunting buddies.

You were warned.

_________

Pat Neal is a fishing guide and “wilderness gossip columnist” whose column appears here every Wednesday.

He can be reached at 360-683-9867 or by email via patneal [email protected].

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