Some guys never miss. The deer may be running like a scalded cat, zig-zagging through brush at 300 yards, and they will drill it through the heart with a single shot every time. Often, these guys are gun writers. I’m not one of them. I may be a writer of guns and other frothy tales, but I do miss sometimes.
During the past couple of days I’ve been chasing elk around the high desert near Meeteetsee. The first day there were three of us, including another rather well-known scriber of hunting tales. I won’t reveal his name, but his initials are Jim Zumbo. The other fella isn’t as well known, but he is a very good shot—most of the time. We have been hunting cow elk—winter meat we call it. After a few false starts we managed to get into a position where about 20 head of elk were within rifle range—say 225 yards. Normally this is a candy shot; place the crosshair behind the foreleg, squeeze the trigger and get out the knife.
Jim was on a set of shooting sticks, and my other buddy and I were using the truck for a rest. Boom! Boom! Boom! Each of us shot, and the whole herd continued on its frantic escape. Each of us swore that we had a good hold.
What happened? We still are not sure. As for me, though, I’ve been through this rodeo before. If I am dead sure that I had a good hold and something else didn’t cause the miss, I know it’s time to check my rifle. In this case I did not have the time to check my rifle so I traded it for another one in my safe. Yesterday I had another opportunity and shot at a 175-yard cow. This time the old gal got lucky and jumped at the shot. Yes, I missed again, but I’m pretty sure it was her good luck and my bad luck.
Quite a few years ago I was on an elk-deer combination hunt here in Wyoming. I had two rifles with me. The first day out of camp I slipped on ice and fell right on the scope of my .338 Win. Mag. A couple of hours later it took me four shots to anchor a bull elk at about 260 yards. Several days later my .270 Winchester fell out of the scabbard as my horse was struggling up a near cliff. The sound of a pet rifle clattering in the rocks is as about a disgusting sound as one will ever hear. Anyway, a couple hours later I came across a nice mule deer buck about 400 yards from camp. I grabbed my rifle and had this old buck dead to rights at perhaps 125 yards. Eight frantic shots later I finally had him down. Of course, everybody him camp heard the re-enactment of the Khe Sanh firefight and were only too glad to remind me of my shooting performance throughout the ride back to the trailhead.
That is why when I miss now and cannot come up with a reason, I quit shooting and either check the rifle or get another one.