The next day Randy went home happy but we were still pondering the ballistic weirdness that had taken place the previous day. Two days after his departure, I had the rare opportunity to actually hunt a deer for myself. Barely an hour after daylight I spotted a nice buck that was bedded exactly 400 yards from my perch on the side of the mountain and déjàvu he was 30 degrees downhill. Just like our previous encounter my new electronic wonder tool indicated a TBR of 350. One of our basic hunting rules on the ranch is that we never take a long range shot at a game animal unless we have a competent spotter in place. 30 minutes after the initial sighting my wife Leanne was firmly planted behind me with her spotting scope cranked up to 40 power.
After several poorly placed downhill shots, we set up this target at 400 yards, at 30 degrees downhill. This 3 shot group is about 6 inches higher than point of aim. There was a 10-12 MPH headwind at the time which may account for some of the disparity.
At the shot the deer never even blinked. “Six inches over his back,” said Leanne. “What happened? I must have shanked the shot,” I thought as I squirmed a little tighter into my back pack rest. One more round down range and it was the same result. Just as with Randy’s buck, I then turned the turret down six clicks and dispatched the deer where he lay.
The next day Leanne was getting a bit weary of my lamenting about my poor shooting and slope doping and said “OK old man, get a target, your gun and all your other magic devices and let’s go recreate your shot. Two hours later we had an IPSC target, with an added blaze orange bull’s-eye in the middle, set up in the exact spot on which the deer had been bedded. We then climbed back up the mountain and plopped down the back pack. The range finder again indicated 400 yards to the target. The TBR repeated exactly its message from the previous day and showed 350 yards. We fired six shots from this position and went to check the target. Four of the shots were in a nice three inch cluster with the other two shots opening the group to about four and a half inches. Not bad I thought. The only problem was, the group was a full six inches above our orange bull. “What the Sam hell!”
Prior to acquiring our first laser range finder in 1992, our routine was to sight-in our hunting rifles to impact three inches high at 100 yards. Any target out to 300 yards we would then merely hold on and shoot, primitive but it worked. In 1992 the President of Leica Corporation gave me one of their new wonder tools called the Geovid. This device was incredibly accurate but weighed a ton and was usually left in the truck when we were out hunting. In the next 17 years we used a multitude of laser devices of various weights and description. When using these instruments our protocol on uphill/downhill shots was quite simple; if the slope was around 25 degrees or less we merely held a little low on the animal and fired. If the target was 30 degrees or more up or down, we would subtract 20 percent from the known distance and shoot. My family used these various methods of hold over/under during 45 years of hunting, in order to take over 500 animals of various taxonomical descriptions, so I guess they worked OK.
I’m not an electronic equipment junkie by any stretch but have always been keen on any innovation that will allow me or my clients to more effectively engage targets and cleanly dispatch an animal. When the TBR came along I was ecstatic. Here was a device that would allow us to consistently place lethal shots on mountain game animals with no guess work. This was the greatest scientific breakthrough since the telescopic sight. After using the TBR extensively in 2009 plus visiting on numerous occasions with the technical staff at Leupold, I am convinced without reservation that this is an extremely accurate tool and would be of great benefit to any serious hunter.