All right, you long range shootists...how the heck do you do it.
I was sitting on a hillside waiting to ambush some deer the other day....and there were plenty of them.....I had gone in to the area the day before and set up my range card with all the probable points of intersect for shooting from where I was sitting (i.e. lazered and maped the area)
All that works fine...THE REAL PROBLEM IS...the majority of the time I am NEVER in what I would call a truly good position to take that really long shot. Either I am hanging onto a hill side with my heals or could NEVER hope to get prone sling wrapped do to grass logs or steep inclines and what have you.
And the thought of trying to pack a rifle with the long leg bipod....well...that sounds like a real pain, if your in rough terrain. Plus, it seems like I am half the time shooting off angle on the side of some hill and the bipod WOULD be a pain in that case.
So about all I can muster on a good day, is about 400 out to 500 yards sling wrapped sitting and that's tough for me.
I keep reading posts of guys building this or that and intending to go kill something or other at 500 to 700 yards. Sound good to me........but possibly you could talk about how you are approaching your specific hunts such that you actually ARE set up in a good position.....The process you use.
My problem is I keep finding game in the most improbable places for good long shot positions.
So........how are YOU approaching your hunt to accomodate the position you need for the really long shot, and still actually getting to the game with out waiting to ambush them till you wet your pants, or give up and go home ?
I think this would greatly benefit shooters new to long range hunting especially before they get out there and turn all thumbs trying to make it happen...i.e. a game plan or two.
Sound like you are a bit frustrated. Probably the first thing to do is to determine the feeding pattern and preferred trails and areas that the deer are using (which you said you did). Note the time that they are visible, starting to feed. Part of this hunting is hunting for a good shooting location that provides good visibility, some degree of protection from being seen, and good safe firing lanes.
Look for a comfortable spot to hide and wait - there might not be such a thing so you may want to check out the little ground blinds that archers use. We just killed four deer by setting up in the middle of a large stubble field, wrapping a sheet of camo net in front of four guys to break up our shape. Was more like a goose hunting scenario than a deer hunt but it worked.
As for your shooting position. Strongly suggest that you check out the shooting sticks and bipods from Stoney Point, the new Polecat bipods are very sturdy and easy to use. Sounds like you cannot setup for prone shooting, that is the preferred shooting position for our type of hunting (some ultra long range guys actually use portable shooting tables, depends on the weight of your rifle, access, terrain, range etc). I have found that supporting the fore-end and butt makes for excellent shooting regardless of position, suggest you give it a try.
If you have to shoot from sitting because of terrain and cover the sticks/bipods are amazingly stable if you use two sets - front and back on the rifle. We like to use large camo panels of lightweight mesh sold by Hunter's Specialties to make a simple ground blind or simply wrap it around you loosely.
If possible I sit on a little folding stool till the deer show up, then try to shoot from prone with a Harris or crossed sticks, always have a small beanbag along for the rear of the stock.
Once in a position we laser key objects so we know distances, sometimes draw simple field sketches with distances on them. We mostly use good binocs since we are shooting inside 700 yards. Find that the spotting scopes are not necessary but set them up if the shots are going to be longer. I can usually see bullet trace with my 8X binocs so can call shots fairly well with them.
I like to put out a wind indicator at my shooting location, so I can monitor wind direction - might be as simple as tieing some yarn on a stick. I use a Kestral 3000 or a Brunton Sherpa wind meter for velocity and air temps.
Patience is essential. Try to figure the feeding pattern so that you get out an hour or so early if you do not like to sit for long periods of time. Make sure your drop chart is handy so you can apply the proper elevation, dope the wind and let the fun begin.
Where I live this only works for part of Oct. then the weather is too cold and we don't hunt from ground blinds anymore
Good luck with your hunting,
try shooting from a pack instead of prone from a sling. believe it or not, mine is mostly filled with sawdust. its not extremely heavy, i hump it around wherever i go witout too much effort, and shooting from side hills are never a problem- although you are in a awkward position, the gun always sits the same. most of my practice is done on perfect flat ground, but even when i get into the hills its not an issue.
If it were easy, I wouldn't be doing it.
Sounds like you hunt in the same sort of terrain I do. If you go to the same spot regularly, build yourself a rest out of natural timbers. You could also get a shovel and "flatten" out an area to shoot from. Clear some of the grass so that you can shoot prone.
Without a solid and stable rest, you are right, LR is limited to inside 500yds. That however is realistic while hunting on foot.
The really LR stuff read here is mostly off portable benches or an accomadating truck. The use of BR type rests are necessary to get the accuracy for far away hits. Besides the rifles aren't portable anyways.
You may get lucky and have that perfect vista where you can also lie prone and shoot off a pack or something. LR hunting is usually from well set up fixed locations.
For rests, you could modify a camera tripod for your front rest and a y stick (get one of those expanding broom/paint handles and make a rear support on top) for your rear. Bipods are ok but get wobbly when long enough to shoot from the seated position. Cross sticks require too many hands. I like the tripod better.
Those are some really good thoughts and ideas which I appreciate and I hope some of those new to long range hunting will be helped by your reply's too.. I was getting a bit frustrated...not with misses, but with knowing my limitations and wondering how you guys were going about it. Can some of your reply's or that type of information be listed under a "How to go about" it section of the web site or something similar where a archive could be build with the specific objective of listing methods etc., such as your replys did....or....would there be a search key that would bring it up. That way it's retained, available and in one location. Of all the things that would help, I think much of what you had to say would help others if they new where to look.
Just a thought, but in any case thanks again guys.
Have you watched the "Point Blank from Long Range" videos yet? If not check them out, especially #2. It showed some good set-ups and explained the equipment. In this style of hunting you not only have to hunt for the critters you have to hunt for a suitable location to ply the trade.
Best of luck.
"When working with the public, there are two things you need to remember. - 1. The public is a bunch of ignorant morons. - 2. YOU and I are one of them!"
ppro, the more I hunt the more different types of rest/bipods I take with me. I've got a Parker-Hale bipod for my AWM which has the ability to individually adjust the length of each leg so shooting on hillsides is not to hard. Secondly, I always take a pack to shoot off of. Lastly, I agree with Ian above, I take some Stoney Point pair of bipods to shoot off of. Between all of this stuff I can usually find a good rest. But sometimes it takes a bit of doing. I've never hunted with a sling. For years I refused to carry the added weight of these rests, but after years of misses, I decided that I just had to.