Through the back door
I hunted whitetail in the conventional manner; stands, drives or just basic sneakness and luck. I was usually frustrated by the very limited amount of time between when the buck was spotted and the shot had to be taken and the demands of determining the trophy and my willingness to spend my tag. I was also able to see deer through the spotting scope that, because of their location, could not be approached. It was their playground, and they pretty much had it figured out! So, in order to take the trophy I wanted, I had to be able to shoot game at a greated distance. I got into longrange shooting through the back door, as it were, and it is an entirely different and much more satisfying approach to deer hunting.
With long range, I have all the time in the world to evaluate a trophy. If I am not sure about a particular buck it is not a panic situation. I can likely see him again the following day. I will get to know all the deer in the area through the course of a season, and will likely pass up several good bucks before the right one comes along. The 'right' one never did show up last fall,(maybe doesn't even exist) and that's OK. I dry fired on several of his lesser relatives!
When I arrive at the position from which I will do my spotting and shooting, I immediately set up my equiptment for the shot. Then I check distances to different objects (trees, stumps, rocks) to get a general idea as to what I am dealing with. Then I get out the optics and settle in for a long session. Sometimes I will see a deer in the open, or in it's bed later in the season. More often, I will spend half an hour convincing myself that there isn't a buck in the country. By first clue will be a small patch of white that wasn't there before(no snow yet). A patch of white is a deer for all pratical purposes. Then I wait untill it moves to a location where I can determine exactly what it is. If it looks like it might be the one I want, I get behind the crosshairs. Now comes the fun part! I know that it is going to take my bullet a while to get there, and in the meantime, that deer can move. If a buck is feeding, he is walking, and a buck in the rut is twitchy at best. He might take a step every ten seconds or so. I study his movement in order to predict when his next step will take place, and time my shot well before that; have been quite successful. If he raises his head, he is checking out the area, and likely will not move. That is the time to shoot. I watched a big 4x4 do this last fall as he came over a ridge into a new area close to sundown. He stood for a half hour, with just his head moving. I dry fired on him a couple of times and let him go, but recall another bigger one that died that way.
Anyway, a few observations from my most enjoyable times. Thanks for letting me revisit them.