Sighting in a deer rifle like this Ruger .308 is key in harvesting a buck during Wisconsin’s traditional 9-day gun season which opens next Saturday.

Looking back over 55 years of my deer hunting career, missed opportunities, forgetfulness and blatant screw-ups have provided more memories than successful hunts.

The most recent was last year, when failure to sight in the deer gun prior to the season cost me a very nice buck. The cause was a combination of laziness and frugality.

Most deer harvested back in the good old days of paper backtags in Wisconsin’s traditional nine-day gun season fell to a Remington 870 Special Purpose shotgun, specifically designed for shooting deer slugs.

This gun will consistently put holes in paper plates up to 150 yards when shooting Lightfield Buck, Boar and Bear ammo. You’ll seldom get a good shot at a deer in southern Wisconsin at a longer range than 150 yards.

When the DNR allowed rifle use statewide in 2013, I shot a respectable buck with my Browning A-bolt in .270 caliber—just because I could. But the following year the Remington 12 gauge came out of the gun case on opening day. It remains the perfect tool for the job on the ancestral hunting grounds.

Last year I was too busy fishing to spend time at the range sighting Ol’ Ticklicker in. Why bother? It always throws slugs two inches high at 50 yards and is dead-on at twice that distance. When the 10-pointer walked down the trail and stood broadside at 60 yards, tagging and field dressing should have been the next step in the sequence.

That afternoon, a hole in a fencepost four inches below an empty milk jug just 50 yards away solved the mystery of the laughing buck.

This mistake won’t happen again. A couple hours at the local shooting range and expenditure of at least 50 bucks putting holes in paper with three different deer guns says if a buck walks away shaking his head next Saturday, it won’t be due to the weapon.

The .270 and 12 gauge will both drive tacks at 100 yards. My .308 is capable of driving finishing nails. This will be the gun which joins me in the oak tree next Saturday. The choice has little to do with accuracy.

She is a Ruger Model 762. One of those “black rifles”—an AR platform. This gun is the big brother to my Ruger Model 556—an identical weapon to the one used by that sick SOB down in Texas exactly one week ago to take 26 innocent lives at a Baptist church.

This mass shooting has a common thread with all other—all unacceptable—mass shootings: The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

There are almost as many guns as people in America. Getting rid of all the guns is impossible, because bad guys could care less about gun laws. Good guys turning in their guns just makes soft targets like churches and the unarmed folks who go there to worship even more vulnerable to unspeakable evil.

My pastor and I discussed the tragic Texas slaughter last week when he and his wife came over for dinner. Our church is in a small town, just like the one in Texas. The pastor said the previous church out in South Dakota was in a similar small town.

He said this church has had a security team comprised of three persons with concealed weapons and communications capabilities in place for several years now—before I could even raise the issue of security at our church.

The pastor didn’t know there was a Ruger LC-9 tucked in a new Crossbreed IWB holster in my waistband as we sat there at the dinner table. I carry a concealed weapon wherever it is permitted. This does not include the local bank, or the states of Minnesota and Illinois which don’t recognize concealed carry reciprocity.

Next Saturday, the world’s eighth-largest army will enter the Wisconsin woods in a quest to fill one of those typing-paper harvest tags. Hopefully, all will return home safely—those good guys with sighted-in guns.

Ted Peck, a certified Merchant Marine captain, is an outdoors columnist for The Gazette. Email him at tedpeck@acegroup.cc

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