Hold tight! Fun prepping for rifle season

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Thirty-seven years getting ready for hunting season and I’d never allowed such a dumb thing to happen.

Preparing for opening day is nearly as much fun as the hunt. The anticipation, scouting, gear gathering, daydreaming — they all fuel the fire for the opener.

Part of the preparations is shooting the gun in. If I don’t know where the bullet is going when I squeeze the trigger, there isn’t a reason to take the rifle along.

I’d checked around to see where I might be able to shoot the gun. I wasn’t really interested in joining a dues-paying club with money being tight and there aren’t any public ranges.

So it would have to be a more informal setting. Not a problem, or so I thought.

Inter Lake sports boss Dave Lesnick suggested a place in the hills near his Kila home.

I told him I’d help cut and move firewood and then go shoot the gun. He didn’t take me up on that, at least not yet, but he did go with me.

It didn’t appear to be much, just another old timber haul road that was straight and long enough to set up a target about 100 yards away.

We found some remnants of targets that proved worthy. A little plywood, a few chunks of 2x4, a couple of handfuls of rock and some staples from previously used targets did the trick. Where did that staple gun go anyway? Gotta check on that!

We walked back to the vehicle and I saw what I had neglected to see at first ­— a nice log that would be a bench rest. The log had rested there for some time, to the point where it rotted away and provided a cushioned area to rest the 30-06.

This was all starting to add up, this conversion of circumstances at that spot did make for a better place to comfortably shoot than I would have guessed.

I grabbed the rifle case, a large plastic gear box and a heavy coat.

The box was tall enough after I sat it on the flattened, rotten log to give me a good view of the target. The jacket on the top of the box was supposed to provide a rest where the rifle wasn’t sliding around.

I put on my ear protectors, popped in a clip of bullets and cranked the scope up. I asked Dave if he was ready, if he had something to cover his ears.

He said he wanted to see how loud the gun was. I told him that it’s kinda LOUD. 30-30s, .270s, not too bad, but the ought-six goes BOOM!

But to each his own, right?

Anyway, I settled in, tried to get comfy as I scooched down behind the log. After pulling the trigger, we walked up to the target to have a look.

Dave acknowledged the boom was pretty loud. It was time to put those fingers to work so he wouldn’t go any more deaf.

The bullet was on the cardboard backing, but off the target. Several inches down and several left of the bull’s-eye. Not good, but at least I wouldn’t have to bore sight.

I unscrewed the scope adjustment covers and used a dime to hopefully “click” my way back to a better final result.

Since I wasn’t too thrilled with my initial rest, I went 2 inches up and 2 inches to the right.

I then retrieved my daypack and placed it on top of the gear box. After settling in again I felt better about the setup.

I fired and felt a little pinch on the bridge of my nose. I didn’t give it a thought until we started to walk to the target.

Dave asked what I’d done. I looked at him, a bit puzzled.

“Your nose,” he said. I touched it, felt a bit of wetness and saw a bit of blood on my finger.

“Really?” I thought to myself. Thirty-seven years shooting the gun and now this — something first-timers fall victim to occasionally.

I laughed a little, we both laughed a little. But the bullet had plowed through the target just off the bull, so that was very pleasing to me.

I fired a few more times to confirm the result of the second shot, but I had a much tighter grip on the rifle!

Reporter Scott Shindledecker can be reached at 406-758-4441 or sshindledecker@dailyinterlake.com.

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