Different rifles make shooting more challenging

Boy, the stories are starting to fly! I have heard of some really good bucks being taken from various areas around northeast Louisiana. I have not seen a buck to fire on as of Dec. 10.

I am on a mission to kill a male whitetail with as many different bullets as I can, in as many different rifles as I can. I am at present hunting with a 30-06 Ackley Improved on a FN 98 Mauser action. The thing has a heavy stainless steel fluted barrel on it and is really something to climb with (unloaded, of course). Hopefully, in the coming days (or weeks) I'll be able to park this rifle and pick up a 280 Ackley improved on a Model 70 action. This is just a jewel of a rifle to handle and shoots well in a lightweight platform.

Hunting with odd rifles puts a challenge on making the shot. I am reminded of a really good (for me) deer I shot around the first of last year.

My wife, Margaret Ann, and I were the only ones hunting on a cool late December morning of this adventure. I was hunting in the “Chinese stand,” so named for its roof design, while Margaret Ann was hunting in the “perfect stand” at a bayou crossing.

Around 8:30 a.m. a doe ran into the soybean field we were guarding and ran 100 yards or so before stopping. Well, what do you think happened next? That's right, a really nice buck ran out right after her. I advocate the use of binoculars and I had the Steiners at their duty station.

While gathering up my rifle, this buck and doe got right between us. There was nothing to do but look and watch. This courtship lasted several minutes before the buck bred the doe.

I was on that day hunting with a Steyr bolt action 308 rifle on a “Scout” platform. That type of rifle has a low powered extended eye relief (EER) scope mounted forward of the receiver. This particular rifle has a 2 power Leupold EER scope attached to it. It's a dandy little rifle just to pack and handle — just a classic rifle. My first center fire rifle was a Winchester Model 100 carbine in 308, so I have killed lots of deer with a 308, but this little rifle is unique.

Neither one of us had any kind of safe shot on the buck for a while. Eventually the buck angled toward me, probably figuring being out in a field in broad daylight probably wasn't conducive to a long life. While developing a feasible shooting solution, I took a look at this deer through the scope.

If I had had something to drink, I would have taken a good slug. You just can't imagine how much my nice buck had shrunk at 2X. Back to the Steiners at 10X and I'm seeing the same deer.

With my shooting solution developed, I started to take the shot. Have mercy, the crosshairs just about seemed to hide this deer from me. Abandoning my data, I went to an auto mode, correct sight picture, exhale slowly, squeeze the trigger. The little Steyr sent a 165-grain Nosler ballistic tip down range. I heard the bullet hit and saw the deer just fall over.

I got in the Toyota, went to Margaret Ann's stand and got her so she could load the deer (my left shoulder was “buggered up”). The deer really looked impressive, a good 8-point, in the 130-plus class. I was shooting at the upper third of the deer's body and where do you reckon I hit? Right in the middle of the neck. He was dead before he hit the ground.

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