For instance, hunters take most bucks in the East at ranges of 100 yards or less. They may take some bucks at 150 yards and very few bucks at 200 yards. Only about a fraction of 1% of the bucks harvested east of the Mississippi River and in many Midwestern states will be taken at 300 yards or more, often because most hunters don’t practice shooting at distances of 300 yards or more and have little confidence in their abilities to take deer at that range.
A few long-range shooters do take big bucks consistently at 300 yards or more. The four most obvious places to take bucks at 300 yards or more are around large agricultural fields, in young clear cuts, on power-line right-of-ways and/or on the sides of mountains. On a mountainside, you not only can see the side of the mountain where you’re hunting, but you also can look into the valley and across the mountain to the other side to spot deer.
Most hunters who see a deer at 300 yards or more try to move-in close and take their shots. The closer you move to the deer, the more likely the deer will see, hear or smell you. If you’re willing to learn to shoot at long ranges, you drastically can increase the places where you can hunt and take deer and the number of bucks you’ll see.
The first criteria for being a long-range shooter is to choose a caliber or a rifle that will shoot out to 300 yards or more with enough kinetic energy to put a buck down quickly and easily. Some of the best calibers for long-range shooting include the .270 WSM, the 7mm-08 Rem, the .280 Rem, the 7mm WSM, the .300 WSM, the .300 Rem-SA and the .300 Win Mag.
Several other rifles can deliver this type of ballistics to take a deer at 300 yards. In my book, “Deer Hunter’s Pocket Reference,” I provide a Federal ballistics table, as well as Remington and Winchester ballistics’ charts. Then you can see which calibers perform the best at different ranges.
One of the most-common places to take a big buck at long range is a young clear cut early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Oftentimes by climbing high in a climbing tree stand, with a safety harness, you not only will be able to see across the clear cut, but you also can look down into the clear cut. With a quality set of binoculars, you can spot the sun’s glint off an antler, the black spot of a deer’s eye, the inside white of a deer’s ear or a tail swish when a deer stands-up or moves. You also can see deer moving out on the edges of those clear cuts early in the morning and late in the afternoon.
Besides binoculars, I recommend you use one of the new styles of range finders that provide the distance you are from the animal and also will compensate for the height you are in the tree. This way, you can know before the shot how to aim. A riflescope in which you have confidence and that you’ve practiced shooting out to 300 yards or more on a rifle range is another essential piece of equipment.
Finally, you’ll need some type of cross sticks to prop your rifle on and then that will hold steady enough to allow you to make an accurate shot.
If you’ll go to a rifle range and practice shooting out to 300 yards or more, you can hunt deer and take bucks in places most other hunters won’t even frequent to attempt to take bucks. The odds will be in your favor for seeing and taking the buck of a lifetime this season.