BIRD SEA­SON COUNT­DOWN

MARK YOUR CAL­EN­DAR WITH THESE KEY DATES IN OR­DER TO HAVE A GREAT UPLAND SEA­SON. DO THIS AND YOUR GEAR WILL BE IN OR­DER, YOUR DOG WILL BE IN SHAPE, YOU’LL BE READY TO HIKE THE UPLANDS, AND YOUR SHOOTING WON’T LET YOU DOWN. DON’T PUT THIS OFF, BE­CAUSE SEPTE

Outdoor Life - - SHOOTING - BY JIM WIL­SON

CLEAN YOUR SHOT­GUN

now is the time to take that gun apart and give it a good clean­ing. Pay spe­cial at­ten­tion to dried grease and dirt that might have ac­cu­mu­lated in the ac­tion, which can cause mal­func­tions and parts break­age. Pull your choke tubes and make sure that the threads are prop­erly clean and lightly lu­bri­cated. And just give the gun a good, gen­eral once-over to look for any worn or bro­ken parts.

START WALKING

you don’t have to be able to run a 4-minute mile in or­der to en­joy upland bird hunt­ing, but it sure helps if you’ve man­aged to get a lit­tle ex­er­cise in be­fore the sea­son opens. You’ll be amazed at how much bet­ter you’ll feel dur­ing a hunt if you start walking a cou­ple of miles three to four times a week now. The same goes for your bird dog. Take him along.

LEARN TO FO­CUS

we spend much of our lives look­ing but not re­ally see­ing. This is cer­tainly true of bird hunters. We get in a hurry and look at the whole bird as we fum­ble to make the shot. On the shooting range, train your­self to fo­cus hard on the front edge of that clay tar­get. With live birds, fo­cus on the eye or beak. Do this, and you will bag more game.

PRAC­TICE DRY

you can’t al­ways get to the range and shoot as much as you would like to. This is where dry prac­tice at home can help quite a bit. First, un­load that shot­gun and make sure there is no am­mu­ni­tion nearby. Prac­tice foot po­si­tion­ing while smoothly mount­ing the shot­gun and swing­ing as you move through the imag­i­nary tar­get and break your shot.

OR­DER AM­MU­NI­TION

hav­ing pat­terned your shot­gun, you should al­ready know which brand of shot­shell and shot size your gun prefers. Now’s the time to find good deals on qual­ity shot­shells. These fea­ture hard­ened shot and bet­ter wad con­struc­tion, and can be ex­pected to give uni­form pat­terns that will re­sult in more birds in the bag.

PRAC­TICE SHOOTING

ide­ally, you shoot skeet or sport­ing clays year-round, when­ever weather per­mits. But now is the time to get se­ri­ous about sched­ul­ing reg­u­lar prac­tice ses­sions. Bird hunt­ing is all about dop­ing the an­gles and de­ter­min­ing where that load of shot will in­ter­sect with the bird. No one can re­ally tell you how much you need to lead a bird, but with prac­tice you will work that out on your own. Bust­ing clay birds builds con­fi­dence for your com­ing hunt.

BREAK IN NEW GEAR

if you’ve pur­chased new hunt­ing clothes, it is time to start wear­ing them on your reg­u­lar walks. Make sure they fit prop­erly, aren’t bind­ing in any way, and per­form what­ever func­tion they were de­signed for. This is triply true for new boots.

SWING THROUGH

most game birds are missed be­hind, usu­ally be­cause you stop your swing at the mo­ment you break the shot. It is a com­mon sin in the game field that we’ve all com­mit­ted. On the range or in the field, your eyes should be fo­cused on the tar­get, and you should see it clearly as you swing through it and break the shot. Keep your gun mov­ing as you trigger the shot. You’ll put birds in your bag.

Pheas­ant hunters in South Dakota face the mo­ment of truth as a rooster gets up.

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