Rheney and rifles

Dr. John Rheney poses with “my Old Faithful Ruger 30-06.” The others are various deer rifles he has used over the years.

Many people who have hunted for years and have taken deer recently believe that if the last time they shot an animal and it went down, then a year later their rifle must be still on. It is true that if your rifle was dead on Jan. 1 and was gently placed in scabbard and then under your bed, it may still be zeroed.

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What if the kids pulled it out of the case or the maid knocked it over in the closet? What if it fell to the side in the gun vault while you searched for that box of .22 bullets? What if, gasp, you haven’t shot a target in three years? Maybe that miss could be blamed on oil left in the bore after the last cleaning, the maid, or ... drum roll please ... it could be you!

Filing my report on Edisto cleanup

At some point we all made a ridiculously long shot that we had no business taking. We all had that miraculous three-shot group at 300 yards that you could cover with a quarter placed over the bullseye. How long ago was that? Have you forgotten that you shot maybe a hundred rounds that week? Is your vision still 20/20? Do you still remember that breath and trigger control and being able to still your heartbeat a little contributed to that great moment?

Don't ruin Edisto River

Shooting a rifle well is a lot like being able to shoot free-throws. It takes a little concentration, familiarity with the way your rifle fits on your shoulder and practice. Telescopic sights have spoiled us all, but regardless of whether you are shooting free hand, off of a rest, iron sights or Swarovsky crystal, you still have to hold the bore on target and sometimes with only a 2 or 3-second window to make the shot. Be kind to our game animals and shoot a little.

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About bucks

A friend sent me an article and rather than just replicate it, let me summarize. It came from Quality Deer Management Magazine and is called “10 things we know about mature buck movements.” Here’s a quick synopsis:

Remembering the old days
  • Bucks are individuals. Some are homebodies and some move around a lot.
  • Bucks move mostly at dawn or dusk ... duh.
  • Most bucks have a home range where they stay 95% of the time. They limit themselves to 30% of their home range during rut and frequent “activity points” at least every 20 to 28 hours. There is an area called the “core area,” where bucks spend 50% of their time and this core area averages about 60 to 85 acres.
  • Regardless of weather, bucks move mostly at dawn and dusk. Heat, cold, rain, snow, high pressure or low it didn’t matter.
  • Regardless of moon phase, bucks move mostly at dawn and dusk. See a repeating trend here?
  • Bucks respond quickly to hunting pressure. It may only take one episode of hunter interaction to make bucks totally nocturnal and just a couple of instances can move them away from even important food sources.

There is nothing earth shattering here, but I thought it interesting that this research basically reinforced what we all have learned to be true. I also thought it interesting that even with fluctuations in weather and moon phases, bucks still move mainly at dawn and dusk.

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Dr. John Rheney has been writing his outdoors column for The Times and Democrat since 1984.


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