Arguments can be made in favor of or against the benefits of hunting with a scoped rifle.
I've seen the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to tracking animals with a high-powered scope.
At one point, a string of close-quarter misses led me to re-evaluate the relationship I had with my scope. I ended up buying a 30-30-caliber lever action rifle with iron sights.
But the honeymoon was short lived. I ended up retrofitting my 30-06 bolt action with a more intricate set of optics that's given me extra confidence and range when I'm out in the field, and I mean that literally.
The specific scope I'm referring to is a Pentax Gameseeker, which comes equipped with a reticle that compensates for bullet drop on long-distance shots.
Though most shots the average hunter takes is within 100 yards, this scope helped me take some of the guesswork out of shots that reach out to 200 yards or more.
While the scope is set up with a classic set of crosshairs, it also includes four drop-down lines that the shooter can use to target animals at distances that range farther than what the main crosshair posts are dialed in to.
The added feature has made me a more prepared sportsman, especially when the pressure's on and I'm faced with tackling long-distance shots in the mountains.
Of course, the bullet drop compensating lines will differ for various rifles and depend on factors such as caliber and what kind of cartridge is being used.
It's key to experiment with the new scope. Practice shooting at 100, 200, 300 and 400 yards to see where your bullets are dropping so you know which line marks which distance.
The setup is a great addition for hunters who like to sit, wait and let the game come to them.
Using a rangefinder to mark off yardages to surrounding landmarks is a good way to ensure you know which crosshair to use when that trophy approaches.
There are a lot of factors that play into a successful performance in the field, but sometimes it's all in the crosshairs.
Reporter Mike North can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.