It could have been a whole lot worse. Last year, I took a few shots at some big whitetail does from my elevated blind in the Ozarks, only to miss again and again. Frustrated, but thankful that that I hadn’t wounded any of them, I decided to figure out why I had missed and how I can improve. With whitetail rifle season starting here in the Missouri Ozarks in mid-November, I’ve been out in my blind, practicing up to 300 yards for elevation with Federal’s Fusion ammo, an ammo that I’ve used for years and highly recommend.
First of all, let’s discuss the ammo before learning what I did to hone my skills up high.
I hunt with a Ruger American standard-bolt rifle chambered in 7mm-08 Rem. I had good luck with this gun and cartridge (and Fusion ammo) 2 years ago from this blind when I tagged a nice 8-pointer. But, that one was at about 85 yards and no problem.
Federal Fusion ammo for medium-sized game is designed with bullet weights of 140 or 120 grains. For this exercise, I used the 140-grain load. Both types come with the Fusion Bonded Soft Point bullet, which is a flat-based design that has the jacked bonded to the lead core for better retention of the bullet mass on impact with the target. The jacket at the point of the bullet is thinned (“skived,” in Federal terminology), which, according to Federal, improves bullet expansion in the target.
First, I placed the rifle on bags on a bench downrange from a 100-yard target – with no elevation. I wanted to make sure I could shoot a nice group before heading upstairs to my blind. After working on shooting and adjusting the Vortex scope so that my shots fell about 1 ½ inches high, I felt that my group sizes had shrunk as far as possible for me.
This year, to my shooting gear I’ve added a Champion Monkey bag that fits over the windowsill for my blind. I didn’t have that last year, and I’m wondering if using the metal windowsill as a rifle rest affected my longer range shots – even though I adjusted what I thought was the correct amount for distance by aiming higher on the target according to the ballistics charts conveniently located on the Federal Fusion boxes of ammo, I think the inconsistent bounce I got from the metal sill threw off my shots.
After moving from the bench downstairs up to my blind, I started at 100 yards, resting my rifle on the windowsill bag and shooting on 12-inch round clean white metal targets. Aimed in the middle, hit in the middle – again and again. If I hadn’t been able to hit the metal target and tell where my shots fell, I would have put a paper target up.
Then, I reached out to 200 yards on metal, this time a 2-ft diameter target. Aimed at about 2 inches higher than the middle and shot a good group in the middle.
Finally, it came time for the 300-yard target (also 2-ft diameter). I aimed at about 12 inches high there, and again, a nice group appeared in the middle of the target. As it turned-out, at these ranges the additional elevation (second floor) of my blind made no difference in where my shots fell. No adjustment for blind elevation was necessary.
I photographed the scope settings so that in case something gets re-adjusted during the lead-up to the season, I can refer to my photo and reset the scope settings. Of course, if I have time, I’ll head back out to the range and verify the settings again.
I believe that the combination of these things will ensure success on opening day for whitetail season in Missouri:
Even before The WON began working with Federal Ammo in a partnership, I trusted Federal, especially for whitetail hunting. Meat in the freezer is what it’s about here at our house, and we typically tag 3 or 4 deer in a season. It’s comforting to know that I have ammo that has consistent ballistic performance, shoots flat, and is effective on deer. It’s also nice to be assured that the elevation does not affect my shooting.
For your ammo needs, check out the Federal Premium ammo website.
Publisher/Editor Barbara Baird is a freelance writer in hunting, shooting and outdoor markets. She is a contributing editor at "SHOT Business," and her bylines are found at several top hunting and shooting publications. She also is a travel writer, and you can follow her at ozarkian.com. View all posts by Barbara Baird