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Small Game Field Shooting

Aug 17, 2007
The trail lead through a frost-touched multicolored forest, the oak and maple trees a riot of crimsons, deep reds and browns. A golden autumn haze filled the valleys, and if you listened you could hear quail calling lonesomely for the lost summer. Grant Hartwell and I were walking this ridge trail, as men should be doing each autumn, our minds on deer, light overnight packs on our backs, wholly content with the world.

While deer was the prime objective, a couple of grey squirrels for a stew wouldn't be amiss, or for that matter a blue grouse.

Swinging around a bend we flushed a big old buster of a blue grouse. It angled up through the trees with a frantic beating of wings and perched on an oak limb about thirty yards away, neck outstretched, its nervousness reflected in its constant stepping about as it watched our every move. We remained perfectly quiet for a space of a few moments, knowing that the least untoward movement would touch off our hair triggered game at once. When it quieted down a bit, Grant eased over a few steps toward the huge mossy bole of an oak, rested his forearm against it for the shot.

I waited intently, my pulse surging just as strongly as if he had a big buck under his sights. The silence was shattered by the roar of his .30/30 Model 99 Savage. The grouse tumbled from its lofty perch into the deep mast under the trees, drummed frantically for a moment then lay still. I walked over and picked up our quarry. Its head had been neatly severed by that 170 grain slug, an excellent bit of small game field shooting.

Small game field shooting has problems of positions which merit a lot of study and practice by hunters. Fortunately there is no essential difference between small and large game shooting, and what is learned in the small game fields is directly applicable to big game coverts. Each places emphasis on the time element, practical accuracy and range picture.

Quite often the decision as to shooting position is made by the game itself. A squirrel alerted by your careful stalking, waiting for a tip-off from you before taking to the security of its den tree, has so compressed the time element you have in which to get off the shot, you must take it from the position in which you find yourself more often than not a snapshot off-hand.

When Art Richardson and I were hunting ground squirrel that early June morning, taking them "field run" each shot was governed by the game itself, to a great extent. Squirrels scurrying toward the protection of their burrows had snap shooting written all over them. Those which stood up momentarily to inspect their surroundings had the same urgency in their attitude.

Essentially, there are three basic field shooting positions which are practical, and used for more than ninety-eight per cent of all field shooting. These three positions are: standing, sitting and kneeling. The prone position can sometimes also be used in long range woodchuck sniping and in mountain hunting. But a too slavish use of the prone position tends to deliberateness wholly at odds with field accuracy because of the time element usually interjected by the game itself. Modifications of the three prime field shooting positions: sitting, standing and kneeling, are almost infinite in number.
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