If you’ll be hunting out of state this year, the time just prior to the hunt can be very productive for three important reasons. First and paramount is to check the zero on your scope to be sure your rifle shoots where it’s aimed. Although the firearm may not have been dropped or jostled, the vibration from air travel or even the back of a pick-up can cause mount screws to loosen. Always check for tightness before you test it.
Craig Colorado bills itself as the “Elk Hunting Capitol of the World,” and many sportsmen travel through the Western Colorado town, which hosts a great public shooting range where you can practice on targets from 100 to 350 yards. Even if your rifle is dead on at 100 yards, how accurate can you shoot at longer ranges? Shooting successfully at longer pokes will bolster your confidence Likewise, if you can’t ring the gong at 200 yards, don’t shoot at that distance.
Visit a butcher shop. Bagging game on out-of-state trips can making bringing the bacon home difficult. Ask your host or outfitter where you should get meat processed and check it out before the hunt. In a few minutes, you can learn how they want the venison (skinned, quartered, or whole) and the types of services they offer. Can they prepare summer sausage and custom meat products? How much lead time do they need? You may have an antlerless license to fill, and knowing how the game will be processed will make that decision easier.
Likewise, check out a taxidermy shop. By examining the mounts the artist will have on display, you’ll know if you want a shoulder or skull mount, and you’ll learn what each will cost. In some areas, where Chronic Wasting Disease is present, state regulations require a local taxidermist be used, and taking the unmounted head home can incur a significant fine.
Sportsmen can have a successful hunt without taking these preliminary steps, but by knowing your rifle is on zero and that your meat and trophies will be taken care of, you’ll enjoy the hunt all the more once you get home. Good luck!