ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

WILTZ: If you had 50-plus years and 100-plus deer under your belt, what would your advice be?

The rifle deer season is fast approaching, and it got me to thinking that I've been at it for over 50 years. It amounts to well over 100 deer in the bag and a wealth of experiences. If I were asked to offer just one bit of advice, what would it b...

The rifle deer season is fast approaching, and it got me to thinking that I've been at it for over 50 years. It amounts to well over 100 deer in the bag and a wealth of experiences. If I were asked to offer just one bit of advice, what would it be?

Let's start with this. Next to your rifle, what's the most important piece of equipment one can carry on a deer hunt? A good knife? Binoculars? Water and a pocketful of candy bars? I would vote for my collapsible tripod.

Col. Charles Askins may have been the finest offhand rifle shot the world has ever known. It is

interesting to me, though not surprising, that Askins always found a way to rest his rifle when taking a shot at big game. If a tree, rock, or backpack wasn't available, he used the cross-sticks he always carried.

For the past 20 years, I have had an uncontrollable tremor in both hands. The tremor has made me a better hunter. Recent brain surgery has made my right hand tremor manageable, but the left hand is still out of control, and offhand shooting for me is inadvisable to say the least. On Aug. 28 of this year I killed an elk. My rifle was nestled in sandbags, and for the first time in years I didn't have to fight my right hand tremor. I put my shot exactly where I wanted it.

ADVERTISEMENT

How have I managed for the past 20 years? I always use a rest. There were many shots I didn't take. I have told guides from New Zealand to the Arctic to never start yelling, "Shoot! Shoot!" I've made it clear that I'm the guy looking through the scope, and when the crosshairs are dancing around, I won't chance wounding an animal.

I've also made it clear to guides that I prefer a rock or solid tree limb to my Bog-Pod tripod. When I'm alone, I plant myself by a rock, tree, or sizeable log. Most of my hunting is unguided South Dakota hunting, and friends know that I'm going to go somewhere and sit. It works. Anyway, when you go deer hunting this fall, use a rest when you take that shot. If I said that this is how I do it, few would pay attention. When a man of Col. Askins' stature does it, people listen.

* * * * * * *

While spending time in Wisconsin visiting family, we have become good friends with the Leis family. Early in September young Garrett Leis went on his first-ever archery hunt for elk. Garrett and friends would be hunting in Idaho quite close to the Wyoming border in what is great grizzly bear country. It was suggested to the hunters that they be armed with a substantial handgun, and Garrett asked me if I could help him out. I loaned him a Ruger single-action in .44 Magnum caliber.

As Garrett was unfamiliar with handguns, let alone a .44 mag, we went out and practiced. Garrett shot well, but I'd say he was a long way from being proficient. Anyway, the big Ruger went to Idaho with Garrett.

While I was elk hunting in Wyoming last month, actually quite close to where Garrett was hunting, I brought up this subject with my guide, Joe Hargraves. He didn't like the .44 Magnum idea at all. In fact, he held out his hands and connected his thumbs and index fingers to form a circle about four inches in diameter. "Can your friend put his shots in a circle this size while being charged by a grizzly bear? If not, he's really going to irritate that bear."

Joe would have recommended a bear repellant spray can to Garrett. While I told him that Garrett also had bear spray, he wondered what Garrett might have gone for first if threatened by a bear. In thinking about this, Joe was absolutely right! The pistol was a bad idea.

Fortunately Garrett had no grizzly encounters, although they collectively had 18 black bear incidents during their hunt. If and when you're in Garrett's situation, think twice before depending on your six-gun for grizzly bears. The last time I slept in a tent in grizzly country, I was snuggled up to my 12 gauge Remington 870 loaded with rifled slugs ... a bit more bulky, a lot more effective.

ADVERTISEMENT

See you next week.

What To Read Next
Lieber led the way with 25 points on 10-for-23 shooting from the field, while Nebelsick poured in 24, connecting on nine of his 15 field-goal attempts and going 6-for-7 at the free-throw line.
Prep basketball action from around the state for Monday, Jan. 30.
USD Coyotes routed by Oral Roberts in Tulsa
All six classes featured movement this week, including four that had teams move from receiving votes into the top five.