View Full Version : Practice for Running Game, etc

July 13, 2001, 06:33 PM
What works?
I've heard jumping rabbits with 22's, rolling old tires,and all kinds of practical, Snap-Shooting skill tuners.....What Works for YOU ?

Nevada Fitch
July 13, 2001, 08:05 PM
Jack o'Connor always said shooting at running jackrabbits with a centerfire rifle helped him a great deal. I never had a chance to shoot at jackrabbits. I finally did get resonably good at hittng running deer, but it took several years of hunting to get the experience I needed to pull it off on any kind of regular basis. You have to shoot at running game to get a feel for it. It comes more naturally to some people than others. It did not come that easy for me, but I have killed several running deer over the last few years. What helped me the most to develope what skill I have was long range pass shooting at ducks. I had a 10ga. double barrel shotgun with rifle sights, bored full and full. I got to where I could kill ducks at quite long range for a shotgun with that big 10ga. I had it sighted in with the iron sights and knew exactly where the shot charge was hitting. It taught me follow thru and lead. IMHO a deer is still harder to hit running than a flying duck even if the duck is at fairly long range but it sure helped me.

Keith Rogan
July 14, 2001, 01:02 PM
I admit to having done it a few times but you know what? It just ain't right!
If you're seeing a lot of running deer then you need to work on your stalking or observational skills rather than your marksmanship.
Your kill zone on a large animal is what, a 9 or 10 inch circle? and if you hit it anywhere else you're leaving it to die in the field. It's not justifiable except in rare circumstances - a wounded animal perhaps.
I'm not trying to bash anyone here because as I've said, I too have surrendered to temptation and with mixed success. I'm older and smarter now and have to wonder on those that got away - did I really miss?

If you're good enough (and I know somebody who does this regularly), then you can walk right up to a bedded deer without it even being aware of your presence. When they hear you coming, deer will almost always stand up momentarily and observe you before running, but few people are ready for this or even notice. These are the skills that put venison on the table.

July 14, 2001, 07:53 PM
Could you please 'splain to me the specifics involved in one walking silently thru' a hardwood forest, with much dry leaves on the ground....and a deer, which has considerably better hearing,etc ..not even noticing a person.....I have trouble wrapping my brain around That....What special techniques do I need to learn to become that invisible....I live miles from civilization and spend much time each day in the woods....would love to learn how to Do This!!!

Keith Rogan
July 14, 2001, 08:02 PM
You take a step and watch for a a few minutes, then take another step. If you're good you'll soon see deer stand up near you to take a look. If you're very good you'll walk righht up on them.

Of course you have to know when you're close enough to their beds to make that practical and if I knew all the answers to that I'd be a happy man.
But I know a guy who does this. A native that hunts deer with a .22 mag by walking up and shooting them in their beds. He does this all the time. He knows where they'll bed on a sunny day, a rainy day, a windy day, whatever, and walks right to them and takes them out.


July 14, 2001, 08:26 PM
I know where a small herd hangs and beds.....I think this Step-LOOK-Step can be of value as early as October...maybe earlier for Squirrels! I heard somewhere a long time ago that this is a method used also by successful 'cat-burglers.....the step-wait-step thing.....I will definitely be trying it tho'!
Thanks Keith...

Art Eatman
July 14, 2001, 11:33 PM
People tend to walk in a rhythmic manner. Wild critters are arrythmic. They take a step or two and stop to nibble or browse and then take another step or two.

Even a short pause, every two steps, will break any rhythm and fool critters into thinking another harmless critter is wandering about.

Generalizing, since deer ain't read no books, deer tend to bed down where they can smell Bad Things coming from behind them, and see/hear Bad Things coming from downwind. E.g., the downwind crest of any sort of ridge. Also, they'll be near any sort of saddle in a ridge, so they can avoid being skylined when they take off, and have cover if in relatively barren country.

"Real" bucks will generally head out upwind, and uphill. Does and little bucks will go most any old how--which means, if you see does running, don't watch them; Bucky is elsewhere.

Back to the running deer thing: It's all integral calculus of your mind. A running deer is about a 30mph target. That means at 100 yards, and a 90-degree path, four feet of deer travel for your bullet to intersect in that one-tenth of a second of bullet travel. So, hold two or three feet in front of his nose--ignore the up and down; it won't matter. If he's quartering, less lead. If he's much over 100 yards, don't shoot...

If you're hunting open country where it's a matter of shoot a running deer or forget eating venison, use a bit more gun than otherwise. A bad hit from an '06 is more likely to put a deer down than a bad hit from a .243, for instance--and your second shot should then end it.

But first, practice offhand shooting--a lot!

:), Art

Nevada Fitch
July 15, 2001, 07:43 PM
Art is right on using enough gun if you expect to take running shots at game. Also it is better to avoid running shots whenever possible. I would rather have one standing shot at an unalerted animal than a whole clip full of running shots. On the other hand I have bagged several deer that I would not have gotten if I had not taken a running shot. In my area the deer are hunted hard during gun season and sometimes you just have to take what comes your way.

July 15, 2001, 10:30 PM
To practice snap shooting at moving targets??? Try shooting trap/skeet or even hand tossed clays. Best 'practice' there is.

It takes years to learn to be patient enough to stalk them up in their beds> I know it took me a long time to learn it. I'm pretty good at finding elk in their beds and my dad has even shot one that was sleeping (nice spike).

On shooting at running animals.. It can be done its easier with iron sights than with a scope and I have learned thats its damn near impossible to hit a pronghorn running full tilt (55mph the second fastest land animal) at 50 yards with a scoped rifle. With bot eyes open and leading him so far he's note even IN the scope you'll still shoot behind him. I refuse to shoot at running antelope. You MIGHT hit one, but it won't be the one you aimed at. Deer and elk are a bit different. They aren't as fast and Kieth is right when they are standing up they are a bit awkward. If your rifle is on your shoulder instead of in your hands you just missed your best shot. I hunt in heavy woods where a "snap shot" is all you are likely to get, a scope isn't REALLY necessary but most of use them anyway. Binos and iron sights could get you where you want to go.

July 16, 2001, 01:05 PM
I can't believe nobody posted the obvious solution. Try it on the range first!

Rather than discuss if a running shot is/isn't ethical or possible, try it with your equipment on a moving deer target at various speeds and distances.

If you can get consistent hits, you can consider the shot out in the woods. Otherwise, forget it! (This goes for long distance shooting, snap shooting, etc.)

HSA has a simple, inexpensive moving target carrier design We're prototyping several more.

July 19, 2001, 04:46 PM
think I understand, now.....the step-wait-step thing.....I will definitely be trying it tho'!
Thanks Keith...

I feel I have to say...Duh! Any of you big time hunters play other big time hunters in a game of paint ball? The best way to learn how to stalk something is to stalk something that shoots back, not runs away!

Art Eatman
July 20, 2001, 03:14 PM
Growing up on a farm/ranch, sixty years ago, there was a shortage of paint-ball guns--not to mention people.

I later discovered that people are easy to sneak up on, compared to Bambi. Or Wiley. Or the various cats...People's noses ain't worth a hoot, their ears aren't very useful, and their brains aren't really focussed on survival.

You want a challenge? Go TO a turkey, not wait for one to come to you.

:D, Art

Greg R
July 20, 2001, 03:53 PM
While I agree that your first shot at an animal should not be running (or from long range), as an outfitter and hunter, I find myself and my clients shooting follow-up shots at running game quite often. This is especially true in Africa, where animals like Zebra, Wildebeest, and Buffalo often take off for the next country regardless of how well they are hit. They may only make it 50 or 100 yards, but you don't know how well they're hit when they run like that, so we usually keep shooting until we can't see them or they fall. More often than not, the only holes from follow-up shots are mine. If my clients hit them at all, it's usually poorly, and then only because the shot was short. I still encourage the follow-up shot though, because once they are wounded, we're just trying to get as much lead into them as possible. Nothing ruins a hunt for a client like having to pay for an animal they didn't recover. It may be their fault, but they project the blame on me, and my success depends on them being happy. They don't mind the extra holes as much as they do paying a trophy fee with nothing to show for it.

I shoot quite a bit of skeet and sporting clays, as well as moving targets with rifle and pistol, but most people don't have access to rifle and pistol movers, and even fewer seem to have the discipline to practice. If they did, the running shot probably wouldn't be necessary. Besides practicing on moving targets, the 2 most important things you need to be successful on running game are: 1. a good bullet of adequate caliber (I use Trophy Bonded Bear Claws or solids), especially on quartering targets or Texas heart shots. This will ensure that your bullet gets to the vitals regardless of the angle, and 2. know the anatomy of the animal you are hunting. You should know it well enough to be able to hit the vitals form any angle, including steep quartering shots. Capstick called i t "shooting by anatomy", and I can't think of a better way to put it. A good example of this is the Lion, whose vitals are actually a little behind the shoulders, not between them. While many people would shoot through the shoulders to "break them down", they may only be nicking the lungs. Whoops. Just realized the time, and I have to run. This is the first hunting post I have responded to here, but I will start checking back more often.

July 20, 2001, 07:32 PM
Greg said:

>> ...most people don't have access to rifle and pistol movers...

Which is why we made a design that even a poor carpenter can build for USD $30-50.

>> ... and even fewer seem to have the discipline to practice. If they did, the running shot probably wouldn't be necessary.

Sad, isn't it? Of course formal shooting events have been recessed into a dark corner for the past couple decades. Typical gun owners don't even know what venues exist, much less participate.

>> 2. know the anatomy of the animal you are hunting. You should know it well enough to be able to hit the vitals form any angle, including steep quartering shots.

And that's why the HSA target takes target angle into account! Because the design uses a seperate Overlay, hunter-shooters can create their own to simulate virtually any big game species.

Don't take my word for anything. Listen to the professionals. (I do)

July 20, 2001, 08:01 PM
I think the clay bird advice is good, but I'd like to add have a rifle that fits you like a shotgun and learn to use iron sights. If you can throw your gun to your shoulder and the sights are aligned then the gun "fits" you. Then all you have to do is swing the gun, get the proper lead and ping one off.

Too many hunters carry scoped rifles that cannot be used to acquire, let alone hit running game.

Greg R
July 20, 2001, 09:12 PM
I agree that gun fit is extremely important. I am 5'3" and stocky. My .375 is made for me, and I don't know anyone else who could even shoot it. As to scopes, I use a Zeiss 1.5-6x42 which has a very wide field of view, and leave it on 1.5x most of the time. I have shot running pigs, Wildebeest, and Nilgai with it, and never have any trouble finding them in the scope. I do use my iron sights, however (the scope is mounted with Talleys) on the bigger stuff or in thick brush. I use the New England Custom Gunworks Masterpiece sight with a large bead, and have found it to be an ideal combination for fast, accurate work out to about 50 yards.

Regardless of whether you use a scope or iron sights, gun fit, or any other factor, trigger time is still the key. When I return to Africa in late August, I plan to give the Warthogs and Baboons hell, and cull quite a few Impala and Wildebeest. In between now and then, I will shoot 2-3 times a week, as I have since my guiding stopped in March. I will shoot skeet once a week, then practice with my rifle the other 1 or 2 times. It does get a bit boring sometimes, but my friends and I do whatever we can, including wagers, different targets or target presentations, or making up shooting games to make it more fun and more realistic.

That may sound excessive to some people, but it's important to me for 3 reasons: 1. the animals deserve to be killed humanely. I practice so that they don't suffer., 2. I want to make sure that if the trophy of a lifetime steps out in front of me, I am as prepared as I can possibly be to take him. It doesn't make sense to pay a lot of money and travel halfway across the world to hunt, yet not have a realistic chance of taking the animal you went there to get because you didn't practice. and 3. As an outfitter and booking agent, I can't aford to miss. As childish as it sounds, I can't miss when I am hunting with PHs that I book hunts for who treat me as an equal, and I can't miss in front of the clients that I am taking with me. They hunt and shoot with me quite regularly, and I have witnessed quite a bit of their poor marksmanship. They are dying for me to miss so they can give me hell! Anyway, you all know there is no quick fix. To be successful you have to practice. Practice will, more often than not, make the difference between a great and a bad hunting experience.

Al Thompson
August 10, 2002, 09:22 AM
Floating a few of these threads as hunting season rolls around..

August 10, 2002, 11:28 AM
This one has a ton of good advice coming from obvious experience.


August 10, 2002, 06:58 PM
I tie beer cans to a riding lawn mower and have my exwife drive it around the back yard while I shoot at them.(just kidding)

August 12, 2002, 12:26 PM
If you want a real challenge which will also be great practice for running game- here's what I've found works great...

You will need a shooting area with a good sideways slope. Get an old tire and a thick piece of styrofoam cut to fit inside. Stick a target on the styrofoam and get a buddy to set it rolling down the hill from the side. Be sure there is a safe place for your buddy (perhaps behind the slope).

You will be surpised how difficult this is. Clays and mechanical runers usually follow a pretty smooth path. Rabbit clays bounce pretty good, but you only get one hit. The tire wil bounce, turn, and everything else real game does- and it's cheap and you don't need a thrower. Lots of fun, too. Be careful, though- you just might embarrass yourself trying to chase it down.


August 12, 2002, 12:41 PM
Where I'm from, we do "swamp drives" where a group will fan out and walk through the heavy woods/swamp, and "drive" the deer out into a clearing or 3, with "sitters" watching the clearing... (sitting back to the walkers, so the clearings are open "clear shot" areas)

Through my childhood, my father got me into shooting running squirrels and rabbits with my single shot .22...

at the TIME, I thought it was for fun! :D

It turns out, anyone with the skills to shoot deer ruhnning in high-gear got to sit a little more often then those who couldn't hit, during these "drives"

I still drive the swamps... but I "sit" more often, because me and my '06 are famous for clean kills on running deer...

there are ALOT of uses for that skill in hunting, that aren't related to bad woodsmanship... (think waterfowl)

also, practice is a good way to learn them...

small game with a .22
Sporting Clays - a great one!!!

leading and follow through CAN be taught, but you'll still need practice...

Roman Knoll
August 14, 2002, 04:14 PM
Shooting at moving game is SOP in Sweden and the rest of Europe on driven hunts. Roe deer, wild boar and even red stag are hunted that way. Nobody uses a scope, open sights or red dot sights are the norm.

We shoot at moving or running moose quite often too. Stalking moose in our dense woods is only possible if the dog locates it in the forest and stops it in place through barking. Dog leader has then a chance to plan the approach properly and execute the stalk. If he’s lucky he’ll shoot stationary moose. If he spooks it, hunters in the stand chain can have a go. The moose will be running then, most likely closely followed by the dog.

We train on shooting ranges equipped with running targets - moose silhouette, natural size, distance 90 yards. The length of rail on which target moves is about forty yards
Most hunting clubs in Sweden require their members to qualify every year before opening of hunting season. Qualification scenario on such range is following:

1. Load your rifle with 4 cartridges
2. Shoot at stationary moose target standing on your left
3. After first shot, the target immediately starts to run. You have to reload quick and shoot it once again on the run, moving from left to right.
4. Repeat above with target starting on your right

You have to in hit the target four times in the “vital zone” and you have to successfully repeat this routine three times to qualify.

This kind of practice conditions you reasonably well for shooting running game in open terrain. The method with “following through” and shooting when you think that deflection is OK doesn’t work when you hunt in dense forest like I do. Here I use a method which we call “observation lane” and “shooting lane”. In most cases, I have a fairly good idea from which direction the moose may come. Upon arrival on my stand I select openings in the thicket where I can see approaching game – “observation lanes” and corresponding “shooting lanes”. When I spot approaching moose, I aim my rifle into “shooting lane” and fire when I see it there. Instant calculation of deflection is of course necessary. For this kind of hunting, I use red point sight exclusively. I can aim with both eyes open and have full control game movements.