Autumn is Coming! Are You (& Your Gun) Ready?

It may be the dog days of summer now, but the deer days of autumn are on their way. Be ready with our guide!

posted on July 24, 2023
Istock Dvorchak Ready For Hunting Season

For big game, my preferred firearm is usually a handgun. My wife prefers a rifle. Many people hunt big game with shotguns. No matter what platform you favor, unless you’ve been shooting and maintaining that gun regularly during the off-season, now is the time to make sure both it (and you) are ready for the autumn hunting season. Why? Well, let’s just say that over the years I’ve learned that Murphy’s Law goes double for unprepared hunters.

Check that barrel or cylinder.

After all hunts, my family cleans our firearms … even if we didn’t shoot, and especially if we did. Then after the last hunt for that year, we spray into the barrel and cylinders a fine coating of Ballistol. This multipurpose lubricant works on any copper/lead that may have been left in the barrel after cleaning. With that, there is nothing left that could do harm while in storage.

Then before the next use, Ballistol is again sprayed down the tube and a nylon brush is pushed through. Then a clean patch—even two or three will finish the cleaning procedure. Also, clean the scope lenses and put on scope caps to keep them spotless.

Check the screws.

Mr. Murphy and his Law love to loosen screws when you’re not looking. So go over all screws, especially on the scope mounts, to assure they are snug. Just do not overdo it and strip a screw!

To assure all is tight and within specs, I use my Wheeler Professional Scope Mounting Kit Combo which contains their F.A.T. (firearm accurizing torque) wrench. As an example, they state that base screws should be torqued to a max of 30 inch-lbs. and steel ring screws to 15-20 inch-lbs., etc. Such a guide assures we get it right and not cause any damage to our gear.

You really do need to hit the range now.

Now is the time to take your firearm to the range. Then use a good rest and fire a three-shot group at whatever distance is most likely where you intend to hunt. The reason I say now is that so many hunters wait to just before a season opens to get to the range to test that firearm. In September or October, I would only see a few hunters but wait a little longer, you may be in line waiting for a spot to do your testing. When you are trying to confirm your firearms zero, that is not time to be rushed or under stress to hurry up.

Review your game animal’s anatomy.

It is always a good idea to study the anatomy of the game you will be hunting. Take the deer or pronghorn, know where vital areas are located and when out there, you will be amazed how fast you can aim on a critical part of the animal..

The human factor ... you.

Here is when you can get into trouble! First, it will usually be cold out and that could cause some strain on the body depending on your condition and dress. Then when moving our gear and say a whitetail to our vehicle, (and we are usually dressed in heavier clothing), we can become exhausted and with that, a little anxious. This happens no matter the shape we may be in! 

To start to get back into “hunting” shape, it is a good idea to walk a lot weeks before heading out. One gentleman we know does this early each morning and to add reality, has a backpack with weights on his back. He told me that once they become lighter, he adds more weight. Just be cautious and do not push it without an ok from your physician. Not exercising all summer and then taxing your body while we have aged can get us into trouble. Please play it safe and get that check-up … and with that, have a safe and enjoyable hunt!



Savage Arms Wild Table Pulled Canada Goose
Savage Arms Wild Table Pulled Canada Goose

Wild Table with Savage Arms: Pulled Canada Goose

Don't call it "Canadian Goose," just call it "delicious." (And then call us for dinner.)

NRA Family Entertainment: "The Blind," Starring "Duck Dynasty" Robertsons

It's the Robertson family origin story — the true tale of how Phil and Kay Robertson nearly lost it all.

Henry Guns for Great Causes: Join Team Kaia!

Fifty limited-edition lever guns are on sale ... and all proceeds will go directly to 8-year-old Kaia's family for medical expenses!

Throwback Thursday: Pheasants, Then & Now

If Christmas came on the Fourth of July and it also happened to be your birthday, you might have some idea of what a first pheasant is like…”

Video Review: KFI Monza Bolt-Action Rifle

This feature-rich rifle boasts accuracy, reliability and a beautiful factory trigger for a price that's hard to believe.


Get the best of NRA Family delivered to your inbox.