Steady your shot with shooting sticks

I’ve finally come to grips with the fact that I’m not 25 years old anymore. No matter how much I practice, I am not the offhand shot I was in my younger days. Because of that, there’s one piece of equipment I never go hunting without.

I have a set of Vanguard shooting sticks I picked up several years ago. I’ve used them at the shooting range when I’ve practiced with my hunting rifles, but I wasn’t completely sold on them until I actually used them on a real-live hunt.

I had spotted a herd of antelope with a pretty good-sized buck about 800 yards out, and I tried to get closer to them. I got to about 650 yards, and the does didn’t seem to be too worried about me, but the buck was locked on to me from the moment I poked my head above the little hill I was using for cover. I edged back to where I couldn’t be seen again and started working my way around to get closer, when a smaller satellite buck jumped up out of the weeds. He was only about 300 yards away, but he was quite aware that I was there. I knew if I spooked him, all the goats would head for the next ZIP code, and I wasn’t out there for a trophy, anyway. So I switched my attention to this younger, smaller, most likely tastier buck.

And even though he started to run toward me, he was still about three football fields away. That’s much farther than I’m comfortable shooting off-handed, and the weeds were too tall to kneel, sit or lie down. It was the perfect test of the shooting sticks. I plunked the rifle on the sticks, gave the reticle just a bit of Kentucky windage, and squeezed the trigger. That buck dropped like a rock.

I highly recommend a good set of shooting sticks. They aren’t as steady as shooting from a bench, but they’re a lot more steady than shooting off-handed. The set I have is an older model made by Vanguard, but it’s similar to Vanguard’s Quest T62U version.

Steady yourself up with a set of shooting sticks. It might mean the difference between meat in the freezer or a missed opportunity.