Sighting in your rifle before deer season makes sense, but hunters can also benefit from sighting their rifles in once deer season is over. Grayson Summers of Spartanburg, S.C., goes through the same steps of zeroing in after deer season ends as he does before opening day — for five main reasons.
“If I miss a deer during the season, and I can’t explain the reason, I’m going to sight it in during the season. But many seasons, I don’t even shoot the final month of the season, so I want to know if it’s still on,” Summers said.
“Your rifle scope can lose its zero for any number of reasons throughout deer season, especially if it gets banged around a bit,” he said. “And if you have kids or friends that borrow your rifle, you never know if they’ve changed anything either on purpose or inadvertently. That’s one reason I’ll go through the sighting-in process once the season is over.”
The second reason, said Summers, is to satisfy his own curiosity about the deer he successfully shot at during the season.
“I kill my share of deer every year, but I don’t always hit exactly where I aim. This might be because I’m not accounting for the deer slightly moving as I pull the trigger, or because I flinched, or because my aim was just off. As long as my shot killed the deer, I don’t worry too much about it, but I am curious if I didn’t hit it exactly where I feel I should have,” he said.
Predator control is Summers’ third and most-obvious reason for sighting in after deer season.
“If I get the chance to hunt hogs or coyotes after deer season ends, I want to make sure my scope is true. By January, it’s been several months since I sighted in before the season started. I will feel a lot more comfortable taking a shot at a coyote or hog if I’ve sighted in more recently,” said Summers.
The fourth reason to head to the range in January is that he simply feels more comfortable during the offseason knowing his rifle is properly sighted in.
“It just takes away the uncertainty in my head, and as the next season draws closer, I have a good feeling about how accurate my rifle is,” he said. “I’m still going to sight it in before deer season begins, but my mind is much more at ease throughout the spring and summer months knowing that it’s already good.”
Last on Summers’ list is a reason that many of us don’t want to admit as we get older.
“Our eyesight changes as we get older, and sighting in your rifle will really show you how true that is. The adjustments on my scope that made things crystal clear to me two years ago aren’t the same as what makes it clear to me now. Shooting before the season starts and after the season ends helps me keep my rifle accurate, and helps me monitor the changes in my own eyesight,” he said.