Deer shooting in the UK tends to more longer distances, as we don’t drive them like wild boar as the European’s do, which is close up and usually standing shooting as they run by.
It’s estimated that most animal’s shot in Britain are taken around 100 yards +/-, usually from a high seat, or off sticks. So, what do you do when you encounter your quarry almost eyeball to eyeball?
Panic probably. Right away I say STOP, don’t shoot, as the chance are you will miss or wound the animal, so it’s time to consider what to do. Chances are you will be shooting a scoped rifle, so the offset between the sight line and bore and bullet path have to be taken into account. To me close range is up to 50 yards, so you could try shooting at targets from 10 to 50 yards, noting bullet drop, which will give you some idea of how much to aim off.
At these ranges, your scope can become your enemy! Chances are you will have a variable magnification optic, doubtless set at full power, which means a smaller field of view (FOV), so what you see with your eye is not what you see through the scope! Most close encounters happen as you are stalking up, so I’d recommend setting the magnification as low as possible for the widest FOV.
Obviously iron sights and red dot scopes are better at shorter ranges but changing sights to suit conditions is not an option, on what is after all, more instinctive and surprise shooting. So, we make do with what we have. Modern scopes offers a wider zoom range than your classic 3-9×40 etc. The Kite Optics KSP HD2, 1.6-10X42, minimum magnification of 1.6x has a great FOV and the low power means a steadier aim. But for longer shot; 100 yards +, 10x it’s more than enough.
The trick is to practice standing shots at shorter ranges, at the lowest power your scope has and usually standing unsupported until you can place the shot where it needs to go. Sometimes you might have so shoot from a high seat like this if the deer passes close by.
Chances are; your quarry, will react quickly and won’t wait for you to ‘draw’ first, so are you confident to shoot it on the move? If you have no experience, don’t try it, a running animal is probably the hardest target to hit in the right place, with a higher chance of a wound than a kill. The trick here is to keep the gun moving and swinging with the animal as it runs and even as you fire, otherwise you will shoot behind.
Practicing on moving targets with a fullbore rifle is not easy, however, with a shotgun on clays it is. As that will teach you how to track it and give it some lead. OK ballistics are very different between a 12-bore, 28-gram cartridge doing around 1300 fps and a 30-06 firing a 180-grain pill at 2800 fps. But it gets you into the habit. Once confident, you can take this training into the field using a 22 rimfire like the T-Bolt on rabbits, then eventually be fully ready to take on that surprise fox of buck, if you encounter it up close and personal!