Local conservation clubs hold clinics
By Greg Seubert
It won’t be long and hundreds of hunters will be out and about in Waupaca County for the state’s annual gun-deer hunt.
Those with a properly sighted-in weapon will have an advantage for this year’s hunt, which gets underway Saturday, Nov. 18, and runs through Sunday, Nov. 26.
Conservation clubs across Wisconsin are helping hunters prepare for the season with sight-in clinics. Two area clubs hosted clinics Nov. 4.
“You could actually shoot somebody if you’re not careful,” said Tom Mitchell Sr., who assisted hunters at the Chain o’ Lakes Conservation Club near Waupaca. “If your gun’s shooting high, (the bullet) could fly way high. We bore-sight it for him and get the scope dialed in so he’s ready to go. If you happen to bump or drop your scope, that’s another reason to come and have it sighted in. Some of these guns are well over $1,000, so you want to treat it carefully.”
Meanwhile, a few hunters showed up at the Iola Conservation Club, just north of Iola.
Paul Kobs, the club’s secretary-treasurer, said a properly sighted-in gun is an important part of a safe, successful hunt.
“If you’re not an every-day or every-week shooter, this is necessary,” he said. “A lot of hunters don’t shoot routinely. They wait until the season opens and take their gun, which has maybe been stored in a closet for the last 11 months.
“You just can’t expect that to be at peak performance,” he added. “It familiarizes the hunter with his weapon, we get to familiarize him with all the safety rules and regulations and he proves that mechanically, his gun is accurate.”
Mitchell said his club typically assists about 40 hunters at the one-day clinic.
“We have a couple Lead Sleds, which reduce the recoil tremendously,” he said. “You put the gun in there and screw the dials until you get the crosshairs dead-center on a target. There’s no recoil involved because the weight of the sled takes that.
“We have them shoot at 25 yards and figure out where they shot,” he said. “With a Lead Sled, what you do is hold the gun with the crosshairs dead-center on the target. One of us will move the dials on the scope so that the crosshairs move down to where the bullet actually struck and you’re sighted in. It’s a very simple process.”
A sighted-in gun can be the difference between a successful hunt and going home empty-handed, according to Mitchell.
“One of the guys here today was shooting 4 or 5 inches low,” he said. “We put it in the Lead Sled, got him dialed in and he’s hitting the bull’s eye.”
The club charged hunters $5 per firearm.
“It’s a fundraiser for our rifle range,” Mitchell said. “You can see the berms and the cement blocks. Those are improvements we’ve made to enhance the safety of our range.”
Besides Nov. 4, the Iola club also scheduled clinics for Nov. 5 and Nov. 11-12.
“Problems today are mainly centered around the telescopic sight,” Kobs said. “Hunters have gone away from the old days, where it was open sight at close range. Just about everybody has a scope mounted to their weapon. The way that it is mounted and the way it is dialed or tweaked drifts off in a period of time with jarring and transporting the gun. We give them the chance to tweak it in, become familiar with it and identify any problems that would maybe detract from the hunt if they discovered it out in the woods instead of here.”
A handful of hunters showed up at the club in the first two hours of the first clinic.
“It’s a slow day because of the weather,” he said. “There’s a drizzle and it’s 38 degrees. We’ve done six shooters and signed two new members. It exposes people to the club that haven’t been here before. We tend to be a well-kept secret in Iola. Why that is, we don’t know. People will come, take a look and say, ‘Where do I sign?’”
The club also charges $5 per firearm.
“We replace our targets and it keeps a pot of coffee and a couple of pizzas on the stove for the guys that shoot,” Kobs said.