• Stories
  • Get Your Deer Hunting Gun Ready | Sighting in & More
Banner 2 advertisement
Banner 2 advertisement

Get Your Deer Hunting Gun Ready | Sighting in & More

Get Your Deer Hunting Gun Ready | Sighting in & More
August 7, 2023

Hunting season is right around the corner and it’ll be here before we know it. If you’ve found yourself reading this article it’s safe to say you’re looking to get your deer gun ready to roll for the season. Trust me, I’m as excited as you are to get out and chase some deer!

Getting your gear ready is a critical step in making sure you have a safe and successful hunting season. This article is focused on getting your deer gun ready to deliver that perfect shot when the time comes.

In Case You Need a New Deer Gun, Here Are Some Options

3 Popular Deer Hunting Rifles

Deer Hunting Rifle

  1. Savage Axis 30-06
  2. Savage 110 Hunter
  3. Winchester XPR 350 Legend 

3 Popular Deer Hunting Shotguns

Deer Hunting Shotgun

  1. Savage 212 Slug
  2. Winchester SX4 Cantilever Buck
  3. Remington 870

Pre-Season Deer Gun Check-Up

Running a pre-season check-up on your deer gun is something that most experienced deer hunters would advise. It’s not something that takes a lot of time but it’s something that can save a lot of heartbreak.

I’m speaking from my personal experience here, missing a deer is no fun at all, worse yet, is putting a bad shot on a deer. Making sure your gun is dialed in doesn’t guarantee that you avoid some heartbreak but it lowers the likelihood that it’ll happen. After talking to some very experienced hunters, I compiled a list of some of the key steps to make sure your deer gun is up to the task.

Gun Inspection and Cleaning:

  • Check the overall condition of the gun for any visible damage or wear.
  • Remove any dust, dirt, or debris from the rifle using a soft cloth or a cleaning kit.
  • Inspect the barrel for obstructions, and use a cleaning rod to clean the bore thoroughly.


  • For rifles, ensure you have the correct ammunition for your rifle, matching the caliber and type specified by the manufacturer.
  • For shotguns, ensure you have the correct ammunition for deer hunting, typically using slugs or specialized deer hunting shotgun shells.
  • Check for any signs of damage or defects in the ammunition.
  • Store ammunition in a cool, dry place and away from direct sunlight.

Sights and Optics:

  • Verify that your scope or sights are securely mounted and aligned properly.
  • Check for any cracks, fogging, or other damage to the lenses.
  • Sight in your rifle to ensure accurate shooting at different distances (more on sighting in below).

Safety Mechanism:

  • Test the safety mechanism to ensure it engages and disengages smoothly.
  • Familiarize yourself with the location and operation of the safety.

Trigger Functionality:

  • Ensure the trigger is functioning correctly, and there are no issues with it.
  • Check for a clean and crisp trigger break without any excessive creep or overtravel.

Stock and Action:

  • Inspect the stock for cracks, splits, or other signs of damage.
  • Verify that the action (bolt or semi-automatic mechanism for rifles or pump or semi-automatic mechanism for shotguns) moves smoothly and functions reliably.

Sling and Swivels:

  • If you use a sling for carrying your deer gun, ensure it is in good condition and properly attached to the swivels.
  • Make sure your swivels are quiet with a small drop of oil so they don’t squeak as you walk through the woods.

Gun Storage and Transportation:

  • Make sure you have a suitable gun case for safe transportation and storage.

Legality and Regulations:

  • Ensure you have all the required licenses, permits, and tags to legally hunt in your area.
  • Familiarize yourself with local hunting laws in whichever states you plan to hunt with your gun.

Sighting in Your Deer Gun

Sighting in Deer Gun

Sight in your gun well before deer season if you can. Try not to be the hunter that’s ripping off shots the evening before opening morning unless you already shoot on a regular basis and shooting is something the deer in the area are used to. Be sure to take safety very seriously and always apply the basic safety rules of operating firearms

Step by Step Guide for Sighting in Your Deer Rifle & Deer Shotgun

Gather Your Equipment:

  1. Deer Gun
  2. Scope (mounted and secured properly)
  3. Ammunition (the same type you'll use during deer season)
  4. Target paper or shooting target with visible aiming point and be sure to have something that’s safe to shoot to attach it to.
  5. Shooting rest of some kind for stability
  • Sandbags
  • Shooting sled
  • Tripod or Bipod
  • You can even use a hoodie or a backpack if you need to.

Choose a Suitable Range:

  • Find a safe and legal shooting range or shooting area with a proper backstop.

Prepare the Rifle:

  • Make sure you unload the rifle and engage the safety.
  • Set up a stable shooting position using a shooting rest or sandbags.

Boresight the Scope:

  • Look through the bore of the rifle (remove bolt if needed) and center it on the target. You’ll want to be at 100 yards with your rifle. You can be at 25 or 50 yards with your shotgun.
  • Adjust the scope's windage and elevation to get the reticle as close to the bore's center as possible.

Start at a Short Distance:

  • Begin shooting at a relatively short distance, such as 25 yards (or as recommended by the scope manufacturer). At close distances with a rifle 25 yards is fine for getting your windage but be sure to back up to 100 yards when you’re adjusting your elevation.

Take Three-Shot Groups:

  • Fire three shots at the target using proper shooting techniques (steady aim, relaxed grip, and smooth trigger pull).

Analyze the Group:

  • Look at the three-shot group on the target. Identify the center of the group.

Make Initial Adjustments:

  • For a Scope, adjust the scope's windage and elevation turrets based on the center of the group:
  • For left or right adjustments (windage), move the reticle left or right as needed.
  • For up or down adjustments (elevation), move the reticle up or down as needed.
  • For open sights or bead sights, move the rear sight or adjust the bead to align with the center of the group.

Shoot More Groups:

  • Shoot more three-shot groups and continue making adjustments until the group's center consistently aligns with the target's bullseye.

Fine-Tune the Zero:

  • Move the target to a longer distance, like 100 yards.
  • Repeat the process of shooting three-shot groups and making adjustments until your rifle is accurately hitting the target center at the desired distance.

Confirm Your Zero at Various Distances:

  • Once your rifle is zeroed at 100 yards, test it at other relevant distances like 150, 200, and 250 yards (if possible).
  • Note the point of impact at each distance and make adjustments if necessary.

Keep Records:

  • Write down your adjustments and the corresponding distances for future reference.

Test Your Shooting Under Realistic Conditions:

  • Practice shooting from various hunting positions (standing, kneeling, or sitting) to ensure consistent accuracy.

Test Different Loads (Optional):

  • If your shotgun handles various types of slugs, consider testing different loads to find the one that offers the best accuracy for your specific shotgun.


Differences Between Sighting in a Shotgun Versus a Rifle

Obviously there are a few key differences when you’re sighting in a rifle or a shotgun. You’ll definitely notice them quickly if you’ve never done one or the other before.

One big one is the recoil, for example. Your shoulder will definitely feel it more if you're sighting in a 12 gauge that’s shooting slugs than sighting in a 350 Legend rifle. There are a few other differences you’ll notice as well so I’ll list those out.


  • Shotguns used for deer hunting typically fire slugs or sabot slugs, which are single large projectiles, instead of bullets like rifles.


  • Shotgun sighting in is generally done at shorter distances compared to rifles, often at 25 to 50 yards, as slugs have limited effective range compared to rifle bullets.

Rifles vs Shotgun Sights: 

  • Shotguns may have different sighting systems, including open sights, bead sights, red dot sights or scopes specifically designed for slug shooting.
  • Rifles can have a wide variety of sighting options, including iron sights, red dot sights, traditional scopes, or high-powered scopes for long-range shooting.

Bullet Drop:

  • Slugs have a more significant bullet drop at extended distances, requiring hunters to understand and compensate for this trajectory when aiming.

Decide How You’re Going to Carry Your Deer Gun

There are a couple options to consider when you’re thinking about getting your gun to the stand or the blind and it all depends on your hunting situation. Some folks hunt from ladder stands and some hunt from blinds while some hike far and some don’t hike far at all. Whatever you do will determine your method of deer gun transport into the woods.

  • Are you going on a short walk to a stand? If so, all you’ll really need is a sling.
  • Are you going on a public land death march to a saddle way out there? Consider using a pack with a gun boot.
  • Side Note: Don’t forget your pull-up rope if you’ll be hunting in a stand. It sucks to get all settled in up in your stand only to realize you don’t have a safe and easy way to get your gun up to you in the stand.

There are certainly more factors to consider when you’re getting your deer gun ready for the season like safety, eye and ear protection, and others depending on your specific situation but hopefully this article will get you started in the right direction. If you’re a more visual learner there are some awesome videos on the exact tactics of getting your gun sighted in all over the internet.

If you have any questions that you need answered, always feel free to ask a question to the GoWild community. The folks on GoWild are always happy to help you out no matter where you are in your level of experience! Thanks for reading and I wish you the best of luck in the deer woods this season!

Banner 2 advertisement

We use cookies to offer you a better browsing experience. By continuing to use our site, you accept our use of cookies, Privacy Policy, and Terms of Use.