"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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Time To Test Those Gun Sights 
Copyright © 2008 by Bill Scifres

If you are planning to hunt squirrels when the season opens a month hence, now is the time to make certain the gun you will use is putting the projectile where you are aiming.

Strange things happen to the sights of a gun when it is not used, and now is the time to learn how your gun fires–not the night before the season opens.
Most guns will have sights that are right on target, but this is a thing you need to know before you hunt.
My father always kept my rifle sights in line, but I managed to get them out of whack so often that he finally set my sights, then soldered the front sight in place. The notched rear sight was never a problem, but the front sight occasionally came in contact with hard objects.
My dad would set the sights of my rifle by shooting through the opening of a Coke bottle to break the bottom of the bottle without hitting it anywhere else. 
Needless to say, I built quite a reputation as a good shot. But even I missed when the sights were out of line.
Later in my rifle-shooting life, I had to learn to set my own sights and master the techniques of sighting in a rifle. I soon learned that the lateral movement in bringing point of aim and point of impact together was done by moving the front sight in the opposite direction the projectile is to move. The same held true for elevation (notched rear sight).
But any movement of either sight should be done in a resting position where the gun can be held steady. It also is important to hold the breath while squeezing off every shot.
Shotguns may not seem to need test firing, but it is important in hunting (especially for small game and game birds) to know the shot size that patterns best up to 30 yards–the distance most shots at game are taken. Otherwise, misses or crippled game may often be attributed to not having the right size shot or powder charge. Generally, light loads will handle small game, but magnum loads of steel shot are required by regulations for waterfowl. 
Scatterguns' bore sighting (done by manufacturers) is ordinarily adequate in these guns and even shot-size and power charges are recommended. But performances of scatterguns can often be improved by selecting loads the right loads and shot size and testing.
Scattergun hunters should even test to learn what the pattern does at close ranges. Squirrels often offer very close shots. 

WOOD WORMS – I am hearing rumbles that the wood worm, the minute larva that played havoc with white oak twigs last summer, are back, and I am wondering if it will get worse as the warm months progress. Also, if this nemesis is to be a long-range thing for our beautiful white oaks.
The worm, apparently, is a larval stage of some insect that weakens twigs and causes them to break under leaf weight. Last summer this was very widespread in Indiana and it may be starting again.
I am told by the Division of Forestry that there are a number of insects that fit this niche. They deposit eggs in branches and the larva (worms) bore into twigs to weaken them. The affected twigs then fall to the earth, and this is the way they get to the earth to dig in, pupate, and winter over to emerge the following year or later. It is, in short, a method of perpetuating the life-cycle of the species.
I am also told that the phenomenon seldom seriously damages trees.
From the Division of Entomology comes word that the insect’s name is oak twig pruner and that the larva is something like half an inch long or a bit longer. 
As Robert Louis Stevenson put it in “Happy Thought”more than century ago: ”The world is so full of a number of things, I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.”  

All columns, essays, and photos are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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