The Best Tips for Using a Rifle Scope When Deer Hunting


Sighting your prey with precision and being able to shoot accurately can be made possible by knowing how to use a rifle scope. Sure, sighting a target as big as a deer can be easy with the naked eye, but with a rifle scope, precision is more ensured at a further distance. Rubbish rifle scopes offer so little in the way of seeing your target at an exact point even when you’re many feet away. Here’s how to enjoy optimal target viewing with a rifle scope.

rifle scope for deer hunting


First know where the pellet lands, then make adjustments accordingly

Zeroing the scope or bore sighting is best done this way. Generally, rifle scopes are outfitted with elevation and windage knobs that can be adjusted to offset any inconsistencies on precision. The vertical point of impact (POI) of the bullet is influenced by the typically top-mounted elevation dial or turret. The right side of the scope is where the dial, knob or turret for windage is located. Windage influences the horizontal POI.

Make sure the barrel is unobstructed and the rifle is unloaded. Remove the bolt and then mount the rifle in a steady rest oriented downrange. Stand behind the weapon and look through the bore. With utmost care, move the weapon till the target is right in the bore center. Then, ensuring no movement to the rifle, begin adjusting the scope to center the reticle on the target. The boresight doesn’t have to be overly precise but simply needs to be close enough for the rifle to be on target at 25 yards.



Line up a shot at farther distances than the zeroed point

Majority of rifle scopes feature either a mil-dot or Ballistic Plex reticle, which enables the second step. The weapons also ship with a chart or diagram showing where the reticle can be lined up based on the velocity, weight and caliber of the bullet. It can be quite easy to simulate the caliber and weight, but the speed/velocity is quite specific to the rifle. To ensure consistent accuracy, the shooter will have to prepare their own chart for the weapon.

rifle scope with Ballistic Plex reticle


Tune the windage and elevation for hunting or recreational shooting

Military snipers have a wholly different purpose for adjusting the elevation and windage levels on their weapons, and so has the recreational shooter or hunter. Approximate calculations have to be carried out and the reticle held off so it won’t be necessary to re-zero the scope.

Calculate the distance to the target to zero the rifle scope. Unless the hunter is at a zeroed distance, the bullet could drop or rise if the shooter is unable to aim at a set distance. Another big factor is bullet weight, especially at further distances. Bullet weight influences the maximum effective range of the bullet. The bullet trajectory and the cross wind could easily modify the component’s effective range.

A shot angle, or one executed to bring down the target at an angle, also has to be considered as well. The bullet’s flight path may also be affected by other seemingly inconsequential factors such as: head/tail wind, which influences trajectory and speed; comparison between ambient temperature and ground temperature along with the distance from the ground, which can contribute to variances in bullet lift; humidity, which offers minute effects on trajectory; curvature of the earth, specifically on very long shots of more than a thousand yards when determining accuracy.

Today’s technological advances have brought forth computers or PDA calculators that are able to calculate the precise impact and position of a bullet based on the information obtained when all the above factors are taken together. Those types of devices calculate based on targeting at zero reticle, giving shooters the optimal means of achieving accurate target sighting. Rezeroing can be tedious when target shooting.

Unless the user is managing or modifying the reticle position, they should calculate the number of clicks utilized in each direction so setting the scope back to zero will be easy after the hunt.


set a rifle scope for deer hunting



If the parallax is available, adjust it according to the distance to the target

Most rifle scopes, and all adjustable-power scopes, enable the user to position the reticle within the same distance plane as the target, ensuring a highly accurate shot. Virtually all parallaxes have specified distances on them. Despite serving as good guidelines, those numbers are seldom accurate. The parallax will demonstrate minute changes according to the shooter’s eye relief, the distance of the target and the scope power.

Adjusting the parallax for accuracy can be extremely tedious and will take plenty of practice. Estimate its position according to the distance to the target. One can tinker with the parallax by placing their head in a relief position to view the black area around the edge while looking down through the scope. Then, move the eye and the head to have the black area even around all edges of the reticle.

Indeed, although ensuring a superbly precise shot is achievable using the parallax, this factor can be set at 150 yards using fixed parallax scopes, or set at 1,000 yards with the reticle at 8 inches tops off the ground. Closer distances of 500 yards can be at a maximum of 1.5 inches off.



Orient the crosshairs in the center of the target at zero distance

To compensate for angle, distance or headwind, the crosshairs of the rifle scope may have to be raised or lowered, thus keeping the center of the target at zero distance.