But before you buy a riflescope, learn why you should even buy a riflescope in the first place.
Some are built for tactical purposes while other sniper/hunting scopes specialize in longer-range targets. A quick pro-tip here is that it’s generally better to have too much scope than not enough. So, if you must err on the side of caution, err in favor of the scope.
I Have A Riflescope… Now What?
Okay, so you’re happy with the scope you’ve purchased, and now you want to get out and shoot, right?
Only after you have properly mounted your riflescope can you sight it. This component is just as important as anything else because it is how you customize the rifle to your own anatomy and mechanics.
Your arm length, eye spacing, and the unique way you hold the rifle are slightly different from everybody else, and these subtle differences can make a big difference downrange.
You might find it is easiest to sight your rifle at a local shooting range. However, if you live far from one but have a lot of land nearby, just make sure you’re shooting in a safe direction where there is no chance of passing hikers, campers, etc.
The first thing you need to do is make sure your reticle is in focus.
The reticle is the shape (crosshairs, a singular dot or circle, a triangle, etc.) you see when you look through the scope, and its function is to indicate scale or location of an object.
Look through the scope to ensure the whole picture is sharp. If it’s blurry, twist the diopter adjustment on the scope, which is typically going to be the end of the scope closest to your eye.
Something to keep in mind is that when shooting is that you will be focusing your naked eyes way downrange, scanning for targets or game, and then you’ll quickly switch to the scope right in your face.
Your eyes take a little time to adjust, so the view through the scope can be a little blurry for a few seconds.
To eliminate this lag, look away from the scope and let your eyes focus on something else at a distance. Stare at it for a few moments, then quickly look through the scope and in the brief moments before your eyes adjust, determine if the picture appears blurry. Keep doing this until the image is sharp and in focus immediately upon looking through the scope.
Step 2: Boresighting
Boresighting your rifle first will save a lot of time and ammo.
This will take just a few minutes and will ready your weapon for the fine-tuning we are about to do.
First, securely mount the rifle to aim downrange at a highly visible target 25 yards away. Then, remove the bolt so you can see straight down the barrel at the target.
Look through and aim the barrel center mass. Next, look through the scope to ensure the reticle also lands center mass. You will likely need to adjust the scope’s turrets to achieve this. The turret on top adjusts the scope’s elevation (up and down) and the one on the side adjusts its windage (to the left and right).
Once your reticle is adjusted center mass, replace the bolt and get ready to start shooting.
Pro-tip: There are even specialized zero targets you can use that are gridded to help precisely determine the adjustments you need to make. You’ll see why that might be useful later.
Sighting requires great precision, so make sure the rifle is either mounted or thoroughly supported for this step.
Replace the bolt, insert your high-quality ear protection, and fire three rounds directly at the bullseye of your target at 25 yards. You will probably not hit the bullseye, so focus more at the consistency of the shot group.
If your three shots are really close to each other, but the whole group is about 1 inch south and 2 inches west of the bullseye, you need to adjust the elevation for 1 inch and the windage for 2. It looks complicated, but it’s really simple. The turrets we were playing with earlier in the article are what we will now use to fine-tune your scope.
But before I go in-depth, here’s a quick primer on elevation and windage adjustments:
Usually one click changes the location of the bullet’s impact by ¼ inch at a target 100 yards away. The way we represent that is “1/4 MOA,” where MOA stands for Minute Of Angle. Four clicks will move the bullethole one inch in the direction indicated.
But, if the target is only 25 yards away, we need to move the dial 4x as many clicks to move the bullethole the same 1 inch. If the target is 200 yards away, conversely, 2 clicks move it 1 inch. Four hundred yards away, 1 click for 1 inch.
So for the example above, we need to rotate the turret 16 times to elevate 1 inch and another 32 clicks to the right. The turret itself will indicate which direction to turn and the MOA (although most are ¼).
Once your scope is sighted for the target at 25 yards, it is time to extend the range to 100.
Fire another three rounds for your shot group, then determine how far off the bullseye the group is located.
Measure the deviation and adjust your elevation and windage in the same way we just did, bearing in mind that 4 clicks at this distance will equal 1 inch.
Fire another shot group at your 100-yard target, and if they hit where you wanted them to, you have successfully sighted your scope.
Have you ever wanted to learn how to make your very own European mount of your recent big game harvest But weren’t sure where to start? We’ll show you how easy it is!
The European Mount | A Great DIY Opportunity
On a recent bow hunt trip to South Georgia, my partners and I had identified a wide 6-point with spindly antlers and very small brow tines, as a buck that we felt like would be a good one to go ahead and harvest if given the opportunity.
Well, that opportunity presented itself the very next morning, as I was able to able to take this buck with my bow at about 12 yards, which is always fun and always a blessing.
However, this management buck was not one I was going to take to the the taxidermist.
So, we felt like this would be a great opportunity to show those of you at home how to do your very own European mount.
The “euro mount” process is not near as difficult as it might seem. You can do the entire process as home for as little as $10.
In the below video, N1 Outdoors® co-founder, Josh Wells, teaches you the Euro mount process, step-by-step. Be sure you watch to the end of the video where Josh teaches you how to prep the head and the skull for this process that he shows you. We hope you learn something. Enjoy!
Supplies You’ll Need To Make A European Mount
We’ve got a few essential materials that you will need to do European mount. I will go through those with you in just a second.
I want you to know that I’m not a taxidermist. I’m not a professional doing this. But, I have done it several times and over the years and through trial and error, have figured out some of the best practices in doing a Euro mount.
A few supplies that you are going to need to the European mount are obviously, a knife to skin the head from the skull, a good set of forceps, a screw driver.
You will also need two quarts of hydrogen peroxide and some liquid dish soap. You’ll also need some dark wood stain, masking tape, clear shrink wrap, and a pitcher or a big cup to add water to the pot as it’s boiling.
Knife for skinning
2 Quarts Hydrogen Peroxide
Liquid Dish Soap
Dark Wood Stain
Clear Shrink Wrap
How To Make A Euro Mount Step-By-Step
Time needed: 5 hours.
How to do your own European mount…
Remove the skin of the deer head
Using your knife, remove the skin from the deer head and remove the lower jaw.
Boil the skull
Add 1/4 cup of liquid dish soap to the water in the pot you will boil the skull in. On a very slow boil, simmer the skull for 4 hours.
After you remove the skull from the water, use your knife and forceps to remove eyes, tissue and tendons from the skull. Use the screwdriver to remove the ear buds so you can access the brain cavity. Remove the sinus tissue with the forceps. Use a water hose to spray in the brain cavity to remove the brain tissue.
Add 2 quarts of hydrogen peroxide to your boiling water.
Use shrink wrap to wrap around the bases of the antlers to protect them from being bleached. Secure the plastic wrap with masking tape.
Boil skull again for 30 minutes
Put the skull back in the water containing the peroxide for another 30 minutes.
Remove shrink wrap and touch up as needed
Remove the deer skull from the boiling water and touch up the bases of the antlers with the dark wood stain if there has been any bleaching.
This whole process will take about 5 hours. You will boil the skull on a very low boil for 4 hours. Then, you’ll need to budget about 30 minutes or an hour for cleanup and for bleaching the skull (bleaching will take about 30 minutes.)
The key to the process is the 4 hour boiling time. If you do it for 3 hours, it’s not going to come off as good. Slow simmer for 4 hours works best. If you boil it too hard, it’s going to weaken the bone and you’re going to break some bones. So, be sure it’s a slow simmer. Don’ try to do it too fast.
Remove Meat and Tendons
After 4 hours of boiling the skull in the liquid dish soap, the meat around the skull will be very tender. You just work your knife in and remove the meat and the tendons as best as you can. Much of the meat will just fall away during this process.
You don’t want to get too aggressive with it because you can pop a bone loose.
The most aggravating part is around the eye sockets because all the eye sockets connect to the inside of the skull in the brain (we’ll cover how we are going to get the brains out shortly) and it makes them a little bit harder to get to.
Remove The Ear Buds
All After you’ve gotten all the meat scraped off, it’s now time to pop the ear buds out. This is how we get the brains out.
Take your screwdriver and work it around in the ear buds and pop them out.
Remove Sinus Tissue
Now use the forceps to remove all the sinus tissue.
You need to get everything out of the sinus cavity because anything that you leave, will cause the bone to turn yellow. It may take two or three years for it to happen, but I’ve had it happen.
Be gentle while the skull is hot, because if you are too rough while removing the tissue, you could break the bone.
And, if you do break the bone, don’t worry. Sometimes the bones at the bottom of the nose will come loose if these tendons get cooked too long. If they do, you can put them back with super glue. So, don’t worry if they come off. You can super glue them back.
Get as much of the sinus tissue as you can from the front side and then you can get the rest under the brain cavity.
Remove The Brain
Once you get the ear buds popped out and you get the sinus cleaned out, you’re going to need a water hose to rinse out the brain tissue.
Some people will use a pressure washer for this step. I don’t like using a pressure washer because if you’re not careful, you can damage the bone.
Put the water hose into the hole where the brain is located and flush out the brain matter. Anything left over will break loose once we boil the skull for the second time in the peroxide.
Prep Antlers And Boil Skull In Peroxide
Once you are finished rinsing the brain matter out of the brain cavity, it’s time to boil the skull for a second time in order to bleach the bone white.
Add two quarts of hydrogen peroxide to the existing pot of water.
Wrap the base of each antler tightly with shrink wrap and secure it with masking tape. There’s not really any particular way that you need to do this other than to just get them wrapped from the base up to the bottom of the brow tine.
Once the skull is placed into the boiling water, the plastic wrap will shrink tightly to the antlers and keep out the majority of the water. Some water may find its way through and that’s why we have the dark stain.
We can come back and if some of these darker parts around the base get bleached a little bit, we just use a q-tip to re-color it and you’ll never know the difference.
Once the antlers have been adequately wrapped, place the skull back into the boiling water and peroxide for 30 minutes.
The Finishing Touches
After the 30-minute boil in the peroxide and water, remove the skull and take the plastic wrap off.
The plastic wrap will seem sticky and gummy, sticking tightly to the antlers. And, that’s what you wanted to do because that keeps the peroxide off of the antlers and prevents it from bleaching.
If there has been any unwanted bleaching on the base of the antlers, use a very small amount of the dark wood stain and apply to those areas with a q-tip. You can repeat as many times as you like to get the desired darkness.
But, how do you get the skin off the skull initially?
I wanted to go back and cover the preparation process of the skull before you even start to boil it.
Obviously, you have to cut the deer’s head off. And preferably, you would want to cut it at the last vertebra that connects to the back of the skull. (Normally what happens because the deer’s neck and ears compressed on the spine, is that most people naturally cut about one vertebra back, so you have to two things to cut off before you can start boiling the skull.)
The place you want to be careful about is this lobe on the back of the skull where the brains are. Be careful not to cut into that lobe. Just use it as a guiding point as you cut. Once you cut around it, you will be able to remove the last vertebra.
But while the deer head is lying on the ground, get your knife between the teeth and just cut back toward the back of the head. There’s going to be meat back there, so you want to cut that on both sides, so that you can open the deer’s mouth.
Once you’ve cut, pull the jaw all the way back until the bones that joined up under the brain cavity are loosened. Then then you can remove the meat from around those bones and pop that bottom jaw off.
Now, you are ready to start boiling!
We hope you’ve enjoyed this instructional article and video on how to do your very own European mount. We hope you have a great deer hunting season, and remember… where moments happen, we’ll meet you there!
Before I start talking about food plots, I want everyone to understand that no food plot, no matter what the blend, can supply everything a deer needs in terms of their nutrition.
So, no matter what you are planning for a food plot, the first step in the Spring should be to create a mineral site and/or feeding station next to the planned food plot location.
Getting deer accustomed to using an area and giving their diet a boost is a great way to set your food plot up for success later in the year, even in places where feeding is not legal during the hunting season.
When I am in the planning stage for a couple new food plots, sometimes I get to the point where I am tired of planting food plots using the same old, run down equipment.
This article focuses on those of us that do not own enough land to justify buying a tractor. But, just because you don’t own equipment does not mean you need to skimp on your food plot prep.
How Much Tractor (and money) Do You Need For Your Food Plot?
First, if you own your own land, you can probably afford a tractor.
Tractors certainly come in all shapes and sizes. But, for the avid food plot planter, something in the 20-35 hp range should be plenty.
I have looked at a lot of different options on the market and each has its strengths and weaknesses. Regardless of the price a dealer tells you, a tractor is worth what someone will pay for it.
Tractorhouse.com is a great place to search for tractors for sale, but farm retirement auctions are also a great place to find a lot of good machinery at a reasonable price.
Getting to know the tractor market in your area is a valuable tool before you decide when/if you should buy one.
To buy or not to buy a tractor… that is the question
Around my hunting ground in SE Minnesota, most rental places have small walk behind tillers for garden work. If you have a small secluded area that you cannot get a tractor to, this might be your only option unless you want to wear your arms out using a rake, making what I refer to as a “poor man’s plot.”
Let’s calculate some numbers, which I think you can appreciate if you are wanting to know rental rates on smaller tractors and implements versus owning the equipment.
For ¼ to 1-acre sized food plots it is very economical to rent a riding tractor, but most rental outfits only have landscaping tools available such as skid steers and back-hoes. My local rental shop actually had a 25 hp riding Kubota with a 36” garden tiller attachment for $200 per day.
There was no trailer included in this price, but you could rent their trailer for $50/day. Luckily, I have an uncle with a car trailer I could borrow. Basically, I could spend 2 days tilling food plots all day and be out $400. The problem is that with only a 36” tiller it would take me all day to do what I want done.
Just for fun, I priced out what that same tractor would cost if I were to buy it new with a 48” tiller, and the amount was $27,400. My monthly payment would have been over $400 (60-month financing), so paying $400 for 2 long days of tough tractor labor doesn’t sound so bad.
If I only needed 2 long days of food plot tilling each year, it would take me 47 years to justify buying a new tractor versus renting (assuming I use 4-wheeler for spraying plots).
I would certainly use a tractor for other things such as gardening and snow removal, but I’m focusing on food plot tillage for this article. Granted, the rental rate will increase over time. But, the value will also decrease on a tractor over time. so, both would be a wash in terms of value lost/gained.
I called around to a few different companies and food plot installation ranged from $400/acre (uninsured Bubba with a tractor) to $1,600/per acre (Professional install included soil testing, fertilizer amendments, and consulting/design on where food plot should be placed).
The professional also had access to a no till drill which is great for reducing soil erosion as well as conserving soil moisture.
Some charged by the hour and charged mileage for getting equipment to where the work needed to be done. Others charged for time and materials, meaning you pay for the labor around $75/hr and pay for the seed, fertilizer, or whatever materials are needed to have a successful food plot.
Some would even travel to my location and use local rented equipment to do the job, and charge $100/hr labor, plus a consulting fee ($500).
So, Can I Borrow Your Tractor?
Another option is to find someone that trusts you with their equipment. Why rent a tractor 50 miles away from your property when the neighbor is willing to let you use their tractor?
Even massive commercial farmers sometimes have a small “yard tractor” they use for grading their driveway, or for snow removal.
You could also talk to some of the local farmers and see if they are willing to do the tillage work and pay them for their service.
I define tillage as any sort of equipment that makes the field look like dirt. So, I’m lumping all tillers, discs, harrows, and chisel plow type machinery into the word “tillage.”
One of my plots is adjacent to a farmer’s field, and if I need tillage work, I pay him $50 just to make a few passes with his massive machinery. Basically, I’m just paying him for the inconvenience of having to make a couple extra turns. This will not work in the smaller kill plots located inside of the timber though.
Just like with anything in life, you get what you pay for, and doing it yourself is always cheaper. It is also the only way to be certain the food plot is done to your standards.
I’ll save the fine details of hunting food plots for another article. Feel free to share your food plotting and habitat management equipment in the coments below or on Ani-Logics Outdoors social media pages.
Just like fingerprints and snowflakes, no two food plots are the same and you should use your own judgement as to what equipment works best for you.