So it’s mid-November and all over the country, hunters are in the field waiting for a shot at that buck of a lifetime. The crisp cool air has arrived and, in many cases, snow. Rifle season has already begun in some parts of the country, and in others, the opening of the rifle season is fast approaching.

One of the most important things a deer hunter must do is make sure their rifle is zeroed before attempting any hunting or shooting situations. The need for zeroing is for shooters using iron sights, scopes, or other optics. Iron sights and red dot optics are their own animals, so I want to focus on hunters using scoped rifles.

Something I realized recently is that many hunters aren’t aware of the easiest and quickest way to zero in their hunting rifles, particularly if they just had the scope mounted to their gun. Some people think that having a rifle “bore sighted” is sufficient enough to make the rifle shoot on paper. This isn’t the only thing to consider when preparing to hunt for that trophy buck.

One of the very first steps is having quality ammunition that is consistent is vitally crucial to this entire process. Hornady Outfitter Ammunition is by far the most consistent and dependable for this.

Hornady Outfitter Ammunition Features 

PROVEN GMX BULLETS

Monolithic copper alloy GMX® bullet provides uniform, controlled expansion, deep penetration, and +95% weight retention.

SEALED PRIMER AND CASE MOUTH

Sealed primer and case mouth provide watertight protection.

WATERPROOFED CASES

Nickel-plated cases are corrosion resistant and waterproofed to ensure protection from moisture.

VERSATILE PERFORMANCE

California compatible and appropriate for other areas requiring nontraditional bullets.

Bore Sighting

For those who don’t know, bore sighting involves using a mechanical device, such as a laser bore sight, that is inserted into the muzzle end of the barrel, with a targeting object that rests above the barrel in view of the objective lens of the scope. Many bore sights have a grid pattern. Once properly inserted, the shooter looks through the scope as if they were preparing to shoot. The crosshairs of the scope appear on the grid, and the shooter adjusts the crosshairs until they are centered. In many cases, bore sighting will do a good job of getting your rifle to shoot in the general area of your point of aim. However, I have found that only relying on bore sighting alone can cause a shooter to have a very frustrating day of shooting. It’s bad enough at the range, but missing that trophy buck because of a non-zeroed rifle is terrible.

What Are MOA Adjustments?

The easiest way to zero a new scope is to determine where yours is shooting. Figuring out how many minute-of-angle (MOA) adjustments needed to be made to get the rifle to hit dead-on is vital. Most shooters, however, are not familiar with MOA, or are still uncertain about their skills in making the proper adjustments. For example, imagine you are shooting at 300 yards. You know that a MOA spreads out 1 inch per 100 yards, so 1 MOA at 300 yards is 3 inches. Therefore, for your calculations at that 300-yard target, you should think in 3-inch increments. By doing so, you can easily see that 2 MOA is just 2 of those 3-inch increments or 6 inches total. And likewise, 1/2 MOA is 1/2 of those 3-inch increments or 1.5 inches. If you are having trouble determining the increments in your head and would rather have a formula, you can try this method. Divide the distance (in yards) you are shooting by 100 and you will know how large 1 MOA is in inches. For example, imagine you are now shooting at 250 yards. 250 / 100 = 2.5. So, 1 MOA at 250 yards is 2.5 inches.

Most shooters only want to touch the turrets on their scope one time, get it zeroed, and then never mess with them again. That’s great until you bump your rifle in the woods and are now unsure of your scope. Instead of guessing on adjustments until your shots are OK, try this method and see how quickly your shots will be grouping on target.

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Jason Ashe
Jason Ashe is an avid whitetail deer enthusiast and avid hunter from the finger lakes region of New York. A full time social media specialist in the outdoor industry and habitat specialist with Mid-Lakes Whitetails, Jason has been featured in such publications as Quality Whitetails numorouse times and been paired with hunting greats in Outdoor Life for his knowledge and passion for hunting mature deer. Turkeys, Coyotes also top the list of game that Jason pursues in any down time he has from whitetails. He consideres himself lucky to have whitetails and hunting be a part of everyday life. His wife Laura also shares in his passions along with their 2 children.