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Field Positions June 2019
Gerhard Schroeder  

Shooting can come in seasons. Mine begins in late summer or early fall, after we’ve learned what we got drawn for and after BLM has reopened our deserts near Phoenix for target shooting. Time to get ready for deer, get familiar again with my meat gun. This year, however, recent events have encouraged me to an earlier start.

One of those events took place during my 2018 deer hunt. I had the opportunity to make a longer shot, and a large enough boulder close by to execute that shot.

Another happened during the last day of that season, accompanying Ron, testing Steve’s Primos Tripod as a walking stick. And in February, now using my own Tripod, it helped me tremendously in quietly stalking after pigs.

Until then, my walking stick was cut from a dead agave, and to which I had attached my home-made cross sticks. Clearly a very low-cost ‘rig’ which also did help me kill a mule deer four seasons ago. But it had serious downsides.

Worst was that the agave stick would strongly amplify noise when I carelessly struck it, even lightly, against rocks or roots, etc. And too often the attached cross sticks would rattle loudly as well. In fact, during last year’s hunt I had taken the cross sticks off for that very reason. Plus, when the moment came and the buck showed up, it took too much time to employ them.

Reason enough to give that Primos Tripod a very thorough shakedown. To be clear, Primos warns against using them as walking sticks. And I would say that because of their ability to quickly change height adjustment they are not as sturdy in compression as my trusted but loud agave stick.

But for anything that does not require a fast and forceful stab into the ground for hiking stability, the tripod with legs tied together at their bottom – Primos includes a rubber strap for that – is a comforting walking stick in the rugged Arizona terrain. And with sufficient height adjustment to fit all. Just keep away from its adjustment trigger when using it as a stick. Its biggest advantage? The rubber feet make it as quiet as it could be. That alone sold me on divorcing from my agave stick.

Let’s move on to how they might help with taking shots. Start with a simulated fence post. OK, OK, when would it be really the case that a fence post happens to be handy while Mr. buck shows up?? Even a suitable tree trunk is rarely handy. The point is one of comparison. And while the fence post used for this comparison felt definitely more ridged, both were a great improvement over shooting offhand.

Back to fences for a moment: Years ago, with Glenn Samson and Mike Kelley, we came across a prairie dog town near a corral. We used that fence to put a big dent into the local rat population. And in Germany, over the years, many roe deer wished a fence would not have been there. Also, on more than one occasion have I been able touse a fence to get closer, lining the posts up so that they seem like a virtual wall, completely covering me while I dvanced. Of course that only works if the game relatively close to the fence line; the closer to it, the better.

In general, when using a makeshift support to shoot from, the objectives are: your support hand and not the stock should make contact with it, and never, never, never, the barrel; at least one elbow should also rest against something; and typically, lower is better – nobody shoots a benchrest match standing.

Aside from benchrest, going prone with an attached bipod is the second most stable way to shoot. However, the lower we go in the field, the more likely it is that vegetation gets in the way of the bullet. In Arizona I never had that chance. I attempted it once in 17B on a mule deer, but had to get back up due to seeing too much grass in the scope. In Germany I did kill one doe from prone. That was in deep winter with snow covering all grass and me on my belly on top of the frozen, and therefore dry white stuff. Therefore, if the terrain allows it, here’s a better way to use a fence:

Unlike from standing, while kneeling one elbow is on the knee. It makes a noticeable difference.

It can get better, at least for me. That’s because kneeling has not been my thing. I have never killed anything from the kneeling position. I never practiced it, and am therefore no better from it than shooting offhand, which I do regularly. I strain noticeably more in the kneeling position than doing this:

Sitting, even on that silly short three-legged ‘thing’, is more comfortable, especially so the longer I must remain in position. Besides, that excuse of a chair is very light and easily fits into my pack. Note though, that still only the trigger hand elbow is supported. The other arm is mostly extended, with the support hand on the tripod.

To date, it is from the sitting position that I’ve done much of my practicing, and most of it with a 22 rifle. So then, how accurate can we get with such an arrangement?

Here are two examples, both shot with my CZ 452 while Steve was with me, at a good 50 steps away.

Each time I tried to hit that 0.7” dot. Full disclosure: it was from a somewhat larger higher chair, thus more comfortable yet to sit on. And I would not bet a dime that I can always make hits like that. But it does show what the darn tripod is capable of. Projecting this out, in distance and recoil, using my Tikka .223, I can hit a 3-inch circle most of the time at 200 yards. And when engaging a 10” plate at 440 yards (that’s where it happened to end up), guessing the wind is as much of a contributor as the stability of the tripod to make hits with my .308 meat gun.

The Primos can do one more trick, all the way down.

Note that now both elbows are supported. But again, at least for me, sitting on the ground is a mixed blessing. Vegetation aside, straining is increased! Since I have taken game on several occasions, shooting unsupported from the sit-on-the-ground position, this one deserves further practice, even though my body complains each time.

Of course the tripod also supports a handgun. I’ve only employed it with a TC Contender. Steve has used his that way for several seasons. You may have seen him doing so at our Handgun Hunter events.

What I have not really practiced is the transition from stick to tripod, pretending that game is in sight. The steps are obvious: first invert the stick to untie the rubber strap, then fold the legs outward, then make the final height adjustment while getting or being in the chosen shooting position. Simple enough, especially the height adjustment. For that you only depress that trigger. In the moment of truth we’d better do all those steps carefully, probably slowly to avoid detection, or undue alarming of our prey.

Chances are, of course, that in some encounters with the game which matches our tag, there may not be enough opportunity to use the Primos. Such was the case on my javelina hunt this last February. Rather than unfold the thing, I opted to go offhand. For that the Primos was basically in the way. But I easily solved that dilemma by positioning and squeezing it between my legs, instead of letting it drop to the ground. Even that time though I may have not come within shooting distance of the pigs without the help of the tripod as walking stick.

The Primos Tripod means that you can bring a suitable tree, fence post, boulder, etc. with you. From now on I will not hunt big game in Arizona without it.

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