John's Journal...

Steve DeMers - Master Predator Hunter

Fine Tune Your Shooting and Your Gun and Remain Consistent

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: I first met Steve DeMers of Whitehall, Montana, on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere after he’d just taken a coyote at 1,102 yards when I was hunting with Central Montana Outfitters of Great Falls, Mon. I couldn’t believe DeMers had made that shot until a friend of mine, Chad Schearer, the public-relations director of Black Powder, Inc., told me, “John, I was beside him with my binoculars. I heard the report of the rifle, and after what seemed like an eternity, the coyote just fell over. It was an incredible shot.” In 1974, DeMers began hunting coyotes for their pelts. Today he hunts them for the government as a wildlife specialist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to reduce the damage coyotes do.

To shoot accurately at long distances, where you put the cClick to enlargerosshairs of the range finder when trying to range an animal makes the difference in success. Placing the crosshairs on the center of the animal means you’re often ranging a distance 4- to 7-inches above the animal, which will cause you to shoot over the top of the animal instead of dead-on. According to DeMers, “Instead of lining-up the crosshairs of my range finder at the center of the animal and taking my reading at that point, I’ll put the crosshairs of the range finder at the feet of my target.”  DeMers doesn’t hurry to get off a shot the instant he spots a coyote. He first takes 15 to 20 seconds to get his tripod in position, mount his scope, range the animal and adjust the windage and the elevation. DeMers wants his rifle position to remain as consistent as possible to make long-range shots. He places a bubble-level on his rifle to make sure he’s not canting the rifle either to the right or the left. Tilting his rifle even slightClick to enlargely when shooting at 600 to 1,000 yards may throw his shot off. Shooting accurately at long distances requires a solid, consistent platform every time DeMers shoots. To avoid spooking the animal, DeMers has modified his Sinclair bipod by adding skids that enable him to slide it along the ground. Then he can get into a position where he can shoot, even if he has to crawl with the bipod.

Paying Attention to Details: 
When you’ve fine-tuned your rifle so that it’s driving tacks, you really don’t want to change anything about the gun because accuracy depends on consistency. “I’ve shot as many as 500 rounds of moly-coated bullets through my barrel without cleaning it and never had an accuracy probleClick to enlargem,” DeMers reports. “I blow my action out with air every night when I come in from a hunt and clean the action about once every 3 weeks. I clean my barrel every 300 rounds.” Attention to detail spells success for long-range accuracy. DeMers keeps a notebook where he logs every round he fires during each hunt. In the past, DeMers has sighted his rifle once a week. However, because he’s fine-tuned his equipment, today, he only sights-in about once every 3 months.

“Although the barrel is good after 1,000 rounds, the throat begins to show some wear,” DeMers advises. “So, I’ll put in a new barrel every 1,000 rounds. To date I’ve shot 650 rounds from May through mid-November 2007, through this barrel.” DeMers has gleaned much of his long-range shooting knowledge from G. David Tubbs, a bench-rest and silhouette shooter.

To learn more about Central Montana Outfitters, visit

Tomorrow: Calling Coyotes

Check back each day this week for more about "Steve DeMers - Master Predator Hunter"

Day 1: Becoming a Consummate Long-Range Shooter and Choosing the Right Equipment
Day 2: Bigger Equipment Isn’t Always Better
Day 3: Fine Tune Your Shooting and Your Gun and Remain Consistent
Day 4: Calling Coyotes
Day 5: Protecting Humans from Wildlife and Wildlife from Humans


Entry 466, Day 3