At the risk of a well-deserved flaming, I'm going to share what happened to me a couple weeks ago. I traveled to Virginia for the early muzzleloader season opener (a Monday), but arrived after dark Sunday night because I had to pull off and sleep (long drive). I had planned to sight in my muzzleloader after I arrived, but I didn't due to the late hour, figuring the scope was fine based on last season's performance and the fact it hadn't been noticeably knocked around. Never had a problem with my centerfire rifles in 16 years of hunting...have only had to make ajustments to elevation to change the "zero" range or adjust to different bullet weights, making me a little slack about doing a pre-season check every single year. Weather on Monday was pretty bad...rain and fog in the morning. A huge buck crept in on me at 8 AM, and I fired from ~60-70 yards as he was heading into the pines. He was barely moving and angled slightly away from broadside, with a tree covering the hind 1/3 of him. I may have pulled low left due to altering my grip on the gun to remove my fogged scope covers. I saw rotten bark fall from a leaning dead tree in the line of fire after the shot, but could not see the buck as he disappeared amid the pyrodex smoke. I made two nearly identical shots on two doe from the same location the last two years, and both were heart-lung hits resulting in short runs and gigantic blood trails. Due to the heavy rain, I reloaded an immediately walked over to where he was (didn't want the blood to wash away). Found some dark blood, and followed a scant blood trail for about 60 yards before losing it. I spent the rest of that day and most of the next looking for the downed deer, with no success. Slept Wed, and hunted unsuccessfully in the wind on Thursday. Passed up a small 6-point in rifle season this past Saturday, due to my lowered confidence (waited for a 'better' shot that never came). Upon a post-season trip to the range, I found my muzzleloader to be hitting approximately 6 inches left at 50 yards. That, combined with a downrange object (tree, not noticed due to the scope), an improper grip, and poor tracking conditions, cost me a lot of venison and some wasted vacation days, and might have cost a magnificant buck a slow lingering death. All of this could have been avoided with some range time and dry-fire practice, along with a little patience and maybe some squirrel hunting with a .22 (didn't do any this year). It turns out the buck would have came back into view 10 yards after my rushed shot, based on the direction of the trail he was on. On a brighter note, my friend's stepfather hunted that same stand on Saturday, and saw but didn't get a shot at a similarly sized buck. I can only hope it was mine, with only a superficial wound, but I know better than to believe it. The moral of the story: PRACTICE WITH YOUR ACTUAL DEER RIFLE, AND CONFIRM THE ZERO UPON ARRIVAL AT YOUR HUNTING LOCATION TO BE ASSURED THAT THE SCOPE WAS NOT JARRED IN TRANSIT. flame away; I won't be back here until Tuesday to answer though. I hope this saves someone (and some buck) from what I experienced. Please, heed this reminder to verify the zero on your deer hunting weapons before you head out this week.