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EDITORIAL Put Your Dogs to Work

I

t is that time of year again. Snow is finally flying here in Utah and the predator hunters are taking to the hills in good numbers. It’s time to dust off your electronic calls and loosen up your mouth reeds for what should be a great winter of hunting coyotes and all those other pesky predators. For you die-hard houndsmen who have been waiting so patiently for the snow to fly, it’s time put your dogs to work. As I have produced our Christensen Outdoors television show over the years, my crew and I have had the opportunity to be a part of several mountain lion hunts. I must say these are some of the most exciting hunts there are. To experience well-trained blood hounds taking to a fresh lion track is really something to behold, and hearing their fierce barks break the silence of a calm, snow covered valley makes the hair on the back of your neck stand at attention. After we air these mountain lion hunts on TV however, it never fails that my inbox fills up with negative comments. These messages usually begin with the phrase, “I am a hunter, so don’t take this wrong,” and then proceed to sound-off on how disgusted they were to watch a defenseless animal being shot in a tree. We’ve had some viewers go as far as to call our sponsors and even the TV network to inform them of the “poor judgment” used on showing these types of hunts. It is my opinion that, “defenseless” is a relative term. I don’t recall a hunt where any animal I was hunting pulled out a gun and shot at me; so perhaps every animal that we harvest could be defined as defenseless. However, I have heard of many dogs, and even humans being killed by a “defenseless” predator. There is no doubt a mountain lion could kill you. That doesn’t sound like an animal that is “defenseless” to me. It’s also a fact that mountain lions eat as many as two deer per week or 104 deer per year. That’s a lot of venison being worked through their system. Hunting mountain lions, coyotes and wolves is a critical part of wildlife management. Continuing to participate in and promote predator hunting plays a crucial role in helping our wildlife resources rebound and grow. So get your gun and your tools and get out there and whack a predator. Do your part in conserving our wildlife resources and enjoy this “Predator” issue of HI.

Editor: John Mogle CEO: Roland Christensen Art Director: Matt Mogle Columnists: Steve Alderman,Ted Nugent, Scott Grange, Ron Spomer, Brandon Butler, Steve Chappell, Les Johnson, Michael Burrell Contributing Writers: McKenzy Lunt, Brandon Winger, Brooklyn Hudson, Matt Watterson, David Hough, Darrell Sterling Illustrators: Courtney Bjornn, Richard Stubler Technical Editor: Daren Hill Advertising: 435-528-7999 ads@huntingillustrated.com John Mogle Courtney Crane Javalan Redd Subscriptions / Questions: 888-517-8855 Submissions: Send your hunting stories and photos, Picture of the Week / Braggin’ Board photo contest and parting shots to: Christensen’s Hunting Illustrated PO Box 240 Gunnison, UT 84634 editor@huntingillustrated.com ©2011 Christensen’s Hunting Illustrated LLC PO Box 240 Gunnison, UT 84634 Hunting Illustrated is published quarterly with additional bonus issue, $24.95 U.S. /$34.95 Outside U.S. Printed in U.S.A.

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HUNTING ILLUSTRATED.com


Christensen’s Hunting Illustrated Magazine Volume 11, Number 1 www.huntingillustrated.com Subscriptions and Questions 1-888-517-8855 service@huntingillustrated.com

Columns Fresh Sign — Editorial Staff News, Facts and Fun

Ask The Pros — Team Christensen All You Ever Wanted to Know

The Dueling Duo — Grange & Spomer Wolves, Round Two

Mule Deer — Steve Alderman

Is Texas the New Old Mexico?

Whitetail—Brandon Butler Get Educated

Elk — Steve Chappell

Calling Big Bulls in Consistently

PHOTO: VIC SCHENDEL

6 20 22 24 28 32

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HUNTING ILLUSTRATED.com

36 40 70 72 76 80

Predators— Les Johnson

A Coyote Winter Wonderland

Shooting — Andy Christiansen The P.C.A.S

Just For Fun

Fun For the Whole Family

Braggin’ Board

Bringing Home the Bacon

Mule Deer Watch — Michael Burrell Predation Impacts on Mule Deer

Nuge Factor — Ted Nugent

Check, Check, Doulbe Check, Check Again


s e r u t a e F  46 50 54 58 62 66

WARNING!

Photo Story — Chris Maxwell Porcupine Hills of Alberta

Danger in God’s Country

Brooklyn Hudson & Matt Watterson

Wish and Believe Brandon Winger

McKenzy’s Moment McKenzy Lunt

Stalking a Bear Killing Bear David Hough

In Search of a B&C Tom Darrell Sterling

Some of the photos in this magazine portray action performed by professional hunters or riders under controlled circumstances. We encourage safe practices in all outdoor activities. Hunting Illustrated withholds all liability for any damage or injury sustained while duplicating actions in photos.

Cover

Cover photo: Brooklyn Hudson pg.50, David Hough’s Brown Bear pg.62, Darrell Sterling’s Mountain Lion pg.66

Winter 2012

5


The Latest News and Insights

New Year’s Resolutions

E

very hunter has that one thing that fires them up; monster mule deer, rutting moose, bugling elk, spot and stalk sheep, or perhaps an African safari. For me, it’s brown bear. Nothing gets my blood going like the thought of pursuing a creature that in the blink of an eye could turn the tables from being the hunted to the hunter. All of this started as I began filming and taking over post-production duties for Christensen Outdoors. Being flown into the remote regions of Alaska hundreds of miles from civilization and being surrounded by thick vegetation and rugged snow covered peaks was exhilarating enough. Couple that with the experience of sizing up hungry brown bears just days out of their dens and watching as they swam across glacier fed rivers toward me as I sat nestled in a stand of tamarack a mere ten yards away? Yeah, I was instantly hooked. So on New Year’s Day 2012, I made it my resolution that I’d work hard, pinch my pennies, and do what I had to do to switch out my video camera for a 300 Ultra Mag and make my dream of harvesting an Alaskan Brown Bear a reality. In regards to hunting, what are your New Year resolutions for 2012? Don’t have any? Here are a few ideas I gathered after talking to the guys around the office:

1. Locate and Hunt for One Particular Animal: Whether it be an elk, deer or whatever, spend time getting to know the behavior and patterns of that individual animal. It doesn’t even have 6

HUNTING ILLUSTRATED.com

to be the biggest one in the woods. It’s amazing how much you can learn in the process. Spending a season targeting one or two specific game animals will help you become a better overall hunter in the future. 2. Hunt Another State: Every state offers its own challenges. For instance, hunting in the mountains of Utah or Colorado is a whole different ballgame than the agricultural areas of the Midwest. Hunting new territory forces you to see things fresh and learn new tricks that can be applied to hunting familiar country. 3. Try Hunting with a New Weapon: I’ve hunted using a rifle since I was 14. The day I picked up a muzzleloader completely changed by life. I became a kid all over again being excited about the possibilities of doing something new. I still love rifle hunting and consider it my weapon of choice, but it’s the hunts I undertake with a smoke pole, that stirs the butterflies up in my stomach the most. 4. Hunt a New Species: Even though mule deer are king of the outdoor industry out West, there are still many other great hunting opportunities available. Predator hunting has been gaining steam the past few years, and for good reason. It’s a blast. This past year I harvested a buck in Colorado fairly early in the season and didn’t really know what to do with all my free time afterwards. So I dusted off the electronic game caller, and had many great experiences calling in coyotes. Predator hunting was something I hadn’t done in several years because I’d gotten so involved in deer and elk hunting, and it didn’t take long before I realized how much I’d missed it. 5. Start Planning and Saving for Your Dream Hunt: There’s a reason why “life

5FRESH SIGN5

is short” is such a cliché. It’s true. If you don’t start planning your dream hunt now, when will you? I have a good friend who often takes out a loan to go hunting. As soon as the loan is paid off he takes out another loan and goes hunting again. I’m not saying you have to go into debt to go hunting but the point is he’s making it happen. He is stock piling memorable hunting experiences while he still can. To that end, that’s what resolutions are really about. Setting meaningful goals and challenging yourself to achieve them. Many people make resolutions to lose weight, get in shape, or any number of things. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, from one outdoorsman to another, the challenge is out there to renew your love for and find more meaningful ways to enjoy the abundant opportunities found in the great outdoors. -Daren Hill-


by Editorial Staff

S

Iowa’s Celebrity Hunting Program Criticized

ome question whether Iowa needs to continue giving celebrities easy access to deer hunting in the state, but it appears unlikely that the promotional program will be scrapped. The state program gives 75 celebrities, such as rocker Ted Nugent and former professional athlete Bo Jackson, an opportunity to buy a special out-of-state deer hunting permit each year. Other nonresidents might wait years to buy a similar permit. The celebrity program began in 1998 to help promote the state as a top hunting destination. Iowa Bowhunters Association President Randy Taylor tells the Des Moines Register that he’s not sure the state really needs the promotion anymore. “There is no deer hunter nationwide who doesn’t consider Iowa one of the trophy hot spots in the nation,” Taylor said. Iowa routinely receives thousands more requests than can be filled each year from out-of-state hunters. So the program isn’t popular with the people who sometimes wait years for one of about 6,000 nonresident permits to harvest deer of any sex. A state committee ranks celebrity applications on a point system. The applicants most likely to win a hunting tag are the ones the state believes will garner the most media exposure for Iowa. The celebrities pay the same $551 fee that other nonresidents pay for the hunting tag. Iowa residents pay $89 for theirs. A few of the special celebrity tags are given to nonprofit conservation groups that often auction them off to nonresidents. Those auctions can raise $6,000 to $10,000, and the proceeds are split with the state. Steve Dermand, who helps oversee the program for Iowa’s Department of Natural Resources, says he’s heard the complaints, but he doesn’t think anyone is ready to eliminate the program. “When this started, Iowa was just becoming recognized as having a good deer resource. This came along during that growth time,” Dermand said. “Now, Iowa is high-enough profile, the state is in all the hunting magazines and where to go for whitetail.” State Sen. Dick Dearden of Des Moines, chairman of the Senate natural resources committee, said he doubts the program will be eliminated. He also doesn’t expect a change in the number of general out-of-state tags. So it’s likely that celebrities like country singers Toby Keith, Aaron Tippin and Miranda Lambert will continue to get access to deer hunting in Iowa along with professional hunters like Mark Luster. -The Associated Press-

5FRESH SIGN5

NUMBERS

110 Million Wildlife viewing

68 Million Hiking, other trail activities

44 Million Fishing

73 Million Snow sports

16 Million Hunting

$1 Trillion

U.S. impact of outdoor recreation

75%

Number of Americans who take part in outdoor recreation

Winter 2012

7


Daren Hill

FBI Gun Range a Safe Haven for Deer Home, Home on the [Gun] Range? It’s Where the Deer Play.

T

he 547-acre FBI Academy, where some of the nation’s best marksmen fire off more than 1 million bullets every month, happens to be one of the safest places for deer during hunting season. The property on the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Va., is home to some of the FBI’s most elite forces and training programs as well as a de facto wildlife refuge where deer, fox, wild turkeys, groundhogs and vultures roam fearless and free. In recent years, a black bear was spotted running across a parking lot, and a groundhog cornered an FBI agent coming out of the cafeteria, hoping to score some human food, FBI spokesman Kurt Crawford said. Turkey vultures are often seen perched atop the 500,000-square-foot national crime lab where the FBI analyzes evidence, which has included the remains of the former al-Qaida leader in Iraq. The wild animals are as much a fixture at the academy as

8

HUNTING ILLUSTRATED.com

the hostage-rescue team and criminal profilers. On a December afternoon, deer grazed above one of the academy’s 16 practice shooting ranges. They stood just 15 feet away from the paper targets. Nearby, shots popped loudly from a Colt M4 Carbine rifle, and the whitetailed deer did not flinch. “They’re pretty immune to the sound,” said Sean Boyle, supervisory special agent bomb technician and principal firearms instructor for the Critical Incident Response Group based at the academy. The deer typically graze on top of the berm, about 15 feet away from the targets, and rarely go directly into the line of fire. Boyle said he doesn’t recall an instance where a deer was shot accidentally. “It’s like they think, ‘We’ve pushed the limit for this far, and all our generations have pushed the limit for this far,’ “ Boyle said. “They’re just so docile around here. They don’t know what a gun is.” The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries does

5FRESH SIGN5

not keep direct tabs on the deer population at the FBI academy, but a spokeswoman said statewide the deer population has remained about the same over the past decade, partly because of regulated hunting. Licensed deer hunters are allowed on parts of the Marine Corps base, but not at the academy, where the FBI does not hunt its animals. The deer have even become part of the training in some of the academy’s driving courses, said Tim Moles, the supervisory special agent who oversees the Tactical and Emergency Vehicle Operations Center, where recruits learn to avoid crashing their cars and how to conduct surveillance without being spotted. The deer are convenient when recruits learn to avoid collisions, he said. “There’s times when it seems like they’re playing chicken with us,” Moles said. “We respect them because they can do damage. We’d rather avoid all deer stories in this end of the academy.”


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Javalan Redd

HUNT FORECAST

A Comprehensive Look at 2012

W

ith the Christmas season in the rearview, you’re hopefully looking forward to another exciting year in the field and ready to dive head first into the application season. The opportune phrase for this time of year in the hunting world? Carpe Diem. Seize the day. It’s time to line up the animals we dream of hunting, and take the bull by the horns (no pun intended). The future is promised to no one and you can’t win the game if you’re sitting in the stands. It’s this time of year that I often feel like my two young sons on Christmas Eve; full of energy and anticipation for what I might find the next morning hiding behind a pine tree. Let’s get to it… Time: Timeframes are a major determining factor when it comes to hunt applications and booking hunts. Although it sounds obvious, you should always carefully check the dates to make sure there’s no overlap. While the chances are slim that you’ll draw multiple hunts, it’s definitely something you don’t want to overlook. But not only should you be aware of overlap, also keep in mind the amount of time in between hunts to allow yourself a little R&R, getting to know the family again and a chance to catch up at work. Budget: The overriding factor for the vast majority of us when it comes to applying for hunts is our budgets. The amount of money we can reasonably afford to spend in the field varies from hunter to hunter and with application fees, fuel, and food on the up and up, most everyone is likely feeling the pinch in one way or another. Most of us will usually have tag fees, upfront fees and deadlines memorized but lack the proper memorization skills to remember family functions and what your wife asked you to pick up from the grocery store on the way The author sits aside his beautiful caribou harvested in the Yukon. Javalan’s hunt expertise spans all western states.

home, I know I do (weekly). One way to achieve structure in years to come is to create and stick to your hunting budget. This will offer to you as a hunter the ability to adjust and set timeframes as needed and help you attack the hunts you desire. Carpe Diem: Each western state has an application process that, although it does vary a little from state to state, is similar in that they run off a lottery system. At the end of the day, applying is the name of the game and there are a couple of scenarios that an applicant can follow here. The first is to apply for as many different species as possible in as many states. Basically getting your name in every draw and hoping for the best; consider this the kamikaze tactic to the application process, the more the better. You can also take a little more conservative approach to it such as: I want a high end trophy mule deer hunt and a high end trophy bull elk hunt. This would take a little more research and finding out as much information as possible such as, draw odds, harvest rate, average B&C score, etc. Another scenario which a lot of hunters do is the big three scenario, that is, sheep (rocky or desert), shiras moose, and mountain goat. These three species are by far the hardest to draw in each state. Although not every state will offer these three species to non-residents, the majority of western states do. This type of approach is a very time consuming one and more often than not takes a number of years to obtain the tag. ARIZONA

Actual state deadlines later in month

State Contact: azgfd.com (602-942-3000) Service Deadline: February 1 / June 1 / October 1 Drawings: Elk, Pronghorn / Deer, Sheep / Buffalo, Bear, Javelina Drawing Results: July, November Species Available

Up Front

Points

Desert Bighorn

$1,407.50

$7.50

$0

Rocky Mountain Bighorn

$1,407.50

$7.50

$0

Bison

$5,452.25

$7.50

$0

Rocky Mountain Elk

$595.00

$7.50

$0

Mule Deer

$232.75

$7.50

$0

Coues Deer

$232.75

$7.50

$0

Pronghorn Antelope

$485.00

$7.50

$0

Black Bear

$245.00

$7.50

$0

Javelina

$105.00

$7.50

$0

Things to consider with Arizona applications:

• Tag fees all up front with check only • $151.25 non-refundable license required

12

HUNTING ILLUSTRATED.com

If Drawn


• $7.50 non-refundable application fees • Species specific bonus point system • After 5 consecutive years of applying for same species, a loyalty bonus point is earned for that species. • Additional bonus point offered for completion of Arizona hunter education course • Warning: If license is not purchased beforehand you must buy one with every species you apply for CALIFORNIA

Actual state deadlines later in month © Kenetrek, LLC 2011

State Contact: dfg.ca.gov (916-227-2245) Service Deadline: May 1 Drawings: Sheep, Elk, Deer Drawing Results: June Species Available

Up Front

Points

Desert Bighorn

$7.50

Included

$500.00

Rocky Mountain Elk

$7.50

Included

$1,162.50

Roosevelt Elk

$7.50

Included

$1,162.50

Tule Elk

$7.50

Included

$1,162.50

$231.25

Included

$0

Mule Deer

If Drawn

Deer tags charged up front; sheep and elk only charged on credit card if drawn $136.50 non-refundable license required $7.50 non-refundable application fees Species specific modified preference point system

COLORADO

Actual state deadlines later in month

State Contact: wildlife.state.co.us (303-297-1192) Service Deadline: April 1 / September 1 Drawings: All Species Drawing Results: May / June Species Available Desert Bighorn

Up Front

Points

If Drawn

$1,829

$28

$0

Rocky Mountain Bighorn

$1,829

$28

$0

Shiras Moose

$1,829

$28

$0

Rocky Mountain Goat

$1,829

$28

$0

$549

$28

$0

Rocky Mountain Elk

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HUNTING SOCKS

Things to consider with California applications:

• • • •

MOUNTAIN EXTREME

Mule Deer

$329

$28

$0

Pronghorn Antelope

$329

$28

$0

Black Bear

$351

$28

$0

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HARDSCRABBLE LT

Things to consider with Colorado applications:

• Paper and online applications, credit card or check • No non-refundable hunting license required • Tag fees for all species are charged up front and refunded for all unsuccessful species after draw • $3 application and bonus/preference point fees subtracted from refund • Points only available for the $28, but full price of tag still must be paid up front • Must apply for 3 years before being eligible to draw sheep, moose, or goat • Elk, deer, and pronghorn preference point system • All points are species specific

hunting-illustrated-1.indd 1

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13

3/21/2011, 5:


IDAHO

Actual state deadlines later in month

State Contact: fishandgame.idaho.gov (208-334-3700) Service Deadline: April 1 / May 1 Drawings: Sheep, Moose, Goat / Deer, Elk, Pronghorn Drawing Results: June, July Species Available

Up Front

Points

If Drawn

Rocky Mountain Bighorn

$1,513.00

N/A

$0

California Bighorn

$1,513.00

N/A

$0

Shiras Moose

$1,513.00

N/A

$0

Rocky Mountain Goat

MONTANA

Actual state deadlines later in month

State Contact: fwp.mt.gov (406-444-2535) Service Deadline: April 1 / June 1 Drawings: General / Sheep, Moose, Goat / Deer, Elk, Pronghorn Drawing Results: April / June / July

$1,513.00

N/A

$0

Rocky Mountain Elk

$20

N/A

$416.75

Species Available

Mule Deer

$20

N/A

$301.75

Rocky Mountain Bighorn

Whitetail Deer

$20

N/A

$301.75

Shiras Moose

$750

$20

$0

Pronghorn Antelope

$20

N/A

$311.75

Rocky Mountain Goat

$750

$20

$0

Rocky Mountain Elk

$912

$20

$20

Mule Deer

$912

$20

$20

Whitetail Deer

$912

$20

$20

Pronghorn Antelope

$205

$20

$0

Things to consider with Idaho applications:

• Sheep, moose, goat tags charged up front; Elk, deer, pronghorn tags only charged on credit card if drawn • $154.75 non-refundable license required • $14.75 non-refundable application fees • Paper and online applications, credit card or check • Warning: credit card payments have a combined $3.50 transaction fee and 3% fee on entire transaction amount • No point system, but the best drawing odds IOWA

Actual state deadlines later in month

State Contact: iowadnr.gov (515-281-5918) Service Deadline: May 1 Drawings: Whitetail Drawing Results: July Species Available Whitetail Deer

Up Front

Points

If Drawn

$50

Included

$426.50

• Paper and online applications, credit card or check • Points only available for $50 • Species specific preference point system KANSAS

Actual state deadlines later in month

State Contact: kdwp.state.ks.us (620-672-5911) Service Deadline: May 1 Drawings: Whitetail Drawing Results: July Species Available

Up Front

Points

If Drawn

Up Front

Points

If Drawn

$750

$20

$0

Things to consider with Montana applications:

• No non-refundable hunting license required • Tag fees for all species are charged up front and refunded for all unsuccessful species after draw • $20 application and bonus point fees subtracted from refund • No point only option available • Points available for $20 • Species specific bonus point system • $912 general combination elk and deer tags must be drawn to qualify for limited area drawing • $20 limited area fee for successful applications NEVADA

Things to consider with Iowa applications:

Actual state deadlines later in month

State Contact: ndow.org (775-688-1500) Service Deadline: April 1 Drawings: All Species Drawing Results: June Species Available

Up Front

Points

If Drawn

Desert Bighorn

$16.50

Included

$1,200

Rocky Mountain Bighorn

$16.50

Included

$1,200

California Bighorn

$16.50

Included

$1,200

Rocky Mountain Goat

$16.50

Included

$1,200

Rocky Mountain Elk

$21.50

Included

$1,200

Whitetail Deer

$333.50

Included

$0

Mule Deer

$16.50

Included

$240

Mule Deer Stamp

$101.50

Included

$0

Pronghorn Antelope

$16.50

Included

$300

Things to consider with Kansas applications:

• Paper and online applications, credit card or check • $72.50 non-refundable license required • Tag fees charged up front and refunded to unsuccessful

14

applicants after draw • $94 combined license and preference point fee subtracted from refund • Points only available for $21.50 • Species specific preference point system

HUNTING ILLUSTRATED.com

Things to consider with Nevada applications:

• $142 non-refundable license required • Squared bonus points; for example 3 points + current application = 10 chances in drawing


• Offers applications for all 3 different species of sheep • Non-residents can apply for and/or purchase a point for every species • Point only option available for all species • Species specific bonus point system NEW MEXICO

Actual state deadlines later in month

State Contact: wildlife.state.nm.us (505-476-8000) Service Deadline: February 1 / April 1 Drawings: Oryx / Ibex / Remaining Species Drawing Results: March / June Species Available

Up Front

Points

If Drawn

Desert Bighorn

$3,160

N/A

$0

$3,160

N/A

$0

Oryx

$1,610

N/A

$0

Persian Ibex

$1,610

N/A

$0

Audad

$387

N/A

$0

Rocky Mtn Elk (standard)

$12

N/A

$535

High Demand Elk

$12

N/A

$760

Mule Deer (standard)

$12

N/A

$270

High Demand Deer

$12

N/A

$355

Pronghorn Antelope

$297

N/A

$0

Javelina

$192

N/A

$0

Things to consider with New Mexico applications:

• No point system • Separate drawing for outfitter applications, usually with better odds than standard draw. • Paper and online applications, credit card or check • No non-refundable hunting license required • Tag fees for all species are charged up front and refunded for all unsuccessful species after draw • $12 application fees subtracted from refund • Unique state that offers many species including Ibex, Oryx, and Audad Actual state deadlines later in month

State Contact: dfw.state.or.us (503-947-6000) Service Deadline: May 1 Drawings: All Species Drawing Results: June Species Available

Tag fees only charged to credit card if drawn $76.50 non-refundable license required No points for Sheep Point only option for elk, deer, pronghorn Species specific preference point system Additional $2 online fee Sheep hunts primarily on private ground

UTAH

Rocky Mountain Bighorn

OREGON

Things to consider with Oregon applications:

• • • • • • •

Up Front

Points

If Drawn

Rocky Mountain Bighorn

$4.50

N/A

$1,083.50

California Bighorn

$4.50

N/A

$1,083.50

Rocky Mountain Elk

$4.50

Included

$361.50

Roosevelt Elk

$4.50

Included

$361.50

Tule Elk

$4.50

Included

$361.50

Mule Deer

$4.50

Included

$264.50

Blacktail Deer

$4.50

Included

$264.50

Columbian Whitetail Deer

$4.50

Included

$264.50

Pronghorn Antelope

$4.50

Included

$277.55

Actual state deadlines later in month

State Contact: wildlife.utah.gov (801-538-4700) Service Deadline: February 1 / October 1 Drawings: Most Species / Lion Drawing Results: April Species Available

Up Front

Points

If Drawn

Desert Bighorn

$10

Included

$1,513

Rocky Mountain Bighorn

$10

Included

$1,513

Shiras Moose

$10

Included

$1,513

Rocky Mountain Goat

$10

Included

$1,513

Bison

$10

Included

$1,513

Rocky Mountain Elk

$10

Included

$795

Mule Deer

$10

Included

$463

Pronghorn Antelope

$10

Included

$288

Black Bear

$10

Included

$288

Mountain Lion

$10

Included

$288

Things to consider with Utah applications:

• • • • • • •

Tag fees only charged to credit card if drawn $65 non-refundable license required $10 non-refundable application fees Species specific bonus/preference point system 9 day general seer season in 2011 Point only option available for all species Non-residents can purchase a point for every limited entry and once-in-a-lifetime species. John Koster with his pending world record muzzleloader Shiras moose harvested in Utah.

Winter 2012

15


WASHINGTON

Rocky Mountain Elk (reg)

Actual state deadlines later in month

Special Elk

State Contact: wdfw.wa.gov (360-902-2200) Service Deadline: May 1 Drawings: All Species Drawing Results: June Species Available

Up Front

Points

If Drawn

California Bighorn

$54.75

Included

$1,095.50

Shiras Moose

$54.75

Included

$1,095.50

Rocky Mountain Goat

$54.75

Included

$1,095.50

Things to consider with Washington applications:

• • • • •

Tag fees only charged to credit card if drawn No non-refundable hunting license required $54.75 non-refundable application fee per species Point only option available for all species Species specific bonus point system

WYOMING

$591

$50

$0

$1,071

$0

Mule Deer (reg)

$326

$40

$0

Special Mule Deer

$566

$0

Pronghorn Antelope

$286

$30

$0

Special Pronghorn

$526

$0

• • • • •

Things to consider with Wyoming applications:

No non-refundable hunting license required $14 non-refundable application fees Point only option available for all species Discounted youth bonus point fees Non-residents can apply for and/or purchase a point for every species • Points only can be purchased up to September 1 • Species specific bonus/preference point system Remember, there are a lot of available tags that do not take years and years to draw that still offer the determined hunter a chance to pursue trophy game.

Actual state deadlines later in month

State Contact: gf.state.wy.us (307-777-4600) Service Deadline: January 1 / February 1 / March 1 Drawings: Elk / Sheep, Moose, Goat / Deer, Elk, Pronghorn Drawing Results: February / May / June Up Front

Points

Rocky Mountain Bighorn

Species Available

$2,266

$100

If Drawn $0

Shiras Moose

$1,416

$75

$0

Rocky Mountain Goat

$2,166

N/A

$0

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5/6/11 12:24 PM


All New Episodes of Christensen Outdoors Coming this Summer!

W

hile the snow flies and the temperatures drop outside this winter, the production crew for Christensen Outdoors is busy putting the wraps on all new episodes set to air in July. As usual, the action is fast paced and intense with adventures coming at you from all over the world. We’ll start things off in Kazakhstan as host John Mogle and cameraman Javalan Redd trek up and down the arid mountains of central Asia in search of Siberian Ibex. After that we’ve got trophy elk and mule deer hunts out West with amazing harvest scenes coming at the end of grueling stalk attempts. Combine those with bear hunts up north, and dangerous game animals from Africa, and we’ve got action you definitely don’t want to miss!

Winter 2012

17


Andy Christiansen

GO BALLISTIC

T

here is no doubt that any discussion on varmint cartridges is going to contain the 22-250. The 22-250 began life back around 1937. Wildcatters took the .250-3000 savage case and necked it to .224 caliber and in doing so developed one of the hottest cartridges ever. The 22-250 is the perfect balance of case capacity, shoulder angle and body taper. This little cartridge posts velocities over the 4000 fps mark without earning the reputation as a barrel burner that plagued other competing varmint cartridges of the time. In 1965 Remington added its name to the cartridge and began chambering

.22-250 REM

rifles and loading commercial ammunition. However, it was actually Browning that was the first to chamber its rifles for the little hot rod in 1963. The 22-250 was also the first non-Weatherby cartridge to be chambered in the Weatherby Mark V

action. This is a testament to the sound platform of a cartridge when it almost forces firearms manufactures to offer it as a chambering because of its popularity. The 22-250 is one of the most enjoyable cartridges I have had the pleasure to shoot. Its inherent accuracy makes it a tack driver in almost any rifle and usually shoots well with any load. It is fun to build a rifle chambered for 22-250 for the very same reason. Wreaking havoc on prairie dogs with laser beam accuracy or busting coyote’s with extreme prejudice, the 22-250 isn’t likely to be topped soon as the all time best varmint cartridge ever.

Winter 2012

19


ASK THE PROS Got a Question for the Christensen Arms Team? Q. If I were wanting to get into long range hunting (deer and elk), what ammo would you recommend for my 300 win mag?

improve my odds. How can I stay in the game?

Devin Jensen – UT

A: Let’s face it, as the popularity of coyote hunting has gotten more attention, there are more and more people wanting to take part in the activity. One of the problems associated with this however, is the fact that more coyotes are going to be shot at, called to, harassed, etc.. during the season. What do we do whenever the going gets tough? Personally, I feel that there are several things that you can do that may increase your success in the field. 1. Call those spots that you never would in the past. I.e., walk a little further to a spot and while walking there, try to take notice of tracks, travel corridors, etc. Open your eyes and try to take notice of the surroundings. 2. Try to limit your noise. Once you leave the vehicle, walk quieter. No talking outside of the vehicle, etc. 3. Learn to set longer on a stand. Instead of your normal 15-20 minute stand; stay around for 30+ minutes. You might be surprised at how many visitors you might have that just show up 30+ minutes into a stand. 4. Patience, Patience, Patience…. Learn to watch, learn, and wait. Call less frequently on a stand once and wait longer between calling sequences. …The Tough Get Going! Learn to go that extra mile, make that extra stand, or learn to do something that you normally wouldn’t do while calling coyotes and give it a try. Let’s Get To CALLIN!! LJ – Les Johnson

A: I like that you asked about long range hunting because good ammunition for long range SHOOTING is not always the best for long range HUNTING. For hunting, a shooter needs a bullet that has very consistent terminal characteristics. I feel that many of the bonded and sectional bullets are built for deep penetration, which is perfect when impact is going to be at high velocity (which is 300 yards and under for a 300 Win Mag). Once the impact range is beyond that, the impact velocities fall so the bullet may not have enough energy to open up properly. Hunting is a great unknown. You can prepare and practice for shots beyond 600 yards only to end up with a 50 yard jump shot. That’s why I like the Hornady SST and would probably go with 180 grain for the 300 Win Mag. It has a crimp ring that locks the jacket to the core for those close range shots and also uses a polymer tip to initiate expansion for the long range shots where the bullet energy is lower. – Andrew Christiansen Q. I’ve joined some friends in hunting coyotes. I’ll be honest, it’s frustrating to watch them be a lot more successful at it when I’m spending so much time trying to 20

HUNTING ILLUSTRATED.com

Mike Uhrich – AZ

5ASK THE PROS5

Q. I want to start shooting long range and already have a .300 win mag on a Sako 75 action. I just bought a Zeiss conquest scope with the Rapid Z 800 reticle. Is this a good choice in your opinion? Karl Hansen – CA A: Karl I think that is a great set up. Long range shooting continues to be the craze and there are many calibers to choose from to get the job done. The ..300 winchester magnum is one of them. It is pushing a 180 grain bullet well over 3,000 fps which equates to plenty of down range velocity to get your game and find your targets well beyond 500 yards. Your rifle set up should be adequate as long as it is accurate. I consider accurate to be 3 shots under 3/4” at 100 yards. The Sako 75 is very smooth and very reliable and happens to be one of my favorite actions. Most scope manufacturers today seem to be on top of the long range phenomenon to some degree. Zeiss is no exception. Their Rapid Z 800 reticle is made to get you shooting out to 800 yards with a 200 yard zero. With a little homework on your scope and the use of Zeiss ballistic calculator and a lot of practice with your rifle and ammunition at the range and you should be punching paper in no time out to 800 yards. –John Mogle


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Winter 2012

21


Scott Grange

Ron Spomer

THE DUELING DUO Views from both sides of the fence

Wolves, Round Two

CON?

By Scott Grange

Earn Your Reputation

B

ack in 2006, Spomer and I did a Dueling Duo column on wolves. To be painfully honest, I felt that even though I was against introducing them into the lower forty eight, what was done was done and perhaps, with proper management, their impact would be held in check and all would be well in time. After all, who wouldn’t love to hear the lonely howl of one of these kings of the canine world while sitting around a campfire? Okay, if I were to tell you that was my first mistake, naturally I’d be lying. However, I seriously think it was one of my most gullible admissions of all time. If I didn’t think someone would take me up on it, I’d say the next time I express myself in such a manner, please look me up and kick me where it hurts…most. As anyone who has taken the time to research the entire wolf fiasco knows, the introduction (notice I didn’t say reintroduction) of the Canadian gray wolf will go down as the worst wildlife management blunder of our generation. As if it really had anything to do with wildlife management. As Toby Bridges of Lobo Watch once stated, “Stephen King would be hard pressed to come up with a blockbuster novel containing more hate, fear, secrecy and government failure than what plagues the Western Wolf Recovery Project.” In short, the U.S. Fish and

22

HUNTING ILLUSTRATED.com

Wildlife Service, under the direction of late. It’s time to go out and smoke a Jamie Rappaport Clark who, by the way, pack! is now Executive V.P. of Defenders of Wildlife, embezzled as much as $60 to $70 million from the Pittman-Robertson funds to illegally dump a non-native (Canadian gray wolf) animal in our back yards along By Ron Spomer with other projects that did not qualify for such funding. Other violations of the law Agree to Agree included: Wolf Recovery Project As usual, my good friend coordinator Ed Bangs failed to file an Grange is over-reacting. The appropriate Environmental Impact frightening thing is that this time I Statement. almost totally agree with him. Ed Bangs failed to file Form That means this wolf thing 3-177, required for importation of any really is a serious problem. wildlife species, including wolves. What was supposed to be a USFWS supplemented federal population of 30 breeding pairs or 300 funds with private money to introduce individual wolves has ballooned into wolves. more than 1,700 wolves and they are The list goes on and on and most doing what most predators do – eating disgustingly, not one state wildlife agency everything they can and increasing their demanded that USFWS replace the money population. Unfortunately, our durable, – and not one person involved was ever sneaky and powerful wolves will tried for such grand theft. This should be an continue to increase until they destroy outrage to every sportsman and woman in much of the big game we hunters have this country. worked so hard and spent so many A very wise man once told me, millions to restore. Then they will “one is not given their reputation – they turn to livestock and continue killing earn it.” Such is the case with the wolf and eating and breeding until they eat and there were valid reasons the greatest themselves into a major die-off, after generation all but eliminated these brutal which some ungulate populations can killers near the turn of the century. Now, begin a slow comeback. Alas, before our illustrious USFWS has unleashed the those comebacks amount to much, the wildlife equivalent of cancer into one of wolves will again respond to the newly the richest wildlife areas in the country available forage to increase themselves, destroying the past hundred years of sound and we’ll be caught in a continuing wildlife conservation efforts. cycle of ups and downs. But the ups Wolves are now at out-of-control won’t be very high and the downs will numbers and are wiping out big game be frighteningly low. in many areas of Montana, Idaho and Like Mr. Grange, I feel the Wyoming. It is time to get off the couch West can harbor a few wolves. After all, and inform the uninformed before it’s too if you believe God made all creatures

CON?

5DUELING5


hunters wait years to draw a coveted tag to shoot one male of certain species. But it pays off. Elk, moose, pronghorn etc. attain their highest populations in more than a century. Once we accomplish that, we are branded heartless killers and destroyers of the lovely natural world. Never mind that dozens of small mammals, reptiles, songbirds, raptors (bald eagles, anyone?), ducks, geese, turkeys, grizzlies, black bears, coyotes, mountain lions also benefit from our successes. The anti-hunters won’t rest until wolves are not only allowed to return, but aided in that return to the tune of millions upon millions of dollars robbed from other wildlife programs. Again, hunters’ dollars. Hunters’ dollars are used to restore native species. Hunters’ dollars are used to introduce wolves that begin decimating those restored species. Hunters’ dollars are used to prevent wildlife managers from alleviating excessive predation by doing what the original wolf recovery act instructed them to do limit the wolf population. Hunters’ dollars are used to fight this illegal incursion. Hunters

5DUELING5

lose and wolves, in numbers six times higher than originally agreed upon, indiscriminately kill (and sometimes eat) week in and week out with no closed seasons and no bag limits, anything and everything they can sink their fangs into, including calves, fawns, pregnant females and trophy males that could bring hundreds of thousands of dollars in license fees to further save and improve additional wildlife habitat. Is this stupid? Yes. Is this obscene? Yes. Is this the way life in the USA is progressing these days? Unfortunately, yes. But you can only pull the wool over everyone’s eyes for so long. As the wolf damage mounts and more and more ordinary citizens begin to understand the real destruction underway, the tide will turn. Already Congress has passed legislation permitting states to take over management of wolves. And President Obama, of all people, even signed it! USFWS biologists acknowledge that wolves are fully “recovered” in the northern Rockies and should be, must be, managed by the states. Idaho and Montana have again established hunting seasons. Those seasons have been underway since fall of 2011. I predict this will be insufficient to significantly reduce wolf numbers, given their “street smarts” and the dense, rugged terrain in which they live. But it’s a start. And we have to start someplace. Keep the faith. Continue to spread the truth and fight for reasonable, sensible, balanced wildlife management in a country that is radically different from the wild West of old, where human activities severely impact and limit big game numbers and where big predators must also be curbed. Our Wild West should indeed have a full complement of native species, including the wolf. But it is our responsibility to manage their numbers to maintain a reasonable balance and healthy populations of their prey. The Little Bo Peep School of Wildlife Management might work in the minds of anti-hunters, but not in the real world. Leave wolves alone and our elk won’t be alive to come home wagging their tails behind them. Winter 2012

ILLUSTRATION: COURTNEY BJORNN

and God is perfect, as I was taught, how can you say the wolf is a mistake? Anti-hunters? Now that’s a mistake. But humans have free will and those misinformed or misguided antis choose to be wrong about the natural world. Perhaps they aren’t perceptive enough to realize we no longer have 40 million bison to feed unlimited numbers of wolves. Perhaps they haven’t considered that there were no highways, no cities, no reservoirs, no farms, and no human population of 350 million humans in North America when wolves roamed freely 300 years ago. As for the wolves, they are just doing what wolves do. It’s not their fault they have no conscience and they like to hunt and kill, sometimes to excess. Poor things. None of that, however, provides a modicum of relief to our declining moose, elk, sheep and mule deer herds, which, by the way, are the only reason wolf reintroduction has worked. And hunters are who paid for, fought for, lobbied for and worked for reintroduction and protection of all our big game animals, bringing most back from the brink of extinction. And for this remarkable success we get vilified by the antis and their sycophants in the press. It’s enough to make you pull your few remaining hairs. But hark! What light through yonder window breaks? Tis reason, and it might soon shine on the dark days of wolf madness. For roughly ten years now the anti hunters, their lawyers and their champions in the federal courts have stymied the states’ legal rights to manage wolves, as promised in the original reintroduction agreement. And they’ve been doing it at our expense. Didn’t you know they get their legal fees reimbursed when they sue the federal government and win? If they pick the right sympathetic judge, they win. So let’s tally the costs: we hunters fight for years to restore big game populations across the West while simultaneously enjoying annual, limited harvest seasons, providing spiritual and physical sustenance for thousands of families. Many patient

23


Steve Alderman

MULE DEER Texas

Is it the New Old Mexico?

D

ay five started just the opposite of days one though four. We were chasing two separate bucks that had been seen on the ranch during the prior three weeks of hunting. Both bucks had drop tines and both appeared to be over the 200 inch mark. The morning of day five we decided to change things by hunting the smaller drop tine buck at first light instead of in the evening. Walking to our glassing spot the outfitter saw movement to our right. “There he is, there he is” he whispered. 326 yards away stood one of the bucks we had been chasing for the last five days. “Wait, wait, wait” I said as I set up the camera. “Ok the camera is ready”. We did one last range, which put him at 327 yards. The buck stood and stared as we all set up for the shot. Then, the roar of Ricks 30-378 Thompson long range rifle broke the silence of the crisp morning air. The giant Texas buck fell motionless in his tracks. What brought us to Texas on our quest for the 200-inch mule deer? Well, managed deer herds, to put it simply. We were hunting a 104,000 acre ranch south of Fort Stockton, Texas. Why Texas and not Old Mexico for big desert mule deer? Because, “I like my head.” A monster mule deer south of the border is not worth the chance of running into some unexpected violence which has become common. My family and my life are too important to me! Ricks thoughts mirror my own concerns. Besides, Rick had 24

HUNTING ILLUSTRATED.com

been working with this ranch for the last five years selling them feeders and wildlife products, waiting for his time to hunt this spectacular piece of property When building a 104,000 acre mule deer ranch as good as this one, it takes money, patience and love for mule deer to turn the arid dry west Texas desert into one of the West’s most sought after destinations for mule deer. There are many factors that have to taken into consideration to accomplish this. For starters, you need the right people with the right mindset. Convincing a landowner that he can offset the cost of downsizing his cattle herd by selling some mule deer hunts is the first hurdle to be crossed. After this step a financial plan with the outfitter is developed showing the

benefits of a hunting ranch. It is not only a monetary benefit, but benefits wildlife in general. Most landowners and ranchers don’t mind wildlife and most actually enjoy it. It only becomes a problem when it takes away from the rancher’s livelihood. Secondly, the landowner, wildlife manager, and outfitter need to have a clear vision and agreements as the plan to develop a hunting ranch is set in motion. The cattle herd must be downsized to help the land and allow vegetation to rebound after decades of grazing. Feed and water improvements are put into place. In this dry arid and rocky region of Texas food plots and hay fields are not practical ways of introducing higher forms of protein

The author and Rick Meritt with two awesome Texas trophies. Great weather, hunting, and people make Texas a must try hunt

5MULE DEER5


The author poses with a large female bobcat taking during the hunt. Predators should always be on the hit list to help out the struggling deer herds

into the deer’s diet. Therefore, 60 outback gravity flow feeders were put in place to give the deer the needed protein for a much healthier life. Artesian springs were cleared and fenced to protect them from the cattle. Water lines were put in to transfer the water to different sections of the ranch. Water troughs were installed to encourage cattle to drink from them instead of the running water sources. Thirdly, management deer hunts are planned. Management hunts are a great way for the landowner and outfitter to help offset the cost of feed. Harvesting management deer frees up more of the available food sources for the deer with better genetics. It also gives more people the opportunity to harvest a desert mule deer. This presents a win-win situation for the landowner and the hunter alike. Lastly, predators can never be overlooked when wanting to

increase the deer population. Increasing ones fawn recruitment is the end goal to increasing the deer population on any particular piece of property. Stress is one of the main contributing factors of low fawn recruitment. Predators were immediately a high priority and put on the hit list. Arial gunning, trapping and hunting were a priority for thinning out the dogs and cats. Mule deer hunters were encouraged to shoot all predators on site. Over time predator numbers decreased significantly. Finally after five years of hard work, $400,000 in feed, and heavy predator control the ranch was ready for Rick and I to hunt. The ranch went from 500 head of deer to 1,200 deer on the ranch which is a major accomplishment for this working cattle ranch. Average buck size went from the 130 to 140 class, to the 170 and 180 class, with an occasional 200 plus inch desert mule deer harvested on the ranch. Body weight went up 20 pounds in the does and 45 pounds in the mature buck population. However, the best statistic was the fawn recruitment. It went

from 34 percent to a staggering 112 percent. Rick’s first buck on this ranch, taken in 2010, was a ripper of a deer with a 210-inch gross set of antlers. The most impressive part of this deer was the 14 inch cork screw droptine. The most impressive part of this hunt was that it took place in the west Texas desert. 2011 found us back in our familiar stomping grounds looking for the other droptine buck that we weren’t able locate the prior year. Trail cameras were bought and placed at 10 feeder and water hole sites. The next day we anxiously checked the cameras after the morning hunt and to our surprise the droptine buck from last year was still there. He hit the feed site 4 hours after dark and stayed for no more than 5 minutes. We now knew his location and we just had to turn him up during hunting hours. Due to the drought conditions this year in Texas, his frame went down from a 4 by 4 to

A desert mule deer getting some much needed protein durning the worst drought in Texas in over 100 years

5MULE DEER5

Winter 2012

25


Rick Meritt with his first 200 plus inch buck off the west Texas ranch he has waited five years to hunt

a 3 by 4. Fortunately, with the four photos we were able to capture a picture of him, we knew he was still pushing the 200 inch mark including a spectacular 13 inch club droptine. Even with the worst drought in over a hundred years the deer on the ranch looked very healthy. I wish the same could be said about the cattle in Texas. The drought has taken its toll and the bovines are starving to death, even with hay and supplemental feeding. The cattle simply are not doing well. That evening a plan was formulated to go after the big droptine buck! The next morning we sat up on the highest knob on the ranch and started glassing, but no buck! After lunch we were back on the knob glassing again, with the dropper nowhere to be seen. The next morning we went back to our favorite spot on the ranch, the rock knob. No matter how hard we tried, we could not find a comfortable spot to glass from for any extended period of time. As light broke on the third day of the hunt, we found no bucks once again. However, after the sun started hitting the desert floor bucks started standing trying to find a shadier spot to bed. Rick was using 15 power binoculars and covering as much ground as he could. I was following his directions to the bucks he spotted with 26

HUNTING ILLUSTRATED.com

my spotting scope. We found one buck after another with no luck finding our dropper. For some strange reason I went back to the buck that was closest to our location to glass him again as he made his way out of the brush. As soon as my scope was focused on the buck, I could see extra points. He turned his head and out popped that huge dropper. “It’s your buck Rick, it’s your buck, the one right below us,” I said. Rick looked at me with a glare that said, ‘yeah right’ as we both had already looked at it once but didn’t see any hints it was the big boy. After a second look, there was no doubt it was him. His big old dropper with velvet attached to it stuck out like a sore thumb in the morning sunlight. Soon the buck was bedded again. Rick and his guide, Tommy, made their way off the hill towards the buck. Tommy led Rick to within 100 yards of the bedded buck and softly blew his fawn bleat. The buck stood to see what the sound was and from were I was filming it seemed to take forever. The echo of the rifle made me jump as the buck tore out. Rick had missed at 100 yards. The

5MULE DEER5

buck finally started to slow again at 500 yards as Rick settled the cross hairs once again on his target. The buck stopped at 569 yards and looked back over his shoulder. I was looking at the camera view finder as the buck dropped in his tracks, followed by the report of the rifle echoing through the hills. This was Rick’s second monster droptine mule deer in Texas in as many years. With an awesome 13 inch club dropper this buck scores 201 gross. Not too shabby for a state that had the worst drought in over one hundred years. After a little further investigation Rick’s first shot hit some brush 50 yards in front of the deer. It is a good thing Rick can shoot or we would still be there looking for him today! So is Texas the new go to place for desert mule deer? Sure, if you are talking about the United States. However, the experience of hunting Old Mexico can never be replaced. There is just something about that special piece of desert mule deer habitat that keeps us all dreaming about going back. But despite this, warm weather, friendly people, and big mule deer will keep me in Texas every December for years to come! Rick Meritt is always practicing his long range shooting. Taking out a coyote or two on every deer hunt is the perfect opportunity


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Brandon Butler

WHITETAIL Get Educated

The Widespread Western Whitetail

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ith elk, mule deer, antelope and so many other big game species roaming the west, most hunters don’t have enough time or money to chase all the animals they’d like. Whitetails often get overlooked in big sky states, since so many of the other big game species are held in such high esteem. While they may not grow as large as their Midwest cousins, western whitetails deserve to be on the radar of all who hunt the west. White-tailed deer are the most popular big game animal in North America. One

may speculate why this is the case. Perhaps it’s because of the whitetail’s intelligence, which makes them a demanding prey. Or, maybe it’s for the bounty of such delightful tasting wild game. If most of us were to be honest, we’d have to admit a large part of the attraction to whitetail hunting is chasing the euphoria felt when hanging a tag from a trophysized set of antlers. Yet, reality is not so romantic. The reason whitetails are hunted more than any other big game animal in North America is simply because there are more of them in more places.

Brandon, an avid whitetail hunter, discusses their widespread appeal and extensive habitat

White-tailed deer are found in all 48 contiguous states, Canada and Mexico. They have been transplanted in numerous other regions- as far away as Hawaii and New Zealand. With such a range, it’s easy to understand that quite a bit of disparity exists in the subspecies of Odocoileus virginianus, the scientific name of the White-tailed deer. In terms of whitetails varying by subspecies, nothing compares to the western half of the United States. I’m not a scientist, nor do I go around calling animals by scientific names. But in order to explain the diversity of western whitetails, I believe it’s necessary to name the specific deer of each region, and explain their traits. Two scientific rules, largely evident in the subspecies of whitetails are: Allen’s Rule and Bergmann’s Rule.

HUNTING ILLUSTRATED.com

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SUBSPECIES

Allen’s Rule states that because northern whitetails live in colder temperatures their extremities are typically shorter than those of the southern subspecies, which tend to appear longer and lankier. Bergmann’s Rule states that animals tend to increase in size the further they are from the equator. This is especially evident in the disparity between the body size of a northern Alberta buck versus one found on the Texas Gulf Coast. The northern most subspecies of white-tailed deer are the ochrourus. These large bodied, heavy horned bruisers are found in British Columbia, Alberta, Idaho, northern Washington, western Montana and western Wyoming. Their habitat includes high plains and mountainous regions. In a small region just south of the northern whitetail range, we have the subspecies leucurus, better known as the Columbian whitetail. These deer are found along Oregon’s Umpqua River, and throughout the Columbia River drainage along the Washington and Oregon border. The subspecies made famous by Michael Waddell and his “Bone Collecting” buddies, which is found in eastern Montana, eastern Wyoming, the Dakotas and central Canada is the dacotensis. This subspecies


This whitetail found in Colorado is part of the macrourus subspecies which can produce large antlered bucks.

is better known as the Dakota whitetail. These deer are found primarily on the plains, in river bottoms and along foothills. They thrive in the Black Hills, and sometimes make surprise appearances in mountainous area, too. Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma and Nebraska are sleeper sates for monster bucks. If you head to one of these trophy whitetail destinations, you’ll be hunting deer of the macrourus subspecies. They’re also found in the Texas Panhandle and northern New Mexico. These whitetails call the wide-open spaces of agricultural cattle land home. They spread out and grow big. Everything is bigger in Texas? Not so much. The bodies of texanus whitetails aren’t nearly as big as their northern cousins. Their antlers however, are another story. These are the deer that make Texas famous for horn hunting. They’re found across most of the

state, and their population densities are unparalleled. So even though Texas can’t claim everything is bigger down there, they can brag about having their own subspecies which is known for producing huge racks, and lots of them. And Texas can also claim a second subspecies, the mcilhennyi. Found along the Gulf Coast of Texas, these small deer closely resemble whitetails found along the Gulf Coast all the way down to the Florida Keys. They’re found around marshes, beaches, swamps and forested inlands. You know how they say dynamite comes in small packages? Well, this certainly holds true for couesi. Coues deer, originally pronounced “cows” but commonly pronounced “coos,” are found in the desert landscape of the southwest. Arizona, New Mexico and Mexico are the only places to find these little, elusive whitetails, which are the only subspecies to have its own classification in the Boone and Crockett Club record book category.

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HUNTING METHODS I grew up just outside of Chicago in Northwest Indiana. Growing up where I did, there wasn’t much choice in what to hunt. Besides rabbits and squirrels, we had ducks and deer. You chose one and that’s what type of hunter you were; a deer hunter or a duck hunter. Very few people hunted both. Doing so would be like claiming to be both a Republican and a Democrat. I was a deer hunter. Once the realization of college graduation was confirmed, most of my friends began seeking out and applying for jobs in the nearby big cities – Chicago, Indianapolis, Louisville, etc. Not me. I had one goal for life after college – move out west. All I ever dreamed about was chasing elk and mule deer around the mountains. I wanted to come close to a grizzly, and tree a mountain lion. Forget the city

Winter 2012


and its promise of fiscal success. My heart was set on running trout streams and crested buttes. Before the ink was dry on my diploma, I moved to Colorado, then nine months later to Montana. I had arrived. The big game animals I had dreamt of were at my fingertips; elk, antelope, mule deer, bears and more. Guess what happened? That’s right. I discovered western whitetails. They were everywhere. It was like going to a buffet offering all sorts of exotic dishes, but all you wanted eat was what you already knew you liked. I found that by applying what I knew about hunting Midwest whitetails, I could experience encounters and success like nothing imaginable back home. I hunted the Yellowstone River, as well as the West Rosebud, but the Milk River became my home away from home. I learned the alfalfa fields 30

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like they were cornfields, and learned to use the rivers for silent access to the river bottom timber. Ask ten deer hunters to tell you about their favorite method of pursuing whitetails, and chances are you’ll receive ten different responses. Many prefer to be 20 feet up a tree in the thickest cover they can find. Some hope to cut a fresh track and then methodically stalk their prey, while others choose to hunt wideopen fields from ground blinds. For me, it’s slipping into river bottoms by way of water. And there is nowhere better to do this than on the rivers of the western states. Geographically speaking, there are differences in river bottoms and how to hunt them. The Columbia River in Washington looks mighty different than the Llano in south Texas. Yet, both hold big numbers of whitetails, which can be hunted with similar tactics. In the agricultural lowlands of the west, where lush alfalfa fields are irrigated by slowrolling rivers, whitetails thrive.

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If you want to experience western whitetail hunting at its finest, no matter if you’re in Oregon, Texas, Oklahoma or Montana, find a river system with a significant amount of public access and spend some time patterning the feeding habitats of whitetails coming in and out of the bordering agricultural fields. In time, you’ll know when and where to expect the deer. Then all that’s left to do is wait for a buck you’re will to hanging a tag on. If you have been overlooking the incredible resource of western whitetails, I encourage you to give them a second thought next season. Whitetails are some of the smartest, most beautiful creatures roaming the west. Be careful though, because once you start chasing whitetails, there’s a good chance everything else will take a back seat.


Steve Chappell

ELK Calling Big Bulls In Consistently Is there is a Real Secret?

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he countdown has begun to the magical month for elk hunters. As I pen this article, we are less than nine months away from September, but making progress toward it every day! What a magical, unforgettable time of year it is! Reminiscing back, I can distinctly remember the first time I called in a bull and shot him with my bow on that aspen choked hillside back in the early 90’s. I vividly recall drawing back on the bugling bull and having all my pins on his lungs thinking, “Wow, that was easy! Why didn’t I learn to call years ago?” While that wasn’t my first bull elk kill, that call-in encounter with an unsuspecting 5x5 changed my life forever. I remember well the drive home, with my bull in the bed of my truck. I had an overwhelming sense of accomplishment flood over me; so much so that I was determined to relive that feeling every year from that point forward. Now looking back on that encounter makes me realize that while I have significantly refined and improved my calling over the years, I actually haven’t changed much in my approach to calling in bulls. That morning, on the mountain hillside, I had the wind in my face. I got close to the bull before setting up, picked a good spot with multiple shooting lanes, and called the bull in with what 32

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I thought were sweet cow calls on my mouth reed. Even though I was “green,” it worked just like I’d seen Wayne Carlton do it on his early VHS videos. These days, with close to 20 years of calling under my belt, have I developed any real secrets? To be honest, I wouldn’t necessarily say that I have. Growing up as an athlete who loved sports, I’ve always observed that in sports, those who always adhere to the basics and perform them well succeed to the highest degree. The best basketball players have a “pure” shot, and handle the ball well to create open shooting opportunities for themselves. So how does that relate to calling elk? For me, it relates well because I take the basics of elk

Steve’s products are proven and some of the best on the market. His Matriarch Elk Call is key to his mastery in calling

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calling and apply them every year for very consistent, predictable results. The following are what I consider to be the basics of elk calling: 1. Always hunt with the wind right. I always carry a wind checker and use it a lot! No matter how particular you are about scent, you should never ignore the wind. I also strive to make the extra effort to setup on bulls with the wind so much in my favor that it is hard for a bull to easily circle and get my scent. If you make it easy for them to divert to your downwind side before coming in, they will. Over 90% of the bulls that I call in come straight at me


Screenshots from video footage show some big bulls moving in close after calling.

rather than circling down wind. This is because I make it very hard for them to do so. Wind checkers are cheap. Don’t scrimp on this most important part of your gear and never ignore the wind! 2. I always get as close as I can to a bull before calling to him (with one exception- I’ll explain later). I’ve found that elk typically have somewhere they are intentionally going. The more in sync I am with their direction of travel, the better my chances of them coming to my call. Think of it this way: If an elk is moving from his nighttime feeding and watering area and is traveling to

his bedding area, it makes sense that he would more readily veer from his route 100 yards than he would 800 yards. Yet every year I encounter guys in the woods setup with a bull bugling 800 yards away thinking that he is coming when he’s actually walking away. I have occasionally called bulls from over 800 yards away, but these are usually smaller satellite bulls. The bigger, mature bulls seem to respond much better the closer and more convenient I am for them. If I am calling for myself, I am careful to pick setups where the bull is forced to walk into my archery range before he can actually see my calling position. I can’t overstate how important this is! So if I am hunting in Pine country where a bull can see for longer distances, I will use small ridges, draws or rolls in the terrain to my advantage when picking a setup. If I am on the level with the bull, he can simply look 200 yards ahead and see that there is not an elk there and hang it up. Decoys can help, but I’ve found that mature bulls will oftentimes stand back, watch, and expect the decoy to show a little life before committing. For this reason, I much prefer to hunt thicker vegetation such as Pinion, Juniper or Cedar country. In the high mountains, spruce or areas of thicker vegetation would be

Contrary to some preaching, getting close to elk before calling is a misunderstood concept but can help you get closer to the bigger bulls

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preferred over more open aspen groves. Regardless of where I am hunting, my rule of thumb is this: I try to close every bit of distance that I can between myself and the bull before setting up. If I can move forward ten more yards to the next little pocket of trees to setup- I will! Then I try to place some sort of obstacle between myself and the bull (usually trees). That way, he must continue coming and searching for the call until he walks into one of my lanes! With close setups your calling realism becomes important. That brings us to point #3. 3. I listen to real elk and practice calling a bunch. It just stands to reason that the more elk-like a hunter sounds on his/her calls, the more bulls he/ she will call in. Calling truly is about a mindset and confidence. If you practice 300 days a year on mouth diaphragms and good open reed calls for only 5 to 10 minutes, you will be amazed at how it will impact your calling success. Even 100 days of practice is better than buying your “push” call on the way out of town and expecting every bull on the mountain to run to it. This may surprise some, but I’m not at all about defining or understanding exactly what every elk sound “means.” That just confounds and confuses the issue! What is more important is recognizing the “intensity” in the call. The more time you spend in the field with elk, the better you will recognize the varying degrees of intensity in their calling- that’s the key. My success has come from putting proper elk tone and emotion into my calls. You can develop this skill by closely listening to what real elk sound like and then practice copying the tone and emotion in their calls. Over the years with Winter 2012

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this approach and mindset, cow calling with the proper emotion has worked incredibly well for me, and I have been able to call in many great, mature bulls. I know some guys who consistently call bulls in with bugling. This makes perfect sense, because when I hear them bugle, they hit a strong, aggressive, high pitched note that sounds like a bull. So when they get close and bugle at a bull, their tone and intensity matches and is natural. This causes the bull to come in angry, looking for a fight. They also hunt with the wind right, and get close before setting up; as opposed to bugling at a bull that is with his cows from 300 yards away and wondering why he runs off with his harem. Without fail, if a hunter’s cow-calling or bugling is flat, or lacks emotion, the response they get is usually lacking. I’ve personally seen instances where a bull won’t answer one hunter’s call but will jump all over another’s call. It is usually due to accurate tone and emotion found within the successful hunter’s calls. I don’t believe that hunters need an arsenal of calls around their neck and in their pockets to be successful. I often hear it said that you are more effective when you can blow lots of calls until you find what trips a bull’s trigger. Year after year I find that when you use one call that is designed with the proper tonal quality, and you blow it correctly with the right emotion, bulls respond incredibly well. The key is to sound “Elky”- then you don’t need 10 calls around your neck- just one that sounds right. My One Exception: In the last few years the only variation in my calling has been the addition of cow estrus calls to my calling sounds. I learned these sounds by hearing real elk 34

HUNTING ILLUSTRATED.com

The author lead Perry Berry to this huge Arizona bull in last year’s season. Be sure to check out the footage of this hunt in Steve’s latest DVD, Extreme Bulls 7

make them. Please don’t be confused by this, I don’t use this sound very often. When I do though, I will make the sound frequently, loudly, and somewhat randomly as I am walking. What I am trying to imitate is a hot cow that is alone and cruising. She’s being loud and aggressive about her desire to meet a bull and have her fire quenched! This sound works very well for me in the evenings when the bulls are sluggish and don’t want to bugle. This call really gets their attention, gets them bugling, and most importantly- they get fired up and come to me. My cousin and I have a special code-name for this call that I shouldn’t mention here. Really, I hesitate even bringing up this sound, because I don’t want to complicate elk calling at all. Ninety nine percent of my success over the past two decades has come from simply performing the basics well, and by blowing “sweet” cow callsnothing more. You don’t have to make elk calling rocket science when it doesn’t need to be. God created elk with good instincts- not great reasoning ability like we have. Sometimes we tend to mistakenly ascribe human thought processes to a bull elk when they aren’t that complicated. My friends and I call that “Too much research and not enough development”.

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Don’t over analyze or over think calling, and you will be much less confused and frustrated and much more successful- I promise. Stick with the basics of elk calling and enjoy your first call-in or your 1,000th! Whichever it is, I hope it changes your life like it has mine! Steve’s teachings are put in motion in his latest DVD release, Extreme Bulls 7. Follow the Q-code below to visit his store at ChappellGuideService.com


Les Johnson

PREDATORS A Coyote Winter Wonderland Tactics for Calling Predators in Mid Winter

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t was a blustery twenty-one degrees below zero on the pickup rear view mirror as I was moving my belongings from the motel room to what would be my home for the next seven days…my pickup. Late February can sometimes be thought of as the beginning to the end of winter, and other times the harsh reality that winter might just hang around a few more months. After giving numerous predator calling seminars over the last few days, I was definitely ready to Get To Callin. But after setting foot into the arctic air, I was catching myself daydreaming of possibly just doing some windshield time; heated leather seats on high and coffee mug full while scoping out the country rather than setting foot out in the knee deep snow. I thought back to an older gentleman at my seminar that asked, “How are you planning on calling coyotes in the deep snow?” I remember saying that I was going to invest in some snow shoes and hunker right down with the coyotes in their terrain. The crowd of eager listeners raised their eyebrows thinking that this kid didn’t know what he was getting himself into. Keep in mind that the average daily temperature over the past week had been in the negatives. Lucky for me, some wonderful friends that my brother and I met at the sports show had bought both of us a shiny new pair of snowshoes and although I had never had to use snowshoes before, I had a couple of close friends from North Dakota that call coyotes and

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consistently take over 100 of them per season with the aid of snowshoes. After cinching them tight and heading off through the snow it didn’t take long for me to see how it actually made walking on snow a cinch. The only tough part in using them was whenever you were in powder where the snowshoes would sink 8+ inches on each step, the muscles in my legs would bark from getting worked over so much. However, on hard packed snow, you could actually skim across the landscape much like walking on concrete, very easily and effortlessly. One of the tactics that I am trying to make clear is this: No matter what your winter conditions are (deep snow, very cold temps, extreme winds, etc), the only way that you’ll be successful in calling predators is to get out in their winter wonderland. Knowing that

either deep snow or very harsh winter conditions are going to be prevalent, using whatever means that you have in order to get yourself on a calling stand is going to be the tale to your success. One time while living in Wyoming, I made a decision to drive 100 miles to Laramie to do some Christmas shopping despite blizzard type conditions and wind chill that brought the mercury down to a balmy -30. But, in retrospect, it was a good decision for me and a very bad turnout for a few animal eaters. I wasn’t three miles outside of town when I spotted the first coyote out hunting about for an easy meal. I quickly went back, walked out into the hills, made a series of calls and shot gunned the first coyote that came wandering in.

Les Johnson is the world champion for a reason and much of it can be attributed to his mastery in calling. This poor coyote doesn’t even know he’s the next victim! The hunter becomes the hunted.

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“No matter what your winter conditions are, the only way that you’ll be successful in calling predators is to get out in their winter wonderland.”

All in all, while driving to Laramie to shop, I made three stands and killed five coyotes, three of which were at point blank range with my 10-gauge. The coyotes were out hunting and when I see coyotes out moving, they are bracing for more tough times ahead. Because of this, they will likely succumb to my calling tactics a lot easier. Sometimes over the course of winter, depending on where you live, there might be drastic weather changes during that time of year. Severe cold temperatures, snow, strong winds and rain can usually be part of the norm. As the winter wears on, I have found over the years that with the bad weather, predator callers usually hang it up and hibernate. I

am the type of guy that is usually up for a good challenge. Many times while I lived in Wyoming, I would battle 40 mph winds plus bone chilling temperatures, (oftentimes well below zero) as I was out calling coyotes and enjoying a lot of success. Most times out in the field, I felt as if the coyotes responded rather well. But I am also led to believe that perhaps my stand selection and amount of time and effort that I was putting into one helped increase my calling success. A couple years ago, I was in northern Montana for a youth seminar and the temperatures were extremely cold. The gentleman that I arranged the seminar with wanted to go calling the morning before the meeting because he needed a “fresh” coyote to demonstrate the skinning process for the young hunters. I told him that I didn’t feel comfortable with the weight on my shoulder telling me that we “had” to get a coyote called in and shot that morning. But despite this, the long and short of it was that we went out calling that morning and despite the frigid temperatures, made five stands and killed three coyotes. The day after the seminar, we went out again with the temperature well below zero and managed to harvest five coyotes out of the eight that came sauntering in. I chalk the missed ones up to our cold trigger fingers.

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What I want to illicit in this article is that when the conditions are tough, the light inside your head might be saying that its nuts to be out this kind of weather. But in reality, if you make sure you’ve got all the necessary gear to keep you comfortable, it can yield more predators than the most pristine of days spent calling. Throughout the winter months, I find that I spend more time wanting to make one really good stand vs. five mediocre ones. When I was talking about the snowshoes at the beginning of this article, those shoes have become a vital part of my success throughout the winter. With there being so much snow and the landscape being totally white, it makes it necessary to get away from the vehicle forcing you to blaze a trail. And with the terrain being so open, the coyotes definitely see you coming so picking a spot where there might be a slight hill and hunkering down out of plain site is what you have to do. Another very important thing to key on in the late winter is livestock and/or other animals. Coyotes stick close to deer herds, cattle, and antelope. This last winter my brother and I were traveling down Winter 2012

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It’s all in a day’s work. The author poses with a slew of unfortunate coyotes.

the road and we noticed about ten head of mule deer feeding on top of some bare ridges that led down into rougher terrain and a river below. We went back, snuck into a good spot, made some calls and instantly two coyotes came right in. I managed to shotgun the big male and made a great shot on the female as she was heading for the next township. Moral of this story: I absolutely LOVE to help out the wildlife by killing the animals that pester, kill, eat, and harass them all the time. Do I try different distress sounds or perhaps howling? I do mix in some coyote vocals, but I tend to gravitate more towards distress cries. Two years ago I was heading south of Walcott junction in Wyoming when I looked east out of my pickup window. Out across the white landscape, about 500 yards out, a coyote was running as hard as it could to the south. As I looked behind that coyote, I could see another coyote running as hard as it could about 100 yards behind. And yet another coyote trailed behind that one, and another one beyond that. I instantly knew that something was going on and there was a reason for the madness these coyotes were exhibiting. I looked further south,

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and I could see a black dot on the white landscape about a half mile south of the lead coyote. I told my videographer to get the camera on and I sped up. I had a feeling in my tummy that the black dot was a golden eagle and I knew that this was a wintering area for the antelope. When I got to a point where I felt that we could film what was going on, I pulled over, shut my pickup off and rolled down the window. As soon as I pulled my binos up to my eyes, I could already hear the bawling of an antelope. As I glassed, I spotted a golden eagle on the back of an antelope and as it bawled, the coyotes closed the gap. As soon as the lead coyote was within 50 yards, the eagle fluttered off of the back of the antelope and landed about 30 yards away. The lead coyote had the antelope down and dead within a minute or so. I was 500+ yards away and I could easily hear the antelope bawling. Predators kill! When you’re at home curled up to your honey, the thermostat set on 70 and you have a nice relaxing night of sleep, animals are getting killed and eaten. In my opinion, coyotes can be fooled, and many, many times very easily if your presentation is right. It’s just a matter of braving whatever Mother Nature throws at you and get out into the field. Watching that lead coyote run toward the antelope

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was awe inspiring. Not a care in the world and you could tell that he had done it before. I can easily imitate that antelope bawl with my voice, a very simple sound to make. I think too often that we feel like we have to make the perfect sound in order to call a predator into range. I can only laugh about the times that I experimented with different calling sounds on stands while my brother was present. I’ve called more coyotes and bobcats than I can remember while using just my voice to call. Remember, we are just trying to mimic or imitate the sound of an animal in distress. Can you bark like a dog? I bet you can! Do all dogs sound the same? Absolutely not! If you can make a sound that has distress in it, there is a good chance that a predator will also sense that distress in the tone. As the winter wears on all across the U.S. and Canada, predators are killing on a daily basis. When the conditions get tougher on the animals, sometimes they react more easily, BUT you may have to get a little further away from the vehicle and/or do more calling out in extreme conditions to see that added success! Get out there and try something new. Push your body to walk a little further and mentally try harder to get the success that you want and deserve. I can bet all of you that when the news forecast is telling everyone to stay at home, Les Johnson is going to be calling and killing predators! Let’s Get To CALLIN!!! To view my idea of a Coyote’s Winter Wonderland, view it on YouTube.com/ PredatorquestTV (follow the Q-Code below).


Andy Christiansen

SHOOTING The P.C.A.S.

(Perfect Coyote Annihilation System)

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s I drive down the road in the pre-dawn darkness the world around me starts to come to life. There is fog hanging in patches concealing much of the terrain but I know by heart what is there. This is the same road that I travel daily en-route to work. I sip my coffee while vaguely noticing some objects in the field to the left. They must have left some stragglers when they moved the

sheep. Then all at once my mind explodes, COYOTES! My morning daze is instantly replaced with intense focus. Not one, but three song dogs so brazen as to be seen in the daylight? Not on my watch! Now I know this is nowhere near as romantic as picking the perfect set. Concealing myself and tricking the senses of the keenest sort to lure them within rifle range. But I will let it be known here and now, I am an equal opportunity predator

killer, I do not discriminate on gender, genius, or color phase. And as we all know sometimes we must play the hand we are dealt. My well tuned inner hunter had now taken over. First priority, get off the road and out of the vehicle, check. Get into shooting position while wildly stuffing cartridges into the magazine, check. While this is happening the coyotes are doing what they do, getting the heck out of dodge!

Lightweight Drilled Bolt Handle

Crisp Three Pound Trigger

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EVOLUTION


As I bring the rifle to bear the last song dog is looking at me like, “Is he really going to do this?” My mind is going over my mental checklist, .243 Win, no wind, no angle, which dot? 300 yards no maybe 400 uhm 350? Right then is when the last song dog looks around and realizes his two buddies have left him for dead. My mental checklist is stalled on 350 or maybe 425 yards, I’m just not sure. My inner voice screams, “GET ON WITH IT!” Just as I’m about ready to squeeze the coyote is on the run.

Bell and Carlson Composite Stock

I’ll bet you can imagine what was going through my head for the rest of my drive to work. As I reflect back on the situation, as with any that doesn’t go right, I wondered what could be done to change the outcome. I realize that it was the range hang up that saved the day for the coyote. But I also know that even if I’d had a range finder, by the time I could have employed it time would have most likelyreadying run outhisalso. The author is pictured shot Then the Zeiss Diarange riflescope came to during the Vortex Extrememind. relay. By practicing shooting field situations The Diarange from Zeiss hasinrange finding Andy has learned his limitations. capability beyond 1000 yards. All that needs to be

THE NEW CARBON HUNTER II has been upgraded and improved for 2011. This rifle starts with a factory grade barrel that is turned down and then wrapped with our patented carbon fiber process. The factory grade trigger is set at a crisp three pounds. The bolt handle is drilled for light weight and appeal. The barreled action is then free floated and fitted to a Bell and Carlson stock. This rifle is perfect for the Hardcore hunter that wants a lightweight, accurate, weatherproof, rifle.

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Breaking Down the P.C.A.S. Zeiss 4-16x50 Diarange riflescope with a Rapid Z 800 reticle (for long range work)

Trijicon RMR reflex sight on a 45 degreee picatinny mount (for close range work) Christensen’s piston driven operating system for cleaner function

The Magpul ACS buttstock

Carbon fiber barrel to keep the weight down and long range accuracy

Snipod attachment for a 30” Snipod for shooting from the sitting position

Caldwell XLA 9” swivel head bi- pod for getting prone

Choice of Carbon Thumbhole or Classic Stock

Crisp Three Pound Trigger

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EVOLUTION


done is to aim at the chosen target push the button and the range is displayed right in the reticle. Zeiss further simplifies by combining their awesome rapid Z 800 reticle. One can instantly read the displayed yardage of say 487 yards put the line that is marked 5 (for 500) slightly low on target and squeeze. Now if my rifle was outfitted with that baby it would have been push the button, put the corresponding line on the coyote, squeeze, and boom! That does it, I am not going anywhere without a Diarange riflescope on my predator gun. Now that I think about it, that rifle isn’t really a predator gun, it’s a varmint rifle. So I need a new gun, no not a gun, a predator rifle. Nix that, an annihilation system…a P.C.A.S. (Perfect Coyote Annihilation System). The marines have the S.S.W.S (Scout Sniper Weapon System), big game hunters have L.R.W.S (Long Range Weapon System) and after today the predator hunting world has the P.C.A.S. I have already identified what cost me one coyote, the Diarange Zeiss has that problem kicked. So what cost me the other two? Getting the ammunition into the gun. The cure to that is a detachable magazine. It’s much faster to stuff a magazine in the magwell than to stuff individual rounds in one at a time. Now in

While you can always count on a bolt action rifle for accuracy and dependability, you might consider switching to something faster and capable of more ammo volume for hunting coyotes.

Match Grade Stainless Steel Carbon Barrel

THE NEW CARBON EXTREME II delivers the high end performance that only Carbon Fiber has to offer. This model features a match grade stainless steel Carbon barrel, trigger set to a crisp three pounds, spiral fluted and teflon coated bolt to provide a smooth bolt cycle. To top it off, we then fit it with our proprietary Carbon fiber stock that is the lightest and strongest of its kind. The match grade barrel comes with a 1-inch three shot group guarantee at 100 yards.

888-517-8855 • www.ChristensenArms.com

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order to bring down multiple targets one needs a lot of fire power. I love the accuracy and dependability of a bolt gun but what we need here is volume. Most of the time coyotes are going to be coming to a call. That means that if one can be patient, as long as they aren’t spooked, the shooting can be point blank. However, there are always those that hang up on the edge of cover or such. So let’s give us a range of say 500 yards. Now I know that the bolt rifle is plenty accurate for this range but when it comes to volume of fire the CA-15 is head and shoulders above. The CA-15 is also plenty accurate for shots out to 500 yards with any of the cartridges it is chambered for. Coyotes don’t require a lot of knockdown energy so I am going to rule out the 6.5 Grendel and 6.8 SPC. The 204 Ruger shoots like a laser beam but the wind will reek havoc on that tiny bullet at 500 yards. I think for me I will go with the tried and true .223 Rem and I will use 69 gr. bullets to help with that pesky wind. Even though I give up some velocity and trajectory, the ballistic compensation capability of the rifle scope allows me to still make accurate hits at 500 yards. A twenty round magazine makes it easy to fend off a close range charge. Especially with a 45 degree mount and a holographic type sight mounted

on the right side of the hand guard. When they are too close for comfort just rotate the rifle to the left and use the holographic sight and let your trigger finger do the work. Now let’s put a Caldwell X7 pivoting bi-pod on the front in addition to a Snipod attachment for a 27-inch Snipod that covers prone and sitting positions. I think that the ACS collapsible butt stock is the perfect choice. This configuration looks somewhat chunky but it is in my opinion the most comfortable to shoot with a rifle scope. After all we are making a serious killing machine, not a work of art. Personally I will opt for a direct impingement system on my P.C.A.S. because I feel that even though it requires more maintenance it has the edge on accuracy and this does need to be a precision weapon. If I never planned on cleaning and was going to let this rifle live in the bed of my truck or on the rack of my ATV, then I would probably choose the piston driven version. The crisp, light break of the timiny trigger is going to be a serious asset for the precision long range work that can be involved with predator hunting. A Hogue rubberized pistol grip will make the rifle easy to hang onto in cold weather waiting for the quarry to show up. Now of course this whole weapon can be dressed up in your choice

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of camo with the help of the film dipping technology that Ryan at Christensen Arms has turned into an art form. I think that pretty well has the bases covered for just about any situation predator hunting might throw at you. Not to mention the huge WOW factor this piece of equipment has. I can’t wait to put it to the test. COYOTE BEWARE!

THE CARBON ONE CUSTOM starts with a Select Match Grade barrel liner that is turned and then wrapped with our patented Carbon Fiber process. We then install a match grade trigger set to your specified weight, the action is trued and lapped for minimum tolerances. We then install our proprietary Carbon fiber stock that comes with a lifetime warranty. This combination gives you the ultimate custom rifle. Available in all popular and Wildcat calibers.

888-517-8855 • www.ChristensenArms.com

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Photo Story

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PORCUPINE HILLS OF ALBERTA

Chris Maxwell harvested this Whitetail via covered wagon and pack horses amid beautiful country Photos – Chris Maxwell

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Photo Story

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PORCUPINE HILLS OF ALBERTA

Chris ended his hunt by harvesting this worthy bull elk on the last day. Do you have a Photo Story to share? Submissions can be sent to: Christensen’s Hunting Illustrated PO Box 240 • Gunnison, UT 84634 editor@huntingillustrated.com

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PHOTOS: AUTHOR

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BY BROOKLYN HUDSON AND MATT WATTERSON

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att: “Wolves! They’re wolves!” I almost swallowed my tongue as I fumbled to put my binoculars back into their chest pack. A light dusting of snow was fouling the visibility across the steep draw, but something caught my attention out near a small rock outcropping on the other side, about 450 yards away, and I had to have a closer look. I turned to my hunting partner, Brooklyn Hudson, and as if we were synchronized, packs were shed and the glass was back up. “I see three.” Brooklyn was already picking the hillside apart. My mind, however, was struggling to string coherent thoughts together. Fragmented flashes of literally hundreds of conversations, pictures, and the thrill of filling one of the rarest tags in the lower 48 had me goofy. Thankfully, Brooklyn was locked in, and brought me back down to reality. There was no doubt the wolves were still a ways off leaving us with the arduous task of closing the distance if we wanted any chance of a shot. This was day four of a week-long hunt in the backcountry.

Putting this ‘fly-in’ mule deer hunting trip together in the Frank-Church wilderness area near our homes in central Idaho fulfilled a lifelong goal of ours. Brooklyn had worked in the area for three summers and had encounters with wolves on several different occasions, one of which was over a fresh elk kill in the stream. With everything packed and ready, Brooklyn made the last second decision to purchase a second wolf tag. After hearing stories of guys harvesting wolves earlier in the season, only to regret they hadn’t had a second tag, the decision was that another $11.50 wasn’t going to break the bank. From the short, dusty, dogleg landing strip we took off on our hunt with everything we needed strapped to our backs. The area we picked to hunt was a seven mile hike from the strip right into the heart of ‘God’s Country’. It is one of the most beautiful yet unforgiving places we have ever been. It is a place of clear rivers, deep canyons and rugged mountains. The streams rush below ragged, solitary crags, eroded bluffs, and ridges which rise steeply up toward the unpredictable skies. Much of the

landscape is burned leaving swaths of deadfall timber that make the seemingly simple task of walking an adventure. Making are way through the area, we carefully navigated the trails with our heavy packs knowing that one misstep could send us rolling 2000 feet down to the streams below. Having filled our deer tags in the first three days of the hunt, our attention became more and more focused on the dog tracks and sign we were seeing in the area. Almost from the onset of the hunt, the first night to be exact, it was made clear we were in wolf country. Howling inside of 100 yards of our tents woke us up in the frigid early morning hours, a common occurrence over the week. The pack seemed to shadow our movements, keeping a safe distance during daylight hours, but announcing their discontent with our presence at night. The combination of frozen ground, sub-zero temps coupled with unforgiving winds and the haunting chorus of a pack made sleep a chore. The mornings found us increasingly cold, but determined to find wolves in this vertical

Brooklyn and Matt huddle together to glass nearby mountainscape where they spotted three wolves. Confirming they were within range, it was time for both hunters to get into position to take a shot

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country; and as we made our way toward our low camp with the last load of meat and antlers from the top of the ridge on day four, our chance appeared through the veil of fog. Our plan was simple, which was important for me at least; I was only able to process the most basic instructions in my static mental state. I would stay put and hold the wolves’ attention long enough for Brooklyn to sneak around and above them to a point above a small saddle on the steep ridge overlooking their position. From that point, I would move slowly down the trail to a spot directly across the draw from the wolves, which would hopefully put me in range for a shot, but if not, would most directly drive the wolves toward Brooklyn’s set-up. What happened over the next five minutes is most importantly seen through the eyes and heard from the voice of Brooklyn himself, as I too was more a spectator in his moment. Brooklyn: As I hurried into position the adrenaline started to kick in. My knees were getting weak and wobbly and my hands were shaking

uncontrollably. I as came to a point on the ridge I slowly looked over to see two different wolves bedded below me! I belly crawled about 20 yards through the snow down to a small bush where I set up for the shot. I quickly ranged them at 263 yards. As I waited for Matt to squeeze off first, I tried to quickly set up my video camera. Unfortunately, during the initial excitement I left my tripod with my pack where we first spotted the wolves. I quickly scanned the ground to find something to set my camera on to capture footage of the hunt. I found nothing but grass and snow. As I tried to capture some free hand video of the wolves before the shot I found that ‘the fever’ had set in so bad that I couldn’t make out the footage on the screen. I quickly put the camera back in my pocket and peered through my rifle-scope only to find a wad of snow plastered on the eye piece. I wiped it away but the water smears distorted my view. I frantically wiped down the eye-piece once more with my glove and rested my crosshairs on the slightly blurry image of a wolf. In mere seconds I heard Matt’s first shot echo across the canyon. It was on! Just before I could squeeze off

a shot on the first wolf it jumped up and sprinted out of sight around the edge of a steep point. The second wolf ran to the top of the ridge and stopped. I quickly settled in on him and squeezed off my first shot. As I recovered from the recoil and set up for a follow up shot I heard the thwap of my 165-grain bullet slamming the front shoulder of the wolf. Seconds later two more wolves hurried over the ridge top. Another shot rang out from across the canyon as a fifth wolf stopped and glanced over his shoulder in Matt’s direction. I wasted no time sending another round through my 7mm Magnum. The wolf dropped in his tracks. I sat there in disbelief watching two more wolves cross over the ridge as I was tagged out. I ran back up to the top of the ridge to see Matt sprinting in my direction. We quickly tried to relocate the wolves so Matt could fill his tag as he had missed his first two shots. We rounded another ridge to a viewpoint where we found the pack sprinting away from us moving quickly out of range. We swapped stories as we walked back to celebrate

PHOTOS: AUTHOR

Brooklyn revels in the moment after taking down both of these full grown wolves. When a second tag only costs $11.50 more, why not double down?

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the two trophies. The game plan worked perfectly and the wolves reacted as we had hoped. As we took pictures and skinned the wolves we could faintly hear the pack howling in the distance; a chorus that grew in intensity and vigor, which made it sound like the overall number of wolves nearly reached a dozen. In the earliest and darkest morning hours we were awakened by the long drawn, baritone howl of a wolf not far from our camp. The following morning we were awakened once more by the chorus of the entire pack near the kill site. Unfortunately we were unable to close the distance for a second opportunity, but our disappointment was eased because of our earlier success. Although the primary reason for us being in the field was to hunt mule deer, we were ecstatic about making good on harvesting two wolves because their numbers in Idaho continue to explode. This was just the second hunt in this state for the apex predators, and the first year that a hunter could purchase the maximum of two tags. Some areas in the state are beginning to see a significant decline in elk and moose populations since the successful reintroduction of the predators in 1995. Thankfully, the Obama Administration added a congressional budget rider that removed the endangered species status from the predators allowing state biologists to implement sound management plans that will ensure healthy populations of predator and prey in Idaho for future generations.

This amazing hunting adventure closed with both hunters harvesting great bucks (Brooklyn pictured top, Matt pictured bottom).

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Wish and Believe very fall while growing up I watched my father and other family members head for the hills to hunt mule deer and the excitement and enthusiasm they displayed was instantly contagious. It was something I couldn’t wait to be a part of. After turning 12, I eagerly completed my hunter’s education classes and all I could think about was going into the woods and having the opportunity to harvest a buck for myself. Upon completion of hunter’s education, I put in for the draw and was ecstatic when, after the results came out, I had a general season tag that allowed me to hunt the archery

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A Fight with Cancer Doesn’t Defy Brandon’s Dreams.

season. What was neat is that if I wasn’t successful with my bow, I could hunt the muzzleloader season, and finally the rifle season if need be. I had big hopes and dreams of being in the mountains pursuing mule deer and looked forward to the start of the season like it was Christmas. However, in April I was diagnosed with cancer. I, along with my family were obviously shaken but despite this, I was determined do everything I could to not let this interfere with my first deer hunt.

As fall rapidly approached, the chemo treatment I went through made me weak and tired so I wasn’t able to practice as much as I wanted to. However, I did what needed to be done to get through the sessions using opening day as my motivation. Eventually it came. But instead of being surrounded by pine trees and aspen, watching and listening for approaching deer, I was in a hospital encircled with beeping monitors and pumps, watching and listening for approaching doctors.


BY BRANDON WINGER

As it turns out the second weekend of the deer hunt turned out to be my opening. We hunted hard for nearly five days and although we saw several small bucks, they were just too far out of my range. As the archery season gave way to the muzzleloader, I again found myself in and out of the hospital for more treatment. This ended up whittling my time in the field to only two days and in that time, all we saw were does and more does. About the time the rifle hunt came around my dad’s cousin posted a comment on the Monster Muleys website asking for help in finding me a place to hunt. In the meantime, we kept after it but were unable to locate any bucks. Eventually Mike Silve from New Mexico got involved and put my dad in contact with Matt Minshall of Hunt of a Lifetime. This organization is similar to Make a Wish and provides hunts for kids with life threatening illness’s. I was obviously super excited and before I knew it, was on my way to area 13a on the Arizona Strip. Needless to say, my dad was stoked as well and my uncle Dennis volunteered to drive us down and come hunting with us.

Witnessing friends and family members take to the hills hunting, instilled a hunger and passion in Brandon at an early age. A serious cancer diagnosis did not stand in the way of his dream. Brandon poses with his ultimate prize alongside his father.

We left our house at 4:30 am and made the seven hour drive down to Arizona. When we got to camp we were met by four guides and a hunter who had just harvested an amazing buck! It was a huge deer that had points everywhere and they said it rough scored 232-inches. I may have been excited before but this put me over the edge. Chad Woodruff was the head guide and was joined by his dad John and brother Shane as well as their friend Russ. The hunt started that night and everyone went out and set up at different points to start looking for deer. Chad and I set up by a watering hole and meandered around the area scoping the neighboring hillsides. In doing so we drummed up a 26-inch four point about 800 yards away but despite my excitement, Chad assured me there were bigger ones out there, so we left it alone. About 15 minutes before dark we began driving back to camp, came around the corner and there was a HUGE typical four point standing off the road. Chad and

I hurried and jumped out, and I quickly got ready to shoot. With buck fever setting in I aimed at him and as I looked through my scope, I couldn’t pick him up. I brought the gun back down and noticed my scope was on nine power so I quickly turned it down and got back into shooting position. After getting the crosshairs behind his front shoulder I squeezed the trigger and…nothing. My safety was on! Ahhhh! After clicking it off I was finally ready to shoot but the buck had put 300 yards of dry Arizona air between us. I again looked through my scope, got as comfortable as I could, put the right pin on him, and pulled the trigger. He stood there. I hurried and put another bullet in and while doing so watched as he disappeared over the horizon. Eventually everybody else caught up with us and after putting together an extensive search for any sign of impact, we were unable to find

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one. Feeling down that I had missed such a great buck, the guys reassured me that I’d have another opportunity. I knew they were right but over the next couple days, we walked, scoped, sat, and hiked and didn’t see another buck. Tuesday morning came and Chad, John, my dad Dan and his brother Dennis were still convinced we’d find a deer. I was too. Dennis and John hiked up on top of the mountain to scope while my dad, Chad and I drove over to a waterhole. The night before I’d managed to break the sling on my gun so this time, I was going into the field with Chad’s Christensen Arms rifle. I was stoked! We stopped and were checking out a mountainside when Chad saw a small two point, a doe, and a larger buck that was hiding in some trees. We sat there and glassed them for a while and after taking a closer look, I told them I wanted to put the Christensen Arms to work and harvest the bigger buck. At that point we were about 800 yards away, so we made a plan to get closer by walking around the ridge in an effort to cut the distance in half. After slowly making our way around the rocks, the big buck started to walk away. He walked about 15 feet and turned broadside to look for his doe. In doing so he opened a slim window of opportunity. I got down on the rifle and sent a bullet hurling toward him. He jumped up in the air, ran about 15 yards and did a nose dive. To say that I was excited would be a huge understatement (I’m still smiling as I write this). We eventually made our way up to him and I was amazed at what I saw. I had hit him in the heart and he was mine. He was a very symmetrical, 28-inch heavy horned four point with an inch and a half cheater on his left side. He ended up with a green score of 184-inches. As I looked at him and held his horns, I was just so grateful for the opportunity presented to me. At this time I want to give a big thank you to everyone that had a part in making it happen. My dad for spending so much time on making my dream come true. My dad’s cousin Daniel for putting it out there and looking for a hunt for me. My uncle Dennis for being there and sharing this with me. And to Chad and John of Chad’s Guide Service. These guys are awesome. I might have cancer, but it was all forgotten in those few magical days when I was doing something I loved.

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BY MCKENZY LUNT

as she eagerly awaits a shooter McKenzie learns a rule of patience bull to come into range.

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ith 4 points, my chances of drawing a West Desert Bull were slim to none. The news came back in May while out camping with my family for Memorial Day Weekend. I was shocked and excited! It seemed unreal, and the countdown began. As the months passed the pressure increased. Being a full time student at Utah State and working part time, time was limited, but necessary for this tag. Being so busy, it was impossible for me to schedule time for a scouting trip with my family. The opening weekend rolled around, being unfamiliar with the area, we set out for the hunt of a life time. My family arrived earlier Thursday to look over the area they had scouted previously this summer. There were very few elk in the area. I arrived Friday night, excited and ready to go, hoping to seal the deal opening morning. Saturday morning finally came, we headed to our money making spot. The area where the elk feed in the morning and cross to bed down for the day, only to find what looked like the

opening of the general season deer hunt, 30 trailers squished together. Some of our family friends were out watching another mountain and saw 2 bulls on top of the mountain, which neither were worth going after. Day two, we had a nice bull headed for us just before daylight. He was coming off the feeding grounds and headed straight for us, when a truck coming in way too late, scared it away. That afternoon as we were headed back to camp, we saw some elk on the Indian Reservation, so we stopped to take a look. We saw two awesome bulls fighting, pushing each other in and out of the cottonwood trees with about 20 cows. The question arose then and there‌ how do we get them off the reservation?? That afternoon we went back to take a look at those elk, we let out a few calls to try to pull them off the reservation, only to gather a cow and a calf, but no success in getting the bulls off. I then headed back to Logan for a fashion show where an outfit I designed

was being shown and I had an exam the next day. It was hard to leave that night after hearing all the success stories from previous years on the opening weekend in the Deep Creeks, and not having a chance at anything. As soon as I was able to, I headed back out to the Desert hoping for better luck this time around. We returned to the Desert late Wednesday night. With only 4 days remaining, the anxiety was building. Thursday, two of our friends went West near the Indian Reservation, while my dad, brother and I went East. That morning we were calling a bull into us, I knew this was my chance! Until the roar of a four-wheeler approached, and the bugling of the elk disappeared. Much disappointment was felt, it was my one chance and it was blown. That night we watched the bulls on the Indian Reservation in awe. Friday morning, we tried a new area way West and it was a bust. For the evening hunt, I asked if I could choose where I wanted to hunt, since I hadn’t had any say before. They agreed and I told them we would be trying to call a bull off the Indian Reservation on to public land. With a tough chore at hand they hesitantly agreed, and no pressure on my dad as the caller. We got behind the reservation on a small piece of public land and after about 20 minutes saw a nice 6 point bull come out to feed with his cows. They were only 250 yards away, but with us being 20 yards from the Indian land, all we could do was watch with envy. We watched and videoed this bull with his cows for about an hour. The sun was setting and we knew our time was limited. We had been cow calling for 30 minutes or so with no interest from the bull. We then decided to make a risky bugle and see if we could make him mad. Plan was successful, as he gathered his cows and started moving. We were set up west of the elk, but he had a different plan in mind and headed east. We then frantically gathered our things and ran for the truck, leaving my little brother and friend to spot for us. After a half a mile sprint to the truck, a 15 minute Baha ride through the Desert in my friends truck and another 15 minute run/walk/stalk, we were 850 yards above the elk, on public land. The sun was setting fast so we closed the distance to 580 yards, and set my sights on the bull, with a borrowed Christensen arms 300 Ultra Mag, that I had never shot. Putting my trust in its power, I took the first shot, but missed. It was shoulder height, and a little in front of him. With the next three shots I connected and hearing that incredible whack, I knew I had hit the bull of my dreams. Winter 2012

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He was hit hard, but was still trying to follow his cows. We watched him till the binoculars became black and knew he wasn’t going far. My father and I set out for the blood trail. With no luck, we knew it was best to not push him and come back in the morning. We went back and gathered our friends and gear and thanked them for a great job in spotting for us and directing us to this bull. After a sleepless night, we headed for the hills, hoping to find my bull. Within 20 minutes and just 300 yards from where he was last seen, we saw his antlers sticking out of the tall sage brush and the celebration began. As I walked up to this magnificent animal I realized I had just killed the bull of a life time. Special thanks to my family, dad for guiding, brother for spotting, mom for cooking. Wynn and Brinton Passey, Mike Weber and the Wilko family for taking time off work and coming down to the Desert and spotting. Also, Greg Bryson who let me borrow his custom made Christiansen Arms 300 Ultra Mag gun. Nothing beats the feeling of killing your first bull elk.

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“Hunting has always been a strong tradition in our family. With that in mind we took whoever was available to go, including our boys. Eight kids total ranging in ages from thirteen to four.”


BY JOHN MOGLE

STALKI N G A BEAR KI LLI N G BEAR I am from Oklahoma, and have always spent much of my hunting time near my home. I have also always wanted to hunt a Brown Bear. The size, power, and sheer majesty of that animal really gets my blood pumping. I started to investigate outfitters online and ended up booking my first hunt with Tony Lee of Alaska Big Game Hunting. On that first hunt, everything was great from the Outfitting side, but the weather was a different story. My guide and I sat in the tent for nine days and when the weather finally broke, we called in the plane for fear that it might not break again. I did not spend one day in the field hunting bears. It was a very long trip, and I learned quickly how fierce Alaska weather can be. My second Brown Bear Hunt was a repeat of the first. This time, we spent ten days in the tent with no hunting. At that point I thought I should never do this again; but the fire inside me to shoot one of these big bears, that I had yet to see, was really

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MIRACLE BY DAVID HOUGH

“...We noticed that the clump of grass we were using to hide ourselves from the bear during the stalk was actually a kill pile. My bear had a few bites on him, but the 8’ bear buried in the grass was his victim.”

burning strong. So it was then that I booked my third hunt. This hunt was supposed to be a slam dunk. I was hunting a predator control area, and this allowed the Outfitter to hunt off of snowmobiles and also utilize his airplanes for locating the bears from the air. Well, six days in, and I had not left the cabin yet because of, you guessed it- the weather. Finally the weather broke a little, so my guide, Spencer Pape and I were able to get out into the field. We saw one bear, but with the deep snow we just could not get to him. Hunt number three was over. And still I had no bear. At least I saw one this time, so that was a plus! I became very good friends with my guide Spencer, and he suggested we switch things up. We decided to hunt the peninsula for my FOURTH brown bear hunt. Spencer had us camp on a small island just off the coast. We took our small boat to the mainland and went for a hike to see what was out there. When we reached the clearing, I could not believe my eyes! From our vantage point we spotted nine bears. It was like

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a bear jamboree going on. Let me just say that I did not sleep that night! I was not only excited about hunting in the morning, but I was also afraid that if I fell asleep, somehow bad weather would come in and ruin my hunt. Early that morning, Spencer and I made our game plan, which involved being very remote, if need be. We packed a tent and lots of food. We were both willing to do whatever it took to get the biggest bear of the nine we had spotted the night before. He appeared to be a bruiser. We set up camp about a mile or so from where we had seen the action. By this time, it was too late to hunt. We got up early the next morning and snuck into position about 700 yards away from where we had seen the bears two days before. Immediately we began seeing bears. We spotted the big boy again, and noticed that when any of the other bears got near his vicinity, they would turn and run from the big bruin. At this point, it was about noon and many of the bears were Winter 2012

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Scars, wounds and worn teeth proved this bear to be a fighter and a killer. This giant measured at 10’ 8” with a 27 10/16” skull -- a sheer brute!

starting to bed down. We thought this would be our best chance to close the distance. We snuck into the spot where we thought he would be. We used land marks to help guide us. We figured we were 50 yards from where we had last seen him, and my heart was starting to pound. Sure enough we saw some movement and caught sight of his ear. It was go time. We stood still in hopes of not being seen. There was a big clump of grass between us and the bear and we used this to stay somewhat hidden. The big boar looked our way for what seemed to be forever. I was holding my breath and trying to hold still until he finally looked away. What a relief! I thought we may have blown everything by getting too close. No sooner had that thought cross my mind than here he came. He looked at us, stood up on his back legs and actually let out a roar. I couldn’t believe this was happening! Basically, my instincts quickly took over. I lifted my rifle and hit him right in the chest. He spun a quarter turn to the right and went down. He started to get back up when Spencer hit him with 250 grains of Hornady’s finest, but he just kept on coming. I hit him one more time and he went down for good. I was spent. I could not believe what had just happened. After we gathered our wits, we started to check out this beast of a bear. This boar was a huge 10foot plus. Spencer noticed that he had fresh bite marks on him and that he was a fighter. As we began to investigate the area, we noticed that the clump of grass we were using to hide ourselves from the bear during the stalk

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was actually a kill pile. My bear had a few bites on him, but the 8’ bear buried in the grass was his victim. He had actually been in the area protecting his kill. The smell of his victory was bringing in many more bears, but when they saw what was guarding the bait, they quickly turned and ran to avoid becoming the next victim of this giant. My bear was 10’8” squared, and his skull measured out to 27 10/16”. I would like to thank Spencer for a great hunt, and especially for getting the boat 10 yards from my bear. We thought we had a five mile pack ahead of us, but thanks to high tide and the river, we were able to get the bear out with not much effort. For me, the fourth time was the charm. What an incredible hunt. I can’t imagine having a more memorable or adrenaline filled experience. You’ve just got to love the sport of hunting.


In Search of a B&C Tom H ave you ever seen a mountain lion? To me, they are the most amazing, elusive animals out there and are rarely seen or even talked about. A mountain lion can jump twenty vertical feet and leap thirty feet horizontally. The athleticism these creatures possess is mind-boggling and that’s part of the reason why I decided that this was a game animal I’d love to pursue. After researching which state would offer the best opportunity for a harvest I discovered that Idaho leads the way with more Boone & Crockett cats than any other. Knowing this, I hooked up with Boulder Creek Outfitters who offered a five day lion hunt in the Bitterroot mountain region. The hunt was to be conducted off snowmobiles, which in

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reality is the only practical way to cover the amount of territory needed to search for a fresh cat track in the area. The key to a successful cat hunt is to not only be able to differentiate a mountain lion track from that of a wolf (which I found impossible to do), but also be able to tell whether the track is big enough and fresh enough to turn the dogs loose. My guide Lee Wolford is a third generation Boone & Crocket mountain


BY DARRELL STERLING lion hunter. His grandfather, father and Lee himself have all harvested cats that made the record books. I definitely picked the right state, outfitter and guide. What could possibly go wrong? One word: Rain. I learned rain is the one thing that can ruin a mountain lion hunt. The rain washes the scent out of a cat track making it impossible for the dogs to get on it. Why do I mention this? Because the first two days of my hunt were washed away. With the rain streaming down I was given the option of staying dry in camp or wasting my time trying to locate a track that wasn’t washed out. I stubbornly went out each day trying to make something happen because you just never know. Well, now I do. Not only did we not find a track but I also learned that snowmobiling at high altitude in freezing rain is tough hunting. On the third day of my hunt, the rain turned to snow, which in turn, intensified into blizzard like conditions. The snow piled up fast and as we blazed across the terrain my snowmobile kept getting stuck in the deep powder. I had to keep digging

The rain made the ground snow very heavy, resulting in several snowmobile dig-outs.

it out and then get moving again. My guide had a powerful machine that was designed to plow ahead creating a path for me to follow but if my sled wondered outside the path it would quickly bog down. As we pressed on, I soon realized that my guide could look for tracks going 35 mph or better so I struggled to keep pace in the deep powder. In my efforts to keep up I showed off my daredevil skills by completely flipping over my snowmobile. I was going too fast trying to catch up when my sled caught an edge and flipped, dumping me face first into the powder. As I stood up and brushed myself off, the heat from my face generated from my frustration and embarrassment melted the snow in a hurry. Besides the weather conditions, another factor that had to be dealt with was the wolves. We could only hunt until 2:00 pm everyday due to the massive wolf problem in the area. Apparently, if the dogs were turned loose on a track and the hunt ran late, the dogs and the hunters could wind up in jeopardy. Lee correctly predicted that in the next couple of years wolves would

eliminate the mountain lions and ruin the mountain lion hunting. My cat hunt was in December 2010. Boulder Creek Outfitters are now offering hunts in Nevada and have shifted the majority of their cat hunts out of Idaho due to the wolves. As it turns out, Lee knew what he was talking about. At this point, my hunt was past the halfway point and I was beginning to think my dream of harvesting a majestic mountain lion would not be coming true. While once again saddling up on the snowmobiles, Lee had pulled over to access another track. We looked at dozens of tracks every day but they always turned out to be wolves. As I watched him glance down at yet another one, he looked up at me and smiled, “We got one.” My pulse instantly started jack hammering. We raced back to the lodge to pick up Lee’s blue tic hounds. He worked quickly to load them into a doghouse cleverly built on top of skis designed to be pulled by his snowmobile. We were fighting against the clock with the afternoon approaching and eventually got back out to where Lee had found the track. He hooked tracking devices into each dog’s collar and away they went hollering and bellowing after the cat. Watching the dogs work is truly a unique experience. They stick their nose into the track, take a good sniff and off they go. We waited by the snowmobiles with a GPS tracking device watching dots move around on a small monitor. I was told that the dots were the dogs and once the dots all gathered in one spot on the monitor it would signal they had the cat treed. With the sound of the dogs fading as they moved away from us, the dots began to scatter on screen prompting Lee to think they’d lost the scent. My heart sank. I sat deflated on my snowmobile as we watched the dots wander aimlessly around. As the cold started to creep in from sitting there my thoughts drifted to the

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warm lodge and a first class supper but were soon interrupted when Lee proclaimed, “They’re back on track!” I looked at the screen but couldn’t see what Lee was seeing. “We gotta move…I think they have one treed, we need to go,” Lee barked. My adrenaline spiked and my thoughts of supper were a distant memory. We fired up the snowmobile and quickly moved forward. On the GPS screen, the display showed that only one dog had managed to tree my mountain lion. I didn’t understand how that was even possible but Lee was sure and we had to hustle. The relationship between dog and dog handler is a special bond and the dogs are in danger once the The author poses with his amazing mountain lion trophy. Bad weather didn’t stop well trained dogs and amazing skills of Lee, Darrell’s pro cat guide from honing in on this great tom.

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lion is treed. If it decides to come down, it can get nasty for the dog. We didn’t have the chance to grab our snowshoes when we picked up the dogs and it turned out to be a costly mistake. The snow was up to our knees and was like walking in quick sand. We walked in silence in single file formation as I tried desperately to follow the footsteps of the guys in front of me. I found that even though I had trained hard for months before the hunt, I quickly found out that this was pushing my level of endurance to the limit. I was high stepping when possible and literally wading through waist high snow toward the baying dogs. The excitement wore down as fatigue began to settle in its place. We climbed a small ridge and at one point I was on hands

and knees crawling through the pine trees that had formed an impassable wall. We knew we were closing in though as the dogs were getting louder and louder. Once I had broken through the pines the blue tic hounds were straight ahead running around the base of a massive tree barking constantly. I was having trouble finding the lion in the tree. Lee pointed out that the cat had climbed toward the top and told me to relax. He assured me that we had plenty of time to take some pictures and find the best spot to shoot from. The cat had indeed made itself comfortable resting high above on its perch staring down at us through green eyes. I didn’t see a good shot opportunity and was having a tough time seeing how I could make a proper shot placement into the dense snow logged tree. Lee of course pointed out the way. Once I understood where to place the shot I was confident I could get the job done. I had been practicing shooting straight up into a tree at my house. Although it wasn’t a far shot, it was a difficult one in its own right. The cat was 50 feet straight up and drooping over a snow-covered limb. Lee warned me my shot had to be perfect. If the lion ran off wounded, he would not release the dogs to track it down for fear of it turning on them, and my hunt would be over. It was hard trying to get a steady aim shooting at a near seventy-five degree angle. Once I felt ready, I took a deep breath and squeezed off the shot. The cat was dead before it hit the ground and just like that it was over. After admiring and researching these awesome animals from books or other hunter’s mounts, it was extremely gratifying to finally have the opportunity to hold my own. This big tom was everything I’d imagine he would be and if anything, my respect grew even more for this magnificent animal.


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1. There are an estimated 30,000 of these predators in the western US 3. This method of harvesting predators is not as prevalent as it used to be 4. The hunter on the cover of this magazine harvested two wolves while hunting ___________ 6. A coyote is a member of this family 7. Name of the coyote that can’t quite catch up with the speedy Road Runner

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By Courtney Bjornn

Just For Laughs

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Michael Burrell

Predation Impacts on Mule Deer

I

t was first light on a July morning and I just settled into the binoculars looking for big bucks when a coyote barked from the canyon below. I ignored the songdog and continued glassing but the barks turned into a series of excited yips. This coyote wasn’t expressing the typical early morning “Hey mate, where you at?” sort of howl. I grudgingly shifted position to glass over at what the coyote was up to. I quickly spotted a red-coated doe, nervously pacing the edge of a willow creek, while two coyotes made quick work of her dying spotted fawn. Saddened by the event and wishing I had my .22-250, I continued looking for deer and eventually spotted seven more does in the basin, all alert to the coyote commotion, only one had a fawn alongside. Mule deer populations are on a slippery slope and though predation is just one of numerous factors limiting today’s mule deer, it may be one of the factors that we can realistically deal with.

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For this article, we’ll define predators as animals that prey on mule deer, besides the two-legged kind. Predation on mule deer may seem like a simple fix, right? Save a deer, kill a predator. Or is

“Coyotes are the most abundant deer predator with densities as high as 6 coyotes/square mile in So. Texas”

it more complex than that? For instance, which predator species is doing most of the killing? Is predation really impacting the overall deer population in a region? How do other elements like habitat, weather, and deer herd composition influence predation rates? Or maybe most

5MULE DEER WATCH5

importantly to you, how can you most effectively partake in a little predation management to help your local deer herd? I called good friend Mike Bodenchuk, a wildlife biologist with USDA Wildlife Services and one of the leaders in predator ecology, and asked him his thoughts on mule deer predation. “How long can the article be?” he questioned in a concerned voice. “Sit down, make yourself comfortable,” he ordered as I grabbed my pen and paper. How much impact predators have on a mule deer isn’t necessarily measured by how many deer are predated, it is measured on whether the deer’s death decreases the overall deer population (additive mortality). If the predated deer results in an decrease in another form of mortality and the overall population stays stable or increases (i.e. decrease in predation results in an increase in winterkill), this is known as compensatory mortality, which is


most common when populations are at or near carrying capacity. Predation affects deer populations when it’s an additive mortality. There are lots of influences affecting predation rates, some of which I’ll separate into 3 categories; habitat/weather, predator, and prey factors. Habitat/weather factors The impacts of predation are interwoven with the other factors limiting mule deer, including habitat and weather. Too much or too little habitat or moisture has effects on predation rates: Drought: The compounding problems that occur when there is a lack of moisture make drought one of the leading factors correlated with fawn survival. In drought years, fawns are typically born a pound lighter making them more vulnerable to predation and for a longer period of time. Vegetation is more sparse, meaning less cover and nutrients for deer. One study found coyotes prey on ungulates more during drought years, likely because of the fawns poorer condition and a decline in rodent populations.

PHOTO: VIC SCHENDEL

Water Availability: The amount of water (or lack thereof) on the landscape regulates the crowding of predator and prey. Predation rates increase near water sources as water availability decreases. I wish I had a nickel for every trail cam pic I’ve seen of a predator ambushing prey on a water guzzler.

Linear habitat: I learned about linear habitat and predation impacts early in my career. I was hired to trap predators on a migratory bird refuge where there had been zero percent waterfowl production due to predation. I quickly learned how the predators were able to maintain their impressive 100% predation rate; the refuge was built with linear dikes surrounding thousands of acres of wetland ponds. The only dry ground for nesting was on the narrow dikes. It was like a 12-mile long buffet for a red fox. Extend this into mule deer habitat and we know fawning grounds are very linear…right along the cover of riparian corridors and predators are very aware of it. Predator factors Number of predators: The number of predators on the landscape depends on prey abundance, territorial ranges, and how they’re managed/controlled. Mule deer have a long list of predators, with coyotes and mountain lions being the most common. There is such thing as dense lion populations but you can only cram so many lions in an area before home ranges overlap in which they’ll defend. Most western states are able to manage their lion populations through hunting with success. Some states, due to hound-hunting bans, cannot effectively manage lion populations through the use of sport-hunting and lion impacts on deer could be more severe. Coyotes are the most abundant deer predator with densities as high as

6 coyotes/square mile in So. Texas (compare that to 5 people/square mile in Wyoming!). I‘ve found deer mortality studies all across the west consistently stating that high fawn mortality rates from predation (specifically the coyote) as being the leading factor affecting mule deer recruitment, with most of these studies showing around a 45% average of fawn mortality from coyote predation, one study showing up to 100% ! The coyote is the mule deer’s most significant predator whacking fawns at extremely high rates before they can even grow up! Coyote populations fluctuate unbelievably in a one year period. Coyotes have around a 60% annual mortality rate, which means there are 60% fewer coyotes in February than in May, when coyote pups are born. Coyote control through hunting and trapping –if done properly– can benefit game species significantly; however, you’ll need to remove at least 70%+ of the total coyote population or target the right coyotes at the right time in order to have an impact, as well maintain a high level of coyote removal for consecutive years or the population reduction is only temporary. To most effectively control coyotes to protect fawns, control efforts should be focused when coyote populations are at or near their lowest point of the year in the late winter, early spring (specifically January-February). It is also the time of year when coyotes

“The coyote is the mule deer’s most significant predator whacking fawns at extremely high rates before they can even grow up! “

Fire: Fires may have long-term benefits for mule deer rejuvenating old, decadent habitats; however, the short-term negative effects can devastate a deer herd. Fires scorch large areas of deer habitat leaving small parcels of remaining cover which artificially crowds predator and prey, in these cases predation rates can go through the roof.

5MULE DEER WATCH5

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are establishing breeding pairs and territories. Control efforts should focus on these breeding pairs defend and hunt the fawning grounds. Breeding coyote pairs, with a litter to feed, are responsible for 80% of coyotekilled lambs in domestic sheep. Why would it be any different with fawns? Targeting these breeding pairs from known fawning grounds prior to fawning in late winter removes the predation threat and allows little time for transient coyotes to replace the dead coyotes before fawns are on the ground. Ability to bridge to different prey: The bloom of other wildlife populations –particularly the elk– have given predators something else to eat besides mule deer. That may sound like some relief to the deer, but it is more detrimental than it is good. Larger predator populations respond to prey populations. When deer numbers down-size, predator populations should follow suit; however, alternative prey sources have kept the predator population from downs-sizing which is a recipe

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for disaster, a declining deer herd and stable to increasing predator numbers. Multiple predator species: Throughout the range of mule deer, there’s a list of predators that like venison including grizzly bear, black bear, mountain lion, wolves, coyotes, lynx, bobcat, and golden eagles. When there are multiple predators after the same prey species it has a cumulative effect. A common scenario would be a deer herd that is already below carrying capacity with fawn mortality over 50% due to coyotes. Now, add mountain lions, which would typically take a fawn or doe (whichever is within reach, they’re rather non-discriminatory) into the equation. With fawn numbers already low mostly due to coyotes, the lions will mostly be killing does, and we know the loss of does is the quickest way to threaten a deer herd. In this case, the lion mortality alone may not be enough to trigger additive mortality; however, combined with the coyote mortality, the lion kills may be the straw that breaks the deer’s back. Coyote and mountain lion may be the most common predator impacting mule deer, but the predator ecosystem is changing before our very eyes. How will the expansion of wolves and grizzly bear affect overall predation impacts? Prey factors Carrying capacity: When mule deer numbers are at or near carrying capacity of their habitat, natural predation may not be an additive mortality at all and a healthy herd can tolerate levels of predation. However, when mule deer numbers drop well below management objectives for whatever reason, predation can turn into an additive mortality and impact an already low deer population with devastating results. Looking at today’s mule deer numbers, it’s a scary reality to think that as deer numbers decrease, the impact predation can have on the herd increases. Breeding synchrony: Predator swamping is a term used to describe the short period of time when newborn fawns “swamp” the landscape, and are most vulnerable to predation. For this

5MULE DEER WATCH5

short period, fawns create a huge food source for predators all at once, so theoretically the shorter the fawning time window the fewer fawns will be predated (A predator can only find and eat so many). A healthy buck:doe ratio ensures successful breeding of receptive females during the first estrus cycle which translates into a narrower 3 week fawning season. An insufficient number of breeding bucks may delay breeding into other estrus cycles and lengthen fawning season to 7-10 weeks, increasing fawn mortality by predation. Group composition: The old adage “with age comes wisdom” describes mule deer well. For instance, take a 2-yr. old buck and compare its behavior to a 6 yr. old buck…they are very, very different animals. A herd mixed with older-class deer benefit from the experience and familiarity that comes with age. Mature deer lead the herd to safe forage and bedding locations, on migration routes, and are more familiar with potential threats to the herd and how to avoid them. How can you help? Support those projects that are work to minimize predation impacts on mule deer. Have fun predator hunting. As I mentioned, removing a few coyotes at random through the year will most likely have little effect on the overall deer herd; however, by using a howler in the late winter to trigger territorial response from breeding pairs in fawning areas, a few dead coyotes can translate into saved fawns. Also, focus hunting predators in areas where limited resource crowds predator and prey populations, such as around an Arizona desert water tank, or where a recent fire just devastated deer habitat. In some western states, mountain lion, bear, or wolf tags are over-the-counter so buy and carry predator tags and licenses while you’re out hunting other game, you never know when you may come across the perfect opportunity. Anymore, my varmint rifle is never too far from my side.


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I

better write this while I’m still seething. I am so angry my blood boils, my eyes are bloodshot, I twitch, turning beet red, lips pursed so tight it hurts, fuming, seeing red, snarling, forehead furrowed deeply with a full body scowl to scare the devil himself. Did I mention that I am really, really angry?

The first word in this piece is alright. Well, nothing is all right, I assure you. Anything but. Being that I fancy myself Mr. Cocked Locked

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a n d a b solutely ready to ROCK, Captain Detail, Mr. Smarty Pants Know it all master of allthings shoot, hunt, ambush sniper world, it is with great pain, humility and consternation that I am compelled to share with you how Mr. Murphy can sneak into our psyche no matter how dialed in, prepared or attentive we may otherwise dedicate ourselves to be. Personally, at this point in time, I suck. Okay, in the real world of meaningful priorities like

God, family, health, country and freedom, my painful evening on deerstand last night doesn’t really qualify as all that upsetting. We miss. Get over it. Yet here I am, head hung and forlorn like little Teddy just lost his favorite puppy dog. Here’s how it unraveled; Throttling onward nonstop with much gusto for my truly


the barometer and temperature plunging, making for some optimal critter encounter conditions. Master guide Paul Wilson organized the guys to head out for their killer blinds, and I decided to return to my Ranch King portable tucked into a nice jungle of cedars and tangled blowdowns on the edge of the big hay field. With rain pelting my snug little coop, I smacked away on my laptop writing more invigorating celebrations of our beloved hunting lifestyle, not really expecting shooter beasts to arrive in the pouring rain. Next thing I know, a highly d e s i ra b le , elusive “Alberta” whitetail 10 point is smack dab in front of me eating corn at the Hang Em High feeder before it even went off. Y IKES! I’ve never had a shot at this particular buck that looks like he belongs in the forests of Alberta, Canada, and I was about to implo de with excitement at the opportunity before me. I carefully turned on the SpiritWild vidcam,

silently set down my laptop, reached for my bow, then zoomed in on the trophy beast. He was joined by his girlfriend, then out of nowhere, a spotted axis doe poked her head out of the scrub into my little clearing. Axis! Axis deer are so incredibly elusive on SpiritWild Ranch that we are lucky to get a quick glimpse at them but few times each year. I knew that if a doe was here, the herd must be close behind. One by one, the majestic Chital deer emerged, including monster stag after monster stag, right there in front of me, within 20 yards. I captured all their antics as they jockeyed for position until the biggest baddest buck went broadside. Like a million times before, I picked a spot, gracefully drew back my arrow, and let er rip for a gimme trophy of a lifetime. And ladies and gentlemen, the winner of the embarrassing NumbNut of The Year Award goes to, (drumroll) Teeeeeddddd Nuuuuuugent!! My orange Lumenok told no lie as it zinged six inches under the huge stags brisket. At about 18 yards ya all! I’m here to tell you I was supremely aghast. With my Robin Hood sniper arrow routine going so beautifully all season, how can this

Winter 2012

ILLUSTRATIONS: COURTNEY BJORNN

inspiring 2011-2012 hunting season, I had a wonderful meeting with my SpiritWild Ranch hunters as the rain poured down on our little chunk of Texas hunting heaven. Everyone was excited to be at our special camp w it h

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PHOTO: ALLEN FINDLEY

possibly be? As the sickness in my stomach began to subside, I nocked an arrow in the garage, took aim at the Big Green target at 15 yards and sent two arrows touching each other, SIX INCHES LOW!

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I cradle and protect my bow with tender loving care each and every day. How the sights could have gotten that far off from one day to the next will forever be a mystery. But since I have written and raved about it so many times over the years, I may want to obey my own rules of bowhunting and take a “feel” shot before each hunt, and I think I shall. It’s not only an archery thing, but as we all know, each year somebody at many camps somewhere will experience the heartbreak of a bad shot for inexplicable reasons. Inexplicable that is until we admit that we all know things can go wrong,

“Packin’ out of God’s Country”

so we really oughtta plan on them and do everything in our power to keep them from happening. Under most conditions, there will be an opportunity to take that pre-hunt test shot with both bow and or gun so we can be certain everything is tight, sighted in and in order before that long awaited moment of truth on the beast. Mr. Murphy is a predator, an indiscriminate, soulless, uncaring predator, and as his prey, we best be aware that he is ubiquitous, so check, check and double check, then check again to keep the punk at bay. I’m on my way to my stand now, and I just took a shot to be sure I am ready. ZI am ready, and vow to always be ready forevermore.


Hunting Illustrated, Winter Issue, 2012 - Predator Edition  

This issue is the winter predator edition featuring predator stories of wolves, mountain lions, bears and coyotes.

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