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Hunting Illustrated Magazine Volume 11, Number 3 www.huntingillustrated.com Subscriptions and Questions 1-435-287-7368 email@example.com
Columns 8 16 24 26 28 34 38
Fresh Sign — Editorial Staff News, Facts and Fun
Celebrity Hunter — Team H.I. Eva Shockey
Ask The Pros — Team H.I.
All You Ever Wanted to Know
The Dueling Duo — Grange & Spomer Range Finder Extremes
Mule Deer — Steve Alderman Getting a Deer Permit
Big Game—Doyle Moss
Dog Days of Summer
Elk — Steve Chappell
Hunting the Herd Bull
42 46 86 88 92 96
Predators— Les Johnson
The When, Where and How
Shooting — John Mogle Mastering Distance
Just For Fun
Fun For the Whole Family
Bringing Home the Bacon
Mule Deer Watch — Michael Burrell
Antlered Needle in a Haystack of Habitat
Nuge Factor — Ted Nugent
No Excuse for Ignorant Laws
Featî °ures 50 54 58 62 68 72 76 80
Photo Story â€” Team H.I.
Vortex Extreme Challenge
California Black Bear Wade Hanks
Colorado Muley For the Record Books Jim Durant
Partners in Pursuit of the Giant Mule Deer David Meyer
Within 1,000 Yards Tony Allred
Wold Class Coues Deer Darrin Collins
Shearer Bliss Allen Shearer
Four Factors of Long-Range Thad Stevens
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 photo: David Meyer pg.62, Interview with Eva Shockey pg.16, Darrin Collins Coues Deer pg.72
EDITORIAL Days of Summer
h sweet July! The days are long, the temperature is hot, and the anticipation for hunting season is high. Here at Hunting Illustrated we are getting geared up ourselves for this fall. Our big game editor, Doyle Moss, gives some great pointers in this issue on effective pre-season scouting and specifically on using trail cams and attractants to find your game. We hope to implement some of his strategies ourselves while we are out in the field this summer. My son Gage is chomping at the bit to get his trail cams set out, to see what we can catch on film. Our “Celebrity Hunter” was a big hit from last issue and I think this issue will be the same. Eva Shockey is our selected celebrity. She is the daughter of Jim Shockey, and co-host of “Jim Shockey’s Hunting Adventure’s” TV show. You will be hearing more from Eva in future issues of Hunting Illustrated magazine as she has now joined our editorial staff. We have also added a Gear Guide Review section that will now be in every issue. As promised, we will continually be improving what is already the best hunting magazine in the west. There is no better publication for tips and tactics from the pros, effective hunt data, entertaining featured stories, and a glimpse at some of the biggest animals harvested in the field from the previous seasons. We are not stopping there. With our contests and giveaways there is always a chance to win something at Hunting Illustrated. Right now, all you have to do is go to our Facebook page, like us, and post, “give me the binos” for a chance to win a $600 pair of Vortex 10x42 binoculars that we will give away in July. We always have something going on so check our website www.huntingillustrated.com frequently to see what is new in our world and for chances to win gear, hunts, and much more. I hope this issue gives you a few pointers on how to become a better long-range shooter and hunter. I know I have learned a few things myself from reading it. Good luck with your pre-season scouting. I hope you not only find the trophy of your dreams, but that you bag him this hunting season. Wack and stack em!
Editor: John Mogle Art Director: Matt Mogle Columnists: Steve Alderman,Ted Nugent, Scott Grange, Ron Spomer, Doyle Moss, Steve Chappell, Les Johnson, Michael Burrell Contributing Writers: David Meyer, Wade Hanks, Thad Stevens, Darrin Collins, Allen Shearer, Jim Durant, Tony Allred Illustrators: Courtney Bjornn, Richard Stubler Advertising: 435-287-7368 firstname.lastname@example.org John Mogle Subscriptions / Questions: 435-287-7368 or 801-368-8374 Submissions: Send your hunting stories and photos, Picture of the Week / Braggin’ Board photo contest and parting shots to: Hunting Illustrated PO Box 1045 Gunnison, UT 84634 email@example.com ©2012 Hunting Illustrated LLC PO Box 1045 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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The Latest News and Insights
Minnesota Will Have its First-ever Wolf Hunt in 2012
he Minnesota’s Legislature and governor have directed the first wolf hunt in Minnesota’s history to begin this fall. The first hunt will coincide with the deer season beginning November 3. The second season will take place from late November to mid-January unless a quota of 400 wolves is reached earlier than that. Montana and Idaho currently
have similar quotas but have failed to meet them. Prior to 1974, when wolves in the Lower 48 were placed on the Endangered Species List, wolves were unprotected by any game laws or regulations. Unlike most other Great Lakes states and western states, wolves never were obliterated from the landscape in Minnesota. Current estimates have Minnesota’s wolf
population at about 3,000 animals. The wolves in Minnesota were estimated at fewer than 750 animals in the 1950s. Their population has steadily increased over the years but many biologists feel there population has stabilized right around 3,000. In January of 2012, wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan were removed from the federal endangered species list allowing states to manage the wolves’ populations in their respective states. This now means for deer hunters in Minnesota that they can buy a wolf permit for $30 and if a wolf darts in front of them as they are heading to their tree stand they can now lift their rifle and pull the trigger. As most hunters know that have traveled to Alaska big game hunting it is a rarity to see a wolf but to harvest one is at best a remote possibility. There will be most likely 300 or so lucky hunters that do get that chance to steady their crosshairs on one of the most fierce of all predators in Minnesota in 2012 and to have that slim chance is exciting in and of itself.
by Editorial Staff
Dead Man Eaten by Bear was Convicted Murderer
convicted murderer who had been reported missing the last week of May, was found dead. His body had been partially eaten by a black bear on a remote road near Kamloops, British Columbia. The B.C. Coroner’s service and the RCMP said that 53-year-old Rory Nelson Wagner, had been living in Kamloops, before he disappeared. The National Parole Board confirmed that Mr. Wagner had plead guilty to second-degree murder in 1994. He and two others were charged with the killing of a Langley, B.C., man in 1993. The killers believed the victim had sexually assaulted their family member. The parole documents show the murder victim was charged with the sexual assault, but was found not guilty shortly before he was murdered. Authorities say they do not believe Mr. Wagner’s death in his car was the result of suicide. But more likely that the bear had killed him, drug his body from the car, consumed part of his body, and then buried the rest. Hunters found Mr. Wagner’s remains after finding his abandoned Volkswagon Jetta on a logging road. At this time, it is unclear whether the bear killed Mr. Wagner, or if his death was caused from a drug overdose, preceding being pulled from the vehicle by the bear. The toxicology reports are not yet in, but should be released in a few weeks. Conservation officers in the area are hunting for the man-eating bear. If the bear is found, their plan is to euthanize the bear, but also reported they would use their discretion, and make that determination at the scene. Black bears have killed only 61 people in North America since the 1900’s. You are more likely to die by being struck by lightning, and by a bee sting, than by being killed by a bear. Statistics show that the woods are actually a very safe place. I would bet that when the toxicology reports come in it will be determined that Mr. Wagner’s death was actually caused from drug overdose, and that the bear merely needed a snack.
Estimated number of wolves in the lower 48 states.
Estimated number of wolves in Minnesota
Number of wolf tags sold in Idaho for the 2011-2012 season.
Number of wolves killed in Idaho by hunters and trappers in 2011.
Estimated population of wolves in Idaho by Fish and Game biologists.
Estimated number of wolves in Idaho by other groups.
Humane Society Sponsored Bill Passed California Senate Passes Anti-Hunting Bill commission and established game management and hunting laws. • Hounds are actually used in wildlife management practices and projects. • Hunters using hounds to pursue bears actually take fewer bears than is recommended by the state’s game department. • This bill is being pushed by the radical animal rights group— the Humane Society of the United States—the same group that has pushed anti-farming and puppy mill bills in California in the past. (California Senate Passes Anti-Hunting Bill, Protect What’s Right, May 22, 2012, BigGameHunt.net)
alifornia Senate Bill 1221, a bill that will ban the use of hounds to hunt black bears and bobcats, passed the state’s Senate today. The passage of SB 1221 by the senate casts a dark cloud over the future of all hunting and wildlife management in California. Senate Bill 1221 passed with a vote of 22 to 15 in favor. The bill, which is sponsored by the radical animal rights group Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), triggered a strong outpouring of opposition from California sportsmen and women, plus sportsmen’s organizations, in the state and nationwide. The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA) denounced this retaliatory wildlife management bill that was created when HSUS could not have a state game commissioner removed for his legal mountain lion hunt. As the bill moved forward from introduction and through the hearing process, hundreds of opponents wearing orange “NO on SB 1221” buttons also packed the corridors of the capital to let their Senators know they opposed this anti-hunting bill. “The California Senate today chose retribution and revenge over sound science-based wildlife management,” explained Evan Heusinkveld, USSA’s director of state services. “Despite having a Fish and Game Commission explicitly designed to handle these questions free from the politics of the statehouse, the California Senate voted in favor of a hunting ban.” USSA has been working with the Masters of Foxhounds Association, California Houndsmen for Conservation and the California Outdoor Heritage Alliance to defeat SB 1221. Visit the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance website for more information on SB 1221. Fast Facts on SB 1221 • The bill would outlaw the use of hounds to hunt bears and bobcats. • Hunting bears and bobcats with hounds has been legal since the state formally organized a game
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.7 MM Remington Magnum
ho should get the credit for developing the 7MM Remington Magnum in 1962? Should the credit be given to the famous hunter Jack O’ Conner for his .275 H&H magnum that sparked Les Bowman’s interest in the cartridge. Les went on to have his friends at Remington neck up the .264 Winchester magnum to the .280 Remington Magnum. Maybe the credit should go to Warren Page who also had his friends at Remington singing the praises of his wildcat cartridge the 7MM Mashburn Super Magnum. Ultimately with
all this excitement centered around the .280 calibers, Mike Walker who worked for Remington encouraged them enough to make the 7MM Remington Magnum. This move was
the right move for Remington as the 7MM has been one of the fastest growing cartridges and most successful cases of all time. For several years after its introduction in 1962 the demand for the Remington 700 rifle chambered in this caliber far exceeded Remington’s capacity to produce them. The 7MM Remington magnum still remains today as one of the best long range calibers on the market. With the cartridges inherit accuracy and the ability to push a 140 grain bullet at over 3,200 fps this belted beauty can pack quite a punch down range. There is nothing in the woods on the North American continent that the 7MM Remington Magnum can’t handle.
va Shockey is the daughter of the famous Jim Shockey, world-renowned hunter and host of Jim Shockey’s Hunting Adventures. Eva grew up around hunting all her life but it took her 21 years before she gave it a try for herself. As she found out, hunting was in her blood and she quickly took part of her father’s hunting adventures. Eva is becoming more involved with Jim’s TV show and is now fully employed in the family business with PR and Event Coordination responsibilities. She now has what she calls the “best job in the world”. Eva has big plans in the industry and with the Shockey name she should make quick strides. You can find her at industry shows encouraging new hunters to get out there and experience the outdoors. What was your childhood like growing up as Jim Shockey’s daughter?
I couldn’t have asked for a better upbringing. Both of my parents have completely opposite personalities, so I was raised with a bizarre combination of the wild, traveling, adventuring lifestyle of my dad, mixed with the loving affection and beautiful grace that my mom exudes. Growing up watching my dad pursue his passions has taught me about the importance of hard work and dedication while my mom showed unconditional love and taught me the importance of kindness and appreciation. Looking back on my childhood, it wasn’t exactly average, but it showed me how much the world has to offer and with the undying support of my parents, I have always felt capable of accomplishing my goals. I see that you earned a marketing degree from Bond University in Australia. Why did you choose to go to college in Australia and how was that experience?
As much as I try to fight it, there’s a lot of my dad’s personality in me, which includes more than my fair share of stubborn. I never tried hunting until after Traveling and adventure are two things that will university and I honestly think it was because I was too hard-headed to admit that my Dad was cool. He finally always be in my blood so when it came to University, I gave up on the chance of me ever hunting and in the wanted to experience a brand new situation, without the comfort of friends or family for support. It was hard being meantime I grew up and realized that he’s actually the coolest, so now I’m all for sharing his passions and by myself so far from home but I ended up falling in learning from him. love with it. My dad jokes that I tried to find the farthest I graduated from University in Australia and when possible point on the globe from him, and choose a school I moved back to Canada the first discussion I had with my there. Being a teenage girl at the time, that probably dad was about wanting to try hunting. I can remember the wasn’t far from the truth. look on his face, with his jaw almost touching the ground, and I swear he had our trip booked and paid for within 24 You watched people hunt around you for your entire hours, just to make sure I didn’t change my mind. We went life and yet you didn’t hunt for your self. When did you go on your first hunt and what made you decide to to South Africa for a Safari and brought my mom along and it turned out to be the best decision I’ve ever made. Four do it?
years later I’ve become a significant part of our company and I am loving it. How do you like your job as Co-Host of Jim Shockey’s Hunting Adventures? I use the term “co-host” very loosely in this situation, because “co” usually involves a 50-50 split, whereas I only “co-host” about 10% of the shows right now – but I love every minute of it! For the first time in my life, I feel like I’m creating a career that I’m proud of and something that makes me happy every, single day when I wake up. It’s impossible not to appreciate my job when I get to spend time and make memories with my family, travel the world and continuously support the conservation of animals and our right to hunt on a public platform. It’s a great avenue to encourage young hunters and females to get outdoors and when I’m not hunting, I do an extensive tradeshow circuit across the US and Canada representing our company and I get a chance to meet the wonderful outdoor men and women who make up the heart and soul of our hunting industry. My lifestyle is not suited to a homebody, but since I’m a nomad at heart, it’s a perfect fit. Now that you are a huntress, what has been your most memorable hunting experience? One of my favorite experiences was this past fall in the mountains of Colorado on an elk hunt with my dad, right in the middle of the rut. The elk were bugling non-stop and we were hunting a piece of property with very little hunting pressure, so as we walked through the forest full of bright yellow aspen trees, I felt like I stepped into Jurassic Park, completely surrounded by bugling dinosaurs. I remember being on a whitetail hunt a few weeks later and kept thinking how much easier the hunt would be if the whitetail bucks bugled! Do you have a favorite species of game that you like to hunt? I love hunting black bears on Vancouver Island in the spring. We have an outfitting area at the northern tip of the island and I grew up spending the springtime at camp with my family. It’s the most densely populated black bear
Eva poses with her black bear she tagged in Vancouver Island
population on the island and it’s a ton of fun to drive around the logging roads trying to spot them. There are so many old, burnt logging stumps that we started a game where anyone who mistakenly spots a stump instead of a bear, owes $10 in the jar. No one ever ends up paying, but the hypothetical money jar is always pretty full by the end of the hunt What is your weapon of choice when you go into the hunting field? I grew up using a muzzleloader because that’s what my dad always used. On my first hunting trip without my dad, for the first time I decided to use a .300 Win. Mag. and I remember the guide telling me to reload quickly after I shot. At the time “reloading” was such a foreign concept because I had only ever been able to take one shot with the muzzleloader. I got so excited to reload my rifle that I dropped all my shells in the grass when I was frantically trying to load one into the gun. Thank goodness I didn’t end up needing to take a second shot! Now that I’m starting to hunt a lot on my own, I’m excited to start shooting more with my bow. I’ve always respected bow hunters because it’s such a difficult skill to master, so I’d like to do more archery in the future. I’ve been saying this for a few years but I never seem to find the time to practice… 2012 is going to be my year! Now that you are a role model for lady hunters everywhere what advice can you give to women who are sitting on the fence about hunting? I have three main pieces of advice for women who are thinking about hunting: 1. Be yourself. I’ve always been very feminine – I was even a professional competitive Latin dancer before I started hunting - and it took me a long time to realize you don’t have to be a rough, tough, hunter in order to hunt. As I got older I figured out that I can love to hunt as much as anyone, regardless of the fact my nails are painted and I wear mascara. 2. Be prepared. At any given time, my dad will be wearing a t-shirt and I will be wearing a winter jacket with gloves. I get cold easier than the men and that doesn’t
Eva states she has “the best job in the world!” Her and her father, Jim Shockey of Jim Shockey’s Hunting Adventures host one of the most popular hunting shows on television.
mean I’m not tough enough to hunt, but that I need to pack extra warm clothes, carry a backpack with extra layers and always try my best to control the things that can be controlled, such as my gear. A great hunt can turn into a nightmare if you don’t bring the right clothing. 3. Even if you aren’t doing the shooting yourself, just go out for the fun of the hunt. I didn’t shoot an animal until I was 20, but I grew up on hunts with my dad and loved it. It teaches you to love the outdoors and the animals, and maybe one day that will turn into the love for hunting, just as it did for me. When you show up at hunting camp do you feel that hunters, guides and outfitters take you serious as a hunter? What advice would you give for hunters, guides, husbands, and outfitters on treating lady new comers into the field of hunting?
Most people are too scared of my dad to bother messing with me when I’m at hunting camps, however, I understand that it’s a realistic situation that female hunters often encounter in our industry. Whenever I’m in a camp with experience guides and hunters, I make sure to stay humble and I don’t pretend to know things about hunting that I don’t know. If I have a question, I ask. If I don’t feel comfortable with a shot, I don’t shoot. I am not in camp because I need to compete and prove how great I am or to over-compensate because I’m a female hunter, but rather I’m in camp to have a good hunt, learn from the people who are more experienced and to enjoy the outdoors. People appreciate honesty and will be much more receptive when they know you’re willing to take
advice and be humble. Even if you’re the best hunter in the world, there’s always something to learn from others. As for the advice for the experienced outdoors men and women, my only suggestion is to support the new hunters and encourage them to keep at it. The future of our industry depends on the next generation of hunters to take the reigns and continue to ethically promote hunting and the conservation of animals. As a relatively new hunter, I can contest that it is daunting to take the first step into the world of hunting and I can remember many specific instances when people went out of their way to give me confidence in the field, and to this day I appreciate it. This season on “Jim Shockey’s Hunting Adventures” what should we keep our eye open for? Is their one stand out hunt for you? There are some really exciting new episodes coming up this season! I get a chance to go on my first solo hunt without my dad, which was the first time I have hosted the show without him. My bugling elk hunt in Colorado and my first mountain caribou hunt in the Yukon both air this fall as well, which are two really cool episodes. There are so many great hunts and adventures this season, I wish I could name them all! Follow Eva online at Twitter www.twitter.com/evashockey or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/evashockeyfanpage
MB Ranch King - Shooting Benches and Rests
ith long distance shooting all the rage these days, practicing long distance shots is a must. Traveling the country hunting and doing sports shows this last year, I bumped into a company out of Texas that makes the very best shooting benches and gun rests on the market. Nothing else available comes close to the quality and durability of the MB Ranch King products. MB Ranch King has been known for years as the industry leader for hunting blinds. Hunting’s elite and TV personalities, such as the Whitetail Freaks, Lee and Tiffany Lakosky and Matt Hughes are using them. You can now add my name to that list. I’m sold not only on their blinds, but their new state of the art shooting systems that are were recently released for sale to the public. These new items are their shooting benches and rests. The MB Ranch King crew gave me a Range Bandit in December of 2010. I was instructed to take it home to put it through the ringer and I was happy to oblige. After putting it through it’s paces I would provide feedback to the guys at MB Ranch King to let them know what I thought of their product. The explosion of long range shooting in the West made it the perfect place to try out their product. Shooting to and exceeding 1000 yards is becoming more and more popular each year. To do long distance shooting with any amount of accuracy it goes beyond having the right gun. The base that your gun sits atop must be steady, secure, and have precise adjustments, which is exactly what MB Ranch King has put into their shooting systems. The large Range Bandit bench tips the scales at 90 pounds with all the extras and 85 pounds with the bare necessities. The sheer weight of this bench makes it extremely steady and secure. Each shooting bench comes with the option of getting the 12 inch legs for the prone shooting position, the 32 inchers for the sitting mode or the standing configuration of 48 inches. I used the 48 20
inch legs during my tests. I personally like standing and leaning into my shot vs. sitting. With the 48 inch legs, it’s perfect for setting up behind the tail gate of your truck and keeping all your accessories within your reach. A precise three inch adjustment for both the front and rear stock supports allows for easy elevation set ups. For your windage, the front stock support comes with 12 inches of adjustment in the slider, at the base, and another inch and a one half fine adjustment in the collar of the assembly. The fine adjustments are made with two large knobs on either side of the forearm of the gun. This assembly makes fine tuning the windage a breeze. All the accessories for the bench are made from high grade steel which has been precisely machined to meet MB Ranch Kings rigorous standards. Throw in the spotting scope mount and the pistol pad, and you have yourself the best bench on the market for long range shooting. However, most extreme long range shooting is done from the prone position, not benches. This position helps to eliminate any extra movement. During a meeting with Danny from MB Ranch King, I expressed concerns about shooting from his benches in the prone position. He was receptive to the feedback and the rest, as they say, is history. They immediately got to work and the MB Ranch King Long Ranger was invented. The Long Ranger is perfect for the hunter or shooter on the go, while the Range Bandit is better suited for being set up and left in one place. The Long Ranger weighs in at a staggering 42 pounds for it small size. Built out of the same quality materials that the Range Bandit The Long Ranger weighs in at 42 lbs., keeping this smaller shooting rest at an admirable, steady weight for those shooters on the go.
Steve Alderman puts the Long Ranger to the test and states, “My shooting groups shrank from 3 plus inches to just under two inches at 300 yards.”
uses and put on a 2 1/2 inch square tube metal frame, this mighty might is the killer of all other shooting rests in its size category. It is absolutely perfect for shooting prone, but this little babe magnet doesn’t stop there. It also works great on top of any table or shooting bench. As a matter of fact, MB Ranch King is currently working on the perfect bench to adorn this little beauty. I should have one of these new benches by the time this review is published. I guess you will have to go to muledeercountry.com to see how this review ends. While at the range testing out the Long Ranger, my shooting groups shrank from 3 plus inches to just under two inches at 300 yards. That is a huge improvement over my results using the leading competitor and their sand The shot groups below show how the Long Ranger compared to another shooting rest competitor. I think the proof is in the pudding.
bags. Who doesn’t want to tighten their groups up at 300, 500 or even 1000 yards? With the multitude of fine adjustments, weight, and durability of these benches they are the finest all around shooting rests on the market. The MB Ranch King Long Ranger is one I will be dragging around for decades to come. MB Ranch King has gone beyond the call of duty when producing all of their industry leading products. Now is the time for you, the consumer, to take advantage of these amazing products. You won’t regret adding this gear to your hunting preparation regime. The Long Ranger might not help you land the chick of your dreams, but it will greatly improve your shooting groups at longer distances, which mean more accurate shots in the field when it counts. PROS There is nothing on the market that can compete with these benches, period. They are made entirely in the USA. CONS They are a little on the pricey side. In the long run, well worth it though. They are 100% made in the USA, not that that is a con, it is just the reason they are so expensive! COMPANY Never meet a better bunch of guys and gals! The company is growing by leaps and bounds every year. How could it not, having people like me write reviews like this. PRODUCT Always improving on an already great product.
and Trophy Rock and Stealth Cam have teamed up to host your amazing trail cam photos! Weâ€™re giving away a Stealth Cam trail camera and a Trophy Rock to the winner of each issue. Send your pics today to: email@example.com. 22
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(Kick off photos provided by Doyle Moss and Tory Brock)
ASK THE PROS Got a Question for the Hunting Illustrated Team? Q. Does hunting mule deer following the moon phase hunting guides really work? Brody Miner – OR A: This question has been tossed around in the white tail woods for years and, as of late, being reintroduced in the mule deer realm of hunting. Biologist agree to disagree and most people in mule deer country say that it doesn’t play a role. I, however, tend to disagree with most and like to throw caution to the wind. Is it the gravitational pull, the amount of moonlight entering the eye, or is it just that they can see better during the full moon phase so they are more active during the night and less active during the day? It has been my experience that deer are very capable of being nocturnal. So for me, the theory of more moonlight, is the least likely but does play a role. The next theory would be the amount of light entering the eye during a full moon making them act differently than other times of the month. This can play a role in behavior, as it does in the making of the rut. However, if you look at the times the deer are active during the day, it is when the moon has the strongest and the weakest gravitational pull on any given area.
What I can tell you from my personal experience is that deer are more active when the moon is directly above. It doesn’t matter what time of day or night, just as long as the moon is high in the sky. I have also noticed that four to five days after the full moon, the deer activity in the morning peaks longer into the daylight hours and they tend to be active earlier in the evening as well. So now you can see why it is so controversial. There are many unanswered questions and too many variables. What I can tell you is that there is some kind of correlation to it all. My suggestion to you is to try and figure it out on your own. Spending time in the field and keeping a journal with moon phases, weather, deer activity, number of deer, age class of deer, and what time deer are most active. Don’t forget to keep your eye to the sky, because, when that moon is high you will see more deer activity. – Steve Alderman Q. I am looking for a new shooting bi-pod. What kind would you suggest? Jared Young – UT A: The key to shooting accurately at short range and long range when in the field is your rifle rest. The most rock solid rest for me is the prone position shooting off of a back pack but many times the angle of the ground you are on or the bushes on the ground might not allow you to lay down. In this case a bi-pod is a must. I carry a lightweight bi-pod with me at tall times when I am hunting. Besides the prone position my next favorite shooting position when in the field is sitting on my butt, resting off my bi-pod and then I like to get another anchor point by resting my back against something. (Fence post, tree, guide, etc.). There are many good shooting bi-pods out there to choose from. Primo’s makes the Trigger Stick bi-pod which actually adjust in height by a push of the trigger. It is a great system. Another good bi-pod is the Kramer Design Snipepod. It attaches to your sling stud on your rifle. During the heat of the battle I have had other bi-pods with me and when I have moved I have either dropped them or been bothered by having to carry another item when I am trying to focus on the game I am after. I like the attachment feature of the Snipepod. When you go to your local sporting goods store there will be plenty of bi-pods to choose from. The key is just get one and make sure it is with you when you are in the field. Don’t forget to get yourself familiar with it and practice off it as well so you can be proficient in the field with it when it matters the most. – John Mogle
5ASK THE PROS5
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PRODUCTS Summer 2012
THE DUELING DUO Views from both sides of the fence
Range Finder Extremes
By Scott Grange
Practice, practice, practice!
f I had a dollar for every big game animal I’ve shot over the back of in my life, I’d retire five years ahead of schedule. I will go to my grave with images burnt into my memory banks of the enormous non-typical buck in Paris Canyon thumbing his nose at me as I fired every cartridge my Browning .270 could hold in his direction. I’m guessing the distance was 275yds., maybe 350yds. Perhaps it was closer to 400yds. Your guess is as good as mine. Then there was the 80 plus antelope north of Rawlins, WY. After a long stalk through the cactus infested desert, I closed the distance to about 300yds. maybe 350yds. Perhaps it was closer to 400yds. Again, your guess is as good as mine and again, all five 130gr. Sierra Boat Tails sailed off into the windswept landscape. Even though the two above events occurred in 1973 and 1975, respectively, like I said, the images are permanently etched in my mind. After all, bucks like this don’t come around often. And back then, only the military and rich guys had range finders and on a salary of less than $6000 a year, one could ill afford such luxuries. By now, you’re probably certain, based on my previous miscalculations, that I’m a big fan of
range finders, especially today’s systems that are accurate to within a nats youknow-what at a thousand yards. Truth is, I’m not. Hey, I was 19 and 21 years young back then and had not experienced enough real world shooting scenarios to be somewhat proficient at judging distance. Fast forward to the present. Out to 550 yards, which is about my limit for shooting big game, I seldom make the same mistakes as I did in my young adult years, why, because I spent the time and money it required to overcome my inability to place the crosshairs where they need to be at a given distance. I can’t tell you how many days and miles I logged in the desert wandering hill over dale with my rifle over my shoulder and a pocket full of cartridges. I would locate a potential target, usually a rock, guess its range and touch off a round. It didn’t take long before my guesses became educated calculations. Now, I understand not everyone has a desert in their backyards where they can safely do what I did to hone ones distance judging abilities. My point here, as it always is, is that folks rely on technology way too much these days rather than good old fashion skill. Our screwed up lifestyles and lack of romping room sometimes limits our ability to acquire the same talents early buffalo hunters had to possess to stay alive. Those guys were shooting out to 600 and 800 yards with nothing more than the relationship in size between the front sight bead and the animal to judge distance and a wet thumb to calculate wind speed. Personally, I learned to use the transition of the crosshair in my 6x scope from thin to heavy and the horizontal plane to dictate distance. I
knew that at 400 yards, a mule deer’s body would fit perfectly between the horizontal hair and the transition point. Sounds complicated but it wasn’t. It just took practice. The human brain is an amazing machine that can make certain calculations faster than any super computer on the planet. Don’t believe it? I’ve yet to see a robot hit a 100mph fast ball or 89mph slider. And being quick can mean the difference between getting a shot off at a trophy of a lifetime or not. I’ve witnessed dozens of cases where the hunter spent way too much time fumbling with range finders when they should have been pulling the trigger. There’s nothing wrong or unethical about hunting without a range finder. The trick is to keep it simple and practice, practice, practice.
By Ron Spomer
Let’s keep it ethical. Yeah, OK, laser range finders are cheating. So is gunpowder. Look, I’m all for ethical hunting and giving game a fair chance and all of that, but using a range finder so you don’t screw up a shot and wound a critter with a fringe hit? That, to me, is ethical behavior of the highest order. If that means you get to call me a cheater or a poor shot or whatever, I can live with the criticism.
second per second (acceleration), it does so at different angles to the bullet’s flight. This means the bullet won’t land as far below line-of-sight (your aiming point) as it does when fired on the horizontal. It’s the angle that makes the difference, and neither up nor down matter. You always hit higher. The steeper the angle and the longer the range, the higher the strike from “normal.” So, an elk 300 yards up or downhill from you at an extremely steep, 60-degree angle would actually represent a trajectory for just 150-yards. Yup. You have to hold for a 150-yard shot, not a 300-yard shot. Crazy, but true. Even more complicated is the simple truth that we hunters are as bad at estimating angles as distance. We usually think things are steeper than they really are. At a Holland Long Range Shooting School every student overestimated the degree of slope on a 600-yard downhill shot, some by more than double. Yesterday my wife and I went hiking with a new Swarovski EL Range binocular. This is one of those fancy new do-it-all binoculars that combines super optics with a rangefinder plus a computer that calculates the angle at which the
instrument is held and the actual slant range distance for which you should aim. And the dumb machine made fools of two fully-grown adults with advanced education degrees. “How far to the top of that ridge,” I challenged Betsy. “Five hundred yards,” she guessed. “Nah, I’d say only 400. Now what’s the angle?” “Forty five degrees.” “I’ll bet it’s only 20.” At that point I aimed the EL Range at the ridge top and pressed the magic button. The readout said 350 yards and the slant range distance was 303 yards, suggesting my estimate of the angle was close. Using her instincts, Betsy would have missed badly. I’d have just missed high. Sadly, that was one of our better guesses for the day. Later we guessed 500-yard ranges that proved to be over 700 and 600-yarders that were only 330 and worse. This was in foothills, canyon country. Even if we’d guessed the slant angles correctly, our basic distance guesses were so far off that we’d have missed or crippled darn near anything we’d shot at. And even if we’d nailed distance and angles every time, I, at least, wouldn’t have been able to do the math in my head to compute the correct trajectory. With a big buck in my sights, I probably couldn’t multiply two times two. I’ve tried some Bushnell and Leupold advanced rangefinders that show more numbers for angles, distances, hold-over corrections and moon phases than Einstein could have calculated in a week. I love them all. My goal when hunting is to take and make clean shots. If a rangefinder tells me an animal is too far for my sure-kill range, I can sneak closer. If it tells me the slope angle is 70 degrees I should hold for a 200-yard shot when I think it’s a 600-yard shot, I’m going to take that information and put it to good use. If you prefer to belly crawl within spearing distance, that’s fine, too. Good luck. I trust you’ll use a spear point you chipped from flint yourself, right? Summer 2012
ILLUSTRATION: COURTNEY BJORNN
But if you skip the rangefinder and cripple a deer or elk, what do I get to call you? Rather than argue the ethics of using laser range finders, I’d rather sing their praises, especially the latest ones that include data on how to compensate for angled shots. For you flatlanders who’ve never set a bullet free in the mountains, angled shooting can be a rude awakening. It makes bullets land where you think they shouldn’t – even if you nail the precise range with a laser readout. This is because we instinctively think shooting uphill will result in a lower hit because gravity is working extra against that bullet, right? I mean this is common sense. We all feel gravity’s pull as we trudge uphill. Why should the bullet be any different? It’s going to slow down more and strike lower. So when shooting at game steeply above us, we’d better aim a bit high. And miss. Now, on downhill shots it’s obvious a bullet will be accelerated by gravity, so it’ll strike higher than usual, so we’ll aim a bit lower. And hit. Perhaps. If we know the precise range and the precise angle and our bullet trajectory at that angle. And then if we’re good at trigonometry. You can work with cosines, can’t you? Cosine for 30-degree angle is .9, 45-degree angle is .7, 60-degree is .5. Multiply by line-of-sight distance… You see, all this brain numbing confusion is why I love the new “super brain” rangefinders. They make my life easier and that makes my quarries’ deaths easier. Advanced rangefinders help me to not miss and often to not even shoot until I sneak closer. Knowledge is a beautiful thing. Here’s the deal: after years of study and counter study and various experts beating the facts into my thick head, I’ve finally learned that bullets land higher when fired at steep angles down- AND up-hill. Both. This is because, while gravity continues pulling at 32 feet per
MULE DEER Getting a Deer Permit A State By State Deer Tag Comparison
and son could harvest deer together. Is this starting to sound familiar? Mule deer hunting is not the same as it was 20 years ago, nor is it the same as little as five years ago. We have lost the opportunity to hunt mule deer out West, not altogether, but as a general hunt.
General hunts have become a thing of the past but a few States still offer some good over the counter tags and still others give their deer away for the sake of revenue. If you werenâ€™t lucky enough to draw in your preferred
PHOTO: DOYLE MOSS
one are the days when you could visit the local hardware store and pick up a general deer tag. Gone are the days when a whole family could pursue a heavy horned mule deer buck. Gone are the days when a father
State-by-state allocation of mule deer tags Red States: 100% controlled hunts Solid blue state: Over-the-counter hunts but on private property only area or hunt, the following is a State by State comparison regarding their mule deer tag allocations. ARIZONA Arizona offers over the counter archery mule deer tags in many of its units. The cost for a hunting license is $151.25 and the deer tag is $232.75. That tag is for a desert mule deer and you can expect to harvest a deer in the 150-160 range with few growing to the 180 inch class. In recent years the famed Arizona Strip has went from a general archery hunt to a controlled hunt. This saddened me, as it was probably my only opportunity to hunt this famed mule deer region. CALIFORNIA California offers over the counter hunter opportunities for mule deer. You can expect to hunt 140-160 class mule deer with the rare 170
Blue striped state: Archery over-the-counter hunts available. Green states: Any weapon over-the-counter hunts available.
inch buck during these general hunts. California has one of the lowest rates of non-resident hunters in the nation. A non-resident hunting license costs $155.52 and the mule deer tag is $263.07. COLORADO All deer permits are on a draw only system. No over the counter tags are offered for any weapon or season. There are some left over tags available after the drawing have taken place. These tags are very rare and you need to now that you will be hunting very crowded public land. These tags are generally archery tags with the occasional left over rifle tag. Most of these hunts have a low success rate, but do, on occasion, put out a monster of a mule deer. IDAHO Idaho is one of a handful of States that basically give mule deer away with focus on revenue rather than the
health and numbers in the herds. Not only do they give their tags away, they give the opportunity to purchase a second tag over the counter at the non-resident price if the non-resident tag allocation is not reached. The quota has not been reached in the last five years. The one positive about Idaho is that it does have the best deer hunting in the nation for over the counter tags. You can expect to shoot a 150 to 170 class mule deer with deer reaching into the 190â€™s and with the occasional 200 plus incher. The hunting license cost is $154.75 and the mule deer tag is $301.75. A wolf tag is $31.75 and you might as well purchase one for that price. Idaho has a tremendous wolf problem which is devastating the elk and deer herds. The most popular units to hunt with an over the counter tag are units 39 and 43 as they are the closest units to the largest population base in Idaho. Donâ€™t over look the units in the 30s
and 60s as they have been known to produce some of the largest bucks in the State. If you ask me Idaho’s best over the counter hunting opportunity is for that of the archer. Early, liberal seasons make hunting Idaho mule deer with a stick and string some of the best in the nation. There are only a handful of Idaho’s hunting units don’t have an over counter archery permit for mule deer. MONTANA Montana is a 100% draw system for mule deer. The good thing about Montana is that much of the State is undersubscribed so the opportunity to purchase a left over tag over the counter exists. You can expect harvest a mule in the 150-160 inch class with the occasional 170 inch deer. Montana is also a fun place to hunt since many of their units offer seasons during the rut. The downside to these late seasons is low buck quality year after year.
NEBRASKA A multitude of over the counter mule tag opportunities are offered in Nebraska. The reason most hunters don’t realize the mule deer hunting options in Nebraska is due to the low quality and quantity of mule deer herds. One other issue the hunter needs to consider when purchasing one of these tags is the availability of public hunting land. NEVADA Nevada permits are given through a draw system with no over the counter opportunity, however, there are some units that are undersubscribed. It is possible to purchase those unused tags if any remain available after two drawings. The Nevada Department of Fish and Wildlife has a website to see what tags are available. NEW MEXICO Like many other States, New Mexico has a 100% draw system with no
over the counter tags unless you are hunting on private property. With written permission from a landowner to exclusively hunt their property, an over the counter tag can be purchased. OREGON Oregon offers an archery mule deer tag over the counter but all other mule deer hunting opportunities are on a draw system. It has decent quality mule deer and you can expect to find deer in the 160 to 170 inch class with the occasional 190 inch deer. A non-resident hunting license is $140.50 and the mule deer tag costing $375.50. TEXAS Texas offers a mule deer doe and buck tag with the purchase of a nonresident hunting license. The cost for this hunting license is $315.00 which includes the tags. This policy makes hunting Texas a bargain for the nonresident hunter. The downside to
PHOTO: DOYLE MOSS
hunting Texas mule deer is the issue of no public land to hunt. This State is primarily privately owned with little to no public land. Most of the private property is already under contract for the hunting rights. You can, on occasion, find a parcel of private to hunt. Texas does have a web-site where you can put in a request for hunting opportunities that on private property. Landowners read these requests and contact you when an opening surfaces. Texas is one of the toughest states to find mule deer hunting opportunities in, let alone quality mule deer hunting opportunities.
Another option for Utah is a CWMU tag which is a private property tag that can be purchased for a cost of $2000.00 to $10000.00. Most of these hunts are guided which requires additional fees. WASHINGTON Like Idaho, Washington offers many over the counter tags for multiple weapons to hunt mule deer. It is, however, a three point
or better harvest requirement. The down side to Washingtonâ€™s system is that a significant number of tags are sold each year with mediocre deer quality. Expect to see or harvest a 140-160 inch class mule deer with the occasional 180 inch buck. The best units to hunt are located in the high central Cascades, specifically Schelan and Okanogan counties. The non-resident deer tag price is $432.30, which is the hunting license and tag fee combined.
Joebob Lewis with his great over-the-counter buck from Idaho!
UTAH In 2012, Utah changed its system to 100% draw for mule deer tags. There may be the opportunity to purchase a left over tag after the second drawing has been completed if they have a surplus. There will be rifle and muzzleloader tags available, but they will be slim pickens. You might not get a rifle tag in your area of choice, but more than likely there will plenty of archery tags available after the second drawing.
PHOTO: VIC SCHENDEL
WYOMING Wyoming subscribes to the all draw policy with no over the counter opportunity. After a first and second drawing, if tags remain, those are offered for sale over the counter. Your best opportunity for a deer tag is to purchase a deer/ antelope combo package. The only other States which have mule deer herds are North and South Dakota and they have a 100% draw system. The only other opportunity for a mule deer hunter who hasn’t drawn a coveted mule deer tag is a guided hunt which can be purchased in all of these States. A significant number of these States have outfitted and guided tags available over the counter while other’s remain strictly draw. If you are not opposed to a hunt facilitated by a guide and outfitter, Mexico and
some of the Canadian provinces have some of the best mule deer hunting in the world. The cost for these guided and outfitted hunts range anywhere from $3500.00 to $12000.00, depending on the quality of deer found in the region. Do not overlook Alberta as it has some of the best archery hunting for mule deer. Alberta guided hunts are reasonably priced at anywhere from $3000.00 to $6000.00. Alberta generally produces mule deer in the 160-180 inch class range with the occasional 200 inch buck. In conclusion, there is a wide range of mule hunting opportunities available in the West, but the possibility of buying an over the counter tag, in a moderately good unit, is slim in many of the States. There is a huge misconception is that if a State is all draw, the residents and non-residents will loose their hunting opportunity. This could not be further from the truth. The opportunity to hunt will still exist
but you just might have to change your weapon of choice or your unit of choice. There is still some over the counter hunting for mule deer in every state, it just might not be your first choice and that is what upsets people the most. It’s loosing the way they are accustomed to doing things. Though it is difficult to get a tag in many States, others continue to make getting a tag affordable and available to residents and non residents alike. Do your research, find out what feasibly works for you. The possibility of finding a 200 inch mule deer through an over the counter tag still exists, but the only place I would focus on an over the counter hunt is in Idaho. I suggest you take advantage of Idaho’s current policies before they follow suit and become a draw State which has be come the trend to safeguard the dwindling mule deer population.
DoyleButler Moss Brandon
BIG GAME WHITETAIL DogEducated Days of Summer Get
5 Key Steps for Success The Widespread Western Whitetail
“The most important thingmule you candeer, do for pre-season scouting,why this is the case. ith elk, may speculate is get out there. Get into and the field start checking game.” antelope so and many Perhapsfor 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.
PHOTO: VIC SCHENDEL
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
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he dog days of summer are upon Rule us. Family Allen’s states trips that the local amusement becauseto northern whitetails live park,colder little temperatures league baseball, in their camping trips, other various extremities are and typically shorter activities fill our For than those of weekends. the southern subspecies, tend appear the hardcorewhich hunter, the to dog days longer and can lankier. Bergmann’s of summer lead to a lifetime Rule states memories that animals tend to of hunting by utilizing increase in size them to help bag the yourfurther trophythey this are This is fall. from Here the are equator. five pre-season especially tricks you evident can use in to the helpdisparity you get between your game.the body size of a northern Alberta buck versus one found theThere Texas Gulf Coast. 1. Geton Out The northern most subspecies of white-tailed The most important thing deer you are theforochrourus. large can do pre-seasonThese scouting, is bodied, heavy Get horned bruisers get out there. into the field are in British Columbia, and found start checking for game. The Alberta, Idaho, best way to do this is bynorthern finding Washington, western Montana an elevated point and put your and western Wyoming. optics to work. You shouldTheir not habitat highanimals, plains and only be includes looking for but mountainous regions. for game trails, heavily shaded In are a being smallused region just areas that by game south of the northern whitetail to bed in, and other hot spots for range, we have the animal movement. Yousubspecies can’t find leucurus, better known as your the the game if you are home on Columbian whitetail. These couch. Put in the time looking for deer along Oregon’s good are areasfound to hunt. Umpqua River, and throughout the Columbia River drainage 2. Use Trail Cameras along the Washington and Oregon border. Once you have determined an The subspecies made area to hunt, go to work. Set up famous by Michael Waddell and trail cameras on game trails and his “Bone Collecting” buddies, water holes to find out what is which is found in eastern lurking in the area. Stealth is Montana, eastern Wyoming, the just one of many manufacturers Dakotas and central Canada is that dacotensis. makes great This cameras for this the subspecies purpose. I have had very good
This whitetail found in Colorado is part of the macrourus subspecies which can produce large antlered bucks.
is better known as the Dakota luck with Stealth over the years. whitetail. These deer are found Trail cams continue to improve primarily on the plains, in river in quality year after year. They bottoms and along foothills. shoot further, their triggers are They thrive in the Black Hills, faster,sometimes and they now have and makeeven surprise black lights that give off no appearances in mountainous area, reflection, which means fewer too. disturbances to game. The fewer Kansas, Colorado, disturbances the animals Oklahoma and Nebraska have, are the moresates likely are tobucks. stick sleeper forthey monster to you there daily routine, for If head to one of theseand trophy you to capture them on your trail whitetail destinations, you’ll be cam. While youofarethe home at night hunting deer macrourus sleeping in your comfortable subspecies. They’re also foundbed in yourTexas trailPanhandle cams areand awake and the northern still working you. whitetails New Mexico.forThese call the wide-open spaces of 3. Use Attractants agricultural cattle land home. They spread out and grow big. First off,Everything check withis your local bigger in game regulations to find out if Texas? Not so much. The bodies using attractants is legal your of texanus whitetails aren’tinnearly state. Using attractants as big as their game northern cousins. work antlers on nearly every animal. Their however, are another Whether it’sareC’Mere Deermake for story. These the deer that whitetail, apples mule deer, Texas famous for for horn hunting. a hanging carcass for most an African They’re found across of the lion, Trophy Rock for elk or even
state, and their population densities Trophy Rock is one ofSo the best are unparalleled. evenattractants though for elk. The author suggests to set one out near a well-used is trail with a trail cam. Texas can’t claim everything 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. a Diet Amp for Mexico me, all animals have attractant, and natural at that, Arizona, New and Mexico theirtheattractants. years are only places Over to findthe these little,I than Trophy Rock. I have found have tried plenty of lures here in the that if I set out some Trophy tactics. west to find my “Secret Sauce” for Rock on a well-used trail along both mule deer and elk and here is with a trail cam that I am usually what I have found to work the best. getting hits in as quickly as three For elk, there is no better days. Trophy Rock is the perfect
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Early Fall 2012 2011 Summer
attractant for antlered animals because it has the salt and minerals they need to stimulate and increase horn growth. These nutrients are vital for elk during the summer months. Mule deer are a little different than elk in likes and dislikes of attractants. I have found areas where mule deer love Trophy Rock, but other areas where they do not. The most consistent attractant I have found for mule deer is apples. Real apples seem to work the best, but artificial apple flavored bait is a good type to try. This should get them coming in. If you find that nothing is hitting your bait, be patient. Give your area at least three weeks before you pull out and move on to another location. 4. Set Up in the Right Area First, get away from the roads and four-wheeler trails. The more secluded the area, and the less the chance of human distraction, the better off you will be. I mentioned this earlier, but look for well-used game trails and focus on saddles in ridges for those welltraveled trails. Once you have found a good trail and tracks on that trail of the animal you are after, set up your trail cams. In areas where there is little water, set up on water holes. Always carry a metal pole
Follwing these five steps laid out by the author can give you a huge advantage in the field. This monster bull was the reward of patience and persistance.
and hammer with you in case there are no trees to mount your trail cams too. Here is one warning for choosing the right area. If you setup Trophy Rock and your trail cams on water holes that have cattle in the area you most likely will attract them in with your bait. Cattlemen do not want their cattle hanging around waterholes all day so they may move your Trophy Rock from this area. This has happened to me many times, so you need to be conscious of what is going on in the area and respectful of others, as you maneuver around in the hills in pursuit of your game. 5. Be Persistent Check your trail cameras at least every other week to see if your hard work is paying off. Checking them weekly would be preferable but the less you are in the area to leave your scent, the better. If you go through the efforts of scouting and setting up and do not check your trail cams often, you have wasted a lot of time. Be persistent and consistent with your follow up and it will pay off. If you are not getting any pics of what you are looking for move on to another location and try your routine again. If you stick with it, you will see the fruits of your labor. To me, it is a lot of fun and itâ€™s becoming a huge part of our sport. These little tricks and techniques should help you take advantage of the dog days of summer. I will not guarantee that they will put a trophy on your wall but I do know they have worked for my team and me. They will improve your odds this hunting season and the more we can stack the odds in our favor the more likely we are to bag a trophy.
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ELK Hunting the Herd Bull Understanding his Mindset & Tips for Tagging him!
right now. As is the case each year, I am always reminded how challenging elk hunting can be. Especially when dealing with “Herd Bulls” during the rut. Since tagging the monarch controlling the herd is rarely easy, let’s explore his habits and tendencies during the different stages of the rut in an attempt to put the odds in our favor. Late Summer During the first 10 to 15 days of August, mature bulls will shed the velvet that has supplied the blood to their growing set of antlers. During late August and into September, a bull
PHOTO: VIC SCHENDEL
ello fellow elk fanatics and addicts! At the time of this writing I am fighting a bad case of E.H.D. Better known as “Elk Hunter’s Depression”. This common, but hard to cure condition can only be remedied by a strong, hair-raising bugle. It has been over 6 months since I heard my last bugle in the elk woods. September, please get here quickly! Last fall the Arizona Archery and Early Bull hunts were a little tougher than usual due to some severe weather conditions, but as I look back on them I’d give almost anything to be out there again
will spend lots of time rubbing trees to darken his antlers and also mark his area with scent. Due to heightened hormones and traveling activity in search of cows, he will frequent water daily to drink, wallow, and leave scent. Most often this will occur during the late evening and night hours, although bulls will also visit water in the morning before bedding if it is convenient. If you are hunting mountainous country with dense timber, a bull may also hit a wallow during mid day if he does not have to travel far and there is good cover so that he feels secure doing so.
Most often bulls will come to calls more out of curiousity during this time. Raking and bugling can trigger a bull’s territorial mechanism to kick in. He may bugle, but he might also come in silent to check out who has moved into his area. Cow calling can also work but a bull may not feel quite ready to take on cows at this time. Use your judgment and experiment with the calls to find out what a bull wants to hear during this stage. During this time you will typically need to be more patient with your calling setups. Since the bulls may not be vocal you will be doing what is referred to as “Silent Calling.” This is when you are calling without hearing a vocal response from a bull. In this instance give your setups 3045 minutes and call every 3 to 5 minutes. Because a bull will
most likely show up unannounced, stay alert and be ready to shoot! September Rut Hunts If you are hunting during the first 2 weeks of September, the bugling activity can be very hit and miss. No doubt, a big bull is much more vulnerable when he is aggressive enough to be looking for cows but not yet with them. Good calling can result in a great bull during this timeframe if done properly. During this period cow calling can work well since bulls are cruising and actively looking to join cows. I’ve had great success mostly using cow calling during this period. I’ve also found that during this pre-rut period that bulls sometimes don’t respond to cow calls. At times they are still more interested in establishing the pecking order and finding out who is bugling in their area. When cow
calling doesn’t produce results, try bugling and bugling with cow calling to peak a bull’s interest and bring him in. During this timeframe I am expecting to hear bulls bugling and responding back to my calls. I am no longer “Silent Calling” but actively moving along seeking a bull that is ready to respond to my calls. Depending on the terrain and vegetation I will most often call to locate a bull every ¼ to ½ mile to try and solicit a response. During this timeframe I don’t setup and call unless I have a bull bugling, and ready to work. Mid September Once the middle of the month arrives the big bulls are usually getting pretty “cowed up.” As we all know, this presents a big challenge because now the
September rut hunts: “During this period cow calling can work well since bulls are cruising and actively looking to join cows.”
bull has full time guards on the lookout for him. This is when you could officially say that he has become a “Herd Bull.” Other than rare days of absolute rutting insanity, I’ve never seen many cows that will overlook much. I’ve realized too many times that cows don’t wear a Timex watch and have no problem staring me down for 20 minutes while I suffer in an uncomfortable position. Ever have this happen to you?! Herd bulls realize that their cows are looking out for them and rely heavily on them to keep them out of harm’s way. You can use this to your advantage if you are stealthy enough to get close to the herd. Understand that a herd bull’s number one goal is to protect and breed his cows. This causes him to be very possessive and jealous
resulting in him being constantly distracted due to other “satellite” bulls pestering him in an attempt to steal his cows. The herd bull is all about aggressively guarding what he’s already got. As a result, he will naturally stay very close to his cows. His instincts tell him that anytime he leaves them, he risks having another bull cut in to steal them. With this in mind, my rule of thumb is that a herd bull is not going to separate more than 100 yards from his cows and sometimes less than that in thicker vegetation. If you are able to position yourself within 75 to 100 yards of a herd, you dramatically increase your odds of success. This is because many times a herd bull will simply make a mistake while moving around to keep his cows rounded up. Or, he will move to the outskirts of his herd to bugle threats back at a nearby satellite bull, making him
vulnerable. Although I love to call and have had great success with it, many times in a situation where you are able to stealth in close to a herd, your best option is to not call at all. This allows a jealous herd bull to make a mistake and give you a shot opportunity. If you do call in this situation, you’d better be well within a 75 to 100 yard “zone” in order for the bull to either want to come add you to his harem as a cow, or to run you off if you use bull sounds. When using bull sounds, keep in mind that you don’t always have to bugle. Growls, huffing, glunking, and raking can work but you’ve got to be CLOSE otherwise a bull will circle his cows and push them away from you! I’ve even seen savvy cows pull their bull away from calling outside of the herd.
Realize that when you call in close proximity to a herd of elk that you have now given yourself and your location away. Unless your calling works, you have now given up your opportunity to stealth in any further since elk will now be intently looking in your direction. Remember, calling is not always the answer in every scenario- especially with herd bulls. Late September/Early October Throughout late September into early October the scenario will typically remain the same with the exception of “hard” rutting days. The big bulls will still be herded up and aggressively defending their harems from other bulls. When cows come into estrus pure rutting insanity is the order of the day. This is what we live for as elk hunters. Usually when a cow comes into heat, there will be several bulls right in amongst the
frenzy and the bugling will be out of control. These hard rutting days in Arizona usually occur from about the 18th of September and into the first few days of October. Hard rutting days are a very rare time when the cows aren’t as edgy and observant. With all of the noise and movements that they are making, the cows will many times overlook you. The herd bull is very vulnerable at this time because he is not only trying to stay with a hot cow, but he is also bugling often and making runs at other bulls to keep them clear of his cows. Use the rutting insanity and the herd bull’s jealousy to your advantage. Now is the time to get in there and fill your tag! When the elk are rutting and out of their mind, you can hardly be too aggressive. Be stealthy, but quickly get in there tight and infiltrate the herd. Calling can work very well at this time but usually brings in the satellite bulls on a line. Keep in mind that sometimes satellite bulls
have bigger antlers than the herd bull- just not quite the aggressive demeanor that he has. I’ve seen this many times in Arizona. Also, during this time the herd dynamics can change. A bull that is the herd bull one day may wear down and lose his edge resulting in him losing his herd to another bull. If you can find a herd bull that has recently lost his cows, he is usually very ripe for the picking! He is frustrated and will come readily to cow calling. Use your calling to take advantage of this opportunity to tag a big herd bull! Remember, the rut consists of 3 stages. The pre-rut, the rut, and the hard rut. There is also the “post” rut, but I don’t consider that part of the true rut for the sake of this discussion. While hunting this coming fall, adjust your calling and hunting strategy to match the scenario you encounter and you will succeed. Good luck and good hunting!
PREDATORS The When, Where and How
aking up at 5 A.M. in early June, to help meet a rancher’s need to rid his land of a calf-eater was my itinerary for this summer day. A calf had been killed and mostly eaten, so I was asked if I could try to kill a few coyotes around his cow/calf operation. After observing the half eaten calf and asking the rancher a few valuable questions, I was feeling confident that his answers were going to prove very valuable on my first few stands for the day. The rancher told us of a couple places in which he had seen coyotes and where he had heard them howl, so that was where we started. The temperature was already in the 70’s but it was cloudy, proving to be an excellent time to call. We parked far enough in the distance that we were able to sneak our way through low areas, with the slight breeze in our face, to a high hill that had draws running down toward the rancher’s house. My goal was to get to our calling spot without spooking a coyote or even letting one know of our presence. After getting into position, I took a little time to look the countryside over, trying to notice anything that might look out of place. I scanned the hillside with my eyes and then using binoculars. Many times, I am able to locate coyotes doing this. Sometimes, one can gain an upper hand with this surveillance, noticing a coyote out moving and clearly seeing that the coyote has never taken notice of you. One can also spot coyotes that are watching you to alert you 42
to back out of the area and try again at a later date, or to move to a totally different position before trying to call. I didn’t see any movement anywhere, so I decided it was time to make a series of distress calls on my Ruffidawg Jr. call. After two series of calling, and about four minutes into the stand, a coyote came over a hill to our right and was making it’s way toward us. My brother was positioned about 20 yards in front of me and a little to the right, to the downwind side of me. The coyote never stopped as it crossed through the draw and made its way right towards my coaxing. The coyote came to within 30 yards of my brother. He made quick work of him with his shotgun. As soon as the shot was fired, I went right to kiyi’ing (name of the sound I use when calling) with my Ruffidawg. I would kiyi for 20+ seconds, rest for a little bit, and kiyi again. I kept this up for several minutes, then sat and watched for a bit. Nothing was showing up, so I began kiyi’ing again and after about 2-3 sequences, my brother pointed to our left to let me know that another coyote had come into view. I spotted the coyote standing on top of the ridge to our left, about 300 yards out. I didn’t call again because I wanted to see what the coyote was going to do. It was just standing there looking our way. After standing there for a couple minutes, I ever so lightly made a lip squeak while the coyote was looking in a different direction. The coyote definitely heard my squeak because it instantly turned its head and was staring right in my direction. It then began to come off of the ridge towards us. Knowing that my brother was sitting around the hill to the right of me and would not be able to see the coyote coming as it got closer, I prepared to make the shot with my rifle.
PHOTO: VIC SCHENDEL
Calling Coyotes in Late Spring and Summer
Once the coyote got closer, it would have to cross the draw and would go out of sight for a bit. I never made another sound even when this coyote would stop and look my way. He kept walking and trotting towards me. As the coyote made his way to the draw and disappeared below me, I brought my rifle up and was ready for him to come out of the draw. The coyote came out of the draw on a cow trail and stopped, facing me. The shot was about 75 yards, so it was one that I was very comfortable making. In observing the two coyotes, it appeared that they were a mated pair, a male and a female. Now that the calling stand is hindsight in this story, I am going
to go through the process piece by piece on how it all came about. Before I just head out into the pasture, plop down on my behind, and call, I want to know a few more things about the area. The patterns of coyotes during this time of year are very different than the fall and winter months, so I wanted to ask the rancher a few questions about his land. Here are some of the questions that I asked the rancher when I was looking at his half eaten calf. 1. The When I asked the rancher when he heard the coyotes howling. This allows me to determine when they are the most active. The rancher said he heard them the most in the mornings. This determines when I will hunt. This is the coolest part of the day in the summer, so the coyotes will be very active. In early summer, the pups aren’t out on their own looking for a meal, yet by late summer the pups are venturing out a little ways from the den exploring. You must be extra careful when you approach your stand in these months as there are many more eyes watching for danger. If they bust you on the way in you are done. 2. The Where What direction do you hear them howling from? The rancher said he
heard howls come often from the hills to the northwest of him. 3. How often This question gives you a feel for how many coyotes are in the area. I asked the rancher how often he would see coyotes when he was out and about doing chores, fixing fences or whatever. He commented that he saw them nearly every time he went out. To rationalize why and how I called these coyotes; we need to remember what time of year it is. With it being early June, we know that this pair of coyotes probably had pups that needed to be fed, so the nutritional requirements for the female are very high and the calf was probably the easiest form of a big meal that she could find. Whenever I am using distress sounds in the coyote’s territory this time of year, I try to find one of the adults. Logical thinking tells me that the male and female are split up while hunting for food a lot, so whenever one of them would hear my distress sounds, they may think it was their mate or another coyote who may have caught something in their territory. I’m still trying to key in on their aggression, curiosity, territorial, and/or hunger instincts, but I first try to locate the likely spot where the den was in close proximity. After killing the first coyote and kiying for quite some time, the second coyote then wanted to see what was going on. It could not resist coming in to investigate.
Do I typically call in the late spring and/or summer? My answer is not usually. As my time allotted for hunting/filming predator hunts ends, I have many other facets of my business that need my attention. Have I called in the late spring, early summer? Absolutely! Most of these times have been instances where I was being asked to help a rancher or farmer who was losing livestock and it can be very productive. Here is another instance of hunting a calf killer and using these techniques to get him. I had a rancher friend call and tell me he had lost three calves to coyotes and he asked for my help to eradicate his problem. Not being able to see the situation due to the 500+ miles between us, I only resorted to asking questions about the situation over the phone. Since I was a friend of this rancher and had hunted his ranch several times, I was careful to get the exact location of where the calves were being killed so that I had a picture of the area in my head. After the conversation, I then brought up this location on Google Earth and looked at the lay of the land. Because we knew the ranch and lay of the land, we decided to call fairly close to the cattle, knowing there was plenty of cover and drainages close by to hold a coyote. Our first stand within a mile of the cattle had a coyote coming to the call within about 15 minutes. I set up on a hill
In summer months try and locate the coyotes’ den. They should be close to water.
These three dogs (calf killers) were causing havoc on a rancher’s cattle. The author used his Ruffidawg call to bring them in close and dispatch them.
above the cattle and gave a rabbit distress call. This got him loping right towards us. Due to the limited amount of cover and the fact that we were filming, the coyote actually got a little nervous and began to circle to our downwind. I managed to stop her and made the shot with my 22250. After shooting the coyote, my brother and I walked up to the small female and noticed that she had black hair coming out of her mouth. She had thrown it up after I shot her and the black hair was from the calf. Now, just because this coyote had actually been eating the calf, does not mean that she was the killer, right? At least that is what I think about the situation. However, a few weeks later the rancher had not lost another calf, so I have a good feeling that we may have stopped a potential problem that may have continued for a while. You can watch this calf killer get called on www.youtube.com/predatorquesttv titled “Calf Killer.” How would one typically try to be more successful at calling predators in the late spring or summertime calling? Before 44
I answer that question, I think we need to first try to understand a little more about the coyote’s behavior and seasonal pattern for this time of year. If you can find the coyote’s den you are in business. Late spring is when the females have their pups. A den can be found anywhere from under abandoned farmyard buildings, rock piles, ditch banks, a side of a hill, under bushes, or draws that lead down to a water hole, etc. Once this den site is found and used by the coyotes, they will spend virtually all of their time in the coming weeks in close proximity to this area. The male may venture out a little in search of food for the female, but the female will be close by to tend to the feeding of her pups. Your calling setups should be focused in areas where you have a great probability, or think that there is reason to believe a den is near. There is a high territorial response this time of year with coyotes due to the fact that the male and female coyotes want to protect their pups and den area. If you were to use coyote vocalizations within this area, there is a large probability that you will get a response back, either in the form of a vocal response or one of
the coyotes coming to investigate. I have many friends that are state and/or government trappers. During May, June, and July they are spending several hours in the field to call and kill coyotes. They can effectively call and kill a lot of coyotes this time of year because of the aggression and responsiveness of coyotes during this time frame. Ultimately, the tokens that I hope you come away with from this article is the fact that nothing in life is easy if there is going to be a high rate of success in return. Before just going out and plopping down on the side of a hill “trying” to call a coyote without much knowledge of the area your calling, try to rationalize in your head, “is this the best place to be calling from this time of year, or not?” Spend a little time trying to understand the seasonal characteristics of a coyote before going into the field and just expecting them to respond to a call. Learn all that you can about them and many of the questions that you have will be answered! Until next time, Call Often AND…. Shoot Straight! Let’s Get To CALLIN!!!
SHOOTING Mastering Distance The Nuts and Bolts of Long Range Shooting
have been considered unethical for the distance of the shot. Technology and education have made the difference. It’s kind of like the speed limit that use to be 55 MPH. It was set at this range because it was not considered safe to drive vehicles over that speed. Cars became better and the speed limits went up. The same is true in our sport. Cartridge components, especially optics, have greatly improved, and with that, the average hunter’s effective shooting range has also increased. Today, long-range shooting is not only acceptable; it is becoming the norm here in the west. It seems like
every week I talk to someone that is thinking about building a long-range rig and they ask what they should be looking for. Here are my nuts and bolts list of things you need to have and do to become an effective longrange shooter and hunter. Rifle Your rifle is merely the vehicle to get your bullet started on its path to its target. With that being said, if you want to be an effective long-range hunter, your rifle and you should be able to shoot at least three shot groups, measuring ¾” or less at 100
Your long-range rig should be made up of a rifle that can shoot 3/4”, 3 shot groups or less at 100 yards.
PHOTO: GREG RODRIGUEZ
our years ago, “long-range” was considered to be a bad word in the hunting world. Nowadays, if you are a manufacturer of guns, bullets, scopes, or even outdoor gear and you don’t have long-range, extreme-range, or extended-range in one of your product lines, you are considered behind in the times. How quickly time changes things. I remember reading hunting and shooting magazines just a few years back, and the authors who have been around for many years nearly scolded those who would advocate long range hunting. Now, as I read their articles, they are not scolding, but actually advocating the sport, and partaking of it themselves. I wonder to myself, why has this happened to our sport so quickly? There is no doubt long-range shooting has become very popular. If many of these past naysayers of long-range hunting want to continue to be paid by companies that sponsor them, they must “drink the KoolAid” so to speak, and that has had some influence in their change of heart on the long-range subject. How did what used to be considered unethical, and was even prevented from airing on hunting shows, because of the distastefulness of it, now turn in to what so many people want to watch? At the past Sportsman’s Channel awards in Las Vegas in February, I won the award for “BEST SHOT” for a 600+ yard shot I made on a stone sheep. I can tell you that this harvest scene most likely would not have made it on any TV show ten years ago. It would
fantastic long-range scopes for a very reasonable price. Zeiss and Swarovski offer not only incredible high-end long-range scopes, but they are also offering some very reasonably priced long-range riflescopes for under $1,000. There is no doubt that Nightforce scopes have become a serious contender as well in the long-range rifle scope division. No matter which scope you decide to go with, the main focus should be getting it set up properly, which we will discuss later. I am not going to go into which reticle system is better, but with today’s technology on both ballistic reticles and ballistic turrets they can both be deadly effective. When choosing a riflescope don’t skimp. If anything, go overboard on optics. The better you can see and adjust for range compensation; the better off you will be during your hunt and on the range. At the shooting schools I have taught, I have seen shooters with both systems shoot equally.
PHOTO: DOYLE MOSS
Having a spotter is a must for long range shooting. You must know where your bullets are hitting in order to adjust to be effective.
yards. So many people think they need to pay big bucks to buy a custom rifle for their long-range rig, but many times they have a rifle in their gun safe that will do the job. Now, I know we all like our toys, and that we can never have too many guns, but in many cases you may already have a rifle that with good ammunition will meet the ¾” requirements you need. Consider your resources first. You should also hunt with a rifle that you are comfortable with. I have seen many times in the field when a hunter is packing a 10-12 pound rig, combined with an overweight back pack, loaded with all kinds of hunting contraptions. In this case you better have laser guided missiles in your pack that can shoot several miles away. With all that weight, your mobility is severely limited, and your first challenge of finding and getting to the game is greatly reduced. Build your long-range hunting rig so you can actually hunt with it, and not just shoot off the bench with it. If you do decide to invest in a custom or semi-custom rifle, make sure it comes with at least a ¾” group guarantee. If the manufacturer will not stand by an accuracy guarantee that meets your standards, keep looking.
You also need a good rangefinder capable of ranging well over a 1,000 yards. Nowadays, there are several rangefinders on the market that will compensate for the angle and adjust the effective yards for you in it’s read out. Some such as Gunwerks G7 will actually act like a computer and will not compensate the angle, but Theonly author is pictured readying his shot once you program in your load data, it will actually tell during the Vortex Extreme relay. By you how many clicks topracticing adjust forshooting with their scope as well. in field situations Today’s toys are makingAndy it very to his become a longhas easy learned limitations. range shooter! Caliber and Bullet The caliber you choose should be geared to the size of animal you are hunting. A 6.5-284 is a great caliber, which is accurate and great for long-range, but I would not recommend it for hunting elk or large size North American Game. A good all around long-range caliber in my book is anything in the .30 caliber magnum family. It seems like the .300 Win Magnum is making a come back and with good reason. It is a very accurate caliber and has plenty of velocity. Especially with todays super powders like Hornady’s Superformance reloading powder. These
Scope Your scope is the most important part of your long-range package. As you can see from the numerous advertisers in Hunting Illustrated magazine, there are plenty of great scopes on the market to choose from. This is the case for nearly anyone’s budget. Vortex and Leupold offer some
Today’s hot-rod powders and aero dynamic bullet designs allow projectiles to fly faster to their target with less deflection. Summer 2012
A rock solid rest is an absolute before you can even attempt a long range shot.
powders can give the .300 Win Magnum well over 100 FPS more in velocity. For those of you that know me, you know that I have been a .300 Remington Ultra Magnum fan since that cartridge came out. Pushing a 180-grain bullet at over 3,300 FPS and delivering great accuracy is hard to beat. The .338 LaPua has come on strong as a longrange hunting caliber and for good reason. This cartridge pushes a 225-grain bullet at 3,000 FPS. It also delivers 4,400 foot-pounds of energy. This kind of kill power is devastating on big game. Many people believe that the .338 and even the .300 Ultra is too big for most medium sized game. My answer to that is, you can’t kill them too dead. Your intention when hunting is to collect what you are hunting. Whether it is for dinner or a rack for your wall, and no one I know measures the size of the bullet hole in the animal. If you can drop them in their tracks and not have to chase and look for a wounded animal, your life becomes much easier. Of course, you don’t want to ruin meat either, but if you shoot an animal through the front shoulder with a .30 caliber or a .338 caliber, most likely the amount of recoverable meat in that area will be similar. For bullet selection first off choose one that shoots accurately out of your file but also one that can deliver terminal performance on the game animal. I have always been a believer in a good bullet that will stay together when it hits the animal. Today’s bonded bullets and cooper bullets have good ballistic coefficients and make a consistent wound channel when they hit the animal. This makes for terminal penetration and damage, which leads to a quick clean kill. I have seen many times when hunters will shoot animals with target bullets, and the thin jacketed bullets come apart quickly and actually ricocheted off bones, ribs, and other hard tissues in the animal, leading many times to a wounded unrecoverable animal. If you are just ringing gongs at long-range or punching paper, target bullets are great, but if you are going to hunt long-range, practice with a good bullet and certainly hunt with one. Your intention may be to shoot something at 500 yards and beyond when you get 48
into the field, but how often do you jump a trophy animal at 100 yards and have to make a quick shot? With today’s hot rod calibers and velocities many times target bullets will disintegrate when it hits any type of bone at close range. Set Up This is actually the hardest part for most hunters. To properly set up your rifle you need a 1,000 yard course where you can validate your loads, optics, and the accuracy of your rifle. Who has a 1,000-yard course near them they can shoot? Not many people but in order to really trust your long-range rig you have to do this or have someone do it for you. Once you have selected your rifle and scope for your set up, you first need to mount your scope and make sure everything is secure. Some temporary lock-tite is a very good idea for your scope rings and bases to assure it does not come loose in the field. Now that everything is mounted properly it is time to test your rifle for accuracy. Once again, when doing this, select ammunition that is accurate and a bullet with a ballistic co-efficient of .5 or above. I like to test fire my rifle with a variety of premium ammunition. As a matter of fact, a great option if you don’t have the time to reload yourself is to call Larry from Superior Ammunition and ask for one of his long-range sample packs. The box of ammunition will be loaded with four kinds of ammo with five different bullets or loads for you to try out. You can request the type of bullets you want to try or Larry will give you some of his pet loads to try. Once you have fired them at 100 yards and determined which one shoots the best, all you need to do is order more of that particular load. Once this is done, it is time for the most important part of long-range shooting, knowing your true velocity. Reloading manuals, boxes of ammo, and the Internet gladly publish standard velocities of cartridges, but trust me, every rifle shoots ammunition at a little different speed. You have to chronograph your loads if you plan to be a precise long-range hunter. Once you have chronographed your load and know the exact speed of your bullet when it leaves your
rifle, the fun begins, but first you must also set your zero. This is at what yardage your bullet is hitting the bull’s eye on your target. Many people are having custom etched turrets made for their scopes. This is very effective and becoming the most popular method for long-range optics today. You are seeing many scope companies now offering free custom etched turrets with the purchase of a scope. Don’t forget the very quick method of ballistic reticles. With today’s high tech ballistic reticles in many scopes, all you need to know is the distance of the animal and your ballistic drop charts. I still hear from many hunters that because this method is so quick and has less moving parts and room for error, they still prefer the ballistic reticle. Either one can be very effective if you know what you are doing. If you do choose a ballistic reticle, most manufacturers have ballistic calculators on their websites that allow you to plug in your info and voila! It will spit out your charts to match your reticle. If you are the hunter and shooter that have very little time, there are plenty of companies out there that will do all this for you. Ballistic Validation Now that you have your scope set up and figured out, don’t make the mistake of only shooting at 100 yards and assuming the rest of the distances will fall in line. Sometimes it works out, but many times you have to
go back and adjust your zero just slightly, either up or down, to hit your targets at extended range. If your target turret goes out to 1,000 yards you need to validate your set up all the way out to 1,000 yards. Otherwise, you are stepping into the field unethically because you know and I know that even if you did not validate your rifle if you get an opportunity at a long range shot, you will turn your turret to the distance the animal is at and hope and pray that everything works right to hit your target. Don’t be that guy. Hunt responsibly. Today you are seeing many companies offering Long-Range Shooting schools. I actually teach one myself that you can check out at www.huntingillustrated. com. These schools give the hunter and shooter the opportunity to get to know their long-range rig intimately and become a more effective long-range shooter. Plus, it gives you something to do in the off-season. Not only do you learn about wind drift, ballistics, and maintenance of your weapon, you actually leave from the course with confidence, knowing that you have become a better longrange shooter. They are actually quite fun as well. Shooting long-range is very challenging and there are so many subjects one can study to know all the ins and outs of it all, but with today’s technology longrange shooting really has become much simpler than in the past. The guesswork is gone (except for the wind) and nearly anyone can become an effective long-range shooter. That’s the Nut’s and Bolts of it.
VORTEX EXTREME CHALLENGE
The Vortex Extreme challenge is the combination of fitness, precision shooting and strategy that pushes competitors both physically and mentally.
VORTEX EXTREME CHALLENGE
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BY WADE HANKS
y quest for a giant bear actually started about 5 years ago when I first went to hunt in California with a good friend and my dogs. I went a few years in a row and witnessed multiple giants harvested but, as luck would have it, I was never the right shooter at the right time. 2011 proved to be different. The friend I had been with decided not to go this year. During previous years in California I had befriended Roy Aanerud of West Desert Outfitters. He welcomed me and knew what type of bear I would hold out for. I invited a good friend, Rob Davenport, to come along. October 31st, right after we all finished trick or treating, Rob and I loaded our gear and our two eightyear old sons and drove to Reno to meet Roy and his crew. The weather was great as we arrived and pulled into camp (maybe too good). The outfitter was having an incredible season (that’s the norm). They were 100% and all were mature males so far this season. The first two days were great for all of us. We saw multiple bears, but no giants. We shot some video and photos of the treed bears. One poor dog found a porcupine and soon learned that was a poor choice of a kissing partner… Day three started out quick with strike, and we let the dogs run.
Of course, they ran away from the road system and into the next drainage. We were in a bit of a windstorm which made hearing the dogs nearly impossible. We hiked four different ridges in attempts to locate the dogs. Once we found the dogs we knew the bear was on the ground with the dogs. We left the boys with one of the guides and ran into the commotion. It was a big beautiful bear and Rob was the shooter of the day. We got to within about 20 yards of the dogs and bear. Huffing and puffing from the run up the hill coupled with the adrenaline of a huge bear and swatting dogs just yards away gave Rob less than ideal conditions for a perfect shot. As Roy was screaming, “don’t shoot my dogs!” he was able to put three quick shots into the bear and his quest for a giant was over. He had killed a beautiful chocolate male. Once again I was in the right place at the right time for someone else. Day four dumped over a foot of snow overnight. Bear tracks were everywhere and we let out on a giant track that only lead to a long wet hike and a lot of exercise. Day five was still ideal as the show was still around and the bears were traveling a lot, maybe looking for places to den as winter was upon us. Early that morning we found what appeared to be a giant track. In the deep snow the track looked huge, in the shallow snow
the track was difficult to determine the size. We could never find a clean enough track to accurately assess the size. It looked good enough to try so the chase was on. Again the dogs went into “no man’s land” and I figured this year would be like the others, just a spectator trip for Wade. At the end of the road, the guides figured it was over and we would just wait for the dogs to come back. I begged to just go a little further, around the next ridge. Lucky that I did because on the very next ridge we found the dogs on the ground with another GIANT! I had my bow and a pistol and where the dogs had the bear bayed up was a thick willow patch on a steep, almost cliffy side hill. The pistol was my only option. I got close enough to safely weave a bullet between a half dozen dogs into the bear’s shoulder. BOOM, the second race was on! The bear, with the dogs on his heels went straight to the bottom of the canyon. I scurried, slid, fell and scrambled my way to the bottom as fast as I could. The dogs had the bear cornered in a tunnel under some railroad tracks. I positioned myself where I could see into the darkness of the tunnel. A black bear in the dark is hard to see. Once the bear realized there was
more than just dogs outside, he bailed out the other side and the dogs were right on his heels. I was able to get 2 shots from the .45 into him and he turned back to the safety of the tunnel. He gave us a look as he went back in. It was eerie to see him up close (just a few feet away) and feel like he was 56
deciding whether to come after us on top of the tunnel or go back in. I put one more shot into his head but missed the brain and he ran through. Up and over the tracks I ran just in time to put one more into his shoulder and put him down for good. Of course now that all the action was
over everyone started showing up. We re-lived the experience over and over as we videoed and took photos. We built a fire for the little boys in the tunnel and quartered the bear up. What seemed like a short chase turned into a three-hour hike out with meat and hides on our backs. Big thanks to Rob, Jake, Cory and Roy for all their help. I had finally got a GIANT bear. Based on the weight of the quarters, the hide and head we conservatively estimated the bear weighed 450 lbs. The skull measured 20 6/8 just missing the all-time Boone and Crockett record book. I already have plans to go back next year with a group of buddies. I will be in the right place at the right time many more times, as a spectator. Big thanks to West Mountain Outfitters. Check them out @ www.westmountainoutfitters.com.
K R P T E K
One Colorado Muley for the Record Books
rowing up in Colorado as a teen in the 60’s, it was almost automatic that you were a hunter or fisherman, or both. My family loved fishing and my father and uncle were always up for deer and elk hunting in the fall. Early on at the age of 12 or 13 we bow hunted and later on moved into rifle. In those days you could hunt all seasons and we did, even venturing into muzzle loader elk until the mid 70’s when you were only allowed to hunt one season, bow, muzzle loader, or rifle. The obvious choice for me due to my love of firearms was rifle. But up until the age of 28 I had only been successful with one small buck and a large 5 point bull elk. The small buck came form the west slope area around Grand Junction, CO and the bull elk from the Green Ridge area west of Rand, CO. But even at that, the adventure of the hunt kept me coming back 58
year after year. That is however, up until my mid 30’s at which time I lost my sole to the business world. Working 70 to 80 hours a week took its toll on me and eventually, I was again searching for that passion that so enlightened me in my younger years. And as I developed relationships in the business world with people who held the same passion for hunting as I had as a young man, I began hunting again but with the support of good outfitters in areas more difficult to get into. And so, after 15 years away from hunting, I began a yearly jaunt to the Flat Top Wilderness where after 6 or 7 years of successfully working with multiple elk outfitters, I ran into Dean Billington of Bull Basin Outfitters. Dean runs a first class operation using multiple ranches providing wild fair chase hunts on some of the most beautiful property in Colorado. And after several elk hunts, Dean asked if I was interested in a mule deer hunt on a property north of
Kremling Co. called Elk Fork Ranch that he felt I would really enjoy. Not being a lover of venison or ever really having much success deer hunting, I hesitated. But fortunately due to the request of one of my good customer friends, we scheduled the hunt. And quite frankly it was the best move I could have made. Now keep in mind, I love elk hunting and I love to eat elk. And the 7 years I hunted the flat tops in the late 90’s prior to hunting deer again were some of the most exciting adventures one could have experienced let alone the taking of numerous trophy Colorado bulls. Full days on horseback tracking the largest elk herd in the country along with changes in weather that can task the most hardy outdoorsman is sometimes more excitement than one can handle. But it is hard to hide an elk and as I began hunting deer again, I realized how elusive mule deer can be, much more so than elk. And the property Dean introduced
BY JIM DURANT
Jim’s buck was the result of an excellent guide who invested hours glassing the tterritory before finding something worth pulling the trigger for.
us to bordered the Rocky Mountain National Park area and was covered in sage, perfect for big Colorado muley’s to hide in with heavy timber and aspen edges for good protection during the day. So for 9 of the last 10 years I have hunted the Elk Fork area north of Kremilng and my guide Eric Potts has gotten me on a bigger buck each year except 2010. From an approximate 153 non typical field score in 2001 to a 196 nontypical in 2009, slipping back in 2010 to a 184 – a heavy buck I took on the last night of the season. And I took a good buck every year, many times on the last day of the season. And this year was no different than the rest. Our party of 4 arrived at the ranch the evening before season with the same enthusiasm and excitement this time of year always brings wondering who would see the big one first and who would get the first shot. Many times we will arrive early the day before so we can spot on the hillside and see who can find the first big buck as it pops out of the sage. Like searching through a Bev Doolittle painting! It is amazing though how you can sit and look at the same hillside of sage with not a single animal in sight of binocular or
spotting scope and then as the sun begins to drop, the deer pop up everywhere. How did I miss that one? Having hunted with Eric Pott’s and Paul Ducksberry of Bull Basin Outfitters for so many years, it was always a competition to see who would spot the animals first. And it was hard to beat the two of them. And on the second day of this year’s hunt, I did beat them. As Eric and I were working our way around a hillside, the morning after we had just filled the tag for my good friend Frank Montoya, his first buck scoring approximately 163, I spotted a massive multi pointed Muley approximately 500 yards in front of us. And as I got Eric and Frank’s attention, we all made a quick move on the buck trying to cut him off before he turned into some timber nearing the top of the hillside. Now to keep this story in perspective you have to understand a few things. First of all, I was hunting with a new scope because the ole’ 3 X 9 standby I had on my 30-378 Weatherby had parallaxed on me the year before causing me to miss a shot on a great bull elk. So I replaced it with the great 5X30x50 Swarovski – great only if you know how to handle it and have practiced with it. Secondly, at 60 years old I am not as steady as I was and my shooting stick has been a big part of my success,
unfortunately on this day I left it back at camp. So you can probably guess the rest of the story. We worked our way within 300 yards of this great buck and as we came up over the edge of the slope and we could see this monster, well, he could see us. And as he froze and Frank and Eric froze, I scrambled free hand with the magnification up much to high on the scope, struggling to get him in sight. And the more I struggled, the more frustrated I got, and the more I failed to get him centered in the cross hairs to be able to take a good shot. And like with all great animals, he wasn’t going to give me all day to take him down so he turned to follow his does and as he crossed my crosshairs I took one desperate shacky shot knowing I could not let this one go like I have so many in the past that just weren’t big enough. Not only was this one big enough, but he was truly a once in a lifetime buck. Needless to say, after doing everything wrong including things I preach to my novice customers in making certain they take advantage of every opportunity as it presents itself, my novice mistakes cost me the chance of a lifetime. I was beside myself to say the least. Bottom line is I finally took a last minute shot and missed - and he ran off into the timber. Summer 2012
What a great hunt! This beautiful buck scored 214 1/8” (non-typical) B&C , 217 SCI.
Well, it was probably all I could do to keep from tossing my rifle and everything else into the air. But knowing it was my entire fault, I held back and just bit my lip, and voiced a multiple of expletives as Eric watched in amazement. I don’t think in all of the years he and I have hunted together that he had ever seen me fumble a situation as badly as I did this one. And knowing that the odds of getting a second chance on this buck were next to none, I thought seriously about packing up and heading home. Now seriously, with the novice mistakes I made that day, did I even deserve a second chance? So that night back at camp we all talked about the big one that got away and yes, everyone took their turn at rubbing salt into my wound. As much trouble as I dish out on hunts with my friends it was only right that everyone take advantage of this situation. And by the end of the evening we all had 60
a good laugh and all talked me into staying. By the third and fourth day of the hunt I was really just going through the motions. We had run onto several nice bucks but none worth considering knowing the minute possibility of running into that big one again. And as I enjoy just spotting the animals and spending time in the outdoors with Eric, I had committed myself to finishing the week out with a positive attitude. I mean, c’mon, it’s fall in Colorado, would you want to be anywhere else? But as an amazing dose of luck would have it, on the last evening of the hunt Eric and I were working our way up a ravine mixed in the sage and aspen. And as we broke out of the aspen and looked up to our left on the ridge, we both broke our silence at the same time with a desperate whisper, “THERE HE IS”!! About 500 yards to our left working a group of 7 does at 15 minutes from dark, there was again this magnificent mule deer moving right toward us. And this time my scope was
set at medium power and rested on my sticks watching him get closer and waiting for him to present a good shot. He wasn’t more than 15 yards from the top of the ridge and my biggest fear was that he would turn and go over the top, never to be seen again. But since the does were still staying down and he followed, I took a risk and waited for a better shot as he moved closer. At 375 yards he stopped and presented me with a good side shot and I knew I had to take it. Two deep breaths and bang, he jumped straight in the air and dropped in the deep sage. He then turned up the hill struggling to move and I took the second shot hitting him between the shoulder blades at the base of the neck. A perfect shot ending any chance he had of escaping. Eric and I jumped into each other’s arms both screaming “WE GOT HIM, WE GOT HIM”!! And little did we realize until we finally got up the hill to gaze upon him, what a truly beautiful animal he was. It also became apparent
that this was not the big buck I had missed on the second day, but a larger buck as far as a typical score would measure and much heavier – but less points. And upon further view it was clear that the well placed 130 grain bullet from the first shot of the 30-378 Weatherby right behind his shoulder was fatal but the second bullet perfectly placed at the bottom of the neck between the shoulder blades quickened the process. Needless to say back at camp we celebrated until refreshments ran out and took pictures until batteries went dead. And as Bass Pro was hosting the yearly Mule Deer Foundation measuring of trophies, we all met again at the Denver Bass Pro Shops where this muley was the only of over 50 trophy’s from TZ out CH-Illustrated-1-2pg-Tenzing Ad.pdf the nearby states and Colorado to make the Boone and Crocket All
Time Record Book scoring a “Typical Score” of 192 3/8 and a Non Typical Score of 214 1/8. The certified SCI score was 217 but we are waiting for the it11:11 takes 1 position 3/19/12 AM in SCI’s all time scores. In summary, mule deer will
always be a passion to me whether hunting or photographing, but it will be hard to ever match the excitement and results of this 2011 mule deer hunt in northwestern Colorado!! But that’s never going to stop me from trying!
Meyer and Brock
Par tners in Pursuit of
BY DAVID MEYER
2006 Guide: Torrey Brock Location: Kane Co., Utah Score: 213 4/8 B&C Helpers: D. Moss, S. Kemp
The author holds up his fantastic Utah buck along with it’s 2005 sheds.
he history of the typical mule deer is captured in the great trophy of Doug Burris, Jr., who in 1972 on the second day of his hunt harvested the typical mule deer that all others will be measured against. Measured originally at the North American Big Game awards program, this harvest measured 225 6/8 points. Later when the penalty for excessive spread was dropped, the final score increased to 226 4/8 and for four decades this mule deer of Dolores County, Colorado, has remained the most outstanding of all mule deer and at the height of all typical trophies and only challenged for longevity in the record book by the great non-typical Broder buck taken in 1926 in Alberta, Canada. Mr. Burris was awarded the Sagamore Hill Award named after founder Theodore Roosevelt’s home and is presented only to outstanding individuals who exemplify the highest code of the Boone and Crockett Club. When does one become fanatical about hunting? If this is defined as motivated by great enthusiasm and single-minded zeal, it certainly defines our pursuit of odocoileus hemionus hemionus or the great mule deer. Listening to and reviewing every scouting report; the privilege of reviewing thousands of photographs; starting in the summer and being consumed by the approaching season; the enchantment of the west; the trip to base camp; the joy of the hunt; and, sharing of the harvest, only to repeat this cycle again each year. For Tory and I that cycle began many years ago and over the past many years I, too, have concentrated on one species: the great Rocky Mountain Mule Deer. This cycle has for me been the very best experience of all hunting. Before writing, as requested, of the hunt that occurred in August of 2011, I have summarized the three phenomenal typical mule deer that we have been privileged to harvest. These hunts were in Kane County, Utah in 2006; Gunnison County, Colorado in 2007; and, Mohave County, Arizona in 2008. I have shown a photograph of each buck in the scouting period as well as the field photograph at the time of the harvest. These three deer certainly fulfilled our hunting experience that were the effort of many.
Doug Burris, Jr.’s world record typical mule deer, taken in 1972. It’s “the typical mule deer that all others will be measured against.” It’s final score is 226 4/8 B&C and is still unchallenged four decades later.
2007 Guide: Steve Guerra Location: Gunnison, Colorado Score: 205 1/8 B&C Helpers: D. Moss, T. Brock, L. McCloud, C. McCloud
The Big Drop
Returning from a period of physical limitation, we were privileged to hunt in 2010 under the Governorâ€™s tag in Arizona. There is something we all know very magical about this area some 35 miles wide and 70 miles long and approximately 3.0 million acres that seems to take days of scouting in definitive monotony but when a deer is seen there is certainly the chance of enchantment. I have been privileged to be accompanied by great support over this period of time. In 2010 we were able to hunt for some magnificent bucks, perhaps the best fall of the decade. Tory, Raid and I spent many hours in pursuit of three specific deer over this two-year period. The amazing scouting photographs of the KING, the 50 and the BIG DROP were worthy of any hunters dream. Our hunt ended with the monsoons and very excellent hunters and their guides harvested two of these trophies during the delayed rut, ending our opportunity for the phenomenal bucks that we had ever observed. We were left with hundreds of photographs as the only memories of these splendid deer. With improvement of our physical limitations, we returned to hopefully fill our tag in August of 2011 and though the hunt could be arduous I felt each day at camp we were improving in our ability to walk for longer periods and felt so improved that we were able to hunt once again at altitude. This hunt was an extremely exciting hunt to date in that we had pursued a bachelor herd of mule deer numbering 17 that presented in the valley below the Blackrock Mountains. It was a magnificent view and one can see in the picture the surrounding woods and mountains. No matter how we attempted to stalk this group there seemed always to be an escape away from us as by hunting light they had fled the valley and were already within the elevated tree line. We did have the opportunity to see within this group a tremendous deer but despite our efforts could not close the distance. It was late in the hunt that early on a clear breaking morning, we came into view of the valley and we noted the entire group of the bachelor herd had not yet exited the field and though we were a great distance from them there was a certain rise that blocked their view as we approached. The bachelor herd showed separation and as daylight broke, we could clearly see
2008 Guide: Torrey Brock Location: Mohave Co., Arizona Score: 219 3/8 typical frame SCI Helpers: C. Bundy, D. Collins
the individual buck because of his very dark coat and perfect velvet. My entire body felt unsteady anticipating the shot, knowing the distance [362 yards], and knowing that the area of his retreat would make him, for this season and even beyond, non-recoverable and without a second chance. As I steadied my Lazzeroni 7.82 caliber Warbird, I tried very hard not to look at his magnificent antler configuration. A logging truck moved above us and he turned towards me and even at that distance I knew I must shoot a little back and quartering to avoid the right side of his incredible rack. He was truly the biggest typical deer of any deer species that I have personally viewed, including the three great deer described above. When the shot was taken I felt from the distant sound and his sudden retracted movement that he had been hit, but he turned quickly and there was a question, was my shot accurate? Within minutes he had disappeared and the bachelor group had gone up into the hills while looking back for their dominant leader but continued to elevate into the woods beyond. As we approached the field we saw the buck elevate from the brush and, though unsteady, enter a wooded area some eight hundred to a thousand yards from us. When we tactically approached, letting the wind come in our direction, the grove he had fled into we found his bed but he was gone. We retreated and hoped that when he lay in the next bed he would expire. This summer day was perhaps the longest day I remember. Waiting until that evening Tory, Darrin, Tom and myself met our friends Larry and Kory Bundy at the point of the first bed and began to carefully trace step at a time. There was very little blood trail but there were areas of definite bedding as he ascended and tried to return to his bachelor herd. We had waited a full period of greater than eight hours from our initial tracking and as we elevated Tom visualized a large raven rise on the mountain and we immediately veered towards that sighting and there on the hill bedded under a great Conifer was the typical mule deer of a lifetime. There is no way to describe our view of this buck as we approached him. The heaviness of this great deer was apparent. With only one non-typical tine [1 z6/8] on the right G3, he was of great
â€œThe bachelor herd showed separation as daylight broke.â€?
Pictured right: Back view of this monster typical buck.
TALE OF THE TAPE LEFT ANTLER Main beam length: Length T1: Length T2: Length T3: Length T4: Circumference C1: Circumference C2: Circumference C3: Circumference C4:
26 1/8 2 4/8 17 4/8 13 4/8 12 1/8 7 2/8 6 4/8 6 0/8 6 4/8
RIGHT ANTLER Main beam length: Length T1: Length T2: Length T3: Length T4: Circumference C1: Circumference C2: Circumference C3: Circumference C4:
26 6/8 2 3/8 17 3/8 12 6/8 13 2/8 7 4/8 6 4/8 5 5/8 6 5/8
MAIN BEAM SPREAD:
TOTAL: 222 6/8 TYPICAL FRAME 66 66
HUNTING HUNTING ILLUSTRATED.com ILLUSTRATED.com
symmetry and of the greatest of all mass [26 per side with > 8â€? at the burr] exceeding any expectation we had during the scouting and our pursuit. In view of Mustang Knoll we photographed and prepared to cape and quarter his truly massive body. Included in this report are all of the final measurements taken some 79 days after harvest. Though we will continue to hunt as we have been blessed with return to improving health, there will certainly never be a typical mule deer for us that will reach this level of complete balance of 222 6/8 points. Our hunts of today have allowed us a great advantage over the past and while we always maintain the fair chase standard, our technology [camera] and guide support [extensive scouting] differ from the amazing solitary hunts of Deuling, who walked a full day in the Pelly Mountains of the Yukon to reach his sheep area before harvesting his world record Mountain Caribou in 1979 or Alford who was 1/16 of an inch from a world record in his 1988 pursuit of a massive tom cougar in the Idaho wilderness for over a full month alone. With that stated, the dedication and effort of the wonderful individuals listed and the massive hours of effort alone in their isolation in pursuit of the magnificent mule deer by our good friend Tory Brock, is truly an amazing story in itself. The four deer spoken of belong equally to him. It was our privilege to play our part in their harvest. We want to thank Sam Carpenter for the great photograph of the Utah buck; Doyle Moss for the excellent photograph of the Colorado buck; and, Torrey Brock for the trail camera photograph of the Arizona buck. I also want to thank John Mogle for encouraging us to write this story for his familyâ€™s journal and certainly wish to thank all that helped us during this recent period to return to this mystical place and the greatness of the habitat for these giants of the Arizona strip.
If we can get...
Within 1,000 Yards
“If we can get within 1000 yards, we can kill him,” I said to Matt. He replied, “I think I can make that shot with the right rest”. We both agreed that it was the best option we had in collecting his previously wounded muley buck. This conversation took place in the middle of one of the most memorable hunting experiences I’ve ever had, as a guide, or as a hunter. Matt had come from Ohio with his Father Charlie to hunt Mule Deer during the early rut in Northern Utah with The R&K Hunting Company. My name is Tony, and I was guide on this hunt. I have worked for R&K for three years now, and have had extensive training at the company’s
long range shooting facility under the tutelage of Company owner Justin Richins. I even put in a weekend to help build the structure that houses the shooting benches. I have been able to fine tune my own long range shooting skills at this range over the last few years which helped my personal hunting success greatly this past year, but that is a story for another day. Matt had booked his hunt for the first week of November, which is the early part of the Mule Deer rut in this area. Knowing the property like I do, I knew that we would likely be seeing different Bucks each day as they moved around looking for receptive does. We decided that the first three
days of the hunt would be spent looking for a real bruiser, leaving us two days to find a good representative Buck. Day one found us on top of one of my favorite hilltops, glassing for Deer in all directions. From this point you can see almost to the edge of the Ranch to the South and East, and a long ways to the North and West. We saw lots of Deer, and several Bucks, but nothing that would be classified as a “first day shooter”. Upon returning to the lodge for Lunch, we were happy to see that Matt’s buddy Phil (also from Ohio) was able to connect on a really nice Buck that was a “first day shooter” for him. A bit later in the afternoon we headed back out to the same area we had been that morning, but on a different vantage point (little did we know that on this very spot in three days time we would be having the conversation you see at the beginning of this story). We glassed up a good Buck right off the bat about a mile away; he was out strutting around in the middle of the afternoon, in the open, in broad daylight. You gotta love some early rut action to get those bucks up and moving! After getting close enough to see him better, we both decided that he was very tempting, but not quite what we wanted this early in the hunt. This would be the first of many times we would see this particular Buck. The next morning we decided to head back to the same spot, and see if maybe a new Buck would show up. After glassing from my usual spot for two hours, we decided to head across the creek to the East, and glass back into the hill that we had been on top of. Just as we were crossing the creek we could see a group of does up on the hillside to the West. Hunting mulies at this time of year, when you see does, you get ready! Sure enough, at the back of the group was the buck we had seen the previous evening, rack back and nose in the air following those does like a bloodhound. I told Matt that it was the same buck from last night, and asked if he had changed his mind. “He looks a little bigger today” Matt replied. “Well, if you want him, you better get ready because he won’t be here for long” I said. We hemmed and hawed for a minute, and finally decided to let him go again. After all, apparently he had grown slightly overnight, so maybe if we let him go for
BY TONY ALLRED
Matt’s dad, Charlie, eyes in closer on some distant deer.
one more day… We watched them feed up and over the ridge into their bedding area, a mix of scrub Oak and Maple. The morning of day three we were hit with some inclement weather, which is normally what you pray for during this type of hunt. Today was a bit of an exception though; the snow was flying sideways and was super wet and heavy. We did the best we could and tried to cover some ground in the side-by-side, the visibility was simply too low to do any glassing. We spent several hours in the nasty stuff, and again, we saw lots of Deer, and several Bucks, but not the one
we were looking for. We decided to head back to the lodge a little early, as the weather and having three of us in the ATV was starting to get to Charlie, who had just had a hip replacement a few months earlier. I told them we could do some long range shooting in our down time. They were all excited about that. One thing I ask of all my hunters first thing is “How far are you comfortable shooting”? Matt had mentioned that 400 yards is his personal limit, and he had made shots at that range before. R&K has a strict “You wound it, you’re done” policy, and we stress that from the first minute. Upon returning to camp we set up some targets out at 300, 400, and 500 yards. All the guys in camp had a great time shooting their own guns, as well as Camp Boss Justin’s Gunwerks 6.5x284 Norma. All the guys had no problem scoring hits at all ranges from the prone position. Under good conditions, and with the proper rest, a 500yard shot is easily doable by any competent shooter with this gun. That afternoon we decided to head up higher on the mountain to see some different country. We set up in a great spot and spent an enjoyable afternoon looking at nearly a hundred Deer, and four Bull Moose. Tons of Deer, but no shooter Bucks that night. That
evening at dinner Matt decided we should try to make a play for that respectable buck he had passed on several times already. There comes a point in a hunt where familiarity with a certain animal most definitely adds to the trophy quality. Instead of just another Deer, it becomes “Your Buck”. I agreed with Matt’s sentiment whole-heartedly. Matt had been hinting all week at wanting to hunt with Justin’s Gunwerks Rifle, and tonight he must have been in a good mood, because Justin finally agreed to let him take “his baby” up on the mountain. The morning of day 4 found us hiking up the mountain to get into position knowing that we would likely intercept our buck heading from the creek to his bedding area. As we crested over the hill I started heading down to a small knoll that would put as about 300-400 yards from the suspected travel route of the Deer, and give us a nice spot to get a good prone rest. I whispered my plans to Matt, who expressed some concern at being in a bad spot for the wind to potentially bust us. We decided to head off to the left a bit and try to stay out of the wind lanes, but it would mean we had to shoot from
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Spending time at the range, dialing in gun, scope and ammo, helped hone Matt’s skills for the perfect opportunity
sticks, instead of being prone. Matt said he was comfortable off the sticks, so I relented. (As a guide, we have to walk a fine line between doing what we think is best, and considering the wishes and requests of our Hunters. In hindsight, perhaps I should have been firmer in my recommendation). We didn’t have to wait long, less than an hour after sitting down, the deer started to come up out of the bottom of the draw and head up to the bedding area. Matt is a very good hunter, the kind that guides just love to have. Lots of experience, and just knows what to do without me having to tell him. He was ready before I could even tell him to get on the sticks. Sure enough, after about 20 does passed, that same Buck was right behind them. The first time he stopped in the open, I quickly ranged him. “He is right at 400, Matt” Matt dialed the scope up to 400, and squeezed the trigger. BOOM! “You got him!” I exclaimed. The Buck jumped, kicked, and took off running up the hill. He stopped at the top of the hill, just before going into brush, and turned to the right so I could see his side. The shot looked pretty good, maybe a bit farther back than is ideal, but looked good enough to be a fatal wound. At this point, we had a couple of options. #1 was give him the standard 30 minutes and then go look for him. #2 was to walk out the way we came, move across the creek to the other side of the canyon, and see if we could see him again. I tend to like to play it safe, so we chose option #2. We got to a high vantage point and started to look for the wounded buck. We found him about a mile and a half away bedded in some scrub oak. He was bedded, but his head was still up. We decided to just watch him until he expired, then go collect him. Within just
a few minutes, he started putting his head down for about a minute at a time, then trying to pick it back up again. The Magpies were already circling. This hunt was a done deal, or so we thought. After watching him with his head down for about 15 minutes, and not moving a muscle, we concluded that he was dead. On a whim, I decided to call Justin and have him bring Charlie over to share in the moment, and to watch the Buck for us while we walked over to him. Between the time that I called Justin, and the time he and Charlie arrived, the Magpies really started to flock around that Buck. When Justin and Charlie arrived, we went to show them the Buck through the spotting scope, and to our dismay, he was gone! The Magpies had pecked at him so much that he had gotten up out of his bed, and was trying to move off deeper into the brush. He bedded one more time, and put his head down again. “Surely he is dead now” I said, “You would think so” agreed Matt. But alas, those Magpies weren’t done tormenting him, or us, yet. They continued to peck on him until he got up again and really started moving across the hillside. “We need to get another bullet in him, and quick”! I said. “If we can get within 1000 yds, we can kill him”, I said to Matt, he replied,” I think I can make that shot with the right rest.” “Lets get going then!” I exclaimed. We quickly drove down to the lowest knoll on the East side of the creek, where I figured would be that last place we would even have a chance at being able to see the Buck through the brush, any lower and the angle would simply not allow us to see him. We stopped, got out and started glassing. I found the Buck immediately, got Matt into position,
(prone this time), with a dead solid rest under both ends of the gun. I ranged the buck at 950 yards. I knew at that time of morning there would be almost negligible wind heading uphill as the air warmed so I told Matt to hold for one minute of wind. Matt dialed up the scope, got his breathing right, and squeezed off a shot. I was able to watch the entire path of the bullets flight through my spotting scope, it hit just an inch in front of the Bucks nose. Elevation was perfect, but he needed a bit more windage. I told Matt to hold for two minutes of wind. He made the correction, and squeezed off another round. The buck jumped, ran about 20 yards and rolled head over heels like somebody thrust a stick through the spokes on his bike. “You nailed him!” I yelled. Hooting, Hollering and high fives ensued. We made our way over to where the Buck lay dead, one bullet through a single kidney, and one dead center through both lungs. We have all made at least one less than perfect shot in our lives, and as often as not, those mistakes usually end up with an animal being lost. I am very confident that having the long-range capability of that rifle allowed us to collect Matts Buck. We will never know if we would have been able to find him later that day, or at all. Matt clearly demonstrated he was capable of making that shot at extreme range, with the proper rest and rifle set up. Would I have let him shoot that far in the first place? No. But in our circumstance, there was nothing to be lost, and everything to be gained by taking that nearly 1000 yard shot.
have lived in Arizona my entire life, and I have had the opportunity to hunt Coues Deer many times, but it was not until I met one of my clients in hunting camp, that my quest for a monster began. Tom Sissom, is my partner at Double D Outfitters in Arizona, where we specialize in trophy elk hunts. Our clients have consistently harvested 400-inch bulls every season, for the past ten years. Tom and I guided a client named Mike Ronning, owner of Triple R Outfitting. He told us he had several fantastic Coues deer areas in Sonora, Mexico. Mike showed us several pictures of some of the biggest Coues deer we had ever seen. Some of the pictures were of he and his brotherâ€™s deer from the previous hunting season. They both scored over 120-inches. We were pumped to see such big deer. Tom and I
had always wanted to hunt trophy Coues deer, but did not have a place where we felt we could go to get this done, until now. We asked Mike if he had any spots available. Before Mike left, he found us two spots for January, of the next season. Before we knew it, January was here and Tom and I were heading for the border of Mexico for our hunt. A fellow named Armando, who was there to help us through the border, met us. He had us pull out our rifles and get them ready to clear the inspectors. As I pulled my rifle out of the case I realized I had grabbed the wrong rifle. It was not the one that I had given Mike to register for my hunt. At this point my gun permit was worth nothing. This could be terrible I thought. I could end up in jail or at very least they would take my gun. As this happened I looked across the parking lot and to my amazement, saw two familiar faces. The
Lightfoot brothers, who actually guide for Tom and me, were just coming out of Mexico. I quickly waived them over and handed them my gun to take home for me. I had dodged a bullet! If an officer had started his inspection and seen my rifle with no permit, it could have gone bad fast. I was feeling lucky already, and my hunt had not even started. We cleared the border, and for those of you who have been to Mexico, you know that is an adventure in and of itself. We stopped in a small town called Magnalena, loaded up on some authentic Mexican Tacos, and then headed to camp. There we met up with the Ronnings, and started making plans for our hunt the next day. We woke early and had some delicious breakfast burritos to get us going. As we started our hunt we started seeing bucks right out of the gate. That
BY DARIN COLLINS
A perfect vantage point for scouring acres of land. The Sonora territory can be brutal, yet rewarding.
morning I saw 13 bucks, some of which were in the 190-inch class. I was hoping to harvest a Coues deer that would go over 100-inches. For those of you that donâ€™t know 110-inches makes the record book. So a 100-inch buck would be a great start for us on this ranch. Then hopefully over the years we could move up from there. I knew right away that we would be back on this hunt again. As the hunt progressed it did not seem to matter where the Ronnings put us we would see deer. Usually every time we went out hunting we would see at least 15-20 bucks. This was a great experience, and as you know, when you are seeing game, you are having fun. We were having fun but we were also getting anxious to start shooting. It was now the fourth day of our hunt and Tom had decided if he saw a good buck, he was going to shoot it. That morning, a buck that looked very close to 100-inches came out, and Tom made a great shot and collected a beautiful Sonoran Trophy. This got me very excited! With only a day and a half left of our hunt, I decided I better get serious as well. That evening we saw a great buck at over 500 yards away. We checked him through our spotting scope and decided he was a shooter. I steadied my Weatherby Mark V in .30-378, and squeezed the trigger. The Barnes tipped Triple Shock zipped through the air with ease, and
made quick work of that Coues deer. You may think that is over kill for that little animal, but I am telling you the .30 caliber bucks the wind better than any other caliber I have seen or used in the field. Especially, considering the wind is usually blowing this time of year in Mexico, as it was that day. The wind deflection was very minimal with that caliber, that speed, and that bullet.
At this point we had two great bucks down, and Tom and I figured our hunt was over. That night at camp, we were sitting around visiting, when Mike Sr. informed us that he had two tags left and if we wanted to continue to hunt one more day, we could use the tags. He also said if we used the tags, the deer had better be a trophy. Tom and I laughed and said no problem. We jumped back
Darrin Collins with his amazing #2 world record Coues buck
in the truck with a couple of the ranch cowboys and headed in the direction where they had supposedly seen one of the biggest deer of their lives. We managed to get the truck to the top of a nasty rocky hill so we could do some serious glassing. Just as we got to the top of the hill, Tom started yelling, “get the gun, get the gun!” We all looked across the canyon to see what had gotten Tom so excited. Standing in front of us, at about 350 yards, with two smaller bucks, stood the biggest Coues deer I have ever seen! It was a giant buck! It’s horns were so huge it reminded me of whitetail bucks from Kansas, where I frequently hunted. The dark chocolate horns looked enormous on top of his little head and body. I grabbed Tom’s rifle. Which just happened to be the same rifle and scope as the one of mine that had been left behind at the border, so I was very, very comfortable with it. Tom and I shoot the same loads and our rifles are set up exactly the same so really it was just like shooting my own rifle. I ran about 50 74
yards where I could see them again. Tom said he was the buck toward the back. As I watched them going over the hill, I knew I had to let one fly immediately or it was not going to happen. I settled the crosshairs right behind its front shoulders and “boom!” We could here that great sound of the bullet meeting flesh and bone, “thwack!” It was over just about as quickly as it had started, but man did the celebration begin! It didn’t matter how old I was, or where I was in the world. I felt like a school boy! We hooped, hollered, smiled and gave high fives for the next ten minutes. What a great experience! You’ve got to love the hunt and all it brings. This is truly what makes it all worth it. A few minutes later Mike Sr. called us on the radio and asked if we are shooting pigs, as he had heard the gun shot. We answered, “no.” He then asked if we were shooting coyotes. We told him “no.” He then exclaimed, “well, it better be a big one then!” We asked him if mid 130’s would be big
enough. He said, “yeah right.” We all laughed. We packed the buck up and loaded him in the truck. When we got back to camp there was a crowd waiting to see if we were telling the truth. As we pulled up, everyone gravitated to the back of the pick up to look at the deer. All the hooping and hollering started all over again and the celebration lasted deep into the night! We ran a tape on my buck and it measured much higher than we had guessed. He grossed 149 4/8 B&C points. The typical frame was 143 4/8”, which made him number two of all time, in the SCI record books. I received a North American Award from SCI at their Annual Convention this past winter. I would like to thank Tom Sissom for being nice enough to let me use his rifle that day, Triple R Outfitters, and the Ronnings, for a great hunt in Mexico. For anyone interested in hunting Big Coues deer, please check out their website at www.tripleroutfitters.com.
SHEARER B L I S S ALLEN SHEARER’S HUALAPAI BULL ELK
BY ALLEN SHEARER y brother Tom and I decided that we wanted to hunt elk in a place where there was the possibility of taking a 400inch bull, and have the opportunity to do it together. After plenty of research and talking with several people, we decided on the Hualapai, in Northern Arizona. We found some tags, which allowed us to hunt early, at the beginning of the rut, in late August/ early September. I towed my camp trailer down to Arizona from Washington, and our friends Darren and Tom who came along to help us did as well, making for a very nice camp. The first night in camp we were introduced to our guides. Mine was a fellow named Spider and Tomâ€™s was Loren. They seemed like good guys and they seemed to have in depth knowledge about the bulls in the area.
As customary, I usually get into camp a day or two early, to do as much scouting as possible. I like to get familiar with the area and see what caliber of animals we can find. Tom and I were amazed at the number of elk that we were seeing. On one of the evening scouting outings, Tom saw a huge bull that got him very fired up. He wanted to try to spend as much time as it took to get this particular bull. Tom and the guys thought he would easily measure over 400 inches. They spent every morning and evening hunting that bull for seven straight days, but did not so much as catch a glimpse of him again. Tom was felling a little depressed and frustrated that he could not catch up to the giant bull. He saw plenty of nice elk over those seven days, but he had his heart set on the 400-inch plus monarch. Spider, Darren and I bounced around from area to area looking at
different bulls but I was also holding out for a giant. I was hoping to take a 400inch bull with my muzzleloader built by Ultimate Firearms. This particular muzzleloader was capable of shooting out to 400 yards and I was confident that if we got a big bull in front of me within that range, I could take him. The morning of August 31st we decided to scout from a water tank that we had been to before and seen some pretty good bulls. The set up at this water hole was perfect. We could see very well in all directions. This gave us a chance to look over the bulls that would come into the area and most importantly, a view of the lay of the land would give us the opportunity to take a shot if the right bull stepped out. As the sun started to crest the junipers of the Arizona Mountains, bugling bulls seemed to be coming at
Allen and Tom Shearer atop the Arizona landscap. The Hualapai has gained a big reputation for 400+ class bulls.
BY ALLEN SHEARER us from every direction. I sat there with a smile from ear to ear as I took in this amazing experience. This experience is what makes me an elk hunter. There is nothing elk like it! As the day began to break we could see elk already at the tank. A beautiful 6X6, 350-type bull was rolling in the mud at the waters edge and bugling like crazy. Every time he bugled there were three or four bulls that would answer him. A couple of those bugles sounded like the bull they were coming from was big. It was awesome to watch, as one bull would leave the tank, another would come in to water. Those bulls really wanted nothing to do with each other. It was like they each had a number and as one would leave the next in line would come on in for a drink. We knew that eventually, it would be the turn of
those bulls that sounded so big, we waited patiently. Finally, one of the big boys came in and we were amazed at the size of his rack. He had double front tines and double 5ths on his right side. He was a straight 6 on his left side. This bull was Wow! He was as unique as they get and we estimated his score to be around the 400-inch mark. At first, I was going to pass on him because I wanted to see the other big bull that was screaming for his turn at the tank, but this bull was not leaving the water. After about 10 minutes of watching this giant, I could not take it any longer. I made sure Darren had the video camera rolling; we then ranged the bull one more time. He was only 183 yards away and I was confident I could put him down. I settled the cross hairs on his front shoulder and boom! When the smoke cleared the
“After about 10 minutes of watching this giant, I could not take it any longer...I settled the cross hairs on his front shoulder and boom!” The shot was perfect.
bull was walking up the trail away from the water. Of course the thought crossed my mind that I had missed, but his wobbly steps confirmed he was hit hard. He walked about 30 yards and fell over. Wow, that was awesome! The accuracy of my muzzleloader was unbelievable. The shot was perfect and the Barnes 250 grain bullet did its job. The smile from that morning was back. We were all jumping around high fiving in this moment of jubilation. We were pretty sure the bull was going to break 400 inches and we got it all on video to boot. Spider, Darren and I reflected on the week and all the incredible bulls we had seen. The Hualapai is truly a magical place. We saw well over 20 bulls that would score over 350 inches that week. To see so many incredible animals was worth the experience by itself. To harvest such a big bull with my muzzleloader was the best! We took pictures and more video and then went back to camp to see how Tom was doing. When we got back to camp we did not tell them we had shot the bull, instead we told them we wanted to show them some video of a bull we had seen to see what they thought of him. We were all watching the video of this bull and my brother and the other boys asked me if I was crazy. They said why didn’t you shoot that bull? No sooner had they said that, than my muzzleloader rang out on the video. They went crazy and the high fives started all over again. It was awesome! We all got a good laugh out of it. At the end of the day my bull scored 402 B&C points gross. What an incredible program the Hualapai has put together for the Rocky Mountain Elk! They are growing some toads. My brother ended up taking a great 6x6 later in the hunt with nearly 18 inches of broken antler. Even at that, he scored a whopping 385 B&C points gross. Tom and I had a great time together and feel very lucky to have been offered the opportunity to be able to hunt together in the greatest elk country in the world! I would like to give a big thank you to the Hualapai Fish and Game Department.
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t’s interesting when you stop and think about all of the different methods and tools we use, and various places we go to hunt. It’s kind of like a puzzle with pieces that each person fits together to provide him or herself with a great reward. What constitutes “the reward” varies from person to person, depending on an individual’s objectives. Some hunt thick country where a long shot may be 100 yards. Others hunt high alpine basins where shots can vary from two to six hundred yards, or more. The fact of the matter is, when hunting trophy animals in wide open spaces more likely to be found in the mid-west and western states, a person will probably not be able to pre-determine the distance at 80
which their shot will occur. Therefore, some hunters set personal limits as to the maximum distance they will take a shot. Others practice and hone their skills to feel confident in their abilities and equipment at extended ranges. The proper cartridge and rifle combination is important, and normally where most begin. The latest and greatest “Super Magnums” have their place and can most certainly extend the range to which we effectively engage game. With that said, we also must understand that the rifle is still just a vehicle to get the bullet to the target. The bullet is what ultimately delivers our intentions to the target. Whether that’s simply punching a hole through a piece of paper or bringing down a large bull elk, the bullet must be suited for its intended purpose.
When shooting longer distances a great deal of emphasis is placed on marksmanship—as well it should. However, an equal amount of emphasis must be placed on three vital pieces of equipment: a rifle that is capable of .5- .75 MOA or better, optics that allow the shooter to precisely place the shot, and a bullet that is built for the intended purpose. All three are important, but oftentimes greater attention is paid to the functions and abilities of the rifle and scope. The rifle and scope are the vehicles for delivery while the bullet is what delivers the end result. Once the bullet leaves the barrel, success or failure depends upon how well the bullet does its job. Knowledge produces informed decisions that
BY THAD STEVENS
“The rifle and scope are the vehicles for delivery while the bullet is what delivers the end result. Once the bullet leaves the barrel, success or failure depends upon how well the bullet does its job.”
bring about the greatest chance for success, and much can be learned about the bullet. In days past, bullets wore very tangent o’gives and had flat bases. This design was considered good to go—and it was—when shots were kept in the moderate ranges that most game was taken. A whole new breed of projectiles is available today that have wider function windows, secant o’gives and long boattails that produce drag coefficients only dreamed about in years gone by. Commercial product manufacturers now incorporate sophisticated software into R&D programs to predict stability and drag coefficients. Machine shops utilize CNC equipment to manufacture precise tooling, which in turn produces a precision product. Ballistics laboratories invest heavily in state of the art equipment and facilities. So, what useful data does all of this hightech instrumentation provide for choosing the right long-range hunting bullet? It boils down to four key items: drag coefficient (ballistic coefficient or BC), accuracy, velocity and terminal performance. DRAG COEFFICIENT & ACCURACY Drag coefficient feeds accuracy when shooting long distances. When the two are reversed, the same does not hold true. To dive deep into drag coefficients would require an entirely separate article; however, it is important to think not only about how the drag coefficient (BC) will affect vertical drop. It greatly affects horizontal dispersion (wind). As a foundation for any useful shooting solution, an accurate BC (G1, G7, Summer 2012
etc. or an actual drag coefficient measured with Doppler radar) is extremely important. Do not simply rely on a value because it is in a catalog or manufacturers marketing materials. Investigate by asking others what they have witnessed for drop with the bullet you choose and contact the manufacturer for the method, velocity and distance they use to measure values. The greater the distance over which values are measured, the accuracy of the measurement is increased due to a wider velocity range from muzzle to target. I believe that most companies work hard to provide their customers with accurate values, but there are still inaccurate values published today. Customers order BDCs and cut reticles based on a BC and velocity
they find published in a reloading manual or printed on the ammo box label. In too many cases, money is wasted and rounds are no closer to being on target than when the process began. VELOCITY Using velocity information out of a reloading manual or off of a box of ammo does not provide accurate data for specific platforms. This is not because manufacturers are lying; it is simply due to adherence to industry standards. Most manufacturers shoot their pressure and velocity data from a SAAMI (Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute) spec barrel. Velocity and pressure
are normally fired from a 24-inch barrel; however, when fired from a 26-inch barrel, which many commercially available magnum rifles are fitted with, a substantial increase in velocity occurs. Case in point: the Barnes Ballistics Lab conducted tests with a 300 Winchester Mag match round using both a SAAMI spec pressure barrel and a Remington 700 Tactical with a 26inch barrel. There was 126 ft/s increase in velocity from the test barrel (2727 ft/s) to the actual rifle (2853ft/s). What does this translate to down range? The bullet in this particular load had a G1 of .620. Therefore, using a 300 yard zero and Standard Metro parameters to calculate down range drop and drift at 700 yards there is a 9.1-inch difference in drop and a 2.1-inch difference in drift with a 10 mph full value wind. This may not sound earth shattering. But, putting the bullet in an 8-inch kill zone at 700 yards away with human error involved, every inch counts. In this case, if an individual had dialed using the 24-inch barrel’s velocity it would have resulted in a miss, or worse yet, a wounded animal. Another important factor to consider is the consistency of the load. If the baseline average of 2853 ft/s had an extreme spread of 50 ft/s the difference in drop would be 3.44-inches and 0.78-inch in drift at the extremes. It is critical that the extreme spread is maintained to within the 25 ft/s range and standard deviation is in the single digits. This not only aides in vertical dispersion but as illustrated it plays an important part in the horizontal component as well. TERMINAL PERFORMANCE
Companies like Barnes Bullets have research labs that allow them to test and effectively measure bullet performance based on the author’s four factors of long-range
Bullet function should rate as high on a hunter’s list as aerodynamics. If you are hunting with a bullet that has a great BC value and a load that shoots half MOA, but it lacks in the function department, what exactly have you accomplished? Maybe a great load for Camp Perry? For longrange hunting, choose a bullet that will function not just at the extended ranges, but up close as well. You can’t always pick your shot. You may be well prepared to shoot long distances, but if a 400-inch bull appears 80 yards in front of you, will you have the time to sprint backwards and away from the animal to take the shot that ensures proper bullet performance? It is a good idea to visualize where the bullet will impact the animal,
and how the bullet will perform at different angles. Will it fragment just after entering the skin, failing to penetrate to the vitals? Will it connect with bone and fragment, causing a flesh wound? Will it simply not open and pencil through without causing much damage to tissue or vitals? These are things that should be considered, especially when shooting at long range. Poor shot placement or bullet performance at an extended distance limits exactly what one can do for a follow-up shot. Terminal performance is something that should be taken very seriously. Different bullet styles and construction will obviously give different results. A bullet that opens rapidly (within the first half-inch of penetration) and continues its path through the animal while wreaking havoc on bones, arteries, lungs, heart and possibly an offside shoulder prior to exiting, is NOT wasting the bullet’s energy. In fact, it’s maximizing a bullet’s performance potential. When a bullet exits an animal, there is virtually no energy left to expend. However, a bullet that comes apart in the first few inches and then fragments in many different directions
is not maximizing energy at all. This is illustrated in the differences between a permanent cavity and a temporary cavity. I realize the temporary cavity looks impressive, but it’s important to understand that with temporary cavities the energy is only deposited next to the vitals. Tissue is simply disrupted, not necessarily destroyed. For example, lungs, muscle, and arteries can all expand and contract a tremendous amount. The temporary cavity has no reliable wounding and/or permanently damaging effect on elastic tissue. A bullet simply depositing its energy next to vital tissue and organs is not something that can be relied on to dispatch game every time. Energy alone does not kill. There are a number of companies optimizing bullets these days with the long range hunter in mind. Different approaches are taken, but all are working to take things to the next level. Barnes is one manufacturer working to provide a good combination of accuracy, BC and terminal performance to the end user. Building on a proven track record of developing high performance products, Barnes has advanced the X Bullet
technology to a current offering that is optimized for long hunting: the LRX (Long-Range X). In answer to the question: What constitutes the perfect long range hunting bullet for you? Obviously the size and constitution of the animal are factors. However, drag coefficient, accuracy, velocity and terminal performance should be balanced. Prior to firing the round from the rifle and checking accuracy, evaluate the BC. Confirm that drag and wind drift are acceptable to the distance you have set as your limit. Velocity standard deviation and extreme spread should be acceptable for your maximum distance. There should also be enough retained velocity to ensure proper bullet function. The bullet must function at any given distance (close or extended.) When making decisions about the right long range hunting bullet, consider the four factors above and balance them to suit your needs. A little of one may need to be sacrificed to achieve an acceptable amount of another, but the overall performance should fit your individual criteria.
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CORP. INTERVIEW Zeiss Sports Optics, USA Mike Jensen, President
http://www.zeiss.com/sports Q. Mike you have been in this industry for a long time. I first met you when you where working for Swarovski. What have you been up to since then? Can you believe that was thirteen years ago? Mike: ”It’s hard to believe it’s been 13 years. How time flies when you’re having fun. Quite honestly, I’ve been blessed with a career path that’s led to the Presidential role at Zeiss. First, I grew up on a gunshop floor in a very successful family retail/wholesale/ law enforcement distribution firearms business. From there I spent 8 years at Swarovski (6 as a Sales Manager learning the optics industry, 2 years as General Manager of Kahles Optics), I spent 6 years at the Freedom Group
- FGI (Remington/Marlin/Bushmaster/ DPMS/Barnes (3 years as VP of Sales and Marketing at Marlin Firearms) and when FGI purchased Marlin, they brought me to their global headquarters to take the role of Vice President of sales where I spent three years. It’s been exciting. I’ve been at Zeiss now for one year.” Q. I feel you could have worked for many companies. Why did you choose Zeiss? Mike: “Everyone wants to be part of a winning team, myself especially. I’m a very competitive guy. I didn’t leave FGI, I was committed on staying there. FGI is the largest gun and ammo company in the world, why should I leave? However, when the opportunity presented itself at Zeiss and I saw a sleeping top industry brand, and I saw the corporate commitment to invest, diversify and give autonomy to leadership in global markets (ie USA), their commitment to invest in new industry benchmark product lines, I knew this was a rare lifetime opportunity that wouldn’t knock twice.” Q. Zeiss has always been at the forefront with High End cutting edge products. What would you consider Zeiss’ most cutting edge product for 2012? Mike: “That’s a tough question. We have a 2 tier product line strategy, Victory products (industry benchmarks of the absolute the best hand crafted optics, technically, optically, ergonomically the best that money can buy) and Conquest products (excellent performing premium products, priced better due to new manufacturing efficiencies implemented) . We have introduced award winning products in both categories this year so I have to split my answer. corporate
• Victory: Our new 2012 flagship product binocular, the new Victory HT, the Brightest Premium Binocular in the World. This binocular is simply incredible with 95% total light transmission (never before reached in the premium market), ergonomics build to fit the resting human hand, and durability features that are unrivaled. • Conquest: Our new 2012 Conquest HD Binoculars, premium European binoculars that for the first time in many years, offered to consumers under $1000. This is a GIANT seller for us. We clearly understand our market and the facts are that most hunters simply want great performance and a great brand but just can’t spend $2000+ on a super premium product. The economy is tough on all of us.” Q. When it comes to high-end optics I think the consumer is very concerned with customer service. When a customer buys a Zeiss product what can you tell them to expect from both performance of their product and from Zeiss customer service? To me those are the two most important components of any product. Mike: “New leadership at Zeiss brings a new philosophy to the premium optics industry. We at Zeiss recognize that consumers expectations in this market and economy at this price level are at historic levels. New for 2012 is our “No Fault Policy” that we are rolling out on new product introductions. Simply put, we already offer an industry leading “Limited Lifetime Transferable Warranty”. This covers manufacturer workmanship and defects. However, when a consumer
buys a product at our price level, he is investing in us, and when that guy takes his new product into the field and has an accident, it’s simply not right to charge him to repair it. Therefore we now offer a 5 year “No Fault Policy”. This is what you can expect from Zeiss.” Q. This is Hunting Illustrated’s “Long Range” issue of the magazine and as I am sure you are well aware, long range shooting is crazy popular right now. How do you feel Zeiss is doing in the Long Range product battle? Mike: “Our offerings are the best in the industry. What we have failed to do is communicate effectively this diverse offering to the consumer marketplace. What we offer is: Rapid Z Reticles: Simply the most
diverse long range ballistic offering in the market and our #1 selling riflescope. When you purchase a Zeiss riflescope with a RapidZ reticle, you simply log-on to our website, go to the RapidZ calculator on our homepage, enter the ballistics data for your caliber, bullet, elevation, barrel length…etc, and the calculator tells you EXACTLY what magnification your scope needs to be set at for the cross bars to perfectly collimate to the 100 yards distance bars. Ballistic Turrets: New product offerings (Victory HT riflescopes), come with a set of 9 drums that are preset to work with 95% of the calibers made. Simply use the guide supplied with the scope to determine which ballistic drum to use, sight the rifle in at 200 yards and then use the turret to set your distance. Partnership with Kenton Industries: For those more “discrete” long range shooters, we can offer a ballistic turret that is custom made for you rifle/ammo combination. Kenton is our official ballistic turret partner and this fall, we are running a promotion that Kenton turrets are free with select scope purchases.
Superformance/RapidZ: For a more simple approach for those who do not want to have a custom turret made, or got to our website and use the RapidZ calculator, we bring to the market in 2012 a Zeiss/ Hornady partnership which combines their Superformance ammo and our RapidZ reticle. In simple terms, we take the work out of the process for the consumer. How this works is that select Hornady ammo offerings balistically align with our RapidZ reticles, so we tell the consumers that for the top ammo calibers: 1. Select predefined Hornady Superformance loads 2. Select our RapidZ riflescopes 3. Sight your rifle in at 200 years 4. Crank scope to Max power… and start hitting targets at 300,400,500,600 yards. We simply have the most complete offerings.” Q. What is the one “core message” that you would like to get across to our readers? Mike: “Great question. I’d say, first and foremost, Zeiss is a very different Zeiss than how people have traditionally known us. Our goal is to be industry participants, to be known as “the guys who understand us”, the brand that people aspire to have above all others. We are making great inroads in the last 12 months but we have a long way to go. Executive leadership in this company has changed, we are serious hunters and users of the product and we at all levels of this company can emotionally connect with our consumers needs. This is our goal.” Q. Ok last question, what is your favorite game animal to hunt and why? Mike: “That’s easy, Coues deer. They’ve been my passion since I was a kid and that is not going to change. I started hunting Coues deer seriously at 15, bought my first pair of Zeiss back then (Classic 15x60’s) and still have them. Coues deer are hard to hunt, but is a pure optics hunt spending all day behind binoculars tripod mounted. I simply love this time in the field.”
1. As in “through the roof” or coefficient 5. Small, hollow-haired African antelope 6. Short barreled rifle 7. Pronghorn antelope AKA 9. Two-point muley 10. A ________ Boy Can Survive 12. Deer lack this organ 16. Exceptional shot 18. Flat, spread-out antler growth 19. Inexperienced hunter 20. B&C judgment 21. First type of metallic cartridge
2. 3. 4. 7.
NRA’s Wayne Model 1873 Springfield Bullet’s path Early Alaskan prospector’s nickname 8. California elk 11.Saltpeter, charcoal and sulfur 13.Pachyderms 14.Veteran’s Day, formerly 15.Women’s undergarment or slung over a pack-horse 17.Snare
By Courtney Bjornn
Just For Laughs
ki Chwialkows Cassandra 11 Alaska • 20
Michael O’Kane • Pronghorn Wyoming • 2011
“This issu e’s winner ” Winner: Jerrin Ueck et, Montan a
Jared Young • Mountain Lion Utah • 2011
ker • Lion Kara Schuma • 2010 ca ri Af
Win Vortex Binos!
Each issue of Hunting Illustrated we will be giving away a pair of Vortex binos to the Braggin’ Board photo winner. We would love to see your photo in the mag. All you need to do is send it to us! We select our favorites to show in each issue. firstname.lastname@example.org Jim Shasky • Mule Deer Texas • 20 11
Zack Schreiner •Black Bear 400 lbs, 20 1/5” • Oregon
Jon Ackerm an • Black Bear Alberta • 2011
Chris York • Whitetail Illinois • 2011
derson Jeffrey An 11 Nevada • 20
• 9x9 Elk Eric Cotter 2011 • B.C.
Ben Reynol ds • Mule Deer Montana • 2011
Julie Carn evale • Tu rkey Colorado • 7 1/2” bear d
Braggin’ Board Submission
Send Photos To: email@example.com
David Geer • Whitetai l Maryland • 2010
Each issue’s photo selected as the Braggin’ Board photo winner will be selected by the Hunting Illustrated team. Send in your entry today. Please use high resolution images. www.HuntingIllustrated.com Danelle Busch • Colorado Elk • 2011
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An Antlered Needle in a Haystack of Habitat
he velvet four-point sprung from its morning bed bucking wildly, swinging its head like a world-class bronc. I chuckled to myself, gratified I wasn’t the only animal on the mountain tired of being eaten alive by hordes of mosquitoes. The 2010-11 snowpack was way above average in most of the mule deer’s range leaving more lush forage, abundant water, and more buzzing bloodsuckers on the landscape than we’ve seen for years. The ample forage and water made for some challenging hunting last season. Mainly because there was food and water everywhere, and even lowerelevation transition zones held plenty of forage and water spreading the deer out into a much larger range. To find that trophy buck with the deer so dispersed was sort of like adding an additional haystack to try and find the needle. On a positive note, the excessive nutrients from the 2011
snowpack sent mule deer into the 2012 winter fat and healthy and with more groceries on both their summer and winter grounds. And now with the mild 2012 winter over, while farmers
and skiers weren’t too pleased with the overall snowpack, mule deer enjoyed the lack of the white stuff. With the snow shortage and added nutrients on the land, deer remained dispersed more this winter out from their traditional confined winter ranges; some herds never even left the higher elevations. So much that biologists had to adjust their aerial
5MULE DEER WATCH5
winter surveys to encompass larger areas in order to find and count the wintering deer. This increased availability and quality of forage is what can help improve overall deer populations. By adding another stack of hay (habitat/forage) into the picture, it naturally scatters deer and decreases their vulnerability to predation, diseasetransmission, and forage damage (eating them out of house and home), highway mortality, and a host of other threats. The combination of record moisture in 2011 followed by the mild winter of 2012 has created an exciting scenario for both mule deer and hunters. Deer are in great condition, there is healthier habitat, and a larger numbers of young deer that survived the 2012 winter. Not only does this back-to-back wetdry year combo help overall deer numbers but is ideal for improved antler growth. Healthy deer mean more
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inches in antlers. We know genetics dictate the overall design of the buck’s antlers but it is nutrients that determine how big that particular design will be from year to year. For a buck to output maximum antler-growth, it has got to be in its best possible body condition. Body condition is directly dependent on moisture since moisture is what translates into good forage nutrition, the key component in antler growth. Yearling mule deer bucks are often used to gauge forage nutrition conditions. Studies have confirmed that forked-antlered yearlings are more prevalent than spikes after a wet season. So when a yearling deer tops out as a spike, forage quality was lacking for that particular animal; while a yearling that produced forked-antlers reflects a higher forage quality. There is no doubt the amount of moisture that falls across the west each season greatly influences antler size, but the timing and amount of moisture and its effects on antler growth vary whether you are a desert mule deer or a Rocky Mountain mule deer.
Rocky Mountain Mule Deer In northern habitat (somewhere around the s. Utah/s. Colorado border northward), mule deer are more vulnerable to deep snow pack which limits their access to nutrients while weakening their body condition. Too much snow and cold temperatures are a deadly combination and can seriously deteriorate a deer’s health quickly. The poorer the buck’s condition is coming out of winter, the more energy will be required to rebuild its body condition in the spring which robs would-be antler growth. To get the upper limit of antler growth, a buck must go into the winter after a wet year gorging on high protein through the summer/fall months. A mild winter lets the buck come out of it in healthy enough shape that the body reconditioning process will be a piece of cake and protein can be converted into antler growth earlier. This is the scenario we are experiencing this season. Mule deer went into the 2012 mild winter in excellent shape and are coming out of it in above average body condition, which means deer are migrating uphill this
5MULE DEER WATCH5
spring more fit allowing more energy to be put towards antler growth. In the northern regions, this fall should be promising for producing upperend antler potential especially if some spring and summer moisture can relieve the recently dry weather. Desert Mule Deer In drier habitats further south, it isn’t snow levels that impact the deer’s health as much as precipitation levels throughout the year, particularly in the spring. Late winter and spring is when abundant moisture can produce a protein smorgasbord, which is essential to maximize antler growth through the dry summer months until monsoon season arrives in late summer bringing more moisture. Just ask any Arizona hardcore hunter how moisture effects antler growth on big Coconino bulls and Strip bucks; those guys watch the weather channel like a stock broker watches Wall Street. Rainfall makes the big difference in antler size from year to year. One study in south Texas, with similar dry conditions as the southern
PHOTO: DOYLE MOSS
mule deer range, showed that spring rains alone was responsible for 70% of the variability in whitetail antler size. This means antlers grew larger following higher precipitation and smaller racks following drier springs. Precipitation levels have been the accurate gauge on whether Arizona’s top end units are going to produce world-class racks each season. So far, the southern regions had some fairly good winter storms, but overall precipitation is still a little below average. Better put your rain-dance boots on and get to dancing! 2012 Forecast As far as mule deer numbers, most states estimate their deer populations as being below population objective with some states claiming a slight increase in herd numbers due to recent beneficial weather, while other states feel their populations are decreasing. Idaho is claiming their deer fared well this winter. They’ve reduced some antlerless and buck hunts in certain units in response to some monitoring, but most units 94
exceed the management objective of 15:100 buck to doe ratio. Nevada says the weather has been kind to their mule deer increasing their herds by 3,000 deer in one season. With the increase in deer, NDOW recommended to the board a 54% increase in mule deer tags for 2012. That’s right; it’s not a typo…54%. Colorado believes their mule deer populations are on a slight decline and the panel approved a 5.8% decrease in tag numbers for mule deer in 2012 Utah is in the middle of some serious transformation of their mule deer management. This is the first year with the new 30 split-up general season units statewide. There will be 86,500 general season buck tags in 2012, a 500 tag decrease from 2011. In response to a bigger than average winter kill in 2011 and a declining deer population, Wyoming decreased their non-resident tags for 2012. Here are the non-resident permit numbers for the following regions in 2011 and (2012): Region G: 800 (600), Region H: 1200 (800), Region W: 1,000 (900), and Region D: 2,100 (1,000). There isn’t a cap on resident general season deer permits. The Climate center outlook predicts this summer in Utah, Nevada,
5MULE DEER WATCH5
Colorado, n. Arizona, s. Wyoming, and n. New Mexico to persist with drier conditions and even intensify into drought conditions, while southern Arizona and New Mexico’s dry conditions are forecast to improve. One thing for sure, a good spring soak or two would help bolster some summer feed and help augment antler growth whether you live in Arizona or Montana. With a mild winter and a warm, dry summer predicted, the heat is undoubtedly parching up much of the water and nutrition, possibly taking away that additional stack of hay created by the 2011 moisture. The good news is hunters may not have to search as far and wide in search of their trophy than they did last season. Water holes and optimum forage areas will be the ticket. Hopefully, With a little luck, maybe this next year we’ll experience a winter with lots of moisture and mild temperatures across the west and with it add another haystack, a bumper crop of deer, and well, hordes of mosquitoes. Hey, but sometimes you gotta learn to take the bad with the good.
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lighted arrow nock is illegal in two or three states. The number one selling broadhead in the world is illegal in two or three states. It is illegal to hunt on Sunday, during the natural hunting season, in eleven states. Game wardens, sworn under oath to uphold and enforce the US Constitution, can violate the fourth Amendment at will, break into private property including a US citizenâ€™s home or hunting lodge, and conduct a search without just cause or a valid search warrant. Armed federal agents of the US Fish and Wildlife Ser vice raided Gibson guitars four years ago and again two years ago, confiscated precious imported wood worth more than a million dollars, have since failed to file any criminal charges, continue to hold the valuable guitar building wood products, caused American workers to lose their jobs and have severely hampered this iconic American manufacturer to conduct business. A family in Utah went bankrupt fighting the EPA and other federal agencies over false accusations, finally won in court, but were then continually threatened and intimidated to comply with the order to vacate their private property based on fraudulent wetland claims where there is no history of moisture on the property. A longtime licensed lobster fisherman in Florida brought his hard earned catch to dock for thirteen years, the same way all lobster fishermen have always done, was forced to load the catch back onto his boat by armed federal agents with claims his
containers were illegal, lost his catch to rot, then went to prison for six years. The man had never been charged or convicted of a crime in his life prior to this life wrecking horror story. A fine, decent, law abiding bowhunter in Michigan was cited and fined for having his bow in a case that wasnâ€™t zipped up all the way. Another young Michigan bowhunter was cited and fined for illegally baiting deer after kicking some apples in an apple orchard a few feet closer to his treestand. A twelve year old deer hunter in Waco Texas was cited and fined for not having his hunting license with him after dropping his legally tagged deer off at the butcher. There is no law that says we need to have our hunting license with us except when we are hunting, but to fight this nonsensical charge would have cost ten or more times what the fine was, so the poor
Chris Bracket was cited and fined in Illinois for killing his bag limit of bull frogs with a bow and arrow. Jay Gregory of The Wild Outdoors was constantly badgered by federal USFW agents only because he aired a hunt on his TV show that allegedly showed hunters using the Rage broadhead in Idaho, where amazingly, the number one selling broadhead in the world is illegal. After managing the undeniable return of the Scimitar Horn Oryx to its healthiest populations ever in North America, a federal judge sided with an animal right’s maniac who stated on CBS 60 Minutes that she didn’t care if the animals went extinct, she simply hates hunting, and banned the proven methodology of sustain yield value by private landowners. With this bizarre, unethical law on the books, USFW thugs would arrest me on felony charges if I were to put a
ILLUSTRATIONS: COURTNEY BJORNN
kid’s dad decided to plead no contest. Fred and Michelle Eichler were legally hunting alligator at night in Texas, with all the right licenses, permits, tags and all proper equipment when armed agents of the USFW ser vice raided their hunting camp. It took many months of arguing with the USFW thugs before they finally admitted the charges were bogus. On Spirit of the Wild TV on Outdoor Channel for all the world to see, I hit a black bear in Alaska in 2009 with an irrefutably obvious non-lethal arrow that never penetrated the animal. Concluding the animal was not hurt, I eventually used my legal tag on a bear that I killed. After three years of feeling threatened with federal felony charges and outrages costs by the federal US Attorney’s office there, I pled no contest even though, like me, the lifetime resident hunting judge from that region admitted in official court records that he had never heard of such a law that stated a “hit” bear is the same as a dead bear.
PHOTO: TRENT LEAVITT
crippled Oryx calf out of its misery on my own property without waiting the minimum of 90 days to have the public determine if I qualified for the federal permits. In Michigan, small family farmers were forced to slaughter their private livestock based on the fraudulent Invasive Species Order that claimed hogs in their pens were “feral” and or “invasive”. Livestock intentionally purchased and raised under human control can by no stretch of reality quality as “feral” or “invasive.” Meanwhile, those innocent family farms are wiped out by
Parting Shot 98
jack booted thugs trampling the US Constitution and common sense. Wildlife management? Sustain yield scientific based regulations, or simply a government gone mad? I have heard from reliable sources that the USFW agency is infested with hunter hating animal right’s crazies who allegedly have bragged that they would, quote, “destroy this (hunting) industry. Only the guilty need feel guilty, but like a handful of courageous BATFE agents who blew the whistle on Eric Holder and his “Fast and Furious” crime spree, I pray to God that the good agents in wildlife agencies everywhere will
do their American duty and out the rats in their own departments who would destroy the honorable conser vation way of life in the last best place.
Eva and Jim Shockey calling it a day. “Like Father Like Daughter”
we didn’t push the envelope.
We ran it through a shredder. The LEUPOLD VX -3. setting the standard of optical and mechanical performance. We didn’t ®
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new standard for performance and outstanding optics. But again, we did. When you’re out there, squeezing the last ounce of light from the day to make that once in a lifetime shot, you’ll be glad we did. For more information on the VX-3, visit ®
your Leupold dealer or www.leupold.com.
1-800-LEUPOLD » www.leupold.com ©2012 Leupold & Stevens, Inc.
SHARPER, BRIGHTER OPTICS » Xtended Twilight Lens System™ » Light Optimization Profile™ » Blackened Lens Edges MORE CUSTOM BALLISTICS » CDS Custom Dial System » Leupold Ballistics Aiming System ®
THE TOUGH GET TOUGHER » DiamondCoat 2™ Scratch Resistance » Twin Bias Spring Erector System » Cryogenically treated dials » Argon/Krypton Sealed
This issue covers topics on long range hunting and shooting.