The ultimate in accuracy, terminal performance and handloaded precision in a factory-loaded round. The all-copper Barnes VOR-TX® Ammunition loads smooth and fires accurately with devastating double-diameter expansion. Available in standard rifle, metric, dangerous game and handgun cartridges. Jeff Bedey took this magnificent Alaska moose at 300 yards with VOR-TX ® Ammunition in 338 Win. 225 gr.
American Hunter 2012 Golden Bullseye Award Winner for Ammunition of the Year.
w w w. b a r n e s b u l l e t s . c o m • 1 - 8 0 0 - 5 7 4 - 9 2 0 0
SOMEWHERE ON A DISTANT MOUNTAINSIDE A TINY WHITE DOT IS GETTING NERVOUS.
Victory FL Riflescopes Supreme Confidence in Long Range Shooting Designed for the most discriminating hunters and target shooters, the new Victory FL riďŹ‚escopes feature premium FL optics for highest resolution, sharpness and contrast. Combined with RAPID-Z ballistic reticle or bullet drop compensation turret options, itâ€™s how long range hunters turn those tiny white dots into trophies. Begin your adventure at zeiss.com/sports.
FL optics eliminate color fringing and visibly enhance optical performance. Available in: 4-16x50 T* FL, 6-24x56 T* FL, 6-24x72 T* FL
Hunting Illustrated Magazine Volume 12, Number 3 www.huntingillustrated.com Subscriptions and Questions 1-435-528-5080 firstname.lastname@example.org
8 16 19 22 24 28
s n m u l Co Fresh Sign — Editorial Staff News, Facts and Fun
Celebrity Hunter — Team H.I. Steve Hornady
What’s New — Staff
Fierce Firearms & Spot Global
The Dueling Duo — Grange & Spomer Cover Scents
Mule Deer — Steve Alderman Stick and String
Elk — Doyle Moss
Base 200-inch Scoring
Photo: Robert millage
34 40 82 84 88 92
Predators— Les Johnson Rifle Confidence
Shooting — John Mogle
Gunwerks LR-1000 Review
Just For Fun
Fun For the Whole Family
Bringing Home the Bacon
Mule Deer Watch — Michael Burrell
Velvent -- A Warm and Fuzzy Addiction
Nuge Factor — Ted Nugent
142nd Annual Freedom Party
s e r u t a Fe î ° 44 48 56 62 68 72 78
Photo Story â€” Thad and Jessica Stevens Free-Range Red Stag
Blister Pass Josh Hedrick
Bear Camp Eva Shockey
Wolf Pursuit Nick Fowler
The Last Adventure Steve Grange
Perfect Patience Beau Knutson
My Guide is Like Family Joe Hill
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: Beau Knutson World Record Archery Muley
Editorial Going the Distance
hat is in a cover? If you consider the last two issues of Hunting Illustrated magazine, it’s everything! Our Spring issue had the new world record typical SCI archery buck, taken by Bowdy Gardner of Utah, gracing the cover. This issue has the new world record archery non-typical SCI mule deer, taken from Canada by Beau Knutson. That is something you may never see again. Two magnificent trophies taken in the same year (2012) and appearing on the front cover back to back in the same magazine. This is what Hunting Illustrated brings to you the reader--quality content with quality trophies and great tips and tactics from our editorial staff. Ted Nugent and Eva Shockey’s articles keep us all well entertained. This is why you need to look no further than right here inside the pages of HI to get your fix to feed your hunting addiction. This summer issue talks long range. We review the Gunwerks LR-1000 system and Steve Alderman talks long-range archery shooting. As we prepare for the upcoming hunting season I hope we are practicing not only long-range shots but also practical shots and angled shots. This will allow us to enter the field with confidence and the ability to be ethical hunters. Hunt like you mean it!
Managing Editor: John Mogle Co-Editor: Matt Mogle Art Director: Matt Mogle Field Editors: Matt Smith, Matson Tolman Copy Editor: Kirsti Beck Contributing Editors: Jillian Stevens, Kirsti Beck, Matt Smith, Luke Jackson Columnists: Steve Alderman,Ted Nugent, Scott Grange, Ron Spomer, Jon Crump, Steve Chappell, Les Johnson, Michael Burrell, Eva Shockey Contributing Writers: Josh Hedrick, Scott Grange, Joe Hill, Nick Fowler, Beau Knutson Illustrators: Courtney Bjornn, Richard Stubler Advertising: 435-528-5080 email@example.com John Mogle Subscriptions / Questions: 435-528-5080 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 firstname.lastname@example.org ©2013 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.
The Latest News and Insights
The Department of Homeland Security needs enough ammo to kill each American five times over? Department of Homeland Security, a civilian agency, is in the process of stockpiling more than 1.6 billion rounds of hollow-point ammunition. This is 1000 more rounds per person than the army maintains—enough ammunition to fight a 24-year Iraq war. At first the DHS denied the buying spree. Then they tried to explain it away as a bulk buying, Costco-style money-saving effort, and necessary for target practice. That’s a lot of target practice and those are some expensive practice rounds. Two legislators are combatting this. Bill H.R.1764/S.843 was simultaneously released in the house and senate, mandating that this recent buying binge by federal agencies be halted. Purchases will be limited to the average purchase amounts in previous years for a six month period while the agencies justify themselves. There is pressure on this bill to not even clear committee. We must keep it from being buried. Whether on your own or using the act-in-seconds function at loyal9.org, we have to demand action. We must make our voices heard. The government must not be allowed this end-around of the 2nd amendment by manipulation of the ammunition market, or be allowed
to arm our internal agencies greater than our standing armies. With the recent push to undercut the 2nd amendment by the administration and gleeful momentum from the press, we must reassert OUR role in this relationship. We know the right to keep and bear arms is guaranteed to all persons in America by the 2nd amendment to the Constitution, and the Supreme Court recently had a bright moment as it reaffirmed that this right is a fundamental right, or a natural right—thus the right to defend yourself, whether from criminals or governments if necessary, is a right that cannot be given or taken away. The framers knew and understood that keeping arms was the last line of defense against tyranny, a final check and balance. It was not written merely to protect the right to shoot food—that right was assumed, the means of survival for many of the people at that time. The right on the framers minds was
the right of defense: America had just fought a revolution against a tyrant and against the most powerful army and navy in the world, and they won because they had their own weapons with which to fight. John Adams said in 1772 that “The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with the power to endanger the public liberty.” Patrick Henry said, “Guard with jealous attention the public liberty, suspect everyone who approaches that jewel.” One of the greatest lessons of the founding fathers is that trusting government is not patriotism but foolishness. Please ask questions. Please demand answers. Please speak out on the above mentioned bill to save it from being buried by congressional committee. Please participate in preserving your liberty.
by Editorial Staff
Let’s Welcome these New Hunters
2,707 yards or 1.54 miles
Chances are if you are reading this magazine that you are an omnivore, and you may even like to call yourself a carnivore. Slapping that ‘vore onto the end of words to label a style or philosophy of eating is common these days, and one of those ‘vores is finding shared values with the traditional feedingthe-family hunter. This group calls themselves locavores and they like their food local and as untraveled as possible. Many ideas are behind this movement. Some believe there are health benefits; others are looking to reduce their environmental impact. Regardless, a healthy locavore needs protein and the bulk of the United States will not provide adequate protein in any way other than animal protein. If a person does not want the beef, pork, or chicken at the grocery store that has been shipped across multiple state lines they are going to find themselves left with either needing a lot of land to raise their own, or turning to the deer and other animals roaming the great out-of-doors. These hunters are coming to the sport of hunting strictly from a food angle, and this trend is growing. A recent story in the Billings Gazette featured Hank Shaw, a reporter and author who took up hunting in his 30s. “There is a huge new movement of food-oriented hunters who are taking up the pursuit specifically for the food aspect,” Shaw said. “Fundamentally, they want to take possession of what they feed themselves and their families.” Shaw discusses this further in his book “Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast.” Some of these new hunters may have been vegetarians who have found that the philosophy of being a locavore makes more sense to them than avoiding meat altogether—while the economics and environmental impact of huge feedlots and other concerns may have driven them away, the same concerns over obtaining vegetable protein brings them back. Whatever the reasons, these new hunters are allies to be won. Their hunting dollars will go to conservation and the preservation of habitat. Their presence will add to the hunting population. And their positive experiences with hunting and the hunting traditions of generations will make them ambassadors to those that might wish to regulate hunting into ever-smaller boxes, or ban it altogether. The flip-side is that a negative experience or two with hunters in the field could send them running the other way. Regardless of the style of hunting you like to pursue, welcoming all those who hunt, sharing your knowledge with them, and respecting their own knowledge and approach can lead to more opportunities for all of us!
Longest confirmed kill by British sniper Craig Harrison. He shot two Afghan Taliban machine gunners consecutively at this range with a .339 La Pua Magnum in 2009
The 6-target NBRSA 1000-yard Light Gun World Record, set by Richard Schatz in 2003
The IBS Heavy Gun World Record set by Joel Pendergraft in 2009, in a 10shot group at 1,000 yards.
1.9557” The FCSA World
Record 5-shot group at 1,000 yards, set by Lee Rasmussen in 2009 shooting in the Heavy .50 BMG Class.
Being Accurate is Being Ethical
t seems that human nature always wants to push the envelope. Most of the hobbies we enjoy create a desire to be better at that hobby, in both skills and tools. Road bikes, for example, are always getting lighter in weight. Auto manufacturing motor companies are always pushing for a faster stock car with 0-60 speeds reaching well under 4 seconds. The desire for better performance in the outdoor and hunting industries has become big business. The progression in hunting clothing, for example, has been nothing short of amazing to be a part of. High quality performance clothing now literally covers the mountain. Synthetic fabrics that wick moisture away from the hunter have become the norm and insulation can still achieved even when your down jacket is completely saturated, thanks to certain manufactures like KUIU. Hunting bows that shoot a 400 grain arrow 330 feet per second and generate over 96 kinetic foot pounds of energy are not hard to find, if you are willing to pay for it. This speed and the ability to fine tune these bows has allowed archers to be accurate at distances well beyond 60 yards. Small diameter carbon arrows allow remarkable consistency, even in difficult conditions and wind. Rangefinders with angle compensation display exact distances and what is called “cut yardage.” With the click of a button the hunter is able to know the exact distance to shoot. All of the gravity calculations have already been performed. Adjustable archery sights create precise yardage in less than half yard increments. The concept of shooting “pin gaps” has been eliminated. These fast bows shoot arrows with a very flat trajectory, allowing the hunter to shoot the same pin all the way out to 40 yards and see literally zero drop in arrow flight. But is all this progression in efficiency a bad thing? Certainly as with all hunting, ethics still prevail. Just because your equipment is capable, does that mean that the hunter is able to make the shot? Ultimately, nothing can substitute for practice. Regardless of the increases in equipment efficiency there still is that human element that demands physical and mental preparation. This preparation cannot be done for you! Is pulling the bow out of the closet a few days before the hunt ethical? The real question is: “What do we owe the animals we are hunting?” Certainly we owe something! In the book “A River Runs Through It” Norman describes his father’s feelings on fishing and the concept applies equally well to hunting: “If our father had had his say, nobody who did not know how to fish would be allowed to disgrace a fish by catching him.” Something has to be said about ‘earning’
the right to harvest an animal. Respect for the animals is a requirement for any hunter. The harder you work and the longer you pursue an animal, the more respect you will have for it. Have the animals had to develop better senses despite all the changes and advances that benefit the hunter? They have. In heavily hunted elk units the elk become very selective in what type of calls they respond to and often turn nocturnal to avoid hunters. As we evolve so do the animals. The best recommendation we can give is to be as efficient and accurate as you can with your archery setup. Wither you are shooting a new Hoyt Carbon Element or a Fred Bear recurve, you need to become proficient with that weapon. Pro shops can be a huge help in maximizing the tuning of your bow, but the consistency is up to you. Practicing is vital in attaining consistent accuracy with any bow. As with most anything in life, and perhaps more so with archery hunting, the more you put into the hunt the more you get out, regardless of antler size!
Brought to you by Boone & Crockett’s On-line Trophy Search www.boone-crockett.org
#1 Alaska-Yukon Moose Hunter: John A. Crouse | Location: Fortymile River, AK Year: 1994 | Score: 261 5/8 “Slim, I think you better read the instructions on how to load your muzzleloader first.”
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he 6.5mm Creedmoor is a centerfire rifle cartridge introduced by Hornady in 2007.]Originally invented from the ground up to give competitive shooters a factory-loaded cartridge that would allow them to compete at the highest levels of competitive shooting. When loaded with heavier bullets, cartridges such as the 6.5x55mm and 6.5-284 are capable of greater muzzle velocity due to their longer cases and larger powder capacity. However, due to its shorter overall length, the 6.5mm Creedmoor is more flexible in its ability to be chambered in short-action bolt rifles and AR-10 rifles. 6.5 mm (.264”) bullets, in general, are known for their relatively high ballistic coefficients, and have seen success in rifle competition. The 6.5mm Creedmoor is capable of duplicating the trajectory of the .300 Winchester Magnum while generating significantly lower recoil.
Also, converting a rifle chambered for the .308 Winchester (or any of its offspring, such as the .243 Winchester, 7mm-08 Remington or .338 Federal) to 6.5mm Creedmoor generally requires little more than a simple barrel change. Loaded with both the new 120 grain GMX® and the venerable 129 grain SST®, the 6.5 Creedmoor brings a world of precision-based performance to the hunting arena, and it’s light recoil make it comfortable to shoot for extended periods. It’s a good choice for any North American game up to and including Elk.
(Founder of Hornady Ammunition) than it is from the top of the mountain. I am not a meat hunter. I hunt for the adventure, for the quest of being in that animal’s surroundings and going through all the challenges it takes to harvest the particular animal I am hunting. There are plenty of hunts I have been on where I have come home empty handed. Question: What was the first big game animal you harvested? Hornady: I am sure it was a deer, most likely a whitetail or mule deer. I don’t obsess or keep records on the animals I have harvested. I don’t have a list of animals I want to hunt. I really like to go places I have never been before, usually in pursuit of sheep or goats. I like the adventure of hunting. While growing up, shooting and hunting with our family was part of our life. It is what we do.
teve Hornady is the CEO of Hornady Manufacturing, which is one of the largest independent manufactures of ammunition and ammunition components in the world. Hornady Mfg. is located in Grand Island Nebraska and was founded in 1949 by Steve’s father, Joyce. Joyce started the business in pursuit of a more accurate bullet and because of unavailability of ammunition and components for sport shooters. Joyce Hornady and two of his employees were killed in a plane crash en route to the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s SHOT Show in New Orleans in 1981. Steve Hornady was named as the CEO and has led the company to where it is today. Hornady MFG. currently has over 300 employees and produces more bullets on one press in a single day than the company manufactured their entire first year of business. The company developed the very successful .17 HMR cartridge and they produce over 50 million of the popular hot-rod rimfire round per year. Question: Why do you hunt? Hornady: That is a good question. I often tell people this about hunting, if I have to explain it to you, you won’t understand, and if you understand why I hunt then I don’t have to explain it to you. I grew up in this industry and a portion of me hunts for the quest. I do consider myself a trophy hunter. It is easier to get meat in the grocery store
Question: Since you own a business inside the shooting and hunting industry, has hunting ever gotten to the point where it feels like work for you? Hornady: No. Even when I have been entertaining a client, customer, or writers it has always been about the challenge of the hunt, and really the camaraderie of the hunters. I have enjoyed going along when I am not the hunter to help glass for animals or spot shots for the shooters. For me it is work, but really it isn’t. Let’s just say I enjoy my job. Question: What do you enjoy the most about your job? Hornady: I enjoy my job here at the factory. I enjoy all aspects of it from growing the company, to developing new products, to becoming more profitable. I also enjoy the work I do outside of the office. I am on many boards that help our industry, like the SAAMI (Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute) board. These are very enjoyable to me but also very important to our industry. Question: Do you find that in our industry the customer is more passionate about products than most other industries? Hornady: I’ve got to believe that. I know a few golfers,
heavy side, as well as the recoil. Remember you carry your rifle far more than you shoot it. If you take a 10-pound rifle on your shoulder to the top of the mountain by the end of the day you will be asking yourself if that was a smart thing to do. Question: What is your favorite animal to hunt? Hornady: It would be a sheep or goat. I have shot over 24 species of sheep and 20 species of goats. I enjoy putting myself on hunts that are not going to be easy. I went on a hunt in Cameroon for bongo because a friend of mine told me it is the hardest hunt he had ever been on. So I thought to myself, I have to go do that. Then while hunting for bongo my PH said they hated to hunt the African forest buffalo more than bongo so I booked a returning trip to hunt the forest buffalo. I love hunts that challenge me. Question: What animal is on your bucket list? and those guys get pretty passionate about their game and equipment, but I don’t think they care nearly as much about the technical aspect. Shooters want to know how guns are built or how ammunition is made. Our customers tend to be very technical. That is why many of them reload their own ammunition. They feel they can make it better and save a buck while doing it. Shooters and hunters are very passionate about what they do.
Hornady: There are two species of buffalo that I have not hunted in Africa, the Nile buffalo and the Savannah buffalo. I want to get a Dall sheep from each territory where they can be hunted. I would like to get one from the Yukon and Alaska to accomplish that.
Question: Has the long-range shooting craze affected the bullet manufacturing industry?
Hornady: You have to make opportunities for people. This is where shooting ranges come into play. People need a place to use their guns. Gun shoot facilities, sporting clay facilities, and other such places are fantastic places for opportunity and they really don’t take that much space to do them. Education is very important as well. We need to educate the younger generation about our sport. Our wildlife herds here in North America are unprecedented in numbers but there is more we can do. Our upland game birds are struggling and there are many pesticides from farming practices that are a contributor to that. The better stewards we can be of our lands towards both shooting and hunting the more the sport of shooting and hunting will grow. Of course don’t forget to take a youngster hunting.
Hornady: There are a few manufacturers out there that have a lot of marketing hype about their bullets being the best for long range and also being hunting bullets. It is just that—marketing hype. We have done plenty of testing here on this type of bullet and they just don’t work as claimed. To me you have to question the ethics behind it. I have taken some long-range shots on animals when that was the only shot presented to me, but most of the time it is like this: there the animal is, we can get closer, and we do. I feel that as hunters we have an obligation to take the best available shot. If I can get closer, I get closer. As far as bullets with high ballistic coefficients (BC), our A-Max bullet is about as good as it gets. We built these bullets for long range target shooting. One of the issues with hunting with super high BC bullets is that the ammunition still has to fit into the magazine of your rifle so you can get a follow up shot. To achieve very high BC bullets you have to make the ogive longer, which means your bullet has to be longer, and then it becomes a practibilty issue of cycling through your rifle.
Question: How do you feel we continue to grow the shooting and hunting sport?
Question: What calibers do you see are gaining popularity for long range shooting? Hornady: There is definitely a move back towards the 6.5 calibers. The 6.5 Creedmoor for us has been very successful and is growing very well. The 6.5x.284 is also selling well. For the larger calibers, the .338 La Pua has become very popular. I would not want to carry the .338 La Pua out hunting. The weight of the rifle is usually on the Summer 2013
New Products for Serious Hunters
ierce Firearms of Gunnison, Utah is now offering their tack driving custom rifles in a NEW â€˜Long Range Packageâ€™ in choice of carbon or steel barrel. The package includes the rifle, choice of long-range scope, custom ammunition, and more. Ammo is designed specifically for your rifle, fine-tuned to shoot halfinch 3-shot groups at 100 yards. The load will be chronographed and the long-range scope dialed in to give you out-of-the-box long-range accuracy. The package comes with three boxes of custom-loaded ammunition, a custom Americase airline-approved rifle case, Scopecoat, rifle sling, Fierce Firearms hat, and a three year subscription to Hunting Illustrated Magazine. Go to www.fiercearms.com to see more.
lobalstar, Inc. has launched their new Spot Global Phone, the ultimate for long range telephone calls. When you are traveling in an area with no cell service, Spot Global has you covered with their new compact and lightweight satellite-based phone. This phone has superior voice clarity without noticeable delays or echoing, and is also data-capable for email and file transfers. The phone can be activated quickly online, and phone calls are as cheap as 25 cents per minute.
Robin Woolhiser, Oregon
Michael O’kane, New
Clint Larsen, Kisp
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Trophy Rock and Stealth Cam have teamed up to host your amazing trail cam photos! We’re giving away a Stealth Cam trail camera and a gift package from Trophy Rock to the winner of each issue. Send your pics today to: WINNER! Trevor Hunt, Arizona firstname.lastname@example.org. Great pics,r eaders! Keep ‘em coming! HUNTING ILLUSTRATED.com
The Dueling Duo Cover Scents
Is it all nonsense anyway?
By Scott Grange
or a moment, I thought I was standing in the ladies hygiene section of Wal-Mart. I’ve noticed lately that I sometimes wander into areas I don’t mean to be in. I think it has something to do with age. But no, I was actually in the archery/muzzleloader department of my local sporting goods store. There before me was a selection of human scent reducer, blocker and eliminator products that would make the folks at Amway green with envy. There were products you apply to your skin like deodorant, those you wash your clothes in and some that replace conventional soap. There was scent eliminating shampoo, special “no scent” camo face paint and gadgets you hang in trees that you douse in doe-in-heat urine, all in the name of reducing, masking or eliminating human odor. The cross section of products took up and entire 30 foot wall of the store! There was a nice gentleman standing next to me who, by the look on his face along with his body language, was convinced he needed to drop a third of his pay check on several of the zillion products that were on display. I made the mistake of asking him if he thought they really worked. Twenty minutes later
when I told him I needed to go, he wasn’t about to unleash me until he told me of a product that totally eliminated human odor from the inside out! Yup, two tablets a day and the stink goes away. As I retreated to another section of the store, I couldn’t help but wonder why the guy was spending his children’s college fund on scent products if the magic stink pills really worked. As I rounded the corner into the camo clothing department, there they were again, scent products! Now, they were in the shape of replacement soles for boots, charcoal lined jackets and special socks that absorb and hold human odor. I even found some cute little camo briefs with an impregnated chemical that was supposed to capture manly fragrances from the “highest producing odor area of the body.” A few feet to my right was a nice looking woman who appeared to be pondering a potential purchase. There was no way I was going to ask her if she thought the products really worked! I don’t claim to be the world’s greatest hunter, but I have taken my share of God’s creatures through the years with predators at the top of the list. I learned to hunt with the wind in my face and eyes in the back of my head. Have I had stalks foiled by a change in wind direction? Heavens yes, who hasn’t? However, unless one hunts incased in a capsule, there is no way to totally eliminate human scent. If you think for a moment you can fool the nose of a whitetail or heaven forbid a
wily coyote, you’re kidding yourself. Scent reducing products may work to an extent, however, I believe your money would be better spent supporting the NRA.
PRO Y By Ron Spomer
ou can debate all you want about which “no scent” garment works and which doesn’t, but you can’t deny that eliminating human scent gives you a huge advantage over the “olfactorially challenged” hunter. Olfactorially isn’t even a real word, but you get my drift, right? Well, so do deer. And elk, coyotes and virtually every mammal we hunt. The stink drifts off us and into the noses of our quarry. The scent alarm system in game is sensitive, highly tuned and critical to survival. So why not try to fool it? Traditionalists such as Native Americans and mountain men attempted this by rolling in dirt, dung, fresh elk hides, aromatic plants and campfire smoke. As recently as the 1990s companies were selling fox urine and skunk stink as cover scents. At least one super serious hunter claimed if he ate only vegetation for two weeks before the bow season, he could hunt upwind of deer and they’d
While this proved the efficacy of charcoal-lined hunting pants among human sniffers, it doesn’t necessarily prove it would escape the noses of wild game. However, I’m willing to take that chance. What with the incredible sensitivity of mammal noses combined with the fickle breezes in mountainous terrain, it’s tough out there. I’ll take every advantage I can get, especially when it doesn’t add significant bulk or weight. Hey, if I can buy a garment without any form of scent control and an identical garment with it, I go for the scent control. Even if it only works once, that’s one more tag filled, one
more winter’s meat supply, one more elk rack on the barn. Another time my springer spaniel got intimate with a skunk the morning I was departing from a deer camp in an SUV. Pup and I would share the same small air space. What to do? Well, the camp showers were stuffed with bottles of scent eliminating soaps, so I set about to see just how eliminating they were. First I threw a stick into a pond for Boo to fetch. Then I squirted him with soap, rubbed it to a lather, and threw the stick again. After three of these wash and retrieve cycles, he was smelling pretty neutral. I had a bag of scent adsorbing crystals, so I doused him with those. Then I ordered the little stinker to hop inside his kennel box in back of the SUV. All evidence of his recent rendezvous with Mr. Cologne was gone. My final test has involved Cabela’s silver fiber socks and briefs, called X-Static. After a shower, I apply unscented anti-perspirant to all areas covered by these garments. Thereafter I can wear them for at least four days in wilderness elk camps without that old, familiar odor of socks and underwear that have been worn for four days of hard elk hunting. Whether any or all of this is sufficient to fool a whitetail’s nose I can’t guarantee. My personal philosophy is to “hunt the wind” no matter what, but you can’t always depend on wind, which blows in your face one second, down your back the next. It makes perfect sense to hedge your bets with any, every, and all scent reducing garments, powders, sprays and soaps.
Illustration: Courtney Bjornn
ignore him. But it wasn’t’ until about 15 years ago that the inventors of Scent Lock tried using charcoal to capture human scent in clothing. Charcoal has long been used successfully to capture noxious odors in laboratories and factories. Someone told me the Japanese use it in diapers and underwear. So why wouldn’t it work in hunting clothing? Baking soda and similar scent dampening powders, crystals and sprays also work to varying degrees, which is why they’re used in odor removing carpet cleaners. Antimicrobial clothing and silver fibers also control bacteria and the resulting odors. In short, the “no stink” hunting products all work to varying degrees, whether this is to an adequate degree the heart of the argument. Some claim various scent locking or capturing systems don’t work worth a hoot. Others say they work for a short time, then load up and never work again. Others insist you can recharge the garments if you follow the manufacturer’s directions and some say if you heat them to the degree necessary to flush out the old odor molecules, they go up in flames! I don’t have any scientific research to support or refute any of this stuff, but I do know this: every little bit helps! You’ll laugh, but one of my “non-scientific” research projects involved three elk hunters, lots of chili with extra kidney beans and an explosive competition of a gaseous nature. One individual, who shall remain nameless, was winning on bouquet, intensity and hang time when the leaders in volume and quantity surrendered. The winner then donned a set of charcoal-lined pants, which, to everyone’s amazement, eliminated all further evidence of emissions.
Mule Deer Stick and String Is Your Arrow Packing Enough Punch?
love to short range weapon hunt. Heck, I love all kinds of hunting, but getting within 100 yards of my quarry is the ultimate goal every time I hit the hills. It doesn’t matter if I am carrying a rifle, muzzleloader, bow, or video gear, getting close is the name of the game. The challenge of outwitting any mature animal on his turf and making a quick clean kill is my ultimate adventure. It seems today, people have lost touch with the true meaning of hunting. A number of people have turned it into a shooting sport more than a hunting sport. That goes for the long range rifle hunters, (I know I’m going to ruffle a few feathers here at Hunting Illustrated with that comment) as well
as the muzzleloader hunters and archers. Faster, flatter guns, better powders and bullets, faster IBO speeds out of bows, better arrows and broad heads and the list goes on. It’s all about getting that extra distance out of any weapon. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing long range hunting. It has its time and place just like any other type of hunting. My concern is with the guy that thinks he can buy a new gun or bow and it automatically makes them some kind of super-hunter. Trust me, I have filmed
deer being shot at 800 plus yards and it is no different than a deer being shot at 200, if you have the right gear and know how to use it. The same goes for a deer being shot at 60 yards with one of today’s bows. It doesn’t matter if it is 60 or 30 yards, today’s bows will get the job done. However, when you talk long range archery hunting, I’m talking about taking shots down range way past that 80 yard mark on a live animal. I know it can be done and I’ve even seen it
The author’s longest archery shot was on this 208-inch Alberta giant. He made the shot at 59 yards without any way of getting closer with the terrain the way it was. Not a bad opening day buck!
One of the author’s ultimate goals is to get as close to his prey as possible as a representation of true hunting. However, being prepared for a 60+ yard shot increases the opportunity for harvest if there’s no possibility of getting closer.
done. Heck, just Google ‘long range archery shots’ and look at the stuff people put out there. One particular video depicts a 100 plus yard shot on a mule deer, and the quote from the video that stuck out in my mind was “he went a little further than we thought, but here he is.” “Of course he went further than you thought,” was my reply back at the computer screen. “It was a 100 plus yard shot in a 10 mile an hour wind, I’m sure you hit right where you were aiming and had plenty of penetration.” was my follow up. I’m sure this guy has made this shot a number of times, if not hundreds of times in his back yard, but that isn’t the same as on
a live animal in the conditions he was shooting. He is one of the best shots I’ve seen, but I don’t think you promote that kind of shot. It makes the average guy think he can shoot those extreme distances. There are many factors to determine before you start shooting long distances. The most important factor to determine when deciding to shoot or not to shoot in the field is your arrows’ energy down range. It is known as terminal energy—a number that is often used and confused with terminal energy is kinetic energy. Kinetic energy is usually determined at the point of release. There are a number of factors to add and divide to figure this all out.
What it all boils down to is, do you have enough terminal energy down range to effectively harvest that animal you are shooting at? I wanted to know exactly what my set up would do down range, so I called one of the nation’s leading authorities on bow hunting, Daniel Willett of the Arizona Archery Club in Phoenix, Arizona. He is the go-to man for this and many other questions I have had concerning my bow set up and long range archery. My first question to Daniel was, “What is the effective range of today’s modern bows on large game animals such as a mature mule deer buck?” His answer actually surprised me. His reply was “70-80 and even out 90 plus yards, if you have enough terminal energy down range. One thing you need to keep in mind, Steve, is what your bow and even the arrow itself are capable of doing at long range.” I asked how I would figure this out on my specific bow and arrow combination. “That’s quite easy, Steve. There are plenty of websites out there that will tell you everything you need to know. The best one that comes to mind is Archers Advantage.” He stated anybody can get on and check their bow set up out. Daniel did caution that it is a pay site, but it will have all the information you could possibly need. He asked me to give him my set up and he’d tell me more about my arrows terminal energy down range. I reported that I use a Hoyt Carbon Matrix, set at 70 pounds with a 28inch draw. My arrows are Easton axis FMJ at 458 grain weight. He used these numbers to conclude that that bow and arrow combo shoots at 273 feet per second out of the bow and has 75.7 pounds of terminal energy at 20 yards and packs a still lethal 63.9 pounds at 90 yards. What is considered lethal terminal energy? Mr. Willett’s response was “It is one of the most debated issues in bow hunting. My answer to you, Steve, is depending on the size of the animal, 54 to 60 pounds, but there are no industry standards, just one’s personal beliefs. Most professional archers agree though, that somewhere in that range is lethal on most big game animals.”
Photo: doyle moss
“Another thing you might want to keep in mind, Steve, is the streamline of your arrow. It all has an effect on down range terminal energy. For instance, some mechanical broad heads can take as much as 15 percent of that terminal energy away at contact. Large fixed blade broad heads, with cut on contact blades, are better at retaining that energy but still have a negative effect at point of contact.” I asked, “So a smaller fixed blade would be the best broad head?” He replied, “Yes, as far as retaining the terminal energy on contact, but there are also downsides to this like a smaller cutting diameter. So, it’s best to be somewhere in the middle.” He went on to explain about FOC (front of center) arrow weight. “Front of center arrow weight is huge in competition shooting so why shouldn’t it be important in our hunting? They are now shooting FOC at 14-17 percent. There are a lot of benefits to FOC weights including decreased arrow deflection and better energy retention down range. Something else we have been playing with lately which pertains to the stream line of your arrow, are the vanes. Traditionally most arrows are a 3-vane set up, with three, four, and even five inch vanes. 26
This is the opportunity bow hunters dream of -- large muleys in velvet at a distance worthy of taking a shot. With current bow setups capable of reaching 90+ yards, this opportunity seems more realistic for those that practice enough for it.
We are now going to four and five vane set up with 1.75 inch vanes that are a lower profile to the arrow. In turn, they stabilize quicker out of the bow and are affected less by wind, giving you better terminal energy and more accurate arrow flight and longer distances.” The big question on my mind was starting to be answered the longer I talked to Daniel. So, I finally got the nerve to ask him, “You think a stick and string can have the lethal terminal energy to harvest an animal at 100 plus yards?” He replied “Of course, depending on the set up, a guy could get enough terminal energy to harvest an animal at 100 plus yards. Just because the bow and arrow can do it, don’t mean the person behind the bow can. There are a ton a variables that can effect shot placement and terminal energy at that distance. Just because the bow can do it, doesn’t mean it should be done.” Just like anything else it takes lots of practice. Shooting in different winds, rains, temperatures, angles, altitudes and humidity is just the start to figuring it out. Practice builds that extra edge and confidence needed to take those longer shots with your bow and 99 percent of people don’t and won’t make the effort to practice that much.
I have to admit that I don’t even practice that much and maybe that is why I feel my comfort zone is 70 yards and not the 90 that my bow is easily capable of shooting. After talking with Daniel several times, I have come to the conclusion that the guy on the internet might have had a bow and was capable of making that 104 yard shot. Next time, I will be less judgmental and research it a little more before I jump to conclusions. Bottom line is some modern bows, pulling 70 pounds or more, are capable of shooting long range, however, most people shooting bows are not capable of shooting long distances. Like anything, it takes tons of practice. It boils down to ethics and ethics aren’t something you can teach, they are inherent and come with a respect of the game you are chasing. Authors note: A huge thanks goes out to Daniel Willet at Arizona Archery Club for all his insight into this topic… If you have any questions for him or one of the other associates of AAC, they can be reached at (623)266-4647.
Photo: doyle moss
Base 200-inch Scoring How to Score Big Bulls in Hunting Situations
ello fellow elk fanatics out there! With the draw results out in most of the western states many of us are celebrating our good fortune in the draw, and making plans for the fall. For those of you with coveted, limited entry tags the first advice I will give is to thoroughly enjoy your hunt and the overall experience. Many times we hunters can get overly caught up with “trophy hunting”. When we look at bulls featured in the magazines it’s easy to get the idea that everyone who draws a coveted, limited entry tag kills a 400 inch bull. Truth is, there are very
few bulls like this out there. Even in the very best units within the best elk states, only a small handful of bulls are taken that score 400 or better. And the reality is that many of these bulls are taken by auction or raffle hunters who have special tags giving them the entire year to hunt when most of us have one or two weeks at most. So do your best to keep things in perspective and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to kill a bull that scores “X” amount. Otherwise the outcome may be disappointment because the bull you take doesn’t “measure up” to your pre hunt expectations.
Now to be real here, I know that when we do draw a premium elk tag that we want to make the most of the tag. Most of us would rather not shoot a rag horn on our limited entry hunt that we applied 10, 15, or 20 years for, right?! So, with the proper balance in mind, let’s look at a great method for scoring mature bulls on the hoof. It is referred to as the “Base 200 Scoring Method”. In my experience there is no better, or more reliable method than this one for accurately field judging a bullespecially in a hunting situation.
This bull looks like a 6x6, but on closer inspection, you can see that he is an 8x8! The extra points push this archery bull to right at 375-inches gross
diameter. Keep in mind that to have 30 inches of mass per side, a bull will visually appear “heavy”. Base 200 Total
ON-LINE SCORING STEP ONE Entering Your Measurement These diagrams will help with understanding how measurements are derived for the Base 200 Scoring System as we discuss how it works. The Base 200” Scoring System Probably the most important aspect of field judging bulls is to have a solid, accurate starting place to build from. Keep in mind that we are talking about “mature” bulls here. Usually this is going to be bulls that are 4 ½ years old minimum and older, and in areas where genetics will allow them to grow great antlers. Here is how the Base 200 system works. Main Beam Length - Most big, mature bulls will have main beams close to 50 inches long. Some are longer and some a bit shorter, but 50 is a good estimate to start from. This measurement is referred to as “F” on a Pope & Young or Boone & Crockett score sheet and is taken by measuring along the outside curve of each of the main beams.
Inside Spread - Most big bulls will have an inside spread (D on the chart) of very near to 40 inches. This measurement is taken at the widest inside point between the main beams. To have a 40” inch spread the bull will appear “wide” when you look at him. If he does not, he is not 40 inches wide. Mass - Big, mature bulls will also carry around 30 inches of mass per side. Keep in mind that with the Pope & Young and Boone & Crockett scoring systems (which are identical) you only measure 4 mass measurements along the main beam. You do not measure the bases as the first measurement which I have seen some hunters & guides mistakenly do. Mass measurements are referred to as “H1, H2, H3, H4” in the P & Y, and B & C scoring systems. You start by taking the first measurement at the smallest diameter between the 1st and 2nd point, and then do the same between 2nd & 3rd points, 3rd & 4th points, and 4th & 5th points until you have four measurements total per side. This is the case no matter how many points (tines) the bull has! Remember again that each of the four measurements is taken at the smallest
If you add these totals up for main beams, spread, and mass from both sides you get 200 inches or very close to that. This is going to be a very close estimate for most big bulls and serves as our solid “base 200” starting point. Once you have this base to start from it’s as simple as this. You just start adding a bull’s point lengths (or “G” measurements) to 200”. For instance, if a bull is a fairly symmetrical 6x6 just add up one side of his points, G1, G2, G3, G4, & G5 then multiply by two. By the way, the point length measurements are taken along the outside curve of the point starting at where they originate from the main beam. Picture sawing off the point from the beam- that is where you start your measurement. (Figure A). Now using our system, let’s see what would make a 350” type bull. Start with 16” G1’s and G2’s, 12” G3’s, 20” G4’s, and 12” G5’s. Add these up and you get 76 inches. Multiply by 2 and you have 152”. Now add 152” to our base of 200” and you have a 352” bull. Another way of looking at it is that 350” bull must have an average of 16 inches for his G1 through G4 points and 10 inch G5’s to be about 350”. When you think about it, that’s a lot of antler! Keep in mind that on 6x6’s you don’t add the extension of the main beam past the bull’s G5 as a “sixth point”. This measurement has already been accounted for in the main beam measurement. Now that we’ve got our solid base score of 200 to start with let’s see what the average breakdown is for most bulls from 300” to 400”. Some bulls may vary from this, but Summer 2013
Judging Non Typical & 7x7 bulls
Notice the weak thirds (G3’s) on this Arizona archery bull. They were hard to see as the bull came charging in to the call! Even so, this bull still grosses 360-inches thanks to great beam length, and a 45-inch spread
300” Bull: G1= 14”, G2= 14”, G3=10”, G4= 16”, G5= 8. Note that a 300” bull will more likely have 45” main beams about 54” inches of total mass and a 35” spread. These totals amount to 303”. 320” Bull: G1=15”, G2= 15”, G3= 12”, G4= 16”, G5= 8”. Note that a 320” bull will likely have 46 to 48 inch beams, about 56 inches of total mass, and a 38 inch spread. These totals amount to right at 320”. 340” Bull: G1= 16”, G2= 16”, G3= 12”, G4= 18”, G5= 10”. Add these to the base of 200” for your total of 344” 360” Bull: G1= 16”, G2= 16”, G3= 16”, G4= 20”, G5= 12”. Add these to the base of 200” for a total of 360”. 380” Bull: G1= 18”, G2= 18”, G3= 16”, G4= 20”, G5= 15”. Note that most 380” bulls will have 52 to 56 inch beams, and a spread of potentially more than 40 inches. Taking this into account gives us 378” to around 385”. 400” Bull: G1= 20”, G2= 20”, G3= 20”, G4= 20, G5= 16”. Again, most 400” bulls will have 54” to 56” inch beams, and a spread of potentially more than 40 inches. This
results in these point lengths totaling 397” to 400” plus! Notice by comparing these “classes” of bulls that misjudging a couple of points by a couple of inches will affect the accuracy of your score. I feel that if you can estimate a bull on the hoof within 10 inches, you are a good field judge. When a big bull is bugling and rutting, our adrenaline always seems to add a few inches to an estimated score. If you have this problem like I do, a good rule of thumb is to estimate the bull and then automatically deduct 10 inches from your score! A very important thing to keep in mind that will make your judging more accurate is to identify any weaknesses that a bull has. Most bulls that I see either have weak 3rds or weak 5ths. Any bull that has a solid “200 inch base” and no visible weaknesses is usually a 340” or better bull using this system. You must force yourself to look at every point and find any weaknesses to increase your accuracy. It’s very easy to stare at great fronts or a big whale tail and miss those 6” third points! Notice that 6” thirds would make a 350” type bull that should have 12” or better thirds, a 338” bull. Still not a bad bull, but not 350”! If you are hunting an area that does not typically produce 340 or better bulls, you may want to adjust your base 200 score to start with. For instance, you could use 180, 185, 190, etc. as your starting point if that better suits the kind of bulls that you will likely encounter.
these are very realistic of what you will see on mature 6x6 bulls. Keep in mind with this Base 200 system that as you go below 340 size bulls your base 200 numbers will need to be slightly adjusted as noted below.
I realize that not every bull will be a typical 6x6. Here’s what to do when you run up against non typicals or bulls such as 7x7’s. 7x7’s can sometimes be tricky, but really all you have to do is estimate the bull’s 6th point (G6), double that and add it to your total. In other words, if we took our 380” bull from above and made him 7x7 with 8 inch G6’s he would quickly jump to 396” or better! Non Typical bulls are undoubtedly the hardest to judge in the field. Probably the best course of action on big non typicals is to not waste your time field judging them and just shoot! But seriously, the way to judge them is to score their frame and points just like you would a typical 6x6, then size up the non typical points and add that to your total. Let’s say that a 380” bull has an extra point (referred to as an “E” point) on his right main beam near his G4 that is about 12 inches and two extras on his left beam that are about 10 and 12 inches. That’s right, you should have already shot! That 380” bull with these extras would score around 414”. Keep in mind, to view non typicals as a 6x6 and then add the extra points as your final step. Finding and “Shooter” Bulls
Here are a few good rules of thumb to keep in mind when looking for a big “shooter” bull. 1. Identify the “sword” (G4) and the “whale tail” to verify that you are looking at a 6x6 or better bull. 2. Look for long main beams and strong 3rd’s and 5th’s. 3. Look for good “curve” in the G1, G2, & G3 points. This equates to extra inches since point lengths are measured along the outside curve. Bulls with curvy looking points score well. 4. Straight looking points are always short. Curved points with
This is what a very rare 400 inch, 7x7 bull looks like! No visible weaknesses, and tremendous point length. Score: 414 1/8-inches gross, 410-inches net non-typical
• Antler Pedical (Burr) to nose= 17”-18” • Eye to nose= 13” • Top of back to shoulder “V spot”= 20” • Top of back to belly= 25”-28” • Body girth through the shoulders (front view) = 18” • Main beam average length to G4= 28”-30” • Tip to tip ear spread (front view) = 26”
To more accurately estimate the inside spread of a bull- visually suspend the ear spread between the widest point of the beams. Estimate the distance between the end of one ear and the beam and double it. This will give you a very good idea of the bull’s inside spread. Example: You estimate 8 inches between the ear tip and the widest point of the main beam. 8x2= 16. Add 16” to 26” (tip to tip) and you have a spread of 42”. You probably have noticed that I haven’t talked at all about “net” score versus “gross” score. The reason is because I’m not that interested in net scores. I think if a bull grows it, he should get credit for it. But to help in estimating a net score remember that most big bulls will have 10 to 12 inches of total symmetry deductions. Another way to quickly estimate a net score is to add up a bull’s weakest side, double it, and then add to 200 (or whatever base score you are using). Keep in mind that with nontypical bulls when scored as a “nontypical” you don’t deduct the nontypical points from the score! The only deductions for the “net” score
“belly” to them are longer. Bulls with straight looking points won’t score well. 5. You must always have two views. Look at the bull from the side and front. A back or front view only are not good indicators. I’ve made this mistake before and regretted it! You must see the point lengths to recognize a big bull. To help you judge main beams, point length, and spread, here are some anatomic reference measurements for mature bulls. I have highlighted the two measurements that are the most useful to me in the field.
on a non-typical are derived from the differences in his main frame 6x6 configuration only. In other words, you would first score him as a straight 6x6, subtract your deductions, and then ADD the nontypical points in for the total net non-typical score. A couple of websites that you might find useful to help your scoring ability are www.BooneCrockett.org, and www.PopeYoung.org. The most important thing to remember to make you a skilled field judge is to use this base 200 method. It will help you tremendously! Scoring mounted bulls is a great way to improve your skills as well. Lastly, go back and reread the first three paragraphs of this article and take them to heart. You’ll be much more satisfied with the outcome of most of your elk hunts. I do hope you get to put your tag on the bull of your dreams this fall. Good luck on your hunts and have fun field judging the bulls!
Predators Rifle Confidence Believing in Your Shot Takes Trust in Your Equipment
ust like it was yesterday I remember being a small boy and going out shooting black birds and sparrows with a Benjamin pellet gun. Believe it or not, this time in my life was when I learned many of the important shooting traits that I have to this day. Learning to sneak up on birds before they would fly off, quietly sneaking along the creek banks in search of racing frogs and trying to spot them before they dove off to the depths of the murky water below, or belly crawling up to within shotgun range of a flock of ducks or geese on a farm pond. All of these hunting activities in my younger years helped to shape the hunter that lives inside of me today. These lessons learned while growing up on a farm matured into a much higher
level of awareness and appreciation of an animal’s senses, and it began to shape the competitive drive and confidence that was lurking within me as well. While hunting birds, frogs, or some other critter, I was competitive and serious enough about my hunts that I always paid special attention to how the gun that I was shooting measured up from an accuracy standpoint. If I missed and truly felt that I had taken my time to make a good shot, then I sought out why I had missed. Early on of course I missed the first few birds; I actually expected that I guess. But after I was able to shoot a few and make the shot, then I gained confidence and became more competitive. I was, in fact, so concerned about my shooting that if I missed a bird; I struggled to find out why. I began to have complete confidence in my
The author’s hunting and shooting skills started at an early age with a pellet gun. He explains that if you’re familiar with your equipment and confident in your shot, you’ll know how to analyze and understand every shot you take, whether a hit or miss.
shooting ability whenever pulling the trigger and if I missed, my sight must be wrong. So I would find a tin can to shoot at so that I could sight in my gun, or more importantly try to see where my gun was hitting in relation to where I was aiming. Most times I would shoot at a tiny spot on the tin can. This would actually be a better representation of the small vital zone of a bird—at least that is what I told myself, but I was more concerned with precise accuracy, even then. My childhood involved a lot of time shooting pellet guns, then shotguns, and then moving up to a .22 long rifle. With shooting a .22LR, I realized how much more careful I needed to be when shooting a bullet that would travel a long ways, much further than a pellet gun or shotgun.
During seminars, the author is often asked which caliber is sufficient for shooting coyotes. He encourages to “shoot what you are most comfortable shooting.”
Gun safety was a huge learning experience at this time in my life. Accuracy needed to be greater at extended ranges and that accuracy could change drastically just from switching to different brands of ammunition or from lead point to hollow point bullets. All of these things are part of the learning curve, and caring about them from a young age inspired me to be a successful shot. Many years ago, my grandfather used to shoot a .22 special all the time. The .22 special was about right between the size of a .22 long rifle and .22 magnum shell size. I was told by my father that my grandfather used to make unbelievable shots with his .22 special at running jackrabbits. You see, my grandfather had a fox farm back in the 1930’s, so in order to feed the foxes, they either bought old horses that were about to die or shot a lot of rabbits to feed the foxes. The latter of the two scenarios provided more fun and excitement, and a greater possibility of being far less expensive as well. In the valuable time that I spent with my grandfather while growing up, I never asked him about shooting. I was more concerned with his trapping knowledge at the time and my grandfather wasn’t one to brag on his own abilities. My
dad however, did enjoy watching my grandfather shoot. I wish that I could’ve watched him make a few of those shots. Like my grandfather, I love precision and accuracy in my shot placement. So much so that after some time shooting my .22LR I was very confident that I could take down a grizzly bear if the situation arose. I used my .22LR on the first coyote that I shot in my life. This particular coyote was running full out from left to right at about 70 yards. I knelt down on one knee and took my time leading the coyote and shot a couple of shots at it. The coyote never flinched, stumbled, bit at its side, or even missed a step, so I thought I may have missed him—but was so confident in my ability with this rifle that I just knew that I had to have hit him. As the coyote got a little further away, it started running slower and slower until it was down to a slow lope and then just disappeared into an old abandoned farm site. I began tracking the coyote in the fresh snow. After the coyote was out of my sight, I could see that the coyote tracks slowed down to a walk, and then about 10 yards further there was a coyote laying on the ground in the fresh snow. You could not have put a bigger grin on this kids face. My first coyote and a running shot as well! Since that day, I have shot many more coyotes with a .22 pistol, .22 magnum, .17 HMR, .22 Hornet,
.204 Ruger, .223, .22-250, .243, and 6mm-06, to name a few. As I travel around the country giving seminars, one of the most frequently asked questions is what my favorite caliber for shooting coyotes is, and whether a .22 LR or magnum would be sufficient for killing coyotes. My short answer is always “shoot what you are most confident in shooting.” I believe that there is more than one correct answer. It actually stems more to the person shooting the rifle and the condition or environment in which they do most of their shooting. Obviously, with shooting a .22LR or magnum, you can be very precise on bullet placement, but sometimes a coyote sized animal will not even show signs of being hit, so you must always pay special attention to where the animal goes after shooting so that you can follow the track or sign and to be fully confident if you hit or missed your target. The range of the target must also be closer in most all instances so that you can effectively penetrate the animal in a spot that would prove lethal. I actually like whenever kids and/or adults ask me if a .22LR or magnum would be suitable for killing coyotes, because I believe that they have become confident in their shooting ability with a weapon like that. I don’t always think that it Summer 2013
is imperative that you spend a fistful of cash on a new rifle just so you have the latest and greatest coyote caliber known to man, but rather would like to see that people first learn to shoot the weapon that they have and gain a confidence with it. If you cannot hit an apple at 50, 60 or even 80 yards, you’re going to have a hard time effectively killing a coyote sized predator. A red fox, badger, and even bobcat can present a much smaller target with a smaller kill zone. A small caliber such as the .22LR is going to take more precise shot placement so that the animal doesn’t get away, not to be found. As you graduate to larger calibers or calibers that shoot higher velocities and heavier bullets, shot placement still needs to be a high priority. Always remember that whenever you add a “heartbeat” to a target, it potentially gets harder to hit. All this time shooting rifles at coyotes has brought me to what I shoot currently, the .22-250 Remington. There could easily be a lot of debate over what would be the best caliber for shooting coyotes. The main factors that influenced my decision to start with the .22-250 Remington years ago were the speed, accuracy, and general popularity of the cartridge. With the popularity of the cartridge you could just about walk into any sporting goods store and be able to buy some ammunition if you needed. Another plus for the .22-250 Remington was the fact that there were a lot of different bullet choices available to cater to a wide array of possibilities if you were going to reload, which is what I did. One thing to think about while looking for the particular gun that will ultimately fit you best is the fact that the gun will only be able to shoot as well as the shooter. You may have heard it said “beware of the man with only one gun.” What this means is that whenever you shoot one weapon and you shoot it a lot, you begin to really feel like it is a piece of you. You know how it shoots, what ammunition it shoots best, and gain a great amount of confidence in that weapon. There was a time
when I shot a .22LR single six revolver quite a bit. I became very confident in shooting it and had an opportunity to shoot a coyote that was about 70 yards away from me and getting further away. I lip squeaked at the coyote, it stopped and looked back, then turned to leave and I held over its head a good bit and shot, hitting it in the back of the head, dropping it in its tracks. It would be easy to say that this was a lucky shot, but there have been far too many times in my life that this kind of thing has happened to me. I don’t even know how to describe it, but whenever I have spent some time shooting a particular gun, I get to know how it shoots, how I need to aim with it, etc. My confidence grows and then I feel like it is very easy for me to justify whether or not I should take shots and the likelihood of making those particular shots. There actually was a time in my life where the rifle I shot, coupled with my confidence, was at a level where if I shot at a coyote, I felt that I would get it, no matter what. That included all running shots, etc. That also occurred in my life at a time when I was highly competitive and at an age where
everything was 110%. My eyesight was crisp, I was lean and in shape, flexible, etc…and from what I just said, you can obviously understand that I am about to say that none of the above are peak at this time in my life. Along with what I mentioned, I really believe that you have to be at a place mentally where you are in a zone and the confidence is in your every thought. My rifle was a part of me. I get asked all the time, “What is your longest shot?” or similar. I always respond with the fact that I really never even attempt a shot unless I feel like I can kill the animal by hitting it where I want to hit. I’ve never been one to just shoot at a coyote because it is standing out there. My whole philosophy on why I do not shoot at a particular animal revolves around the fact that if I miss that animal, then I have spooked it, and I do not like to spook them. Although if you watch Predator Quest, you will see that I am human and do miss coyotes. Numerous people asked me Summer 2013
over the years how you win competitions. It takes several skills to win a coyote calling competition, but a lot of it boils down to not missing, and that usually stemmed from confidence in your rifle, ammunition, optics, and your own abilities. I remember having to make a shot on a coyote that was out there around the 300 yard mark and I was shooting in a wind and the pressure was on me. I remember quite vividly my brother saying, “I knew you would get him!” That statement actually made me nervous after the shot because I had been so concerned that I might miss, but I really put my breathing and total concentration into making the shot. Years ago, I was in the National Coyote Calling Championships in Rawlins, Wyoming and on this particular day, the wind was blowing somewhere in the neighborhood of “beyond belief mph.” I don’t know how hard it was blowing, but I am going to guess somewhere in the 60-80 mph range. A coyote was in front of me about 150 yards but I was shooting into a solid crosswind. A part of me did not want to take the shot because of the high probability for a miss, but the other part of me wanted to take the shot knowing that I had confidence in my ability and the rifle that I was shooting. Due to the strong crosswind, I also knew that I would not be putting the crosshairs anywhere near the coyote if I was to attempt this shot. I remember aiming at the coyote and my conscience was forcing me to hold about 3 feet in front of the coyote so that the bullet would “drift” into the vital zone of that coyote. Imagine aiming
at a coyote and not putting the crosshairs “on” the coyote, but holding to the left of the coyote. I ended up killing that coyote by hitting it right behind the front leg. I was actually very nervous about pulling the trigger because of the fact that the crosshairs were so far upwind of the coyote, but I knew that the wind drift was so incredible that it was going to blow my bullet into the coyote. After the check in, there was another team that told me the same thing only after they missed a few coyotes, they then realized that they needed to account for wind drift and then said that they were putting the crosshairs 2 feet upwind of a coyote to kill it with a 6 mm Ackley. I remember a long time ago that I had come home with my head hung low because I had missed two running coyotes that morning. My dad had asked me how I did and I was very disgusted in my ability because I missed and in my opinion they should’ve been easy shots. I told my dad that I just cannot figure out where I need to be aiming on the running coyotes. He chuckled and said “try to really pay attention to where the bullet is hitting after you pull the trigger. Don’t pull your head up from the scope and try to look, but concentrate through your scope to see where the dirt flies up and then just lead further in front of the coyote.” After that, I still missed coyotes that were running, but with practice and confidence in my .22-250, my kill ratio began to climb. Good luck out there, and be safe! Let’s Get To CALLIN!!! -LJ-
shooting Long-Range Shooting Testing the Gunwerks LR-1000 System
started working in the custom gun industry nearly two decades ago and at that time there were very few players in the custom gun market. McMillan, Bansner, McWhorters, Rifles Inc., Hart and a few other custom gun builders seemed to be about the bulk of it. Today, you can go to nearly any gun show and pass by a half-dozen booths of new custom rifle builders claiming to produce the most accurate rifle on the market. It seems that if you have a lathe in your garage you are a custom gun builder. Utah is a hot bed for that right now. I can name more custom gun builders in my home state of Utah alone than I could think of nearly twenty years ago in the entire country. With the everyone-is-agunsmith mentality going on right now in our industry there has been one company that has emerged from the pack in the past five years. That company is Gunwerks out of
Burlington, WY. How have they done it? There is no question that Aaron and Mike Davidson know how to advertise. I attribute much of their success too not only a fine custom built rifle but also to there shooting schools. When you come out west hunting the first thing your guide, buddy, or magazines articles will tell you is that you need to be able to hit a gnat’s behind at over 500 yards. The Gunwerks boys will help you do that through one of their high-dollar shooting schools. Think about it this way. You are a hunter from back east where you seldom shoot your gun over 100 yards not because you don’t want to but because there is just very few places where you can shoot long distance—lack of opportunity. You sign up for a shooting school out west. You are placed on a range where you can actually see to a 1,000 yards and are given a gun that is already dialed in with custom ammo, custom scope, and a custom turret for yardage. You are asked to lay prone and start shooting at a 3’x3’ steel plate with a
Out of the box, the LR-1000 system is easy on the eyes. Smooth chamber, good tolerances and the Nightforce optical setup look promising. Now, let’s put it to the test.
6” bulls eye spray painted in the middle. You are thinking to yourself that this is going to be impossible because the longest shot you have taken on game or even at the range is 200 yards and even that seemed a long ways away. You turn the turret as instructed to the appropriate mark and squeeze the trigger. Then… you hear the delayed sound of the bullet hitting the metal gong—which in and of itself sends shivers down your spine. The shooting coach calmly exclaims hit and your buddy who made the trip with you is losing his mind in excitement. The first thing that goes through your mind is, “I’ve got to have one” …and thus another Gunwerks rifle is sold. I saw this first-hand when a customer flew in on his jet so he could shoot his new rifle and have me train him with his new scope several years back. He had never shot much over 250 yards. I sat a 20 ounce Pepsi bottle up at 500 yards. He hit it on the first shot and he was so surprised his eyes were as big as silver dollars. He then proceeded to buy three more rifles. This is what I call the shock and awe effect. Shock at hitting the target and the awe from “awe, I got to have one of these.” Back to the Gunwerks team, who have figured out the Long Range Game with shooting schools, TV shows, custom ballistic turrets, and even DVDs talking about spin drift, gravitational pull, and moon phases (not really on the moon phases, but it may be in the next Long Range DVD, keep watching). I decided it was time to get one of these out-of-the-box rifle systems in the LR-1000 to try for myself. One e-mail to Aaron Davidson and a few weeks later a custom LR-1000 rifle system showed up at my shop. I was very impressed with their packaging.
The gun was inside a Starlight case with cutouts for the riflescope and bolt. Product literature scattered the inside of the case and a long-range magazine was included. The Rifle The rifle consisted of some of the best components in the industry. The action is a Stiller, the trigger is a Jewell, the stock is a McMillan, and the barrel is a Lilja. All these components are as good as it gets. The Gunwerks crew then threads and chambers the barrel, and assembles the rifle components with love to give you the LR-1000. This particular rifle is chambered in their cartridge, the 7 LRM, which in essence is the .375 Ruger cartridge from Hornady necked down to the 7MM case. Gunwerks sent along four boxes of custom ammo in 180 grain HYB ammo, loaded with a Berger. Gunwerks put Berger on the map, recognizing them for an accurate long-range hunting bullet. The hunting bullet part is still heavily debated today. The rifle weighed in at a staggering 9.8 lbs. I personally prefer a lighter rifle. Remember, when hunting and climbing mountains, you carry the rifle 90% of the time so weight does matter. The Scope Aaron has teamed up with another success story in the long-range industry, Nightforce. He and the Nightforce crew retrofit the turrets and add a custom reticle in the
Whatâ€™s in the box of a Gunwerks long range package? Everything you need, including custom Berger bullets.
scope, which is then reborn as the G7. This particular scope on the test rifle is a 5.5-22x50 with 30 MM tube. The turret is custom etched to match the load that is dialed in for you. Any long-range rifle package today is dependent on the scope. Have any of you seen the new TV commercial for Savage rifles? It has the CEO shooting targets at 1,200 yards. The tag line is, â€œso easy, even the boss can do itâ€?. Did you notice the scope on the rifle? Yep, it is a Nightforce and, yep, even a $700 Savage rifle can shoot steel targets long range with a good scope on it. The riflescope today is the key to long range shooting.
John poses with his friend Verge. This large wolf ended up being a great substitute for a brown bear.
The author fine tunes the LR-1000 with a few shots at 100-yards using a steady bench and gun rest.
The Test The main reason I wanted to test one of these rifles was to see if it truly is a 1,000-yard out-of-the-box rifle. Even the scope cover claimed it was. First off, let’s define 1,000 yard out-of-the-box accuracy. The theory is that a rifle that shoots a minute of an angle (MOA) at 100 yards (a one inch group) should calculate out to about 10 inches at 1,000 yards. The first thing I did when I got the rifle was took it to the range to test the accuracy at 100 yards. I was surprised at first when all I could get was about a one-inch three-shot group out of the gun. So surprised in fact that I took it back to my shop and cleaned it in hopes I could get it shooting a little better. I shot three more three shot groups and two groups were just under one inch and the third group shrunk down to .675”. I was now content to try the 1,000-yard test. I had four buddies with me and they were chomping on the bit to try the test as well. I set up my Caldwell stable table and my Fire Control shooting rest. We then set up a Caldwell shooting gong at 1,000 yards. The metal plate is 17”x10” which represents the vitals on a mule deer sized animal. A MOA shooting gun should hit this target consistently with all conditions being perfect, right? Trust me, at 1,000 yards plenty can go wrong—rifle cant, mirage, breathing, your rest, and of course, the dang wind. It was my turn to shoot first. We had decided to each take three shots at the target. There was a 5-mile an hour swirling cross wind that we would have to deal with. I got the rifle set up then turned the turret to the 1,000-yard mark, made my wind adjustment and let one rip. A couple seconds later after the sound of the blast we heard that sweet delayed sound of the bullet smashing into the metal, “gong”. If my buddies had been able to pull $7,500 out of
their pockets right then and there, they would have each taken two, on the spot. The shock and awe factor kicked in hardcore. One buddy said, “No way, I don’t believe it.” He has never shot over three hundred yards before. At that point the 1,000-yard out of the box system was confirmed. I proceeded to shoot two more shots and although very close they whiffed the target. In that wind I figured one out of three wasn’t terrible. Each of us took our turn and at the end we tallied up four hits out of 15 shots. That is a hit percentage of 26.7. Not too good. I came back and shot again on a morning with perfect conditions and hit the same gong three out of five shots. That is a 60% hit rate. Still not the confidence I need to go into the field to attempt a 1,000-yard shot ethically on a game animal. 1,000 yards out of the box accuracy depends on your definition of accuracy. At 1,000 yards there are so many variables that play into the game. For shooting steel and targets, yes I would consider the Gunwerks LR-1000 to be a 1,000-yard out-of-the-box rifle. We would have hit a 3’x3’ gong nearly every time, and for recreational shooting that is good enough. For hunting, I would not consider this rifle accurate enough to put a bullet inside the kill zone consistently enough to make the attempt. Then again, I don’t think there are many—if any—worthy of my endorsement for a 1,000-yard attempt on game. I was very impressed with the overall fit and finish of the Gunwerks rifle system. The packaging and pop out of the box was as good as it gets and if I was in the market for a custom rifle I would definitely consider a Gunwerks rifle. I was slightly more impressed with the Nightforce scope and the turret system than the rifle itself, and once again must emphasize that the biggest part of successful long range shooting comes from your optics setup over any other aspect of your long-range package although your rifle and ammo are very important as well. The Gunwerks LR-1000 system works. You have heard me say it before and you will hear me say it always. To be able to attempt any long range shot on game you must practice, practice, practice and do your ballistic verification yourself. Remember to hunt game responsibly.
free-range red stag in new zealand
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Thad Steven harvested this giant free-range red stag in New Zealand with a very difficult angled shot
free-range red stag in new zealand
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Jessica Stevens stands next to her gold rated massive red stag she took near the end of her hunt Do you have a Photo Story to share? Submissions can be sent to: Hunting Illustrated PO Box 1045 â€˘ Gunnison, UT 84634 email@example.com
Blister Pass by josh hedrick
Deep in the Yukon for Dall Sheep
y wife, Rachelle, and I have been hunting together ever since our second date. I told her we couldn’t get married until we got elk ivory for my wedding band. But wouldn’t you know, that next year we put in the draw for New Mexico archery elk and drew the first year. On
this first big game hunt together Rachelle shot her elk at only seven yards away, scored her ivory, and we were married that next summer. Since then we have continued to have several opportunities to hunt around the world, including our “Huntingmoon” to New Zealand. I am an owner and guide
of Smoke Hole Outfitters. It’s located at our family owned business, Smoke Hole Caverns and Log Cabins Resort on the South Branch of the Potomac River in Cabins, West Virginia. Being an outdoorsman all my life, I’ve always dreamed of hunting sheep in the Yukon. Of course, as everyone
by kevin orton The author and his crew head into prime buck territory inside the Henry mountains
says, getting the sheep fever can get expensive. Being that my wife and I have no children yet, we decided we had better hunt sheep now while we still can. It was late August 2012 when we found ourselves stuffing our packs with camo and heading to Whitehorse, Yukon. We spent a day in Whitehorse anticipating the hunt to follow. The next morning we jumped on a charter plane, flew about four hours, and landed alongside the Bonnet Plume River at Chris and Sharron McKinnon’s base camp at Copper Point. We dropped our unnecessary things like gun cases and extra clothing in a wall tent, ate one last real meal, and lined in our guns one last time. Soon after, I hopped on a jet boat and headed a half hour south and Rachelle flew in a Super Cab half an hour north. We felt comfortable being separated, knowing be would have a better chance at seeing more sheep, and we were already acquainted with our guides from previously hunting with the McKinnon’s in Alberta for whitetail and wolf. My guide, Brad, and I had to reach tree line that evening for our hunt to be effective for the next day. When the next morning came, we headed high to glass more country. After a long day of glassing, we
“After a long day of glassing, we finally spotted four rams about eight miles off. ...Just seeing them put a little ‘giddy up’ in my step.” finally spotted four rams about eight miles off. Of course, it was too late in the evening to pursue them, but just seeing them put a little “giddy up” in my step. That next morning we headed off in the direction of the rams. We found them bedded on the sunny side of the mountain and discovered that one of them was definitely worth a closer look. We just needed to get one ridge closer to get an age on him. Wouldn’t you know, they got up and fed away from us just as we finally topped that next ridge. They moved across the valley, putting us a couple hours off track. That evening we circled them, only to find that the ram we Summer 2013
The author passed on some great bucks but held out for something bigger. Their scouting efforts continued in hopes a trophy buck was around the corner
Setting up camp high in the mountains can be expected during sheep hunts in the Yukon.
were after was old enough, but broomed on one side. It was a tough call for me. He had good mass, 10 years old, but it was still early in the hunt and I was hoping for a full curl. After decided to leave the ram, I questioned myself, wondering if I did the right thing. My guide liked to see his hunters take good, mature rams. We head back to camp, jumping several bears along the way in the berry patches. The next morning we decided to move camp into the next basin. It was up hill both ways; this is where “lactic acid” lives. After climbing for most of the day, we took a couple of flat rocks and scrapped off a level place to set up our tent. We were fortunate that we had a small snowcap above camp so we could get 50
enough water for our Mountain House meals. We had nicknamed the area “Blister Pass”. Brad and I lightened our load and hiked to the top of the mountain to glass. With about a half of a day left, Brad went out to one ridgeline to glass and I went to glass another. I found ewes and lambs rather quickly and found that promising. A couple hours later I saw Brad coming back over the ridgeline. He was glassing pretty hard toward a certain area like he was trying to get a better look at something. I started to hike out the saddle that connected with Brad’s ridge. As I got closer to him I could tell he had definitely seen something. He asked, “Did you hear those rams ‘POP’?” Being a windy day, I hadn’t heard them, but he said there were three rams underneath us at about 150 yards. This was game time! We just had to figure out how to access them without them spotting us. We got to a bluff and tried to age them. Two of the rams were sure shooters. One had a fancy curl and the other had a little flare and good tips. I decided to take the wider ram. We got set, but the wind was questionable. I think the rams
The author and his wife reunited near the end of the hunt. Both of them show off their huge ram horns harvested during the hunt.
The author had success in putting down this 38-inch, 10 yearold ram high near “Blister Pass”
The risk of holding out for a bigger buck paid off. This giant scored 206-inches, with a 32-inch outside spread and 41-inches of mass!
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knew something was up and they started to feed in the opposite direction. After ranging my ram at 250 yards, I took the first shot. He stepped forward as I squeezed the trigger and the bullet broke his back. The second shot took him through the pump house. “You got a dandy ram!” Brad said. I was pumped, and all my sore muscles and blisters took a backseat. According to Brad, the ram was around 38 inches and 10 years old. This hunt gives you a great sense of accomplishment and I was living in an unforgettable moment. That night we got back to camp around 1:30 am. I had sore feet and blisters, but it didn’t matter. We broke camp the next day and started hiking down off the mountain to our start off/pick up point. We crossed a river over 40 times with those 100 lb. packs. Of course that means wet feet, and wet feet means more blisters. To make an extremely long, hard walk short, we made it to the jet boat at dark. My wife was there to greet me as I fell into the boat. I looked up and said, “What a hunt this has been!” We had several days left in our hunt, so Rachelle and I decided to do some moose and caribou hunting together for about three days, but had no luck. The rain and fog set in and didn’t make for a very successful hunt. Back at camp we took advantage of some great fly fishing and enjoyed some amazing meals. You haven’t tasted anything until you’ve tried Dall sheep back strap. No matter how full you are, you just keep shoveling it in. The meat literally melts in your mouth. It is hands down the best game I have ever eaten. Ten days had come and gone, and it was time to fly back home to the mountains of West Virginia. It’s hard to find words to explain the Yukon. The beauty seems like it’s unmatched, and the extremity of the hunt is like none other. We can’t help but think over and over how blessed we are to have experienced it.
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The Nightforce Velocity™ 1000 yard reticle is matched to your rifle’s ballistic profile and load. Our online reticle calculator instantly identifies the proper Velocity™ reticle and Nightforce riflescope based on your information. Then, if you’ve sighted in properly, and you know the distance to your target, you can shoot and hunt at extreme ranges with unprecedented confidence, speed and accuracy. There is still no substitute for making ethical shooting decisions and practicing at the ranges at which you plan to hunt. But, if the art of long-range shooting has seemed way too complicated, the Velocity™ 1000 reticle will solve the mystery and place consistent, accurate shots on target. All in record time.
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The example at left is based upon a .25-06 hunting load. Enter your own data, print the results and take it to your nearest dealer.
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Legends of the Fall
cvc# (on back)
In memory of Grandpa Len
here!” “Where?” “There, Grandpa, a bear!” “Where’s the bear?” Of course if your eyeballs were born in 1928, they wouldn’t work quite as well 85 years later and you might not be able to see the giant black bear standing broadside, less than 30 yards in front of us. One thing was for sure – this big brute of a bear was definitely born with two fully functioning eyeballs and he had them locked right on us. “Want me to shoot?” “Well no, Grandpa, not unless you can see it.” “See what?” “The bear!”
by eva shockey “What bear?” “The bear, Grandpa, right there!!!” “You say, bear hair?” Not only were his eyeballs 85 years old, but apparently his ears were born the same year as his eyes. Rumor has it, long, long ago, my grandpa’s nickname was Eagle Eyes. Right then, as much as I would have liked to accept that rumor to be true, in that exact moment of time it was just about impossible to believe. The bear obviously agreed with me. Bears are not known for their incredible eyesight or hearing, but even with the wind in our favor, after listening to us blabbering for three minutes straight, from close enough to count each other’s nose hairs, the bruin decided enough was enough with our Bozo the Clown duet act. Last time I saw him, he was headed straight for the old growth at the big, giant, blubbery bear equivalent of mach 4. But I’m getting ahead of myself, so let me start from the beginning. That hunt with my Grandpa Len, actually started 25 years ago, about the same time that my own eyeballs were born. The Bear Camp Back Story In the mid-1980's my dad was newly married (way above his league, mind you) to one of Vancouver's most beautiful actresses; Him and my mom were often featured as Vancouver's “It” couple in various publications. He was captain of the provincial waterpolo team, a player on the Canadian national team, an underwear model (yes, underwear) for Vogue magazine and to top it off, still had a full head of luscious, brown hair without a strand of grey. He owned three über trendy antique furniture stores smack in the middle of downtown Vancouver, Canada with many of the Hollywood elite as his regular customers, including Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell and Ralph Lauren. Around the time I was born in 1988, Ralph needed to furnish his new ‘Ralph Lauren Country’ stores North America-wide… enter Jim Shockey. With one ginormous wad of cash, Ralph purchased every single piece of furniture in all three of the downtown locations, emptying out my dad’s stores but stuffing his wallet with more than enough money to finance his childhood dream – to become an outfitter. It was a done deal. My dad sold his antique stores and jumped right into the hunting industry as a full-time big game outfitter on the northern end of Vancouver Island. Little did he know his newly acquired bear camp, would, a quarter of a century later, serve as the glue that would bind three generations of family together – Grandpa Len, Dad and me. After acquiring the territory, dad’s wallet was significantly lighter, so he was constantly looking for ways to save a few dollars. His first big cost-effective solution was to make spring bear camp the new annual vacation destination for the entire Shockey clan – kids,
The author with her first black bear which she put down with one shot from her muzzleloader
parents and grandparents included. No piña colada drinking, sun-shining, swanky holiday all-inclusives for this family. Dad’s rusty Pre-’94 Mighty Dodge pick-up with a mouldy, old trailer hitched on the back and six sets of bunk beds was more our style - we like to fondly call these getaways “in-your-face-familytime”… some of us more fondly than others. To give you an idea of what the Shockey vacation destination involved, let’s start with the notso-luxurious amenities. Picture the filthiest, stinkiest, fly-infested, mud-splashed, toilet-paper-less, gunky outhouse you can imagine. Now remove the roof, the walls, the floor and the toilet bowl itself until you’re left with a big, filthy, stinky, fly-infested, mud-splashed, toilet-paper-less, gunky, gaping hole in the ground. As a young girl at a hunting camp full of grown-ups, to say this experience was in any way acceptably comparable to a Disneyland dream vacation with Mickey, Minnie and Donald Duck, would be about the same as saying that a homemade paper airplane is comparable to the NASA space shuttle. It would be the same as going on a date with one of the Trailer Park Boys compared to a date with Brad Pitt.
The Rules of the Hunt
Grandpa Len shares a moment with everyone in Jim’s truck while keeping an eye out for black bears during the Spring.
But the one thing I will say, is that even way back then, one of the great things about spring bear camp was getting to spend time with my grandpa and my dad. Another great thing is that the bear hunt itself is a tough hunt; there’s no baiting, no dogs and it’s 100% spot and stalk… On the flip side, the success rate is directly proportional to the ability of the hunter to actually see the bear he’s supposed to shoot. In other words, Grandpa’s inability to see a bear at 30 yards was making his success rate, up until that point, directly proportional to zero.
Dad’s bear territory covers the entire northern end of Vancouver Island. It’s been said that British Columbia has ¼ of the total black bear population in all of Canada, and the coastal regions – Vancouver Island especially – have the highest density of black bears in all of BC. The terrain varies anywhere from rocky logging areas to lush tidal flats along the ocean. The area is expansive and takes more than five hours to drive from one end to the other, so as such, our definition of “spot & stalk” is better defined as a drive, spot and stalk. With 1200 square miles of exclusive hunting territory to explore, in any one day it’s normal to cover 200 miles before dark and this isn’t 200 lazy miles across flat, paved highways either. This is 200 miles through steep, winding, gravel, logging roads full of cliffs, ravines and potholes bigger than the black hole itself. If I thought the old camp outhouse gave me nightmares, my dad’s maniacal driving took those nightmares to a whole other level. He always says, “the more ground you cover, the more you’re going to see”, so as we drove warp speed along the
One of the great “ things about spring
bear camp was getting to spend time with my grandpa and my dad.
Grandpa Len (left) next to his great bear, alongside his sonin-law, Jim Shockey and Jim’s father. This would be one of their last hunts together before Len’s passing.
The author’s father, Jim Shockey, put down this great nontypical whitetail during a family hunt at Camp Shockey.
slender logging road with my head bashing and crashing like a seesaw against any hard surface it could find, I realized he did not take this mantra lightly. It could even be said that in a sense, driving a bear to death, was another suitable mantra for the lunatic driver, I so fondly called my Dad. As much as my whiplash begged to differ, he had a good point. By covering the extra land, it’s common to see 10-30 different bears in any one day – our record was 88! Of course my grandpa hasn’t seen 88 bears in the last 20 years combined, unless he can miraculously see through his sleeping eyelids. That being said, the mastery of distinguishing a black bear from thousands of burnt, black, bear-sized logging stumps is a challenge. The similarities between stumps and bears are uncanny, kind of like identical twins. In fact, my father has invoked a “fine” system, where if a client points at, thinks they saw, or in any way indicates that they think a stump is a bear, it’s an automatic fine of $10. If the client wrongly insists it’s a bear and my dad has to stop the truck, the fine jumps to $20. If he has to back the truck up, for a falsely claimed bear, it’s a $50 fine. Of course because my dad made up the rules and in the interest of fairness, the same rules apply to him too. The only difference is that the client pays for
my dad’s fines as well as their own. His explanation is that he can’t be afraid to make the call, just in case it turns out to be a bear. Poor Grandpa Len already chocked up $10,840 in fines. Even after a bear is spotted, I learned early on that the hard part is yet to come. Judging whether a black bear is a “shooter” is nothing like judging a whitetail deer, which most hunters are familiar with. Not only are there no antlers to look at, tines to count or main beams to estimate, but oftentimes even judging the sex of a bear comes down to getting close enough to actually see its underbelly and its….erm… man or lady bits. My father describes judging a bear as the following: “Cover the top of two bucks’ antlers with burlap sacks, now stand back at 100 yards and try to judge the score of each buck. It’s virtually impossible.” Many times I have watched my dad examine a bear through his spotting scope for three straight hours before eventually deciding it was too small and letting it walk. Small, big, male or female – it’s tough to tell. Thankfully for us, Grandpa Len is no trophy hunter. He’s a meat hunter, pure and simple, which means that judging the bear was a moot point. Grandpa actually
seeing the bear became the determining factor as to weather he would be frying bear burgers on the barbeque or eating Happy Meals at McDonalds for the remainder of the year. Grandpa’s Hunt In the end, we ended up seeing 73 bears over the six days of Grandpa’s hunt. The number is correct, but the “we” might actually be a bit of an exaggeration. The only “we” that saw all 73 bears were my dad and me. All of Grandpa’s three bears that he thought he spotted, turned out to be stumps. Therein was one of the greatest lessons I ever learned from Grandpa Len. It wasn’t about getting the animal, but it was about spending the inyour-face-family-time in the great outdoors. No, it wasn’t a Disney Land dream vacation, but now at 25 years of age, Mickey, Minnie and Donald don’t hold a candle to spending time in the wild-lands of Vancouver Island with two of my favourite people – to me, bear camp really is The Happiest Place on Earth. Dedication: For all the laughs, lessons and love we shared over the past 25 years, I will be eternally grateful for every moment of time spent with you, Grandpa Len. I hope you’re spotting some big bruins up in heaven with those Eagle Eyes of yours. With arms forever around you.
THE HUNTER BECOMES THE HUNTED
by nick fowler
on’t #%^& this up and you are going to kill a wolf.” When I heard it, two low, mournful howls, I knew instantly there was a much larger dog in that area other than the coyote I had been trying to call in. My adrenaline instantly spiked and everything changed, I was unsure what to do, should I call or not. So I decided my best bet was attempt to put on eyes on my first ever canius lupus. I never did see or hear that wolf again that day. My mind was made up; this mountain would be where all my weekends would be spent until I got a chance to kill a wolf. I did just that. I spent a total of six days over the next four weeks on that mountain. I covered 25-30 miles while, at times, plowing through snow that was ankle, knee, thigh, and, even, crotch deep. I just keep telling myself “if you want something you have never had, you have to be willing to do something you have never done.” Never before had I worked so hard for an animal that I had actually never seen. All my positive thinking became a reality on a day I did all I could to talk myself out of getting up and going hunting in the rain/snow/wind. I thought about how I never regret a day that I go hunting. It is the day I stay home when I could have hunted
that I regret. The night before I told my wife, Jess, that I was headed out in the morning. She was really starting to question my sanity about this whole wolf hunting kick I was on, especially, since I had never even seen a wolf. I was going to pack my little rifle tomorrow, my .223 and that way I would see a wolf. Since I heard the two howls weeks before I had been packing my .300 WSM, sure that I would need it to make a long range shot if I ever got a chance. I had been seeing coyotes and fox almost every trip and was getting tired of letting them walk. So, I told myself I was shooting any dog I could that day. In addition, making a bad weather day even worse was the fact once I got to the trailhead I realized I had grabbed the wrong contact case and would be hunting in my glasses. My first stand of the day was low on the mountain overlooking a brush choked creek bottom. This was where I hoped of luring in one of the foxes I had seen, especially the gorgeous black/silver fox I had let walk couple weeks prior. The set produced no call in. Next I headed about half way up the mountain to call in a bowl that I had seen coyotes in a couple different times. Again, the set did not produce. I made it up and
Wolves usually prey on the weak. This smal fawn turned out to be a great meal for three wolves that had chased it down the canyon, right past the author.
out of the bowl onto a ridge and decided to let the FoxPro send out a few howls. After a few howls I heard it . . . howls coming back to me. I could feel the excitement rising in me like a flood. I was off, wanting to do my best to cut the distance. I worked a couple hundred yards up the ridge with the wolves howling occasionally. I shed my pack and snuck over the ridge to look at the canyon on the opposite side, it sounded as if the wolves were right there but for the life of me I could not find them. Eventually they stopped howling. I was sure they must have seen me and that I had blown it before I even laid eyes on them. Discouraged I snuck back over the ridge to get my pack and decide my next move. As I was putting my FoxPro back in my pack the wolves lit up, I responded with a voice howl and they continued their chorus. Game-back on. This time I crawled through the brush back to the crest of the ridge and lying among the sage I began glassing and spotted my first wolf! Sitting across the canyon letting its howls engulf the mountain. I quickly ranged the wolf, over 700 yards. Soon I spotted two additional wolves. I voice howled and used the FoxPro. The wolves worked their way across and up the canyon from me. I was having a tough time keeping track of all three wolves and numerous times lost sight of all of them. I couldn’t believe how well they blended in with the brush and snow. All of the sudden there was a wolf on a shelf almost directly across
from me, I ranged and it came back at 373 yards. I didn’t want to shoot at a wolf with the .223 at that distance, especially with a stiff breeze coming down the canyon. I wanted to make sure of any shot I took. So I continued to howl, the wolves just kept working their way up the canyon away from me. As they lined out, I dropped back over the other side of xthe distance. It didn’t take me long to realize that was not going to work. So, I snuck back over the ridge and once again began to call with the Foxpro as well as my voice. After ten minutes or so with no response or sighting I was beginning to kick myself for not taking the earlier shot opportunity. I had a wolf in range and was too scared I would miss. I continued to beat myself up and was trying to decide whether to press on or head back to the truck. That was when I heard a deer bleat in the canyon behind me and then, what I thought was surely a coyote, bark. So I turned my attention to finding and killing that coyote, as I was sure the wolves had left the country. All of a sudden a fawn came running down the canyon with a wolf hot on its heels. I couldn’t believe it. They were running down the canyon heading straight below
While the wolves fed on the fawn, it presented the perfect opportunity for the author to move down on them and in position to take down one of these amazing animals.
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them. I had to do my best to keep my adrenaline in check, and remain as clam as possible. Which was very hard to do knowing I was so close to feeding wolves. The noise I was making coming down the hill in the snow eventually was more than one of them could take and it ran up out of the bottom and stood on the other side of the canyon looking for what was making the noise. As he stopped, the crosshair settled and the 52 grain hollow point was on its way. The wolf bolted and I racked another round, found him in my scope and was just getting ready to touch off another bullet when he fell over. The wolf had only made it 20-30 yards and he was now mine. Laying 80 yards away from me was my first wolf! I had done it. I had purposely gone out and hunted a wolf and succeeded. My war whoop echoed up and down the canyon. After pictures and gutting him out, I strapped him to my pack and made my way back down the mountain to my truck, and straight to Dan Morrow at High Country Taxidermy in Meridian. Sometime in the next 8-10 months that wolf will be standing in my living room! I am already looking forward to next winter and getting back after these amazing predators.
The fierce ability of wolves is apparent in the size and strength of their frames, their speed, fearlessness, cunningnus and their flesh-tearing fangs.
me. I quickly moved into position for a shot and thought how it looked as if the wolf wasn’t even trying, almost as if it was just playing, relishing the chase of the frantic fawn. I lost sight due to the steepness of the canyon as they ran directly below me but, I then knew the wolf had caught the fawn as it began to bawl and wail. “Don’t #%^& this up and you are going to kill a wolf!” I told myself as I snuck down the hill. As I was sneaking down the hill, I saw a second wolf comving down the same trail. I sat down ready to shoot if the wolf gave me a shot. It never stopped until it was in the canyon bottom out of sight with its partner devouring the fawn. As I continued down the canyon I looked up and noticed the third wolf sitting at 350 yards watching me make a move on it companions. I sat down and howled a couple times thinking that would get the feeding wolves to come up out of the bottom to have a look. They didn’t, so I continued to creep down the steep, slippery slope closer and closer to the bottom of the canyon. Howling occasionally, I continued to close the distance. Eventually I was close enough to the bottom of the canyon that I could hear the wolves crunching bones, yet I could still not see
A Tribute to Greg Rodriguez
ate August temperatures in British Columbia are supposed to be very mild and sometimes downright chilly. Not so this year as unusually warm conditions had all wildlife lying low all day except for a couple of hours in the morning and in the evening, just before sunset. You might know this would be the year my good friend and outdoor writer Greg Rodriguez and I would choose to do a much anticipated goat hunt. Nonetheless, Dennis Smith, owner of Bear Paw Outfitters in Prince George, B.C. assured us we would be successful. “The drainage I’m taking you boys to hasn’t been hunted in five years”, Dennis belted out. With that assurance, Greg and I saddled up and prepared ourselves for the long two day ride into some of the most remote country on the planet. “See that drainage right there? I have a cabin up there I haven’t been to in four years. See that drainage over there? I built a cabin up there six years ago and haven’t hunted out of it for five years.” “Hell Dennis, you must be a hundred years old to have accomplished everything you’re telling us,” I joked. “I’m a hundred and ten smart a--.” We all laughed and rode on. The first evening we arrived at a nice cabin at the half way point. I was impressed at how nice it was and was starting to believe Dennis’ claims of having cabins scattered all over creation. One thing I was not prepared for, however, was the Spam. I’m not talking about the kind that makes its way into your computer. I’m talking about that horrible looking, slimy, yucky crap in a can. Dennis couldn’t prepare a meal without Spam. Spam eggs, Spam sandwiches, Spam, Spam, Spam! That crap should be illegal. My aching butt, back and legs welcomed bedtime. As I slipped into my sleeping bag, I glanced over at Greg who was making an entry into what appeared to be his journal. “What, you’re sleeping with teddy bears now?” I exclaimed. There, next to Greg’s sleeping bag was a little stuffed animal that actually looked more like a tiger than a bear. “My daughter Chloe gave this to me years ago hoping I would carry it with me on all my adventures to remind me of her and to keep me safe. It goes everywhere I go.” The next eight days proved to be challenging. Between the downfall across the trail, (now I knew why Dennis had packed a chain saw) wrecks along the way and grizzly bears ravaging our camp while we were away hunting, my physical and mental endurance was waning fast. Greg sensed my frustration and offered some encouraging words. “Tomorrow’s the day,” he said as if he had had a premonition. Morning nine found us riding up the same trail we
by scott grange “My daughter Chloe gave this to me years ago hoping I would carry it with me on all my adventures to remind me of her and to keep me safe. It goes everywhere I go.” - Greg Rodriguez-
had been patrolling for better than a week. Every mile or so we’d stop, dismount, set up the spotting scopes and go to work dissecting the vertical landscape that seemed to look down upon us and laugh. I’m guessing I got a taste of what a flatlander must feel like when they venture out west into my neck of the woods for a mule deer hunt. Even though I was far from a flatlander, I felt like one in this incredibly rugged environment. It’s funny how the mind works. “There he is!” The words we had waited nearly two weeks to hear finally broke the silence. Dennis had located a lone billy in a tiny patch of green that was located at the base of a cliff that extended upwards five hundred feet or so. It was unlikely, in Dennis’ mind, that this guy would leave the basin given the protection from the sun and potential predators it afforded the white beast. Best guesses were three miles to a point where just maybe a shot could be taken. “I think we can do it,” Todd, our packer said. That’s all Greg needed to hear and he was throwing items in his pack he would need for not just the climb itself, but perhaps an all night stay on the mountain as it was now mid-morning and the day was growing short. Dennis and I would remain behind, faces glued to our spotting scopes, watching the goat’s every move. We were certain Todd and
The author (right) poses with Greg during a mountain goat hunting adventure in British Colombia. This is the last hunt they would share together before Greg’s passing away.
Greg would be able to make out our signals through their spotting scope as they ascended the mountain if the goat did something unexpected -- like leave the country. Hours passed and the billy was now bedded not fifty yards from where we had initially spotted him. Trouble was Greg and Todd were only about three fourths of the way there and the sun was about an hour or so from dipping below the western horizon. Fortunately, the worst part of the climb was behind them and now they could slide up a sparsely covered ridge to within striking distance. And that they did. Both Dennis and I laughed at how fast the two were moving up that ridge! It was like they had a renewed burst of energy. Funny how a rapidly setting sun on day nine of a ten day hunt can do that. Soon Greg and Todd were at the spot we all had determined they needed to be at in order for any kind of a shot to be had. And as it usually does, the long distance between the animal and our spotting position failed to reveal the true distance between the target and what would be the shooter’s position. As the two exhausted hunters took a moment to slow their heart rates, Todd removed his range finder from his pack and locked it on the unsuspecting billy that was now up feeding. “Six hundred and one yards,” Todd muttered in despair. He knew a shot like this would be pushing it for a finely tuned bolt action rifle. Greg, on the other hand, was packing a Browning takedown lever gun in 300 WSM. The next sound he heard was the unmistakable
cycling of such action. “Are you gonna shoot?” “Yup,” was the response as Greg was now in a prone position, rifle resting on his day pack. With my heart in my throat and my eye glued to the spotting scope, it was all I could do to control the shakes. It felt like the first time I watched my daughter rope a calf at the high school state finals rodeo. I was afraid to blink for fear I would miss the shot. “That little #@%& did it!” Dennis roared as I watched the goat fall on his face through my Swarovski looking glass. Three seconds later, the report could be heard echoing through the canyon like thunder. Greg had just pulled off an impossible shot for
“Greg had just pulled off an impossible shot for many, but for him, it was just another day at the office.”
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Greg was a confident hunter. Using his Browning takedown lever gun in 300 WSM, he was able to put down this mountain goat at 601 yards!
many, but for him, it was just another day at the office. You see, Greg loved long range shooting. He would spend hours at American Shooting Centers in Houston honing his skills, many times with the local SWAT team. He never took a shot that he wasn’t totally comfortable with and this was no exception. The next morning the two tired, hungry hunters stumbled into camp dirty, bloody and with smiles a mile wide. And believe it or not, I was able to collect my billy late that same afternoon after a much less grueling effort. Every so often, events happen in our lives that make us take a step back and reassess our priorities. Unfortunately, such occurrences are not usually happy ones. Greg’s premature departure was a reminder to me of the fragility of life. What was so important the day before his death didn’t seem nearly as urgent the next day…or the day after that. We can beat ourselves up by asking, why has it been a month or better since I called and checked in or why didn’t I give my buddy a hug the last time we parted at the airport? But instead of torturing ourselves, it’s more important we learn from such events the true meaning of life and live every day as if there were no tomorrow. Greg Rodriguez was a loving husband, father and son. I had the pleasure of sharing many campfires with him and grew to love him like a brother. I just wish I had known this goat hunt would be our last adventure together.
The author had success putting down this great billy on the last day of the hunt
Photo: vic schendel | Recreation: Matt Mogle
by beau knutson
new world record archery non-typical mule deer Stalking this massive Saskatchewan buck took fine-tuned fortitude, mental strength and hours of waiting for a shot opportunity while laying face down in the mud. ince the first time I drew a tag I have had an obsession for big gnarly mule deer. From early summer to late fall all I can think about is out smarting big old muleys. This year started out much the same as every other year, but I had a buck in the back of my mind that I had first seen three years ago. I had come across this deer bedded in a slough bottom with two other bucks: one was about a 190” non-typical in full velvet, another was a 180” typical with dropping beams, and the last was a 150 class youngster. Archery season was open so I backed out and made a plan. I circled back down wind and snuck up behind a rock pile that would easily put me within range. When I got to the rock pile I poked my head out and ranged the deer at 25 yards. They were lying there totally unaware of my presence. I figured my best chance was to draw my bow and step out at full draw. When I was standing at full draw the 190” velvet non-typical was still lying in his spot while the 180” typical was standing broadside at 25 yards. I made the decision and sent an arrow through the big typical. He was a great deer and I couldn’t pass up the shot. After that day I was all tagged out and didn’t know anyone with a draw tag to go after the other buck so I kind of forgot about him for the rest of the year. The next season I came across the big non-typical while I was harvesting. I was hunting with archery tackle again and every time I found this deer he was bedded in areas where I couldn’t get within 100 yards with my bow, so I had to leave him alone. This was tough to do; he had put on a fair bit of horn and was now in the 215” range. I had many sleepless nights
in October and November thinking some lucky hunter would stumble upon him in muzzle loader or rifle season. Luckily, the area he chose to call home was within 5 miles of my house and not that heavily hunted, so I kept an eye on him for the season and he made it through. In 2012 I got back on him early in the summer; we just happened to be coming home from my daughter’s ball game and I saw a deer way off in the distance that looked like it had a drop tine. I raced home, dropped off my wife, grabbed the spotting scope, and Mackenzie and I headed back to see if we could find him. We got back to where I had last seen him and there was nothing to be seen. We glassed back and forth and nothing, he had disappeared. We waited for about an hour and finally we
The author had spotted this giant after filling his tag the season before.
caught a glimpse of him sneaking through a low spot trying to get to the other field. At first I thought it was a totally different deer but after he sky-lined himself I knew for sure he was the buck I was looking for, and he had pushed out an 8”drop tine off his right side! For the next two and a half months every spare minute I had I would go watch this deer. It was the end of July when he absolutely exploded with horn growth, I couldn’t even think straight from here on! A couple close hunting buddies would ask what he would score and I didn’t even want to hint a number and have them think I was foolish! All I would say is he’s big. Real big! I figured he was going to be in the 220-225” range and with only an archery tag this year I was more than happy to dedicate my time to try to kill this deer with my bow. I continued to watch him for the next while and in about mid-August he decided to throw me a curve ball and move. He didn’t go far, just a half mile over, but into a lentil field which is a very short crop and I wasn’t sure how I would sneak in on him with the bow. I had no doubt that we would get this deer this year because two buddies drew tags and they would able to hunt him with muzzle loaders. So for the next three weeks I watched this deer move between three or four large cattail sloughs out in the middle of the lentil field. I was kind of frustrated because I honestly thought the chances of making a successful stalk in this situation were zero. The night before the opening day of archery season I went out just before dark to glass and see if I could locate him. With no sign I called it a night, went
Cattails and lentils proved to be the author’s worst enemy while he crawled at a snail’s pace to get nearer. He states “They sounded like I was dragging a string of empty beer cans behind me.”
home and rounded up my gear into the truck, and went to bed. I don’t think I slept a wink that night. The alarm went off about 4am on September 1st and I was going out to find this buck of a lifetime. I hopped in the truck and headed out, parked, and waited for sunrise with a million things going through my mind as to what could happen and how I would make this happen. At sunup I walked out onto a hill to glass for the buck. Having not seen him the night before, my hopes weren’t set too high. These big old muleys have a knack for disappearing come hunting season. I glassed for about 15 minutes, and there he was, standing about 400 yards away in the middle of a cattail slough. My heart instantly started pounding but I had no idea how I was going to get close enough for a shot. I had virtually no wind, 400 yards of no cover to get to where he was, and the lentils were dead ripe ready to combine—they sounded like I was dragging a string of empty beer cans behind me! There was no way I was going to get within range in these conditions, so I sat on the hill and watched him mill around for a half-hour and once he bedded I pulled out and went back to the truck. This decision killed me but I knew it was the only one I had. We were right in the middle of harvests so I went back to work for the day and planned to try again tomorrow. I was working only 5 miles away and all I could think about was this deer. I probably looked as if my dog had died. At 2:30 things started to turn around for me; it started to look like it was going to rain and the wind really picked up. I quickly got myself in my truck and it began pouring rain. I was on route to the field I had seen the deer in this morning. I thought just maybe with the wind and rain I might be able to stalk up to the slough and hopefully he would feed past before dark. It rained so hard I could hardly get to field with the truck. I parked at the north end of the section and started hiking toward the slough. I walked about 300 yards to a hill and I could see the slough he was in. It was downhill towards him from here so I couldn’t just walk; I decided to belly crawl down a sprayer track that would lead me to the edge of where he was lying. When I was half way I stopped for a rest. There I was, my gear in hand, covered in mud and soaking wet. “This is fun,” I thought to myself. Then the rain stopped. The big non-typical stood up, looked my direction, shook himself off, and bedded down again. Wow, I thought I was busted! Now I knew where he was so I carried on belly crawling. By the time I reached the edge of the slough I was totally exhausted and in shock that I had made it that far without being busted. While I lay there resting I noticed the sprayer track went off to
©2013 JIMMY JOHN’S FRANCHISE, LLC ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Perfect patience--that’s what it took to get this deer. The treturous stalk was worth it. This toad tapes out at 284 3/8 SCI and 267 3/8 P&Y, placing it as the new archery world record non-typical muley.
the right and might get me closer, so I continued on my stomach one foot at a time, into the slough where he bedded. I was kind of confused because I thought he should only be about 70 yards from where I was, but I couldn’t see anything. All of a sudden he stood up looking straight away from me for a few seconds and bedded back down. Now I knew exactly where he was and figured if I could get within another 30-40 yards I would be in position for a good shot. I carried on belly crawling to an opening and couldn’t go any further. I was on my knees glassing the cattails looking for horns when I saw him turn his head toward me. I had watched this deer a lot from 300 to 600 yards away with the spotting scope, but until this moment I hadn’t understood how big this thing was! I hunkered down and ranged him at 52 yards—not a perfect archery range but with the bow I was shooting, it was a shot I was confident with. I sat at 52 yards for
three hours waiting for him to stand again, watching him turn his head back and forth. It was killer on the mind; all I wanted to do is throw a little stone or whistle to get him to stand but I couldn’t risk it. I’ve seen that go bad too many times. With about 50 minutes of daylight left the giant finally decided to stand and it couldn’t have been more perfect. He stood up, looked my way, then turned quartering away and put his head down to feed. I drew my bow back while on my knees and once at full draw I stood and put my pin behind his shoulder. He didn’t even lift his head. I squeezed the trigger and the hit was perfect, the deer kicked in the air, spun towards me, and ran by me at 10 yards. He reached the edge of the slough and stopped, standing there looking away; his massive rack started to wobble and down he went. Even when I had the horns in my hands I still had no idea how big this deer really was. After the 60 day drying period we loaded up and took it to get scored, we were blown away with what we come up with. The deer taped out at 284 3/8 SCI and 267 3/8 Pope & Young. Watching that deer’s horns start to sway was an unbelievable sight. I have never in my hunting years had everything work out so perfectly as it did on this day; making a five hour stalk on this incredible buck was truly a great feeling. I guess days like this make up for all the blown stalks in past years! Summer 2013
My Guide is Like Family
After years of hunting moose, the author now relies solely on one guide to come back to every year. Such a guide becomes close enough to feel like an adopted son.
love hunting moose. Over the years, I’ve bagged a dozen or more moose including a Boone and Crocket trophy moose in Alaska and another in Canada— what amazing experiences those were for a guy from California! For the past 5 years, though, I’ve been seeking that elusive trophy Shiras moose in the mountains of Utah.
Fortunately, I found just the outfitter to help me meet that goal. After watching a hunting show several years ago featuring The R & K Hunting Company, I was so impressed with what I saw that I gave Justin Richins, one of the owners, a call. I explained to Justin that I have some physical limitations and wanted to see if this outfitter could
accommodate me. Being a very heavy man, it’s impossible for me to do much climbing or maneuvering. Given that moose tend to dwell at higher altitudes, it takes a special hunting guide to figure out the best means of helping me reach moose territory. After gaining assurance that they could do the job, I booked my first trip with R & K in 2008; that
by joe hill was the start of a great relationship. I am a high maintenance hunter and I admit it. But when I find someone who can deal with me and my needs, I am extremely loyal. R & K meets my expectations and then some. I’m not new to moose hunting and have harvested a moose every year for the past five with R & K as well as other outfitters in different parts of the country. Being a loyal client and friend, I am already booked for the 2013 and 2014 seasons and the deposits have been made. In fact, as R & K has become recognized as one of the top outfitters in the country, you have to book a couple of seasons out to hunt with them not only for moose, but also for mule deer and elk. Over the course of my relationship with the crew, I’ve
become especially fond of Justin who I refer to as my “adopted son.” I know his wife and kids very well. One of the leading long-range shooting experts and instructors in the nation, Justin got me interested in this highly skilled shooting, where a target bulls eye is hit dead center at 800 to 900 yards away. I’ve became so enthralled with long range shooting that I asked Richins to pick out a rifle and scope for me - a 7 MM Shooting Times Westerner (STW) set up by SUBMOA Firearms of Henefer, Utah. Now I am very confident I can bring down an animal at distances I never dreamed before, which helps me in my quest for that Boone and Crocket trophy Shiras moose. While all these hunts have been great, a couple of them stand out for me. I hunt with Justin as my guide every year except one year when he was laid up and I went out with a
couple of other guides. That year we stalked a bull for several hours and finally got within shooting distance. After getting all set up in position on my stomach with the gun on the bipod, the moose changed location slightly and there was no longer a good shot without moving. But the moose was close enough that any major movement would startle him and I would lose the opportunity for a kill. In the meantime, a couple of the other guides had arrived since it looked like we were closing in on our prey. With the assistance of these guides working together, they rolled me over three times very quietly proving they will go to any lengths to support a hunter in meeting their goals. I laugh thinking back how my face was on the ground with each of those three turns. I was then in a perfect position and made the shot to successfully get my moose.
A good guide does everything he can to accomodate his hunters and to provide an opportunity for harvest. The author’s story is testimony of that. This large Shiras bull scores 46 1/2 inches!
Last year was a particularly exciting year for me since I bagged my biggest moose yet with R & K Hunting Company. I drove from Mississippi (where I now live) to Utah on my annual trek. The first evening of the hunt, Justin and I took a ride to see what we could find. I couldn’t believe it when we spotted a couple of very large bull moose about 650 yards away. It had been a long day and we decided to come back the next morning to see if we could get a little closer. The next day, several guides had a little time on their hands so they showed up to help locate the moose. Dan Richins, Justin Richin’s cousin and coowner of R& K, and another guide spotted a big bull down by a creek and thought it might be the same bull as the previous night. Justin didn’t think it was and was reluctant to leave the area he and I were in since we had also spotted a moose. Eventually, we decided to take a look at what Dan was
seeing. Justin got out of the vehicle and walked down to the creek where I couldn’t see him anymore. A minute or so later, I could see a moose coming up from the creek a bit further up from where Justin went down. I was thrilled to see the moose was one from the previous night, although it was the smaller of the two. I had the gun on the moose and saw Justin running up the hill from the creek area out of the corner of my eye, saying “moose.” He thought I didn’t see the bull but I actually had him in my scope. In the meantime, the moose was startled and started to walk away. I took a shot at 350 yards with the moose on the move and dropped him in one round. What an exciting hunt it turned out to be! I now had my biggest Shiras moose yet measuring 46 ½ inches! Yes, the bar is now raised for an even larger bull next year, and I’m hoping for the other big one we saw this year, one to make the Boone & Crocket trophy list. I was so happy with the kill that I had the head mounted and it now resides at my home along with three other moose heads I’ve
collected, including the Boone & Crocket’s from Alaska and Canada. What makes The R & K Hunting Company so special? It’s their attention to detail, development of trust between the hunter and his or her guide, even having particular foods and beverages ready that a hunter is particularly fond of, along with the fact that it is a family run business and everyone is intent on being the best in the business. Going even further, I have sleep apnea and cannot sleep lying flat in a bed. R & K brings in a reclining chair for me to sleep in and sets it up with a nearby table for my feedback machine to sit on. I stay at one of the many hunting lodges that belong to R & K Hunting Company where I enjoy the camaraderie of other hunters, home cooked food, and great conversations. My long-time hunting companion of more than 50 years was my father who is now deceased. When I hunt with R & K, it feels like hunting with family again.
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2. Big game hunters coined this term referring to the most dangerous group of African animals to hunt on foot 3. Long-range, prone, slow fire rifle shooting competition 7. Plastic or wooden object used as a lure which looks identical to the game being hunted 8. The first NRA National Matches were held at this Long Island, NY shooting range 9. Thomas Jefferson sent them on an adventure across the US to the Pacific Ocean 11. Red Stags do this to call in Hinds 14. In Greek mythology, he was the hunter 16. Subscribe to Hunting Illustrated online now for a chance to win this 17.The first mechanically firing firearm 18.The large caliber rifle featured in the 2007 movie “Shooter”
1. The other half of HI’s “dueling duo” 2. Bucks congregate in this kind of a group, seperate from does and fawns in the spring and summer 4. One half of HI’s “dueling duo” 5. This sub-species of mule deer is native to Alaska 6. This family is most “Happy! Happy! Happy!” when they are in the duck blind 9. The 338 caliber cartridge based on the 416 Rigby case 10. In Roman mythology, she was the goddess of the hunt 12. His legacy is a line of very high powered rifle cartridges that bear his name 13. Concealment used to make things difficult to see 15. An arher’s term given when two arrows are shot and the second is embedded into the rear of the first crossword by jessica brooks-stevens | photo: vic schendel
By Courtney Bjornn
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eep • Stone Sh Eric Cotter 2012
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“This issu e’s winner ” Winner: Kenny Smit h, Utah
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z • Elk Mike Sanche 2012 • g in om Wy
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Velvet! A Warm and Fuzzy Addiction
et’s say you kill your dream buck this upcoming August, and it is sporting a tremendous velvet rack. Would you preserve the velvet on the antlers or strip it off? Reasons that could affect your decision are whether you plan on entering the buck in the Boone and Crocket or Pope and Young record books, which neither allows velvet antlers to be entered. Or possibly the velvet was in poor condition (peeling) or wasn’t well taken care of by the hunter after the kill so the decision is made to strip it. Although most hunters prefer a hard-antlered buck in a striking fall cape over a velvet-clad buck in a summer transition cape, there is a growing trend among those that want to preserve the beauty of their buck, no matter what the season or character. More hunters want to keep their trophy “as-is” in its true original form, without stripping the velvet, switching to a more-handsome cape, or repairing cut ears or scars. Not to sound too warm and fuzzy, but it is all part of a growing movement accepting and respecting those for their individual beauty. 90
I’ve been a hunter that enjoys an early-season mule deer hunt but prefer dark, polished antlers on a mature buck… until lately. Recently, I had an experience with a summer blacktail buck that’s changed the way I look at velvet racks. I volunteered to help (or hinder,
Which do you prefer? A hard antlered buck or one in velvet? The author may persuade you to think differently about velvet
depends on who you ask), dart and collar blacktail deer for a population study put together by the Oregon Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. It was a summer night, late enough that most people were home sleeping. We’d just darted a mature buck and set off to look for it with flashlights. I found the buck after a short hike by listening and following its deep breathing.
5MULE DEER WATCH5
I carefully positioned the sedated buck’s limp body as the wildlife biologist began collecting data and installing the tracking collar. Carefully, I wrapped my hands around the massive velvet antlers, and in that moment it dawned on me the complexity of antler regeneration and my new love affair with velvet. Before this experience, I had wrapped my hands around several velvet bucks, but long ago I’d paved over the amazing phenomenon of antler growth with little thought. As I gently squeezed the back forks of the antlers, I was taken aback by their sponginess. It felt like squeezing a fairly tight water balloon full of hot water. I was even more shocked that I could feel the warm blood pulsing within the vessel. I realized something I’ve always known but never appreciated: antlers are alive! It was as surreal to me as hearing a tree talk. I know trees are living, breathing organisms but I’ve never been startled by one doing something extraordinary.
While volunteering for a dart-and-collar research project with blacktail deer, the author was impressed to learn just how alive deer antlers while in velvet.
A close look at anter reveals growth patterns and vein paths.
The antler’s ability to regenerate itself reminded me of the moment as a boy I’d learned first-hand about the escape tactic of a side-blotched lizard, as I held its squirming tail in my hand while the now tail-less reptile disappeared into a rock crevice. My dad made me feel better when he explained the lizard would grow its tail back. This unique regeneration of appendages is rare in the animal world, and even as a child I recognized that it almost defies the laws of nature; maybe that is part of the fascination we have with antlers—and lizards. Scientists and the medical world haven’t ignored the fact that deer antler is the fastest developing organism in the animal kingdom. They want to know what causes such a fast growth rate and explore how it could possibly benefit human health. There are already plenty of businesses selling velvet for human consumption. In New Zealand alone, there are over 1 million deer raised for their velvet. That’s a lot of fuzz! Some businesses sell it for healing your cartilage or tendon tears. In fact, antler velvet was recently a bone of contention in the NFL when Baltimore Ravens Ray Lewis was accused of snorting (nose spray) it to help heal his torn triceps. That is right; the NFL has banned snorting deer velvet. Some velvet businesses are in the “multivitamin” all-natural, organic, daily pill market. Others claim it regenerates fingernails, hair growth, as well as promotes restful sleep. The Asian culture claims velvet is a powerful libido booster that has been used for over two-thousand years. Asians are still the fastest growing population…so they might be on to something. But promote restful sleep and increase libido? That seems a bit contradictory. Others say a dose of velvet will prevent dwarfism in your children--that might be stretching it. How does antler grow? Without getting too technical, in early spring an antler begins its growth from the pedicle. The firm antler tissue is much like cartilage but with an extensive network containing blood vessels and nerves throughout. Each ridge and channel on a hard antler is the impression left by these blood vessels. The nerves and blood capillaries make the antler sensitive to the touch during the growing season which is one of the reasons you’ll see bucks in the open country more often in the summer. The antler grows longitudinally at an incredible rate. For example, let’s look at the bull elk. Roughly 120 days to grow 300”+ inches of antlers! At the tip of the antler is where the growth occurs, including the soft hair and skin found on the velvet. If you look closely on the tip of a growing velvet antler, you’ll notice a dark, bulbous end. The dark, thick antler tip will let you know that animal still has some longitudinal growing to do. Once the antler is done growing the tips will appear more narrow and consistent in appearance to the rest of the velvet antler. In and around August, testosterone and other hormones cut off life to the blood and nerves
5MULE DEER WATCH5
and the calcification and ossification process will begin from the base of the antler upwards. The ossification process amazingly converts the heavily vascularized antler cartilage into a bony tissue which eventually leads to the shedding of velvet and one hard, ossified, magnificent piece of bone. So there you have it, the making of one of the most incredible, regenerating miracles on the planet. So back to that trophy velvet buck you kill this hunting season. There the monster lies in front of you. Now what? How do you preserve the velvet as part of the keepsake of your trophy? First and foremost, be careful when handling the velvet! Also, be careful when caping your velvet buck. Study the hairline closely. It is different than a hardantlered buck where you can use a screwdriver and some force to peel the cape from underneath the antler burr. Remember the velvet is connected to the cape and with the wrong pressure you can easily screw up by peeling the velvet upwards while caping your buck. 92
Depending on the degree of development of the antlers will determine how well the velvet may preserve. Most early hunts start around the end of the antler growing period, but you can imagine how difficult it might be to preserve growing antlers that haven’t hardened up yet. Velvet can decay fast after death and need to be taken care of within 24 hours, whether that is getting it to your taxidermist or putting them in the freezer. A standard freezer will not preserve your velvet but it will stop the deterioration until you can work to preserve them. There are a few methods in preserving velvet but the most popular and absolute way is injecting the velvet with formaldehyde or other preservative. I’ve done this myself which tells you anybody can do it with some common sense and safety in mind; formaldehyde is nasty stuff. 1) Wear safety glasses and rubber gloves. With a scalpel cut a slit on the top of each antler point (Don’t worry, you won’t even notice the cut when you’re done). 2) With a needle and syringe full of formaldehyde or an approved commercial tanning solution. Begin
5MULE DEER WATCH5
at the base of each point feeling for the veins within the velvet. Inject the needle into the vein and squeeze ensuring the liquid is flowing through vessels. I found this can be difficult if vessels are real dry or narrow. You should notice blood being pushed out of the cut opening. Keep squeezing until it is just the preservative that is coming out. Continue this process with each antler point. Get all the blood out. 3) Remember each vessel will have numerous capillary branches that’ll spread throughout the velvet. The idea is to preserve the entire antler through injection so take your time and do it right. Once you are finished with the injection, hang the antler upside down in a cool place with good air circulation to allow draining. 4) Brush the exterior of the antlers with a light coating of the solution with a fine brush. Later, lightly touch-up the velvet with a brush to get the natural look. Now go get that monster buck!
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raced off stage in Tampa after throttling my 6511th high energy rockout, mopped up as much dripping sweat as I could, changed into dry clothes, grabbed a Gator Ade and a sack of food, hung onto my gorgeous wife Shemane and headed to the airport lickity split. We landed in Houston an hour and half later, met by a commando in a black SUV and hauled ass to the hotel across from the jam packed Sam Brown convention center. Greeted by smiling, friendly families, cops, military heroes and wonderful Texans galore, we settled in for the
night and prepared for what we surely knew would be a grand day of ultimate freedom celebration with great Americans from all fifty states. Early Sunday morning, just like the last twenty or so years in a row for us, we gingerly walked into a record setting attendance of more than 80,000 NRA member families, united to stand up and fight for our sacred God given individual Second Amendment guaranteed right to keep and bear arms. The positive energy is always a glorious force to reckon with at these NRA events, but this year, in the face of the most blatant, unambiguous attack ever on our rights, the mood was more up-beat and determined than I have ever seen before. When the president of the United States has the audacity to dare claim that NRA members and law abiding gun owning families in America don’t care about saving innocent lives because we didn’t fall for his counterproductive background check scam, one need’s to look no further for inspiration to stop the vicious lies and
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INTRODUCING NOSLER ACCUBOND LR. WITH CONTROLLED EXPANSION.
dLL ndLR on bo cc bon ccu m Acc m/A m/Accu om/ co err..co e ler N lle Nos
01 3701 .3701 5.37 85 285 02 00. 800
ps 3200 ffpps 3200 320
fpss 33000 fps 230 23
ps ps 300 ffps 300 1130 13
push back hard against such indecency. The place was fired up. Each and every seminar, event, banquet and speech set attendance records, and the line for my charity fund raising autograph session wound around the entire arena and out the doors. Shaking hands for hours with the friendliest, most generous people you could ever imagine, I signed books, photos, guns, bows, bullets, arrows, hats, shirts, skulls, guitars, artwork, antlers, knives, magazines, little boys and girls school books and homework, and even a couple of prosthetic limbs. Every man, woman, child, cop, teacher, military hero, young, old, black, white, big and small shook my hand firmly and sincerely thanked me for fighting the good fight for freedom and liberty, and for crushing the freedom hating gun grabbers like I’ve been doing for more than 50 years. People raved about the great motivational and inspirational speeches by Glenn Beck, Governor Rick Perry, Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin, Chris Cox, Wayne LaPierre, Oliver North and so many other super patriots. Custom homes were given cost free to many wounded heroes of the US Military by the always generous donations of NRA members through the Military Warriors Support Foundation and Operation Finally Home charities. Gobs and gobs of money was raised for more military charities and children’s charities that are never mentioned in the dishonest, unprofessional media. I wrapped up the wonderful day with a Freedom Is Not Free speech and presentation, and thanked my fellow NRA BloodBrothers for their Herculean efforts to stop the vile corruption and power abusers who are dedicated to force Americans into unarmed helplessness.
Mayor Bloomburg is on record. Governor Cuomo is on record. Governor Brown is on record. Barak Obama is on record. The gun running Attorney General is on record. Diane Feinstein is on record. Dick Durbin is on record. Maxine Waters is on record. And many more freedom hating, NRA hating, gun hating, America haters are on record to register and confiscate our firearms. They will continue to lie otherwise, but their evil agenda is well known. And the NRA members are on record that we will not let it happen. We are on record that we will stand up and fight to the very end. The NRA members are on record that we want real crime fighting laws and policies. We are on record that we want crazy, life threatening people locked up and off our streets and away from our kids. We are record that we want existing laws against violent criminals enforced. We are on record that we don’t ever want violent offenders let out of their cages. We are on record that we want child molester locked up forever, not registered in our neighborhoods where they repeat their vile crimes 100% of the time. We are on record that we will never give up our God given individual right to self-defense or be told how many bullets we are allowed to defend ourselves and families with. We are on record that politicians can’t charge us for professional security details then turn around and tell us we can’t protect ourselves and families with the same firepower that they are protected by. We are on record, again; don’t tread on me! Godbless the NRA and Godbless America. See you next year in Indianapolis.
IllustrationS: Courtney Bjornn
Photo: Matt Mogle
Position your camera to the north or south of your Trophy Rock, otherwise the sun might ruin many of your pictures. Trophy Rock also provides over 60 natural trace minerals to help with antler growth. Enter our trail camera contest at www.trophyrock.com.
Parting Shot 98
Searching from high places for Red Stag
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