FREE March 2018 | Volume 14 | Issue 3
Gers Safaris Enter To Win A New Zealand Red Stag Hunt
With Every DVD Purchase See Pg. 43 for details
Eastern Oregon Varmints
African Sable is just one of the many species of game animals roaming the savannah around Gers Safari.
Finding the Fish
FREE YOURSELF FROM SUBPAR PERFORMANCE PAGE 8
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March 2018 | SPORTSMAN’S NEWS
WORDS FROM THE PUBLISHER By Michael Deming
4 Gers Safari
South Africa Safari hunting.
Leupold VX-Freedom 8 Relentless Reliability
10Choose a Sportsman's News Endorsed Guide for your next trip. Platinum Approved Outfitters
15 Pro's Tip: Building A Black Rifle
How to get into building the modern sporting rifle.
Outdoors: Varmints in Eastern 18 Pacwest Oregon
Belding's and rockchucks bite the dust.
Pro Member Sweepstakes 22 Over $300,000 In Giveaways. Drawing Every 10 Days.
s I sit down at my keyboard to crank out this publisher’s message, I realize that it is Ground Hog Day. This time of year reminds me a lot of the Bill Murray movie with the same name. Since the first week of January, the Sportsman’s News team has been at some sort of industry trade show meeting with industry professionals and seeing what the latest and greatest products are and what will be available this year. I usually don’t remember what town I’m in, where my car is parked, what sort of car I rented, or what my room number could possibly be without looking it up; however, it is all worth-while to make sure we put out good industry news over the next 12 months. This first quarter is the foundation for all things to come. We know that you have many shopping options when it comes to spending money. We here at Sportsman’s News do our very best to field test the products which are hard to evaluate in the stores. We especially focus on higher value items. This will include items like extreme coolers, tents, optics, rifles, shotguns, rods, reels, etc. We have the privilege of beating these items up in a real-world environment and over a lengthy period of time. This is what we call hard core testing and we share this information in the pages of Sportsman’s News. Each and every month is focused on a group of products which have been tested. So, we hope this is a good reason for you to make sure you pick up every issue of Sportsman’s News. Over 60 products a year get a video product review. We video all of the testing on these products as well as show you what we see and our opinions. If you would like to see all of these whenever they become available, please become a subscriber to our YouTube channel which is “Sportsmansnewstv”. Whenever we post a new video, you will be sent a link to the video. We give some of these products away once we are done testing which means they aren’t brand new, but they are still in good working order. We give these away to our subscribers of the channel. So, you not only get good information, you have a good chance of getting some good gear. Regardless of whether you win or not, you will have some great knowledge on where to spend your hard-earned dollars. The center page spread of this issue covers all the trips we will give away in the next twelve months in our Pro Membership Sweepstakes. March 30th of this year will be the completion of the 3rd year of us doing this. Every year, we have given away over $300,000 worth of trips, guns, and gear. This means that 2018 will be the year when we will cross over the $1,000,000 dollar mark in giveaways. With some high dollar hunts like Stone Sheep, Dall Sheep, Alaska/Yukon Moose, we should cross that threshold mid summer. If you haven’t ever looked at becoming a Sportsman’s News Pro Member, please take the time to look it up on the website at www.promembershipsweepstakes.com and see all the benefits. You will get a copy of Sportsman’s News direct to your mailbox as well as 8 DVD’s a year. There are a lot of other benefits spelled out on the website, but most importantly are the 5 tickets you will get in all 36 drawings for the year. Without taking all the other benefits into account, that equates to $1.65 a ticket. We film each and every one of the drawings and make them available to you right away and if you happen to be in Cedar City, Utah on the 10th, 20th, or 30th of any given month, we would love to have you as a guest to watch the drawing in person.
24 Fishful Thinker: Simple Spots Knowing where the fish are.
27 Value and Variety
Alaska's Gone Fishin' Lodge
30 Pro Member Update: Larsen Bay Lodge Kodiak Blacktails.
32 Best of Show
The hottest new products from SHOT Show.
43 Business Directory 44 Wild Game Recipe: 46 Calling All Hunters
Braised Venison Shanks
NWTF R3: Recruitment, Retention, Reactivation
48 Adventures On A Budget: Spring Snow Geese 50 Outdoor Writer's Contest: Fall Passages The greatest trophies are memories.
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Brooks Hansen Gary Lewis Chad LaChance Peter Marvin Steve Mayer Joe Glotz Al Schultz
March 2018 | SPORTSMAN’S NEWS
Plains Game – The Gers Safari Way By Brooks Hansen
ust relax and breathe, be patient and don’t move a muscle. He will step out any minute and I will let you know if he is a shooter,” my guide whispered. I was trying to keep my heart from jumping out of my chest and I just kept telling myself to do as he said. Our target is a bull kudu, the magnificent animal that was top on my list as soon as I booked the trip to South Africa with Gers Safaris. Africa has always been a place I’ve dreamed to hunt in and when the opportunity arose, I jumped at the chance. My good friend, Scott Leysath, aka “The Sporting Chef” called me up and told me he had been invited to South Africa to do a little hunting and cooking. He then asked if my wife and I wanted to join him. When the reality of this trip kicked in, I couldn’t pack my bags fast enough. I spent the next five months trying to envision what hunting on the other side of the world would be like. I watched videos on YouTube and read any piece of material I could get my hands on. I spent hours researching all of the plains game. At Gers Safaris, just outside Kimberly, South Africa, there are over 30 different species of plains game to hunt. It is part of what makes Africa so intriguing. After a large bull kudu, my wish list was quickly followed up with a gemsbok, blue wildebeest and impala. After a couple of days of travel, my wife and I found ourselves in the small airport of Kimberly, South Africa. We were met there by Madaline Gers. Immediately upon meeting her we knew this was going to be a great trip. Next our guns were checked with the local law enforcement and then we were on our way to the lodge. As we made our way, we were mesmerized by the beautiful drive and couldn’t believe we were in Africa. Listening to Madaline tell stories on the drive only increased my excitement and anticipation to get into the field. Eventually, we pulled through the large gate and into the lodge. Quickly our bags were unloaded and we were shown to our room. I have always heard the term “southern hospitality”, but the treatment we received here was on a whole new level. Immediately the staff felt more like family. We met the Leysath Family at the lodge. They arrived a bit earlier than us, after spending the previous week in Cape Town. Also joining us would be the American partners to Gers Safaris: Jeff and Monica Powell and Budd and Rene Ferre. My excitement level was at an all-time high. Julius Gers, the owner of the operation, met us in the dining room where we were stuffing our faces with some blue wildebeest lasagna -- the first of many African wild game meats that I would fall in love with. Julius has a priority to make sure everyone feels at home and enjoys their time there no matter where they have travelled from. After he made a few sarcastic comments, the ice was broken and I knew this was the beginning of an awesome week. We then took a quick trip to the range, followed by a small sightseeing tour. In the morning, it would be time to hunt. The first evening at dinner we were introduced to our PH for the week. In Africa, a hunting guide is called a PH, which stands for Professional Hunter. From my understanding, it requires a bit of schooling and a whole lot of talent. I would be spending most of my time with Theunis Smit. One thing that I realized quickly was that if you want to be a Professional Hunter in Africa, you had better be one tough son of a gun. Theunis stands about six feet tall, has broad shoulders and looks like he just stepped off of the rugby field. I noticed that he had on a pair of all-leather hiking boots that had to have had over a thousand miles on them. I found myself wondering about the things those boots had seen and what they would see as I followed him around the African savanna throughout the coming week. Next, we were given a quick safety briefing and then instructed on the rules of the ranch. We also went over the different types of species we could run into and where the vitals are on each animal. One thing I found fascinating in South Africa was the abundance of game. When hunting in North America, you may see two or three different species of big game while hunting and often times, you only hold one tag for one animal. Each day we hunted in Africa we would come across dozens of different species and if it is in your budget, you can pursue it. I told Theunis that number one on my list was a kudu. He smiled and said, “You want to hunt the grey ghost, do you?” Kudu are often referred to as the grey ghost of Africa. They have very keen eye sight and hear better than a mule deer. Often times, you never see the same bull twice. He quickly asked what else was on the list - we could spend several days pursuing kudu and needed to be ready if we saw other animals we would like to take as well. Thoughts of every hunt I had ever been on raced through my mind as we loaded up the Land Cruiser and climbed aboard to head out on my first safari. We would be hunting on roughly 80,000 acres. The terrain was thick with camphor bushes, tall marula trees, whistling thorn trees and plenty of wheat grass. The area didn’t allow for many high points to glass from, so we would start by driving the farm roads and glassing the open meadows. After about an hour or so of drive, glass, repeat, we spotted a small herd of blue wildebeest off in the
March 2018 | SPORTSMAN’S NEWS
distant meadow. I guessed they were around 700-800 yards away. They had us pinned after about thirty seconds and all we saw was a cloud of dust. Theunis said there was a nice bull in the group and that they might be worth going after. He said wildebeest aren’t like zebra--if you spook a zebra it will run for days; if you spook a wildebeest they will run about two hundred yards and stop, once they feel safe. We put together a plan and off we went. We had a series of several stalks trying to get the wind just right and soon found our targets in a small opening. There were nine bulls in the group. We carefully crawled to where we felt there was a shooting lane. I could have just stayed there and watched those massive creatures for hours. They could sense that something was not right and started getting restless, pawing at the ground and snorting, almost like they were accepting my challenge. I slowly got up to a knee and positioned the shooting sticks. Theunis gave me a quick range, saying, “They are 227 yards out. Shoot the big one on the far left.” I waited for about two seconds for him to turn broadside and as soon as he presented a shot, I sent 180 grains of lead toward my target. “Good shot. You hit him good,” whispered Theunis. All I saw was a large dust cloud and the wildebeest disappeared into the trees. I was three hours into my adventure and I had my first plains game on the ground. As we approached the animal, I marveled at the beautiful hide and mane. They often refer to this animal as the poor man’s buffalo and I now see why, with their massive horns and thick hide. I was excited, but in the back of my mind, there was still the elusive kudu. We quickly took care of the animal and found ourselves back at it, looking for the said “grey ghost”. We spent the rest of the day making several stalks on gemsbok, springbok and impala, but I was yet to see a kudu. Later that evening we put a great stalk on a beautiful gemsbok and by sunset of the first day, I had two African animals to bring home. Day two would have us back in the same area looking for kudu. It was all I could
think about. It reminded me of my very first big game hunt as a 14-year-old kid. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get it out of my mind. The drive and passion that hunting brings out in an individual is special. The sense of setting a goal, making a plan to achieve the goal and then facing the adversity while trying to succeed - you hunters know what I mean. My goal now was the kudu. On this day we looked over hundreds of animals, but we just couldn’t turn up any kudu. This is when I realized it wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought it would be and boy, was this elusive creature living up to his nickname. On the morning of day three, Theunis put us in a spot where we could glass an open bluff about two miles away. At first light, we spotted our first kudu and it was a bull. We quickly gathered up our things and went on a walk-about. We would walk for three miles to get into position where we had last seen him. I was told to be ready because if we got a shot, it would have to happen fast. I was trying to envision how it could happen with the cover so thick and just like that, we jumped the old bull up and he was gone like a jack rabbit in the sage brush. It was about 11am now and it was starting to get hot. The animal activity was slowing down and defeat was starting to sink in. This was the first time I thought to myself that I may go home empty handed in this case and I was fine with that, but I needed to stay positive. We slowly worked our way back to the Land Cruiser and while walking back, we jumped some cow kudu and several impala’s. We were about a mile from the truck when Theunis suggested we work our way back by one of the water holes to see if we could catch something quenching its thirst. I have hunted in North America my whole life and I thought he was crazy--what animal waters at noon? “I bet there is a bull kudu getting a drink,” I jokingly said. We approached the water hole from the east side, with the wind in our face. The water hole was in an area that was rather open, with several scattered trees by the water. I knew that if this was going to happen, it would be a tough shot and would be close
Brooks Hansen with the “Grey Ghost”, his trophy kudu bull.
March 2018 | SPORTSMAN’S NEWS
Brooks Hansen and Professional Hunter Theunis Smit pose with a beautiful gemsbok harvested at Gers Safari
Pro Staff Member Brooks Hansen poses with an old warrior, blue wildebeest. to three hundred yards. We reached a position to glass the area and to my surprise, there was a lot of activity around the water. First we saw several waterbuck, then a couple ewe impala. I was carefully scanning every tree and bush close to the water, occasionally looking at the waterbuck. Theunis whispered, “I found a bull kudu. Do not move!” It was like someone just shocked me with a defibrillator. My heart was about to beat out of my chest. It was the last thing I expected to hear at that moment. The old bull was standing between two trees and a water tank and all you could see was his right front leg and a little bit of his neck. He would put his head down to get a drink and you would see his mane, while the trees covered his horns and the rest of
March 2018 | SPORTSMAN’S NEWS
his body. Theunis could tell it was a mature bull by his mane and body size, but didn’t know if he was a shooter or not. The challenge was to get set up on him and be ready in case he presented a shot and truly was a shooter. Every move had to be slow and meticulous. The last thing I wanted was the waterbuck to spook and scare the kudu. Carefully, we finished setting up and he hadn’t moved. I had the crosshairs on his vitals, but still didn’t know if he was a shooter. Now the waiting game started. “Just relax and breathe, be patient and don’t move a muscle. He will step out any minute and I will let you know if he is a shooter”, said Theunis. What seemed like hours I know was really only ten or fifteen minutes. The kudu finally stepped into a clearing and immediately Theunis said to take him. I slowly squeezed off a shot from my trusty Savage 300 Win Mag. The bullet found its mark as the bull buckled, whipped around and tried to run for safety. The 289 yard walk to the bull was gratifying. I felt a sense of accomplishment and gratitude for the opportunity to be doing the things I love. During the next three days, I was able to spend some time with my wife and photograph some amazing animals, eat some of the best wild game I have ever tasted (zebra is by far the best red meat I have ever had) and follow Jeff Powell and Budd Ferre around, helping them harvest some great animals. Jeff harvested a magnificent waterbuck and I was with Budd when he completed his springbok slam by harvesting a beautiful blue springbok. On the last morning, we went out for one more drive, looking for an impala and I was successful. My check list was now complete. I left Africa with a whole new appreciation for hospitality. Juluis Gers runs a top-notch operation (www.gerssafaris.com and email@example.com). You show up as strangers, but leave as family. Go ahead and book a trip - I dare you.
March 2018 | SPORTSMANâ€™S NEWS
Relentless Reliability: The Leupold VX-Freedom
nnovation is in the very core of the American spirit – we aspire to be independent, to build our own solutions, to constantly improve. It was that core trait that drove Marcus Leupold – son of Fred, the legendary co-founder of Leupold & Stevens, Inc. – to throw aside a riflescope that failed him and build something better. More than 70 years later, that spirit still thrives at Leupold and its embodied tenfold in the new VX-Freedom line of riflescopes. You want relentless reliability? The VX-Freedom delivers it. You want elite optical performance at a price you can’t ignore? Consider that box checked. You want to unleash your rimfire rifle, dominate from any tree stand or tag out across an open draw? The VX-Freedom’s got you covered. The entire VX-Freedom line is designed, machined and assembled right here in the U.S.A. with one purpose in mind – to give you the freedom to put a Leupold on any long gun you own, knowing it will perform for a lifetime. Elite Optical Performance Only a company with Leupold’s history and engineering expertise can deliver an American-made optic that boasts performance and affordability like the VXFreedom. You’re looking at best-in-class optics – crisp, clear images with unmatched edge-to-edge clarity. It’s complete with military-spec lens coatings that provide abrasion resistance, protecting the riflescope in the most challenging terrain. As Tim Lesser, vice president of product development for Leupold & Stevens, Inc., explained, the new line has been built from the ground up to deliver on the promise of the Leupold brand. “The VX-Freedom is built to deliver the versatility and performance hunters and shooters have come to expect from our brand,” Lesser said. “Whether you’re looking for your first scope or your fortieth, there will be a VX-Freedom that’s purposebuilt to suit your needs.” Rugged Reliability Every scope line that comes out of the Leupold factory is “punisher tested and verified” – a relentless process of pounding the optic in a way that replicates a lifetime of abuse. On top of that, it’s engineered to disperse energy during every shot, which adds to its rugged nature. Finally, the VX-Freedom’s new, ergonomically advanced power selector ring is low-profile but provides exceptional grip, making it easy to use even in the cold, wet or while wearing gloves. Let There Be Light It’s no secret that the first and last 20 minutes of any big game hunt are often the most crucial – it’s when the animals are most likely to be up and moving and when you’re most likely to get a shot. Thing is, that’s also when there’s not much light to work with and you can’t hit what you and your optic can’t see. That’s why the VX-
March 2018 | SPORTSMAN’S NEWS
Freedom line incorporates Leupold’s Twilight Light Management System, a proprietary lens coating system that increases the amount of usable light that reaches your eye. Translation: Your optic will still be able to see Bullwinkle during those last five minutes of legal light, even if your naked eye can’t. That means you’re more likely to be calling buddies to help you pack out a kill under the stars. Unparalleled Versatility At launch, the VX-Freedom will be available in some of the industry’s most popular magnification ranges: 1.5-4x20, 2-7x33, 3-9x40, 3-9x50 and 4-12x40 – all featuring second focal plane reticles and 1-inch main tubes. They’re great for muzzleloaders, rimfire rifles and centerfire rifles. But Leupold didn’t stop with just improving the riflescope design, they also decided to offer three brand-new reticles with the VX-Freedom. Alongside the standard Duplex and Pig-Plex offerings, the Freedom is available with a Tri-MOA, Rimfire MOA or UltimateSlam reticle. The Tri-MOA reticle is designed to fill tags – hash marks in 1-MOA increments give you precise reference points for quick, accurate shots and the upper portion is clear, making it easy to keep an eye on the game animal in your sights. The Rimfire MOA reticle stretches your favorite plinking rifle’s legs out to 200 yards and beyond. The vertical hash marks are set for rimfire rifle ballistics at 1-MOA increments. The UltimateSlam, meanwhile, offers hold points from 50 to 300 yards for muzzleloaders and shotguns. Built to Last The VX-Freedom series is everything you’ve come to expect from a Leupold optic. It’s tested to the very same ruggedness standards as the company’s top-tier riflescopes. It’s also backed by the Leupold Full Lifetime Guarantee – you’ll be able to put it through its paces and not have to worry about it holding up. “We’re relentless because we know our consumers are relentless,” Lesser said. “At the end of the day, you don’t quit and you don’t back down. Our products won’t, either.” Check out the new Leupold VX-Freedom at your local Sportsman’s Warehouse today.
VX-FREEDOM TWILIGHT LIGHT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM SCRATCH RESISTANT LENSES EXTREME RECOIL TESTED WATERPROOF AND FOGPROOF
March 2018 | SPORTSMANâ€™S NEWS
The Sportsman’s News Platinum Approved Outfitter is an outfitter book. These are outfitters you would be proud to refer to a friend. that has excelled in every aspect of their business. They put We know this because we are proud to endorse each one of these people and customers before profit. They do what it takes to make sure that they will be outfitters based upon our staff members personally visiting each one of these in business for the long haul and ensure that they have repeat customers. They practice operations. These outfitters have proven to us that they have what it takes to be good game management, which will ensure a top quality trip with them every time you “Sportsman’s News Platinum Approved.” AFRICA HUNTING
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10 March 2018 | SPORTSMAN’S NEWS
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renfrosalaskanadventures.com March 2018 | SPORTSMAN’S NEWS
Ranchland Outfitters offers First Class Waterfowl Hunts and Big Game hunts in Alberta, Canada. If you are looking for an Outfitter that cares about each hunt, look no further. Ranchland Outfitters is a First Class Waterfowl and Big Game Outfitter.
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12 March 2018 | SPORTSMAN’S NEWS
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SportsmansNews.com Logon to our website for a full list of endorsed outfitters with photos, descriptions, and details about each.
March 2018 | SPORTSMAN’S NEWS
14 March 2018 | SPORTSMANâ€™S NEWS
Building Your First Black Rifle By Dan Kidder Managing Editor
WARNING: READING THIS ARTICLE MAY CAUSE THOSE WITH ADDICITIVE PERSONALITIES TO ENGAGE IN BUILDING MULTIPLE RIFLES AND LEAD TO AN AWESOME COLLECTION OF CUSTOM GUNS. DO NOT PROCEED IF YOU ARE PRONE TO HABITUAL TINKERING!
like to tinker in my shop. I also like amazing custom rifles. I am also not made of money. These three characteristics combined, make for the perfect storm when it comes to building my own AR-style modern sporting rifles (MSR). For those who are handy with basic tools and really want a high-performance rifle, building your own MSR makes far more sense than buying a factory rifle off the shelf. When I first started down the road of building custom guns, I was very unsure about the process, costs, tools and the scary, “not knowing what I don’t know” aspect of the endeavor. I spoke with a world-famous rifle maker and asked him how I should go about getting the knowledge I needed to do my first build. His advice was spot on, “just build it.” The main benefit of building your own rifle is that you can spread the cost out over several weeks, months or even years, as you collect the parts over time according to the dictates of your budget. Because you are assembling them together, you can buy more rifle for less money this way. The AR-style MSR is so ubiquitous that parts are aplenty and there are thousands of videos on YouTube to walk you through each step, in detail. The first step is to collect the parts you want to assemble. We have included a downloadable parts list at www.sportsmasmansnews.com with check boxes to help you gather all of the necessary pieces of your MSR. These are general parts and the specific features of your parts will vary based on function and manufacturer. I suggest for your first build, starting simple. Gather all of the necessary pieces and keep them organized in a plastic bin or tote, until all of the parts are together. Lay everything out on your bench in the manner they will be assembled and double check your list to make sure everything is in place, before you begin the assembly. PARTS For a standard AR build, the only piece that the law considers to be the gun is the lower receiver. This is the part that you will have to do a background check on to purchase
from a licensed federal firearms dealer. Every other piece of the gun, including the pins, springs and other small parts that attach to the lower receiver, are considered accessories and can be ordered online and shipped to your home or picked up at your local gun store over the counter. A mail-ordered lower receiver will need to be shipped to a FFL and you will have to fill out an ATF Form 4473 and have a background check and pay a transfer fee to buy. The rest of the parts are pretty standard and the list on our website will walk you through each and every part you will need. Some of the smaller parts will come in a kit, such as the lower parts kit (LPK), which makes it easy to gather the necessary pieces quickly and make sure you have everything you need. Some parts may be available discretely or combined into a single unit, such as the bolt carrier group (BCG). It is also important to make sure whether parts needed for installation of other parts are included together, such as a crush washer for a flash hider or a roll pin for your gas tube. Not all manufacturers include these additional parts and some do.
TOOLS To build your own MSR, you will need some basic hand tools and a good heavy vice that is bolted to your workbench. Because you don’t want to mar the finish of your parts, you will want to either pad your jaws with tape or get some plastic or rubber vice jaws. Some vice blocks to hold your upper receiver in place and a magazine-shaped block to hold the lower receiver will also be essential. You will also need a variety of punches to drive pins. A good set of roll pin punches
The lower receiver is the part that the ATF considers to be a gun and the only part that needs a background check to purchase.
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March 2018 | SPORTSMAN’S NEWS
Lay everything out on a clear work surface before you begin assembly and do a final inventory to ensure you have all of your parts and haven't forgotten something. will save you many bad words, lost parts, delays and frustration. With your punches, you will want a hammer with plastic on one side of the head and brass on the other. One solution to gathering all of the specialty tools is to purchase the Wheeler Engineering AR-15 Armorer’s Professional Kit. This kit includes everything you could need to assemble your parts into a functioning rifle. Any tool required to build your MSR can be picked up at your local Sportsman’s Warehouse store. ASSEMBLY The actual assembly of the rifle should go fairly smoothly, provided you have all of the proper parts and tools ready. Also, make sure you watch your video of choice all the way through, so you can see the proper sequence of assembly. Since certain steps require other steps to be done prior, it is important to assemble everything in the right order. Otherwise, you will find yourself undoing what you have done to re-do it in the correct order. Make sure that you start your work in a clear and uncluttered workspace. Because there are several parts that have captured springs, it is easy to launch a pin and have it vanish. Many of these pins are concrete soluble and will vanish forever once they contact the floor. There are a few steps that can damage the finish of your gun, so having some patience, the proper tools and painters masking tape handy, will save you from having to refinish your gun once the build is complete. When it comes to attaching the roll pin to the trigger guard, make sure the wings on the lower receiver are fully supported as you drive the pin. Otherwise, it is very easy to snap the thin metal protrusions off of the rest of the receiver. Do this once and you will never drive a pin without a block of wood under the wing again. The total build time should be anywhere from one to two hours and doesn’t require machining. Since all of the parts are within standard specifications, everything will pin or screw together easily. And always remember your dad’s advice that if it doesn’t fit, don’t force it. The mildly soft aluminum in the receiver is easy to break or deform, ruining the entire piece. Also, because many of the pins and springs look very similar to one another, if you aren’t paying attention, it is easy to confuse them and try to drive the wrong sized pin into the hole. If it is snug, a drop or two of gun oil will help and make sure you are driving them straight and not cocked at an angle. Take your time, follow the techniques in your video and use the extra tricks they show you such as taping a pair of vice grips and letting them squeeze in the bolt catch spring rather than driving it with a punch. These tricks were learned from expensive trial and error. TIPS AND TRICKS Speaking of tips and tricks, here are a few that will help you avoid costly mistakes. • Make sure the parts you are using are the correct size. Some buffer tubes are MilSpec and others are consumer sized. When you try to put on the stock, it may not fit or be very tight if the stock and tube are not the same size. The standard 5.56mm AR barrel uses a 1/2 x28 thread for the flash hider or muzzle break. Don’t try to use a 7.62 flash hider on it. They take a 5/8 x24 thread. • Check your gas tube length. The gas tubes come in various lengths. When you purchase your barrel, it should tell you the size of your gas tube. If you are unsure which length you will need, measure from the gas hole in the barrel to the edge of
16 March 2018 | SPORTSMAN’S NEWS
the chamber and get a tube that is about 2-inches longer than that. Since there are four standard sizes of tubes, this is good rule of thumb to determine the proper length. Lengths are sold as Rifle, Carbine, Pistol, and Mid-length. • Check your barrel diameter and profile to get the right gas block. The barrel profile should have a ledge that properly aligns the hole in the gas block with the gas hole in the barrel. If it is not profiled properly, you will need to align the hole in the gas block with the barrel manually and this is not an easy thing to do. You have to adjust it laterally as well as horizontally, to get it to align properly. You are much better off getting a properly profiled barrel until you get a feel for how the block and the barrel properly mate. • Know the specs. There are a few places in your build where things have to be tightened to the proper amount of torque AND index properly. The torque range for the barrel nut and the flash hider are pretty wide, but it is better to err on the low side rather than the high side, because once the threads have all fully engaged, you will not get it to turn that extra 16th of an inch to properly align. If it is lined up and within specs, don’t try to get it tighter, hoping to get to the next index spot. You won’t make it and you may break something. • Have fun. While we want to take our guns seriously, building a tricked-out AR, just the way you want it, is a lot of fun. Take some extra steps, like polishing the trigger, to make it perform even better. And even though one of the benefits of building your own is the money you can save, don’t cheap out too much on the parts. That LWRC lower is more expensive for a reason and you will appreciate the better quality. • The barrel is the gun. While that $99 no-name barrel may seem like a good deal, the material the barrel is made from, the coating inside, the depth of the rifling, the harmonics and a whole lot more will turn your budget rifle into a bullet hose that can’t consistently group beyond 200-feet. I have gone to building my rifles almost exclusively with Bergara barrels, which are some of the best-made barrels in the world and usually only cost $50 to $100 more than cheaper and poorer performing pipes. • Know what you want the gun to do. I build rifles with a custom purpose in mind. If I am looking for a rested varmint gun, I will make it heavier with a faster twist rate for the lighter and shorter bullet. For a tactical gun that is firing a 55 or 62 grain standard FMJ, I will go with a slower twist rate that is in the marginal range. For long and heavy bullets that I want to send a long distance, I will go with a twist rate on the very slow end of the spectrum. This gives me more custom options than the standard 1:7 to 1:9 that is available from an off the shelf gun. Customize your options to your intended use, whether it is CQB, varmint hunting, big game, zombies, etc. Tailor your build to your intended purpose, unless you are just looking for a general purpose all around shooter, then use what you can get. • And my final tip is simple. If you have been holding off on doing your first build, just do it. With the firearms market as soft as it is, parts are plentiful, inexpensive and sales are frequent. It may seem like some super-secret mumbo jumbo, but really it is a lot of fun and you get the satisfaction of shooting something you built yourself. And all of your buddies who don’t know how easy it really is will think you are some sort of Gun God. And really, isn’t that the best reason?
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March 2018 | SPORTSMAN’S NEWS
Vapor Trails in Cap Rock Country Hunting Belding’s ground squirrel and rockchucks in eastern Oregon.
Photo by Chris Smith
By Gary Lewis
rchard grass or alfalfa. As goes the price of feed, so goes the price of beef and lamb and the cost to keep of course, a horse. According to the fellow at the feed store, orchard grass was going for $10 an 85-pound bale that year. Alfalfa was running $18 for a 160-pound bale. Each year, the cost varies according to supply and the demand. If the mule deer out in the fields were any indication, demand was high. They streamed down out of the junipers to spread out across the fields in bunches of 20 to 40 animals between the irrigation wheel lines, nibbling at the green showing between last year’s dried-out stalks. Other critters had their eyes on the commodity.
Rockchucks emerge from their dens in February and March and feed through the growing season. A sage rat streaked for his hole, head low to the ground. Another stood on his haunches like a picket pin, about eight inches high. They were hard to see at first, blending in with the dried stalks. But then a darker patch would show against the grass, the cheek and head of a squirrel, a target no bigger than a silver dollar. I started with the bolt action CZ 17HMR. Topped with a high-power scope and Warne Scope mounts, it is capable of shots out to 200 yards and beyond on a calm day. For a few moments nothing moved, save the tops of the grass. From each mound, trails radiated into the field like wheel spokes. There. A sage rat, crouched in a furrow, his back brown against the yellowed livestock fuel, magnified to 6x in my scope. Safety to ‘fire.’ Crosshair on squirrel hair. A puff of eastern Oregon soil drifted away on the breeze and the squirrel dashed for his burrow.
Photo by Gary Lewis
Most sage rat shoots take place from an elevated position, but sometimes a belly crawl gets the hunter in position for a shot. One study showed that, in a single day, 355 ground squirrels (a.k.a. sage rats) can consume the same amount of forage as one cow and 96 squirrels can consume the same amount as one sheep.
18 March 2018 | SPORTSMAN’S NEWS
March 2018 | SPORTSMANâ€™S NEWS
Several months had passed since my trigger finger had spent this much time caressing the quarter moon. Muscle memory returned and eyes adjusted to calculate the effects of wind, distance and gravity. After 50-some empties lay spent, I switched to my scoped Ruger Charger .22. The bigger bullet bucked the breeze better, but the handgun took more concentration to score at long range. After a hundred rounds, I switched back to the CZ and felt my groove coming back. By my calculations, we saved 2,503 pounds of hay that day. You saw the savings in the meat department later that year. It was two weeks later that I got a thank-you in the mail. It was from the landowner whose property we’d hunted near Silver Lake. We read the letter on the road to Crane. He explained how much damage the varmints had done to his crops and how necessary it was to keep them under control if he expected to take any orchard grass to market. Producing a crop that was certified organic, he could not use chemicals to control the critters. His best option, he said, was a hunter with a rifle.
Out in the desert, south and east of Burns, Ore., hot water bubbles up out of the ground. A cluster of buildings surround a clean, dark pool – Crystal Crane Hot Springs. After a plateful of steamed oysters and three helpings of Camp Chef Dutch oven cobbler, I stepped in, felt the gravel beneath my feet and the warm water creep up to my neck. Wind blew in out of the sagebrush and pushed the steam in big rolling clouds out across the parking lot, out across the sage. From their base at Crystal Crane Hot Springs, Justin and Nikki Aamodt, of Diamond A Guides, operate hunts for coyotes, badgers, ground squirrels, rockchucks and other varmints. They lease hunting rights from ranchers and farmers that create a win-win-win-win situation for the outfitter, landowner, hunter and consumer. We eased into the fields when the morning sun was well up, a parade of pickups behind an old Chevrolet with a framed platform on top. After a few minutes, we saw the ground begin to move, here, there and there as sage rats popped out of their dens. We shot for a few minutes then Justin called my attention to a canyon a half-mile distant.
The badlands reeked Photo by Gary Lewis of rockchucks. Varmint trails spidered into the alfalfa and the crop was damaged for hundreds of yards. It’s not easy to sneak up on a yellow-bellied marmot. In the cap rock, chucks own the high ground. We made our approach from the west and eased into the canyon up the bottom of a The 17HMR is one of the most popular wash. Aamodt spotted the first one and I saw cartridges for this type of shooting. And a varmint the next, a patch of hunter might burn through 500 rounds in a full day russet hair against gray of shooting. rock. We flipped and I won the toss. Two chucks fed out into the open on a grassy slide. I thumbed four rounds into the Remington, snugged it against my shoulder, dialed the Leupold to 7x and sought leg holds for the bipod. 250 yards or more at a steep uphill. My bullet spanged rock. Chucks scrambled for cover. Now I had the range. When Aamodt spotted the next on a rocky outcrop, I held nine inches high and six inches left to compensate for the wind, squeezed. The next one showed himself on a black chunk of lava. And then we spotted another on a slide studded with white boulders. It was Allen’s turn. Kallel leaned back and cracked the rifle. He pushed a bullet into the chamber and closed it. Now he leaned forward, into the rock, into the rifle, solid on the bipod, on the boulder. “See that white slide? There’s a cave below that flat rock. The chuck is right above that.” Justin Aamodt locked into his binocular with both hands and put a finger in each ear. We were both looking over Allen’s shoulder when the bullet left the rifle. At 4,000 feet per second, the air parted around the tip of the bullet and vapor shimmered in its wake. All the way to the chuck. Populations of Marmota flaviventris, absent well-drained fields and major food sources, don’t usually grow out of balance. But to a rancher or a farmer, making a living on the land, colonies of rockchucks, a.k.a. yellow-bellied marmots, can cause no end of trouble. A burrow might run 10 to 70 yards and go 25 to 35 feet deep. Chucks consume a considerable amount of a farmer’s crop. Burrows and mounds cause enormous damage to harvesting equipment. In the past, poisons were often employed to keep chucks in check, but if a farmer wants to maintain a certified organic status, the best option is a hunter with a rifle. To order a signed copy of the new Gary Lewis’s Hunting Oregon, send $24.95 (includes S&H) to GLO, PO Box 1364, Bend, OR 97709 or visit www.GaryLewisOutdoors.com.
Photo by Gary Lewis
Steve McGrath watches for the next target.
20 March 2018 | SPORTSMAN’S NEWS
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March 2018 | SPORTSMAN’S NEWS
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ome of you loyal readers may know that ‘yours truly’ hosts a TV show titled Fishful Thinker TV. We’re now in our 18th season, meaning we’ve filmed 234 episodes so far and all of them, with the exception of three, were filmed on public water anyone can fish. Not only were they filmed on public water, the vast majority of them were filmed at places I’ve never fished or haven’t fished in many years, without the Chad LaChance use of a local guide or even much information other than current conditions like water level or access points. And in an effort to keep it as real as possible, we film our shows in less than six hours of fishing time. Great - but why am I telling you this? Fair question. I tell you all this so that what I’m about to tell you holds water; we use a system to quickly break down a new lake. Now, in the past in this very column (which you can look up in the Sportsman’s News digital archives), I’ve given detailed analysis of structure, cover, lure selection, etc, etc. Trouble is, I think a high percentage of anglers are looking for more concise information; something immediately valuable. I’ve learned that many of you anglers don’t want to study angling theory on your down time - you simply want to catch a few fish. For those of you with that mind-set, here’s a simple “where and how” to assess and breakdown new water or even familiar water that you haven’t seen in a while. To catch fish, you must fish where fish are - but where are they? If I know noth-
24 March 2018 | SPORTSMAN’S NEWS
ing about a lake, I start looking in four distinct places; inlets, outlets, boat ramps and dams. It doesn’t matter what my target species is, what the lake looks like or how big it is, what time of year it is or anything else, there will always be some fish around one or more of those key areas. Since they are near the parking lot, let’s start at boat ramps. Boat ramps have key elements that make them great places to fish. First, they have access to deeper water. Ramps are typically constructed with access to the main lake basin, so fish have an easy escape to safety. Boat ramps also have bottom content changes, typically from concrete to gravel and hard edges. Hard edges are always a good place to fish (or hunt, for that matter). Lastly and probably as important as any of the rest of those reasons, is that activity begets activity. Busy boat ramps stir the water in their immediate vicinity, creating a feeding opportunity for zooplankton and small crustaceans, thus activating baitfish and larger crayfish, which in turn get the predators we seek feeding. Plus, it’s a noisy environment for the fish, allowing us to present lures undetected. The real irony in boat ramps is that typically the most hardcore anglers launch their boat and immediately run to parts unknown in search of fish when they could probably get the skunk off in a matter of minutes in their own prop wash on the edge of the ramp. Inlets and outlets have similar characteristics, but fish a bit differently. Both are desirable to fish because running water generally involves a flow of nutrients and is often more heavily oxygenated. There may also be temperature differences between the in/out flow and the main body of water. They are also both neck down spots giving us a small, easily defined area to fish. The difference is that fish, especially the more mature ones, tend to push way up into water running in to a lake in an effort to get to the front of the line as food is washed into the lake. For this reason, I’ll fish as far up into incoming flow as I can as well as fishing any corners, eddies or structure immediately adjacent. Fish around outlets tend to set up on corners, eddies or structures immediately adjacent to the running water, but not right in it. I believe they instinctually know to avoid the actually outflow, but still take advantage of the current. Ever pour out a bucket full of minnows? They will all swim as far away from the outflow as possible, even if the bucket is partially submerged in water as it’s emptied. And while inlets bring nutrients in to the lake, outlets often pull nutrients, scuds, shrimp and zooplankton typically residing deep in the lake up in the water column and into the littoral zone (shoreline areas) where most fish reside. The last place I always check for fish on a new lake is the dam itself. Dams obviously have the best deep-water access and are also the least affected by water level fluctuations that are so common in the west. The lake level can move up or down five feet and little changes for the fish that reside on the dam. Dams featuring broken rock or “rip rap” have gillions of places for crayfish and baitfish to take shelter and are often exposed to wind which generates feeding activity in the same way boat ramp traffic does. Generally, you’ll find dams fish better at one end or the other, not the middle. Keeping these four places in mind as you travel as they will always shorten the hunt for whatever fish you desire!
March 2018 | SPORTSMANâ€™S NEWS
26 March 2018 | SPORTSMANâ€™S NEWS
Value and Variety: Alaska’s Gone Fishin’ Lodge By Kent Danjanovich Senior Editor
ishing is an addiction, plain and simple. Whether you are a weekend warrior that can usually be found at your local pond on a regular basis or a fly fisherman that just can’t wait to hit your favorite high-mountain lake or stream, when you have been bitten by the fishing bug, well let’s just say that the rest of life’s duties many times have to take a back seat to your addiction. And when you throw the word “Alaska” into the conversation, well now you are really in trouble! Nobody knows this better than myself. On any given year, you will find me jumping on a plane just about every week, June through September, heading for the Land of the Midnight Sun, the Last Frontier, the Fisherman’s Paradise – Alaska. One of my main duties (I tend to use the word ‘duties’ lightly) here at Sportsman’s News is to cover most of the fishing side of things and a big part of that responsibility is visiting our endorsed lodges on a regular basis. Each year I have the pleasure of visiting six to ten lodges throughout the many great regions of Alaska, with each destination offering something special and unique to fishermen and women from around the world. Now when you are looking for a place to fish in Alaska, the first thing you need to do is lay down your priorities. First off – What species are you looking to focus on. Is it halibut? Then in most cases, you will be focusing only on ocean fishing. And along the way, you will also probably have the chance to fill your fish boxes with lingcod, yellow eye, sea bass and other tasty bottom dwellers. Salmon will usually also be available on your ocean trips as well, so if you decide to choose a trip like this, you probably can’t go wrong, if your system can handle five or six straight days of ocean conditions, whatever they may be. Next let’s address those that like to stream fish. Depending on the time of year that you plan your visit for, certain salmon species will be available. And along with those salmon species, you may also encounter rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, Arctic char and grayling, steelhead, northern pike, and even lake trout in some areas. Now in many of the prime areas that offer these species, the possibility of doing a little ocean fishing on the same trip doesn’t exist. So, now you have a dilemma, one that really starts to limit the areas of Alaska that can still be included in your search for the ultimate trip. But, don’t despair – there is an area where you can have it all and that place is the Kenai Peninsula, specifically the Soldotna region of southcentral Alaska. Now, you will find that you have many operations to choose from when you start planning a visit to this area, but believe me, even though many will offer what seemingly consists of the same great trips, you unfortunately won’t find out if they are good or bad until it is too late. Delivering on advertised expectations is a tough thing and many lodges are
willing to grab your money and run. Repeat business is essential to every successful operation and you can usually tell if you have found a good one when the lodge is full of happy return clientele. The Sportsman’s News Team has found one such lodge on the banks of the world famous, Kenai River, in the heart of Soldotna, Alaska and that lodge is appropriately named, The Gone Fishin’ Lodge. For the last 20 years, Ralph Crystal and Dick Bowen have been offering Alaskan visitors packages that truly give them the opportunity to experience just about everything that Alaska has to offer. ‘Value and Variety’ is their motto and I challenge you to find a place that offers a more rounded trip for the price. It’s no wonder that they are our longest running Platinum Approved Outfitter, because they truly deliver on what they advertise. With 15 different packages to choose from and the option to build your own, you can literally experience a unique and exciting new adventure every day during your stay. Our favorite package at Sportsman’s News includes a halibut charter in Cook Inlet, a multispecies ocean trip out of Seward, salmon fishing on the Kenai River, a floatplane adventure for salmon to Big River Lake or the Kustatan River and finally an upper Kenai drift boat trip for trophy rainbow trout and Dolly Varden. Now that’s what I call variety! Here is a sampling of what our latest trip to the Gone Fishin’ Lodge resulted in: Day one – Halibut fishing with Caption Amos Mahoney in Cook Inlet. After the unique launch of our boat at the beach (you just have to be there to know what I mean) in Anchor Point, we were off on our 50-minute boat ride to one of his favorite spots. As soon as our anchor nestled on the bottom, each of us quickly lowered our bait-filled hooks in hopes of
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GoneFishinLodge.com March 2018 | SPORTSMAN’S NEWS
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landing a big flat-fish that would soon be turned into tasty fillets. Two hours later, the five of us had boated our ten-halibut limit (two per person, one fish under 28 inches and one of any size), with the biggest on the day hoovering around the 80-pound mark. Day two – Silver salmon on the Kenai with one of my favorite river guides, Gary Chamberlin. Back trolling quick-fish, wrapped with sardines and spin and glows tipped with roe produced 20 hook-ups on the day, with eight big silvers (two per person, per day on the Kenai River) making their way to the fish box. Day three – Multi-species ocean trip to beautiful Seward, Alaska. Captain Hill Norvell greeted eight of us on board the ‘2 Day’ and we headed out of Resurrection Bay in search of a number of different species. First, we headed for one of his favorite halibut spots. Two hours later, our limits were full and we then headed over to a rocky outcropping for sea bass. Then it was off to another spot to mooch for silver salmon. Each stop found us all battling fish, with broad smiles at every turn. Day four – Rainbows and Dolly Varden on the upper Kenai River. Captain Chad greeted us at the Sportsman’s launch, adjacent to the Kenai/Russian Rivers Ferry launch to begin our day. Four of us would be sharing the drift boat on this day, using both fly rods and spin cast techniques, while incorporating a single, bead set-up to entice the big boys that were following the spawning sockeye and king salmon migrating up stream. We were also able to wade-fish some of the best gravel bars throughout our float, the results at the end of our day nothing short of phenomenal, with nearly 100 fish landed by our group for the day. Day five – Floatplane trip to Big River Lake. One of the most exciting adventures every Alaskan visitor looks forward to. After an exhilarating 20-minute flight across Cook Inlet and the tundra beyond, it was off the plane and to our awaiting 20-foot skiff, complete with a 40-horse jet motor. The Gone Fishin’s own, Ralph Crystal, guided us on this day. We headed for the southern reaches of the lake for a little silver salmon action on the fly. Pink and black bunny leaches were the hot flies on this day and after we quickly boated our limits, I even talked Ralph into making a few casts with his fly rod so he could experience for himself, what the last four hours had offered to myself and my son-in-law, Reagan Carter, who accompanied me on this, his first visit to Alaska. And if all of these great adventures weren’t enough, each afternoon when we arrived back at the lodge after our main trips, we grabbed our fly rods and headed down to the deck, behind the lodge on the Kenai River to try our luck at landing a few sockeyes that
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where still finding their way up river. Each afternoon we were able to land a half dozen or so and I even managed to hook into a big king, which of course had me quickly into my backing on my fly reel and with a quick point of the rod at his tail as he headed for the middle of the river, he was gone. What a rush! Well, if all of this excitement doesn’t get your heart beating fast to plan a visit to the Gone Fishin’ Lodge on the Kenai River in Soldotna, Alaska, I don’t know what will. ‘Value and Variety’ are truly the name of the game for this great venue and I promise that you will have the time of your life by booking a trip of a lifetime with Ralph and his staff. And just one last side-note before I close – The Gone Fishin’ Lodge is the only lodge in Alaska that I visit every single year, so that should tell you how much I like their operation and what they have to offer. The Gone Fishin’ Lodge, 877-462-5752 and visit them on the web at www.gonefishinlodge.com.
Reagan Carter, a first time Alaska traveler, displays one of many big silvers he landed on our flyout to Big River Lake.
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Call (877) 462-5752 for a FREE DVD! GoneFishinLodge.com March 2018 | SPORTSMAN’S NEWS
PRO MEMBER UPDATE
co-worker sent an email asking if I would be interested in going to Kodiak Island to deer hunt with an outfitter called Larsen Bay Lodge. To say I was excited, would be putting it mildly. The year before, I had hunted Kodiak after drawing a prime bear tag and killed a bear and several deer on the trip. The spot and stalk style hunting of Sitka blacktail is especially exciting with the bear factor. My friend, Ed, won an all-inclusive trip for two to the lodge through the Sportsmanâ€™s News Pro Membership Sweepstakes. Since I do most of my hunts out of a backpack with minimalist gear and food, it was quite nice to have a five-star lodge and gourmet meals prepared for us. This place was nothing short of spectacular. Due to the weather on our first day of hunting, we remained in the more protected Larsen Bay. The landing-craft boat dropped us off and we hiked along a creek bottom into a valley. The wind blew hard as we climbed a mountainside to glass into the valley. Once upon the mountainside the winds were fierce and we tucked into a small hollow to set up optics and seek shelter from the wind. Over a mile away, tucked into a high bowl, we saw deer. There were several bucks in the groups we saw, but it was not possible to reach those deer before the scheduled boat pick-up. We hiked back down just as the boat was arriving to the shore. We then headed back to the lodge for an amazing dinner, hot shower and comfortable bed. The winds were causing high seas, so on Day two we again stayed in Larsen Bay. Ed and I were dropped at the same location and we planned to hike into the bowl area where we had seen deer the previous day. The wind was bad and worsened as we continued to hike higher to the areas we expected to see deer. Once we found an area with deep cut ridges, I spotted a doe working her way down a draw into a creek bottom, completely out of the wind. Ed set up and watched the doe and we spotted another doe bedded in some brush. About 200 yards from these two does, looking across a thickly vegetated draw with a small creek, we found the wind to be in our favor. I crept back along the ridge, out of sight, hoping to see where the walking doe had gone. Just then, the doe came back with a nice buck in close pursuit. I hurriedly belly crawled out of sight and got back to Ed. We set up a tripod and Ed got as steady of a rest as possible in the 30-plus mile per hour wind on our ridge.
30 March 2018 | SPORTSMANâ€™S NEWS
Larsen Bay Lodge Blacktails By Peter Marvin Ed squeezed off a perfect shot on the buck. We quickly clawed our way through the mess of brush along the creek bottom to get to the buck. Once there, we found that it was completely and pleasantly wind-free. After a few photos, we got to work breaking down the deer into our Stone Glacier Packs. We hiked a different ridge and valley to get back to the main valley drainage. Our trekking poles and stiff hiking boots were great insurance and helped to get us safely back to the pickup point. The next day, we boated across Uyak Bay and hiked into a beautiful valley. We first hiked the shore at low tide and reached a river with a rocky section and a small waterfall. Vertical cliffs at the river outlet were impassable. We backtracked a quarter mile and cut a trail through the woods to get access. Along the way, we found several deer carcasses due to a harsh winter and spring. We set up to glass on a high knoll, looking into one of the most gorgeous deer valleys I have ever
PRO MEMBER UPDATE seen. Unfortunately, we saw no deer. We did see a red fox swim across the river and charge a family of otters. The otter attack failed and the fox kept hunting the hillsides for a meal. We hiked back to the pick-up point a little early, hoping to find deer along the hike back. No such luck, but we met up with two other guys from the lodge who had gone another direction that morning. I set up my spotter and found a lone deer on the top ridge of an outlying island over a mile away. Little did we know that the next day we would be on top of that ridge at 1500 feet above sea level. Back at the lodge, over a delicious dinner, we recounted the day’s events and discussed the next day’s strategy. Mike Carlson, the lodge owner, told us the last island that we spotted was good hunting. The day before, the bear hunting group had seen several deer there while boating. We decided to take two groups of guys to the island. The next morning, Ed and another hunter stayed down on the salt, where they duck hunted and explored the coast for deer. Two other hunters joined me to hike up the island. At first the hike was typical Kodiak, with thick brush that required bobbing and weaving to penetrate. Once we broke into the first bench at 600 feet, we caught two small deer bounding for cover. This was a sign of good things to come. As we crested, we caught a sow and cub moving on the backside of the island. We tracked their direction, set-up to glass and eat lunch. As we sat, I turned around to see a buck appear and skyline 220 yards away. I quickly got on my tripod and dropped the deer. I decided to quickly gut and haul the deer back down to the ocean to limit spreading scent to the bears. My maddash sprint managed to get me back to the ocean in under 45 minutes of high speed dragging, rolling and pulling. A couple hours later, as I processed my deer on the beach, I heard the guys down another buck. I ran back up the mountainside to help them haul down the deer and we caught the boat pick-up just in time. While, the hunting was tough due to lower deer numbers from the previous winters die-off, the area we hunted was amazing. The accommodations, meals and equipment provided by Larsen’s Bay Lodge (800-748-2238) is truly first-class.
March 2018 | SPORTSMAN’S NEWS
BEST OF SHOW The hottest new products we found at SHOT Show. Nikon 3,000 Yard Stabilized Rangefinder
Nikon just changed the laser rangefinder game with the introduction of its new MONARCH 3000 STABILIZED. This incredibly small, lightweight unit is feature-packed with Nikon’s award-winning optical image stabilization technology, crisp new red OLED display and 3,000 yard fast-ranging capability. It will most certainly redefine the expectations of hunters and shooters in 2018 and beyond. The optical stabilization system in the MONARCH 3000 STABILIZED reduces viewfinder vibrations by approximately 80%*, while simultaneously aligning the viewed image with the laser. This function begins immediately when the unit is powered-up and assures faster, more successful “first-shot” measurements. MONARCH 3000 STABILIZED has a maximum measurement distance of 3,000 yards on reflective targets and displays distances in .1-yard increments. An all-new variable intensity, crisp red OLED reticle display provides either automatic or five selectable brightness levels for maximum contrast against most targets and backgrounds. The rangefinder’s 6x monocular features bright, fully multicoated optics, user-friendly 18mm eye relief and a wide 7.5° field of view for fast target acquisition. Nikon's HYPER READ technology displays all measurements in approximately 0.3 seconds—regardless of the distance. By holding down the power button on the MONARCH 3000 STABILIZED, the user can continuously measure across multiple targets for 8 seconds.The MONARCH 3000 STABILIZED integrates Nikon’s ID (incline/decline) Technology to take the angle out of your shooting equation--up to an incredible +/- 89 degrees. It also offers the ability to switch between First Target Priority Mode (reading of the closest target) or Distant Target Priority Mode (provides range to the furthest target through clutter, branches etc.)
Sikta Gear Kodiak Jacket Alps Outdoorz Traverse X Cervidae
The Traverse-X Pack is a tried and true hard core tested pack and not new to the field. This pack was awarded the Editors Choice by Petersen’s Hunting. ALPS has expanded this pack with the addition of the new camo pattern called Cervidae. The tans and dark pattern are ideal for the western hunter. The pack itself starts out as your go-to daypack for backcountry hunts with capabilities to carry everything from your expensive glass to your trusty side arm and rifle or bow, and then it ends up a meat hauling solution for the spoils of a successful hunt. It accomplishes these mission specific tasks by carrying features that cater to the western hunter. Wing pockets serve as both fleece-lined storage for a spotting scope and as part of the lashing system for hauling out meat. The stow away meat shelf is the other hidden component to the Traverse X that transforms and lets the pack live up to its reputation allowing weight to be added and carried securely and comfortably. The combination of Lycra shoulder straps, a molded foam back panel, and padded waist belt along with load lifters and anti sway straps makes this very capable pack a necessity for the 1 or 2 night stay in the backcountry.
32 March 2018 | SPORTSMAN’S NEWS
Rugged as the island from which it was born, the Kodiak Jacket is the ultimate in extreme and extended protection for rainy coastal climes. A knee-length durable 3-layer GORE-TEX® Pro laminate ensures complete waterproof coverage with the option of shortening the jacket to a standard length with internal snaps for unencumbered hikes. Pit zips easily allow instant relief from overheating. Four chest pockets are conveniently located to store essentials, and two reach-through pockets grant quick access to dry layers underneath. Whether breaking trail through soaked brush in pursuit of brown bear or enduring a torrential storm on the boat back to camp, the Kodiak Jacket has you covered.
Sig Sauer P365
High capacity in a micro-compact size are two terms you usually don't hear together. But Sig has taken their new striker-fired pistol and given it a double stack magazine for better grip in larger hands and higher round count. A Nitron finish will hold up to the rigors of daily carry with minimal wear and protect your pistol from corrosion caused by condensation and sweat. It comes with a single flush-fit 10-round magazine, as well as an extended grip 10-round magazine. A optional 12-round extended magazine is also available. At 5.8 inches long and less than an inch thick, the P365 is suitable for daily carry 365 days of the year and is a breeze to conceal.
tents | sleeping bags | air mats | camp furniture | air beds March 2018 | SPORTSMANâ€™S NEWS
BEST OF SHOW Zeiss Victory RF Binoculars
ZEISS unveils its newest and ultimate binocular laser rangefinder, Made in Germany, the Victory RF. The family consists of four model configurations: 8 x 42, 10 x 42, 8 x 54, and 10 x 54. All models are Bluetooth® enabled and they sync to the ZEISS Hunting App. The Victory RF models not only represent ZEISS’ super-premium product offering in this category, but also establishes a resounding and definitive new standard for all future binocular laser rangefinders. Innovative design, advanced performance, and smart connectivity to the digital world provides the foundational development parameters of the all new Victory RF models. Enhanced ergonomics are quickly and clearly appreciated as the architecture incorporates a proven double-link-bridge construction with smooth and unimpeded lines – making them easy to hold and use for extended viewing sessions. The lightweight magnesium housing affords no protrusions or bulges to push against the chest while carrying them or while trying to simply hold the device for a quick ranging opportunity. These are sleek, compact, and extremely manageable for carry, observation, and ranging. With the two control buttons cleverly positioned on the top of the binocular barrels and in close proximity to the focus wheel, and the index fingers, the user can easily range with either hand. This eliminates the need for awkward hand placement and continuous finger stretch. All of this is due to the ZEISS’ ComfortFocus Concept. The two control buttons are also able to be programmed for either right- or left-handed operation. ZEISS pushed the limits of the Victory RF models, and was able to achieve 2500 yard capable binocular laser rangefinders, in reference to hard targets, using better algorithms and a narrower divergence pattern for the laser.
Browning X-Bolt Pro Long Range
Browning delved into semi-custom rifle production with the X-Bolt Pro in 2017. This year they are introducing the Long-Range version of the X-Bolt Pro, featuring a heavier profile barrel for increased accuracy at longer distances. What classifies the X-Bolt Pro as a “semicustom rifle” is the level of specialized finishing touches and higher end construction above the already top-tier X-Bolt family of hunting rifles. First, the X-Bolt Pro features a true carbon fiber stock, making it extremely lightweight and rigid. The stock is filled with a noise-dampening foam. The Cerakote finish on the action and barrel is also on the exterior of the stock for added protection. The burnt bronze hue mutes the color of the stock for better concealability. The barrel features a new proprietary lapping process to provide consistent accuracy and easier bore cleaning - avoiding the need for a time-consuming break-in process. Other features include a spiral fluted bolt, enlarged bolt handle, and a threaded muzzle with a muzzle brake or thread protector cap. It comes in 8 very popular calibers from the 6MM Creedmoor to the 300 Win Mag.
Leupold Mark V Riflescope
When Leupld set out to create the Mark 5HD, they brought in elite military personnel and professional shooters to have a conversation; what do you need in an optic? What they found was an overwhelming demand for high level contrast, increased travel, improved ergonomics and without question, something that could take a beating in the field. With these key features in mind, they got to work. The design of the Mark 5HD all started with the new 35MM main tube. This allowed them to maximize the 30 usable mils elite shooters would require. This is done in 3 full revolutions of the low-profile dial. We know what you’re thinking, this thing must be a tank. That’s where you’re wrong. The Mark 5HD is one of the lightest scopes on the market weighing in at just 30 oz. Don’t let the weight fool you, built with solid aluminum, this scope is ready to take a beating. Drop it on the gravel, throw it in the back of your truck, and then lock-back-in and nail the target without hesitation. With weight taken care of, they focused in on the contrast between background and target. Searching for targets with glass that was built to look good in a department store can be a real hassle when you’re trying to take home the win. They squared that away long ago but found ways of making it even better. The Mark 5HD features their proprietary Twilight Max HD Light Management system. Low light shooting will never be an issue when the late-night critters and bad guys are out. Everything on the Mark 5HD is engineered for precision accuracy and speed. If you need to get from 5x to 25x fast, they have a feature for that. No overly complicated locking dials, they have simplified that. Tired of losing zero when your rifle hits the deck, you won’t. The field can be a brutal place but you will not find an optic that will outperform or outlast the Mark 5HD.
34 March 2018 | SPORTSMAN’S NEWS
Pushing boundaries to redefine the future of hydration, HydraPak creates innovative solutions that stand up to the harshest environments. Easy-to-use and highly functional, every HydraPak product showcases the technical manufacturing expertise that has distinguished the company for nearly two decades. By offering a better way to hydrate, and continually seeking to refine its offerings, HydraPak has pioneered new product categories and become a trusted partner for dozens of major OEMs. These renowned global brands integrate HydraPak’s proprietary designs and technologies into their hydration products for recreational, athletic and military use.
March 2018 | SPORTSMANâ€™S NEWS
targets that bite back Introducing a target with teeth. Champion’s awardwinning DuraSeal™ Spinner Targets handle rounds from even the largest rifle and handguns and still keeps its shape. Quite simply, it’s a target that bites back.
For more info on DuraSeal and Champion’s paper targets visit:
Shoot Better. Have Fun. © 2008 ATK
36 March 2018 | SPORTSMAN’S NEWS
BEST OF SHOW Bergara Premier HMR Pro Rifle
Bergara, a company world renowned for their high-quality barrels, has mated the precision of their barrel to a precision rifle action and chassis to create a superbly performing rifle, at a fraction of the cost of a custom gun. Using state-of-the-art production and including a TriggerTech Frictionless Release Technology trigger adjustable down to one pound, the Bergara Premier HMR Pro is an excellent shooting factory rifle that performs like it came from a high end custom shop.
UAR Unique-Grip is unleashing a new era of grips for the AR Rifle, the first grip that perfectly fits each shooter’s hand, regardless of size or dominance. Simply grip it, lock it and fire away. Instant fit, instant comfort. The UAR Grip is made of durable molded plastic and comes in black. The locking mechanism is easy to manipulate for a sure fit. Staggered platters take a mold of your hand and turning the set screw on the bottom locks the shape in place. Loosening the screw causes the platters to return to neutral, making it ready to take a mold of the next shooter’s hand. The Unique-Grips lets each shooter have a custom mold of their hand for hours of comfortable shooting, while minimizing fatigue.
E xoTAC t i ta n L I G H T Waterproof Lighter
Even though ExoTAC makes high quality ferrocerium rod firestarters, a good quality lighter is a great companion if venturing into the outdoors. Liquid fuel wick lighters have long been a staple, but the fuel can evaporate or if you get soaked, they can get wet and fail to function. ExoTAC has addressed both of those concerns with their new titanLIGHT Waterproof Lighter. Featuring aircraft aluminum construction with an O-ring sealed cap and base, these lighters won’t let the fuel evaporate away or leak. They also protect the wick and flint striker from moisture, so you get a consistent light every time. A heavy wick provides a large flame with every strike of the wheel. A lanyard loop built into the cap provides an easy way to hang the lighter around your neck. Spare flints can be carried under the refilling cap at the base, so you always have a backup. And they are made in the USA in their Winder, Georgia factory.
The Secret Weapon of BBQ Perfection... Now at Sportman’s Warehouse
March 2018 | SPORTSMAN’S NEWS
BEST OF SHOW Outdoor Edge Chow Pal
There are a ton of nesting eating utensils on the market and not one of them provides a knife that will cut hot butter, let alone a thick ribeye. Outdoor Edge has tackled that problem with the introduction of the Chow Pal. A nesting fork and spoon slide together to lock up for easy and quiet storage and slide apart to provide an ergonomically friendly fork and spoon. On the back of the spoon is a stainless-steel folding knife with a frame lock to provide superb cutting power. A flathead screwdriver, graduated wrenches and bottle and can openers round out the tools offerings packed into this little package. It even comes with a rip-stop Nylon carrying pouch.
Walker Razor XV Ear Bud Headset and Hearing Protection
Looking like a standard Bluetooth headset, the Walker Razor XV also includes compressor technology to provide 31db NRR of hearing protection while shooting. Built-in omnidirectional microphones allow regular conversation on the range and then limit the sound of gunfire or other loud noises. A long-lasting Lithium Ion battery provides hours of music in the field. Now you can have a conversation, listen to your favorite tunes, or actually hear the tone on the shot timer app you downloaded to your phone. The flat, retractable cables wonâ€™t tangle and are heavy duty enough that if they get caught, they are unlikely to break. While they are built for the range or the field, they are comfortable and robust enough for daily use.
5.11 Tactical Response XR2 Flashlight
Featuring the awesome power of the Cree XXXX chip LED, the Response XR2 flashlight pumps out a blinding, 2,000 lumens of bright white light. The new LED creates a super bright spot for focused attention to detail and a flood of light for better situational awareness. The hard-anodized aircraft grade aluminum body means that it is rugged enough for tactical use, but light and bright enough for daily activities. The knurled body fits comfortably in the hand and the tail switch rubber button is beefy enough for use with gloves in constant or intermittent activation. Three modes, bright, low and blinding-ohmy-gosh-my-eyes-are-burning strobe, give you options in the field. It will run for up to two hours on four CR123 batteries or you can use a pair of rechargeable Li-ion 18650s. 5.11 Tactical offers a rechargeable kit with the charger and two 3400 mAh Li-ion batteries that can also double as a phone charger.
38 March 2018 | SPORTSMANâ€™S NEWS
BEST OF SHOW UCO Mini Flatpack Grill
Taking the popularity of their full-sized Flatpack Grill, UCO has created a mini-version for even more packability. The Mini Flatpack Grill & Firepit provides more than 60 square inches of grilling surface for your brats or burgers and will work with wood or charcoal. It weighs just 2-pounds and folds down 1.5-inches thick for minimal space taken up in your pack. It is ideal for 2-3 people and can be used even where open fire restrictions are in place. A heavy-duty Nylon bag is included to keep soot from getting all over your spare clothing in your pack. The sturdy steel legs support the stainless-steel firebox, providing a stable base for cooking on the go.
Muck Boots Woody PK
Yes, a high-performance hunting boot, designed specifically for women! Offered in both a warm weather or cold conditions package. Comes in breathable airmesh or warm fleece lining, 100% waterproof, 4mm neoprene bootie, EVA midsole and MS2 molded bobbed outsole.
Deer Season XP Copper Impact rifle ammunition provides devastating terminal performance on deer with outstanding weight retention and deep penetration. Like the original Deer Season XP, Copper Impact features a large-diameter polymer tip and engineered hollow-point bullet that initiates rapid expansion on impact. What differentiates Deer Season XP Copper Impact is the solid copper bullet design that offers improved weight retention for deeper penetration and a red, reinforced polymer tip for product differentiation from standard Deer Season XP loads. Deer Season XP Copper Impact will be available in 20-round boxes and can be used in areas that require leadfree ammunition. Available in .243 Win, .270 Win, .300 Win Mag, .30-06 Springfield and .308 Winchester.
March 2018 | SPORTSMANâ€™S NEWS
BEST OF SHOW Dogtra ARC HANDSFREE
Dogtra introduces the newest addition to the best-selling ARC e-collar remote training system, the ARC HANDSFREE. Perfect for hunting dogs and police K-9 professionals, the ARC HANDSFREE e-collar provides owners the freedom to multitask while maintaining control during field operation. The flexible ARC HANDSFREE Remote Controller allows you to apply stimulation using only fingertip control, providing more versatility with your hands at any given time. Designed for all dog breeds with soft to medium temperaments, the ARC HANDSFREE Remote Controller is pre-set with Constant stimulation, controlled by the Rheostat Dial with 127 available levels, but can adjust to “Nick” stimulation or pager vibration only. Equipped with a ¾-mile e-collar range and low-medium output, the ARC HANDSFREE maintains the ARC product line’s slim ergonomic design for a discrete fit around a dog’s neck, even for dogs as small as 15lbs. The water resistant, flexible and intuitive ARC HANDSFREE buckle allows for versatile use in the field or on the range; simply attach the buckle to your wrist, belt buckle or gun and have complete control in any situation.
Hunting often involves adverse conditions that can affect your rifle’s ability to perform. Dust, fine debris, snow, and generally wet conditions that are allowed to get in your gun or scope can cost you a trophy. The Armadillo from Sentry is a very packable full gun cover that protects your rifle from the elements even while shouldered with your favorite sling. Stretch fabric and a simple draw string system allow the Armadillo to easily slide on or off the rifle and it’s available in three sizes to fit any long gun.
R a p to r R a z o r Combo Pack
Skinning big game is a happy chore, but a chore none the less. Make it easier and safer with the Raptor Razor Big Game Skinner and Mako combo pack, a very unique set featuring a two sided, encased blade and a convertible knife/saw, each with a “T handle” that is very easy to hold. The Big Game Skinner has a curved inner blade that cuts from the inside, perfect for opening the hide, cutting around legs, or popping leg joints. The outer blade is shrouded making for an efficient way to skin without risk of cutting the hide or meat. The Mako’s interchangeable blades convert it from large skinning blade to bone saw in seconds. Besides the two unique blade housings, the kit is sold with two T handles (each housing tools to swap blades), multiple blades for each, and a carrying pouch for easy packing.
Chef’s Choice Knife Sharpener Xtreme
Fact: We outdoors folks like our knives but we are hard on blades. Want a very fast and easy way to sharpen even your beefiest blades? Check out the Chef’s Choice Knife Sharpener Xtreme. It is a mechanical two-stage sharpener featuring 100% diamond abrasives and precision blade angle guides. The Knife Sharpener Xtreme quickly and accurately creates a durable arch-shaped edge on both double and single bevel knives from tip to bolster, and is designed to handle the thickest tactical blades. It even works with serrated knives. Designed and built in the USA.
40 March 2018 | SPORTSMAN’S NEWS
M A D E BY
ELECTRO-OPTICS A DVA N C E D R E D - D OT S I G H TS
CIRCLE DOT RETICLE
Always ready with MOTAC™ and up to 50,000 hours of continuous runtime
Fast, target acquisition when it counts with the user-selectable 2 MOA Dot or 65 MOA Circle-Dot
Co-witness your red dot to your iron sights with the included 1.41” absolute co-witness or 1.63” lower 1/3 riser mount
#sigelectrooptics March 2018 | SPORTSMAN’S NEWS
BEST OF SHOW Muck Boots Woody Arctic Ice
This cold-conditions, performance hunting boot features an 8mm bootie with fleece lining wrapped in layers of soft rubber, so your feet will stay warm and dry in the most extreme conditions. The EVA midsole offers added underfoot comfort with a Vibram Arctic Grip outsole, with Icetrek for confidence on the iciest surfaces.
• 4 x 8 White Pine, borate treated (for wall and gables) • 2 x 6 T&G SPF for main roof and porch roof • Gasket, caulk and 9” lag screws • 2 x 10 ridge board • 2 x 8 rafters • Log blocking between rafters • 6 x6 porch posts • Rafter collar ties • 4 x 4 wall sti ener posts (for 12 x 16 and 16 x 20 models)
6 SIZES AVAILABLE firstname.lastname@example.org
42 March 2018 | SPORTSMAN’S NEWS
Skull Hooker Trophy Tree
Hunt big game very long and you will acquire a collection of European mounts, eventually leading to “where do I hang them all?” The easy answer is you don’t; you display them in a corner on the new Skull Hooker Trophy Tree. The Trophy Tree is a vertical pole system with up to five Euro mount hangers along its length. Like the rest of the Skull Hooker European Mount hangers and stands, the Trophy Tree is adjustable for angle, while adding height and 360 degree display adjustments as well. The Trophy Tree is a very unique and space saving way to display a wide variety Euro mounts.
Outdoor Business Directory ALASKA FISHING
IDAHO SHED DOGS
85 Rooms 10 Minutes to Downtown Free Airport Shuttle Complimentary Breakfast Free Wi Fi 4400 Spenard Rd., Anchorage, AK 99517 (800)-4PUFFIN - (907)-243-4044
FIREARMS CLEANING EQUIPMENT
March 2018 | SPORTSMANâ€™S NEWS
Presents Wild Game Recipes of Steve Mayer "The Wine Guy"
Braised Venison Shanks
hanks, if you butcher your own meat you know this cut well. You are never quite sure what to do with them. They are full of tendons and serious hard muscle tissue, so we often just throw them in the grind pile for burger. These same characteristics make them ideal for slow cooking, and they are loaded with flavor. You can use any type of wild game with this recipe, and if you could try some lamb shanks if desired. This savory recipe will warm you up on a cold day and bring back fond memories of the hunt.
• 4 venison shanks • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper • 4 tablespoons olive oil (split) • 1 yellow onion diced • 4 stalks celery diced • 4 large carrots diced • 1 pound white mushrooms sliced
thickly • 7 cloves garlic chopped • 1 can tomato paste (6 oz.) • 1 can low sodium beef broth (14 oz.) • 1 bottle red wine (Syrah or Zinfandel) • 1 tsp dried thyme (or 5 fresh sprigs) • 4 bay leaves
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. You will need to use a large enameled cast
44 March 2018 | SPORTSMAN’S NEWS
iron casserole or heavy pot that is oven proof. A Dutch oven will work perfectly also. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in the pot over medium high heat on the stove top. Season the shanks with salt and pepper and brown in the oil. Do them two at a time and brown for 3-4 minutes per side, turning them to brown on all sides. Transfer them to a tray when they are done. Add a splash or two of wine to the pot and scrape the brown bits that have stuck to the bottom (called fond). They will detach and add great flavor to the sauce. Now add the other 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan, along with the onion, celery, and carrots. Lower the heat to medium and sauté the vegetables, stirring frequently, for 5-7 minutes until they start to soften up. Add the mushrooms and garlic and sauté another 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and broth. Pour yourself a large glass of wine and add the remaining wine (about a half bottle) to the pot. Drink some of the wine and stir the pot until well combined. Mix in the thyme and bay leaves, add the shanks back in and bury them in the liquid. Cover the pot and place in the oven. Allow to braise at least 3 hours or more until the meat is tender. Serve these with mashed potatoes, a French baguette, and a fresh garden salad. Another bottle of California Syrah or a jammy Zinfandel would complement this meal perfectly. If your tastes prefer beer, try a porter or a stout with this dish. Cheers!
INTRODUCING THE FRANCHI MOMENTUM RIFLE FLUTED BOLT BODY, 3 LOCKING LUGS
Feels right: like no other rifle before, the Franchi Momentum was created from the ground up on ergonomics, fit and feel. With its 150-year tradition of crafting fine Italian firearms, Franchi knows that when the gun feels right, the day, the camaraderie and the whole outdoor experience will also feel right.
HAMMER-FORGED PRECISION BARREL, THREADED MUZZLE
Features: Contoured stock giving perfect hold in 5 common shooting positions; glass-smooth action; 1-piece bolt body; adjustable trigger (2-4 lbs.); recoil- soaking TSA pad; free-floating, hammer-forged barrel; threaded muzzle.
The Momentum is available as a rifle only or as a scoped package. Available in the following calibers: .243 Win, .270 Win, .30-06, .308 Win, .300 Win Mag & 6.5 Creedmoor.
March 2018 | SPORTSMANâ€™S NEWS
Calling All Hunters - Recruitment, Retention, Reactivation (R3)
n just five years of its Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative, the NWTF has recruited or reactivated nearly a million hunters, reaching 65 percent of its 10-year goal of 1.5 million hunters. “While we have a long way to go, we are proud of the successes we have seen these past few years and look forward to what we can accomplish in 2018,” said Becky Humphries, NWTF CEO. “This is not a problem that will be solved by the few. It will take everyone working together to combat those declining numbers.” The National Hunting and Shooting Sports Plan, facilitated by the Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports, calls for increased numbers participating in and supporting hunting and the shooting sports. New target audiences for the NWTF and its partners include families, church groups, millennials, college students, urbanites, professional societies, locavores and farmers’ market shoppers, as research shows involving adults in learn-to-hunt activities is sustainable. Adults have the resources to enable them to hunt, the decision-making power to continue to hunt, likely take more away from each learn-to-hunt encounter and they naturally will bring their children through the process, as well. Through collaboration with its partners, such as state agencies, Pheasants Forever, Quality Deer Management Association and Ducks Unlimited, the NWTF is expanding its efforts across the country to provide educational events followed by multiple opportunities to hunt as well as mentor training, a major component to providing a social support and educational network for new hunters. The National R3 Symposium is scheduled for May 21-23 in Lincoln, Nebraska, and will provide a forum for serious discussion and collaboration around the R3 movement. The National R3 Symposium is the first nation-wide event solely focused on resources and partnerships needed to secure the future of hunting, angling, target shooting, and boating. This meeting is the premier venue for the outdoor community to advance the field of outdoor recreation recruitment, retention and reactivation (R3) in the United States. “The National R3 Symposium will provide an unparalleled opportunity for state and federal fish and wildlife agencies, outdoor recreation industries and conservation orga-
nizations to share, learn and develop opportunities for our community to advance and accelerate the current state of R3 efforts,” said John Frampton, President and CEO of the Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports. Participation in hunting and recreational shooting has been generally declining since the 1980’s. Hunting license sales produce valuable funding each year for wildlife conservation and habitat restoration, while hunter expenditures generate billions of dollars annually for the national economy and support hundreds of thousands of jobs. Development and use of partnerships and strategic models must continue to be utilized to halt and reverse the declining trend in hunting participation. If the downward participation trend continues, it will result in diminished capacity to conserve species cherished by hunters and all outdoor enthusiasts. The threat is real. But from the crucible of crisis opportunity emerges — to ensure that wildlife conservation remains fueled by hunters and shooting sports enthusiasts. RECRUITMENT, RETENTION AND REACTIVATION, “R3” is an important issue for anyone concerned about wildlife management, conservation and the future of our hunting traditions. Learn more at www.utnwtf.org. Come and join in the fun of a local National Wild Turkey Federation Hunting Heritage Super Fundraising Banquet. The NWTF banquets are where you can buy exclusive merchandise, participate in live and silent auctions and have a great time with friends and fellow supporters of the “Great Outdoors”. All the while, you will be raising vital funds for wild turkey conservation and important programs that introduce the outdoors to men, women, children and the disabled. Here is a list of banquets for the NWTF Chapters in Utah:
March 3rd • •
Nephi - Lynn Worwood, (801-368-5834) Dave Worwood, (435-580-9004) -- Tags: Wasatch Mountain Bull Elk (A/W), Statewide Turkey, Central Turkey (2). Cedar City – Ron MacIntosh, (435-463-0269) – Tags: Patnguitch Lake Elk (A/W), La Sal Bear (Multi-Season), Southern Turkey (2).
• St. George - Kent Danjanovich, (801-231-9838) -- Tags: Bull Elk Beaver East (A/W), Mt. Dutton/ Paunsagant Pronghorn Landowner Tag, Southern Turkey.
• Roosevelt - Kevin Richens, (435-823-0391) -- Tags: Bull Elk Book Cliffs Bitter Creek/South (A/W), Buck Deer South Slope Diamond Mountain (Season Choice), Yellowstone Bear, Northeastern Turkey (2).
• Heber - Chris Bullock, (435-731-0107) -- Tags: Buck Deer Book Cliffs (Archery).
• Spanish Fork – Chris Brittain, (801-472-3623) Tags: Cougar Wasatch Mountain, Currant Creek and Wasatch Mountain West (L/E).
• Logan – Jeramy Ellis, (435-230-4672) – Tags: Cougar Chalk Creek/Kamas, East Canyon and Morgan (L/E).
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• Lehi - Clay Shelton, (801-358-1715) – Tags: Buck Deer Book Cliffs North & South (A/W), Central Turkey, Southern Turkey. *(A/W) Any weapon **(L/E) Late or early Check out the NWTF website at www.nwtf.org for more information on these banquets and many more from around the country. Regional Director, Rick Brittain (801-722-4885). www.utnwtf.org
March 2018 | SPORTSMANâ€™S NEWS
Adventures On A Budget
Chasin’ Spring Snow Geese By Joe Glotz
t’s that time of year, when winter is inching closer to spring and it’s time for spring snow goose hunting. Spring snows are a tough breed; they are on the move and they are usually in big numbers, with lots of eyes noticing EVERYTHING below them. Being at the right place at the right time, with the right equipment can make the difference between hunting and just bird watching.
So you’re convinced that you’re going to do some hunting this spring, but where do you start? If you live in one of the central states that is part of the spring conservation season, hunting will probably be within striking distance. If not, it depends on when you want to go hunting. If you’re window for hunting is February, you may want to consider Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado or Nebraska. There may be hunting found further south or in the extreme eastern or western portions of the flyways, but these are the most popular and reliable for a migration. As March closes in, you’ll want to focus on Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota. Many years, Missouri, Kansas and even Illinois will be rolling well into March because of a Mother Nature delay. When April arrives, it’s pretty spotty in the states, with typically only South Dakota or North Dakota with huntable numbers. If you’re
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willing, Saskatchewan and Manitoba offer fantastic opportunities late in the spring. If you’ve limited your search to one state at one time of the year, you’ll want to leave your schedule as open as possible. Mother nature usually determines when and where the snow geese are, so be careful when making commitments months ahead of time. If you do some google searches, you’ll find that most state wildlife agencies will have migration reports on their websites. That is usually some of the most factual information out there. Don’t be afraid to call the agency just prior to your trip. I’ve found most conservation officers and biologists are willing to spend some time with you on the phone to answer questions. Federal biologists follow the migration north and if anyone would know where to be; it’s them. Also, be prepared to do some reading on migration reports by other hunters. As stated earlier, weather plays a huge part in the spring snow goose migration. If you’re decoying migrating birds, you’ll want favorable migrating weather. This is usually the most cloud-free, bluebird day; with south winds being favorable. If you’re decoying birds that are staying in an area, you’ll want clouds, wind and some precipitation is always nice.
Your confidence level will go up as you expand your snow goose spread. If you don’t own any decoys and are looking to amass a snow goose decoy spread,
Adventures On A Budget there are many things to consider. Most importantly; what is your budget, how much do you plan on hunting snows and are you the type who likes to “do-ityourself”? For those who want to put the time in, you can make homemade snow goose decoys or floater decoys for a reasonable price. If you have the time and ambition, there’s no end to how big your spread can get. But, if you only expect to spend a handful of days afield each year, it doesn’t make sense to have a large decoy spread that collects dust. In that case, learn how to build your decoys like windsocks or buy as many decoys as you can for what you can afford. You can buy Texas Rags for very cheap, but don’t expect them to last more than a couple seasons. If you plan on hunting snows for many years to come, you may want to buy quality instead of quantity, with a plan to build your spread every year or when you can afford it. This is what I’ve been doing over the past decade. Decoys such as full bodies, custom windsocks or Sillosocks are the most commonly used, but you have a wide option of shells, silhouettes and other various decoys available. Everyone will have a different opinion as to how many decoys you should use, but if you’re on a budget, you have to think small and buy or build smart. I spend most of my time hunting over a spread between 500 to 1500 decoys, but I’ve had great success from as little as a hundred. So, with that being said, don’t be afraid to experiment with various decoy setups. There are times where any decoys will do - just be there at the right time. And there are times when the small things such as spread size, movement, and concealment can make or break your day. There are really three basic setups that are used for spring snow goose hunting: field spreads, water spreads and a combination of the two. Field spreads are the most common, with the focus on setting up your decoys in the feed field the geese are using. They typically are used for birds staging in your area, but some days you’ll also decoy a lot of migrating birds. Water spreads are setup to attract migrating birds. You’re trying to tell the incoming geese that it’s safe to roost or loaf here. You’ll want to use these setups on nice weather days with south winds. Avoid these setups with strong north winds, low clouds and with extreme cold temperatures. The last setup involves combining a field and water spread. These are my favorite to hunt, when the right factors come together. Sometimes we’ll use a pasture with a shallow slough to attract birds. We’re not offering food, but a safe place to rest. Another option is a feed field that runs up to a potential roosting body of water. My ideal setup is a vast cornfield with a large, shallow body of water in the middle with minimal to no surrounding vegetation. This spread is great for attracting migrating flocks as well as local, hungry birds.
I don’t recommend starting off anyone in spring snow goose hunting without an e-caller. There is no doubt in my mind that it makes a difference and the louder/clearer the sound, the better off you’ll be. For the guy looking to spend a handful of days afield, this may be a tough investment to make. But have no fear, there are many options to approach this decision. If you’re looking to buy, you’ll want to decide between tape or CD. Tape e-callers are generally cheaper and durable, but they don’t offer the sound quality of CD’s. For CD e-callers, you’ll want to consider a unit such as the GooseGetter or anything that will be loud and clear enough to be heard at long distances. You can build the world’s greatest e-caller, but it’s useless unless you have a good tape or CD of snow goose sounds to back it up. I have had the best experience with the sound files that combine a large flock of geese, various lone “barks” and deep grunts and murmurs they produce while feeding. When you can combine a great sounding e-caller with a good sound file, you’ll have the best weapon in the field for snow geese. There are a few other things you’ll want to consider before setting foot in the field such as concealment and how to get your gear into the field. When it’s all added up, don’t slack on the time spent on concealment. Snow geese have very good vision and are notorious for frustrating even the most experienced snow goose hunter. You’ll want to have camouflage that will match your surroundings or invest in one of the various hunting blinds on the market. Pay close attention to proper camouflaging of your blind. If you’re on a budget, you can simply invest in a pair of white coveralls. I bought a few sets of these that painters use for a few bucks each and it’s a wise investment to make. Laying in whites is an old tactic and is still used today. If you’re hunting in an area that has wet fields that you can’t drive into, you’ll need to consider how you’re going to get all of your gear into your decoying location. If you own an ATV, then this task is easy, but if you don’t, you’ll want to look into a sled. If you own a portable ice house, you can use this sled for this purpose as well. These are some ideas that will help you get started on hunting snows. By becoming a snow goose hunter, you’re entering a “hidden fraternity” in the outdoors. It’s an addiction that can cost you lots of money, time and sleep. Snow geese are the most challenging birds to hunt in my opinion, hands down. I find myself learning every time I go out and you will too.
March 2018 | SPORTSMAN’S NEWS
OUTDOOR WRITER'S CONTEST
Fall Passages By Al Schultz
watched the little spaniel alternate between the crop stubble and tall grass along the edge of a harvested field, nose to the ground. The sky was overcast as if an impending storm was brewing. A breeze added to the fall chill carrying the sweet aroma of grass and cut hay mingled with sage. Fall was in full splendor and the grass and stubble were vibrant in hue from bright yellow and gold to brown and gray. Cattails rustled in the breeze where the earth remained moist. I glanced down at the old Winchester Model 12 .16 gauge shotgun in my hands. It had been my dad’s and his dad’s before him. I probably paid as much as it was worth to have it restored, but it was priceless. I had waited two long years to get it back and this was its first hunt since its return. My mind wandered as I walked, watching the dog work. I recalled the first bird I ever shot, a male ruffed grouse. It happened with this very gun during my first deer hunt with my dad, his friends, and my uncles. Everyone had returned to camp, taking a siesta during the heat of midday. A longtime family friend named Fred Thompson and I went looking for grouse. I always liked Fred and we became close spending every hunting season together until his untimely passing. When I was a boy, he treated me like an actual hunting partner, and even better, his idea of lunch was a bag of Snickers candy bars, which he never seemed to run out of. We flushed my first grouse that day and I somehow hit it. I can still picture that bird and Fred beside me coaching me. Now holding that gun in my hands over four decades later, I reflected on how sad I felt when the gun became mine and how sad my father must have felt when it became his. We each took possession with the passing of our fathers. As I walked through the field watching the spaniel search for birds, many wonderful memories of Dad came flooding back. I remember most fondly our walks through the fields and woods together. I thought of the hunting camps and of all my uncles and family friends. Most of them are gone now, yet they are vividly alive in my memory. Those men instilled
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Sportsman’s News in me a love for the outdoors and all its creatures and an unquenchable passion Outdoor Writing for camping, hunting, fishing, and sharContest Finalist ing of the experiences with other family See pg. 4 for entry details. and friends. Somewhere along the line for me it became less about full stringers and filled tags and more about “experiencing” the outdoors, hearing the elk bugle, the turkey gobble, the honk of the geese, and watching the dogs work. I relish the explosive burst of a grouse from cover or sharp tails rising one after the other. My thoughts were interrupted when the spaniel locked up into a rigid point, her eyes riveted to the side, muscles taut and quivering. Even the breeze seemed to still and with it the rustling of the grass quieted. “Steady… steady,” I softly spoke to the dog. “Hon, Kayci’s on point,” I exclaimed to my wife, Emily, 20 yards or so to my left. I glanced over and observed as she readied her Ithaca double .20 gauge. I stepped toward the dog, “get ‘em up” I urged her. Kayci, our Brittany Spaniel, lunged into the tall grass flushing a marvelous rooster pheasant. He cackled as he rose and broke to my left towards where my wife stood waiting. I savored the scene, wiling it into slow motion. The bird’s colorful plumage contrasted dazzlingly against the gun metal gray of the sky. Em followed the bird and let loose with one barrel followed immediately after by her second. The first shot was a little above and behind the bird, but the second connected well. Kaci retrieved the bird back to me as our son watched over my shoulder, where I carried him in a backpack, wearing bright orange ear muffs over diminutive foam ear plugs to muffle the sound of our shots. I smiled wide. He had just turned one only two weeks before. Our whole family was here and I imagined that my dad, uncles, and all the old boys from our shared hunting camps were watching this now. We got a few more pheasants on that hunt and the old .16 gauge accounted for a couple of them. We were hunting the Double Barrel Ranch in Rockford, WA and had just begun one of our annual family “Cast and Blast” trips. These trips shared with family are exciting and wonderful. When I was just a little boy, I recall similar trips tagging along behind my dad, collecting the freshly spent purple .16 gauge shells and the odor of burnt gunpowder in the empty hulls. Dad generally used Federal Game loads which, in a .16 gauge came in purple shells. I was barely 3 years old and those spent purple hulls were my greatest reward at the time and loved collecting them. I remember struggling to keep up while Dad and his brothers roamed the fields and forests. I remember they crossed a barbed wire fence and Dad watched as I scraped my scalp on the barbs trying to step through like the men. I remember feeling ashamed for crying in front of the men after. Now I’m carrying my Dad’s .16 gauge as my son tags along behind. It’s fascinating to me to think that scene has played out for three generations in my family with this same shotgun. Wyatt reminds me of his daddy many years ago who equally loved tagging along with the men, developing a deeply ingrained appreciation for the wondrous beauty of the animals, and the land they inhabit. I recall returning to my grandparents’ home after these trips and being placed on the kitchen counter, feet dangling over the edge, as my grandmother prepared the rabbits and pheasant for dinner. I learned at a young age how to prepare meat. I remember watching as the men reverently held a fallen bird or rabbit, how carefully it was cleaned and prepared for our meal and how much the family enjoyed the meals and the gathering together around the table. Joe Biggs runs the impressive operation at Double Barreled Ranch, consisting of
OUTDOOR WRITER'S CONTEST
3,000 acres of choice habitat of agricultural fields, timbered slopes, brushy draws, and tall grass. The Ranch offers guided and unguided hunts, sporting clays, and a variety of game birds, including pheasant, chukar, quail, and turkey. We often kick off our Cast and Blast trips pursuing pheasants at this ranch. Joe Biggs and company never fail to deliver a rich family experience and you can count on lots of flushes. What keeps me coming back is Joe’s attention to every detail and commitment to provide an incredible experience. Next stop was Lake Chelan, WA. While it is well known for its spectacular apple orchards, huge beautiful lake, and wineries, Chelan, WA is also home to some of the finest wild upland bird hunting in the northwest. We camped at Lake Chelan State Park, where a stream filled with bright red spawning Kokanee salmon added to the fall beauty. Over the next couple days we hunted the nearby public wildlife area. Kayci put up a couple more roosters, several coveys of California Quail, and some Hungarian Partridge. Our son Wyatt took it all in from his perch on my back, keeping his comments to himself for the most part when dear old dad missed, but laughing gleefully at his best friend Kayci working her way through the brush. Kaci is too cute when she proudly returns a downed bird, head up, and prancing. It makes my wife and I smile to see and our little boy delights at her antics. After meandering through Eastern WA in search of a variety of upland birds and fly-fishing the revered Rocky Ford Creek, known for its hard-fighting, behemoth Rainbow Trout, we headed to Valier, MT. Jody and Bonnie Field own the several thousand
acre Field Ranch and have been friends of mine for many years, always welcoming us to hunt their wild game birds each fall. We’ve shared many hunts, but this year was especially rewarding because his nephew was back from the Marine Corps and able to join us. The weather cooperated with light snow, blue-bird sunny days, and lots of birds. We managed to find plenty of roosters and several sharp tailed grouse, as well as a few coveys of Hungarian partridge. Sharing the hunts with these dear friends and our family is a blessing. The fact that we got into birds was only icing on an already delicious cake. Wyatt loved being with the “big boys” and couldn’t have been happier when Kayci retrieved the birds to him. We flushed a good flock of sharp tails towards Jody and his nephew, both excellent shots, who dropped five out of the bunch. Our family resumed the “cast” portion of our trip, hooking up with Flathead Lake Charters on Flathead Lake in Bigfork, MT. Despite not arriving during an optimal time of the year, dismal weather, and choppy surface conditions, the crew got us out and into some incredible Lake Trout fishing. Emily and I each caught trout in excess of 2 feet long and had a wonderful time. We took turns entertaining and holding Wyatt within the cabin while the other braved occasional rain squalls, hooking and landing huge trout. A few days later we joined up with First Cast Outfitters based out of Craig, MT to fly fish the Land of the Giants portion of the Missouri River. We couldn’t have asked for a better day. The wind had stopped and the river’s surface spectacularly mirrored the the surrounding cliffs and scenery. The fly fishing was incredible. Wild rainbows and huge brown trout lurked in the pristine water and acted as though they were starving. Early in the trip, Emily hooked into a beast brown. When she finally managed to bring it near the boat it rolled on the surface, looking to be nearly all of 30 inches or better, and dove again for the depths of the river having no further patience for the game. The huge brown snapped the tippet without slowing and continued on its merry way with the latest in streamer fly apparel firmly imbedded in its upper lip. Throughout the day, Wyatt was taking in the whole experience and even caught a nap in the belly of the boat without a single one-year old meltdown. Our guide hauled us ashore for a delightful streamside lunch and then we resumed our journey drifting through the Land of the Giants. We were awestruck by the spectacular scenery. The guide service was competent, courteous, and amazingly accommodating with a one year old. The fishing, incredible! We spent a glorious day on the river together, taking it all in. This year’s Cast and Blast was the best I’ve had and I hope to make each coming trip even better. I love experiencing it all as a family and making memories our children will treasure for the rest of their lives, as I have treasured the moments and memories family and friends have shared with me throughout my life. The memories from my childhood and young adult life have become even more precious to me with the passing of the seasons and the passing of traditions, shared experiences, and lessons to my family, sons, and next generation. Nothing is finer. March 2018 | SPORTSMAN’S NEWS
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