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A Ten Year Old Texas Legend

I was very lucky as child, I got to go on so many adventures that I often felt like a modern day Huck Finn. One of the largest contributing factors to these adventures, was my Mother. Her job and the nature of it frequently took her to some wild places, and whenever possible, she would let me or one of my siblings tag along. She was a brave Mother, not just for allowing us the freedom to roam, but allowing us near her employment.

A nice carp I shot with my Dad’s old fishing bow.

Whether it was driving boats along a three day journey up the amazing Lake Powell in Southern Utah, or a weekend watching movies in a ski lodge in the high Rocky Mountains, we always had fun with Mom.

One of these trips yielded me a whopper of a fishing story, and unlike all the other whoppers you’ve heard, this one is completely true!
It was back in the eighties if I recall, in South East Texas. A beautiful lake named assumedly after the nearby town of Conroe. My Mom had allowed me to come along on a work trip, and while she was busy working through the details of resort management, I was busy trying to get a fish on my line. The lake shore came right up near the back of the condominium where we were staying, and there was sort of a wooded boardwalk along the edges covered by trees.

Now keep in mind, though I was but a pre-teen fishing geek with knee-high socks, I was a fishing legend amongst my peers. Despite my young countenance, I had read many books, and some of Dad’s bass fishing magazines, and I knew the kind of monster fish that lurked in the warm and muddy waters of the south.
I could hardly wait to get my bag carelessly tossed into the room, and snap my Zebco rig together so I could get deep into the fishing. I wasted no time getting to the water’s edge.

After several hours, things were not going as planned.
For the first time in my fishing career, I was dumfounded. It was as if these haughty Texas fish didn’t know who they were dealing with. I tried all my old tricks, the things that made me a legend among the channel catfish at Lake Powell. To this day, those fish associate the muddled sound of my voice with hot dogs and warm anchovies, and they come running.
None of that seemed to matter at Lake Conroe though, all I wanted was to hook into a big, ugly, monster catfish. And even for all my wishing, and my stellar career in fishing, I found myself sitting on the edge of the boardwalk, watching families feed the disheveled ducks who looked like they’d escaped a homeless shelter. Not a single fish to my name, I too looked like a confused duck sitting in the hot Texas sun.

I have never been one to get skunked fishing, there are few things I hate more. So I doubled down my efforts, and kept after it. And just a few moments later, something happened that I myself wouldn’t believe had I not been there.

As I sat there, rod in one hand, and bait in the other, I watched as the ducks continued to feed on the bread they had been tossed. The murky water stirred by the impatient kicking of their feet, but there was something else there, my fishermans eyes saw it. And it took my mind a few moments to catch up.
There, only a few feet away from my rod tip, there was something lurking just under the surface, my eyes squinted as I tried to focus on two dark shapes. Time slowed, the dark shapes I was so focused on were infact the eyes of a slipery leviathan. His skin was almost the same color as the muddy water, and as my jaw dropped slowly to the ground, I witnessed him gulp down a chunk of floating bread. Both the homeless ducks and I jumped when we realized what was swimming amongst us, though the excited stain left in the water was mostly from them.

I was imediately terrified of the pressure of the situation I now faced, my whole life had led up to this point. Every fish I had ever caught was just a warmup, for now, feeding right before me, there was a true monster. A fish so big he could fit my He-Man lunch box in his mouth, and a whole ham sandwhich was just the bait I needed.

As sweat ran down my face, I quickly baited my hook with a healthy wad of bread. Then shewing the ducks away, I gently set the bait on the murky water. I knew it would only be a few seconds until he returned to the surface, to inhale another gallon of bread laden water.

I mentioned I had a Zebco right? Just like every other kid. Probably had some junk six or eight pound line on it, tied at the end was a crumy hook with dried catfish bait on it, tied with a kid’s knot. And of course a bobber, you couldn’t fish in the eighties without a bobber, that was required equipment by Fish & Game.

Well luck was not with me, my bait had sunken out of sight, and I sat there watching that bobber like as though the earths continued existence depended on it. At long last, a tiny ripple, and then the bobber dipped out of sight pulling away from me. Not being a rookie, I let him have it, better for him to think he got the better of me. After a moment or so, my line began to tighten, and like a seasoned pro, I pulled the hook right into his lip.

I couldn’t have fathomed that my high performance professional grade Zebco would fail me, but just as I felt the weight of the fish come on to my rod, the line broke. The limp and curly line lay there on the water lifeless.
I was in shock, I couldn’t believe that the biggest fish Id ever seen, had just skunked me harder than I even knew you could get skunked. I sat there in the evening sun, filled with disbelief, thinking about my escaped trophy.

I was feeling a lot like Chief Brody in the movie Jaws, and just like in that scene in the movie, I suddenly noticed my bobber out in the water. At first I thought it had come free, but then I saw it disappear under the water again. Several times I saw it surface and go under, and it was moving against the wind.

I decided I wasn’t going to be skunked after all, and I devised a plan. I searched out a rock of the appropriate size, and I tied it to the end of my line. The plan was to cast past the bobber, hoping to entangle it with the rock and line, then retreive my monster. I knew it was a long shot, but this was the ninth inning here and I had to do something.

One cast after another until I finally landed the rock just past the bobber, I let it sink hoping to cross the line beneath. And to my delight, I felt and saw the bobber move as I reeled it in. But was my monster cat still there?

I felt some resistance, but it was nothing like a big cat would pull. I figured he had gotten off, perhaps tangling the line in something. So I reeled the line all the way in, and when I finally had the bobber in my hand, I lifted on the line below it. There was still something there, but it was no monster cat.
At the end of my line, was a little baby ham sammich eatin bullhead catfish. Maybe eight inches long, and growling up a storm like catfish do.
I kinda chuckled a little at the situation, I had gotten my tackle back, and I was no longer skunked, my reputation and honor intact. But the growling little catfish seemed to be laughing at me, but the joke was on him because I eat catfish.

But not that day, I let the little guy go. I dont remember much else from that trip, but these old stories about ham sammich eating monsters are what keep us comming back to our favorite fishing holes. And maybe thats better than catching em anyways.


Operation Quarter Lord, the 25 Creedmoor

I suppose you could say I’ve come full circle, I started this game with a .25 caliber rifle, and after many many years I have a new one. I learned much with that first rifle, a Ruger M77 in 25-06, I still have it, and I dont think I’ll ever get rid of it.

My love for the 1/4 bore was cut short, by the lack of high Ballistic Coefficient bullets. There is a good assortment of 115-120 grain bullets, but many of them peeter out long before my then goal of one thousand yards. So despite claiming many of my first’s, the 25-06 went to the back of the safe.
In the defiance of time, I always had a 1/4” hole in my soul. Turns out that I wasn’t alone, and some folks with impressive math skills finally saddled the long range quarter-horse. Black Jack Bullets is a new manufacturer with a specialty in high BC 25’s.
As soon as I had spoken with Miles and Logan, I was convinced that my old love of the 25 needed to be rekindled. I almost immediately started Operation Quarter Lord, my goal; a .257 rifle that I could build light, and haul all over these Rocky Mountains to take antelope, deer, and even elk.
Due to the piles of 6.5 Creedmoor brass I had laying around, I decided to go with the 25 Creedmoor. I wanted to stay with a mag fed short action, and with Black Jack’s new high BC bullet (.330G7) it would outperform even the heaviest 6.5 Creedmoor loads.


The project came together very quickly, parts started arriving, and my gunsmith took minimal arm twisting to spin it up. We started with a Tikka T3 action, then added an X-Caliber .25 caliber, seven twist blank. Cut to finish at twenty two inches, because I dont like long rifles. All that was left, was a chassis system. I have always been a big fan of KRG, so I took this opportunity to get hands on their new Bravo chassis, it’s rigid and intuitive design was a perfect fit for this project that I wanted to keep light, but tight. Everything was cut, chambered threaded, and finished at ES Tactical, Eric does great work, and Im beginning to lose track of how many barrels of his I have.

With a twenty MOA scope base mounted on the Tikka, I mounted up my new scope, the RTS Mod 5 6-24X50 from Riton Optics. You can read more about the scope here: Riton RTS Mod5.
For rings I went with Aadland Engineering thirty milimeter HD rings, Mr. Aadland makes top notch mounts and I’ve always loved the quality.

Now that I had the rifle basically built, it was time to start manufacturing the top fueled cartridges that would make the Xcaliber hum. I started fireforming the Alpha Munitions 6.5 Creedmoor brass. I considered myself lucky to have such high quality components available. Alpha makes probably the best brass money can buy, and their small rifle primer brass was perfect for this high pressure project. To make the 25 Creedmoor brass, I swapped my Redding 6.5 Creedmoor die’s bushing out for a .281. Then I would run the lubed neck over a .257 expander ball. I was amazed at how consistent the Alpha brass was, seating depths were extremely uniform due to the constant neck tension. Looking back, I’d probably go with a .282 bushing, to work the brass less.

I also tried several other brass manufacturers, just for the sake of science. I made 25 Creedmoor brass out of Hornady, Lapua (SP), Federal, and Petersen. As you might imagine, the Federal and Hornady had some pressure issues and stiff extraction with the hottest loads. Even the Petersen was a little sticky, but the small primer cases won the day for sure. Both Lapua and Alpha had zero stiff extraction, but the Alpha took a smidge more powder. This allowed for a non compressed load, with the best velocity, and no pressure related problems. Alpha is definitely the way to go.

With both bullets and brass so rare, I was very slow and methodical in my loading. The long pointed tips of the 131 Ace seemed to fit just fine in my 6.5 seating die, and despite their long nose, they still fit the AI mag. I seated the bullets twenty thousandths off the lands, and charged the cases with 42.7 grains of Hodgdon H4350.

Hornady 120 HP’s were used for fire forming

The chronoed loads with the 131 Blackjacks averaged 2930fps, with single digit SD numbers. The groups fired were easily 1/2 MOA, and if I wasn’t so terrible at shooting groups, they’d likely cut in half. The X caliber barrel obviously was a big part of the accuracy, which wasn’t a surprise to me as the other X caliber’s I have shot were also very accurate. And even though we cut it at 22 inches the velocity was right where I had hoped it would be.

L to R: .25 Ace131, 6.5 Barnes 140, 6.5 Berger 140, 6.5 Hornady 140

The main appeal of the Ace 131 is obviously the BC, which is advertised at .330(G7), I have found that number to be fairly conservative.
Unlike many manufacturers, Blackjack must not inflate their data. After punching in all the data to various ballistic engines, I was consistently shooting over targets by a minute or two. The only way to compensate for it was to true up the BC to a slightly higher number. Once I did that, my Trasol program was predicting the bullet path close enough to make cold bore hits on 1-2MOA targets at 575,840, and 1057, each with a follow up confirmation hit. All this in a very switchy wind as a storm came in, the Ace didnt seem to mind. With my average DA here in the high desert, the Ace should stay supersonic to almost a mile.

My next project for this rifle is hunting season, which is only a few days away. I might make it easier on Junior by just taking the one rifle for both of us, and any deer within half a mile would be foolish to show his tines. With a trajectory nearly as flat as my 7SAUM shooting 183 Sierra Match Kings, but the tender recoil of a Creedmoor, I cant imagine a sweeter little deer rifle. And first chance I get I’ll put it up against wild Wyoming’s pronghorn as well, but the likely precursor will be Rocky Mountain Elk.

My very first elk fell to a single shot from that old 25-06, and with the added power and accuracy of the Blackjack Ace 131 I am very confident both Junior and I can pull it off again.

Im a hunter at heart, so thats where I always turn towards. But the 25 Creedmoor would really shine in a competition setup. With its light recoil, super flat trajectory, and great accuracy, it would stand ahead of most of it’s 6.5 competitors.

This project is still very fresh, so I will continue to update this post with new information as I get it. There will be acompanying youtube videos soon, on both the rifle and its components. Follow my social media pages for frequent updates, and for answers to your questions. And follow the links here in the article to get to those mentioned.


Edited to add:

The video

So far in the fall/winter season of 2018, we have managed to kill three mule deer with the 25 Creedmoor, and two elk. Shots varied from 220yds, 500yds, and 600yds on the deer. And both elk were shot right at 300 yds with a neck shot.

US Optics B25

The craziness of youth has somewhat subsided in me, I used to haul all kinds of garbage with me all over the mountains. To some degree I still do, but the wisdom that comes with age has also taught me when to say enough. There was a time when I would carry in my pack a days worth of snacks, water, lots of ammo, shooting mat, tools and who knows how many other things. All this for a quick couple hour hike around the steep Rocky Mountains that tower over the valley I call home, the Scout motto was never lost on me. Perhaps it was experience that assuaged the contents of my backpack, maybe it was the tired back and legs that carried all my gear that convinced me to lighten up. But like it always does, it seems that technology has snuck in and played a big part in lightening the load. Good gear tends to be heavy, light good gear tends to be expensive, today I want to discuss how I have applied all this to my backcountry recreating.

Many of you may remember that for quite some time I carried a US Optics ER-25 scope, it was a spectacular optic. It carried almost every option I could have dreamed up when I first got into this business, and it was tougher than I could have ever imagined. US Optics scopes are famous for their robust construction, and they stand up to abuse that would make a safe queen owner toss their lunch. Hardly a gimmick, I can attest that my USO took several spills, many of which I thought for sure would end up costing me money, a trip back to the factory, and some serious downtime. But to my surprise and delight, my scope never lost zero, or required re calibration. Even falling onto concrete mounted to a twenty pound rifle landing on the scope itself wasn’t enough to damage the scope beyond a few dings.

A young buck seen through the B25 and Gen2 XR Reticle

With experience like that, countless trips into the wild, constantly dialing and working the scope, you might imagine my discomposure when I first saw and lusted over US Optics new line of scopes. The B series of scopes have what I would consider smooth and more modern lines, I know that some people don’t care about looks, but I am a sucker for performance when it meets precision and beauty. When I first got my hands on one, I couldn’t help but be impressed. Clean and bright were the images I saw through the glass, and the always ample selection of reticles leaves no excuse to even the pickiest of reticle snobs. Simple and strong turrets, with improved features like locks, and a quick tooless rezero for the elevation only increased my desire to run these scopes through the paces of my alpine shooting adventures. But one of the significant improvements of the B series of scope was the weight. The robustness of US Optics scopes has always translated into significant weight, something I was okay with because I knew it going in. The B 25 weighs six ounces less than my old ER 25, yet boasts all these improvements. The scope may feel light because I’m used to something heavier, but it sure felt like a bonus to me.

Giving up weight isn’t a bad thing, as long as you don’t loose the benefits of strength and durability. Which the B25 certainly seems to have retained. I still wouldn’t say I am anywhere near having a lightweight rig, but it still goes with me everywhere. Reducing the weight certainly helps, but having what some might call excessive scope can pay huge dividends in these mountains. Glassing a nice buck from a mile away usually requires a spotting scope, and a good one too. And while I wouldn’t compare a riflescope to a good spotter, I don’t have to worry about carrying them both.

The EREK 2 Turret Lock

The B25 is very clear, regardless of magnification I found my eye was quite comfortable focusing on my target, and the parallax adjustment made both downrange and reticle very clean. Any scope looses much of its brightness as you zoom in, but even at dusk I had no problem seeing and holding perfectly on very distant deer. It was also very handy in picking out Marmots from their hides in and around the boulders.

The new EREK 2 elevation turret is one of my favorite features of the scopes. The turret has a lock ring that you simply pull up on, and it engages the turret keeping it from being rotated. I like the idea a lot more than the pull-up/push-down turrets, it seems like a much stronger design, and less likely to be damaged or messed with. The turret lock is also used when re-zeroing the scope (see video below). The EREK 2 turret has a tool-less zeroing feature that allows you with your bare hands to quickly reset your scope’s zero, I found this feature incredibly useful. On any given day, my density altitude can vary from 4000 ft up to 11,000 ft depending on atmospheric conditions. With drastic changes like that, its nice to be able to quickly adjust my zero, without needing to break out my tool bag. The windage turret also locks, it is much simpler, and of the push pull design. I have no problem with that since I rarely dial wind, due to its fickle and switchy nature.

With so many options today, there is literally something for everybody. The new lighter weight of the B25 is a great excuse to re-scope my rifle, as I have become quite accustomed to having more scope than some would deem needed. I think there is plenty of room for larger tactical style optics in the hunting realm, obviously they will only appeal to those willing to carry it. I for one have seen the value of these scopes, and the advantage they give me.

I hit the field with the B25 in earnest, after some range time which consisted of a couple rifles chambered in 308win, 300wm, and also a big one chambered in 408 Cheytac. I figured if the big calibers didn’t hurt the B25, then surely my SR A1 Covert wouldn’t do it any harm. Most of my shooting was using my little Short Action Customs 223 Remington barrrel, but I also shot 6.5CM, 308win, and 338LM with it. Again, the quick re-zeroing of the turrets made these transitions very easy. The high magnification of the scope was also very handy when trying to shoot tiny groups on paper, something I am not very good at, so I avoid it whenever possible. It also proved valuable when shooting at distances beyond what most routine shots are taken at, I managed to shoot an 18 inchish group at 1133yds with my little 223. Through the clear 25X I could see my trace coming down on the target, and the impacts and voids left by my bullets. Switching from one target to another I dialed back and forth, the audible clicks were also crisp, allowing me to count them even if I wasn’t looking up at the turret. I also noticed the magnification ring was not as stiff as many other scopes I have used, I don’t think a cattail would be needed on these scopes but for serious competition.

Too much scope? Never!

Shooting with this scope felt like a chat with an old friend, everything where it was and as it should be. Dope lined up meticulously where I expected it to, and nothing ever surprised me. I found it difficult to find a downside to the B25. Of course for a scope mounted to a mountain rifle such as mine, you could always wish for something lighter, or more compact. But I fear until new manufacturing and materials become available, it will be hard to make them much lighter, or smaller. But I am sure that when it happens, companies like US Optics will be the first to bring them to market.


Yankee Hill Machine Resonator 30 Cal.


A long time ago, on a dry desert plain, the boys and I were shooting at a distant prairie dog town.

We all ran muzzle brakes at the time, because who wants recoil? Spotting your own hits is always handy sure, but muzzle brakes require good hearing protection. This lead to a firing line of yelling back and forth because we were all to cheap to buy electronic hearing protection. It didn’t take me long to see the value of a good suppressor.

unrepentantly stolen from


My first can (as they are commonly referred to) was a Yankee Hill Machine, it was a YHM Phantom that graced my muzzle. And I still use it frequently to this day.

I never looked back after that, it seemed almost ridiculous to shoot without suppression anymore. It didn’t take long for my shooting buddies to catch on, and soon we were all running quite a spread of suppressors. After multiple begrudging transactions with the ATF, I’ve got cans to outfit everything from rimfires up to forty-fives. I cant seem to get enough of them, like most people, once I shot suppressed I never wanted anything more.

The new Resonator from Yankee Hill Machine just happened to cross my path recently, and much like it’s little brother the Turbo 5.56 I was immediately hooked. The Resonator is a QD mount suppressor, it threads onto a muzzle brake that is attached to the muzzle. It is quickly spun on, and held captive by a spring loaded ratchet to keep it from coming loose under fire. The gas is sealed by a conical shoulder on the brake, keeping carbon buildup away from the threads. The construction of the Resonator is stainless steel and inconel, and again like the smaller Turbo, the simple structure makes the can both light and cost effective.

The muzzle brake comes with the Resonator, but there are an assortment of brakes and thread pitches available from YHM allowing you to purchase extras to fit any applicable hosts.

I started out shooting the Resonator on a Desert Tech SRS A1 Covert, the rifle was currently setup with a 308 barrel. But I could have dropped in a 300WM barrel as well, the Resonator is rated for up to 300RUM.
Suppressors almost always add a point of impact shift, its almost impossible to add weight and length to the barrel without doing so. The Resonator was no different, I re-zeroed the rifle, which was now hitting several inches high at 100yds after installing the YHM. Shooting the sixteen inch 308 was much more pleasant with a suppressor on the end, and as usual the rifle seamed to shoot better suppressed. The added weight of the can, and the buffering of the report I feel are both beneficial to accuracy.

I also tried the Resonator on a Desert Tech MDR, a short stroke piston 308 auto-loader. The Resonator worked great on the rifle, keeping recoil and noise down to a reasonable level. And the YHM 4302 brake did an OK job at mitigating the recoil all by itself. Any time you put a can on a gas operated semi auto, you’ll find more gas coming out of the rifle, turning the gas settings down on the rifle made it quite tolerable.

Many times I went back and forth from rifle to rifle, letting it cool down to keep from burning myself, I couldn’t find anything about the Resonator to complain about. Sure, you can always say they should be lighter, that’s a given. But the Resonator 30 at 16 ounces is still quite light considering the price point of its competitors. I suppose if I had one request to the folks at YHM, it could be a direct thread option of the resonator. That would probably make a few precision rifle shooters happy, and maybe dip the price point a little further, who knows…

The Resonator is a great option I think for anyone looking to get into the class III market. It would work great on any AR variant, small or large frame. It works great as a companion to a precision rifle too, the price point of the Resonator makes it ideal as a first can, or as another one to add to your NFA collection. Go to for more info.



And of course, here is a video:

High Tech Hunting

Has technology pushed back the goal posts in hunting?

I can remember, not too long ago, when shooting a deer from a distance like 600yds or more would get you raked over the coals by the general hunting public. I remember telling my own Father about my aspirations of hitting targets at 1000 yards, and hearing his skepticism. I remember a well known gunsmith telling me that it was silly to twist a .223 Remington barrel for 75 grain bullets and higher. “Everything else peeters out past six or seven hundred yards” I told him. Again, came the refrain; “you cant shoot that far.” 
Like Ralphie, in the famous Christmas Story, I felt like nobody understood my dream. Nobody could see what I saw in my mind. But there was a wave coming, and it was fueled by science, technology, and at least in my case, a quest for ballistic perfection.

Don’t get me wrong here, its not that I simply wanted to kill something from as far away as possible, that could be borderline recklessness. What I wanted was something more, I wanted to build a rifle or rifles that would make me unstoppable at hitting small targets at distances like half a mile or more. And to that end the ability, if needed, to take my game wherever it presented itself be it near or far. It’s easy now, to see my former folly. I had focused so hard on equipment, and failed to see my part as a marksman that is equally important. Thankfully, these Rocky Mountains are a great educator. In today’s hardware driven market, it is hard not to fall for the sales pitch of this rifle will make you a sniper. Many of the best manufactures sell more than just hardware, they sell you training to go with it. Dont be a fool thinking that your wallet will make up for your aspirations.

You can buy accuracy to a degree, but you cant buy skill.

There is so much more to making a good shot, than just the hardware. Skill is equally important, perhaps more so. “Its the Indian, not the arrow” many people say. You can put a good rifle in the hands of a skilled marksman, and he will deal deadly force against anything within range. But even the finest precision rifle in the unwashed hands of a novice may be useless beyond its point blank aiming radius.

I should move on from the generalizations and get down to real information we can use. The foundations of a good shot are anchored firmly on several things, I dont claim any kind of authority or prestige, so I’ll just throw em out there in the order I see em.

  • A properly built and accurate rifle, capable of  Minute of Angle (MOA) accuracy
  • A properly trained marksman, who can yield at least MOA accuracy in expected conditions
  • Ammunition matched to the rifle providing at least MOA accuracy

MOA is a good start, but ideally you should strive for much better

If you cover those three basic pillars, you are well on your way. But all three of them have been around for at least half a century, so why has it taken so long to break these time cemented barriers that I mentioned above? I think part of it is human nature, and conservative thinking.
If you cover these bases, all it takes is a little pinch of science and a dash of high tech equipment to shatter the barriers that once congested both minds and ranges.

Now lets talk a little bit about hunting. As I outlined in my last piece, killing an animal, is about placing enough energy in the right spot. To me, that is what accuracy is all about, being able to hit my target exactly where I want to. The capacity to place a shot accurately should be the main determining factor in a hunter’s killing radius. If two hundred yards is as far as you can shoot accurately, then you would be imprudent to shoot beyond that.
Now we have come back to my original point, which was people looking down their noses at long range shooting, and long range hunting in particular. Shooting animals at long range distances is a taboo subject, mainly because people have either shot beyond their accuracy envelope, or watched someone else do it, and experienced poor results (wounded/unrecovered animals). Nobody likes seeing things like that happen, so most will shy away from questionable shots, which is a safe and conservative choice.

And so it was for the better part of the twentieth century, few dared to push the limits, mostly those in competition or LE/Mil circles. But to the average shooter, and particularly the hunter, the subject remained taboo and legend.
The advent of technology has brought a miriad of supplies to the industry, this has allowed everyone, even rednecks like me the ability to crash through the taboo with impressive impacts.
Some of these technological advances are worth pointing out, in no particular order:

  • Better bullets with higher Ballistic Coefficients allowing the bullets to cheat wind and resistance, keeping them on track further.
  • Better propellants, giving higher velocities, more stable and efficient burns.
  • Compact, accurate, and affordable laser rangefinders, allowing marksmen to extract the data they require to make proper predictions.
  • Precise and accurate telescopic sights, to adjust their shots according to data with exactness.
  • Reticles that allow precise measurements and wind holds.
  • Chronographs, Doppler radar, and other bullet flight testing equipment.
  • Ballistic computers, inexpensive and incredibly valuable for predictions.
  • Handheld Weather Stations, giving exact local atmospheric data.

All of these tools, as well as others have not only become available to the average shooter, but they are affordable, and fit in a pocket. The science of shooting has also progressed greatly, even in the short time I have been following it. And again, it is all available right at your fingertips.
So it seems no small wonder then, that what once seemed nearly impossible, is now commonplace. Even as little as twenty years ago, who would shoot at something so far away that a guess could be off by hundreds of yards? And the target could barely be made out in your 3X9 scope? And even if you doped the wind right, and managed the correct holdover, your bullet may have run completely out of energy before it gets there.
These high tech gadgets have given us the tools to cross all those T’s and dot all the i’s. Now you hear about it at every end of the internet, on hunting forums and Facebook pages.
Which begs the question; Are we now living in a post short-range world? And is taking those long shots any more irresponsible with the help of today’s technology? I guess that depends on how you look at it. I have heard both sides of the argument for some time, and I have yet to find a compelling argument against this new anomaly as long as one does his due diligence. For starters, anybody can make a poor shot on an animal. If you hunt long enough, you will eventually make a bad shot, we’ve all seen it. Whether its caused by buck fever, lack of experience, weather conditions, equipment failure, or any one of a million other things that people can blame it on rightly or wrongfully. I’m not making an excuse for it, nor am I defending it, it just happens. I would go as far as to say that more animals are wounded and go unrecovered at close range, than at long range. Simply due to the numbers, the majority of hunters probably never shoot beyond 400 yards. Hitch that to their hit a paper plate at 100yds mindset, and you can count on some animals going unrecovered or lost.

We’ve seen people miss easy and simple shots, as well as make incredible and amazing shots. I’ve said it before, a good shot should be no surprise to a marksman, it should be expected after much practice and experience making same or similar shots in the same conditions and circumstances regardless of range.
We know what it takes to make a good shot, we outlined that above. Making a good shot is the same whether you are shooting 200 yards or 800 yards, the difference of course is the variables that come into play. For example, the wind at 200 yards is much less a factor than it is at 800 yards. What might only blow your bullet off course by an inch or so up close, may blow you completely off target at the further distance. Also, at 800 yards, one MOA is eight plus inches, which is why sub MOA is a much better goal.

As long as one considers all the additional variables and their consequence, they can be mitigated and overcome.
Unless they cant be, what I mean by that is the further away your target the more downrange forces that simply cannot be anticipated unless you have forward observers or other assistance. And the further out the target, the more of these variables you have to worry about. Perhaps someday soon, technology will cover that as well.
Conditions will always dictate what you can and cant do, if it is a dead calm morning, you might be able to pull off something incredible. But if it is a switch wind breezy afternoon for example, it would be a wise choice to keep within your known envelope. A wise shooter, will always keep within his known realm of proficiency. But an even wiser shooter will recognize that his realm changes with atmosphere and weather. Keeping your finger in the air like a weak a politician, and paying close attention to what is happening around you, will go a long way towards letting you know when to shoot, or more importantly when not to shoot.

The ethics of long range hunting will be debated forever. There are those who think taking long shots will always be reckless, and there are those who are willing to take a long hard look at the data, make their calculations, and either take the shot, or choose another course of action.

Those who claim moral high ground, saying long range shots are unethical will always abound. But the truth is this; Not taking long range shots does not necessarily make you an ethical hunter, but staying inside your limits does. For some people, that limit may be four hundred yards, for others it might be twelve hundred yards. It is up to each individual to figure that out, and prove it to themselves repeatedly long before an animal falls in their crosshair.

I dont hold anything against those who dislike long range shots, they are entitled to their opinion. But the irritating part of the debate comes when someone tells me (or anyone else) that you shouldn’t do that, simply because they cant do it. They love to make insults like; that’s not really hunting, or real hunters get closer. And it occasionally comes from people who hunt from a shoot house, with a Keurig and heater, overlooking senderos strewn with corn feeders on land so flat you cant see more than a hundred yards without jackin up the shoot house. Its really an ignorant position to take, particularly when you don’t know someone else’s skill-set or practices.
Just because a person can make a long shot, doesn’t mean they cant stalk into arrow range of an animal. There was a time where big bore muskets were used to shoot deer at what we today would consider archery range, should we go back in the name of purity? Would our ancestors look down their noses at our modern equipment thinking there is no challenge? It was the push for innovation that took us from those ancient smooth bores and stick bows to the rifle and/or bow you hunt with today.

Another problem with this way of thinking is that it is a never ending slippery slope. Long range hunting < spot and stalking < archery stalking < spear hunting < knife hunting < teeth and hands < etc. < etc. Where does it end? Are we so dedicated to our own ideal of hunting that we would deny another’s? Surely if a stalk into bow range is your thing, with wooden arrows and handmade broadheads, who am I to stop you? Despite having seen many wounded animals with arrows still in them, I wouldn’t argue that archery is unethical, nor would I want to keep people from doing it.
That leads me to my last point.
The worst thing that we hunters can do as a group, is to fracture off into different tribes pitted against each other. The anti hunting movement is growing wildly, everywhere you look there are people trying to take away our ability to hunt and fish the way we enjoy. We as a group need to stand together more than ever, for divided we will surely lose.
I used to be infuriated by the mass hordes of hunters that would flood my favorite hunting spots. It drove me nuts that they didn’t understand my plan, and walked right through my hunt. As years have passed, and age has toned my opinions, I have changed my attitude. Those hordes have just as much right to be there as I do, and I would rather it be other hunters interfearing in my hunt than protesters.

Instead, I have evolved as a hunter. I now welcome these large groups of bush beaters, and like the predator that I am, I simply await the inevitable, like a hawk kiting in the sky. Instead of trying to beat them through the forest, and beat them to the stalk, I await the escaping game from a position where my skill allows me an advantage over the hordes. An advantage I intend to keep.

Technology and necessity have indeed pushed back the goal posts in todays hunt. I see nothing wrong with it, provided marksmen respect their prey enough to become swift and lethal, and stay within their known limits.