Category Archives: hunting

A Solid Season: hunting with Cayuga solid Bullets

You may have seen me talk about Cayuga solid copper hunting bullets before, but today we are going to go in a little deeper into these very high quality bullets from Patriot Valley Arms. I have always been a match bullet shooter, for targets or game. I suppose I didn’t know what I was missing out on with these solid match-grade projectiles.


What’s so Special about solid bullets?

If you’ve never looked into these or any other solid bullets, let me explain why they perform so well.
Cayuga’s are turned on a CNC Lathe from a solid bar of copper, this precise fabrication allows consistency and concentricity to be perfectly matched from one bullet to the next. So for one they are more consistent than jacketed bullets, even the open-tips are perfectly uniform. But there is still more to it. Solid copper bullets are lighter than jacketed bullets of comparable size, for example the 7mm 170 Cayuga is about the same size as a 7mm 195 jacketed bullet. The design of the Cayuga gives it a superior Ballistic Coefficient, (A mathematical score of the bullets efficiency in flight) This high BC gives the Cayuga it’s better than average flight characteristics for long-range shooting. The efficiencies of the BC also allow the bullet to cheat some of the effects of wind, high BC bullets like the Cayuga are affected less by wind as they fly through it on their way to the target.

An average 5-shot group. Accuracy comes standard with these bullets.

But there is still more:
The lighter weight of the Cayuga bullets when compared to jacketed bullets means that they can be shot even faster. So not only are they more consistent, and high BC, but by increasing the muzzle velocity you can further increase the energy they carry and the range to which they are effective. And higher speed means they will arrive at the target faster, giving the wind less time to affect their flight path.

The owner of PVA and I have been talking for years about everything from terminal ballistics to airplanes, Josh is a bit of a mad scientist crossed with a pitbull who doesn’t let go.

A couple years back, he sent me some of his first Cayuga solid bullets, they were the 122 grain 6.5 Cayugas. We used them to take down a pair of cow elk from 475 and 520 yards from a 24″ 6.5 Creedmoor, both of them dropped in their tracks never to move again. Watch the video here

Last year, I tried the 6mm flavor of Cayuga bullets, they came in at 100 grains. We again used them to take down a couple small mule deer bucks, though taking them down from 680 and 1000 yards is no small feat for a little 6mm. Both bucks went straight down, and never got back up. The Cayuga’s fired from my 24″ 6MM GT were extremely accurate and very impressive.

This year, I wanted to get even more data on the Cayuga’s as a hunting bullet. We had plenty of ballistic data on how they fly and such, but more terminal data was needed to better illustrate the benefits of these bullets as a hunting projectile. So we loaded them up in a few different calibers to see just how many animals we could kill with the Cayuga.
First up was my son Leo’s antelope hunt. Since the GT performed so well last year, I thought we’d give it another chance. And 6mm’s are great for antelope hunts on the open prairie.
You can read the whole story here, but the salient facts are these; We took two mature doe pronghorn antelope from six hundred-ish yards, and the 100 grain Cayuga did an excellent job of dispatching the animals.

One reason I like using cartridges a little lighter than most, is because I hate loosing meat to bullet damage. The 6mm Cayugas did just the right amount of damage in my estimation, enough to kill the animal clean but not take too much of my delicious meat with it.

The next hunt up was the general season mule deer hunt. We had the whole family hunting with Cayugas solids this season, in 6mm, 6.5, 260 rem, 270 wsm, 7SAUM, and 300WM. Unfortunately we weren’t able to get them all in the right place at the right time, but does it ever work out to plan?

We did manage to take a few deer with the 6.5’s and .260’s though. The first 6.5 shot was on a small buck from a distance of approximately 175 yards, the shot placement wasn’t as good as I would have hoped and he made it about forty yards before laying down to die.
The second one fell to the same 122 grain Cayuga fired from a 16″ .260 Remington owned by my son. He made a quick shot on an escaping buck to drop him right in his tracks, the shot passed through the shoulder, disconnected the coronary plumbing and sailed through the other side. The distance of this shot was three hundred and thirty yards.

My other son put the moves on a small spike using the 6.5 Creedmoor and 122 Cayuga. This little buck was around 300 yards away when he took a Cayuga through his liver. He made it a little farther than I would have liked, but better shot placement is the only fix for that.

The last deer we shot was with the same 6.5 Creedmoor, this time it was my wife’s buck. He thought he had given us the slip, but he didn’t know we were waiting quietly for him to step out.
When he did, we were ready with another 122 grain Cayuga. The shot was just over two hundred yards, and it hit him like a copper train. He jumped a couple times into the brush stumbling around until his feet were in the air.

The Cayuga absolutely wrecked his heart, I’m always surprised to see an animal move at all after an impact like this.

The season wasn’t over just yet, I still had a cow elk tag to get before the end of the year. In the last few days of the season, we were able to close in on a couple cows. And being so short on time I wasn’t going to be picky when the opportunity was presented.
I carried with me that day my SRS M2 again, this time using the 7 SAUM barrel I’ve had for years. In the magazine were handloaded 151 grain Cayugas with a modest muzzle velocity of 3100FPS. I’d shot them with very predictable accuracy beyond one-thousand yards, so I was prepared for about anything.

A young cow elk taken with the 151 Cayuga

As it turns out, the shot presented was only 250 yards away. The elk was quartering away but looking back, the shot impacted the right shoulder passing through both lungs and exited just in front of the left shoulder. She ran a short distance before expiring but the damage of the impact was very apparent as we butchered the animal. I would consider the minimal meat damage to be better than average, which I also consider a big plus.

The destroyed lungs from the elk

As I had anticipated, it has been a season full of bounty. From the very first time I killed an animal with a Cayuga, I had a good feeling that these were essentially bottled-lightning. And after this successful season, I can again confirm that the flight-performance and terminal performance of the Cayuga is outstanding. If you are looking for something to enhance your hunting performance, give them a try.

-CBM

Is .223 good for hunting deer sized game?

Who doesn’t love a good cartridge debate? Whether its sitting around a campfire in the cold autumn woods or typing furiously back and forth on internet forums, we seem to revel in the pros and cons of different approaches to hunting. I’ve sat through several of these types of debates, and have prepared some thoughts for today’s topic; Is a .223 Remington suitable for hunting deer?

The .223 Remington

The 223 has been around for a long time now, and it has seen use in nearly every shooting application people can find. The small case Remington shoots .224 caliber bullets typically in weights between 40 and 75 grains. Though recent bullet developments have broadened that spectrum to include bullets as large as 90 grains as well. Many rifles chambered in .223 Remington feature a 1-9 twist which allows for shooting most bullets that fit in the traditional 40 to 69 grain category. While many of the newer rifles chambered thus utilize faster twists like a 1-8 or 1-7 twist barrel, which allows to shoot seventy-five and eighty grain bullets. The more specialized eighty-plus grain bullets likely need a 1-6.5 twist in order to stabilize the long and heavy for caliber bullets.
The .223 has enjoyed a great deal of attention in the varmint, predator, and small game hunting circles, shooting the typical 50-55 grain bullets it achieves fantastic velocities in the neighborhood of 3200 to 3400 fps depending on load. As bullet weight increases, the velocity decreases generally speaking. But the larger and more efficient bullets often carry their energy better, and further. These heavier bullets are ideal for shooting further, and delivering higher energy on target. (remember that, we’ll come back to it later)

Deer Hunting
Perhaps the oldest and most celebrated hobby of American’s is that of pursuing deer to feed their families. Every year we all prepare with excitement for the annual event, even as I type this there is dried deer blood on the backs of my hand from earlier this morning. The smaller members of the deer family typically pursued by American hunters consist almost entirely of the two most prolific species found in North America; the Mule deer, and the Whitetail deer. Even a large deer of either species can be handily put down if enough energy is put in the right place, countless deer have been killed by a diminutive .22LR to the head. (though I wouldn’t recommend it)

Deer are typically targeted in their vital organs which are mainly the heart, lungs, and liver as a distant third. Deer are certainly not bulletproof, even the meatiest and ‘big-boned’ of deer can be penetrated by modern bullets fired at reasonable velocities. The bone structure surrounding their vital organs can either be perforated by powerful bullet impacts, or circumvented by cunning shot placement. Continue Reading Here…

Seasons Change

Many was the time that I woke up early in the morning, grabbing boots and other gear as I fumbled out the doorway into the winter cold. Though I was not the exceptional scholar my parents had hoped for, I eventually made it to school hours later but not after shooting up a limit of ducks in the muddy marshes near my home. Hunting has always been a passion of mine, but there came a time as a young man that I often chose other things over my beloved waterfowl. Life often has a way of distracting us from passions and responsibilities, and teenage boys seem to catch the lot of it.
Years later I returned to my old ways, and it seems the absence had only increased my passion for the outdoors and being a part of it. A whole generation later, it would seem that my son is in the same haze of youth we all passed through. He has hunted by my side since he was three years old, and even as a toddler he was always excited to do anything that involved the mountains. But the past few years he has been so busy with the life of a teen, friends and other activities to spend much time glassing the mountains with me. It’s natural I suppose that everyone chooses their own path and eventually decides where to focus their efforts and time, but it warmed my heart when several of my kids voiced a desire to spend the hunting season with me in the high country.

My Ridley on one of his first deer hunts.

Despite their busy schedules and school, we managed to spend a few days enjoying the beauty of these Rocky Mountains. My son Ridley shew great interest in tagging along to fish, ride ATV’s, and shoot both pictures with his camera and his little Remington that I put together for him years ago.
Being an astute father with a taste for venison, I had ensured my kids would have at least one tag in their pockets this fall. Just incase the freezer got light. We spent a week in the High Uintas chasing after elk and Brook Trout, we celebrated Ridley’s eighteenth birthday up there at 10,000 feet. I could see the excitement of adventure even through the smug teenage faces he would make, and though getting up early was a challenge he still did it most days.

The country was just too beautiful to not have a good time, even though the elk hunting was pretty high pressure and not successful we still came home happy as could be. And laden with fish for the smoker, to be canned and put into storage for a rainy day.

As the deer hunt quickly approached, we prepared our gear and plotted our plans. Ridley ended up missing the first weekend of the hunt as he participated in his High School mountain bike team final race, which ended up being ok, as I had my hands full with my other son’s first deer. Mid-week Ridley caught back up with us, and he was excited as ever. I could see the competitive desire to outdo his friends who might also be deer hunting with their family.

I have found that consistency is what gets me within striking distance of animals. Not necessarily consistently going to the same place or anything, but consistently working hard to be in the best places I can be as often as I can. Furiously glassing and peering over every blade of grass to take advantage of every opportunity we might get.
Taking new and/or young hunters along is often a roll of the dice. I saw deer and bucks every day of the hunt, but it was often when my “pupils” were busy with something else. I passed more bucks this year than any year prior if I’m not mistaken, hoping they would still be there when I came back with my children.

It was a Tuesday afternoon when Ridley, my wife, and I returned up a canyon draw where I had seen several bucks earlier that morning. I carried my gun because I can’t be without it, but I was really there trying to get both of them on a buck. As we climbed steadily I pointed out a knob on a ridge to Ridley, and explained how I had seen a deer disappear there earlier that day. My hope was that him or any other buck was still hiding out in this little canyon, but when I told Ridley of my hopes he quickly shot down the idea saying “that was three hours ago Dad.” As we carried on up the ridge spine before us, the sun poured down over us making it nearly uncomfortably hot. Only a few hours earlier I sat on this same ridge uncontrollably shivering in the ice cold wind of a storm front, driving snow sideways across the mountains and blanketing the whole of it in white.

The contrast was incredible, but my hope for a buck was still high so we carried on. In a simple stop to catch our breath, everything changed quite rapidly. Incapable of turning off, my eyes peered through my binoculars combing the ridges for the sign of a deer. I froze as I turned and looked behind us, as my eyes made out the obvious outline of a buck laying in his afternoon bed. The same knob that I had indicated to Ridley earlier was now the complete focus of all three sets of our eyes. I was astounded that the young buck had simply laid there and watched while we walked right under him on the opposing ridge, and another set of hunters had followed the same path only a few minutes before us. Yet there he lay, confident in his hide. Obviously he didn’t know who he was dealing with, but he would very soon.

With as little excitement as we could manage, both Ridley and my wife lay their rifles across their backpacks to get the right angle for a shot. I feigned disinterest and avoided looking at him, as he was studying our movement. Ridley was in a good shooting position and watched the buck through his little TS8X riflescope while I helped my wife build a solid shooting position on the steep hillside.
Despite my disinterested attitude and the minimal movement, way up on that knob where the buck lay quietly three-hundred and thirty yards away, I think he was starting to get worried. I often think that deer can feel a rifle bearing down on them, like the all seeing eye of Sauron looking into the heart of whoever wears the ring. And with it comes the accompanying discomfort.
I wasn’t looking his direction when he stood up, but Ridley was on his scope and announced it to the rest of us. I immediately raised my binos to my eyes, and not wanting to lose our opportunity I told him; if he is standing up shoot him. As I said those words he was already starting his press. My wife and I watched through our optics as the first shot broke, and the buck jumped as if startled by the noise. Ridley ran his bolt as I told him he had shot just under him, the deer took a few steps towards the other side of the ridge but he stopped to give us one last look. By then Ridley had already sent a second bullet his way, and this one was perfect. I watched through my binos as the bullet impacted, sending a patch of hair into the air and the buck dropped from sight.

Ridley’s rifle with the Yankee Hill Machine R9 suppressor

We hugged with excitement, and then we quickly made our way up the ridge to the downed buck. I am not one to trust a deer that I can’t see, so we snuck up on the buck who had died almost instantly but looked suspiciously alive. We gave him a moment of reverence, and then spent a few minutes examining what a fine example of a Rocky Mountain mule deer he was. He’d already had a close call during the season, someone had taken a shot at him nicking one of his antlers, but his luck had run out.

Ridley pulled out his knife, a knife my brother had given to him several years ago but he had yet to use it for its intended purpose. As we enjoyed the beautiful afternoon, Ridley did his best to clean the deer and fill his phone up with pictures of it. We didn’t kill any other deer that day, but not for a lack of effort.

I have watched my son grow up, and though he has his own plans it warms my heart to see his success and be a part of it. My greatest hope is that we can continue to share our passions with each other, and if at all possible continue to hunt together for as long as we’re able to. We make a pretty good team.

-CBM


Deer Hunting Heritage

New hunters come into our midst all the time. Much like generations of deer come and go over the seasons, old hunters slowly fade from our camps every year and are replaced by newer and younger faces.
As sad as it is not seeing old friends and loved ones, the new possibilities of teaching the next generation is the only suitable substitute.

One of the newer faces around my fire this year was Leonardo, my wife’s oldest son. His very first hunting adventure happened only a few months ago. He was lucky enough to draw a pair of doe antelope tags, and we made an adventure out of the opportunity. If you haven’t read that story, click here to read it after this one.

After thoroughly enjoying his first big game hunting experience, Leo was even more excited for the mule deer hunt that would follow. We spend a few trips into the mountains during the summer to practice shooting techniques and prepare for what was ahead. Leo is a level-headed kid, responsible and astute. So I was quite confident we would see success as the sun began to rise that cold October morning.

In a stroke of luck, a storm front passed through our mountains in the early hours of opening morning. It brought rain and snow which was a good thing, but it also brought a fierce wind with it as well. Storm fronts like this one typically get the deer out of their hiding spots, and I was hoping to see them as the first rays of light began to cut through the cold and dark clouds.

My little brother, Leo and I hiked noisily up a steep and rocky hillside. Hoping to sneak into a good shooting position on the downwind side of the ridge. I say noisily because the wind blew so hard it pushed us uphill. None of the breaking of sticks or tumbling stones could be heard over the winds howl.
Just as official shooting light arrived, we had crested the peak nine-thousand feet above sea level. We found some solace from the wind, and we were immediately into spotting deer. A small group made their way over the next ridge a mere two-hundred yards away. After confirming that they were our only prospect, we slowly and as quietly as could be given the conditions, made our way towards the ridge they had crossed. Obviously not where they had crossed, but uphill from there hoping to have a better view of them from above.
My brother would stay and cover other vistas while Leo and I pursued the group.

We cautiously crossed over the crest of the ridge, keeping low and looking over the very tips of the brush as we went. I was very surprised to find the deer only a few hundred yards away from us. And I was also concerned as two of the group seemed to already be aware of our presence. I don’t know how, as it was still too noisy to hear us, and the wind carried our scent another direction, but none the less we seemed to be nearly busted on arrival. As I studied the group cautiously through my binoculars, one of the deer was quite conspicuous as he carried a white face and headgear much bonier than the rest. I whispered to Leo that there was a buck watching us, but it seemed as we had the time to get a rifle up and on him. I say seemed because we had been looking at them for over a minute and they still stood there, many of them eating.
As soon as we lifted our eyes back above the brushline however, they had vanished into the thickly wooded canyon below.
As we hiked back towards my brother, I explained to Leo about one of the rules of hunting.
Oftentimes you gotta screw up one opportunity in order to get in the right state of mind for a proper opportunity. So we chalked this one up to our practice run, and we searched out another stalk.

Only a hour or so later, we sat perched on another high point glassing a draw that we had spotted a few does feed across.
Upon closer inspection, we noticed that one of the deer in that opening was a spike. Being his first hunt, Leo was not exactly particular about antlers.
After a few goings on that ended up moving the deer into thicker brush, we spent almost an hour trying to pick him out in the fall colored cover he was hiding in. Even knowing exactly where he was, it was nearly impossible to make him out. I think Leo perhaps felt a little out of sorts not being able to see or make out the deer. But when another hunter spooked him from his hide, he hopped uphill into an opening.
As several of us struggled to keep eyes on the deer, Leo announced that he had him in his scope. Having previously dialed the proper elevation for the three-hundred yard shot, I told him if you’ve got a shot, go a head and take it.

I watched the hillside through my binoculars excitedly waiting to see how it would go. The chamber of Leo’s rifle carried a 122 grain Cayuga solid copper bullet loaded in a 6.5 Creedmoor case. The rifle itself was a Ruger American that he had practiced with earlier that year. On top of the rifle was a US Optics TS25X riflescope that Leo now had centered on the buck across the draw.

When his shot broke, the blast had been tamed by the Yankee Hill Machine Nitro N20. We both watched intently as the bullet cut the distance and hit the deer.
We kept watching him until he went down, where Leo and a friend closed in on him.

From there, we all followed their path to the thorny and burr covered thicket where Leo was already elbow deep in guts. We took pictures and shared congratulations and a hug.

After putting in the work, Leo had his very first buck in hand. We stumbled back down the way we’d come in, dragging the little buck towards our vehicle. I am quite sure that Leo enjoyed his experience and will likely return next season for round two. After hanging the buck in my skinning tree at home, we cleaned him up and made a delicious meal with deer tenderloins as the center-piece. Garden vegetables made it even more delectable.

As Leo and I sat at the table, chewing on the tasty spoils of our days work, I contemplated the conundrum we all find ourselves in. We are destined to spend the first half of our hunting career learning and sharing with familiar old faces of fathers, uncles, and other family and friends. And at some point in our life, it switches to being the familiar old face. I wouldn’t say one is better than the other, I can only hope that someday my children will think back to the old days when I taught them and led them through these steep Rocky Mountains. And with any luck they will harbor the same warm feelings I do remembering the great men who showed them to me.

-CBM

Twice the Experience: Antelope Hunting With the Next Generation

Perhaps one of the greatest experiences I’ve been able to accomplish in my life has been to introduce new hunters to the adventure of the hunting lifestyle. Taking a person on their first hunt is not something I take lightly, everything from ethics to shooting skills are things that I enjoy teaching to anyone willing to learn. My oldest son’s first hunt was quite a milestone for me, as was introducing my wife to deer hunting. Her very first successful hunt was everything I could have hoped for, and ended up giving her a bit of her own excitement for fall. And good friends alike have come along with me for their first hunt. Would the persistent experience of taking new hunters continue to enrich my own experience? Or would every new hunt be a little less rewarding, and more repetitious than the past?

This year again I was given the opportunity to take a special young man on his very first hunt. My wife’s oldest son Leo had expressed a great deal of interest in coming along with us hunting this year. Perhaps due to listening to his mother’s experience from last season. Leo had recently enlisted in the Army when the time was drawing near to apply for hunts in our state, but in the very short holiday break while he was home, he pushed through the hunter safety program online and managed to squeeze into the only class available before he had to report back for a few more months.
With his hunter safety completed and armed with his information, I added him to the same list of hunts that we all apply for every year. One of the many applications was for two doe antelope tags in the great state of Wyoming. This hunt in particular is one of my favorites for new hunters, not because it is easy, but because of many opportunities. New hunters frequently make mistakes, even seasoned hunters do it often. The rolling rugged mountains of southwestern Wyoming are filled with antelope, so many in fact that a guy could screw up over and over and still find another opportunity for a stalk.

Alpha Munitions 6GT brass loaded with 100 gr. Cayuga solid copper bullets make a wicked combo

Leo was excited to go, I’m not sure if he was as excited as I was though. But as the time drew near for the hunt, we prepared for the task I was sure we would be successful in. Plenty of practice was in order before we actually pointed a gun at an Antelope, several guns in fact. We were unsure which rifle was the best fit for him, as he unfortunately identifies as left-handed, and yet preferred to shoot a right-handed gun. We practiced with several rifles, but in the end we decided to go with the SRS M2 chambered in 6 GT. I feel no guilt about spoiling my apprentices with exceptional equipment, and the SRS M2 is certainly that. The 6MM GT cartridges were loaded with Cayuga 100 grain copper solid bullets from Patriot Valley Arms. I have used these bullets in several rifles including this one with excellent results, so I was quite confident it would work well for Leo as well.

Day One
As the sun began to rise that first morning, we were already in place. Overlooking an incredible view of brush-colored valleys and flats, the occasional trail cutting through the brush as well as prairie dog mounds scattered about. Antelope could be seen meandering through different shallow drainages, everything felt right.
We decided to move into some slightly rougher terrain, as the barren flats would offer fewer options to stalk into a shooting position. We searched instead for something with a little more topography and brush, giving us a better opportunity to sneak in.
We passed a large herd of animals, mainly because I knew they had already seen us, and with that many eyes on us we never stood a chance. So we continued searching for a smaller more secluded group, which we found about a half hour later. We sat behind a cedar tree, hiding in its shade while we devised a plan to work down a ridge where we could get a closer shot.
With our best plans made, we grabbed our gear and snuck quietly down the tree line. As we closed the distance we kept checking in with the small group of six or so animals, several of them still lay bedded confirming that they were unaware of our approach. As we reached the point we had planned on shooting from, we made one of the classic hunting blunders. Passing into the open between two trees regardless of how slow and quiet was not the move to make, and before we could get setup to shoot, the antelope leapt from their beds and ran for better than half a mile before looking back.
As we watched them off in the distance, I did the old guy thing where you remind the new guy that it cant be that easy. You gotta work for it, and put in your time and learn your lessons before you win. As we hiked back towards the truck, we discussed our next plan. But before we had gotten to the area we had planned on hunting next, we spotted a couple small groups of animals out grazing on a wide flat near a rainwater accumulation. We talked it over, and decided it was certainly worth a try. So we made our way around a rise that lie between us and the herd. We knew that we were going to be crawling for quite a ways, as the ground was too flat to even duck-walk without presenting a significant profile. We grabbed only the essential gear we would need, and began crawling across the dry dirt and prickly ground. Every few yards I’d pop up just enough to see if they were still there.

When we finally reached a spot where Leo could lay proned out behind the rifle and see the herd, we did some preparation. It turned out there was two groups of antelope, a close group of about five animals and a larger group of seven or so further out. There wasn’t enough brush to conceal us if we moved any closer, so the call was made to shoot from right there. After we’d both given the group a thorough good looking, we determined that there was only one mature doe in the group. Keeping our eyes on her to avoid any mistakes, we watched them move along waiting for the right shot.

Leo loaded the rifle, and dialed the elevation correction. We had practiced shooting this far with no issues, so we both had confidence in his ability to make the shot. But for several minutes they moved along a distant brush line, stopping only with her white rump pointed directly at us. They were working away, after checking the distance again we corrected the elevation. It was shortly thereafter that she stopped, Leo whispered that the next time she stops he would dispatch the chambered round. I watched through my own optic as she slowed to a stop and looked around the arid country beyond. Just as anticipated the suppressed gasp from the rifle came, and I watched the trace travel across the six-hundred yard gap between us. The hundred grain Cayuga found its mark, pushing its way through the unsuspecting doe sending her straight to the ground.

We both erupted into a celebratory cheer as the rest of the antelope nearby slowly scattered. We continued watching to ensure that she had expired completely, but a curious development occurred as we watched. The other group of antelope that had been feeding further away seemed to have also been spooked by the excitement, and they moved closer to us as we lay waiting. After just a few minutes they had closed the distance over two hundred yards and they were now slightly closer than the first group had been when we started. Leo and I still laid in the low spot we had chosen for a hide, still concealed and in our shooting position. “Should we take another one?” he asked, and not being one for complicating things that don’t need complication I told him it was his hunt and his call to make. We both inspected this new group of antelope, and again found only a single mature doe mingling among a few juvenile bucks and this years fawn.
We kept track of her, and reset the elevation on the rifle for their location. Again we waited as she slowly walked through the brush, waiting for a shot opportunity where she stood still with her side to us and apart from the other animals. When the time came, we were ready. Again the GT released a burst of gas as the next bullet hastily made it across the five-hundred and fifty yards, and we watched the doe drop to the ground.
Our plan had put us in the right place for a perfect double. We again reveled in our success and shared a hug, no longer concerned with concealment or making noise. We gathered our gear up, and made our way down the drainage towards our prize, the two animals laid only a hundred yards or so from each other.

The 24″ ES-Tactical 6GT barrel pushes the 100 gr. Cayugas at just under 3,000 FPS and 1/4MOA groups are the norm

We gathered them up, and took some pictures. For Leo it was the first time handling a large animal that he killed himself, I watched as he curiously inspected them occasionally pointing out some of the puzzling characteristics of these unique animals.


It was time to give a lesson in gutting though, so with knives in hand we started whittling away. Dark storm clouds rumbled in the distance so I didn’t want to take too long. We made short work of the two animals, and into the truck they went where we had bags of ice waiting for them. We also brought along the hearts and livers to use as much as we could.

Incredibly heavy rain began to pour over the prairie as we rode out, washing blood and dirt from the bed of the truck. But as we rolled down the highway I thought about the fun we’d had and our shared experience that no amount of washing would rinse away. Our clothes on the other hand could use a good torrent and rinsing rain, but we still had work to do. Once home, we hung the two antelope in my skinning tree and skinned them out. A quick wash with cold water to get as much blood and other contaminants from the carcasses before putting them into the cooler on ice for a weeks worth of aging was all that remained.

Once again I was lucky to share the spoils of a new hunter’s prize, we had antelope for dinner the next day and it was good. Not just because of the flavor, but also because of the adventure and satisfaction we shared in getting it. I don’t think I’ll tire of helping new hunters anytime soon, and I cant wait for the next opportunity.
-CBM

Perfectly rare antelope tenderloins were delicious

Major League Chucker’s 7

The latest installment of your favorite series of varmint hunting adventures:

Todays chucks were mostly hunted with My SRS M2 in 6 GT, lots of springtime weather including snow and wind made this one a little more challenging than others. Hunting Marmots (woodchucks, rockchucks, groundhogs, etc.) is an incredibly fun hunting activity, if you haven’t tried it, you need to try Springtime Chuckin’.

Blessings in Disguise: A deer hunting story

This was originally written in October 2011

As some of you may or may not recall, after a lot of health problems and a Kidney transplant, I took my Dad hunting with us this year. He drew a cow elk tag, and a Buck tag, myself and my brothers had similar tags to go along.
Well, this year things were a bit off. Everything that has ever worked for me in the past didn’t work, we were always in the wrong place or something else happened to screw it up. My elk hunting honey hole seemed to have plenty of elk, but never any close enough for Dad to feel comfortable with. We usually get a bull or two, and always the cows. But this year we didn’t get a thing, I felt horrible because Dad was so excited to go, and there was simply nothing that could be done. We still had as good a time as we could, and enjoyed the time out.

After a dismal elk hunt, the deer hunt started. I had high hopes, but I was worried after the elk hunt turned out to be a bust.
The deer hunt turned out to be quite the same, the first four days we didn’t even see a buck. I gave up on that spot and we left and headed home, I asked Dad if he wanted to try another spot a little closer to home. The next day we went to another of my old standby hunting spots, that was a bad move. Not only did we not see a single deer but on our way out, we were climbing up an ugly hill on the 4wheelers and Dad hit a rock just right and knocked his machine over. His pride and joy Grizzly rolled over the top of him and end over end for a hundred yards or so until it luckily stopped in a tree. Had it not it would have been gone forever. I stopped to see what was keeping him, and I thought for sure he was dead when I heard his bike rolling down the mountain behind me. He wasn’t hurt too bad, just scratched up and a bit bloody. I was working in a panic to get his bike out, gather his stuff that was scattered all over the hillside, including his broken rifle, just in case he needed medical attention, but by the time we got out it was pretty clear that he was gonna be ok. After that mess, Dad was pretty much out of excitement for hunting, and I had pretty much given up as well.
My brother in law called me Friday night and asked me if I wanted to go out with him Saturday morning, I didn’t know what to expect but I knew I’d never get a deer sitting home doing honey do’s.

So I went out with him, we saw a lot of this kinda stuff:

But we kept after it, and went on looking. After a couple hours and a good nap, we found a bunch of does out on a brushy flat. Several more kept appearing in the distance. I kept watching, and at the end of the flat I saw a deer that was too heavy to be a doe, I looked hard and quickly put antlers on him. I couldn’t tell how big he was, only that he was a buck, and that was good enough for me at this point in the game.
I hit him with my rangefinder, and he was around six-hundred and fifty yards moving just fast enough in the wrong direction. I watched him go into some deep and tall sagebrush, my brother in law sat and watched, while I sprinted towards the brush patch. On my way there, four more doe’s jumped out and started running towards the buck’s last known position. I knew they would tattle on me as soon as they got there so I kept running. The fleeing does seemed perplexed that I continued running but not after them. As I moved, I scanned the terrain ahead for a good shooting position. I found one, a clear spot in the grass slightly elevated with a good view of the patch where the buck was still hidden. I laid down and ranged the doe’s as they began emerging on the far side of the brush patch, just shy of four-hundred yards, one after another they came out, I figured he would be last. He came out of the brush like a ghost, he just appeared, I had already dialed my elevation, I was doping the wind which was left to right. I held my wind correction and pressed the trigger, the buck reared up on his hind legs as though I’d hit him, I listened for the familiar smack sound to return to me, but it never did. I settled back upon him and to my surprise he was still there, I ran the bolt fast and sent a second shot. I watched through the recoil and saw only his shape settle in the tall grass, his feet up in the air. My brother in law was still four-hundred yards or so behind me, and didn’t even know I had taken a shot. I had to do a victory dance with my hat in the air for him to start making his way down.

I made my way to the buck, still unsure of how big or small he was. I was quite surprised when I saw this:

He was definitely past his prime, his teeth were about to fall out. I was nonetheless happy to have found him, and we took him home happy as we’d been in weeks. It was a rough hunting season, and he is perhaps the ugliest buck I’ve ever seen, but he was a blessing in a very ugly disguise.

-CBM