Tag Archives: Rifle

The Desert Tech SRS A2

I have long enjoyed an affair with precision rifles, and one of them in particular. I fell in love with the Desert Tech SRS many years ago now, it has been through several generations since, and the latest generation is the SRS A2.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the SRS family, it is a detachable box magazine-fed, bolt action bullpup, with the added advantage of being a multi-caliber rifle. A bullpup means that the rifle’s action is behind the trigger, and against the shoulder. This design has been tried many times over the years, in order to shorten the overall length and portability of the rifle. The SRS has all of the advantages a bullpup was designed to bring to the table, as well as the quality and a stellar record of performance sought by both law enforcement, military, and devoted precision shooters. And the icing on the cake is the multi-caliber capability.

The SRS A2 follows the long celebrated A1 model, from which it evolved. The SRS features an all-aluminum receiver, that is sandwiched between two polymer skins that comprise the pistol-grip, and magazine well. The receiver is split down the middle, and has four clamping screws down the side, together these features allow one of the SRS’s strongest assets. All SRS barrels have a shank at the breach that fits very snuggly into the receiver and is then clamped in via those four screws. Barrels are slid into the chassis from the front and seated against a steel feed ramp that doubles as an index point. The unique barrel clamping system also allows the SRS to return to zero, guaranteed every time you install each barrel, it will return to shoot the same point of impact every time. Bolts are slid into the breach by easily removing the recoil pad from the back, I say bolts because with differing cartridges you may require at least a couple of them. Anything from 223 Remington all the way up to 375XC, most options from the factory are your well-known bestsellers such as 6.5 Creedmoor, 308 Win, and 338 Lapua Magnum. The SRS has a large following with a multitude of aftermarket barrel manufacturers, allowing users to customize these factory-built rifles in whatever caliber they desire.

What’s New:

The evolution of this precision bullpup has brought several advantages to the system. One of the first notable differences of the new rifle is the M-Lok handguard, the more popular mounting system replaced the pic rail design from prior generations. The next most obvious change is the rifle’s weight, the A2 was put on a healthy diet. This new revision has the rifle weighing 2.1 pounds less than its predecessor, through various cuts and shaving material where possible.
The trigger also received an upgrade, a new design they call a “field match” trigger. This new trigger is adjustable from 1.5 to 7 pounds.

The SRS A1 featured a built-in retractable monopod in the bottom of the butt-pad, many users found this monopod to be a very valuable tool because of its quick deployment, and both coarse and fine adjustments. The A2 model was designed to be lighter, and the monopod was then made optional equipment instead of standard. That also helped lower the overall weight of the rifle.

The new M-Lok handguard is also interchangeable. The A1 handguard was difficult to swap between different length handguards, and it required a proprietary tool from Desert Tech. The new SRS A2 handguard is user-replaceable using only a Hex Key wrench, this allows users to easily swap between the standard length (longer) handguard, and the shorter length (Covert) handguard. Desert Tech sells the separate handguards as a kit for end-users to install, so they can enjoy the benefits of either configuration.

In addition to the new rifle chassis, Desert Tech will be releasing a few new calibers specifically marketed towards big game hunters. These newer barrels are chambered in popular cartridges such as 300 RUM, 300WM, and 7MM Rem Mag with more to come. A lighter contour barrel also helps lower the overall weight of the rifle. With a lighter rifle, the SRS is now even more appealing to those of us that would like to hunt with it, so these new offerings are a welcome development.

What’s the same:

The SRS A2 being a direct descendant of the A1 means that it inherited some of its best traits. The barrel mounting system is the same, which means that the barrel collection most SRS owners enjoy, can be used in the new A2 chassis as well. Bolts, barrels and magazines are also interchangeable between the two rifle chassis. This is a very welcome feature to SRS aficionados, as barrel kits can cost anywhere from 800 up to 2000 dollars.

The barrel clamping procedure remains the same, there is a barrel lock on one side of the receiver and four clamping screws on the other. The barrel lock rotates 360 degrees, but has a detent on the lock and unlocked positions. After installing the barrel in the chassis, the barrel lock is rotated to the lock position which rotates a cam to hold the barrel in place. The four clamping screws are then torqued down to 80-inch pounds.

The SRS A2 Covert with my 18” 6.5 Creedmoor

The A2 maintains both standard length and Covert models as was the A1, the Covert model allows for using shorter barrels like the very popular sixteen-inch 308 Winchester. The longer standard handguard, allows for further forward bipod mounting, as well as clip on night/thermal optics.

The adjustable comb height adjustment stays the same, as does the spacer system to adjust the length of pull. These features are easy to adjust and allow you to fit the rifle to you.

On the Range:

Being quite familiar with the SRS platform, I found almost everything about it to be very recognizable. All the same functions I was used to, I tried several of my older conversion kits in it with great success. One thing I didn’t miss at all was the weight, the couple pounds lost make the rifle noticeably lighter. And the new hunting profile barrels are lighter than I was used to, making the whole kit seem more friendly to hiking hunters.

Clockwise: The new Field Match Trigger, fluted bolt body, M-Lok handguard with QD sling receivers, handguard mounting screws.

Desert Tech claims the A2 to be even more accurate than its precedent platform, this was a claim I wanted to see for myself. The SRS has always been a very accurate rifle in my experience, half MOA groups are expected and even guaranteed by Desert Tech when using match grade ammunition.  The accuracy guarantee for the A1 SRS was half MOA, I was surprised to find that the A2 did not come with a better guarantee according to Desert Tech’s 36% better accuracy claim for the A2.

Shooting the SRS A2

I shot several different barrels in the A2 while at the range, among them were 6.5Creedmoor, 308 Winchester, 300 Remington Ultra Magnum, and 300 Winchester magnum.  The new hunting calibers were all the lighter contour, this made the felt recoil a little more aggressive than I was used to, but with muzzle brakes installed the recoil was very manageable. Accuracy was everything I expected it to be from the SRS platform,  typical groups were half MOA. Ammunition types gave wildly varying results, some of them did not even shoot MOA, while others easily shot sub half MOA.  I can’t say for sure if the lighter barrel contour had anything to do with it because when they had the right ammo they just shot great.

A typical five shot group from the SRS A2

My fourteen-year-old son also shot the rifle a bit and carried it around, he too seemed pleasantly surprised by the rifle’s easy handling and modest recoil.  As usual, the rifle shot better when the sound suppressor was installed. The Desert Tech suppressor mounts directly to the muzzle brake and provides hearing safe shooting with enhanced accuracy. Another moment the bullpup platform shines is when a suppressor is installed, the SRS A2 with a suppressor mounted is still shorter than comparable rifles without one.

Whether shooting inside a 100-yard underground tunnel or shooting 1200 yards across a breezy mountain ridge, the SRS A2 tackled targets with great ease.

Detractors

The only problems I found with the SRS A2 were not so much problems as they were questions. Previous generations of SRS rifles had fully adjustable triggers that were serviceable in the field with a simple Allen wrench. The new trigger requires disassembly of the chassis to complete the adjustment. While an infrequent necessity, it is still an unwelcome one.

Final Thoughts

The SRS A2 is a pleasant breath of fresh air that I didn’t even know I needed. It appears Desert Tech has listened to consumers and delivered a better bullpup, my A1 wont be going anywhere soon, but it definitely needs an A2 to go with it.

-CBM

Graham Brothers Rifleworks MARC Sport Chassis for the Remington 700

Precision Rifles are just my cup of tea, and watching the technology around them progress over the years has been exciting. While they are still relevant, and in many cases beautiful, traditional and wooden rifle stocks are being overtaken by modern chassis systems.

A chassis system essentially serves the same purpose as a rifle stock, but the difference between them is quite stark. Stocks are generally made of wood or a synthetic material like glass filled nylon. Rifle chassis are almost uniformly manufactured from non-organic materials, such as aluminum, plastics, and more and more often from cutting edge composites like carbon fiber.

Rifle chassis bring modularity, customizable options, and other modern conveniences to the user’s rifle. As well as providing one of the most important foundations for precise shooting, a rigid and firm structure from which successive shots can be launched with meticulous control. Naturally, modular rifles like the AR-15 have been gleaned over, and some of their best features have been merged into precision rifle chassis.

And that brings us to the current subject, the Yankee Hill Machine MARC Sport  Rifle Chassis is one of the latest to join my fold. Yankee Hill has long manufactured AR-15’s and their components, so it seemed a natural progression to build the similar parts of a precision rifle chassis.
YHM has a new division specifically geared towards the precision rifle market, suitably named Graham Brothers Rifleworks, I look forward to see what else they bring to the shooting bench.

The Remington Model 700 has long enjoyed a position as the one to use for custom rifle builds. As such, most rifle chassis are built to accept the 700’s footprint and its many clones, the MARC Sport is no different. Other footprints such as Savage Long and Short actions are also available as well. And I wouldn’t expect it to end there, surely others like Howa, Tikka, and other popular models will follow.

The MARC Sport comes as just the heart of the chassis, it uses an AR-15 style buffer tube in the back. The simple reasoning behind this is that you can easily attach any buttstock made for the AR-15 family of rifles. The modular design allows the end user to configure the chassis to their liking, an ownership feature that many gun enthusiasts are quick to take advantage of. The chassis also uses AR-15 patterned pistol grips, so you can pick and choose from the bountiful variety of grips to fit your hand and shooting needs.

The handguard of the MARC Sport is similar to an AR-15 freefloat handguard, obviously it attaches differently, but it shares familiar features. The handguard has MLOK slots on all eight facets, this allows the user to add accessories such as bipod mounts, cartridge quivers, support bags, or tripod interfaces, all great accesories for competition shooting.

The handguard attaches via four screws along the center of the chassis, steel thread inserts assure durable strength over time. It also features QD sling cups at the front and rear of the handguard tube. The chassis also has a series of threaded mounting holes along the bottom of the fore-grip area, to attach likely a tripod mount, or the available YHM Arca Swiss rail.

The chassis accepts AICS pattern magazines, I have tried several different manufacturers magazines and they all work perfectly. One suggestion I would give YHM would be perhaps a slightly longer mag release bar, or a wider one. Either option would give the user a better purchase when trying to strip a magazine from it. And if you twisted my arm for another complaint, it might be that the handguard is a little too intrusive in the objective area of the scope. This didn’t allow me to install the sunshade on my scope, not a huge deal, but one you may want to know about.
The MARC Sport chassis will accept both right or left handed actions, it comes with a small adapter plate that uses a screw to hold it in place. The plate is mounted over the unused bolt handle recess on either the right or left side.

The MARC Sport shown with optional Arca Swiss rail, mounted on the tripod.

In the very rear of the chassis is the buffer tube adapter, there are two different options when purchasing the MARC Sport. These are to accept the different types of buffer tubes and the buttstocks that go with them.

My little 16 inch 260 Remington was a perfect fit, the aftermarket trigger also had no issue fitting into the chassis

The chassis is built intuitively, a thumbshelf comfortably bedded in the right place. A comfortable contoured grip area under the center of gravity for carrying, and rounded edges in all the right places. And it comes with screws of the appropriate length to mount your Remington barreled action.

I used one of the many Magpul buttstocks available, mainly because I had them. It was very convenient to have the collapsable buttstock, it made the overall rifle more compact and easy to store. But with so many great options out there, you can surely find one to fit your needs.

The MARC Sport chassis system is a perfect addition for a good rifle. Most of us love to customize our guns and this chassis allows you to do it at a great price without giving up any quality. It does exactly what a rifle chassis should do, it gives the rifle a solid platform, that the user can adjust and customize to fit his skill level and needs. It has rekindled my love with my custom Remington’s, I have another one finishing up at the gunsmith now, and it too will soon be paired up to the MARC Sport chassis for a little match shooting.

-CBM

Cheap Ammunition, is the Bang worth the Squeeze?

Inexpensive ammunition is very appealing to shooting sports enthusiasts.
The relatively high cost of ammunition and its high angle trajectory shows no sign of changing anytime soon.


Today we are going to discuss an interesting topic; Is cheaper ammunition really a good buy? There are a few questions that are relevant to the discussion here, to determine that answer:

  • What kind of shooting am I doing?
  • What kind of target?
  • What is my budget?
  • What type of gun am I using?

A quick perusal of catalogs and store shelves can give you a good idea of what people buy the most of. There is usually a large amount of what has become known as “plinking ammo“. Plinking ammo refers to its application, inexpensive ammunition that can be bought in large quantities allowing for longer shooting sessions, or at least more of them.

Plinking ammunition typically is used for pistols and carbines, the higher volume capability of these types of firearms is part of the reason people buy them. They shoot lots of inexpensive ammunition, which most of the time equates to more fun and training. This type of shooting usually takes place at relatively short distances, at targets ranging from automated steel plates, right down to improvised things like cardboard boxes. For this kind of shooting, plinking ammo works great.

Accuracy is dictated by the size of your target. If you are shooting pumpkins at two hundred yards, then you have a much larger margin for error than if you are trying to hit prairie dogs at four or five hundred yards. It is important you start out with reasonable expectations, don’t shoot at one or two MOA targets with a three to four MOA rifle. You’ll quickly find yourself spending more ammunition, only to be frustrated with poor results. The same can be said for ammunition, if your three thousand dollar rifle will only shoot 3-4 MOA with cheap ammunition, you are going to be disappointed.

If you intend on a more serious type of shooting, such as competition, or hunting, or some other application, you may find that inexpensive ammunition may not be savings you intended on getting.
Inexpensive ammunition is produced on large-scale production lines, using components that were also mass produced. These processes drive the cost of the ammunition down and the volume up, but it is hard to maintain consistency when mass producing something meant to fly faster than the speed of sound. Quality ammunition is also produced on large scales, the quality of the ammunition depends on the attention paid to its assembly. In order for ammunition to be accurate, it must be consistent. The time and precision it takes to produce consistent ammunition translate into a higher cost.

Perhaps hunting is your main shooting activity. If so, going cheap may not only be more expensive, but it could be unethical. If inconsistent ammunition is used during a hunt, it could cause an animal to be wounded and go unrecovered. It also could be the cause for multiple shots needed and a loss of meat, either scenario should be avoided. Accurate ammunition isn’t always expensive, but cheap ammunition can cost you far more than the money you spent.

I set out to try an experiment, our theory being that quality ammunition is still a better buy than the cheap stuff. The reason behind the theory is simple; If I shoot at my target 5 times and hit it once, shooting my cheap Fiocchi 308Win at $0.80 per shot, I have spent $4.00 for one hit. If I shoot at the same target using DTM 308 match and hit it on the first shot, I have only spent $1.44 for the same hit. So how much money have I saved? Even if it takes two shots to hit my target, I am still spending less per hit.

Here you can see some of the results to my experiment (admittedly not clinical). You can see that with the same gun and shooter combination produced better results with high quality ammunition vs. the inexpensive option. Left target is DTM 308Win Premium Match, right is Fiocchi 308 Win.

The theory proved to be well founded, from a precision perspective. As you can see in the pictures above, the less expensive ammunition created a much larger pattern on the target. Using the exact same point of aim, you can see that it created a roughly three inch group. While on the left target we see groups closer to half or three quarter inch. This is where the answers to the questions I asked at the beginning of this article come into play. If all you need is to hit a sheet of paper at 100yds, then the inexpensive ammo from above will work fine. But let’s say hypothetically that the paper was moved out to 500yds, several of those shots may not even be on the paper much less near the point of aim. The match ammunition on the other hand that prints sub MOA groups, at five hundred yards will still keep groups small enough to hit a small piece of fruit, over and over. So for cost per hit, the premium ammunition proved to be the better buy for sure.

Obviously this depends greatly on the type of firearm and the target you are using. For example, if you are shooting a surplus military rifle or relic, shooting quality ammunition might not give you that big of an advantage. Or if you are training with pistols at 7-20yds, it would make sense to use something inexpensive. Some firearms perform good or great with performance ammunition, and others perform mediocre no matter what you feed them. Not all guns are created equal. The above groups were shot using the Desert Tech SRS A1, perhaps in the future we can redo the same test with a surplus rifle, or an inexpensive equivalent, and see how the results compare.

It is important to compare apples to apples then, plinking inside one hundred yards with a rifle, doesn’t always require the best. But clearly, if hitting exactly where you aim is important you, then your best bet is to stick with quality. Also keep in mind that some firearms are like high performance cars, they aren’t meant to run on 85 octane. The same goes for some performance firearms, running cheap ammo could actually do more harm than good. If you are lucky, you can often find an inexpensive combination of rifle and ammunition that still performs to the accuracy standard you desire. But since luck has never been my companion, I stick to well known performers, and the quality ammunition that they run on.

So if serious shooting and accurate engagement of targets is part of your plan, quality ammunition should be one of your first considerations. There is a time and place for cheap ammo, but when the pressure is on and hits are a must, send the best you can get.

CBM

Originally posted on http://www.deserttech.com/blog/

The First and Last Elk

As the sun sets this time of year, frigid cold air rushes in to fill the void left by the sunlight. We watched as the last few glimmers of the sun disappeared over the cloudy horizon, the cold grip of winter seemed to tighten around us in the eerie silence. My son, my cousin and I, sat in the snow regaining our composure as natures evening show came to a close. It had been a busy day, and we finally had a moment to pause.
For the past few months, we had been following the habits of a small herd of elk that live in the steep and rocky mountains that surround this valley. You likely read about our previous encounters with them, only last week I took one of the herd myself after we got into them. My son still had a tag, and he hadn’t burned out yet, so we had returned to fill it.

The temperature inversion turns the valley into a cold cloudy soup

This time of year, getting up the mountain early doesn’t seem to have the benefits it does during the normal season. The cold temperatures, and the lack of hunting pressure have animals out and about during the daytime. Deer, elk, coyotes, etc. can all be seen and heard during the day, and its a great time to just be out there. Once we got above the cold fog in the valley, there was a beautiful sunny day waiting for us.
This nice buck sat and watched us from 300yds for the better part of a couple hours

As Junior and I made our way up into the canyons, I scoured the draws and hill’s where I expected to see our herd. Moving slowly, we would stop every so often to glass the brush covered ridges. It is amazing how little it takes to conceal a whole elk. I hadn’t even planned on shooting anything today. I figured we would go for a nice ride up in the sunshine, and if we were lucky, maybe spot the herd on some distant, miserable, and untouchable ridge line.
It is of course Murphy’s law, that as soon as you least expect something, or ill prepared for it, that something will happen. This was the case, as Junior and I rounded a turn, and my eyes focused on familiar brown and tan shapes that stood above us on a slope. Four of them, kicking away the snow to find the grass underneath. Not wanting to spook them, we quickly and quietly grabbed our gear, and made our way to a clearing. Once we had gotten a good position, I helped Junior get his rifle setup over a pack. It was a fairly steep angle, so we had to build a little taller position to get him comfortable. In just a few moments, we were fixed on our target.
Our girl

There were four elk visible, all cows and calves. This herd had once numbered six, besides the one I had already taken, the missing one must have been just out of view. There was a single elk off to one side of the herd alone, and her broadside position made her the ideal target. While Junior prepared himself, I hit the elk with my rangefinder. The distance to our target was 540 yards, not a short distance. But I knew he could pull it off, as he had done before. We had practiced as much as time would allow.

A shot like that requires a good rifle, and my son carried it in his hot little hands. A custom Remington I had put together for him the year preceding. It was a sixteen inch .260 Remington, today it wore a Delta P Design Brevis II 6.5, and a Minox 1-6X30 scope. Junior had shot this rifle with great success, and it fit his stature. Well enough to shoot his very first Mule deer buck a few months ago at a similar distance.
So now we sat there, ready to shoot, all that was left was the trigger pull.

My son has been hunting with me since he was two or three years old. Even though he has been there, and seen it done so many times, he still gets that pounding heart and feverish excitement when its time to shoot. He was nervous for a moment, but after we locked eyes, and had a little Father & Son pep talk, he calmed down. He resigned himself to it, and I watched through my 8X rangefinder, waiting patiently.
Maybe it was that he needed to just get one shot off to feel at home, or maybe it was the shot itself that focused his little mind. But whatever the reason, that first shot pealed across the slope without hitting the elk. And as if a switch had been flipped, Junior’s demeanor changed, and he was now “in the zone”. After a reload, he re-engaged the elk, and put a bullet into her. She walked a few steps forward, and laid down in the snow. We put another one into her moments later, to make sure she was dead.

The steep hike up the hill to the elk took a little time, but it was very gratifying once we got there. Habitual observances took over at that point. We took some time to take plenty of pictures, and clean her up. The beauty of the snow covered landscape lit by the unfiltered rays of sunshine made the experience even more pleasant. Just a short time earlier, we were covered with coats, hats, gloves and the typical winter gear. The cold fog below had left our beards frosted, and yet in this moment of pristine success, we stood in the sunshine wearing only T-shirts under blue skies.



With the help of a couple good friends who came to help, we tied her up, and drug her down the hill. It took quite an effort, but it was well worth it once we had her back to the truck, and ready to bring home.

As night drew near, the ice cold fog that had hidden the valley from us, worked its way back up the mountain and threatened to envelope us once again. As it does every year, the bitter sweetness of the end of the season came over me. Knowing that we are done hunting for the season brings a somber feeling. The blood dried on the backs of our hands, as well as the freezer full of meat, fills me with satisfaction, and gratitude. These two contradicting sentiments are what give spice and excitement, they are part of the experience that comes with participation in this primal circle of life.
The only thing better than experiencing such exhilarating highs and lows, is doing it with the ones we love the most. I am a very lucky person, being able to share this with my son, and family. We are already looking forward to next year.
-CBM

A First Deer for Junior

The sun set no more than a few hours ago, the closing day of the Utah general season deer hunt. This marks the first year since I began hunting, that I have gone without killing a deer. For years I have anticipated it, not knowing when or why it would come. Every year I would tell myself; maybe this is the year I go without. But through some kind of blind luck, I have always managed to get a tag, as well as a deer to go with it. I wouldn’t have guessed that it would take so many years for it to finally happen, but the beautiful memories that took its place are even better.
2016 was a special year for me, for the first time in my life, I would be hunting with both my Father, and my Son. Surely we had been together many times, but this was the first time that all three of us would be carrying a rifle. I thought for sure we could find three bucks, and what a special hunt it would be, that three generations of my family could once again draw blood. If you read the first part of this story, you are likely to remember the handy little rifle that my son is lucky to have. A pieced together Remington 700, with a 16” .260 barrel, I had loaded it with some PVRI 120 Grain Match hollow points. And whenever the squeeze was good, this little rifle hammered.
After a few adjustments, to make the rifle fit him better, we spent as much time as we could practicing. I would have liked to have him shoot it a lot more, but keeping a twelve year old’s attention for more than a few minutes proved difficult.
But the calendar waits for no one, and so the practice we got, was all I had to work with. Because before I knew it, the deer hunt opener was upon us. I drove up the dark and winding canyon roads, my Brother and I discussing the plan for the day, while my Son sat quietly in the back. The day was as usual on public land general season, armies of orange covered every vantage point. But despite the state wildlife agency’s prognostication of a great season, we never got to put eyes on a deer with antlers. It did however give Jr. plenty of opportunity to practice his trigger pulls, and prepare himself for the moment that would surely come.
Practice, practice, and more practice.

Day after day went by, miles and miles of hiking, glassing, and chasing. But we still never got to put our eyes on a buck through a rifle scope. I had on several occasions had the opportunity to shoot a buck, but I had promised myself that I would do so only after my son had his chance. It was really starting to weigh heavy on my conscience, it had never seemed so hard to get on a buck, even the little ones seemed to be out of our reach.

Though the hunting wasn’t going as well as I had hoped, we certainly enjoyed good company. Like always, we hunt together as family, and for good reason.
After five days of fruitless efforts, I was beginning to loose my cool. As the weather finally turned sour, my hopes for success were peaking. But when even that didn’t provide us a good opportunity, I was quite frustrated. Luckily my Father was there to help me see the big picture, as well as the little guy who was watching me.
Ready to conquer the mountain

Just when I had lost hope, and the dreaded sun came out, threatening to send all the deer to bed, things changed. My good friend signaled me from the opposite side of the ridge we had straddled, and I wasted no time getting to him. He quickly pointed out a deer he had spotted across the canyon, and for the first time in a few days, the fire inside me was lit. I hustled back to where my son was waiting, we scrambled our gear together, and made our way back to a good shooting position across the canyon from the young buck.

His antlers shining in the mid-morning sun, picking his way down the steep mountain, the deer had no idea what was being planned for him. I helped Jr. get into a good shooting position, and pointed the deer out to him. One of the reasons I opted for the Minox 1-6 optic, was because of the often difficult task of getting inexperienced shooters on target. Less magnification helps easily spot distant targets by not taking away the big picture.
Jr. had on many occasions used the 6X to engage targets at 500 yds, and I had used it on targets to 800yds. Contrary to popular belief, huge magnification is not as big a deal as some people would make it.
After a few moments, Jr. picked out the distant buck. He steadied his little rifle, and I had him dry fire a couple more times, just to make sure it felt right. When I was convinced he was ready, a round was chambered, the bolt closed up tight. I watched as close as I could, barely breathing, listening, waiting. The deer turned broadside, giving us a perfect shot. My mind raced over all the steps we had worked on, steady the rifle, breathe out, squeeze. I could only wait now to see if it all stuck.

As I heard his breathing pause, the rifle pulsed into his shoulder, and the subdued report of the rifle hissed across the dry grass before us. I watched in suspense as the trace peaked across the 490 yards that separated us from our prey. The bullet struck the deer, right behind his left shoulder, perfect elevation. I watched the rippling waves of energy as they were soaked up by his body. His rear legs collapsed, and he fell immediately to the ground, and slowly slid down the steep slope. As he slid, I saw blood pour from the exit wound, flowing down his side. He slid some 20 yards into a large brush pile, where we lost sight of him.
The satisfaction of a perfect shot, that was so long in the waiting, a shot that I alone had been anticipating since the day he made me a Father. As I hugged my boy, I was reminded what made this year so special. It wasn’t filling three tags that made it special. It was standing next to my Dad, holding my son, having just made a perfect shot, on his very first deer.
After some high fives, and a congratulatory hug from Dad and Grandpa, we decided to empty our backpacks, and head down after him. I could see a different attitude now, Jr. had been along on who knows how many recoveries. But this one was his. He had been dying to try his brand new virgin skinning knife that his uncle gave him for his birthday last year, and finally the moment had arrived.
As we hiked into the brush filled draw, I happened on the blood trail where the deer had slid down. I stopped there to see what my Son would do. He quickly followed the trail down hill to the buck, I had already spotted it, but I followed behind to let him find it on his own, and feel that rush and sense of accomplishment.
Perfect shot placement, should be the goal of every hunter.

He was very excited, but I took a moment to remind him, the importance of respect and reverence for such a beautiful animal. We took pictures, and admired him for a time. Then quartered him up, and put him into our backpacks.
I was certain that there would be significant whining as we hiked the half mile back to the four wheeler. But to my surprise, he quietly followed me, he rested when I rested. When he did mention how hard it was, and how his legs hurt, I told him the truth; A week from now, you might remember how hard it was, and how much it hurts. But by next year, you’ll have forgotten, and want to do it all over again. And the memories, of all the fun we’ve had, are ours to keep forever.
So I sit here, listening to the thunder, and the winds blowing outside my door, as the storm I needed finally arrives. My melancholy has turned to a feeling of satisfaction, sharing one of life’s exciting moments with two of the most important guys in my life. What more could I ask for?

-CBM