Category Archives: Hunting

HUNTING: Dispelling the Myth about No Hunting on National Parks

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Here’s a closely-kept secret: About 35-percent of our National Park Service properties allow hunting! Here are 5. Read more about this…

Hunting in National Parkis

SOURCE: American Hunter, by Frank Miniter

There is this pervasive myth that national parks don’t allow hunting. Many of the most famous national parks certainly don’t allow hunting, but 59 out of 390 properties administered by the National Park Service (NPS) do allow hunting. In total, about 35 percent of the NPS’ acreage uses hunting to manage game populations, accounting for 29,943,312 acres — 19,677,033 of which are in Alaska.

While interviewing park superintendents for articles, I’ve actually had them tell me that the NPS bans all hunting. When I started naming parks that allow hunting they were baffled and told me those must just be exceptions. When I told them that 35 percent of the NPS’ properties allow hunting they grew quiet. Even they didn’t know the charters for some national parks expressly permit hunting.

Here are five great examples:

1. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore: This NPS-controlled property in Michigan has hunting seasons. The Lakeshore Ranger staff in this 71,187-acre park says they ask “both hunters and non-hunters to follow a few park rules and regulations and to work together in order to have a safe and enjoyable visit.” This park even has a special deer hunt on North Manitou Island each year.

2. Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area: Hunting within the boundaries of Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area is a recognized recreational activity under the Code of Federal Regulations 36 CFR, section 7.55(a). This 100,390-acre park is located in eastern Washington State.

3. Amistad National Recreation Area: Five public hunting areas are available for archery and shotgun hunting at Amistad National Recreation Area during the 2015-2016 hunting season. This 58,500-acre park in Texas has whitetails, javelina, turkeys, rabbits, and exotic mouflon sheep, aoudad sheep and blackbuck antelope. The use of rifles or handguns is prohibited at Amistad National Recreation Area.

4. Assateague Island National Seashore: Public hunting is allowed within the boundaries of Maryland’s 41,320-acre Assateague Island National Seashore. The species available here include whitetails and sika.

5. Grand Teton National Park: An elk hunt in Wyoming’s 310,000-acre Grand Teton National Park was authorized when the park was created in 1950. The hunt is used to regulate the elk population before the animals move to winter feed grounds in the National Elk Refuge in Jackson Hole.

Critics of such hunts argue that hunting is counter to the NPS’ mission to preserve wildlife within its units. But as any wildlife biologist will tell you, predation –whether done by us or other predators — is a necessary component to keeping deer and elk populations from over-browsing habitat. Over-browsed habitat doesn’t just harm the plant life, it also impacts small game and other species. So, hunting is an important wildlife-management tool for helping park officials to keep the ecosystem healthy.

The deer hunt on the previously mentioned North Manitou Island is a good example of the importance of hunting to maintain a healthy deer herd and a healthy ecosystem. In 1926 four male and five female whitetails were introduced to the island. By 1981 there were an estimated 2,000 deer on the island, says the NPS. “The island vegetation could not sustain such a large herd, so many deer starved. The surviving deer over browsed the island, eating all of the Yew and young Maple trees. Through reduction of the deer herd by hunting, the vegetation has recovered to some extent. Hunts (by permit only) have occurred annually since 1985,” says the NPS.

Those opposed to the elk hunt in the Tetons also argue that the hunt is a danger to the grizzly bear population — some studies have shown that some grizzlies leave Yellowstone National Park (where there is no hunting) to feast on the elk gutpiles left by hunters. Anti-hunters argue that this constitutes a danger to bears and people. Common sense undoes this argument because who is more prepared to deal with an aggressive bear than a hunter? Also, hunters are required to carry bear spray and to use campsites with bear-proof food storage. There is no evidence that hunters are having a negative impact on the grizzly population.

Anti-hunters — these are mostly people who simply don’t understand our natural connection to the earth — also often prefer that NPS properties hire “professional” sharpshooters when a population reduction of deer or elk is so high that its harming the flora and the fauna that depends on the vegetation.

The NPS did recently use sharpshooters to reduce the whitetail population in Valley Forge National Historical Park in Pennsylvania and at the Catoctin Mountain Park in Maryland. The thing is, sharpshooters are expensive. Why hire sharpshooters when millions of Americans are willing to pay to hunt — funding conservation via license sales and taxes on firearms and ammunition — and are eager to do it for free? Hunting is also safe, and the meat is carried out of the woods and eaten by local people. What is more green, more pro-environment, than wildlife biologists using hunters to manage a deer herd?

Though the science is clear that hunting, when properly managed, is necessary and beneficial to wildlife and plant species, some anti-hunters continue to oppose hunting. The National Park Conservation Association (NPCA), for example, recently ran an article in which they did a Q&A with their director of government and legislative affairs, Kristen Brengel, and their legislative representative, Elise Russell Liguori.

The NPCA asked if hunters should hunt in more parks. Brengel said, “It is ridiculous to even think about. Would we interrupt school field trips at Fort McHenry to use the seagulls for target practice? Hunt for squirrels at the Liberty Bell? Shoot clay pots at Chaco Culture National Historic Park? I mean, does our country really benefit from opening these sites to hunting, when there are millions of acres of land that are better suited to hunting, and when it conflicts with so many other ways people already use and enjoy these places, from hiking to bird watching?”

Clay pots? I suppose she meant “clay pigeons.” She is so ignorant of shooting and hunting that she confuses clay pigeons for things used for potting plants. This kind of ignorance, with both hunting and wildlife biology, is the basis for the belief system that opposes our natural role in the environment. To help wildlife, the best thing we can do is educate such people about what hunting does for us and for the environment.

New for 2018: Hornady Adds Nine New Calibers to Precision Hunter Line

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Following its great success with its exclusive Precision Hunter ammo, Hornady is offering even more calibers and loadings. Read more!

Hornady Precision Hunter

SOURCE: NRA Publications, by Philip Massaro

Making a gigantic splash with the ELD-X bullet, Hornady followed suit with the Precision Hunter line, offering that sleek hunting bullet in their loaded ammunition line. Based upon the success of the initial developments, Hornady has expanded that line for 2018.

With a very high Ballistic Coefficient, and bullets that run on the heavier side of average for a given caliber, the ELD-X bullet will get the job done in a multitude of different hunting situations, from near to far.

This year’s new offerings include nine new calibers. Included are 6mm Creedmoor (103-grain), .25-06 Remington (110-grain), .257 Weatherby Magnum (110-grain), 6.5 PRC (143-grain), .270 WSM (145-grain), .280 Ackley Improved (162-grain), 7mm WSM (162-grain), .338 Winchester Magnum (230-grain) and .338 Lapua (270-grain).

As it usually is with Hornady, they’re thinking about not just those newer, long-range cartridges, but of the hunter with a rifle that he or she has loved for some time, and wants to extend the capabilities of that rifle by feeding it modern bullets. I especially like that they’ve decided to give the .270 and 7mm WSM cartridges a breath of life — I know many owners of rifles in those calibers who’ve complained (and rightfully so) about ammunition availability. The Precision Hunter line has been very accurate in my own rifles, as well as those of friends and colleagues, and I’m excited to see how the new offerings will perform.

Hornady Precision Hunter

Check it out HERE at Midsouth!

New for 2018: Nosler M48 Long-Range Carbon Rifle

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Interested in a genuinely capable long-range, hard-hitting, and lightweight rifle? Here you go… Read more!

Nosler Carbon

SOURCE: Shooting Illustrated, by Brad Fitzpatrick

Nosler’s line of unbelted magnum-class cartridges — which started with the .26 Nosler and now include the .28, .30, and .33 Nosler — have been a major success with long-range shooters and hunters. For 2018, Nosler is offering a hunting rifle that may be the perfect complement to their cartridge lineup — the new M48 Long-Range Carbon.

Proof Research supplies the 26-inch Light Sendero-contour carbon fiber-wrapped match-grade barrels, with 5/8×24 threaded muzzles for these rifles — and those barrels are mated to a trued and faced M48 action. The Manners MCS-T carbon fiber Elite Midnight camo stock with high Monte Carlo cheekpiece allows for the use of large-objective scopes and reduces neck pain when shooting from a prone position.

The M48 Long-Range Carbon’s action and lightweight aluminum floorplate feature a durable Cerakote finish in Sniper Gray. The aluminum pillar and glass-bedded stock and Timney trigger further enhance accuracy potential, and Nosler guarantees these guns to shot MOA or better with prescribed ammunition.

In addition to all of its high-tech features, the M48 Long-Range Carbon has a number of other practical design elements that serious hunters will appreciate, like a comfortable textured surfaces, palm swells on the grip and fore-end, dual front ling studs to simplify bipod mounting and a receiver that’s drilled and tapped to accept Remington Model 700 two-piece bases. The push-feed action comes with a dual-lug bolt with plunder-type ejector, and there’s a two-position safety that’s conveniently mounted on the right side of the receiver.

With that beefy target stock and heavy-contour barrel, these guns loom heavy, but the abundance of carbon fiber materials used in the construction of this rifle helps keep overall weight around 7 pounds, depending upon caliber. Speaking of caliber, optional chamberings include 6.5 Creedmoor, .300 Win. Mag., as well as .26, .28, .30, or .33 Nosler.

If you need a long-range rifle that’s light enough to serve as a practical hunting rifle, this is a solid option. The M48 Long-Range Carbon has an MSRP of $2,995.

Read more about this new rifle HERE

HUNTING: Why This Wildlife Biologist Hunts

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Hunting, through the regulated taking of “targeted” game animals, ensures a healthy habitat, a dynamic balance of Nature, the perpetuation of the species. Read more!

larry weishunhn

SOURCE: American Hunter, by Larry L. Weishuhn, wildlife biologist and outdoor TV host

“All life on Earth more or less depends upon the death of something else!” Makes no difference whether the organism is vegetarian, carnivore, or omnivore, or it draws nutrients from the “air.” Our world is essentially a closed system. Nothing comes in from outer space other than sunlight.

I am a hunter and proud to be! I hunt to live. I love wildlife and their habitat. I take the lives, in my instances of fish, game birds, other game, and domestic animals both large and small, as well as vegetable matter to nourish my body and the bodies of my family and sometimes friends. The plants and seeds I eat are, or were, no less alive as the animals I take for food.

This fact of life, even though some seem to rebuke it, does not change things. This makes it easy for me to be a hunter. Food is not created in the “grocery store!” We have food because something living died.

As a professional wildlife biologist, I spent many years researching and working with wildlife species with emphasis on game animals — those with economic value — which, in turn, causes land managers to maintain wildlife species numbers within what the habitat can support in the worst of weather conditions. Doing so maintains a healthy habitat and healthy animals.

A healthy habitat means a variety of plants within that ecosystem. As a result, there is vegetative matter not only for the game animals to feed upon and use as cover, but also a much greater variety of insects for song birds to feed upon, as well as small non-game species. This same vegetation produces seeds which provide food for a great variety of wildlife and we humans. As plants die, their remains are broken down and become nutrients within the soil for ensuing generations of plants.

Hunting, through the regulated taking of “targeted” game animals, ensures a healthy habitat, a dynamic balance of Nature, the perpetuation of the species. But, it is the other animals and plants that exist on that same land where hunting occurs that benefit many times more.

We often forget “man” is part of the ecosystem and Nature, no less than the wild and domesticated animals and plants. This too, is a fact of life. As humans it is up to us to properly manage animals and habitat to maintain and improve the quality of life. From a wildlife biologist’s perspective, in today’s world, as in the time of ancient man, hunting is the most ethical and efficient manner while benefiting wildlife, habitat, and humans.

As long as hunters have a vested interest in wildlife they will continue to pay for conservation of all wild species. Had hunters not always paid the bills, many species — both game and non-game — would have long since disappeared!

About the Author
Legendary “Mr. Whitetail,” Larry Weishuhn, host and owner of DSC’s “Trailing the Hunter’s Moon,” is one of the most popular and widely-recognized wildlife biologists and outdoor media personalities nationwide.

Over the past five decades, he has authored multiple books and numerous articles on hunting and wildlife conservation. In 2004 his book, Trailing the Hunter’s Moon, was named ForeWord Magazine’s Gold Book of the Year in the Adventure and Recreation category.

A lifelong hunter, Weishuhn has long served as a featured speaker for the NRA and other organizations including the Dallas Safari Club (DSC) and the Texas Wildlife Association (TWA), where he was one of three co-founders promoting science-based wildlife management, firearms, and hunting. For more information, click HERE.

HUNTING: 4 Questions You Should Never Ask a Backcountry Outfitter

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A professional guide addresses expectations, reality, preparedness, and mistakes made by his clients. It’s all about your own preparation, research, and showing some respect! READ MORE

western guide

SOURCE: American Hunter, by Jim Zumbo

Part of my career included giving seminars on big-game hunting in the West, mostly elk hunting. I’d also typically have a booth to chat with hunters, sell my books, and converse with other exhibitors, many of whom were outfitters. Most of the time, these seminars were at outdoor expos in large venues located in big cities. Many of the attendees had little or no experience in elk country. Their questions to outfitters were all over the board — some had merit, some did not. As an editor for a major hunting magazine, I was asked many questions as well, and, because I lived in Wyoming, I was the go-to guy for my editors who wanted to experience their first western hunt. Here are four questions that we never want to hear.

1. What’s Your Hunter Success Rate?
While this seems to be a sincere question, let’s look at the meaning of hunter success. Of course, it’s an indicator of how many hunters were successful in taking their animal. The only problem is, it doesn’t reflect reality. Here’s an example. I was on a wilderness elk hunt with four other hunters. I got my bull, along with one other hunter. That means the success rate was 40 percent — not very good when this is a costly dream hunt that you’ve been counting on for years. Why didn’t those other three hunters get their elk? One missed two bulls. He didn’t take the time to find a solid shooting rest, and he shot offhand. He was excited, and he never really had control of his firearm. Another hunter couldn’t see three different bulls in time for a shot. His guide pointed them out, but by the time the hunter saw them, the bulls had disappeared in the timber. The last hunter was reluctant to ride his horse out of camp in the dark. He feared the night woods and was reluctant to ride his horse when it was totally dark. As a result, he never arrived at the hunting area in time to see elk moving from meadows to bedding areas in the forest. He never saw an elk. The result: three hunters failed to score because they weren’t able to capitalize on opportunities — and that’s the key word. It wasn’t the outfitter’s fault that the hunter success wasn’t much higher. So the question to ask is: What is your average hunt opportunity rate? That’s a much fairer question when evaluating the outfitter’s success record.

2. How Far of a Shot Can I Expect?
Some outfitters who mainly hunt heavy timber might tell you that you can expect a 50-yard shot, or no more than a 100-yard shot. Another, who hunts in more open country where longer shots across meadows are common, might say to figure on 200 to 300 yards. But the truth is, most outfitters prefer not to offer this advice, because there’s nothing predictable on a mountain hunt. The danger is that you might not be prepared for variable distances. If the average shot in the timber is expected to be 100 yards or less — and that’s where you’ve sighted in your rifle — what will you do if your bull appears in an opening across the draw 300 yards away? Can you make that shot? Have you fired your rifle at that distance at the range to know where your bullet will hit?

Once, while hunting elk on a bitterly cold day, I stood quietly in heavy forest when I heard elk crunching in the snow. I had expected a close shot on that hunt, but saw several bulls come into view on a small open ledge 300 yards away. Luckily, I made the shot work, primarily because I’ve practiced with the rifle I was carrying repeatedly at distances up to 350 yards. Another mistake is bringing along that .30-30 that’s perfect in your Pennsylvania hardwood forest with plenty of thick mountain laurel, but not so good when that long shot in elk country presents itself. The answer is to be prepared for any eventuality. Bring a rifle you know can take out a gnat’s eyeball at any reasonable distance, and you’ll be comfortable that your gun is up to the task in the elk woods.

3. If I Score at the Beginning of the Hunt, Can I Leave Early?
This seems like a fair enough question — and some outfitters may allow it — but it can be a logistical complication for a backcountry hunt, when the outfitter would need to pack up you and your gear and send a guide down the trailhead with you. This is especially bothersome if it’s a long horseback ride to the road. In the area where I live in the mountains of northwest Wyoming, the average horseback ride to the wilderness tent camp can be 20 miles, some as far in as 30 or more. That means it would take two full days to make a round trip.

Prepare to stay the duration and enjoy the wild surroundings. You might consider bringing a camera with a telephoto lens to take outdoor images, or a couple books. Many mountain camps have streams or lakes close by, sometimes within walking distance of camp. Check with the outfitter beforehand. If fishing is available, pack a compact fishing rod and be sure to buy a fishing license before you head into the woods.

4. Should I Bring Binoculars?
Dumb question? Believe it or not, many hunters will ask it, though most are inexperienced in western mountain country. Some have expectations that their guide will do all the glassing and point out the quarry. The inherent danger here is that the guide might be looking at an elk standing in the timber, being able to see it clearly, but you can’t because you don’t have binoculars. Borrowing your guide’s isn’t a good idea because he’ll no doubt be reluctant to take them off when he’s having a staring contest with a bull. What about substituting your scope instead of binoculars? This is a really bad idea for two reasons. First, binoculars are far more effective in making out a distant or partially hidden animal than a scope. The second and more important reason is for safety purposes.

Here’s a scenario. You see movement in the brush. You can’t make it out, so you raise your rifle to look through the scope. As it turns out, a person appears out of the brush. You are then aiming your rifle directly at a human being. If an outfitter catches you doing that, he’s apt to send you home, and rightly so. Bring binoculars on your western hunt. You don’t have to buy a four-digit set if you can’t afford it. There are plenty that are far less expensive and perfectly adequate in the elk woods.

By avoiding these questions, your outfitter won’t have to second-guess your woods savvy. You’re already ahead of the game even though you’ve never stepped into the western mountains before — and that’s a big advantage as you prepare for that big, long awaited hunt.

NEW: Wilson Combat .458 HAM’R Tactical Hunter

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Bill Wilson upped the ante on successfully hunting with an AR-15. This new round sets a new standard for power. Read all about it!

wilson 458 HAM'R

Billed as the hardest-hitting, most powerful AR-platform rifle on the market today, the Wilson Combat .458 HAM’R Tactical Hunter looks to be a force to reckon with.

The new .458 HAM’R cartridge has a rebated rim that fits a standard AR-10-size bolt-face, but the hybrid receiver design allows for the use of a bolt-carrier group that’s 0.75-inch shorter than a standard AR-10 bolt, and the rifle feeds using standard AR-15 magazines from Lancer Systems.

Designed exclusively by Bill Wilson and the Wilson Combat staff, the .458 HAM’R produces up to 46,000 PSI and better than 3,000 foot-pounds of muzzle energy from an 18-inch barrel, exceeding the energy produced by other big-bore AR cartridges like .450 Bushmaster, .458 SOCOM, and .50 Beowulf. The energy produced by the round enables it to be used easily to hunt all big-game animals in North America, as well as for tactical applications.

Wilson Combat released two rifles chambered in the new cartridge, both with similar specifications: the Wilson Combat Tactical Hunter and the Ultimate Hunter. The Tactical Hunter is built with an 18-inch fluted barrel complete with a threaded muzzle and features a billet upper and lower receiver, the upper receiver providing a flattop Picatinny-rail section for optics mounting. With the stock collapsed, the gun measures 34.25 inches long and weighs 7 pounds, 11 ounces. The Ultimate Hunter variation features a carbon fiber fixed stock. There are barrel options.

The rifle uses a mid-length gas system controlled by an SLR Rifleworks adjustable gas block. The barrel and gas tube are surrounded by Wilson Combat’s own 14.6-inch M-Lok accessory rail and comes with three Ergo Grips rail covers. Other furniture provided on the rifle includes a Rogers/Wilson Super-Stoc and a Wilson Combat/BCM Starburst Gunfighter pistol grip.

Finish-wise, the rifle comes with the company’s durable green-and-black Armor-Tuff finish. Other finish options are available at an additional charge. The bolt-carrier group features a durable, low-friction NP3 coating, and the gun is equipped with the Wilson Combat Tactical Trigger Unit. The suggested retail price on the Tactical Hunter starts at $2,905, and Ultimate Hunter starts at $3055.

READ MORE HERE

HUNTING: America’s Oldest Hunter Bags Third Deer of the Season at 104 Years Old

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Pretty amazing story… Read it all!

104 year old hunter

SOURCE: American Hunter

By all accounts, Clyde Roberts of Evington, Virginia, with 104 years under his belt, is the oldest active hunter in the country. According to The Roanoke Times, he has already taken three deer during the 2017 season — an accomplishment any hunter, regardless of age, should be proud of.

While most assume Roberts is a lifelong hunter who can’t seem to take himself out of the woods he’s always loved, the truth is that Roberts is a late bloomer when it comes to hunting, having begun his journey after retirement at the age of 65. According to OutdoorHub, Roberts began his hunting career 40 years ago as a way to pass the extra time retirement afforded him, and with a rifle purchased by his son Mike, Roberts has failed to notch his tag only once, after an injury in his early 90s kept him out of the woods.

As if his age alone doesn’t set him apart, Roberts tagged three deer, two does and a very respectable 8-point buck, during the 2017 Virginia season; a feat, according to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, only 6 percent of the state’s hunters accomplish. On his latest hunt, with his son Mike by his side, Roberts was loaded for bear holding a .270 when a few does appeared. When Clyde spotted a buck, Mike grunted to stop him, and the .270 echoed through the wood, cartwheeling the big 8-pointer.

Congratulations to Clyde Roberts on another successful season, and best wishes in the seasons to come. His recent 8-pointer marks the 11th deer he has taken since turning 100 years of age!

HUNTING: .300 AAC Blackout for Deer?

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This is a big question around the whitetail woods: how well can the AR-15 serve as a viable hunting rifle when chambered for this round? Here’s one answer… Read on!

300 blackout

SOURCE: NRA Publications, American Hunter
by Philip Massaro

The AR-15 platform has been modified and fiddled with for quite a while, and has its own series of cartridges designed specifically to function within the parameters of the rifle. The 6.8 SPC, the .458 SOCOM, the .50 Beowulf — all were built to give the AR-15 a different level of performance than the standard 5.56 NATO/.223 Rem.

There is also no doubt that .30-caliber cartridges are, have been, and probably will remain America’s favorite. So many cartridges have been modified to hold .30-caliber bullets that I have almost lost count. The .300 AAC Blackout is the cartridge built to function in the AR-15 platform, and with its design comes a different mindset, as the cartridge is called upon to fill a special role.

As a hunting cartridge, the .300 BLK certainly doesn’t look like one of the usual suspects: it is a stubby little guy, definitely lacking the look of a long-range cartridge. That’s fine, because the Blackout was never designed to fulfill that role. Perhaps a bit of history is warranted:

The Blackout’s roots are spread in the soil of the U.S. Military, which was looking for a round that would give better sub-sonic capabilities than their suppressed 9mm carbines, especially for close-in work. With some modification of a wildcat cartridge — namely the .300 Whisper — the .300 Blackout was delivered by Advanced Armament Corporation. The case itself can trace its roots all way back to the .222 Rem., through the .221 Fireball case also formed from that platform. It was designed to fit in a standard 5.56mm AR-15 magazine in double-stack configuration, yet use the long 220-grain .308 caliber bullets for subsonic performance. The Blackout did just that — pushing those 220-grain slugs at 1010 fps — but also did very well with the lighter bullets. That short case will push 125- and 130-grain bullets to a muzzle velocity of around 2200 fps — certainly no speed demon, but enough to get the job done on military targets. It functions perfectly through the AR platform, with one caveat: any ammunition that uses the sleeker-ogive bullets will actually chamber in the .223/5.56mm rifles, and that can pose one helluva problem should the ammo be confused. Please keep them separated!

In the the deer woods, the .300 AAC is an acceptable choice. If ranges are kept around 100 yards — much like the .30/30 WCF — things should go right for you. Were I using a Blackout on a deer hunt, I’d most definitely choose a premium hunting bullet in the 125- to 135-grain range, as they’ll produce the proper terminal ballistics. Those heavy 220-grain slugs are simply moving too slowly to give reliable expansion, and will more than likely whistle on through like a solid, resulting in a wounded or lost animal. No one wants that.

AAC deer rounds
Author believes that, loaded with a suitable bullet, the .300 Blackout is suitable for use as an effective deer cartridge, as much so as are others with similar ballistics, such as .30/30 WCF.

Ammunition choices are pretty broad now. As said, you’ll want to keep your hunting distances within reason, and choose a bullet that will expand reliably at the furthest distance you expect to take an animal with the Blackout — the range where that bullet will slow down. I’m not one of those who gets hung up on energy figures — where the commonly accepted figure of 1,000 ft.-lbs. to kill a deer came from, I don’t know — but you definitely need reliable expansion in order to kill effectively. Looking at just a few, Hornady loads the 135-grain FTX bullet at a muzzle velocity of 2,085 fps, and this will make a great hunting round. They also load their 110-grain GMX — an all-copper, polymer-tipped bullet — that will also get the job done well, again, providing you use it within reasonable ranges. Barnes builds their VOR-TX Blackout ammo around the 120-grain monometal TAC-TX bullet; Barnes worked very hard to deliver a bullet that is plenty accurate and yet gives good expansion and penetration.

The whitetail deer has suffered from guinea-pig status; I know hunters who seriously use calibers ranging from .17 Rem. all the way up to the .450 No.2 Nitro Express to make their venison, with varying levels of success. The whitetail is so prolific that, like feral hogs, sportsman tend to experiment with varying calibers and bullet weights. A good bullet, like that GMX or TAC-TX, at the lighter .30-caliber weights, will get the job done, and that’s been pretty well proven. Considering the Blackout’s trajectory, you’ll want to limit the range to 100 or 125 yards. To obtain a 200-yard zero with the Hornady FTX load, you’ll need to be 5 inches high at 100, which is a bit drastic. Perhaps a 100-yard zero, or 1 inch high at 100, where you’d be in vitals at 125 yards, makes more sense.

So, is the Blackout the perfect deer cartridge? It’s no .308 Win., but I that within 100 yards it’s a better choice than any .22-caliber centerfire. The choice is up to you, but if I were handed an accurate Blackout for a hunt in the northeast woods, I wouldn’t hesitate to use it, provided it was loaded with a good, sensible bullet.

Check out AAC choices at Midsouth HERE

HUNTING: The 26-Yard Hunting Zero

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Unsure of the correct zero range for different shots out in the field? Here’s an idea to help end the confusion! Read all about it…

riflescope

SOURCE: NRA American Hunter, by Jeff Johnston

Much has been written on the ideal distance to zero a hunting rifle. There is no best sight-in range for everyone, because the range at which hunters expect to shoot their quarry differs considerably. For example, if you hunt exclusively from a ridge top that overlooks a food source that is 150 yards away, you should zero for that distance. But if you hunt various terrain that offers both short- and long-range shots, here’s a technique that’ll allow you to hold the crosshairs on the vitals of deer-sized game or larger and keep your bullet inside the vital zone out to 280 yards, give or take a few yards depending on your caliber. It’s called point-blank range, and to maximize it you should alter your sight-in range for a particular load, rather than letting your traditional sight-in distance dictate your rifle’s zero.

“Point-blank” range defined is the range of distances at which you can hold your rifle on the center of a bullseye and never fall in or out of your target’s kill zone. The point-blank range for a deer, for example, is generally regarded as six inches. In other words, if you hold dead center on the vitals, your bullet can be 3 inches high or 3 inches low before it misses the vital zone. An elk’s vital zone is larger of course — we’ll say 8 inches. But I like to stay with the 6-inch rule of thumb because is allows for some shooter error, an occurrence that you’d be naive to assume doesn’t happen while in field positions shooting at wild game.

So many hunters zero their rifles at 100 yards that it’s almost become standard practice. But the following examples will illustrate why that’s not a great zero for a rifleman who wishes to be able to take shots quickly, without calculating, from point-blank to nearly 300 yards.

As an example, let’s use a common hunting round, a .270 Win., loaded by Remington with a 130-grain Premier Accutip boattail bullet that has a .447 Ballistic Coefficient (BC). It’s got a muzzle velocity of 3,060 fps. Ballistically, it falls in line with a whole class of moderately fast calibers. The scope (line of sight) is mounted 1.5 inches over the center of the bore. Zeroed at 100 yards, the bullet will impact 0.76 inches low at 25 yards (this is just fine for hunters), and will be 2.98 inches low at 203 yards. But after 203 yards it falls below the 6-inch vital zone. (That’s missing the 6-inch circle, 3 inches below the center, or point of aim.) At 250 yards, it will impact 6 inches below the point of aim, (3 inches out of the vital zone.) So, with a 100-yard zero, a hunter can simply aim at a buck and expect to hit it in the vitals anywhere from 0 to 203 yards.

Other riflemen who routinely hunt areas where shots of 300 yards or more are common sometimes opt for a 200-yard zero. This places that same .270 bullet 0.4 inches low at 25 yards, 1.41 inches high at 100 yards, 2.51 inches low at 250 yards and finally slips below the 6-inch vital zone at 257 yards. So with a 200 yard zero, a hunter can hold dead on from 0 to 257 yards and kill the animal, assuming he does his part and fires an error-free shot. As you can see, the 200-yard zero is very effective, and if your target range will accommodate it, great. But many hunters don’t have the luxury of zeroing at 200 yards. No worry, there’s a better zero anyway…

Using ballistic software downloaded from Remington.com, I manipulated the zero range input data until it was optimized for the greatest point-blank range. I found that by zeroing my rifle in at 26 yards, the .270 will deliver its bullet 2.81 inches high at 100 yards, 2.80 inches high at 200 yards and 2.12 inches high at 250 yards before finally falling out of the 6-inch vital zone at 310 yards. This means that with a 26 yard zero, I can hold dead-center of a deer’s vitals and kill it cleanly from 0 to 310 yards without adjusting my hold.

Of course, this is an on-paper estimate, and until you actually shoot your rifle at those distances, you can’t be sure, but I’ve found it to be pretty close. For most rifles, a 25- to 28-yard zero (depending on the caliber’s velocity and bullet’s BC) will maximize its point blank range. My technique for shooting is to zero at 26 yards (if using the .270 noted above), then shade slightly low (an inch or two) when shooting at 100 yards, and hold slightly high at 300. This increases my margin of shooting error, while allowing me to not have to calculate or hold off the animal at 300 yards. I simply see the animal, range it and shoot — out to 310 yards. Any further than that, I can either use my scope ballistic reticle, or know my caliber’s ballistic data and hold over appropriately.

If you choose to employ this 26-yard technique, beware that when zeroing at close range, you must strive for perfection. Place a dime-sized spot on the target and do not deem your rifle “good” until the bullet actually punches that dime on a consistent basis. If you are an inch high or low, or to the left or right, you will be way off at longer range, and it defeats the whole purpose of zeroing in at such a specific range. If you can’t hit the dime at 26 yards, it indicates that your rifle (and/or you) probably isn’t accurate enough to be shooting at long range anyway, because if your rifle is grouping 1-inch at 25 yards, for example, it will likely be 4 inches off at 100 yards and off the paper at 300. But with the technique mentioned above, you can simply aim for an animal’s vitals out to 300 yards and concentrate on a smooth trigger pull.

The Data

100 YARD ZERO
.270 Win. at 100 Yards:
This graph illustrates that with a 100-yard zero, your bullet is on at 100 yards, then starts falling rapidly, and is 3 inches below the point-of-hold at approximately 200 yards.
26 YARD ZERO
.270 Win. at 26 Yards:
The graph shows that your .270 Win. bullet, when zeroed at 26 yards, angles above the line-of-sight 2.81 inches at 200 yards, crosses the line of sight (zero) again at approximately 275 yards, before falling beyond 3 inches low at 310 yards. Therefore, with a 26-yard zero, you can hold on the target and expect to hit a 6-inch vital zone from 0 to 310 yards.

 

 

SOFTWARE 

HUNTING: 4 Things You Must Know Before You Shoot

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Being a responsible hunter means accepting your role in upholding and respecting humane etiquette and safety. Here are a few things to consider before pulling the trigger or loosing the arrow… Keep reading.

elk

by Justin McDaniel

If I hadn’t heard the brush crack, I probably wouldn’t have seen the buck in the first place. Jumped by another hunter, the eight-pointer came slipping through some grapevines above my stand when, unexpectedly, he made a 90-degree turn and entered the open field beside me.

With the buck partially silhouetted against the skyline, I was faced with one of those split-second decisions that all hunters face at one time or another.

To shoot or not to shoot, that was the question.

One of the trademarks of a good hunter is knowing when to shoot and when to let game walk. Following these basic shoot/don’t shoot principles will help you to make the right decision when crunch time arrives:

ONE: Always properly identify your target before shooting.
A hunter should never shoot through trees or brush at a noise, movement or dark shape. Instead, a hunter should positively identify his or her target and have a clear shot at the animal’s vital area before pulling the trigger. If you’re hunting deer or other big game, only shoot when you have a clear picture of the area behind the animal’s front shoulder. For goose and other waterfowl, never shoot randomly into a flock. Always focus on a single bird and aim for the head and neck area. Doing otherwise could wound or cripple multiple birds. If you’re hunting in a gender-specific season, such as spring gobbler, look for the defining characteristics of a male bird, such as feather and head color and the presence of a beard. If your state has antler restrictions for deer hunting, only shoot when you can clearly identify that a buck is legal.

TWO: Always know what lies beyond your target before shooting.
Based on this safety rule, I had to let that 8-point walk when he was silhouetted against the skyline. It’s always best to wait until you have a solid backstop beyond your target, such as a hillside, or to shoot downward from an elevated stand. You should never shoot toward the crest of a hill. If a home, barn or other building sits on the property you hunt, be mindful of its presence and never shoot at game in its direction, no matter how confident you are of your marksmanship abilities. No trophy is worth the price of putting another person at risk, so if the final landing place of your shot is in question, don’t take it.

THREE: Be aware of the location of other hunters and never shoot in their direction.
When hunting with others, it’s important to know their location and set a “zone of fire” so that each hunter in the group knows exactly where he or she may shoot without putting others in danger. For example, if three pheasant hunters walk abreast through a field, the middle hunter’s zone of fire would be any flushes directly in front of him or her. The hunter on the right would only take shots offered directly in front or to the right, and the third hunter’s zone would be any shots in front or to the left. In addition to knowing the location of the hunters in your own party, always be on the lookout for other hunters who may be near you, and never shoot in their direction. Likewise, when hunting birds or rabbits with a dog, be aware of the dog’s location and never shoot rabbits or low-flying birds in the dog’s vicinity.

FOUR: Know your limitations and be aware of the maximum range of your firearm or bow.
If knowing when to shoot is one of the most important skills for a hunter to possess, competency with one’s equipment is equally essential. Practice often with your firearm or bow in hunting-type scenarios and understand your level of proficiency. In short, know your range. If you feel confident you can make a 100-yard shot, don’t take “pot shots” at a deer 300 yards away. If you practice 30-yard shots with your bow, don’t panic and take a bad shot at a deer 45 yards away. Similarly, if a deer is running at full speed, hold your shot and wait for the deer to stop or slow down before shooting. While it’s important to recognize your own abilities, it’s also key to understand your equipment’s capabilities. While a 12 gauge with 3-inch shells might do the trick on a turkey at 30-40 yards, don’t try to extend that range and take a bad shot at a tom that’s hung up 50 yards out.

It’s no exaggeration to say that sometimes the shots you don’t take are more important than the ones that you do. Putting another person at risk or crippling game is too high a price to pay for being impatient and taking a bad shot. Learning these basic shooting rules will allow you to differentiate between a good shot and a bad one, making you a safer, smarter hunter in the long run.