Even with a virtually unlimited variety of available factory loads, hand loading is becoming more popular than ever, and with good reason. I have been shooting hand loads almost exclusively in my hunting and match rifles for years now and I don’t know how I could ever go back. Here are three major benefits to crunching your own brass and some tips to help you get started.
Cost: Getting started can seem pretty daunting, but in the long run you will save quite a bit of money. You can pick up a reloading kit like RCBS’s rock chucker supreme kit for around $320, and that leaves dies, brass, bullets, primers, and powder for each individual cartridge. This seems like a lot, but many common factory loads are running over $30 or $40 per box. If you shoot a lot, or want to load for multiple calibers, the equipment quickly pays for itself.
After packing out my bull and cow, my hunting buddy Fred and I took a break from the mountain for a few days. This would allow the elk to calm down a bit and give us a couple nights sleep in a real bed to recover from our long pack out.
Our plan worked great and things were hot and heavy when we arrived back at our base camp. We could hear several bugles from what we thought were three different bulls on the eastern ridge line about 500 yards from camp. We headed straight to the top on the next morning. Before the sun had even crested the horizon we had several elk within 100 yards of our position.
With winter starting to creep into the air, my dad and I took off on a late season archery moose hunt here in interior Alaska. We took our jet boat into an area with little hunting pressure for the primetime rut. Then things got slow. We spent several days calling up and down the river with little results. Then toward the end of the trip, chopping firewood one morning, we saw a moose.
You don't have to be a veteran mountain goat hunter to figure out real quick that they are not the brightest animals in the kingdom. Now their physical ability on the other hand, well, it’s second to none and the terrain they live in is unforgiving. The next issue with those white furry creatures is the fact that it can take several years to draw a tag. If you add the challenge of establishing a goat’s gender, size and age, you end up with one hell of a fun hunt. But it's not all fun and games. Hunting at high altitude offers some unique challenges and requires specialized gear. Here's what's worked for me over the years (see the video from my last goat hunt here).
Usually when you head into the mountains just about everything that can go wrong will go wrong. But sometimes just the opposite happens. The stars align and everything goes your way. This was the case on my latest mountain goat hunt with my good friend Adam Tangsrud and his dad Steve Tangsrud.
Adam and his dad lucked out by drawing goat tags for the same season in the same unit and they were kind enough to let me tag along with the video camera. Two days before opening day we hiked into the mountains to scout and found plenty of shooter goats. So on opening day we headed in two miles to our hunting spot. That might not sound like a far trek, but we weren't exactly strolling through a park. As you'll see in the video, mountain goats live in wickedly steep country. Some of the areas we had to traverse were downright dangerous. They are truly incredible animals for being able to survive in such a habitat.