May 9, 2008
I’m at a new product seminar being hosted by Remington and its sister companies Marlin, DPMS, Bushmaster and H&R. At this morning’s session we learned about a lot of new items on tap for 2009, one of the most interesting being a cartridge that Remington has developed for big-game hunting with an AR.
It is called the 30 Remington AR, and as you might have guessed it is a .30-caliber round with the same overall length as a .223, meaning it will function in the R-15 line of rifles, which is much trimmer and lighter than the larger AR-10-sized R-25 rifles.
The idea behind the product is to give .308 Win. type performance in an AR-15 sized upper. The ballistics charts for the new round show give figures for a 125-gr. round in the 30 Rem. AR—or .30 RAR as I’ll call it here for short—versus a 165-grain bullet in .308 Win. Velocities are about the same for both rounds. The .30 RAR exits at 2,800 fps vs. 2,700 fps for the .308 Win. At 400 yards, the .30 RAR is going 1,816 fps to the .308’s 1,966.
The big difference is in energy. The .30 RAR in this bullet weight has about 500 ft-lb. less of energy than the 165-gr. .308 at any distance. A substantial amount less and one that will certainly have an effect on game in the field—but how much of a difference we’ll just have to see once we start killing some deer with it.
The good news here, however, is that AR fans who want a lighter weight rifle in a big-game cartridge have a new option to look at. The R-15 is said to weight about 7.5 pounds, a full pound less than the R-25 in .308 Win.
I’ll post some pictures and give a bigger report once I get back from the range this afternoon.
—John Snow [ Read Full Post ]
There is no doubt that a buck packing a rocking chair on its head with kicker points and a lot of trash hanging off the rack is enough to make any hunter’s heart skip a beat. The bruiser on this week’s Big Buck Profile we nicknamed “Freak Nasty” has the kind of headgear that can make your heart go into cardiac arrest. Just looking at this giant makes me want to call 911. I guarantee at first glance you’re probably thinking this bad boy had to be taken in one of the fabled big buck states like Iowa, Kansas, Illinois, or one of the Canadian Provinces. Unfortunately, you would be dead wrong with any of those educated guesses. Don’t feel too bad, because I thought the same thing when I first laid eyes on this monster.
However, the buck was actually taken in south Mississippi near the Louisiana state line by a hunter named Jay Mitchell. On this particular hunt, Mitchell was chasing whitetails on his family farm in Carroll County when the Godzilla of whitetail bucks walked into a cleared shooting lane. This unbelievable buck has a total of 18 points and gross scores 184 inches. Consequently, one year of growth made a dramatic difference in rack size with “Freak Nasty.” In fact, the buck’s sheds from last year were a main frame 10-point with forked G2’s and only scored 163. It’s amazing how much a rack can grow from one year to the next under the right conditions. The pictures of this buck will undoubtedly be keeping me up late at night for the next few weeks. Congratulations Jay on a phenomenal buck!—Travis Faulkner [ Read Full Post ]
The striper bite is going off on Montauk. “It’s been a great season,” reports Susan Jappell at Paulies Bait and Tackle www. pauliestackle. com. She told us that surf anglers are experiencing blitzes every day. “The best action has been on the north of the lighthouse,” she told us, “but no one will tell us exactly where the fish are. ” She did know that the fish have been caught on Pimple Poppers during the day and live eels at night. Earlier in the week, Willie Young whacked a 52-pound bass with a bottle plug to take first place in the Montauk Local Surfcasters Tournament. Several other anglers have landed fish that made them eligible for Paulie’s 40-pound club. Jack Yee (www. jackyee. com) added that the bass blitzes occur at a different location each day and anglers must predict where and when the fish will hit to get in on the action. He said that locations like the Bluff, Oyster Point, Shagwon, Westside Jetty, Turtle Cove, Town Beaches and Hither Hill to Deadman have been good locations. “The local sharpies play roadrunner chasing the bass and birds all day,” he said.
Fall is a fantastic time to fish the backwaters of the South East. Amy Golden at Tybee Island Bait and Tackle reported that sheepshead fishing has been good around the jetties and bridge pilings. She said the fish are looking for a small piece of fiddler crab on a size 1 live bait hook and a Carolina rig with a 2-ounce eggsinker. Speckled trout fishing has also been good on Ocean Pier, in the South Channel and around Little Tybee Island. These fish will fall for a live shrimp, but Amy says that a Berkley Gulp! on a ¼ ounce jighead will also work. Redfish action is also hot. The big bulls are in the ocean sucking up chunks of cut mullet while the smaller reds are thick in the creeks taking Berkley Gulp! Shrimp, DOA shrimp or natural shrimp. Amy has seen some king mackerel come to the scales this week, but the fishing hasn’t been read hot. Both inshore and offshore fishing should pick up this fall, she said. Boats fishing out of Charleston are thick into the sailfish this week. They are releasing double digits of sails in 200 feet of water with ballyhoo rigged on a circle hook. The fish will only be there for a short time, so get on the bite while the getting is good!
This is a great time to head to New Orleans for some rest, relaxation, and great fishing. From Hook and Line Tackle in New Orleans, Anthony Macaluso had news that speckled trout and redfish action has fired up at Delagux, Shell Beach and Hopedale. Guys are using Gulp!, Bass Assassin’s or DOA shrimp under a popping cork to catch the trout. Anthony suggests putting the bait on a ¼ ounce jig head and hanging it 3 feet under a cork. He suggests anglers look for the trout on points and oyster bars in the marshes adding that the key to finding specks is finding moving water. Folks fishing the lakes are finding trout under diving birds while the reds are hanging on the grasslines at the edge of the marsh. “You’ll see the water moving with live shrimp,” he says, “that’s where the reds will be. ” Offshore action has been slow due to bad weather, but Anthony expects the boats to find good numbers of tuna, wahoo, grouper, and snapper around the oil rigs off Venice and the Chandelier Islands.
With cooler weather and shorter days, fishing in the upper Midwest has really turned on. Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports in Chicago declared the Illinois River red hot this week. He said that water level has receded and the white bass are hitting minnows on a jig or live bait rig. “The secret to the bite is to keep the bait moving,” he said. Steve suggests fishing the inlets, creek mouths, bridges, and shallow sand beds from Hennipen to Starved Rock Dam. “Anywhere the water is moving and turning and the fish can ambush live bait,” he explained. Salmon and steelhead are also on the feed this week. Joseph Meyer at One More Cast Fly Shop reported that the fish are running up the tributaries of Lake Michigan on the Milwaukee River and Sheboygan River. He suggests swinging large streamers in orange and black with 8-weight rods and floating line. “Low light conditions are the best,” he said. Joseph said that smallmouth are cooperating in the Fox River. He recommends using larger flies up to a size 2 to catch the biggest smallies. “We haven’t had three stable days of weather in a row,” Joseph complained, “every 18 hours we get a cold front passing through.” When the fish have lockjaw, Joseph recommends working the fly super slow to entice them to bite.
Bob Cassidy at Anglers Arsenal outside San Diego told us that the salt water fishing has been good for yellowfin tuna. He said that the fish are scattered, with most of the action coming south of the Mexican border. Once anglers find the tuna they can catch limits of fish by trolling feathers or casting live anchovies to kelp beds. Freshwater fishing has also been good. Since San Vicente Reservoir is closed while the water department rebuilds the dam, anglers have to find other places to fish. Bob says that the best options are to fish El Capitan or Otay Reservoir. He suggests using drop shot worms in the deeper water or throwing a topwater plug early in the morning. “We’re selling a lot of Spro frogs,” he says, “so that’s an indication of the hot bait. ” Bob adds that a 4 to 8 inch Huddleston, Spro, swimbaits has also been a big seller. “You don’t get as many bites on the bigger baits,” he says, “but the fish you catch will be bigger. ” Bob said that Roland Martin was filming a show about the Spro baits a few weeks ago on Vale Lake. “He would be talking about the bait and get a bite in one shot,” Bob said, “it was kind of neat. ” [ Read Full Post ]
Not much for either treestands or groundblinds but you’d still like to put some venison in your freezer this year?
Well, if you’re not into bows, rifles, slug-guns or muzzleloaders, your best chances of dispatching a whitetail by the motorized method can be found in the hills of West Virginia. There, one in every 45 drivers will become more closely acquainted with their insurance agents this year following deer encounters on the roadway.
Data released this week from State Farm Insurance show that—for the second year in a row—West Virginians have the best chance among all U.S. motorists of hitting a deer with their vehicles. In fact, since last year it’s become even more likely for folks in The Mountain State to harvest a whitetail with their Buick or F-150.
And the “Good Neighbor” folks from Bloomington, Illinois put the data into perspective for us, noting that the probability of a vehicle hitting a deer in West Virginia sometime in the next year is roughly two times greater than the possibility that you will be audited by the Internal Revenue Service in 2009 and 1,100 times greater than your chance of winning a state lottery grand prize if you buy one ticket per day for the next year.
Which begs the question: Which would be more painful, a smashed front bumper or an IRS audit?
Anyhow, for those drivers keeping score, whitetail-rich Michigan came in second in the deer hit parade again this year with 1 in 78 odds. It was followed by Pennsylvania (1 in 97), Iowa (1 in 105) and Arkansas (1 in 108).
South Dakota is sixth. Wisconsin dropped from third to seventh. Montana, North Dakota and Virginia round out the top 10.
See the complete state-by-state statistics here, and the color-coded U.S. "Deer Collision Likelihood" map.
The least likely state to smack a deer on the highway remains Hawaii, where the chances are only one in 10,962.
Oh yes, State Farm also reports that the average property damage cost of deer/vehicle accidents in the U.S. is $2,950, up 2.5 percent from a year ago.
Be careful out there. [ Read Full Post ]
It's been awhile since I've posted and I apologize for not having done so after promising to provide updates last weekend—the first weekend of New York's turkey season. Problem is that things haven't worked out so well for me.
Jake, my John-Byrne turkey dog, has provided me with many seasons of amazing moments in the fall woods. In fact, when I tried to recall them all during the past couple of days, but lost track. He wasn't the greatest turkey dog in the world, but he was mine and he was really, really good. I hoped like hell to get one more season out of Jake.
His best buddy in the world was my daughter Amy and although she has shot two spring gobblers with me, she's never taken a fall bird with her buddy, Jake. I tried desperately to make that happen last weekend.
We quickly got on some fresh scratchings on Sunday morning, however, Jake wasn't much up to the task. Oh, his spirit was certainly more than willing, but after watching him stumble over a few deadfalls for the sixth time, I honestly could not take any more.
"THIS is breaking my heart," I said to whomever would listen. "I can't handle another second."
Within the next few weeks, Jake will be put down--the pain of getting into my truck and running off after turkeys are just too great. I'm trying to come to grips with it.—Gerry Bethge [ Read Full Post ]
Aren't trail cameras great! It's almost like having x-ray glasses and being able to look at your Christmas presents under the tree to see inside. A hunting pal of mine, Tom Huebner, sent me the following two images from his trail camera on a property we hunt together in South Dakota.
This first image says it all. The big non-typical is feeding on an alfalfa field that nearly every whitetail, and mule deer, in the neighborhood is visiting. The buck appears to have a drop tine and several extra points adding to his total score. The second buck is one of a dozen in this category with a Pope and Young 5x5 frame, decent length on points and a sweeping main beam.
My first attempt at hunting this property will take place late next week during a bowhunt. I'm hoping to arrow one of these bucks, or another, but if I don't, I'll be back. I'll also be filming on this property for North American Hunter and TruckVault Xtreme Hunts, both seen on Versus. On those hunts I'll be armed with a rifle to even the odds.
My strategy for the bowhunt is to focus on food sources in the evening and ambush bucks as they visit the rich food sources. My morning strategy will be to back off into the timber and set along rub lines and over scrapes. If there isn't a scrape around I'll make my own. Why? I want to make sure that if a buck saunters into bow range that something grabs his attention and stops him for a shot so I don't have to stop him. If you try and stop a buck with a bleat or grunt, you may scare the pants off of him, or coil him to jump the string. Wish me luck!
Oh, and don't forget to send us your own trail camera photos for a chance to win some great outdoor gear.—Mark Kayser [ Read Full Post ]
A pristine, corrosion-free Colt Walker .44 black powder revolver (ca. 1847) sold at auction in Fairfield, Maine to an unknown bidder yesterday for $800,000 (plus a 17 percent auction commission).
The sale reflected the most ever fetched for the model, of which fewer than 170 are believed to exist. It was also the highest price ever paid for any type of Colt firearm.
The black powder cartridge pistol was sold with the original powder flask, issued at Vera Cruz to Private Sam Wilson in 1847.
The gun’s owner, Montanan John McBride, 80, said he decided to sell it at auction because his family had no interest in historic firearms and wanted to use the proceeds to purchase property. The gun previously belonged to McBride’s great-great uncle.
“It was a painful decision,” McBride told the Kennebec (ME) Journal newspaper. “The family would rather have land than pistols. I can understand that. I don’t necessarily agree with it.”
A spokesman for the auction company’s firearms division said the price commanded for the pristine Colt was all about condition. There was not a spot of rust or oxidation on the massive, 9-inch barrel--or anywhere else on the gun.
“This is a military gun that normally is found in relic condition,” said Wes Dillon, “What we are seeing here is a unique opportunity in the gun-collecting world.”
Known as one of the most powerful handguns in history, the original Colt Walker had an overall length of 15.5 inches and weighed approximately 4.75 pounds. It held 50-to 60-grains of black powder and shot a conical 220-grain bullet or .44 cal. roundball.
By comparison, the original .45 Colt cartridge used a 250 grain bullet and 40 grains of powder. The Walker stood alone in repeating handgun ballistics superiority until the introduction of the .357 Magnum in 1935.
Only about 1,100 Walker pistols were made during a short production run in 1847. Its namesake, Capt. Samuel Hamilton Walker, a war hero who fought in the Texas-Mexico wars, collaborated with gunmaker Samuel Colt to create a pistol suitable for the Texas Rangers and the U.S. Dragoons.
Capt. Walker wrote in 1847 that the gun was “as effective as a common rifle at 100 yards and superior to a musket even at 200.”
Besides the fact that relatively few of the pistols were manufactured in the first place, a contributing factor in the scarcity (and value) of the Walker Colt today is that many of the guns were damaged by mis-loading. When it was introduced, few men had ever seen a revolver--much less shot one--resulting in burst cylinders and the accidental firing of all six chambers at once. [ Read Full Post ]
New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, who has effectively blocked the management of black bears by hunters in The Garden State throughout his 3 years in office, denied to a newspaper reporter last week there is a bear problem in his state, despite that fact that conflicts with the animals have skyrocketed.
As of Sept. 20, New Jersey had recorded 2,155 bear complaints for the year—an increase of 84 percent from the same period in 2007. The most serious “Category One” incidents, in which bears threaten humans or property have more than doubled, from 87 to 203.
And the number of bears reported actually entering New Jersey homes in 2008 also has more than doubled, reaching a total of 65.
Additionally, the state has euthanized 25 bruins this year for aggressive behavior, up from 18 this same time in 2007.
Yet, in a New Jersey Herald article last week, Corzine arrogantly told a reporter the number of black bears in the state was only a problem “if you want to call it that.” He then reiterated the state Department of Environmental Protection’s position that improved waste and garbage management would reduce the incidents of bear-human conflict.
“A lot of the problem is perception,” Corzine told the newspaper, asserting that most complaints are simply sightings and confined to a small part of the state.
In 2003, the state of New Jersey held its first black bear hunt since the 1970s. A follow-up hunt in 2004 was blocked by the courts, but was reinstated in 2005. Since then, Corzine and Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Lisa Jackson have denied the authority of the N.J. Fish and Game Council to implement a bear hunt, saying the state must emphasize non-lethal methods of bear management.
The New Jersey governor’s anti-hunting platform has won him praise from the country’s largest and most active animal rights and anti-hunting organization, the Humane Society of the United States.
“Killing bears simply for their heads and hides is inhumane, scientifically reckless, and bad management policy,” said Michael Markarian, HSUS executive vice president. “(New Jersey) leaders are right to offer a different approach. A simple trash-management program can reduce the number of bears who (sic) venture into inhabited areas more than killing just any bear who (sic) lives in the forest.” [ Read Full Post ]
“I do not particularly care to shoot grouse out of trees but probably wouldn’t hesitate if I were hungry. Of course a truly practical soul might mention that it doesn’t make much difference to the grouse whether he is potted on a branch or bagged while splitting the wind through the hemlocks after being pointed stylishly by a setter with a pedigree written on parchment.”
-Charley F. Waterman
“Sports and Killjoys”
Gray’s Sporting Journal, Spring 1988 [ Read Full Post ]
New York’s database of so-called handgun “fingerprints”--which is costing Empire State taxpayers at least $1 million annually--has yet to lead to a single criminal prosecution after more than seven years in existence.
Since March 2001, ballistics information has been recorded from more than 209,000 new pistols and revolvers sold in the state and entered into the Combined Ballistic Identification System database maintained by New York State Police.
New York and Maryland are the only two states that currently mandate and maintain statewide ballistics databases.
Last year, California lawmakers approved legislation requiring semi-auto handguns sold in the state to “microstamp” each cartridge in two locations whenever it is fired. Despite the fact that more than one study showed the proprietary microstamping technology to contain serious flaws, the California law was signed by Gov. Schwarzenegger in 2007 and scheduled become effective in 2010.
Under current New York law, new guns are fired, and information about the markings left on the casings is recorded and entered into the digital database.
So far, with 209,239 casings entered into New York’s system, there have been 7,124 inquiries and only two hits—neither of which led to an arrest or prosecution.
Beyond the obvious statistical evidence of the failure of ballistics data to help solve crimes committed with handguns, there are several basic principles that doomed for the effort from its inception.
-Criminals don’t purchase guns legally.
-Markings a gun leaves on shell casings changes over time or can be purposely altered.
-Revolvers don’t eject casings.
-Casings from another firearm can be left at crime scenes to implicate others.
Tom King, president of the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, said the state would be better served by spending the money used for the database for additional police and other law enforcement programs that actually have proven successful.
“We don’t have to be throwing millions of dollars into a program that doesn't work,” he recently told the Associated Press. [ Read Full Post ]
Some are. Some aren’t. Autumn turkeys can be easy once you find them, but locating flocks isn’t always a sealed deal. Food sources can be widespread in October and November, the heart of fall-turkey hunting around the country. As a result, groups of birds can roam widely. This is especially true for ridgetop turkeys in mountainous regions of the country. You may find sign in the form of scratchings, tracks, droppings and dusting areas, but never contact the live birds. When you do though, yes, it can be easier, but not always . . .
I’ve tagged fall turkeys on opening day not long after fly-down time. I’ve hunted autumn flocks on a Vermont ridge for days, with fresh scratchings all around me, without filling a tag. Is this anything different than hunting spring gobblers? Turkey hunting is turkey hunting.
Fact: Wild turkeys, young or old, are delicious on the table when prepared with care. My Thanksgiving Day simply wouldn’t be the same without one.
2. You can’t call fall longbeards
Not unless you try. Thinking like a wild turkey will help. In spring, male turkeys are inclined to seek out hens to breed them. Our calling tradition then focuses around making clucks and hen yelps to lure gobblers in. In fall, male turkeys roam in gobbler gangs. Survival—primarily roosting and feeding—and pecking order rule their movements. To call a fall longbeard to the gun or bow you have to adapt your calling. Clucking, gobbler yelping, and gobbling can do just that.
Once on a Vermont fall turkey hunt, my English setter Midge broke up a flock of gobblers my buddy Lawrence Pyne had seen while bowhunting. Our hunting partner Marc Brown would be the shooter. Calling included clucking, gobbler yelping, and most importantly aggressive purring. I watched as one longbeard skirted our setup, and moved on past. Not long after, another approached silently, and looked in the direction of the calling. Just then, Brownie purred aggressively, and I watched as that brick-red head turned red, white and blue. That fired-up tom, his shoulders hunched like Count Dracula, stalked into range.
That was the last thing that fall longbeard did.—Steve Hickoff [ Read Full Post ]
If you could build a better mousetrap for whitetails I doubt you’d use the contraption in the photo here. No doubt you are familiar with scrapes and the fact that if you wait by the right one long enough, you’ll get a crack at a buck. If you plan on building a mock scrape you’d better sign up for “Scrapes 101.”
First, scrapes serve as territorial markers for bucks to outline their territory. Scrapes also provide a show of dominance for older bucks. Scent associated near a scrape, either deposited on an overhanging branch or left through urine in the dirt, distinguishes deer from one another and allows deer in a herd to know which bucks are claiming an area.
The second major use of scrape associates around does. During the breeding season, does visit scrapes to keep tabs on bucks in their home range. They’ll stop and scent-check the scrapes to associate themselves with the buck in an area and they may even scrape themselves.
Experts call scrapes by different names, but we’ll refer to them as primary, secondary and territorial scrapes. Primary scrapes are the ones you will try and mock. These scrapes around found along major travel routes, near bedding and feeding areas and in areas of high deer concentrations. They are always found along a major trail and are used year after year by a variety of bucks.
Secondary scrapes are those made along travel routes as well, but are often haphazard and only used once or twice during the course of the breeding season. Bucks make dozens of scrapes and few rise to the primary status. Finally, territorial scrapes outline a buck’s domain and are often most visible along open fields and wood edges.
For hunting purposes, you’ll want to locate your mock scrape in a strategic shooting location, yet in a location that deer will view as normal. Just make sure there are enough good trees within 20 yards of your scrape to hang a treestand in before going through the scrape-making process. You’ll also want to take into consideration of your ambush site in regards to the prevailing winds. Keep your stand site downwind from prevailing winds and situation to avoid your scent spilling onto deer travel routes. How big should you make your scrape? Scrapes vary in size like the bucks that make them, but few scrapes are of car hood proportions. If you want to blend in, make your scrape approximately the size of the others in the woods. To dispense scent use items such as the Hunter’s Specialty Scent Dripper, which dispenses scent during daytime hours and shuts off at night. If you want to eliminate the competition of existing scrapes, clip the overhanging branch of an existing scrape from nearby and hang it above your mock scrape. Now go play in the dirt. It’s scrape time. [ Read Full Post ]
John Snow reported in this space last week about my experience moose
hunting in British Columbia, and he raised a question every hunter
faces: Do you shoot the first animal you see, or do you hold out for a
If you’re hunting close to home in an area with abundant wildlife,
that’s usually a pretty easy decision. Unless you’re hunting meat for
the table, most of us would hold out for a mature male, and some of the
most memorable experiences in the field are passing on animals that are
within range. The question becomes more difficult the further you roam,
and the more investment you have in the trip, and whether the locale is
known for producing trophies.
It’s the quintessential hunter’s dilemma: Are you willing to settle for
any animal or hold out for a single specimen, even if it means you
don’t kill anything? It’s a luxury of our age to even have the choice,
and after I passed my moose I thought about all those subsistence
hunters who would scold me for my selectivity.
Here are some photos from the trip to northern BC’s Babine Mountains.
This bull pictured above is the one we called into 15 yards the first evening of the hunt.
This guy came in from about a mile down the valley, grunting and raking
trees the whole way. He sounded like a Panzer coming through the
spruce, and I was sure he was a shooter. But when he entered the
clearing, I knew immediately I would pass. He just wasn’t what I was
after – which was a 45-inch or better moose. The area I hunted produces
plenty of 48- and even 50-inchers, and I reckoned this bull went about
42 inches. I wanted him to grow another year.
I felt great about my decision to pass, especially because it was the
first day of the hunt. The next morning we set up about two miles up
the valley and again called in this young bull, which brought a younger
friend along. Here are photos of these two bulls.
I figured we were in tall cotton – action on the first two days of the
hunt. You know the rest: we didn’t see another bull in eight more days
of hunting. Was I regretting my decision to pass these bulls? Only a
little. That’s hunting, and it’s the price you pay for early
selectivity. Would I have shot that bull on the last day? That’s hard
to say, but it raises the second hunter’s dilemma, one that I’ve
debated with friends and guides the world over. There’s no consensus on
this one, but the majority opinion says that you should never shoot an
animal on the last day that you would pass on the first.
What do you think?
—Andrew McKean [ Read Full Post ]
Just watched the footage that Lanell got and it is going to make for an incredible show. The bull came in from over half a mile away looking kick some ass. When he finally popped into view his head was down and he was rocking his antlers from side to side. He walked to within 40 yards before Chad made his shot.
I’m up next. John Rivet and I struck out tonight but the temperature is dropping (and it’s raining) so we’re expecting some better response to John’s calling in the morning.
—John Snow [ Read Full Post ]