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EARLY MORNING COTTONTAIL HUNT

Left the house early at 3:30 am to meet up with John Cripe from pelletgarden.com for some rabbit (jackrabbits & cottontail) hunting at a new spot we found. The weather was cool at around 38 degrees at 5:30 am, had cold weather gear and snow cap that I haven’t worn in quite some time here in SoCal. We pumped up our rifles and proceeded to the area where we waited till our legal shooting time.

As we approached that time we spotted two Jackrabbits at 60 yards away, still a bit dark and hard to see. We both took our shots and missed as we watched them scurry away in literally a flash.  John worked the area up high along a ridge as I stayed low working close to the brush-line. Spotted several off in the distance only to have them run as I approach from 100+yards away, very discouraging. I soon spotted a small cottontail foraging under a nearby sagebrush at around 45 yards, took the shot with a solid hit.

We soon decided to go have breakfast at a nearby grocery store before heading to the next area that was now around 9:30. This next area I spotted a cottontail within the first few minutes and with John’s help was able to corner it to where I could make a shot at about 15 yards.

We zig-zagged our way through and sprung a few jacks from under the brush but they are so dang fast that they are gone before you can even shoulder your gun. Again very frustrating and difficult hunting without a shotgun. I just love rabbit hunting with an Airgun and find it to be very rewarding when something is finally bagged.

Again I am just pleased to be out in the wilderness with a friend and blessed to have gotten at least one. Thanks again John for going and helping me to get some, had a great time.

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12 YEAR OLDS FIRST HUNT

We left at 4:45 am Saturday morning and drove quite a ways into the mountains to an area known to have monster size Jackrabbits. I had never been to the area so was very excited as well as getting to hunt with a newcomer to the sport. Seeing the excitement of a new hunter was well worth the trip just by itself and was pleased just in getting to take part. Tom had brought his .30 FX Impact and Nick was using a custom 22xx I had built along with myself and the .22 Marauder.

We arrived at the area nearly running over a Jackrabbit as it made it’s way across the dirt fire road, very good sign so far. The time was about 6:45 am with the weather being very pleasant along with no wind. We walked for a bit with me staying behind to take some pics and get bearings on the area that to me looked very prime.

The area was near alpine level altitude with mostly Rolling hills and patches of dense bushy cover. After about 20 min of walking Nick had spotted a Jackrabbit at 100 yards, those young eyes are very helpful. I decided to stalk the Jackrabbit leaving Tom and Nick to circle around where I planned to push it towards them. The plan had worked well and was able to get the Jackrabbit to run right into them leaving Tom with a good 30 yard head-shot that dropped him in his tracks instantly.

Seeing Nick’s enthusiasm of witnessing his father’s humane kill was very cool. We all walked back to the truck and Tom instructed Nick on how to clean and process the Jackrabbit meat.

After all that we headed back out to a bare hillside looking down into a creek bed where we set up a can at 45 yards for Nick to practice his shots, that kid is a great marksman and surprised us both with his skill.

Tom has his hands full now with Nick getting the hunting bug and being so excited about getting more involved in our sport.

After 30 minutes of practice we set out a bit more while seeing a few Jackrabbits but none that offered much of a good shot for Nick or myself. It was nice to just be out hiking around on such a beautiful day but we decided to end our hunt to head down the mountain for lunch.

The day was great fun for all of us and too a memory that will be left forever in the mind.

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.30 POLYMAG TESTING & REVIEW

Very exciting to be one of the first to field test the new .30 Polymags,a new product made by Predator International,inc. I received a box that was sent by Dick via Priority mail that made it to my house late Sunday evening just in time for some testing Monday morning.

Dick was kind enough to provide a very nice zippered pouch that I intend to use on future hunts, too are very handy for keeping the tins together. I set out Monday morning for the American Air Arms facility located in the high desert of Southern California where such guns as the .357 Slayer are built and tested. Myself along with the help of Tom Costan decided to start the day by doing some group therapy with these 44.75g beastly looking .30 pellets.

The gun I used for the testing was a custom Evenix Rainstorm with a .30 Tj enterprises barrel that puts out some good FPE. The pellets were shooting at 910 fps and the height of the shot curve,more than enough power to get them out to the 85 yard target.

The day was a bit cloudy with a very slight breeze from the right but offered some pleasant target conditions. I was very pleased with the groups I was getting even though I by no means am a paper puncher.

 I did several 5 shot groups and was beginning to feel confident in the pellets hunting capabilities,having some serious fun watching the plywood get blown apart too. I wanted to test the expansion of the pellets so I used a batch of mud that I had dumped into a plastic jug,figured this may mimic flesh fairly accurately.

The expansion was very massive and had given me the instant conclusion that these pellets would be absolutely devastating on game such as large Jackrabbits and even Coyotes. At this point of the day I decided to head out for a short hunt near our facility where I soon was able to take a Cottontail at 30 yards. The sound these pellets make when they hit bone and flesh is unreal and unlike any other “pellets” I have used.

I was able to make my shot through the neck,out the skull and actually blew off part of the rabbits ear.

The .30 Polymags are definitely a pellet I would trust to use on larger game such as Coyotes and monster Jackrabbits. By the end of the day I was feeling confident that I would no doubt use them out to 100+yards for hunting. I really enjoyed the opportunity I’ve had to test and hunt with these fine pellets,cant wait to use them on some big stuff in the next few weeks. Thanks to all involved and hope to share some more very soon!

 

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HUNTING & PLINKING PRACTICE

Many hunters as myself have a difficult time practicing in between hunting trips. Some may find target practice somewhat boring and lacking the fun that hunting small game can provide. There’s no doubt plinking is one of the greatest American pastimes. Today we will outline just a few ways we have found to make practicing fun and very beneficial to defining good marksmanship. As hunters we need practice at various ranges that can mimic shots that we may find in the field, close and far. Field targets are great practice tools and can also provide a very close representation of hunting situations we may find. The targets we used were rather inexpensive and the rifle we were using was a QB 78 .22 that is Co2 powered, accurate and with very economical shot count.

The targets were set at various ranges from 15 yards all the way out to 55 yards with some being partially obscured with bushes to mimic hiding game animals. These targets come with rings that can change the diameter of the kill zone, we removed them as it may be to challenging to the new shooter.

We shot from the standing position as this is mostly how we are shooting during hunting situations.

Moreover, most hunters as myself are sometimes not familiar with shooting at closer ranges and sometimes having to “hold under” our targets. This is a very important and widely overlooked skill that can ruin chances at getting a kill from simply missing a shot and/or not knowing range.

We too set up some other plinking style objects such as tin cans and junk we had found on the desert floor. Things like this are fun and provide a solid way to see where you are hitting and help the opportunity to change the point of impact.

Lindsey, being fairly new to our sport set out targets such as muffin tins, glass bottles, scrap metal piping, and buckets at various distances. These targets were shot with an array of air powered guns: Colt Peacemaker, EVOL .30, and a QB78 Air Rifle. Each one of these low-cost experiments gave the inexperienced shooter a very expensive education. Distance, velocity and power were able to be roughly determined and too comparisons of inaccuracies could be made with each shot. For a new shooter its important for it to remain fun, safe and free from the pressure of making every shot just right. We can learn from our mistakes and too have the opportunity in finding our own individual shooting style. Reactive targets are a great way to keep interest and allow the shooter to feel some confidence they may not find in simply shooting paper targets. The areas we choose to plink are simply much easier to find with an Airgun as with a firearm as we can be much more discreet and too don’t have as much to pick up after.

We always carry trash bags to pick up after ourselves as its never a pleasant sight to show up to an area with trash and empty shell casings scattered about. This is the kind of thing that leaves an impression on all shooters, so leading by example is one of the most important things we can do for our sport.  Plinking is a fun practice tool for new and veteran Airgunners, too can provide us with the key ingredients that makes a good shooter a great shooter. Enjoying Airguns and sharing the sport with others is the keystone of what keeps it alive and available for all.

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EPIC TWO DAY HIGH DESERT HUNT

I set out with SteveO at 3:30 am Saturday morning to meet Jessi in the high So-Cal desert. We had my truck loaded with water, food and camping gear along with plenty of air and ammo. Our primary purpose was to finish filming a Jackrabbit hunting video and to test out some new pelletguns such as the MrodAir P12 and Cricket.

mrodair-p12

We arrived at our desert hunting area at 6:15 am and proceeded to air up the guns and walk a mile North to the “hotspot.”

The morning was quite warm with a good amount of wind blowing towards the South right into us. As I have hunted the desert quite a bit in wind, and I have found it to be somewhat of an advantage as the Jackrabbits and other creatures cannot hear you over the sound of wind. Within a few minutes of our slow walk we were spotting Jackrabbits moving back and fourth in the distance. Jessi and I hunted while SteveO filmed the action between the both of us, not easy at all. All three of us have been to this location so were quite familiar with the lay of the land and the usual spots the Jackrabbits hide.

We walked about a mile coming to a very large open field with scattered Joshua trees and small scrub bushes where I spotted a large Jack eating some grass out in the open. I was able to make a nice kill on him at 45 yards or so that was captured on video. (pic enclosed)

We continued and headed more North into a large loop back to the vehicles looking for a good flat location to camp. We found a very nice accessible area that was flat and had some Joshua trees to provide some protection from the wind. By this time it was about 10:30 am and in the mid 90’s, too hot to be wandering around so we set up a shade awning. We sat under the shade awning for a few hours to cool down, eat lunch and talk. I had already made a kill so I took my turn following Jessi and SteveO with the camera filming all the action they encountered.

 

The high desert is also home to a large amount of Golden Mantel Squirrels that were very tiny, fast and difficult to spot from a distance. Jessi must have taken quite a few, some as far as 60 yards with a few impressive head-shots.

We continued into the Sunset with quite a bit captured on film. All three of us were exhausted from hiking and carrying our guns all day.

 

The heat really takes a lot out of you and gallons of water is needed to survive this vast desert. The night came and we BBQ hotdogs and sausages along with the largest bag of chips I have ever seen.

 

I slept great and we all awoke around 6:30am to indications of an even hotter day only with no wind or breeze. SteveO did a little more filming as we set out to the usual spots hoping for one particular Jackrabbit that had been eluding us, all three of us missed, frustrating to say the least.

After about an hour I had the camera and was able to film SteveO hit one of the largest Jacks I have ever seen at 45yrds or so. These two guys made some very impressive shots, Jessie even attempted what I believe was 100 yards on a Jackrabbit shading himself under a Joshua tree. On our way back to camp we even spotted a good size Gopher Snake that was on his way crossing the trail, beautiful camo pattern it carried.

 

As we made our way back to camp we were all so exhausted as the heat really takes a toll on the body, while the sand just radiates even as the sun goes down. We all carried loads of water and I will say there is nothing better than a cooler full of ice waiting for you when you need it.

The next morning we packed up camp and moved on down the bumpy washed out road to another location that we thought might offer some opportunity . Together we had an amazing hunt, even had a very surprising encounter with two Coyotes. I had such a great time and am so grateful for the memories, laughter and some great food with friends.

 

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BACK COUNTRY AIRGUN HUNT

On Friday November 4th Marley and I left the house at 3:00am to make our way North where we would be spending the next three days. We ventured down the long dirt road that seems to head into nowhere for miles. As we arrived to the area in darkness I parked on top of a mountain where I planned to hunt for several hours while waiting for the other members of our group.

The sun was slowly coming up as Marley and I hiked our way high up onto a mountain hoping to have some good views of the fields below. The area was quite dry with very little green vegetation to be seen, yet still very sustainable to Jackrabbit populations. We sat for awhile and didn’t see any movement besides a few birds and the occasional chatter of a ground squirrel. As it was becoming lighter out I could see a dust cloud from a vehicle moving down the road from miles away, It was SteveO making his way right on time. We got up and made our way down the mountain to join him and too ended up making a failed shot on a Jackrabbit on the way down. As soon as SteveO arrived Terry was soon behind with us deciding to move down into an occupied camping area to relax for a bit and also get our gear ready for the few days of hunting.

After several minutes of setting up camp and getting our guns aired up we set out on foot back up into a nearby canyon that is usually loaded with Jackrabbits. We all went off to separate areas throughout the valley with my preferred area working the brush filled hillsides.

As I’m looking down the hill I can see Terry stalking a Jackrabbit just over the other side of the hill from me, I see him waiving me over as I think he thought the Jackrabbit may come my direction. He ended up tagging the Jackrabbit while making full sprint up the hill, not sure of the yardage but still a great shot.

After another hour of marching around I was able to spot two Jackrabbits moving through the brush, the larger one made a much better target and was taken down at 60 yards with Marley making a swift retrieval. I was using the new American Air Arms EVOL .30 carbine tuned to 85 fpe and too the perfect tool for Jackrabbit hunting. The gun is regulated, lightweight and has a shot-count capable of keeping me in the field all day long. This is my dream gun and one I have been waiting for Tom to build for over two years, I’m in LOVE. ;D

After a few more minutes of hiking back to camp we took a much needed break and to have some lunch before heading back out into the remote hills. After lunch SteveO and I headed back out several miles working the rocky hillsides with Marley finding several Jacks and even a Cottontail that was hidden in the dense brush.

The Cottontails out in this area are quite large and unlike in other areas don’t stop at all once flushed. I think this is because of all the pressure they have due to predators such as birds of prey, Coyotes and Foxes. As we were hiking we spotted quite a few small Ground Squirrels that proved to be very difficult targets as they don’t stay still for very long. SteveO spotted a few and was able to take several of them moving around the rocky hillsides at around 45 yards with his .25 Marauder.

We had made several more attempts at finding some Jackrabbits before heading back to camp before dark. The Jackrabbits I think were feeling the pressure of Marley being able to find them even in the most secluded hiding spots. Watching that little dog work is purely magical as she really is amazing at what she does, sometimes its a little unfair.

As the evening met darkness it became quite chilly out with the distant chatter of Coyotes echoing through the canyon. Marley and I slept soundly in the Jeep and awoke early to greet Tom and his son Nicholas to our camp where they would spend the next two days. Tom and Nicholas had hunted here before so they both were very familiar with the area and too the potentially huge Jackrabbits that find home here. After getting they’re gear ready and guns filled with air we set out again, this time 6 of us.

Tom had brought the New EVOL TAC .30 model rifle to test out, what a sharp looking gun it is. Nicholas was using a regulated bottle fed 22xx platform that was shooting at 30 fpe and has enough air for all day hunting. We ended up all meeting in this canyon where we were shooting at 100+ yards at this white rock, amazing what these modern PCPs are capable of.

After some playing around with the guns we headed back to camp where Terry was sighting in his old .20 Sheridan that he just had steroided. He had mounted a scout scope and planned to do some hunting with it that rest of the day. What a workout it was pumping that old fashioned vintage gun, 6 pumps was giving him 630 fps I believe.

Tom had made his way several miles from camp in a close direction from where I was hunting, I had mentioned I had taken 10 ground Squirrels so he made his way to find a few. Tom had managed to find quite a few of them along with bringing back several wild gourds that later would prove good targets.

Very old tree, one of the only ones seen for many miles.

That afternoon Terry left and the rest of us continued on into the evening by ourselves, I think we were all petty beat from the miles of hiking we all had done. I know Marley was very tired as those little legs had gotten quite the workout mashing through brush and rocky hillsides all day. Poor little thing was pooped ;D

That next morning SteveO had to leave us to get back home before traffic got to bad, was great to have him join us even though it was a quick two days. This morning was quite foggy and really didn’t seem like a very good morning for Jackrabbits, figured we would give it a try before heading out ourselves. Tom,Nicholas and myself headed out for a short hunt, several mile loop that would bring us back just in time for breakfast.

I headed us up into an area I suspected may be full of Jacks and too as a last resort had hoped Tom and Nicholas would have some luck. Here is Tom behind me and Nicholas way in back as we ventured up the steep hillsides.

Many of the times when working areas like this you can spot them moving through the brush in the lower areas, I have good success in hunting this way. I would rather shoot down on them than up as usually they make it over a hill leaving them lost from sight. It didn’t take long for all of us to get some shots on running Jacks, Nicholas came very close to hitting one on the run.

Tom was higher up the side of the mountain and Nicholas and I were lower, we were watching Tom shoot at several of them with Marley hot on the trail. For a few minutes we were all shooting as they were getting sprung from all directions. I’m really glad we checked out this area as I will definitely be back in Springtime when the population is higher and they are more active. We went back to camp and did a little bit of shooting with the EVOLs and even brought out the .357 Slayer for some fun.

This sport has given me so much joy over the years, Its great to see young men like Nicholas getting involved early. These kids are the future of our sport, setting examples and passing it on is the most important thing we can do.

Hope you all can enjoy until our next adventure.

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The American Airgun Revolution

The Airgun industry is flourishing here in the United States and many have called it the Golden Age for our sport. Many new manufactures are sprouting up across the states, some new and some that have been around for years. Over the past several years I have seen the market for airguns soar higher than before and with that comes ingenuity and growth. The European airguns have been on top of the high end market and I feel as though us Americans have just as much to offer as far as quality craftsmanship. My goal is to show that you don’t need to look overseas to find quality and performance, we have that right here at home.

In no particular order the first company I wanted to acknowledge here is Mac1 Airguns that has been around for over 80 years, 30 of those ran by Tim McMurray. The Mac1 legacy has set some tall standards for quality, craftsmanship and performance. Tim McMurray has earned a reputation for making accuracy and he could not be more pleased about that. “Pushing the envelope is what makes it all so fun I can hardly believe it has already represented three decades of my life as owner. I know how lucky I am to be able to compete with and build these fine airguns. It is icing on the cake I’ve shot fairly well for the last year. Enjoying these guns in a competition environment is exciting and satisfying.” I have gone to quite a few Airgun shows, competitions etc, and Tim is always just one who is always willing to give advice in hopes to help someone succeed.

The Hunter BR is the Ultimate Benchrest Airgun. Barrels are between 24 and 25″ long and all but the usable rifling at each end has been removed. The rear 6″ of this barrel is cut down to around .630″. It sports an American made 6 groove cut rifled barrel made
to Mac1 specs with 1 in 24 Twist Rate (Custom Twist Rates Available). If you wish to play with the Big Dogs you need to go with the good barrels or hope you find the 1 in a 100 barrels made to production standards that winds up exceptional. American barrel makers are the best in the world and we now have a number of them trying their luck in the AG arena. That is a very healthy thing for AG BR and AG accuracy nuts in general.The combination of ultimate build quality and great Airgun Barrel gives these fine rifles the kind of accuracy championships are made of. A plastic hard case is included along with the necessary bolt on parts to set the gun in a proper Bench Rest and bags. Tubes can be 24. 26, or 28″ long in black or clear. Accessories fill adapters and scope mounts are extra. You can have the base plate, tube plug, butt plate and receiver matching color in red, blue, clear or black. This configuration is an upright rifle that the action is inline and grip at Bottom Dead center with Scope rail at Top Dead center. This makes for a more conventional BR gun. Mac1 Airguns


The second company I want to discuss is Wicked Air Rifles, a company that has been around for awhile and too well known for tuning Marauder rifles. Travis Whitney and Jim Gaska have created the FLEX line of rifles that are proudly made in USA and have achieved a very unique market for hunters. I have watched and admired this company grow and explode in the market place as they have some very unique, user friendly rifles and pistols.

These guns are very sturdy looking and the frame is a single piece of aluminum that uses AR furniture. Each gun is hand assembled and tuned to customer satisfaction. Wicked Air Rifles pride themselves on service and will go above and beyond to work with the customers needs. These guns have a rail system that allows easy adjustment of accessories such as a bi-pod or go pro camera. It’s a side bolt design with retracting bolt to move out of air path. No bounce hammer and high flow valve. Changing springs and power adjustments are easy in that the average Joe can work on without difficulty.  The rifle can achieve 20-200 FPE  (depending on caliber selection) Adjustable power levels. Timney Calvin Elite 2 stage trigger group, Carbon fiber bottle, Fully floating Tensioned barrel. Made In The USA!!! Wicked Air Rifles


The next company that holds a special place in my life and too has given me a true look into the Airgun world is American Air Arms. They are mostly known for the Slayer Big Bore Bullpups and Rifles. Founded by Tom Costan, an engineer, avid airgunner, and airgun hunter with a love of all shooting sports. These PCP Airguns are completely and proudly made in the USA with nearly 100% American made materials! All parts (except barrels, grips and bolts) are engineered and manufactured in their own facility using state of the art CNC machining centers.  In-house manufacturing allows them complete control over the quality of they’re product. The designs always start from a clean slate and are never just another example of the industry standard. They are engineered to meet a specific vision, purpose, and performance goals before any chips hit the shop floor. When the vision and purpose are clear, the performance goals are analyzed and found to be reasonable and attainable, only then can the actual design begin. This philosophy is what makes their guns lean, clean and gives them the exceptional effectiveness, performance and purpose they are known for.

Some of the noteworthy features of the EVOL are: built in 25MOA, regulated, shrouded and tensioned Tj Enterprises barrel, integral moderator, indestructible side-lever action, 7-9 round magazine (depending on caliber), Match quality two stage trigger (adjustable in every way), and 100% made in the USA!  All calibers have “metal” magazines designed to accept polymags without modification. American Air Arms has described quality as: Excellence in engineering, reliability, precision, purpose and performance.  Quality cannot be obtained without understanding the limitations of manufacturing with modern technology; every American Air Arms Airgun is a combination of vision and technology combined with passion for old world craftsmanship.  An American Air Arms Airgun will exceed  expectations, provide exceptional service, pride of ownership and one that will be shared with future generations. American Air Arms


Our last company is RAW Rapid Air Weapons a company that has set a huge name for itself in quality and craftsmanship. Rapid Air Weapons LLC was formed in 2006 as a supplier of  Precision Air Rifle components and accessories, today they manufacture, as well as supply high quality components and products for the shooting industry from their factory using the latest in CNC multi axis machines. They take building rifles extremely serious, from very early on parts are inspected at each stage to ensure they meet expectations on quality. Throughout the building stages everything is hand inspected before being installed and assembled up into a finished rifle. Specialist tools and gauges check barrel alignment in relationship to the action and scope rail, if it doesn’t pass they’re strict tests it will not leave the factory.  Having over 28 years manufacturing and design experience at Theoben their company CEO Martin has the most experience in the business when it comes to Theoben Products, with this extensive knowledge gained over decades they are able to offer some great products.  Rapid Air Weapons has an impressive line of precision Air Rifles and products manufactured in the USA and an even more impressive collection of trophy’s and medals won by users.

This high power model comes regulated and fitted with a quick fill system with an incorporated pressure gauge, powering the HM1000 is a 480cc air cylinder and a high quality German match grade barrel, finished with an carbon fiber barrel sleeve and integral carbon fiber moderator or barrel weight where required, the rifle comes equipped with a multi shot magazine or it can be single shot loaded, machined into the action is a new style picatinny rail with 22 MOA to give the shooter added ability to zero at longer distances, both picatinny and weaver mounts will fit. The trigger is a fully adjustable sporting version of our TM1000 target trigger with an added safety catch, the stock is made from laminate or walnut and hand oiled for weather protection and fitted with an adjustable butt pad and stippled for a secure grip while in the aim. All aluminum parts are coated for protection and the internal components are hand finished, hammer and trigger parts are hardened and polished for extra smoothness in reloading as well as making for a cleaner firing cycle, the sidelever linkage and bolt have been hardened ready for a lifetime of work. Rapid Air Weapons


The four companies in this read are just my own hand picked example of whats available to the American consumer and shows we don’t have to go European to find quality. For myself I enjoy shooting all types of Airguns but over the past few years have learned I prefer the quality I can find at home in the USA!