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Airgun Adventure’s in the Mojave

by Tom Costan

Dana Webb and I met for a much needed Airgun Adventure. The plan was to meet early in the morning at the crossroads leading into our location and caravan through the back roads to our spot. As with many plans, they don’t always go as anticipated. Dana and I both had some unexpected home duties to perform before leaving in the morning, even though we didn’t get to our meeting spot until well after lunch; I knew, once we arrived life would be good. The location was high in the Mojave desert against the foothills of the Sierra Nevada; very remote, quiet, and beautiful.

This spot is not unlike so many other special places which have extremely diverse terrain. There are Joshua tree forests, rock outcroppings, sandy arroyos, typical desert chaparral and the occasional juniper tree.

It was only two days after some very significant rain had hit the area, leaving the ground damp and dust free with most of the vegetation temporarily moistened leaving that wonderful after-rain scent in the air.


Upon arriving to our campsite, the hunt was on.  As usual when hunting with Dana, he spotted the first jackrabbit and we both took a few shot as it fleed up a small hill.

Dana was using a .22 cal Hatsan that was sent to him for evaluation and I was using a new 22 cal American Air Arms EVOL testing some new parts and a new configuration of the rifle.  The Jackrabbit got a way but Dana soon bagged a cotton tail that was hiding from predators in a small crevasse in a large rock outcropping.

I scouted the area, spotted a few jackrabbits, but did not get a shot opportunity although I did formulate my plan for the next morning.

The day was gone so Dana and I enjoyed an nice campfire and turned in.


I started my walk just after sunrise and within minutes spotted a large jackrabbit hiding in the shadows behind a bush.  I ranged him at 80 yards and took my shot.  Having a new gun and very little trigger time on it, I decided to make the shot for the vitals; this was a mistake as the 18gr JSB didn’t have the power to put him down.  Even though the pellet hit with a large thud, he still ran like nothing hit him.

 I spent a few minutes following the blood trail but never found the Jackrabbit. I have become accustomed to much larger and more powerful calibers that the thought of a .22 in the boiler room not being adequate never crossed my mind. It wasn’t long before I spotted a cottontail hiding in the shadows of a large boulder.

I took my time, ranged him at 79 yards and made a perfect head-shot; he rolled over and that was all.


I bagged my cotton tail and followed a small arroyo for what seemed to be about an hour when I spotted a nice jackrabbit tucked in between two bushes. For a moment, I reflected on the thought that the jackrabbit thought he was invisible, not realizing his form was very distinctive even though his color blended perfectly with  the surroundings. I have found there are only two ways of spotting jackrabbits – their motion or their form; with the latter having much better odds of success. I worked my way to a rock outcropping where I would have cover and some height over my prey, ranged him at 76 yards, added 1 mil of holdover and made a perfect head-shot.

The jackrabbit was finished; the incredible acrobatics that followed were nothing but lost electrical signals of the nervous system on display.


Within a few minutes Dana wandered into view with Marley, I bagged my prize and headed back to camp and Dana joined me shortly with several jacks he had taken with his EVOL 30.

(left) Dana Webb with Tom Costan 

 It was about noon and I was planning on leaving in a few hours but I did want to test some Nielsen Specialty Ammo in the EVOL 22. I set up some eggs at 50 yards, Dana and I hitting them with the 21 grain NSA slug was no challenge so put I some more at 150 yards.

Eggs were placed at 150 yards on a large rock outcropping

After experimenting with the holdover by shooting at a dirt patch at the same yardage, I was able to figure the hold over and dial into my scope.

  Hitting eggs at 150 yards with a 30 fpe .22 is not easy but I did manage to get some before I ran out of air. Here is the video that includes a good portion of footage from our adventures here.

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