Friday afternoon Nick Nielsen and I headed out from his house where we had a several hour drive into the mountains. Here we would be spending the next four days hunting and vigorously testing ammo. We had to take Nick’s truck that was loaded to capacity with the good amount of supplies and gear needed to sustain us for the several days ahead. We were having quite the heat wave here in California so I was more than happy to enjoy the 20 degree cooler weather the mountains provided.
We made it up the long winding highway thankfully with very little traffic as well as some very scenic views that I was happy to enjoy being I wasn’t having to drive. We made it into town where we met up with our friend Russ who was kindly allowing us to make use of his beautiful cabin. Soon after we arrived several other Airgunners arrived to join us as well, was nice to see a few folks I hadn’t seen in awhile.
From Left Craig, Dana, Russ, Nick, Kerry not pictured
After some catching up we got down to business and headed quite a few miles into the outback where the remote cabin was nestled. The road was quite rough heading up to the cabin that is only accessible during the Summer months before the snow makes it inaccessible to vehicles. As we arrived up through the well hidden trail to the cabin it was near pitch black outside making it hard to get around the many tall pine trees. We stepped out of the truck and were greeted by what looked to be the coolest hunting cabin I have ever seen, was excited already. All the guys were as impressed as I was to be able to stay in such a beautiful place. The place had a rustic charm that followed all the way through the door of the two story place. We were all able to sleep very comfortably with plenty of space as well as a kitchen and wood burning stove in the center of the floor. I was so happy to be away from everything for the next few days as well as being able to enjoy it with some friends. The night was still young but we decided to get some sleep as we would be awakening early to do some hunting.
The next morning it was nice to get up in such a beautiful place and get to enjoy the view from such a nice spot.
The plan was for us to meet our friend Jon down the hill near a favorite local shooting area, from there we planned to do some Coyote and Jackrabbit hunting. Nick and Jon thankfully were both very familiar with some of the areas that made finding each other much easier. As we made our way up the steep dirt fire road we soon spotted Jon’s truck parked where he had gone off on foot to do a little scouting. I got my gear out and headed Southward up into the hills to check out the Jackrabbit situation. As I headed up the hill I could barely make out Jon’s figure as his camouflage blended in near perfect to the surrounding terrain.
Was great to get out again with Jon, one of my new favorite hunting buddies and just an all around pleasure to hang with. As we headed back down the hill I couldn’t help but to capture some candid shots from afar. How lucky we are to be able to explore so much open country!
After a few minutes to gather our thoughts we decided to head further down the road that proved to be a little rougher than we had hoped for. I felt sorry for Craig’s nice shiny truck as it was not equipped for such a boulder infested “trail”. After a short stop to investigate an abandoned vehicle that through our report to the police turned out to be stolen we headed on. As we made our way down the steep trail it became apparent we were not going to make it back up, luckily we had seen plenty of little roads that gave us some options back to the highway. After the road flattened out Nick and I spotted a coyote running across the desert paralleling the wash, Nick hit the brakes and I was quick to pull my rifle from its case. By the time I loaded up the Coyote was already near 150+ yards away on the run, I ran out as fast as I could and took a shot that came fairly close amazingly enough.
I hiked down into the wash that was covered in Coyote tracks that told me the place was very active. Jon decided to join me as the others continued down the road in the vehicles where they tried to find a suitable accessible trail back onto the highway. The sun was by this time coming down pretty hard on us with only a few opportunities from the few Jackrabbits we encountered. As Jon and I made our way up out of the wash we continued onto the road where Nick, Kerry and Craig were taking a break. After relaxing for a few minutes we loaded into the vehicles and headed back up the long winding highway that ultimately gained us some altitude into a much cooler setting. The area we had arrived to was a hybrid desert environment that had many rock outcroppings, cactus and densely covered sagebrush.
Nick had wanted to try calling in some Coyotes as the area looked to offer some good cover to make some stands as well as having plenty of high ground to see some distance. The backdrop of this area was very pretty as well as the ground that was heavily covered in quartz crystals. This will definitely be a stop I will be making with Lindsey as she is an avid rockhound. We set our stand halfway up a nearby hillside that offered a good view of our surroundings while still providing some good cover to hide our silhouette’s.
After calling for near 20 minutes without seeing or hearing and sort of response we decided to pack it up and hike in a few miles to explore the area. We had thought with all the rocks the area may have a good number of Ground Squirrels, later we had learned many of this area had been hit by the plague that wiped out a huge number of the populations. We slowly weaved our way through the many rocks, trees and small washes that appeared to have almost no living creatures. I always find it interesting that what looks to be a great habitat turns out to be missing some key that only animals can be in tune with. As we continued a big several mile loop that sent us back to where we parked our vehicles we spotted a Jackrabbit flash across the trail in front of us catching us all off guard. I had noticed it move to my right side behind some trees, figured I may be able to stalk it. Nick and Jon watched as I moved slowly side stepping hoping to catch the Jackrabbit standing still.
Sure enough as I moved around a large Juniper (Juniperus Californica) tree I was able to spot the Jackrabbit just in front of a small sagebrush at about 75 yards. I made a quick shoulder shot using the new 45gr Nielsen Specialty AmmoHP that sent the Jackrabbit down with authority.
Nick and Jon both were excited as with all the hiking around we finally had something to show for it as we headed back to the trucks. After a short break we packed up the trucks and returned Jon to his truck and then continued back into town for a burger. After visiting a very cool restaurant and consuming a huge mac&cheese burger, that’s right “mac&cheese burger” I was ready for some relaxing back at the cabin for a few hours. Nick and I had planned on doing an evening hunt followed by trying to call in some Coyotes later that night. After several hours of relaxing at the cabin and taking a nap I was feeling a bit refreshed and ready to head back out. Craig and Kerry stayed back at the cabin while Nick and I ventured back down the hill into the open desert where we had had spotted the Coyote earlier.
The evening was beautiful and a bit cooler thankfully, hiking around in the high temperatures really sucks the life out of you. We had brought plenty of water to stay hydrated, even through the night. Nick and I hiked through the wash and up a steep hillside a bit North of where we parked the truck.
Nick was using his .357 Bulldog loaded with his proven accurate 110gr swaged hollow point. Through some vigorous testing Nick is happy to have finally developed a slug that works well out of the Bulldog out to 100+ yards. The rifle was outfitted with an electronic sight coupled with a powerful red light made by Wicked Hunting Lights that has several great features such as adjustable mount, intensity control, and an adjustable focus beam.
Nick and I sat on the side of the hill with our electronic caller set near 65 yards down the hill from us. We started the caller out with a Jackrabbit distress on a medium tone that sent a good sound down through the desert floor. After several minutes Nick and I both began scanning the area for flashing eyes. I had my beam set very wide and dim, barely visible but still enough to spot the flash of peering Coyote eyes. We continued calling for about 45 min till finally I spotted a faint glare at near 130+yards behind a large Joshua tree. I thought it may have been a Jackrabbit but the eyes were spread to far apart and it definitely had a canine type movement. As both Nick and I continued to watch it I decided to intensify the red light that gave a more pronounced view of the animal. After several minutes of watching it peeking from behind a joshua tree it finally moved far enough into the light to see it was a Coyote. I took the shot that was aimed at center of it’s chest, the shot fell short right between its front legs where it amazingly offered Nick another shot. We both missed and through the excitement had a hard time spotting the direction it had ran off to. This is the kind of hunting that really gets the heart going, it can be frustrating though. After spending another few minutes scanning the desert floor we concluded the area may not be as full of life as we had anticipated. Nick recovered his caller and we made our way back to the vehicle to go meet up with Jon who had been scouting several other areas. After a short meet with jon it was getting late so we headed back up the long beaten road to the cabin to call it a night and get some much needed sleep.
The next morning we woke up a bit more casually as we had planned to stick around the property, explore a bit and to do some shooting. The property had several Airgun only ranges that stretched out through the trees to 150 yards. We took a short walk up the hill to check out a few of the other cabins, what a beautiful day.
The area had several cabins that were each peacefully hidden away from each other nestled through the treeline. Russ had not yet arrived so we decided to go visit the place he uses as a weekend sanctuary, what a neat little place it was.
After a few minutes of enjoying the views from his porch we made our way back down the hill to set up the 100 yard range.
The range was set in front of a cabin that was built in 1905 by a miner that had several nearby open mines that he worked for many years until he died. The place had been abandoned for many years but thankfully had survived the elements in good condition.
Nick had planned to do some ammo testing with his Airforce Texan .457Airrifle. I had brought all my camera gear to capture the entire test through both photographs and video to help him promote his new ammo that will prove to be the best.
Nick had brought two blocks of Clear Ballistics that were (9x4x4) each and would be set at 100 yards. I encouraged them to be placed at distance to see how well his ammo would react at hunting ranges. I know several ballistics test have been done but none that I know of at 100 yards, close range test are worthless in my opinion. We set the block of Gel out at 100 yards on a block of wood just under the target Nick used to sight in the rifle.
The ammo we were testing was a 220gr NSA Hollow Pointthat Nick has spent a great deal of time developing to be accurate.
After the gel was set up Nick spent some time cleaning his barrel followed by leading it up with some practice shots. Those little clear blocks don’t leave much room for error at 100 yards.
After Nick took several practice shots I went out on the range to start the small camera I had placed several feet from the ballistic gel. After my return I filmed the event with my handheld movie camera as well as trying to capture some other photographs of our experiment.
As you can see from the (above) video snapshot the shot entered thankfully near center of the block making way all the way through both blocks.
I was impressed he made the shot so perfectly center, I have not seen any other Texan ammo be able to achieve much more than hitting a barn at 100 yards.
We brought the blocks back to our shooting table and examined to find the 220gr NSA had made it’s way entirely through the first block and 3/4 of the way through the second block. Craig dug out the slug and we continued to use the gel to continue testing with some other lines of ammo Nick is developing.
Left to right .300 44gr/.300 44gr Polymag/.357 110gr NSA/.457 220gr NSA
After having lunch we continued to shoot a little more and conclude the rest of the testing we had left to do. We did a good amount of testing with some of the smaller bore slugs and some of the results were pretty dang impressive.
Left to Right .250 39gr JSB/.250 39gr NSA point blank /.250 39gr NSA 100 yards
Soon after our testing had concluded Russ,Craig and Kerry had to leave us to head back to civilization. I was most pleased to have had such a great group of Airgunners to hang with as well as to hunt with, thank you all. Nick and I relaxed a bit and were soon getting settled in for the night as the plan was to get up fairly early to pack up the truck and return the key to Russ.
After a great nights sleep I think Nick and I both were ready to start heading back home, a shower was about all I could think of. After cleaning the cabin and securing the doors and the gate to the property we headed back down into town to return the key to Russ. I want to personally thank Russ for his kind hospitality as well as the honor of his several visits with us during the past few days. Thank you my friend!!
After we said our goodbyes Nick and I headed down the road where we met up with Jon to do some scouting through some other areas of the desert, some of which were extremely remote.
We parked near some large rock outcroppings that stood like landmarks in the vast dry desert, figured these areas may sustain life.
The temperature was well up over 100 degrees so plenty of water was an absolute necessity in this unforgiving desert. We drove through several different areas and decided to settle on one spot that had a huge amount of rocks that no doubt had to be home to several coyotes. We hiked several hundred yards from the vehicles and I set myself up on top of a small hill, just high enough for a good view of my surroundings.
Nick and Jon stayed down a bit lower to manage the caller as well as to look from the other direction, my thoughts were focused on some small caves that I believed could be a coyote den. Nick started his caller with the Jackrabbit distress and within about three minutes I sure enough spotted a Coyote coming right out of the rocks to my right side. The Coyote was coming in really fast and I was not even fully prepared with my gun nor my movie camera.
I set the camera in the general location with no zoom, basically guessing where it was aimed, in this video snapshot (above) the arrow is where the Coyote was along with the direction he was moving. I raised my rifle as he came into around 75 yards, Jon whistled getting him to stop just long enough for a perfect head shot. I pulled the trigger and CRACK!!!!!!! NOTHING CAME OUT OF THE GUN, I forgot to load it……..OMG!!!!!! Well the Coyote was only about 200 yards away by the time I unzipped my pack to grab a slug. What an embarrassing thing for me to do, I was to put bluntly pretty pissed off about my blunder. Apparently when I got out of the truck I cocked the gun, set it down and grabbed a water forgetting that I didn’t load the rifle. When I picked it up I checked it, noticed it was cocked and assumed from habit that I had loaded it. UHHHHHH wow, ok I’m glad I got that off my chest now. Nick and Jon were having fun with it, those guys are both awesome and am so glad to have friends like them. I can honestly say I learned a big lesson on this outing, a failure like that just makes the hunt that much more special when it’s a success. The hunt for me is really just to be in nature, enjoy the company of friends and just to try being a positive example to other Airgunners. After the walk back to our trucks we were tired, hungry and overheated from the sun beating down on us, we called it quits and headed to a nearby town for a burger. I want to especially thank Nick from Nielsen Specialty Ammo for inviting me with him and showing me such a great time. I would encourage anyone looking for the best quality ammo made by someone who puts tremendous dedication into all his products to contact Nick for help. Till next time, keep shooting and enjoy what you have.