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Fun and Gun weekend/hunting and shooting

Late Thursday evening I headed out with Marley several hours North into the secluded NF where I had previously scouted a good area to not only hunt, but shoot. My goal was to spend several days hunting and testing some ammo for not only the EVOL .30 but the .308 and .357 Slayers. After arriving close to dark I found a good place where I was meeting my friend Brent and his 20 year old son who were shortly behind me. After a short wait they had arrived and started making camp in our usual fashion along with a nice campfire to take the chill off our bones through the night.


The plan for us to get up early and to each scout several different areas for Cottontail, Jackrabbits and Ground Squirrels where we would meet up later in the day. I started out about a mile down the road where the foliage was just a bit greener along with a bit of water in the nearby creek. By this time it was about 7:00 am so I still had several hours until my friend Nick and his family arrived to a previously scouted area where we would camp, shoot and hunt for a solid 3 days. I decided to park the Jeep in a nice shady spot and take a long hike into the mountains with Marley and the EVOL .30



After a short hike across a creek and up a steep ravine Marley and I decided to take a break in the shade as it was getting fairly hot, we could hear the many birds such as Woodpeckers and Blue jays staying very active. After several minutes I was able to spot several ground squirrels moving about across a huge fallen tree.


I shot at several coming within inches, even close enough to blow one off the log with the shrapnel of splinters from the impact of the 44gr Polymag. After making some wind adjustments I spotted a good size Ground Squirrel poking his head up from behind the fallen log and just to the left of a small nubby branch.


When the wind had that moment of calmness I was able to make a beautiful 130 yard head-shot that blew that squirrel right off his rocker.


It always amazes me how far a shot really is when I have to walk it, was not easy making our way down the steep embankment and up the other side where we made our way to the giant fallen tree. The tree was massive and for some odd reason had what looked to be several doors someone had cut into it.??


Marley and I made our way around the other side and saw several more Ground Squirrel scrambling away through the broken mess of branches. We headed up from the other side and hiked up a hill where we sat in the shade at 90 yards looking down.


After about 10 minutes of patiently waiting Marley and I spotted several more Ground Squirrels moving about, one even stopped right on top.

The 90 yard shot was fairly easy for the .30 monster I was using so I was able to plug him pretty good as he made his way down off the log.



Marley and I made our way down to document our kills and to move to another spot where we would make way back to the tuck.



We continued down into the ravine and followed the creek back towards the Jeep when I spotted several more Ground Squirrels running up a steep embankment.


The Ground Squirrels seemed to all be invading a large tree that had roots that were protruding the ground from erosion. I sat in the shade while Marley played in the creek, trying to cool off from the Summer heat. I was having a difficult time positioning myself for a shot as the area was very off camber and too was forcing me to shoot near vertically. I finally spotted several and ended up killing the larger one on the right offering a bit larger target at 45 yards.



Marley and I headed a short distance back to the Jeep where we were soon met by Nick and his family. We set up a nice camp along with some EZups that would take the sun off and too offered a cool place for a shooting lane.


Nick was kind enough to set up his chronograph and Lab Radar

We set up several targets, spinners and later on my two friends even brought some heavy steel we set up at 130 yards through the trees.


After a full day of shooting we had a nice campfire followed by dinner, laughs and a few mosquito bites. The night was so peaceful and quiet other than a few Owls and the distant chatter of Coyotes.


Saturday morning came about and I woke up a bit late, being now after 8:00 am where we had expected Tom and several others to arrive throughout the day. Nicks wife was kind enough to make a nice pot of caffeine that I much needed to start my day of adventuring. Marley was so happy just to be outside and able to play stick with Nicks two boys.


Sometime around 11:00am Tom arrived with a .308 and .357 Slayer where him and Nick planned to test several different weights of Big Bore ammo. We had acquired a heavy steel quadrant target that I dragged 250 yards up through the trees, a great challenging target considering the small window it left to shoot through the thick branches.


Tom was using the nielsenspecialtyammo.com swaged 98.9gr .308 going 970 fps, gets out pretty quick and by the end of the day proved to be very accurate.


Later after lunch my friend Brent and his son Brian came to visit us and to tell us about the scouting they had done for Cottontail. My friend Brent is not an Airgunner but him and his son both showed great interest in the Big Bores we had on the table, heck who wouldn’t? Tom eagerly invited them to try them out and they both surly did.




After a bit more fun we took a break and relaxed in the shade talking about hunting, shooting and just having a few great conversations!
Tom sadly had to leave the fun and head back to his desert home so Nick, Marley and I loaded into the Jeep to do some scouting and to meet Craig down the road where he would follow us back to camp. By this time it was near 5:30 when we finally met up with Craig, was happy to see another friendly face join us in the reindeer games. Marley and I went out on another short hunt not far from camp where she was able to tackle herself some dinner down near the creek, a small Cottontail to be exact. That little dog is as amazing as they come and has brought so much joy into my life having such a good little companion as her. That evening we had more laughter along with some tasty chicken cabobs Nicks wife provided.


The next morning I woke up fairly early and headed up the hill to visit Brent and his son Brian and see how they faired with the opening day of cottontail season. They ended up getting one Cottontail not far from our camp using a shotgun at 30 yards on the run. I wish I had taken my camera but unfortunately did not. We all made way back to camp and enjoyed the shade from the EZup along with plenty of water that is so important on such hot days, especially when hiking around. I had suggested going on a Ground Squirrel hunt and Nick and Craig were both eager to attend. We packed our gear and brought plenty of water where I had planned to set them up near where I had gone the day before.

                                                                    Nick with his .25 Cricket
I set them both up about 50 yards apart where they both had some good view of the adjacent hillside.

                                                 Craig with his .25 Vulcan 

After several minutes Craig and I could hear the solid crack of Nicks .25 Cricket smacking a Ground-squirrel as it made its way up a fallen log. Nice shot at what looked to be about 35 yards or so. I sat with Craig for about 20 minutes before Marley and I decided to take a hike and circle back around to camp, I had hoped to find more active areas but the heat was taking its toll on us both. Craig had left not to long before Marley and I arrived back at camp, was hoping everyone would have better luck with hunting but it really was very hot. That evening Nick and I set out again where his son was able to spot a good size Cottontail at 35 yards sitting under a bush, hidden very well I might add. Nick took a great shot that put that bunny down with authority. Marley was happy to retrieve and was even allowed in the photograph.  ;D


Nick and his boy headed back to camp and Marley and I continued along the creek-bed when just before dark I was able to spot a small Cottontail at 45 yards just at the edge of the embankment.

                                                 American Air Arms EVOL .30
Marley and I had a great finish to a long weekend and were both super tired, we slept great that night. The following morning we got up a bit late and started packing up the camp for our long venture home, where we both needed a long hot shower. I thank everyone who attended and am embarrassed because I forgot some names and was not as organized as I usually am with photos. I have been doing a great deal of filming lately and have not been writing as much as I should, this is what I enjoy and can’t forget the importance of it. Through my writing I hope to not only entertain but to bring the spark of our sport to the newcomers. As some may know I started this online magazine along with my video series that can be found on YouTube, I have put much work into both and really appreciate all the support I have been given.

“The best gun’s the one you’re shooting”

Check our video page for more action and please subscribe!

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Coyote Hunting After Dark

by Ron Stephen


Last week a bunch of our regular shooting group met at our favorite permission. We had a great time as usual, and got to start enjoying the comforts of our new Shootin’ Shack.

shootin shack

The first night I slept in the rear bunk, I noticed the window had these odd looking latches that the other windows did not have.
HMmmm,…. I wonder what those things are ? ? ? OH !, Well Check THAT out !,… How Convenient !,… It’s a built in Snipers post.


I got up the following morning, and enjoyed the welcome luxury of being able to make a pot of coffee, and relaxing at the dinette.
As I was sitting there, I wondered if the crank open windows might open far enough, to allow my barrel to stick out while my rifle is sitting on the bipod. Well it was just perfect, (with the help of a few Airgun World magazines) to boost it up a little, SWEET ! hahaha

evol .30
So I’m sitting there sipping my cup of ‘Joe’, waiting for the gang to start showing up, and just enjoying the quiet morning as I gazed down the firing line. Way down at the 100 yard rock, I think I notice a little movement. Should I put my boots on ?,…. Nahh,…The coffee is hot, the outside is cold, the window is open, and the heater is nice in here. The rifle is chambered, and just needs to be cocked. I’ll sit right here and see if the movement comes back. Wait,… yep,… I see something…It’s a big fat Ground Squirrel that is completely oblivious to the fact I had previously zero’d the new American Air Arms .30 EVOL at that exact same rock, and I was in the trailer just waiting for the opportunity. Yep, This is going to be a good story for the guys when they get here in a little while. I take another sip of java, set down my cup, and get into position. I’m thinking to myself, “DANG this is nice to have a shooting bench from INSIDE the trailer”. I’m just LOVING it ! Right about then, Mr. Dirt Rat decides to jump up on top of my rock to take a look around and start his day. Suffice to say,… His day didn’t last very long. I served him up a 44.75gr JSB breakfast, delivered at 925 FPS, straight to the fuse-box. Good way to start of the day for me,…. not so good for Mr. Fuzzy Tail.

100 yard ground squirrel kill evol .30
evol .30 ground squirrel kill

So the gang started showing up and got themselves going on the target range and having a great time. We have lots of skilled shooters and lots of Really Cool “toys” to shoot. They were all very anxious to get to try out the new EVOL test gun.

shootin shack
airgun shooters

I had brought some nice Smoked Bacon and Cajun spiced Sausage from the hog Jeff and I had raised last year, and since this IS a Chicken farm, We get to pick the Eggs still warm from the chickens. It doesn’t get much better than that! Lets put on another pot of coffee while we’re at it.

ron cooking
So the day is going great, We are having a fantastic time throwing all kinds of lead. Every thing from the little QB’s to the various big bores, some slug pushers, and exotic customs, and fancy bullpups, you name it !

airgun shooters
So some of the guys had to hit the road, and Nick and I had decided to stay the night and play with his Thermal stuff. MAN !,… He’s got some SUPER DUPER COOL TOYS to play with. He was using his .308 Slayer, and had loaned me his totally custom .257 Condor, Built by the “.257 Master”, Mr. Doug Noble. OH yeah,… I’m a very lucky guy,… and this is going to be a GREAT Night ! If you ever get a chance to shoot one of Doug’s masterpieces, I suggest you Do NOT pass up that opportunity. I guarantee you will NOT be disappointed. Nick and I set up our benches so that we can collectively cover a 180 degree sweep. We turn some tables on their sides to give us more cover, and to block the cold nights breeze. We set up a propane heater between us and get ourselves all comfortable for a long night of scanning the darkness.
I always enjoy a long night hunt with Nick (because he brings some good munchies to snack on too)

sunset night coyote hunt

So after darkness came, we started seeing all kinds of bunnies and rats running around, and the Coyotes were plentiful howling and yipping it up off in the distance. Some time had passed and we had spotted a quite few. They were way too far out of range, but they would be coming in soon for their nightly feedings of dead chickens. (since this is a chicken farm with 40,000+ chickens, there are several dead chickens per day that get disposed of), and the Coyotes are accustomed to their nightly raids. We had popped a few rabbits to pass the time, (and to have for fresh rabbit stew), and the Coyotes were starting to gather in more closely.

evol .30 night hunt

We started working with the caller and sqweekers and soon were spotting A LOT of Coyotes, (I’m talking about over 25 of them) but they were all staying too far out to get a decent shot. At one point, we spotted SIX of them coming in together, but they would not come in any closer than about 300 yards. Way too far for a night time shot. After a while, Nick went to take a little nap due to not feeling too well, and I stayed out to keep the watch going. I guess about an hour had passed and I had seen several Coyotes within 100 – 150 yards, (which is well within range of Doug’s .257), but they were on the move, and did not present themselves with a decent shot, so I waited. (NOT an easy thing to do !) A little while later, I get a text from Tom over at American Air Arms, asking how it was going, and how everyone liked shooting the EVOL today. I had my headset with me, so I gave him a call back while sitting at the bench and scanning thru the scope. As we were talking, a bunny pops out at the same rock that the mornings Ground Squirrel was sitting on. (Apparently this bunny “hadn’t gotten the memo”). So while I’m on the phone with Tom, I point the phone down range and I re-send the memo out again to Mr. bunny. This time he received the message! Tom said that he could even hear the impact over the phone. Then,… to my surprise,… and only moments later, I see a larger movement down at the end of the range. Yep it’s a Coyote !, and he’s coming right down the middle of the range, directly at me !

Heck, I got so excited I didn’t know what to think ! I’m still on the phone with Tom, and I’m Whispering to him the play by play as the Coyote is coming in. He’s just as excited as I am, and is whispering back to me Then he says “Hey Why am I whispering too ? I’m on the phone !” The Coyote is about 150 yards out and he’s swaying his way in kind of slow. I know the .257 is zero’d at 125 yards, and I’m getting ready for the shot. The Coyote begins to trot right to me, and I’ve got “Buck Fever” so bad at this point, I didn’t realize soon enough he was at the 125 yard mark, and he kept coming in closer. My heart is racing and my excitement almost got the best of me. I’ve been waiting for this all night, and I’m about to blow it. He’s trotting in and approaching the 100 yard mark. (yep,… it’s the same rock where Mr. Bunny and Mr. Ground Squirrel were reading their mail). I suddenly realize that I’ve got to stop him, or I’ll probably shoot high and miss. I let out a “Woof”, and he stops dead in his tracks facing right at me. He’s instantly on FULL Alert, ears raised, chest high, and hunched down on his rear haunches.
He’s spooked and was about to bolt away. I’ve only got one chance and maybe 2 seconds, to place the cross-hairs to take the shot.
My heart is POUNDING SO HARD THE GUN IS BOUNCING !

I put the cross-hairs at the lower part of his rib-cage, figuring that should be just enough hold under to make a good heart / lung shot,… and I let the “Fat Lady Sing”and  I was dead on the target. The impact sounded like a fastball hitting the catchers mitt. I think Tom could hear that impact over the phone too!  I started giggling like a little girl and was telling Tom “I got Him! I got Him! ” Tom was cheering me too ” Right ON Buddy ! Congrats !” Upon impact, the Coyote spun around 3 or 4 times like a kids toy spinning top. It was pretty wild, and then he bolted about 6 or 8 feet into the weeds where I could not see him. I was going crazy that he was hit, and might get away. I told Tom that I had to go chase him down to finish him off, and would call him back. He was saying “go Go GO !!!,… GO GET HIM and Call me Back !” I had previously loaded the EVOL, and had it sitting behind me, de-cocked, just for this purpose. I cocked the EVOL as I headed down the shooting lane into the darkness, and not knowing exactly where the Coyote might be, it was a little spooky. I knew that if it was wounded, it could come out of a bush at me and that could be dangerous. I had my Laser Designator lit up on the EVOL, and a bright flashlight in my hand. When I got up to the point where I had lost sight of him, I slowed my pace and gathered my senses. Heart pounding and breathing racing, I turn into the brush and I’m scanning left and right watching for anything that moves and ready to let the EVOL bust off a round. I go no more than 20 or 25 more feet into the brush, I find the Coyote already down and lifeless. He’s completely limp, eyes open, tongue hanging out, and no breathing. Apparently He didn’t make it as far as I had thought. I held back for a few moments to make sure he was down for good. I circled around behind him and gave his head a little poke with the muzzle of the EVOL. “Go ahead and twitch sucker, .. and I’m putting 85 more FPE into your noggin’ !” 2 or 3 pokes with the muzzle confirmed he was already expired. Good !, It was a good hit and a fast kill.

ron with his .257 coyote kill
I flipped him over to reveal the .257 had passed almost completely through the length of his body. It exited just forward of the rear leg, with a  massive hole and bleeding. This dog was basically “dead on impact”, but it just took him a couple of seconds to realize that,… and to have the decency to fall down. WOW ! What a RUSH that was ! MY First YOTE ! WOO-HOOooooo ! (No,… I did not take him down with the EVOL)
This pic is when I first went out to get him, and I grabbed up the EVOL to take with me, rather than reload the .257, (and not to mention the LONG gun that it is to try and carry)

evol .30 coyote
Nick had woken up when he heard the shots ,but I was already heading out after it, by the time he made it out of the trailer. The Coyote and the bunny I had got only moments before

.257 coyote kill
When I came dragging it back, Nick was sitting at his gun and was just smiling like nobody’s business and congratulating me on getting my first Coyote. I think he was just as proud and happy as I was, when I came out of the darkness with the dog in tow.

coyote rabbit kill

THANKS Nick from Nielsen Specialty Ammo ! for loaning me your awesome rifle and Thermal to give me the opportunity to get my first trophy yote… And THANKS to Doug Noble for building such an AMAZING Rifle! MAN ! I’ve gotta get me one of these .257 Bad-boys someday !  Nick and Doug are both out at the farm right now. They just sent me a pic of Doug and his Coyote that he just got tonight, , but You’ll have to wait for him to tell all about it.

doug noble .338

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Ground Squirrel 3 day hunt

On Friday April 1st, SteveO and I drove North into the Sequoia NF where we met up with several other Airgunners. The weather was a nice cool 79 degrees at 11:30am.

hunting

We met Terry, Jessi, Ron and Tom along with his 10year old son Nick at our camping area where we would spend the next 3 days hunting ground squirrel. The scenery was absolutely breathtaking as far as how lush and green everything was. The rolling hills were covered in flowers and waist high grass.

hunting

Targets out to 300 Yards

Terry and Ron set up a beautiful target area where we spent some time sighting in our guns. Targets were set up anywhere from 25 yards out to 200 yards. After several hours of target shooting it became a bit windy, still not enough to detour us from venturing out to hunt ground squirrel. The area we were hunting had rolling hills with scattered Oak trees and very large rock outcroppings.

ground squirrel hunting

I had set out across a creek where I had hunted the year before. The first thing I noticed was that the tall grass was obscuring my view from the GS holes. The only way I was able to hunt them was to find high ground as to where I could look downward over the grass. This was the way most all of us hunted throughout the trip. By this time it was late afternoon and we all met back at camp where we shared some food, drinks and some stories around the portable fire pit that Terry had brought.

firepit

The next morning had brought us a beautiful day with no wind and cool temperatures. We spent most of the morning target shooting and plinking with some very nice assortments of Airguns. Ron had brought a good amount of guns, my favorite being a custom 22xx with 40fpe. He had also brought his .30 custom Rainstorm that he let a few of us shoot, first big bore Terry had ever shot.

Custom Rainstorm .30

 

Tom had brought a .308 Slayer along with his son Nick’s custom 22xx bottle fed mini beast.

Custom 22xx Bottle gun

.308 slayer

Tom Costan with .308 Slayer

Jessi was using his Cricket bullpup that he was hitting bottles out to 100+yrds. Guys one of the best marksman I’ve ever met. Terry had brought his Tapian Mutant that proved to be super accurate and quiet, very nice looking gun as well. My choice of guns for the weekend was my regulated MK1 LD pistol carbine that proved great out to 75 yards. SteveO hunted with his trusted .25 Marauder that has taken many GS in the past years.

Around 1:00pm Tom, Nick and myself headed out to hunt together and to find some long range targets for his .308 Slayer that earlier had been hitting eggs at 200 yards. Within about 20 minutes of hiking I found several GS at 120 yards.

120 Yards

Tom was easily able to take one of them as the others never came back out.

By the end of the day we had around 20 kills between all of us, SteveO came out on top with 7 kills. The evening was met with more great food and laughs along with a brilliant night sky.

The last day we had all gotten up early and headed out in different directions by ourselves. I had chosen a spot in some rocks where I had spotted several a ground squirrel near a fallen log. Ron was several yards to my left stalking a few holes, very frustrating with the tall grass obstructing the view. What was happening was you would spot the grass moving but not be able to take a shot unless you got lucky and found a ground squirrel on a rock or poking out of a hole.

hunting

Most of our kills were between 30 to 75 yards

 

Nick had made his way down the hill with Tom where I was able to set him up with a pretty good shot, mind you this kid is an excellent marksman and someone I would hunt with any day. Nick had the perfect shot but unfortunately his bolt had slid open making the shot very weak making a miss. I can say I missed more than ever on this trip but enjoyed time with friends more than ever. My highlight of the trip was the epic scenery and target shooting paired with some of the best hiking I’ve ever encountered. I thank all who came and can’t wait till next year.