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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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Jackrabbit Safari

On Friday morning the 13th of May Terry and I set out several hours North to meet up with Jessi where we would be spending three days hunting Jackrabbits. The area we were hunting is very close to resembling East Africa, it’s home to animals such as Pronghorn Antelope, Tule elk, Fox, Coyote, Mountain Lions, Wild Pigs and a wide variety of birds. The area is vast and consist of approx 38,900 acres of huntable area, one of the more remote locations I frequent.

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The drive in was very pleasant with the weather being nice and cool with a slight breeze, perfect temp for hiking around. We arrived to find Jessi waiting excitedly to tell us how busy he had been already bagging three Jackrabbits. After hearing of his success we all had that excited Christmas morning feeling. We set up camp and headed out of the campground on foot heading towards previously scouted areas that later proved to be exploding with Jackrabbit populations. Jessi had brought several guns but he had chosen his S200AA .177 tuned to 14fpe, beautiful gun it is.

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He had taken this shot from 65 yards.

We all were jackrabbit hunting fairly close together in amazement of how many Jackrabbits were running around, almost had to choose which one you wanted.

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I had brought several guns but had decided to take the Slayer out as some of the brush was very thick and I thought it may be nice to have something that could punch through it.

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Running shot at approx 75 yards.

The area had many hills that made great vantage points to hunt from, offering good long range shots.

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After some time hunting we had all made our way back to camp where we had lunch, talked airguns and relaxed in the shade.

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By this time it was late afternoon and we all set out again to hike around hoping to get some more action. Terry had brought his Tapian Mutant Bullpup .22, beautiful gun that’s made in the Ukraine with a CZ S200 barrel and 12 shot Magazine.

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I had brought my trusted .22 Marauder and had managed to bag several with that.

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65 yard shot to the neck.

Terry had found a nice vantage point to look down onto a field where we had found quite a few.

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Jessi was back at the camp playing with Terry’s HW97 FT rifle, one of the nicest underlever springers I’ve ever shot.

Jackrabbit hunting day two started out early for us as we set out at sunrise to look for the elusive amber ears.

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The views from the mountaintops were truly amazing, picture perfect. I was enjoying just being away from work and being out with my friends in the place I love. Next to having a large abundance of animals this place also had a wide variety of very beautiful plant-life.
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The area was so vast that you can easily get lost in walking the mountains and grasslands, most of the Jackrabbits we had found were in the thick brush. What was happening was I would walk trying to spot one in the shadows only to spring one several feet away. It would take off only to stop on a hillside giving only seconds to make a shot. I had a good amount of luck hunting from the hillsides catching them in the valleys between hills.

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80 yards across a canyon.

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Got this one running up a hillside at 30 yards

We met back at camp for a late lunch where after we did some exploring of a nearby building that had been part of a cattle ranch in the late 1800s. Very neat and well preserved stall that is still in use today by equestrians that sometimes pass through for a rest.

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After lunch I had set out again, this time heading further out of the valley where I had seen some dog size Jackrabbits. I hiked several miles North up into some unexplored hillsides where I was able to take several very large Jackrabbits, possibly the largest I’ve ever seen up close. The one I took was by pure luck as he wandered in front of me at 60 yards on a hillside, second one I spotted running at around 45 yards through some thick brush. Made my way back to camp with something to show and a big smile on my face, what a rush it is to have some success.

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While I was out tromping around I had noticed a few larger Jackrabbits, problem was they were far out of reach for the Marauder. It was by this time late afternoon but the perfect time to take the Slayer out. I had been shooting it quite a bit so only had several rounds left I had been saving for long range kills. I hiked up a trail near the camp that offered a great view of the entire valley, my plan was to sit and wait for movement below. The past few weeks I had been practicing at 300/400 yards so had become very comfortable at those ranges and proficient with doping for wind. After only a few minutes of waiting I had spotted several large Jackrabbits at over 500 yards away. Having no experience at that range I decided to wait for one to come closer,didn’t take long for the both of them to make there way in. The first shot I took was a bit under 400 yards, landing several inches under his feet causing him to sprint away to the right. The second Jackrabbit ran behind a bush that was impossible to see through or over even at the elevation I was at. After waiting a few minutes I decided I had to move position to the opposite mountain to see behind the bush. This proved to be quite the workout as around the valley was several miles. 😛

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The sun was still putting out heat by 4:00pm

I made my way around to the opposing mountain and sat above looking down on my prey at 275 yards, lined up on little over 3 milldots and fired, hitting about an inch or two over his head sending him into a sprint away. The second shot made its way right behind the neck sending him tumbling to a dead stop at 330 yards.

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Great way to end the day.

Day three of jackrabbit hunting started very early as we had been awoken by animal noises and the sounds of critters scurrying around the camp,even found a Jackrabbit leg lying in the camp that morning. Terry was the first in the field with Jessi and I following soon after, this morning was a bit cold and had some clouds coming in from the distance.

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I sat up on a hill looking down into the brush trying to find some to flush out into Terry’s way. He had been standing in an open field where we had seen quite a few hopping around.
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As I looked down I could see Terry had spotted one at 40 yards or so, the Jackrabbit kept getting closer and closer. My first thought was, “Is he calling it in?” The Jack didn’t even see him and at this point was running right at him, couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Terry knelled down and took a shot that I could see went right over the top of the Jackrabbits head, wow a miss and this thing was still coming in. The Jackrabbit got as close as 10yrds and I think in all the excitement Terry had forgotten to give hold under, a mistake I make quite often. Well the Jackrabbit was gone but I have to say it was quite the spectacle from my angle, amazing to watch. We took a break gathering our thoughts over the whole ordeal realizing his poi was off due to using some lighter weight ammo that was causing him to shoot way high.
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We all continued the hunt combing a new area where I had spotted a group of monster Jackrabbits, all three of us were able to get some shots on a few of them.
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This area has some of the most breathtaking views I have ever seen along with being one of my most special areas to hunting jackrabbits. Spending time with good friends as always is the highlight of any trip such as this along with enjoying the beauty of nature and learning a thing or two along the way. A few people were missing from this trip. If your reading this you know who you are and I hope you can make it out for the next adventure. Enclosed are a few other photos in no particular order I hope you all can enjoy 8)

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Jessi with his .22 Huntsman
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Terry looking all serious
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Me examining three holes from one shot 😮
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Looking down on our camp,the only trees for miles.