Posts

, , , ,

Memoirs of a first time Airgun hunter

Several weeks ago I received an email from a gentleman named Mike who had read several of my writings and had become interested in hunting with an Airgun. Over a brief discussion through email he had made the decision to purchase a .25 Marauder from Mac1 Airgun distributor in Gardena CA. That following week I had invited Mike to join me on a 3 day hunt in a remote area of the Mojave desert that offers not only some great Jackrabbit hunting but plenty of Ground Squirrels.


The following Thursday afternoon Mike and I met in Mojave and headed another 30 miles into the deep outback of the desert that gave both our Jeeps quite the workout. We made it to an area where I had made camp on several previous occasions, good amount of shade and plenty of wood to feed a campfire. Upon arrival it was fairly windy but seemed as though it was settling down as the evening went on. I was happy to have Mike join me as I usually make many of these trips on the solo as most have to work during the week. The following morning Mike and I awoke early to mount his scope and sight the .25 Marauder in at 50 yards.

Mike with his new .25 Marauder

After sighting in the Marauder we loaded up the Jeep and headed down the road several miles to a beautiful area that has an excellent habitat for Jackrabbits. The morning was calm and clear, thankfully a bit warmer than usual that would mean the Jackrabbits would be a bit more active.

The Cholla Cactus

As we walked towards the sun looking for the amber ears Mike was immediately able to spot some in the distance, some as far as 200 yards away. The plan was to head towards some rolling hills that would give us a better chance to not only spot them but to possibly ambush them from higher ground. We walked very slowly, trying to stay quiet that was not easy as the brush was thick in some spots. Soon upon getting to the top of this little hill Mike set his sights on a good size Jackrabbit at 65 yards, his first Jackrabbit kill, not bad for his first time hunt eh?

After taking a break for a few minutes, taking some pictures and packing the Jackrabbit into my pack we continued on further through the desert. We were now in an area that had some thicker vegetation along with some Joshua trees that offered many hiding spots for Jackrabbits. I came over a hill and spotted a Jackrabbit sitting halfway up the side of a hill on what looked to be a heavily traveled animal trail, at 60 yards I made the shot right through its chest.

American Air Arms EVOL .30


By this time it was around 10:30 am so we headed back to our camp and packed up our things to move to a different campsite where we would spend the next few days. This area had tall grass, a fire pit along with plenty of shade to sit under and target shoot. The following morning we were expecting Terry, my girlfriend Lindsey and the dog Marley to arrive to join us.

After setting up camp Mike and I headed up into the rocks to hopefully find some Ground Squirrels moving about. The area has some large populations of California Ground Squirrels, the burrows are scattered about under fallen trees and in the many rocks that are just about everywhere you look. A short hike from camp set us up on top of a large flat-rock that overlooks the whole valley with several rock outcroppings just below us at near 65 yards. Mike was using a fallen log to use as a rest to steady his rifle for a shot on a Ground Squirrel that kept moving about on the rocks below us.

Mike took his time and thankfully was able to keep things steady for a near perfect head-shot that put the Ground Squirrel down with authority.

His new .25 Marauder shoots like a laser and is near the perfect budget rifle for this type of hunting. Through the rest of the morning and into the afternoon we made quite a few kills, the wind was picking up by this time. As Mike and I moved up into this canyon we could hear the distant bark of the Ground Squirrels echoing through the valley.

I ended up spotting one at over 125 yards away that proved a difficult shot in the strong winds but nevertheless the perfect job for the EVOL .30 rifle. The new HAWKE Frontier 2.5-15×50 scope has really made long range shots much easier as the glass and TMX recticle are super clear. I took my time and was able to make a head-shot that entered right through the very top of the skull, dropping the Ground Squirrel instantly.


After a few hours of hiking around the Oak Tree covered valley Mike and I headed back to our campsite to set up for the evening and to gather some firewood to get us through the night. The wind was picking up again, gusting as high at 35/40 mph, no fun when trying to set up camp.

That evening we made a great campfire and were able to relax under the stars and enjoy some good conversation. Mike and I had cleaned and processed our Jackrabbit kills earlier that day and had planned to have them for dinner, although we thought we would wait till the next evening to share with the others. Mike made us some Top Ramen that tasted excellent, and too being a great way to get warmed up as it was by now a bit cold out.

Both Mike and I were quite tired and sore from a full day of hiking, must have put in near 8 miles up and down through the valley. Getting to sleep was no problem at all so we called it a night and planned to get up early to wait for Terry, Lindsey and Marley to arrive by 8:30 am.


The morning was quite calm with a slight breeze that we had hoped would stay that way for the rest of the day, at least long enough to get some hunting in. At about 8:45 as I sat with my rifle looking up into the nearby rocks that towered above our campsite, I could hear the distant sound of a vehicle breaking traction coming up the rugged rutted out road that lead to our spot. My favorite little companion Marley immediately came to greet me and was very surprised to see me being she wasn’t to sure where she was going at 4:30 am. This was Lindsey’s first time in the area and had came along to do a bit of Rockhounding (video link) , a hobby that we both share. This area had a large abundance of quartz that she had hoped to find plenty of that evening when we headed back down to hunt Jackrabbits. Terry set up a nice little range with several targets between 50 and 77 yards for us to use and fine tune our guns, he even brought a chronograph.

After about an hour of so of shooting our rifles we decided to head out up a trail that headed out of camp and into the nearby rock outcroppings.

We each set ourselves up in different areas about 50 yards apart each facing towards the rocks that had many Ground Squirrels that would frequently venture out to sun themselves.

Terry with his .22 Tapian Mutant Bullpup

Terry set himself up against a rock that offered good cover along with shots between 45/75 yards. Soon we could hear the distant THWACK of the obvious lead therapy that Terry was giving a nearby Ground Squirrel at 75 yards.

I had sat under a large Oak Tree where I spotted several Ground Squirrels moving about through the crevices of some large boulders. I was waiting for one of them to climb higher on the rocks making for a more clear shot. After about 20 minutes of waiting I finally spotted one that climbed up and was sitting still trying to get some sun. This shot was at 115 yards and would not be easy due to the pretty strong cross wind that I was sure would carry the pellet way to the right. With a guess in calculation I moved my shot 1.5 mil to the left, not as much as I needed but still enough to make a bone crunching gut shot.

After some time hiking around we all headed back to camp where we had lunch and relaxed for a bit, frequently shooting at several Ground Squirrels that were in the nearby rocks. After a few more hours of goofing off in camp we all had decided to head down the road and make the long hike across the desert to an area I had spotted a good amount of quartz crystals and a super great area to hunt Jackrabbits. I figured by the time we made it out to the area it would be the perfect time to pick a spot to sit and wait for some Jackrabbits to come by.

The sun was coming down pretty hard on us and we still had a ways to go before we would be near any type of shade. Lindsey was happy just to be out doing some rock hounding in such a beautiful location. As we walked we soon spotted several Jackrabbits that were well out of range, but they all looked to be very near where we were headed.

Terry stalking a Jackrabbit  

After another 20 minutes of hiking Lindsey, Marley and I arrived to the spot that I had described with many quartz crystals and great habitat for Jackrabbits. After a short break in the shade Lindsey got to work and headed out to explore the grounds for the many assortments of rocks the place had.

Terry and Mike headed further out past where Lindsey, Marley and I were and I could hear the distant shots they were making as pellets were tearing through the thick brush. After several minutes of sitting I spotted a Jackrabbit at 80+ yards across a ravine that was partially obscured from a Cholla CactusI took a head-shot and ended up shooting a bit to high sending the pellet right through the side of one ear that dazed it just long enough for Marley to get close enough to flip the Jackrabbit in the air. I ran across the ravine and watched Marley chase the Jackrabbit, she nearly got it too just as they both ran by Terry. That little dog is simply the best hunting dog I have ever seen, a pure natural hunter. After all the excitement I headed back over to check out what Lindsey was up to, she was doing a bit of rock stacking with the few larger pieces of quartz.

For those of you who don’t know, Lindsey is the real backbone of the online magazine mountainsportairguns.com and does many things for the Airgun community behind the scenes. She is responsible for many of the popular Airgun industry websites many of us frequent on a regular basis. Anyone reading this who may need some serious website work, mygirlfriday805  is the best in the business and truly an amazing part of my life. After several hours with no luck getting many shots on Jackrabbits we made the slow journey back to the truck, I say slow because I had about 100 lbs of rocks in my backpack.


We arrived back to camp just in time to watch the sunset and to get a fire started along with the portable BBQ Terry had brought to cook on. Between all of us we had a good amount of food that we had all brought to cook, hotdogs, carne asada, snacks, drinks and even hot chocolate and beer. We were all very hungry from the long day of marching through the desert, even Marley was ready for anything she could get her paws on.

After stuffing ourselves with mass quantities of food we were all near comatose and ready to just go to sleep. The plan was for us guys to get up super early and head down the hill again to try for some Jackrabbits for a few hours. We all slept pretty good that night, I felt pretty refreshed the next morning at 6:30 am and was ready for some more hunting. We headed down the hill and excitedly made our way back into the same area we hunted the evening before.

It was a beautiful morning that thankfully wasn’t windy at all, wish the last few days had been that calm. After about 30 minutes I finally spotted a Jackrabbit at 45 yards that was sitting under a bush taking in the warm morning sunshine.

Notice in the photograph I was wearing jeans, well the day before I had gotten a small tear in my hunting pants that ultimately worked into a larger tear that ripped the whole pant leg off. Happy I had brought some extra pants, otherwise I would be chasing Jackrabbits in my underwear. Not a pleasant sight I can assure you! As the morning moved on I spent some time stalking Terry hoping to get some shots captured on camera, he was quite hard to spot among the dense desert foliage.

As all four of us hiked towards the nearby mountains the plan was to circle around and cross over a road into a new area I had never hunted before. Marley and I set out ahead and crossed the road almost immediately seeing several very large Jackrabbits moving through the brush on the hillsides. This area was near perfect terrain for Airgun hunting as it offered good opportunities to get close having so many trees to hide behind as we moved closer. I could hear Terry and Mike both making shots on running Jackrabbits, Marley was getting supper riled up as she listened for that distinctive THWAP!!  As Marley and I moved around a bush I attempted making a shot on this Jack that was sitting facing us at 200+ yards, made a shot that came up short right next to its feet sending it into a full sprint out of sight.

Over the next hour all four of us tried stalking several Jackrabbits, the one I was after went up a hill and over a rise down into some more open area. Marley and I slowly made our way up the hill with the hopes to ambush the Jackrabbit from above, when hunting them I always have good luck hunting down on them when possible. As we made our way over the crest of the hill I immediately spotted the Jackrabbit sitting under a large bush with its back facing me, perfect shoulder shot at 95 yards. The .30 EVOL is in my opinion the perfect all day gun for hunting Jackrabbits, with plenty of power and 40 regulated shots at 85 fpe it packs a mean whallop.


As I made my last kill of the day I packed them neatly into my back and ventured back to the truck where where Terry and Mike soon joined. This few days of hunting was no doubt a good amount of work but well worth the effort to be able to share it with a newcomer to the sport. I commend Mike for reaching out and not being afraid to ask questions and take advice, It was a true privilege to have him join me and to be able to witness his first Jackrabbit kill. It’s very important for us as Airgunners to keep the sport alive and to help it grow in a positive way, Mikes story is a great example. Enclosed is a video documentary of our trip, enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

, ,

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!