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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 WEEKEND

by Terry Eannetta


Thursday night I pulled an all night-er hauling this junk home.

I got up at 4:30 to go Jack hunting in the desert. Good thing Dana was driving since I was dead to the world. But after downing a strong cup of coffee while riding shotgun, I was ready to go when we got to our desert hunting location.

This area just stinks of jacks really, but the many Joshua trees make it seem like you’re in a jungle instead of the desert. Leading a running jack is tough while they duck behind a tree or sage brush.

We split up after a few minutes and I hear Dana taking a shot with his Marauder. Then a moment later I just barely see a coyote running away from his direction. He had taken a shot at it and missed. Too bad, that would’ve made this report even better.

He then got the first jack of the day.

I had been spotting and getting a few shots off at some running targets with no luck. I even shot at two that had been hiding under the trees to escape the desert heat. Just as Dana described in his Jackrabbit hunting guide, their tall ears can really give them away.

Especially this one.

He had been lying in the shade and sprawled out like a dog on a carpet. They say the big ones don’t get that size without being smart. This one wasn’t, and I gave him a JSB, pronto.

I wanted to keep going but I had to get home to run errands. What a buzzkill I was.

I get a message from Dana Saturday afternoon saying he wants to go back out. “Yeah, I’m in!” This time he packs The Dog.

Marley is a three year old Lab/Dachshund mix. She is too cool. Typical hunting dog that knows when you’re ready to go out and can’t wait to get there.
So we get after it.


After Dana takes one at 50 yards, Marley does her doggy duty. Check the video:

We separated, since I was seeing Jacks running one way while Dana was shooting at them in a different direction. I walked up a dirt road while chasing one for maybe 200 yards. I turned around to head back. I like to walk a bit on the slow side while I’m checking the base of trees. Then I see movement to the right of me and a Jack stops 30 yards away. Big mistake for him.

I run into Dana and Marley, we see more Jacks running. Good Lord this place reeks of Jacks. Same thing, he chased them one way, I chased them another. I get a text from Dana asking my location. After I reply I look up and see a Jack maybe 25 yards staring at me. I almost drop the phone while he hops away. Then he stops at 50 yards, stands up and I get a shot off.

Meanwhile, Dana and Marley are still busy.

Real Busy.

By this time it was getting close to lunchtime. After hitting the ice chest we decide to jump in the truck and check a different location. After walking about 200 yards I think I counted 6 Jacks running away from Dana while he was taking a shot at one. I wanted to keep after them, but the desert heat was starting to bear down a little bit too much. We decided to bail and call it a day.

We have unfinished business out there….