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TRAPMASTER 1100 COTTONTAIL HUNT

I had a great day getting out yesterday trying my hand at Cottontail hunting with John. We headed out late afternoon and arrived to our location around 5:30 pm, just in time for it to cool down as it’s been very hot. I had brought my trusty .22 Marauder and John brought his vintage “Crosman Trapmaster 1100” loaded with custom swaged .375 pellets.

John with Trapmaster 1100

I was excited to say the least to try this gun as I had never really seen an air powered shotgun before, this little gun is a blast to shoot and had decent power for being a CO2 gun. Soon after a bit of plinking I had spotted a small Cottontail moving off into the distance so John and I moved as quietly as possible towards it trying to keep several yards between us. These Cottontail’s are elusive creatures and even with my good eyes are very difficult to spot among the thick gray brush and thickets. John and I walked in big giant circle and finally decided to head down into a big open flat area with dense bushes about waist high.

John hunting

We saw little activity other than a few birds and too at this point the sun was just beginning to set over the mountaintop, so light was getting less by the minute. Soon out of the corner of my eye I saw John stop, he raised his gun and fired with that distinctive THWAAAP sound. I asked John if he had gotten it and he said “Yes” excitedly, from 30 yards away too. What a great shot considering the light conditions and the fact he was using open sights with no buttstock. The .375 pellets work much better for this application than the standard load of shot that the gun was originally designed to use.

Trapmaster 1100

Trapmaster 1100 pellet

John and I both were very excited as we now felt that long drive had been worth our while, so many trips with nothing to bring home. Over the years I have learned just to enjoy being out hunting with friends and not to expect to bag anything. After a short hike back to the vehicle we were on our way home with the memories of yet another adventure.

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HUNTING & PLINKING PRACTICE

Many hunters as myself have a difficult time practicing in between hunting trips. Some may find target practice somewhat boring and lacking the fun that hunting small game can provide. There’s no doubt plinking is one of the greatest American pastimes. Today we will outline just a few ways we have found to make practicing fun and very beneficial to defining good marksmanship. As hunters we need practice at various ranges that can mimic shots that we may find in the field, close and far. Field targets are great practice tools and can also provide a very close representation of hunting situations we may find. The targets we used were rather inexpensive and the rifle we were using was a QB 78 .22 that is Co2 powered, accurate and with very economical shot count.

The targets were set at various ranges from 15 yards all the way out to 55 yards with some being partially obscured with bushes to mimic hiding game animals. These targets come with rings that can change the diameter of the kill zone, we removed them as it may be to challenging to the new shooter.

We shot from the standing position as this is mostly how we are shooting during hunting situations.

Moreover, most hunters as myself are sometimes not familiar with shooting at closer ranges and sometimes having to “hold under” our targets. This is a very important and widely overlooked skill that can ruin chances at getting a kill from simply missing a shot and/or not knowing range.

We too set up some other plinking style objects such as tin cans and junk we had found on the desert floor. Things like this are fun and provide a solid way to see where you are hitting and help the opportunity to change the point of impact.

Lindsey, being fairly new to our sport set out targets such as muffin tins, glass bottles, scrap metal piping, and buckets at various distances. These targets were shot with an array of air powered guns: Colt Peacemaker, EVOL .30, and a QB78 Air Rifle. Each one of these low-cost experiments gave the inexperienced shooter a very expensive education. Distance, velocity and power were able to be roughly determined and too comparisons of inaccuracies could be made with each shot. For a new shooter its important for it to remain fun, safe and free from the pressure of making every shot just right. We can learn from our mistakes and too have the opportunity in finding our own individual shooting style. Reactive targets are a great way to keep interest and allow the shooter to feel some confidence they may not find in simply shooting paper targets. The areas we choose to plink are simply much easier to find with an Airgun as with a firearm as we can be much more discreet and too don’t have as much to pick up after.

We always carry trash bags to pick up after ourselves as its never a pleasant sight to show up to an area with trash and empty shell casings scattered about. This is the kind of thing that leaves an impression on all shooters, so leading by example is one of the most important things we can do for our sport.  Plinking is a fun practice tool for new and veteran Airgunners, too can provide us with the key ingredients that makes a good shooter a great shooter. Enjoying Airguns and sharing the sport with others is the keystone of what keeps it alive and available for all.

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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.