HUNTING WITH THE .308/.357 SLAYERS
On Thursday June 16th Terry and I set out at 4:30am to make our way several hours North to meet Tom and his son Nick for a two day hunt.We had chosen to get out during the week to allow us to beat the heat wave and to avoid people that frequent the area during weekends. As Terry and I drove down the long dirt road I couldn’t help but to imagine we were in the African Plains going on some kind of wild safari. Part of the excitement for me on trips like this is the feeling of being a kid again,problems and worries just slip away and the thought of adventure takes over. We arrived to find our usual camping area quite empty with the only occupant being a very nice old man who was just traveling through.
He had came over and talked to Terry and I being intrigued by the fact we were using airguns to hunt with. He had even brought up the famous “Lewis and Clark” expedition and was very familiar with the use of the Girardoni air rifle. I really enjoyed talking to him and to spark someone’s interest in our fine sport. By this time it was 7:15 and we were soon joined by Tom and his son Nick who had decided to join us being he had just gotten on Summer break. The weather was nice and clear with a good solid breeze that kept things cool for most of the day. We all aired up our guns and filled our pockets and gear bags with pellets and water to set out for some Jackrabbit hunting. Terry and I were the first ones through the gate and into the fields where we almost immediately started seeing large Jackrabbits,they were simply everywhere so it seemed. I was using the first prototype .357 Slayer loaded with 127gr pellets provided by nielsenspecialtyammo.com along with Terry who was using his .22 Tapian Mutant Bullpup loaded with his custom made 22.5gr slugs. We hiked around the same locations as our last trip over a month ago that proved to still be full of action after taking 14 of them in two days. It didn’t take long to empty my magazine and exhaust my air supply from shooting at so many Jackrabbits, having a gun that has so much range capability makes it difficult to not shoot at something.
After an hour or so I had made my way back to camp to get something to eat and to cool off in the shade for awhile waiting for the others to return. Soon Tom and Nick made there way back into camp followed 45 minutes later by Terry, all of them with the same story of how many Jackrabbits they had seen. Tom had taken a fairly hard fall on a rocky hillside that had knocked his .308 Slayer up pretty good along with his hand. Thankfully he was ok and the gun with only a few noticeable scratches with the zero being questionable. After several minutes of rest I had spotted a large Jackrabbit out in a nearby field, Tom had invited me to use his .308 and take it out as I had not really used it much. The first thing I noticed was the weight difference being lighter with the aluminum shroud and the fact it was a right handed model as I had been used to shooting the left handed prototype. The pellets I was using were 111gr provided by Nick over at nielsenspecialtyammo.com I took the gun expecting to be gone for only a few minutes but being it shot so nicely I ended up being gone for close to two hours. The area I was hunting had many hills that offered amazing views and vantage points to sniper style shooting. The gun was zeroed at 85 yards using a Leapers Accushot 30mms scope with etched glass reticle, one of my favorite scopes for hunting being fairly rugged. The first shot I took felt great with little recoil,similar in feeling to a pellet gun but with much more authority and thump. I was amazed at how flat shooting it was and how much more controllable it felt over the big brother .357 Slayer. The first Jackrabbit I was able to hit was at 60 yards moving through some thick sage,nice solid chest shot that made a clean kill.
I hiked around a bit more and found a good spot to sit and rest along with having a good vantage point to sniper a few with the first one taken at 115 yards with a solid hard hitting shoulder shot. The second one was very close to the first only he ran several hundred yards up a hill before stopping towards the top at a little over 300 yards. I gave the gun so much holdover that I couldn’t even see the Jackrabbit in my scope,kinda just guessed but ended up hitting solid throwing him into a backflip where he did the death dance.
I headed back to camp dragging these two kangaroos that get very heavy after hiking with them for several miles,Nick was kind enough to come over and help me get everything over the fence. As I walked into camp my presence had awoken Tom from his afternoon siesta under the giant shade tree. He immediately had concluded that the earlier spill had not effected the POI at all apparently.
My feet were sore and the sun by this time was taking its toll making relaxing in the shade seem like the best option along with drinking plenty of water. Terry came back into camp exhausted as the rest of us telling of how many Jackrabbits he had encountered and the few that got away. We pretty much stayed in camp until 6:00pm when we all set back out together to try a new area I had found on Google Earth. The area was about a mile hike South from camp and looked to be very good and one of the few places that were still a bit green.
We all stayed close together and Tom was the first to make a shot on a Jackrabbit that was foraging in a small clearing,we all stalked the Jackrabbit and eventually all missed him as he disappeared in the thick sagebrush. A few more minutes went by and Tom spotted another running through the sage only to run several hundred yards with Tom and I taking turns trying to hit him. These big bores are simply amazing able to come several feet from hitting a running Jackrabbit at out to 400 yards. The loop we took was several miles through fields and mountains where we ended back at camp by 8:15pm. The night was lit by a full moon and offered us a nice relaxing evening being nice enough to even sleep outside. Later in the night I could hear Coyotes chattering in the distance and a hoot owl perching in the tree above our camp. The next morning had started later than I hoped as we had all slept a bit later than expected being so tired from the day before hunting. Terry and I aired up our guns and set out in close to the same loop as the evening before but ended up going much further. I had spotted a Jackrabbit sitting up in the sagebrush at 25 yards,shot a bit to high only to see a puff of fur from my pellet skimming the top of his head. These Hares are so fast and hard to spot that hunting them can get very frustrating. I can’t tell you how many shots I experience that’s like “How in the heck did I miss?” I followed Terry for a bit as I enjoyed taking pics and to be careful with my air supply and ammo,not having very good luck with any good shots. Terry spotted a good size Jackrabbit at around 30 yards where he was able to connect his shot,from the sound he had hit him hard. The Jackrabbit slowly ran away into some thick sagebrush making it very difficult to find and when you did it wouldn’t stay still long enough to make a shot. We both spent a good amount of time scouring the area to find him with no luck. A few hundred more yards on our hike I spotted a good size Ground Squirrel sitting on a rock that Terry was able to take at 35 yards.
Terry and I kept hiking higher and higher up into the mountains and by this time I had used up all my shots barely missing several Jackrabbits I had encountered on the rocky hillsides. We found a good saddle where we took a rest before we climbed even higher where we had to make it up over the next mountain and back towards our camp. The mountain we were climbing proved difficult with it being near vertical at some points. We too were running low on water that’s never a good thing in the blazing desert sun.
After making it to the top of the mountain we were both exhausted and had decided to take the easiest straight route back to camp that was thankfully mostly downhill. I was the first to stagger into camp where I found Tom and Nick as exhausted as we were relaxing in the shade. The first thing on my mind was to get some water and to cut open a watermelon that had been on ice. What a hunt,ended with 4 hard earned kills and legs that felt like jello. We all packed up our things and set out down the road till the next time. The best part of every hunt like this is the time spent with good friends and the adventure of exploring nature. Hope to share more soon but until then “Best Wishes”
Great story!! I want a .308… 🙂
Excellent time looks like Dana!