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Seneca Aspen Field Review

Several weeks ago I received a package from Air Venturi containing the new Seneca Aspen PCP rifle. This is a rifle I had some great interest in as I felt it was something different and unique from other Airguns. The Seneca Aspen is a very innovative Air Rifle that is built with a pump integrated into it, this means we always have an available air source to keep us in the field. The Aspen is what I would call a “survivalist” type Airgun, great for long extended trips where weight may be a factor. Here are some factory stats on the rifle.

Seneca Aspen PCP Air Rifle, Multi-Pump PCP 

  • Pre-charged Pneumatic (PCP) Air Rifle with built-in pump
  • Side Lever Action
  • Two Stage Velocity Adjustment 
  • Fires up to 17 Shots with 40-60 Pumps
  • Two-Stage Adjustable Trigger
  • Synthetic Stock
  • 250 BAR / 3,600 PSI Fill Pressure
  • On Board Pressure Gauge
  • Automatic Overpressure Air Release
  • Manual Safety
  • Fully Shrouded Barrel
  • Rifled Steel Barrel
  • Pump Lock Carry Handle
  • Overall Length:  43.3 Inches
  • 11mm Dovetail Rail
  • Includes 10-Shot Rotary Magazine 
  • Includes Fill Probe
  • Includes Single-Shot Tray
  • Includes 4×32 AO Scope
  • Weight 8.0 lbs

Two Stage Velocity Adjustment

  • .22 Caliber: Low Power= 700 fps, High=900+ fps

As one of the most innovative options in PCP airguns, the Aspen uses an integrated pump to fill its 3,600 PSI/ 250 BAR cylinder. Once filled, you can shoot up to 17 shots with 40-60 pumps. Pumping the Aspen up is quick and easy, only requiring about 28 lbs of effort at 3,600 PSI. Once fired, your shots can reach speeds as high as 900+ fps in .22 caliber. The Aspen features a two-stage velocity adjustment to keep you firmly in control of your shot’s power. With a flick of the dial, hunters can switch to high-power for devastating knockdown shots and be ready for the next shot 5-6 pumps later. With its dial set to low, target shooters can take almost 20 shots before you need to pump again.The Aspen features a two-stage trigger to cater to preferred pull weight. These features alone make the Aspen worth the $400 price of admission, but what if you already have a fill source? If you want to fill faster, the PCP still includes a Male QD probe with standard foster fitting to fill up your airgun the old-fashioned way. With adjustable power, adjustable trigger, magazine, single shot tray and a 4×32 AO scope, and no fill source needed, the Aspen is an attractive and affordable option for PCP airgunners new and old.


The Aspen came packaged very well and included instructions, spare o’rings, fill probe, magazine, single shot tray, silicone oil and scope. My first impression was the stock that was obvious plastic and had a “hollow” type feel to it. I shouldered the rifle and was happy with it’s weight distribution, it felt very natural and the pump handle made a nice rest for my hand. The rifle felt very solid and the metal finish was very well done, especially the shroud.

I went ahead and mounted the 4X32 AO scope that came with the Aspen, this is a fair scope for short distances but difficult to use for precision shooting beyond 30 yards. The rifle thankfully does include sling studs on both the buttstock and forend that make the gun ready for a sling. I liked how the stud on the forend can be mounted to either left or right side depending on how you carry the rifle. The following morning we would visit the range to sight in the gun and do some chronograph readings.


Today we visited the local range where we tested several different types and weights of pellets, for accuracy as well as to chronograph the rifle on high power. We tested the speed using the .22 H&N Sport Field Target Trophy’s that come in at 14.66 grains. These are great pellets, and through the years have found they work well in the majority of the .22’s I have field tested. We first tested a 10 shot string at a 3000psi fill pressure.

The 3000psi fill brings the gun to about 22fpe using the 14gr pellets, these are fair numbers considering the small size of the Air cylinder. Next we would fill the gun to the maximum pressure of 250BAR or 3600psi for our next 10 shot string.

With the 3600psi fill we are now reaching close to 30 fpe, a great amount of power for hunting most all small game animals at extended ranges. We tested the accuracy at 35 yards, because the 4X32 AO scope was a bit underpowered to make precision shots at 50+ yards. No doubt with a scope upgrade this gun is capable of great accuracy, still I used the gun just as it came from Air Venturi. 

H&N Field Target Trophy .22 Cal, 14.66 Grains, Round Nose

JSB Match Diabolo Exact Jumbo Heavy .22 Cal, 18.13 Grains

JSB Redesigned Monster Pellets .22 25gr


The 25gr JSB redesigned pellets worked very well in the gun although they were going considerably slower, and not shooting very flat. I was pleased with how all three shot, but still felt the 14gr H&N’s may be the best match for flat shooting out in the open desert. The single shot tray as well as being able to fill the gun with my SCBA tank made the range a whole lot more enjoyable. The gun was easy to fill, but the only thing that got annoying was having to remove the small rubber dust cap from the fill port. My large fingers had a difficult time reaching in to remove it, a small flat blade screwdriver may have made things go faster.

After we had finished our work at the range I left the Seneca Aspen with 3000psi to check for leaks the following morning.


The following morning I woke up at 5:30 am and proceeded into the shop to check the gun for leaks, and to pack the Jeep with all the gear I would need for my several day field trip. The Aspen had held the 3000psi overnight just fine so I loaded it into the case and into the Jeep. Our drive would take us several hours North through the remote mountains to a familiar vast wilderness. This area is very remote and always requires great caution due to weather conditions and road hazards.

 

The weather was cold with rain clouds rolling in towards the West, at this point I had expected the hunting to be very slow over the next few days. I unpacked the Jeep, set up camp and loaded my pack with all my camera gear, water, snacks etc,

The area we were hunting resembles East African terrain. It is 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. Marley and I hiked a bit North from camp where we immediately spotted one of the many large Jackrabbits that frequent the area, most we encountered were well beyond 100+ yards and well out of reach of the .22 caliber.

  We hiked for several miles up over a mountain where we finally made our way down through a steep ravine hoping to flush some Jackrabbits. I had taken several shots along the way at ranges no closer that 80 yards. The rifle carried very well and I much enjoyed using the pump arms locking handle to carry the Aspen with. The 8.0 LB rifle really shined in conditions where I was having to climb steep hills and switch my carry from sling to the handle. 

Marley and I came down a steep mountain that fed us into a huge open field with sparse vegetation throughout the hillsides. It had just rained several times in the past week so the green grass was looking somewhat like Springtime.

 The area was a great place to take a break as well as to film for the video portion of our review. I took a few shots with the Aspen, plinking at some rocks and just getting comfortable with some of my holdovers at various ranges. I found the rifle to be very easy to pump from 3000psi to 3600psi, the key is to go slowly and smoothly as to not allow the pump to heat up. It’s important to go slow, this will maintain the longevity of the o’rings.To fill the rifle from empty to full takes about 60 pumps, once the gun is to 3000psi it becomes very easy to get to 3600psi. I found that taking several shots and then pumping about 13 times would keep the power up.

  After a few hours of hiking around marley and I headed back to camp to have some lunch and to find a good location to take some scenic photographs of the Seneca Aspen.

Marley and I headed out again not far from camp and were able to take several shots, one that was a near miss at 83 yards.

It can get pretty frustrating sometimes when we are trying to “film” the excitement of a hunt, people like to see success more than failure. When hunting we never have a guarantee, all we can do is try our best and to enjoy the experience and relaxation of the location. By this time it was getting late and the temperature was dropping as the evening approached. Marley was getting a bit grumpy, guess she didn’t have enough action and she was exhausted. I put her to bed and made a nice campfire to stay warm for a few hours.

 

A few hours later it started raining fairly heavy, making it apparent we may move to a different location the following morning.


The following day I packed up the Jeep and decided to head home due to the rain making for very poor hunting and filming conditions. Several days later Terry, Marley and I traveled to another remote location in the high desert near Mojave. This area has a good variety of small game to hunt such as Ground Squirrels, Jackrabbits, Cottontail and Quail. We arrived to the location very early with the temperature being in the high 40’s, the plan was to hike the steep hillsides as the sun came up. We parked the Jeep in a very rocky area, a place we call “The Hills Have Eye’s” from past trips. 

Terry, Marley and I hiked along this small animal trail that took us alongside of a large mountain, as the sun came up the Jackrabbits and Cottontail usually start moving about. Terry and I both took several shots on a few Jackrabbits, it was still a bit dark so spotting them was difficult. Marley flushed one from a nearby sagebrush and nearly grabbed it by the back legs. She was so happy and excited to be out with the boys on this great morning. As we circled back I had spotted several large Jackrabbits scatter, two of them stopped high above me on the hillside at 85+ yards. I moved as slowly and quietly as possible getting myself just in front of a large bush at 75 yards. 

 I took the shot that put the 14gr H&N right into the Jackrabbits chest, that ‘THWAAAP’ echoed through the canyon like it got hit with a baseball. Marley and I moved as quickly as we could up the side of the steep hillside to recover our kill and to relax in the shade. Terry and I both were surprised how quick that large Jackrabbit went down!!

It was a great morning so far, very pleased with my 75 yard kill, good size one too!


After a short break we continued along the trail and circled back towards the Jeep where we had planned to drive down lower into the valley and check for Ground Squirrels.

 

This area is normally crawling with Ground Squirrels in the Spring and Summer months but I had expected to see a few adults out and about considering how nice the weather was.

I had decided to load the magazine with some NSA .217 19gr slugs, wanted to see how slugs would shoot out of the Aspen.

We headed along a cattle trail that ran parallel with a dry creek bed, trees, fallen logs and rock outcroppings were abundant here. 

  We hiked for a bit and saw very few Ground Squirrels, the few we did see were extremely skittish and difficult to get close to. Terry, Marley and I sat under a large Oak tree and waited for several to pop their heads out from under a fallen tree.

  

After spending about an hour or so in several spots we had concluded this area had very little action, my guess was the temperatures were still much to cool for busy activity. We moved back to the Jeep where we set up a few things to shoot at 35 yards. Terry was excited to get to shoot this really cool rifle.

Terry was impressed with the entire rifle, especially the trigger that I have concluded is one of the best out of the box I have field used. The Seneca Aspen is a great gun, has excellent power, sidelever is very smooth and the ergonomics such as the pump handle work very well to the entire package. After lunch we packed up the Jeep to head down the long road and head back towards home. Turned out to be a great day just to get out with Marley and my good friend Terry.


Later that evening I wanted to document a bit of preventative maintenance to the Aspen in video form. I went ahead and removed the shrouds end cap to see if the shroud may have had any baffles or any form of sound deadening material. 

The shroud does not have any baffles between the 4″ muzzle and end cap. The Aspen is very quiet but I can see how some baffles can easily be fitted to quiet the gun even further. (I personally see no reason to quiet the gun further) Next I looked to the small air tube just under the shroud, it has a knurled cap that can be removed. What is this? The direct answer for this is to service the pump tube at the factory and serves no direct purpose to the end user. My guess is it may be to remove the tube from the air tube assembly. Moving on I wanted to show the points of lubrication that include the breech o’rings, the Aspen includes a small bottle of silicone oil. We will use a Q-Tip to apply a small amount of silicone oil to the breech o’rings.

Next we will apply some silicone oil to the pump o’ring, this hole is visible when we open the pump handle arm all the way.

This is a good time to lubricate the pump arm linkage as well as to brush off any debris that may have accumulated on or around the pump area. After the rifle is broken in after about 500 shots it’s necessary to increase the hammer preload. The Seneca Aspen comes with a small allen wrench that fits in the small hole in the stock just behind the breech.

After the rifle is broken in the hammer spring will start to settle, to bring the power of the gun back up we turn the the adjustment 1 full turn “clockwise”. I would not recommend going further with the chance of either spring failure or causing binding issues. This adjustment would come in great for those who have a chronograph and want to “fine tune” the rifle. Modifications and adjustments beyond what’s in the user manual will most likely void the warranty. 


My time with the Seneca Aspen has been great, this truly is a worthy field gun and one that would impress even the high end Airgun snobs. This rifle has passed the test of being rugged and I feel with proper care it’s something that will last under heavy use in the field. Enclosed are my final honest thoughts on this rifle.

                   PROS

  • Great power
  • Shoots a variety of pellets well
  • Great metal finish
  • Smooth solid Sidelever
  • Great trigger
  • Lightweight
  • Handle is very useful
  • Sling studs
  • Inexpensive magazines
  • Solid shroud and barrel band 
  • High/Low power setting
  • Great safety
  • Can pump or fill with a tank 

                  CONS

  • Scope, difficult to use at longer ranges
  • Stock feels hollow
  • Cover for probe is difficult to get off

Overall this is one heck of an Airgun, perfect for a first PCP being it has the pump built into it. The sidelever, trigger, metal finish and high/low power settings are features found on guns costing near three times as much. People may complain about the stock but the reality is that it’s very durable and weather resistant. As mentioned, my only real complaint is the scope, the accuracy of the gun is well worth the upgrade in my opinion. Even without the scope the gun is well worth $400. For an out of the box $400 PCP this is no doubt one of the best performing rifles I have ever field used, perfect survival rifle being independent with air and shooting a variety of pellets well. Air Venturi was smart to brand this rifle and I see them selling a ton of them over the next year. From an Airgunner that likes to tinker and tune I can see this being a winner as well, capable of much more than it gets out of the box. I hope this review may help others decide on this rifle as their next purchase. Enclosed is the review in video form as well as the link as to where to buy it. Remember “The best Airgun is the one you’re shooting”


     


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Rainstorm .30 Resurrection

by Dana Webb

Saturday morning Terry, Marley and I left my house at 4:45 am to head hour North to the mountains. I had recently acquired a Brocock Sniper HR that I wanted to field test as well as to set it up for review. Terry has been working on Rons Rainstorm thats been converted by American Air Arms to .30 80 fpe beast. This was the Air Rifle used to develop the American Air Arms EVOL model rifles. About a year ago the sling’s quick release failed and the rifle dropped and broke the stock beyond what was thought could be repaired….Well Terry fixed it stronger and better than new. The full write up of the work he had done can be found here. He wanted to take the rifle out for it’s first main voyage so what better than a Jackrabbit hunt. We stopped in an open area first and spent about 30 minutes sighting in both rifles at 50 and 100 yards. We then headed another 35 minutes driving into the hunting area where I have spotted some very large populations of Jackrabbits.


The morning was very nice at 70 degrees by 8:00am, great for hiking around and refreshing after the many months of 100+ degree temperatures.

We arrived to the location, aired up our Air Rifles, loaded our packs with water and proceeded up on top of a hill. I immediately spotted a Cottontail at 130 yards moving through some thick brush that covered the hillsides. I sent Marley down to try flushing some Jackrabbits but I think we may have arrived a bit late to find them in the usual spots. We moved slowly around to the left side of this field where the brush got thicker with several small animal trails that weaved through the hills. I spotted two Jackrabbits moving away from us headed for a deep ravine where they usually will hide out. Terry moved ahead of me and I told him I suspected several would be in the ravine, they generally get spooked and will run up the other side offering an excellent opportunity to make shots. As soon as we hit the edge of where the ravine was sure enough a Jackrabbit started moving up the hillside diagonally.

Terry made several shots finally connecting with a shoulder shot at 100 yards, this Jack was moving fast, great offhand shot at that range. Terry sent Marley in pursuit and she was able to locate the Jackrabbit high up in the thick brush.. WOW were we excited when we saw her return dragging this kangaroo in her mouth. Pretty exciting to watch her retrieve from such rugged terrain.

Marley with her monster bunny recovery

I have seen many Jackrabbits in this area but this no doubt is one of the largest I’ve ever seen. I think Ron will be pleased with how this rifle performs, gun looks really cool as well.

Terry with the custom Rainstorm .30 with Tj barrel


The rest of the day was spent scouting new locations as well as some photography work I had for several new projects coming up that I have been working on. This area is absolutely stunning for this type of work, excellent photo opportunities.

We found several areas that had Ground Squirrels but the activity was very slow, we did find several spots that had some moving around.

Terry spotted several at 120 yards moving around on some rocks.

The scope he had mounted had no mil-dots so judging holdover beyond 100 yards made shots very difficult, that .30 44gr JSB gets out quick with little effect from wind.


The rest of the day was not very eventful, I really just enjoyed being out with my two friends enjoying the mountain air. I was able to gather some great product photographs as well as getting to try out an awesome new gun. We are working on several new field use projects that should make for some exciting videos, so stay tuned and SUBSCRIBE!!!!

Brocock Sniper HR .22 with MTC Cobra F1 scope courtesy of AOA 

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Varmint Hunting In Extreme Heat

By Dana Webb

 

Thursday morning we left the house and drove several hours into the remote mountains of Southern California. Terry and I set up in a location away from our campsite to check zero on our Air Rifles and to scout several new areas for hunting Ground Squirrels. The temperature was in the high 80’s so the new EZ-UP helped immensely in keeping us cool.

Terry and I set up targets out to 100 yards and were happy to have zero wind that is a rarity in this part of the valley floor. We had a great time shooting both the EVOL .30 and the .22 Tapian Mutant Bullpup, both amazingly accurate Air Rifles.

American Air Arms EVOL .30 with DonnyFL Ronin Moderator

After some practice with the rifles we packed up and headed down the road to a spot I had previously seen some Ground Squirrel activity. By this time it was the middle of the day and the temperature was rising into the 90’s making hiking around a bit unpleasant.

Terry making his way back to the Jeep with is Tapian Mutant

After about a half hour of looking for Ground Squirrels we packed the guns up and headed about another 14 miles into the mountains to around 5,300 ft elevation. We had chosen this location as it would be cooler with many Ponderosa Pines that were nestled throughout the vast canyon. The area too had several creeks that are fed by natural springs where Marley could swim and play.

I was quick to set up camp as well as the new EZ-Up canopy, that thing is an absolute necessity on trips like this. The Jeep was loaded with several coolers packed with water, ice and plenty of food for the several days in the wilderness. Ater setting up camp we set out down a nearby trail that followed the creek and gave some shade from the scorching Summer heat.

  The terrain was quite rugged and in some areas was near impossible to cross over the creek due to the steep embankments. I found an area overlooking the creek where I had spotted several Ground Squirrels moving from the many holes and fallen trees.

One of the Ground Squirrel holes at 55 yards

I sat for awhile and spotted several Ground Squirrels going in and out of this hole, made a shot on one of them and missed. After making a poor shot i knew I would have to wait for a while before one would pop back out again. Within about 15 min one decided to show itself again where it was met with a 44gr JSB.

I moved a bit further up the hill as I could hear the distant bark of several more Ground Squirrels moving about around the many fallen trees. I spotted one standing on a fallen log just down the hill overlooking the creeks embankment at 68 yards.

The angle I had to shoot from was a bit awkward to work with as well as having to move my cameras tripod legs to keep upright. The shot was a bit low and made a gut shot sending the Ground Squirrel flying backwards. Almost immediately after I spotted another Ground Squirrel barking high up on a fallen log to my right at 83 yards.

 I took the shot on this one and hit just low sending a chunk of wood right into him, the heat was really getting to me and the sweat in my eyes was making it difficult to see well. I could hear Terry making several shots so went to meet up with him, together we hiked down next to the creek to try and get cool.

Marley and I were perfectly happy staying down by the creek and not moving around much, we sat for awhile and spotted several Ground Squirrels moving around the embankments. We were able to connect with several of them although most were on the run. This was such a beautiful place to hunt despite the brutal Summer heat, was happy to just be able to get out and enjoy. Later that evening the plan was to try finding some Cottontail rabbits that may be moving about and to hopefully cook that evening. We made way back to the camp where we set up some targets along with a steel plate at 125 yards.

Terry’s Tapian Mutant .22

After dragging that heavy steel swing target out to 125 yards I took a break for awhile before shooting again. I watched Terry do some 100 yard practice before getting on it with the EVOL .30, the wind conditions were nice and predictable for late afternoon. After a few shots I was getting amazing groups with my gun at the shorter ranges and finally decided to move out to the 125 yard steel.

I put 3 shots in a nice 1″1/2 cluster and think with better setup such as bags I could have done much better. Shooting like this really makes me appreciate how far modern PCP’s have come. Later that evening after we had rested a bit we took a walk around near the campsite searching for Cottontail rabbits. I had seen plenty of droppings as well as tracks but no movement at all, I think the heat has made them resort to coming out after sundown. After Marley and I took our stroll looking for bunnies we came back to camp and decided to cook up some chicken for an early dinner.

The moon was near full that night and was thankfully much cooler making things much more bearable and relaxing.


That next morning my plan was to wake up early before the sun came up although I slept so well that I didn’t awake till around 6:15am. Terry had already been gone when I woke up so Marley and I ventured away from camp about 3/4 of a mile to a big open field, perfect area to spot both Cottontails and Jackrabbits. 

I decided to hike up the barron hillside and work my way around looking for movement in the large open fields. Hunting this type of terrain on flat ground is difficult and usually never works well without a shotgun. Marley and I spotted several Jackrabbits moving up the hillsides at some 200+ yards away but nothing within reasonable range for and Air Rifle. By this time it was apparent that the day was going to be another scorcher, already had my jacket off by 6:45. Marley and I picked a spot in the small amount of shade next to a bush and waited near 20 minutes before we spotted several large Jackrabbit moving in the field at close to 100 yards. I took a shoulder shot on one that sent it running up the hillside before collapsing, the second one was at 98 yards just next to a bush. The Jackrabbit gave me a nice side profile to line up for a perfect headshot that sent it into a flip. Marley ran to recover as it was wildly flipping all over causing a huge dust cloud. I went and recovered the first and met up with Marley where she had recovered the second large Jackrabbit.

American Air Arms EVOL .30 at 85 fpe

 

Marley and I were both happy our patience had paid off and were able to get two huge Jackrabbits within several seconds of one another. We took a break before throwing them into the pack and heading back to the campsite where Tom from American Air Arms would be showing up to spend the day. As marley and I hiked back we spotted several deer as well as many chipmunks moving about near the creekbed. This area is loaded with larger animals such as Deer, Coyote, Bobcat, Mountain Lion as well as many types of birds.


We made way back to camp where Tom had just arrived just in time for the heat to really become overbearing at 90 degrees by 8:30am. Tom had brought a new Air Rifle he has created that shoots a 27gr .22 slug putting out 60+fpe, he spent some time shooting that against a small 2″ spinner at 125 yards just under the steel plate. Enclosed is a previous photograph of the rifle, we will take a more in depth look at this very advanced Air Rifle in our next article.

American Air Arms EVOL TAC .22 High Power


After our shooting session at camp we all headed back out to seek out some Ground Squirrel action, I headed East following the creek the other direction. Marley and I crossed to the other side of the creek and set up just under the shade of a large Pine tree.

This looked to be a great location and offered a great unobstructed view in near all directions of the large area. To our right as well as in front of us were huge fallen trees that had Ground Squirrel holes all around them. I spotted several Chipmunks running back and forth from one tree to the next as well as the several periodic Ground Squirrel barks. I took a shot at several of the Chipmunks that were sitting on a root from one of the Pine trees next to the creek. These shots were all around 30 yards, close range shots that required some hold-under for once.

After a few minutes I spotted a fairly large Ground Squirrel sticking it’s head up from behind a log at 115 yards.

I made the shot a bit high and it came down right on the back of his head drilling him right into the ground behind the fallen tree.

This area looked to have a large population but I think the heat had kept most of them in the Ground as it was well up to 100 degrees out. I can’t stress enough how important it is to carry a large amount of water, more than you think you need. This environment dehydrates you so quickly that heat exhaustion can happen very easily. When we are out in the wilderness like this, nobody will find you and when they do you just may be dead. With Marley I have to be especially careful about making sure she has enough water as well as keeping my eyes open for Rattlesnakes. Having her bit by a venomous snake is one of my worst nightmares, miles from any type of help. After sitting for about 20 more minutes with no action we looped around back towards camp following the other side of the creek. As we moved through the tall Ponderosa Pines I could see a Ground Squirrel in the distance moving about on a huge fallen tree. I set up the camera the best I could and tried to follow it with the lens while trying to set up the range and gun at the same time, very frustrating. The Ground Squirrel was at 68 yards but moving further up this fallen log.

I made the shot that finally ended at 73 yards sending the 44gr JSB right into his back sending up a cloud of dust as it smacked. The past two days were a great time spent with friends but the heat made moving around quite miserable. Marley and I continued back to camp where it by this time was around 12:30pm, we packed the Jeep and waited for Tom to get back before heading out. This was a slow few days of hunting but was very happy with how well it turned out considering how hot it was. As I’m writing this we are already planning for the next trip, can’t wait to share. Enclosed is the video of our adventures, hope you enjoy and will help us by subscribing.

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Air Rifle Varmint Hunt

by Dana Webb

 

Saturday morning Marley and I fired up the Jeep and drove several hours into the Mojave desert where we had planned to meet up with Terry, Tom and Brian who was visiting from Michigan. The area was well known to us and we thought it would be a great location to take Brian for his two day visit to California. This area is prime habitat for the California Ground Squirrel and offers a huge amount of property to varmint hunt on. We arrived in Mojave late morning where we met Terry at the gas station to fill up our cooler with ice and water before caravaning another 50+ miles into the rugged mountainous outback.

As we pulled off the highway we made our way to the top of the mountain that opens into a huge desert valley bordered by Oak trees, fallen logs and enormous rock outcroppings. Tom and Brian had already been hunting for several hours before we came and were set up with targets set at 175 yards when we arrived.

The day before I had spent several hours with Doug Noble reconfiguring the power levels of my EVOL .30 so I needed to spend some time sighting it in. This area can sometimes have a good amount of wind that makes it a somewhat difficult Airgun friendly location. This particular day was quite windy with gust near 40+mph at times. Marley and I sat under a giant oak tree and zeroed the rifle as well as getting familiar with the new holdovers.The EVOL is topped with a Hawke Frontier scope and DonnyFl moderator that keeps the noise down very well. This rifle is regulated and getting near 34 shots at near 90 fpe using the NSA 47gr slugs, an excellent long range varmint setup.

After spending some time getting comfortable with the new configuration it was time to get down to business and try finding some live targets. All of us spread out in several directions with me heading up a hill and along a fence that opened up into a large field near infested with Ground Squirrels. Most of the shots were all over 100+ yards with several approaching the 200 yard mark. ( check video at bottom of page) I found a nice spot to sit in the shade with some cover from the wind as well. I had spotted several Ground Squirrels moving about on the rocks and had ranged them at 98 yards out to 160 yards. Tried to film as much as I could but the wind was making it very difficult to keep the camera steady with the lightweight tripod I had brought along.

I spent several minutes waiting for this particular Ground Squirrel to stay still enough to make a shot leaving only a 1/4″ killzone as he peered over the top of the outcropping.

After spending a few more minutes waiting for more Ground Squirrels to move about I decided to hike a bit further down through the large Oak tree covered field to look for more. Within several minutes I spotted another that was sitting on top of a fallen uprooted pine tree at 78 yards.

After connecting with a shot to the chest sending the Ground Squirrel into a flip it rolled down into the thick branches and under the log. From previous experience I don’t generally like to recover many Ground Squirrels as this habitat is home to many rattlesnakes. Last year I went to recover several only to find several rattlers coiled up in and around the many holes. Marley and I made way back to find the others that were set up against a large outcropping that looked out into a giant field.

Brian with the American Air Arms High Power .22

left- Dana Webb and Tom Costan with the American Air Arms High Powered .22

After spending some time hanging out we all set ourselves up to what looked like a Ground Squirrel “Shooting Gallery” with live targets out to 300+ yards. Tom was using the experimental regulated .35 Air Rifle that shoots 81gr JSBs as well as putting out 150 fpe using the 95gr NSA slugs. This rifle is based on the Slayer platform and it’s long range capable topped with a Valdada 4-28 IOR Recon scope with the furthest kill of the weekend at just over 227 yards.

We spotted several Ground Squirrels on the rocks on the other side of the field out to 159 yards where Tom and I both were able to hammer several. In windy conditions the high BC slugs are far superior to that of a diablo type pellet, the energy is carried and the wind drift is near cut in half making these shots much more enjoyable. Brian was using the High Powered .22 EVOL thats been fitted with a dedicated slug barrel and is capable of 80 fpe although the gun is currently tuned for 60 fpe using the 27gr NSAs that have a BC around .09. Tom was giving the data through his StrelokPro application on his phone and giving the correct holdover that was allowing Brian to make shots out to 200 yards. The wind was getting very strong and in honesty was very surprised we were making as many hits as we were.

As I sat behind the gun I could hear the distant crack of Terry making hits with his .22 Tapian Mutant bullpup. In just a few minutes he had gotten 8 confirmed kills with some out to 100+ yards using the Predator Polymags.

After taking a break from our hunting we decided to move our camp to a more suitable location that would shelter us better from the wind and offer better clearing to have a campfire. We moved several miles up into a canyon that had a good flat area to park the vehicles as well as some good hunting spots within walking distance. After setting up our camp we headed down into the open desert to try for some Jackrabbit hunting into the evening.

We headed up towards the mountains and had planned to make a big giant loop around and back to the Jeep. As we moved away from the Jeep I had spotted a good size Jackrabbit moving just behind a Joshua tree and up a small animal trail where we soon lost sight of it. These Jackrabbits are so elusive and hard to spot in the thick sagebrush, they blend in and disappear so easily. We hiked and were able to spot several more but the area seemed to have very little activity. We all took several shots but none were connected as the flats make it so difficult to get a good open shot. Once the Jackrabbits are startled enough to run they usually will not stop for 100 yards or so, gets very frustrating. We hiked for several miles as the sun went down and after no success made it back to the Jeep.

That evening back at camp was very relaxing after a long day of hiking around, my feet were killin me and I know Marley was pretty beat. We stayed up for awhile and had planned to get up early the following morning to head to a new spot for Jackrabbits as well as Ground Squirrels.


This morning we woke up at about 6:00 am and took the Jeep and Terry’s truck several miles back down into the desert to a spot we call “The Hills Have Eyes”. This area is very rocky and gives a very being watched feel to it along with having many vantage points to hunt from. We moved down the very narrow path that leads around the side of a rock covered mountain with several scattered Joshua trees and Juniper bushes. As we hiked slowly down the narrow steep trail Terry spotted several Squirrels sunning themselves on the rocks at 85 yards.

Terry and I spent about 20 minutes in this area making several shots on Ground Squirrels and Chipmunks both.

Brian and Tom continued on along the side of the mountain about 100 yards in front of Terry and I, we were glassing the lower areas for movement and were able to spot several Jackrabbits moving about. I took several shots over 200 yards missing by several inches on both. I think the wind from the day before may have trained my shots to give more holdover than was needed. I will say it was just nice to just be out with friends and getting to enjoy this beautiful territory. As we hiked I could hear the distant crack of the high powered .22 EVOL , Brian sounded like he was busy and had connected to something. We made way through the many boulders where I could see Brian moving down the side of the hill, he had made a connecting shot but had lost the Jackrabbit in the very thick sagebrush that was covering the hillside. We took a break as it was now getting fairly hot somewhere in the mid 80s, still very cool for this part of the desert. During summer it can reach as high as 116 degrees, near impossible to hunt in. Terry and I turned back as it was a fairly long hike back to the vehicles and all uphill for the most part. We spotted several more Jackrabbits on the way back, I even made a solid heart/lung shot on one that we spent some time looking for, ultimately lost in the thick brush. If Marley can’t find the Jackrabbit it’s a very rare case but can sometimes happen, amazing how tough they can be. By this time it was approaching noon and time for us to head back to camp where we hoped to try for some more Ground Squirrels before we packed up and left for home.

Tom and Brian set up in some rocks that generally are filled with Ground Squirrels, very difficult to spot but they are usually found sunning high up in the rocks.

Brian using my Cometa Lynx MK2 .22 and Tom with the High Powered .22

Several Ground Squirrels were moving around over 80 yards up in the rocks offering not more than a headshot, very difficult shots. Tom was able to connect with one near 90 yards making a perfect headshot that gave a very distinct THWACK!! Brian against my suggestion decided to climb up into the rocks that most likely had many snakes. Sure enough he found one on his climb up….

Brian standing just above Toms Ground Squirrel kill

We had a very eventful few days and hiked near 17 miles through this amazing property. The total between all of us had to be over 50 Ground Squirrels taken, this is a very low number but we have been hunting the area over the past several months. I think we all had a great time and was happy that we were able to host Brian in such a great location and give him a chance to hunt with some truly unique Airguns. We packed up once again and left down the dirt road with some great memories I’m happy to share through writing, photographs and video. Over the two days I was able to gather some footage, the wind made it very difficult to film in but here is a link to what was produced. VIDEO

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Airgun Hunting, Scouting Safari

by Dana Webb

Thursday morning Lindsey, Marley and I left home and traveled several hours North of us where we would spend the next 4 days. The area we had chosen is somewhat familiar to us although this trip would be spent exploring new territories within the park. The weather was typical for Springtime here in California and was supposed to be in the high 70s and mid 80s throughout the rest of the week. As we turned off the highway and into the BLM land we were immediately greeted by the 246,812+ acres of grassland. Springtime is especially amazing here as everything is so green and the wildflowers are exploding throughout this vast wilderness of rolling hills and mountains.

Most of the area is semi-arid grassland where very few trees grow with the annual rainfall around 9 inches. This area is close to the terrain you would expect to find on the African Plains and gives a very “Safari” like feel to it when traveling down the long dirt roads in the Jeep.

We had planned to travel much further than before into the area where we would create a primitive campsite where we would spend our first night. The area we chose was at much higher elevation and would prove to be much cooler as the sun made way down over the mountains. The small trail that switch-backed through the picturesque mountains was steep, rutted and no doubt a great job for the Jeep. We found a nice spot that offered a spectacular view of the valley floor as well as great scouting opportunity for the giant Jackrabbits that roam the hillsides. We unpacked the Jeep and set up a nice comfortable campsite complete with fire-pit to keep us warm while enjoying the stars.

We spent the evening enjoying the stars and making plans for our following days adventure. This area offers a great deal to the outdoor enthusiast such as hiking, offroading, wildlife watching, metal detecting and some unreal hunting opportunities. My plan was to get up early and hike around the hillsides looking for signs of large Jackrabbits.


The next morning Marley woke me up ready to start the day with a nice leisurely hike, she was very excited to get out and about looking for big bunnies. On this trip I packed very minimally with only a small pack for water, pellets, rangefinder and the .22 Lynx MK2 PCP rifle. I had recently done some work to the rifle making it more suitable to extreme field use. Marley and I moved slowly down the hillsides through the tall grass and with hopes of spotting some Jackrabbits in the distance as the sun came over the mountains.

As I was carrying a light caliber rifle the ideal range was within 100 yards limiting many of the shots that are more suitable to the larger .30 rifles. The nice part of using a smaller caliber is the challenge of getting closer and making much more precise shots to bring down these giant Jackrabbits. These animals are tough and can many times run for miles if shot placement isn’t perfect. I found myself using more stalking techniques that have not been practiced in awhile. The key is to stay low and slow, frequently stopping to look around. I like to work hillsides, canyons, ravines as these are generally the areas Jackrabbits move through. Many times I will walk for a few minutes and simply sit and wait to spot for movement, it’s amazing to see a Jackrabbit sometimes appear from nowhere. This particular habitat can be difficult as the grass is taller and the Jackrabbits blend so well into the environment.

Marley had flushed a few Jackrabbits from the tall grass with none stopping long enough to to make any decent shots. I was having a great time just being able to hiking around with my little friend and to have the opportunity to gather some great photographs of our adventures. After about an hour we headed back to camp and had decided to pack things up and venture back down into the valley to explore some different areas. We had enjoyed our stay in the primitive campsite and will most likely return sometime to spend a few more days. As we slowly drove down the mountain into the valley floor we spotted a large Elk herd off in the distance.

After spending several minutes watching the Elk move across the large open plain we continued down the road and deeper into the territory. I had found several buildings off in the distance using the spotting scope I figured we would go and explore. The area was home to several ranches in the mid 1800’s and many of these homes are still in fair condition as well as the many other ruins left such as farm equipment, water tanks and windmills.

One of three wooden harvesters found near an abandoned homestead site

Homestead built around 1929

After having a short break in the shade of the old homestead we continued north spotting several more Elk as well as some Antelope grazing in the miles of open plains. One of the prominent attractions that can be seen from the highest points of the valley is an alkali lake, essentially a dry lake bed. From a distance the lake seems to give the illusion of water but upon closer inspection it’s just several miles of salt bed.

We spent some time walking around taking some photographs while Marley played in this interesting new environment. We soon left and continued down the road heading up into a more remote area more off the beaten path, this area is simply huge and fairly easy to get lost in. Lindsey drove for a bit as it was now late afternoon and we decided to try settling on a new spot to spend the night. We drove up a small trail that took us into some beautiful rolling hills covered in grass.

This area was very open with a few Ephedra Viridis bushes spread throughout, very beautiful place to camp. After we parked and started unpacking the Jeep I had already spotted several Jackrabbits moving about. I dug a small fire-pit as I knew it may be a bit chilly later in the evening, I too gathered a small amount of kindling as well as some larger dead branches I found.

That night was a bit chilly as anticipated but offered some unimaginable views of the stars, I ended up staying up quite late just enjoying the sky.

Lindsey enjoying a beer next to a great fire


The following morning Marley awoke me as usual as she was ready to start the day with a nice hunt. I was excited as I was sure we would no doubt have some action from the many Jackrabbits I had encountered moving about from the day before. We moved slowly heading towards the Northeast of the camp where there were some prominent hills.

We hiked up to the highest hill where I had planned to sit and see if I could spot the ears of some Jackrabbits that sometimes glow as the sun hits them. After the sun started coming up I sure enough spotted a Jackrabbit behind a bush at 74 yards.

I slowly moved to my right as to get better sight of the Jackrabbit and made a nice heart lung shot that took it down instantly with Marley excitedly able to recover.

As Marley and I hiked back to camp the morning was really starting to heat up and by 9:00am was already approaching the mid 80’s. Lindsey spent some time walking around looking for some interesting rocks to add to our huge collection at home. I had forgotten the metal detector and can only imagine the cool things we may have been able to find if we had brought it. We plan to make a future trip dedicated specifically for relic hunting. We packed up once again and decided to venture to a nearby marked campground where a trailhead was located. The trail was to take us on a several mile loop that weaved through a cattle pasture and up a steep mountain offering spectacular views of this amazing wilderness.

Lindsey and I had a great hike and it was the first time she really got to witness Marley hunt Jackrabbits. As we walked the trail we would flush them and watch Marley shoot after them like a rocket, amazing how fast and hard that little dog can move through the rugged terrain. She is extremely adapted to this type of hunting as she’s so short she can easily move through the bushes. After each session of her chasing we would take a break to keep her hydrated to lessen the probability of heat stroke, a very common cause of death for dogs. We continued the trail back to the Jeep where we enjoyed a nice lunch in the shade of one of few trees found in the area. We decided to head another direction and back into the mountains on a small fireroad that weaved us high up onto a giant overlook. We decided to make our camp and enjoy no doubt one of the best views of the entire trip. It was quite exhilarating being up so high and able to view the many different features and mountain ranges over 50 miles away.

That evening my friend Jon had arrived with his girlfriend, her sister and his two boys. The campsite had plenty of room for all our tents and it was nice to have some company for the next few days. The plan was for Jon and I to hunt that evening and early the following morning where we would take the Jeep into and area he had previously scouted. That evening Jon, his son and I had decided to hunt up the hill from camp and work a very steep hillside where we hoped to find some Jackrabbits moving about. We all hiked down the steep hillside, Jon and his son sat at the edge just as it dropped off into the ravine. I moved a bit North and followed the ravine occasionally stopping to scan the embankments for Jackrabbits.

Within a few minutes I spotted one foraging around a large bush at 80+ yards unaware of my presence from high above. Hunting from a high point like this is always a great way to increase success as we have a much better view and the shots are usually less obstructed by thick vegetation, this becomes especially important when using small caliber Airguns. I was able to make and a good chest shot that took down the Jackrabbit with authority using the H&N Sport Sniper MagnumsIt took me quite a while to recover as I had left Marley back at camp and with Lindsey, it was getting dark and the ravine was ridiculously steep.

By the time I made it back up to the truck it was pretty much dark but thankful to have bagged a Jack. We had a great little drive back down the hill to our campsite where the girls had started a nice fire for us to warm ourselves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jon and I processed the Jacks and marinated them in olive oil, black pepper and several other spices he had brought. After having a nice bed of coals we cooked them over the fire and had more than enough for all of us including Marley to feast on.

That evening we slept great in our tent having much more room than the previous nights being cramped in the back of the Jeep with Marley.

 


Jon and I woke up early to fire up the Jeep and head 12 miles down onto the valley floor to a spot he had previously scouted for both Coyotes and Jackrabbits. Marley was eager to hunt as usual so we proceeded to the area that was very near the dry lake bed.

Jon, Marley and I parked the Jeep and proceeded to hike up a hill into a large field that ran into a steep ravine, we saw many Jackrabbits moving about on the hillsides. We spread about 50 yards apart and paralleled this ravine where I soon spotted a good size Jackrabbit moving up the other side stopping at 58 yards. I was able to make a good headshot that sent the Jackrabbit into a flip as it rolled backwards down the hill into a bush where Marley recovered.

This area had a ton of Jackrabbits but the terrain was a bit open and difficult to get close without spooking them. I see myself returning at a later date with the .30 EVOL and laying it down with some long range varmint hunting. Jon had set out his Coyote caller with the hope of bringing one in within range of his .223 varmint rifle. Marley and I patiently sat behind hoping to partake in the excitement of Jon’s hunt and to keep watch in several different directions. We spent about 20 minutes using the caller with little activity other than viewing some crows and birds of prey staying busy in the sky. This area is no doubt a good area to hunt predators and I would much enjoy returning for a dedicated Coyote hunt. Usually areas with a large habitat for small animals such as kangaroo rats, squirrels and rabbits are good places to set a stand. The place is large enough that we would never run out of areas to try, I do believe the higher elevation areas may be a better choice to try.

We made our way back up into the mountains where we started packing up the camp and venture to several other landmarks. The areas throughout this valley have a ton of history and almost to much to see in just a few days, can’t wait to return again and continue our exploration. After just a few days we had managed to find several new areas that are excellent for hunting, camping and hiking. I hope you enjoyed this write up and encourage you to subscribe and share this website with others. Till then, enjoy life and remember “The best Airgun is the one your shooting”

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Turkey Hunting with Airguns

On Saturday March 25th Tom Costan and I headed out from the American Air Arms facility in Acton California where we would drive 6 hours North to hunt Turkey. Several years ago I came across a post on the GTA Airgun forum by a guy named Glenn Elliott, he had posted one of his video’s of a Turkey hunt he recently had. Glenn received a good amount of heckling that unfortunately I chose to participate in, one comment I made really as a joke was taken very seriously by Glenn. Glenn ended up contacting me over the phone and expressed his disappointment in the comments I made and I gladly apologized with sincerity. Over a good talk on the phone we became friends and had even planned to hunt together one day that sounded to me like a great adventure. Several weeks ago I got a call from Glenn asking if I had planned to attend the Placerville Airgun Expo that was very near his ranch, if so it would be nice to visit him and join him for a Turkey hunt. Well I immediately contacted Tom Costan and he excitedly made arrangements for us to attend the show and set some extra time aside to hunt with Glenn the following Monday March 27th.


After attending the two day Airgun Expo that will be included in another article we set out an hour West to Davis where we would stay at Glenn’s beautiful horse ranch that gave a very mid-western feel to it. The recent rains have given this areas fields miles of luscious green grass that was simply breathtaking.

Glenn Elliott has hunted Turkey’s exclusively with Airguns since 2010. After his father’s death Glenn spent many hours in the woods with his Airgun as a way to connect with his father as it was always something they did together. Glenn has been an avid  bow-hunter for many years where he hunted whitetail deer and eventually Turkey. Glenn eventually made a move to California and continued bow-hunting Turkey and after many years of hunting them with a bow Glenn decided to try something different. Glenn ultimately decided to give Airguns a try since they were now legal to hunt Turkey’s with in California. After taking his first Turkey in 2010 with a Nitro Piston Airgun and dropping it in its tracks, he was very successful and decided to continue hunting them with Airguns. Eventually through his many successful Turkey hunts Crosman Corporation decided to sponsor Glenn and make him a Prostaff member that allowed Glenn access to many of they’re Airguns.

Photo American Airgunner TV (left) Glenn Elliott (right) Rossi Morreale

Glenn believes that Airguns offer less of a chance of wounding a Turkey when compared to both bow and shotgun if done properly by taking head-shots within range. Waiting for a good close head-shot makes Airguns one of the most rewarding tools for Turkey hunting. Glenn’s hunts can be seen on his  YouTube channel “The Airgun Hunter“. He has hunted with many well known celebrities as well as long time Airgunners such as Jim Chapman. He has appeared on the TV show American Airgunner where he hunted with Rossi Morreale and always has freely given his vast knowledge of Turkey hunting to anyone who asks. Glenn would eventually love to host his own TV show that would be focused exclusively on hunting with Airguns for different species all over the United States.


Upon our arrival Glenn invited me into his awesome “Man Cave” where I was greeted with a little surprise that I gladly played along with. As mentioned before I had posted a comment on a popular forum that Quoted “I can tell you I sure wont be running out to buy the NP2 for turkey unless of coarse it comes with a case of Mountain Dew.”  Well, Glenn did it and made me swallow my words. Those that know me know that I can take a joke, this one was picture perfect!

Glenn is an absolute pleasure to talk to and is in fact a very professional “real world” hunter that became obvious from his wall of mounted trophy whitetails and Turkey’s. Tom and I were very excited and honored that he not only invited us to stay on his beautiful 26 acre ranch but allowed us the opportunity for our very first Turkey hunt. Glenn gave us some time that evening to sight our new American Air Arms EVOL .30s between 5 and 30 yards, not the type of short range hunting either of us were very familiar with.

After sighting in our guns we had a nice dinner with Glenn and his family, we got to sleep as we would be starting our Monday’s hunt by 5:45 am.


Tom and I got up around 5:00 am and proceeded to ready our gear for the days Turkey hunt as well as having our morning cup of Joe that Glenn thankfully provided. We got into our vehicles and took a short ride down the road to one of the areas Glenn had hoped to be very active with Turkeys. After we arrived we followed Glenn in the dark on foot several hundred yards into a big field where he set up some decoys as well as the blind we would be sitting in for most of the morning.

In the direction we set up the blind was a road that ran parallel with a ravine followed by some wooded areas on the other side where Glenn said the Turkey’s roost during the night. After setting up the decoys and getting ourselves adjusted inside the blind with Glenn and I on opposite corners to man the cameras, Tom being in the middle using the shooting sticks.

The blind was good size for one or two people but three made it quite difficult to move around in, especially when trying to make a small adjustment or reach for something. I felt bad because as Glenn was loading his Marauder magazine we noticed that his breech oring had fallen out and upon trying to reinstall it got lost on the ground. Within about 15 minutes we started hearing the distant gobbling and clucking of Turkey’s, pretty exciting as this was my first Turkey hunt. Glenn had hoped that the Turkeys would make way out of the woods and down the road seeing the decoys that were set around 15 yards away leaving us some good close shots. After a bit of waiting Glenn used his Turkey caller that soon gave us sight of a good size Tom that was moving in the woods at near 60 yards, obstructed by tall grass and branches.

The Turkey’s moved to the to the right through the woods and around us where they walked along a road towards a large open field. Unfortunately we had several obstructions such as a gate, embankment and a ravine that limited any good shots. We waited keeping our eyes on all sides of the blind in hopes that some hens would return followed by several Jake’s and eventually the large bearded Toms that we were after. The decoys that Glenn set up were fairly realistic and placed in a very natural pose that surly may invoke some excitement from any Turkey’s that may pass by.

Soon Glenn had spotted several hens returning from down the road that were to soon be followed by a good sized Gobbler, the largest one I had seen this day.

This large Tom was at near 60 yards away and the fence in front was frustrating because it would occasionally obstruct making a good head-shot, especially as the Turkey would not stay still. This may have been the best opportunity for a shot we would have all day but simply was not worth the risk in failure, spooking all the rest away. As frustrating as it was we decided to wait and hope for a closer, more clear head-shot. As the morning progressed we were visited by several Jackrabbits that were taunting all of us with great shot opportunity but we simply could not risk hunting them as that would ruin our goal of bagging a Turkey.

By this time we had been in the blind for nearly 3 hours and getting quite yancy so Glenn decided to become a bit more aggressive with the Turkey calls. We would see them moving back and fourth in the woods but none of them would come out enough for us to make any clear shots. This was frustrating but I was still just happy to be with friends and get to learn so much being this was my first Turkey hunt. Glenn helped pass the time by telling us a few stories and giving us some insight on some of his past hunting experience. Luckily all three of us had reached that level of hunting to where we simply didn’t care about success but for us was more about just enjoying it for what it was.

With it being close to 11:00 am we unfortunately had to think about calling it a day as our many hours of driving was ahead of us. We decided to wait several more minutes as several Jackrabbits were moving about and frequently would sit on the road in front of us. Soon enough a good sized one came about and Tom had his sights on it.

Tom took several moments and made his shot that sent the .30 44 grain JSB right into his chest sending him down the other side into the woods.

After several minutes we exited the blind to make our way across the ravine to locate the Jackrabbit.

We made our way across a small metal bridge that gave us entrance into a large eucalyptus forest where we attempted to find the expired Jackrabbit. We searched and after several minutes I found a very large pool of blood and a trail of blood that seemed to vanish with no trace. Tom and I had noticed prior to his shot that a Hawk had been circling the area and even landed in a tree close before the shot, I think the Hawk may have swooped down and taken the Jackrabbit before we had a chance to recover it. This to me seemed the only logical explanation as that amount of blood loss would make it impossible for the Jackrabbit to continue more than several yards. Through our walk back I ended up spooking several Turkeys that were in the far portion of the woods, amazing how fast those birds can move through the tall grass. We made our way back to the blind to start packing everything up and into the vehicles where we would head back to Glenn’s ranch.


As Tom and I packed up our vehicle with the remaining equipment at Glenn’s ranch he offered to let us have some fun with his Pioneer Airbow, a new product from Crosman Corporation. This Airbow is very similar to the Benjamin Bulldog but in fact shoots arrows or broad-heads. The gun fills to 3000 psi and gets loaded by inserting the airbolts into the front of the rifle  where it puts out near 160 fpe with 375 grain arrows at 450 fps for 8 shots.

This Airbow is pretty easy to load and cocks very easily with the weight being about 7 lbs. All three of us were able to hit bulls-eyes at 40 yards very easily. The gun is fairly loud but was still very enjoyable to shoot, no doubt being a very capable hunting weapon.


Tom and I will remember this hunt for a lifetime as it not only was our first Turkey hunt but one that we had the honor of sharing with someone as reputable as Glenn Elliott. We both learned so much and will be able to take that knowledge with us on future hunts and through some of my writing here. I can’t thank Glenn enough for opening his home and extending the hand of friendship to fellow Airgunners. Glenn is a great example to future hunters and has a ton to offer the Airgun community as he has helped to progress our sport. The experience will never be forgotten and can only hope to extend the honor of taking Glenn for a hunt in some of my locations here in Southern California in the future.

 

 

 

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HUNTING WITH A CUSTOM EVANIX RAINSTORM

I had a few days off from building guns so I took the time for a much needed hunt in the high desert. My Marauder is all torn down and getting some love so I decided to grab a custom .30 RainstormII from the shop that was built by Tom Costan. The rifle has a tensioned TJ enterprises barrel, modified valve, and full Slayer shroud and LDC. It will run pellets or slugs just as well, too is laser  accurate at 100+ yards, current tune is 80+ fpe on 44gr JSB’s. My other reason for taking the gun was to sight it in for Ron as this will be his new hunting kit.

high desert sunrise

I arrived to my hunting spot a bit later as it was very cold and I had wanted to zero in the gun a bit before hand. I spent about 20 minutes getting everything right as well as familiarizing myself with the feel and use of the gun. By this time it was around 9:30 am and I headed into my usual loop that usually takes me about 4 hours.

desert joshua trees

It took awhile but I finally saw a few Jackrabbits off in the distance several hundred yards away. When I spot them I usually try and close myself into range and hope not to spook them. I had been lucky as the ground was soft and there was a slight breeze, this helps in getting closer. I was able to get within 85 yards of a good size one that looked as though he was missing part of his ear.

jackrabbit hiding

I lined up my shot between some Joshua trees and was able to take a real clean head-shot that put the Jackrabbit down with authority.

evanix jackrabbit kill

Nothing like the THUMP of a .30 pellet hitting bone, I could tell it hit very hard!! I had a great little solo hunt and can only hope for more very soon. Overall the Evanix Rainstorm is a great side-lever hunting rifle that carries with it a good amount of quality for its price point.

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SLAYERS MEET THE HIGH DESERT

Hey guys, I had another great weekend with the American Air Arms Slayer. SteveO was finally able to get loose for a few hours Saturday morning to do some hunting with me. We started our drive to the desert at 5:00 am and arrived at sometime after 6:15 to a new spot that I had previously scouted several days before. I had brought two .357 bull-pups with one being the titanium tube long version with the shorter one being the more compact tactical version.

.357 slayer

SteveO was happy to be able to get out and do some filming and to do some shooting with the Slayer. We filled the guns and loaded the mags with some 125 grain pellets that I personally love in the gun, they are accurate and move fast at over 1000 fps. SteveO and I walked several miles into the sunrise looking for the amber ears and possibly some coyotes as well.

hunting with the slayer

The area was slow but did offer a few shots on some running jacks at over 150 or so yards. We soon spotted some small golden mantel ground squirrels that in the wind offered quite the challenge. We shot a few of them capturing the overkill on video, should be fun to see once its edited. By this time it was near 8:30 am as we moved back to the truck for a break and to refill the guns with air and pellets that had been provided by John from Pelletgarden.com. SteveO took quite a few shots with his gun that was equipped with a Leapers Accushot and an offset mounted dot sight that proved to be a pretty cool setup for long and short ranges.

.357 slayer

His reaction to the gun is that it felt similar to shooting an AR-15 but without the noise. He also couldn’t believe how FAST the pellet can get out to 100+yards. We continued the same loop as before, walking slowly and stopping frequently looking for any movement. As we were talking a Jackrabbit sprung up from a bush several feet away from me, by the time I raised my gun as he was at full sprint at 60 yards, lined up less than a foot in front of him and THWACK….He flung down and tumbled to a stop. The entry was through his buttox and most likely made its way through most of the body.

.357 slayer jackrabbit kill

Cant wait till the video is done to see again in slow motion, taking a running shot with an air rifle is something I would not attempt with many guns. The Slayer performs like a dream and the more I shoot it the more I love it. The problem is the gun may have ruined it for me, after shooting it, everything else seems like a cap gun. SteveO and I made our way back to the truck and moved to a different location, this area provided more long range view. We hiked to the high point of an area that offers great line of sight and more of an open area to spot movement. We soon spotted another Jackrabbit hopping at 150 yards, lead the shot ahead of him and fired…..THUNK…missed by what looked like not much with a huge plume of dust kicked up…That gun truly is a powerhouse, amazing how quick that pellet gets to the target after trigger is pulled. The day had ended and certainly didn’t leave us without any excitement. We will be doing some more hunts very soon along with something a bit different. Here is a link to SteveOs YouTube channel dreamhobbies where you can find the video of our hunt.

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SLAYER & FRIENDS HUNT THE HIGH DESERT

Went to the high desert yesterday to hunt with Jessi (Lefty) and to meet Ray later on in the morning. Jessi and I arrived early at 4:15 am to set up our kits and hike into the hunting area.

I was using the American Air Arms .357 Slayer and Jessi was using his .22 Cricket Bullpup. We hiked several hundred yards from the truck and waited for the sun to come up hoping to view the amber ears in the distance. We walked around for a bit and I spotted a Jackrabbit ears at 150+ yards but they soon disappeared behind the thick foliage of Joshua trees.

By this time it was close to 7:00 am and we packed up to go meet Ray and his collection of Marauders at another location. Spent a bit of time hanging out and shooting a few of the guns he brought including a .25 Prod conversion.

We all spread out about 40 yards apart and walked towards the North looking for some Jackrabbits moving through the trees, I soon spotted one at 65 yards and was able to take him with the Slayer. What a mess that .357 138 grain (John Cripe) made pellet made.

We continued our walk and I soon spotted some amber ears at 60 yards, took aim with the Slayer and THWACK, a 3′ long trail of blood. I had wondered why my aim was a bit off and soon noticed I had made the dumb mistake of loading the magazine backwards,not sure how other than just not paying attention.

By this time it was about 10:00 am and getting fairly hot, Jackrabbits by now were taking refuge in the shade and much harder to find. This desert is very unforgiving to animals and requires a lot of water to survive. Jessi came across a sheep that wasn’t so lucky!

I had already taken two Jackrabbits so I wanted to focus my energy on helping Ray make his first Jackrabbit kill. I manned the binoculars and picked a spot near where I had made a previous 200 yard kill,offering a good amount of sight and open fields.

Ray was eager to learn and followed close behind as I was able to stalk within 95 yards of what I thought was just one Jackrabbit. We got within range when I noticed one run away leaving one more in a still position to make a shot, Ray aimed his .25 Marauder and made a flawless head-shot at 95 yards. I was as excited as he was being able to witness his first Jackrabbit kill, that smile was well worth the whole day of the trip.

By this time it was approaching 3:00 pm and we were getting lots of sun and very exhausted from our hiking around in the heat.

Jessi was having great luck with the ground squirrels and by this time had killed 6, some as far as 100 yards away. We continued for about another hour when I spotted a small size Jackrabbit that left me with a good 100 yard shot to the head.

The day had ended and we were all left with great memories and may have learned a few things as well.

 

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EARLY MORNING COTTONTAIL HUNT

Left the house early at 3:30 am to meet up with John Cripe from pelletgarden.com for some rabbit (jackrabbits & cottontail) hunting at a new spot we found. The weather was cool at around 38 degrees at 5:30 am, had cold weather gear and snow cap that I haven’t worn in quite some time here in SoCal. We pumped up our rifles and proceeded to the area where we waited till our legal shooting time.

As we approached that time we spotted two Jackrabbits at 60 yards away, still a bit dark and hard to see. We both took our shots and missed as we watched them scurry away in literally a flash.  John worked the area up high along a ridge as I stayed low working close to the brush-line. Spotted several off in the distance only to have them run as I approach from 100+yards away, very discouraging. I soon spotted a small cottontail foraging under a nearby sagebrush at around 45 yards, took the shot with a solid hit.

We soon decided to go have breakfast at a nearby grocery store before heading to the next area that was now around 9:30. This next area I spotted a cottontail within the first few minutes and with John’s help was able to corner it to where I could make a shot at about 15 yards.

We zig-zagged our way through and sprung a few jacks from under the brush but they are so dang fast that they are gone before you can even shoulder your gun. Again very frustrating and difficult hunting without a shotgun. I just love rabbit hunting with an Airgun and find it to be very rewarding when something is finally bagged.

Again I am just pleased to be out in the wilderness with a friend and blessed to have gotten at least one. Thanks again John for going and helping me to get some, had a great time.