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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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Airgun Ground Squirrel Adventure Hunt

With the recent wind and rains here in California it has been difficult to get away to do some hunting. My good friend Terry and I had planned to leave early Friday morning and head out to a familiar stomping ground several hours away. Terry, Marley and I had planned to stay for several days where we would scout several new areas as well as film for several upcoming videos. The night before it had rained quite heavily so I was a bit skeptical about the road situation going into the hunting area. This area is many miles off the main highway and heads into what I call an oasis in the desert.

Road heading in approx 6:45am

The recent rains had left everything green and full of life, Terry and I stopped near a large Oak Tree where we planned to site in the rifles and scout a portion of the valley for Ground Squirrel activity. This area is one of the best habitats for the California Ground Squirrel with it’s many fallen trees, rocks and hillsides to dig their holes in. After Terry, Marley and I spent some time getting the guns ready we hiked around and could hear the distant bark as well as the occasional Cottontail rabbits moving about. (out of season)The morning was still a bit cold and the sun was not in full effect, nevertheless Terry still managed to hammer a Ground Squirrel out of its hole at near 55 yards. After about an hour we packed up and moved to the area we had planned to camp about a 1/4mi North. This area had a great place to park the vehicles and spot Ground Squirrels all over the many large rock outcroppings.

We unpacked and proceeded to hike around looking for a good area to sit an eradicate them from distance.

Terry glassing for Ground Squirrels

After a bit of hiking around we settled down in a nice spot that looked to be very active, just needed to be patient and wait for them to come out.

Marley’s running the camera

It didn’t take long for us to spot several squirrels moving about and both Terry and I had our sites on several.

Terry and I were both getting connections from 55 yards all the way out to 70+ yards.

Result of a .30 47gr NSA HP to the head.

Terry and I spent about an hour or so moving along the hillsides where we frequently could spot Ground Squirrels sunning themselves on the rocks. This place was beautiful and had some pretty amazing views of the vast Oak tree covered valley below.

Terry and Marley taking a break.

After some time taking a break Terry proceeded down the hill where there were many rocks, Marley and I stayed above. After a few minutes I could hear barking and soon after the distant CLAP of a Ground Squirrel receiving a headache.

Tapian Mutant .22 at 30 yards,that shut him up.

Marley and I sat under an Oak Tree for about 45 minutes where I was able to take down several Ground Squirrels at various ranges.

A few screen-shots of the video.

Marley was having a great time hiking around with us but by this time we needed a break so headed back to camp for some water and snacks.

After a short break we decided to stick around camp and look into the nearby rocks where occasionally one would appear. I had spotted one high up on the very top of a rock outcropping at 75+ yards. I manned the camera while Terry took the shot with his Tapian Mutant.

Good shot considering the wind.

As our long day was coming to a close and the sun was going down the temperature dropped near 30 degrees making “camping” sound horrible. We both decided to pack up and head home as the night and lack of dry firewood would have been simply unbearable. We headed out the long dirt road back to civilization left with the memories of yet another successful adventure.


I hope some may enjoy this write up and be inspired to get into the field and enjoy the outdoors. Airguns have brought much joy into my life and have enjoyed sharing it with the community through video and writings. Enclosed is the video documentation of our adventure along with some bonus content regarding the Nielsen Specialty Ammo 47gr slugs as well as the Tapian Mutant bullpub. Till then, the best Airgun is the one your shooting.

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YouTube against the Airgun community

Beginning in 2016, YouTube and several other social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have abundantly dissolved much of the Airgun related content. The reason for this treatment is a direct response to many horrific events in which affects (not only us as human beings), but the gun community as a whole. We tread lightly in order for our content to continue to be hosted on these online platforms, but it does not seem to matter either way. For many well known creators this has made a huge financial hardship with loss of revenue due to demonetization. Many YouTube creators have chosen to have their video’s monetized, over time these views turn into cash to support themselves and the hobby itself. For myself I have never relied on the video’s I create to fund my life expenses, others are reliant over years of hard work. For myself the video’s help to promote the MountainSport Airguns name and the amount of subscribers are an advantage to dangle in front of Airgun companies to provide Airgun, accessories etc. For some the true benefit is to have the content they create to be found, shared and suggested throughout searches using “Keywords” or ‘Tags”. When a person types in something like “Airgun Reviews” a huge list of popular related video’s will appear. This system is a powerful tool for reaching new audiences and gaining subscribers that will share, like, comment. The engagement from an audience is a wonderful tool for getting that information you want into the public’s eye.


What can I do with my existing YouTube channel?

A few things need to be done but the most important would be to backup the existing video’s to another hosting service.

What if I have not saved my video’s?

It’s still possible to save these video’s, several ways to go about but this is how I did it. I first went to YouTube and hit the “share” button on the desired video.

“Copy” the link that can then be posted into a converter and downloaded into an mp4 video file.

Paste that link into box and then convert into mp4, then hit download. This will be saved into your computer with very little space.

 

Download and save for upload to desired hosting service

Where should I go with my video’s?

We have tried several different hosting sites and have decided to use Vimeo, depending on how many video titles you have this may be a great alternative. The video’s will at this point be safe and available to share through social media sites, forums etc,

 

What’s the downside to using other hosting services?

The bottom line is they simply aren’t as popular as YouTube for searching Airgun related content. By doing this we as creators have the feeling of having to start over. We have to find new followers and try to bring existing followers with us on this journey, this is where social media becomes very important. The Airgun community really needs to pull together and help each other in sharing each others content. Starting over may turn out to be a great thing and bring all our video creators closer together. Many have even chosen other social media platforms such as MeWe, a no bs social media site that’s censorship free. These changes have taken place in the past such as when MySpace was the popular before Facebook. 

What can we do to help?

Well if you are a channel who has not yet been affected by this censorship by YouTube you may not take all this to heart. The reality is you may be gambling with the hard work you have put into building your channel. Taking the steps to protect yourself is a smart move and best to be done quickly before content is simply “erased” and removed. We at MountainSport Airguns have chosen to no longer upload to YouTube and to simply let the channel go, no sense in continuing to feed the enemy. We are in process of developing a great option for Airgun video creators. Stay tuned and keep shooting!!

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