Three day Adventure Airgun/Bow hunt
Thursday evening I came home from work and started packing the Jeep for a three day long hunt in the high desert of California. The plan was for me to meet with Jon, a gentleman I had met on the popular SCHOUTDOORS forum and who had volunteered to help me with some filming. The next morning Marley and I left the house bright and early for the several hour drive into the desert where we would meet Jon and have him follow us up through the rugged terrain to our hunting spot. Thankfully when we arrived it wasn’t as windy as I had anticipated as well as being much cooler than planned. As we drove into the camping area Marley and I had already spotted several Cottontails as well as some Jackrabbits and Ground Squirrels. This area is very unique as it offers a wide variety of animals to hunt, all within walking distance. We unpacked our gear, relaxed for a bit and then started setting up the camera equipment, guns etc, for a short hunt where I would show Jon the lay of the land. Jon had never used an Airgun before and was primarily used to firearms as well as a compound bow. I offered him to use my custom MK1 .22 carbine pistol that was near perfect for this type of hunting and accurate enough to make shots out past 60 yards. Jon was excited and within several minutes from camp we decided to sit down under one of the many Oak trees that nestles among the large valley with many rock outcroppings and fallen trees, the best natural habitat for the California Ground Squirrel.
Within several minutes of sitting I had spotted a good size adult Ground Squirrel sunning himself atop a large boulder at 63 yards. I took aim while Jon maneuvered the camera that we had mounted on a tripod to film the action.
After I had made the kill on the Ground Squirrel Jon spotted a Cottontail grazing in some grass just under another Oak tree at 45 yards, Jon was able to make a nice head-shot making it his first rabbit kill and his first time using an Airgun. As we moved our locations we spotted another Cottontail that was grazing further up the hill at 40 yards where I was able to dispatch with authority using the .30 American Air Arms EVOL. After a short trip back to camp where Jon decided to pick up his compound bow and some more water for our walk down the hill we set out again.
Over the next 20 minutes Jon, Marley and I walked down through the valley that followed a small creek with embankments that many Cottontails like to graze at. The grass near the creek is a bit greener as well as having a bit more cover for them to scurry into in the event they are attacked by predators. As we walked slowly down through a wooded area following a game trail I soon spotted a Cottontail at about 25 yards, perfect range for Jon’s bow.
The arrows he was using were fitted with a large blunt tip that in turn is suppose to simply knock out the rabbit and not penetrate, this one passed through the entire rabbit. As Jon was collecting his kill we spotted another Cottontail that was heading up a hillside towards a large rock outcropping. I was able to make a nice kill at 64 yards that dropped the rabbit just before it disappeared under some rocks, Marley was fast to assist in the recovery.
As we continued down the creek-side into an area that was a bit more open, almost like a field we spotted another Cottontail grazing. The position of the sun gave Jon a great silhouette to make sight on at what looked to be near 45 yards, impressive with a bow.
Jon and I continued a giant loop that lead us back onto a road that headed North up a hill and back to camp, by this time it was getting very hot. We made our return to camp where we were happily greeted by Nick, his wife Jessica and three boys. Nick was busy sighting in a few of his rifles and putting the final test on several lines of ammo he has produced.
The one thing I really admire about Nick is his drive for perfection in producing a quality product, he spends hours testing his ammo and is always open to suggestion. Over the next few hours we all relaxed at camp and enjoyed the shade and luxuries such as ice cold water, food and snacks. Jessica his wife was amazing and pretty much fed us all the entire weekend!
It was a great fellowship we had and I much enjoyed hanging with Nicks youngest son Josh who did join us on several hunts throughout the weekend.
After several hours of relaxing in the shade I suggested that we take two vehicles and head down the hill several miles to the Jackrabbit hunting area.
This area is huge and offers a wide variety of terrain to hunt in, flat areas, rolling hills and steep mountains. When Airgun hunting where we are trying to keep our ranges fairly close, similar as to what a bowhunter needs. After witnessing Jon’s several kills with a bow I was was excited to see what he was capable of in a more open environment. After parking our vehicles and unpacking our gear we headed East towards the mountains, I usually do this in late afternoon where I walk several miles away from the sun and then turn back into it. By doing this I can usually spot the amber ears of the Jackrabbits that are brightly back-lite by the sun.
As we all made our way East spread about 100 yards apart I was able to spot several Jackrabbits moving through the thicker bushes and tall luminous Joshua trees. As I looked over I could occasionally spot the other guys taking shots on the many Jackrabbits that call this area home.
As I walked I much enjoyed being here, this area is absolutely beautiful and in ways I almost felt like I had been transported back in time to the wild west. The look and feel of this location is unlike any other desert I have visited, amazing how the plants and animals can sustain such a dry climate. As Marley and I continued our slow walk, stopping every few steps to glass for movement I spotted several Jackrabbits at 75 yards in front of us between two Joshua trees. These two had frozen like statues and were near invisible with the perfect camouflage they wore. I had the EVOL .30 loaded with the 44gr Predator International Polymags that I have concluded are just about the best ammo for this type of hunting. They feature a polymer tip in the head of the pellet which implodes into the rest of the pellet, making for a devastating impact. This pellet is also lighter due to its polymer tip that in turn shoots a bit faster, these are not as great for super long range but out to 120+ yards they work very well.
Jon and I continued our walk where we eventually turned around to head into the sun hoping to spot the illusive amber ears, the evening was just breathtakingly beautiful.
As we walked a bit more Jon had suggested that I stay put and he would continue in a short half circle direction hoping to flush several Jackrabbits my direction.
Several minutes went by and sure enough I had a smaller Jackrabbit moving its way casually right towards Marley and I by about 65 yards. I was able to make a nice clean chest shot that sent the Jackrabbit into a back-flip where Marley was quick to make her retrieval.
As we made our way back to the Jeep we had noticed that our second party had left us, figured it may have been to hot or they simply had gotten to many or not enough.
I was very pleased with our short little hunt that turned out to be very action packed and successful, too the footage I had gotten of Jon stalking a Jackrabbit was spectacular. As we packed up the truck I took several more photographs and we headed back to camp excited to hear how the others did. The evening was nice and cool and offered some spectacular views of the stars, Nick, Jon and I stayed up late and talked for a bit with Jon and I deciding to call it a night as we planned to get up early and hunt.
This morning we awoke just after sunup and decided to follow the creek down through camp and cross the road where I had previously scouted for Cottontail the day before. We had been expecting Tom Costan from American Air Arms to arrive that morning so had planned to stay fairly close to the road so that we could hear his arrival. As we made way down the creek Jon and I had spotted several Cottontail that disappeared into the treeline and out of sight into the thicker bushes. This area was loaded with rabbits, no doubt one of the best habitats I have ever seen.
We continued down the creek-side path that led us into a giant open field that gave opportunities for much longer shots. As we took a break from our hike we stopped just near the creeks embankment where I soon spotted a Cottontail moving around next to a large bush at 115 yards. I set up the rifles bi-pod and took my shot that sent the rabbit into a backwards flip leaving a loud crack that echoed through the canyon.
After this photograph was taken we heard the distant crack of a Big Bore Airgun in the distance, figured it was Tom Costan from American Air Arms making his way into the field with his .357 Slayer. Soon enough Tom made his way down through the tall dry grass and across the creek to where we were posting up.
Tom was excited when we told him of the success we had that morning and was eager to accompany us on our hunt further out into the hills. We now headed Eastward where a large many Conifer trees were, Cottontails usually frequent the base of these areas and offer good opportunities. Tom was able to make a shot on one Cottontail at close to 75 yards that came in a bit low sending the rabbit on the run and into the thicker areas of bushes where we lost sight of it.
This area made way past several of these large trees and then into a more open area with Oak trees and scattered rocks. Jon spotted a Cottontail moving through the grass and up into the many nearby rock outcroppings, this was a great habitat for them.
After Tom had taken several shots getting after some rabbits he made a quick refill with his buddy bottle with a little help from Marley. As he was refilling I had noticed Jon stalking a rabbit so Tom and I decided to quietly continue down the path where we split up a ways so I could photograph.
Tom headed up into the mountains that offered him further shots and was soon to spot several ground squirrels sunning themselves on the many rocks that scattered the area. As he made his way through the rocks he made a beautiful 85 yard head-shot on a ground squirrel that left quite the mess on the rocks using 120gr Nielsen Specialty Ammo Swaged slug.
As we hiked further into the mountains we took a rest under a large Oak tree that offered shad and a great location to spot animals moving in the distance.
By this time it was late morning and the heat of the sun was starting to beat down on us pretty hard, especially Marley. We rested for about 20 minutes while glassing the vast valley for any visible movement, very little mount of activity other than birds as it was simply by this time to hot. We all stuck fairly close together on the way back as we headed down the other side of the mountain where we followed a trail that ultimately would return us to camp. As we made our way back I could see several rabbits in the distance scurrying in several directions, one made its way right in front of Tom at 40 yards where he was able to take it out even considering a small bush was in his way.
After lunch we headed down the hill where we had planned to do some long range shooting with the Slayer as well as some photography work I was doing with several other products. The area we drove to was only several miles down the road and offered a nice shaded area to park as well as ranges out to several hundred yards.
We had set up a soda can at 100 yards, eggs at 175 yards and a 3″ spinner at 250 yards that offered all of us some good challenges, especially in the wind. Tom was first to make some shots and make it look easy with the .357 Slayer, well he should have considering he built the entire gun from the ground up. The eggs were by no means easy in the wind, luckily Jon had brought his high end spotting scope that helped very much in identifying the shots.
After annihilating a bunch of eggs Tom turned his sights on a very challenging 3″ spinner that was set out at 250 yards, pretty hard to see at that distance.
Both Tom and I took turns with the gun and with some practice were able to consistently make hits, even in the wind that was swirling at times. His Valdada IOR Recon 4-28X50 scope is a beast and one of the nicest long range scopes I have used, perfect match for the Slayer.
We all had a great time shooting, John even had brought his .22 rifle that he had a great time shooting.
As the guys continued shooting I decided to set up the Kalibr Cricket .25 bullpup with the new Side-Shot phone mount that’s a great new product that allows you to shoulder the rifle like normal and look through scope while still recording. The kit comes with 1 complete Side-Shot, 1 Scope clamp of your choice (3 scope clamps are in the picture to show different sizes, comes with 1 clamp) in 1 inch (25mm), 30mm or 34mm size (to fit scope tube size) and 1 stabilizer bar (plastic piece that snaps onto your scope and dampens vibrations) Side-Shot is a universal phone adapter that holds your smart phone securely and adjusts to different phone sizes and brands so you don’t have to keep buying more holders each time you get a new phone. Its quick change system lets you switch from one gun to the next in seconds.
This Kalibr Cricket .25 bullpup is set up to shoot .25 38gr NSA slugs at near 880 fps making this gun quite the hammer. I was setting up this gun to use for my hunt that afternoon and evening, hoping to capture some action on video. This is the first time I had really ever used any type of scope-cam and was very pleased with how easily everything went together. After I set the gun up I set out into the nearby field and immediately spotted several Jackrabbits. The cant was a bit off adjustment but I can see with a bit more time in fine tuning this may be the ultimate setup for recording.
I spotted several Jackrabbits and most were on the run after they spotted Marley, she chased a few after I had taken several shots. These Jackrabbits are amazingly fast, especially out in the open as they were here. I much enjoyed playing back the action on my phone and can see I will be using much more of the Side-Shot on future hunts. I think its really good for me because I can easily record and send to email, Facebook or even directly to YouTube. After making some very unsuccessful shots in the extreme heat of the day Marley and I made way back to the Jeep for some water and to join the other guys for our continued long range activities.
We all had a great time and felt a little more confident with our shooting skills after the several hours spent practicing, the 250 yard spinner was a ton of fun and really shows what Airguns are really capable of. The footage we got was impressive! We loaded up the vehicles and headed back to camp where we really just sat and relaxed until about 5:00pm when it started cooling down a bit, the high for the day was 112 degrees, much to hot to be out hunting. As we drove down the hill the plan was to follow a small Jeep trail that headed East up into a very remote part of this desert. I had previously found the area on Google Earth and had noticed it being a little greener that may have indicated some sort of water source.
Tom took off up into the valley a bit ahead of us where he soon made a beautiful 105 yard shot on a good size Jackrabbit, you can see in the photo just how close the Jackrabbits fur matches the ground cover.
Jon, Marley and I continued several hundred yards next to Tom following the many animal trails that were covered in tracks, this area was very active. We made our way into a field that seemed much greener just as I had seen on Google Earth and almost immediately spotted several Jackrabbits. I set my sights on one at 75 yards that had froze like a statue next to several bushes just long enough to make a great shoulder shot.
The .25 Cricket is a great bullpup for offhand shooting and has a ton of power to push the NSA 38gr slugs nice and flat for longer range shots.
As we continued our hike through the desert Tom continued his own busy hunt and even managed to get a very large Jackrabbit at 90 yards with a spine shot that dropped that jack on the spot.
Jon and I moved a bit further away from each other and I moved towards a strange area that had some sandstone hills with more open terrain with very little vegetation. I saw something out of the corner of my eye like a flash of something big moving, as I looked again I noticed it was a very large Coyote, unlike others I had seen this one almost had more of a winter coat. I tried getting my scope on it and was able to capture some on film but unfortunately it was moving way to fast to take any successful shots. I was caught a bit off guard by the sighting and was a bit disappointing that I had not had a better chance. As the sun moved down a bit more I was starting to see more and more Jackrabbits moving about through the bushes and sandy washes. Marley and I continued to follow the sunset in a slow walk down the sandy wash that led us to an opening where I spotted a good size Jackrabbit sitting next to a Cholla Cactus. I had a nice clear shot at 87 yards that I placed right in the head that sent the Jackrabbit flipping backwards where Marley was able to make a quick retrieval.
Over the rest of the evening we continued to see several large Jackrabbits but I think between all the foot-traffic they had become very aware of our presence in the desert. As we continued back and made our way to the vehicles Marley had spotted a Jackrabbit and gave it a pretty good chase, amazing how fast that little dog is when she is motivated. Over just the past two days she had gotten more action than any other hunting trip I can remember, near 20 rabbits between all of us. We took a break by the Jeep soon accompanied by Tom who had to say his goodbyes and head back home, what a great day we all had. That evening back at camp Nick BBQ some burgers and we had a great time hanging out and reminiscing the great day we had.
It was 4:15am and Marley, Jon and I awoke very early to head into an area I call “The Hills Have Eyes” a very desolate location that offers extreme long range shots. I had hunted here several times before with Tom and we had both always had great luck finding Jackrabbits and Cottontails. The area we parked was near a trail that wrapped around the base of a mountain that overlooked several miles onto the desert floor. It was barley light out by the time we started our long hike that’s terrain can be very unforgiving and rocky. As we made way over the first rise I spotted a Cottontail at 83 yards in the open that gave me opportunity to make an excellent head-shot.
Jon set up his GoPro camera to capture some time-lapse video that we planned to use in the video of this adventure. The morning was fairly quiet other than the distant chatter of a Coyote caller that someone had set out several miles down on the desert floor followed by several large caliber shots followed by silence.
As the sun started to come up over the mountains Jon and I were starting to spot several Jackrabbits moving about, most way beyond 200 yards. I knew most of the shots here may beyond what the Cricket was capable of but still was excited to see what Jon could do with his .22 rim-fire as I knew he had much practice with it the day before. Jon set up his rifle into his tripod that would assist him in making some shots that were out to 300 yards, amazing for almost any type of rifle.
We had spotted several Jackrabbits moving, some were simply lost due to the extreme distance and difficulty to track through the scope with so many bushes, trees etc,. After some patience Jon finally settled in on a Jackrabbit that I believe was just beyond 300 yards sitting next to a bush offering not much more than a sharp black silhouette as a target.
As you can see from the photograph this is an extreme long range shot and very similar as to what we were doing with the Slayer in a previous video we did. I manned the camera and even with a tripod and the friction head cinched down it was still difficult to keep still at these ranges.
After a few minutes of setting everything up Jon took the shot that through a video review took several seconds for it to reach out the 300 yards where it fell just short and to the left by about 8″, still impressive shooting as far as he was.
As it was now approaching 9:30am it was time for us to make our way back to the Jeep and make our way back to camp to start packing for the trip home. As we made way through the mountains and more nearing the vehicle we spotted several Cottontail, one of which we both took shots at with no luck of recovery, even by Marley. As we made out of the mountains and back to the Jeep Jon had spotted several Ground Squirrels that were sitting upon a huge boulder high above us.
With very little energy left to sit and wait for the Ground Squirrels to come back up we decided to call it a day and make our way back to pack up all our camping stuff and head back home. Over the three days we had taken many Cottontails, Jackrabbits, Ground Squirrels and even had a short encounter with a Coyote. For me this one simply just one of the best hunting trips I had had in a great many years and was so happy that everyone had such a great time. I learned a few new things and got to make a new friend out of the whole adventure. Marley and I said our goodbyes and headed down the long desert road left with the exhaustion and memories of another great adventure together. I want to thank Jon for his amazing photography and video work, Nick for his great company and allowing me to use his Cricket coupled with his NSA ammo that worked flawlessly throughout the hunt. I want to thank Tom for coming out and hunting with us and allowing us to do some long range shooting with his .357 Slayer. Over the next few months we plan on doing some more trips and as usual will try our best to bring all the action through video and photos. Enclosed is a video link of our three day hunt I hope you can enjoy. If you can help us by SUBSCRIBING to our channel it’s much helpful, Thanks!
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