Out For Dassie…..

I spent the first half of June at my buddy Robs ranch in South Africa, and had some great big bore airgun hunts for Wildebeest, impala, springbuck, bleesbuck, taking one wildebeest but several each of the other species using different guns and ammo. I also got in a fair bit of small game and pest shooting in, and one of my favorite of these is always rock hyrax, also called dassie. These are strange animals, with many similarities to ground hog or prairie dogs, but in fact their closest surviving relative is the elephant! Dassie live in most of the rocky cliffs, and many start to migrate out into the flat lands, especially as populations increase. I had an impala down that morning and was not going back out for plains game until late afternoon, so grabbed my .22 and headed out on a hyrax hunt.

I’m on the lookout for him…. while he’s on the lookout for me! A dassie down on the flats, note how they tear up the ground around their burrows.

The gun I carried was the pre-released Umarex Gauntlet, and in my pack I had my shooting sticks, range finder, water, and extra pellets, and I had my 10x binos strapped to my chest. I glassed the area looking for a population of the animals, and once located I hiked into range. As I moved in, they dropped down their holes, which is exactly what I expected to happen. I found a place where I could tuck into the shadows of a stunted tree, and waited until they started resurfacing. I put a couple down cleanly, and missed a couple as well, it was windy and I had make some on the fly adjustments. I am happy to say that misses, like my hits, were clean. Stop by my youtube channel if you’d like to see the video footage, click here.

The rocky cliffs were home to the largest concentrations of hyrax….. not called rock hyrax for nothing!

This dassie heads for the hills as we see each other at the same time.

I ran into some snobbery about hunting small game, and sometimes also hunting with air rifles, as I stared talking about the experience on social media. In all fairness, these folks of negative attitude never know what they are talking about when it comes to airguns, and generally are guys I don’t think could make it as airgun hunters. But as far as airgun hunting, if you are successful with an air rifle (in my opinion), you are on par with bow hunters and miles ahead of most firearms hunters when it comes to your core field craft and ability to close with your prey. With respect to small game, I contend that the closer you get to the bottom of the food chain, the more wary the game becomes. I certainly had as much challenge, and as much fun, with the small stuff as I did with the large!

I used both .22 and .30 caliber guns, both were effective but the smaller caliber required ne to close the distance under windy conditions, and be more selective with shot placement (the head). Like a lot of burrowing animals, you need to shut down their nervous system or you’ll loose them down the hole, even with a killing shot.

I’m out to Japan next week on business, and while there will indulge another of my hobby’s…. fishing. And more to the point, Tenkara or Japanese fly fishing. I actually don’t know if I’ll have breaks from my meetings, but at the very least will go in search of a famous Tenkara fly shop in Ueno, the district where I’ll stay for my last night before flying home. Back at home, I’ll be off for a few days of prairie dogs in South Dakota, a pig hunt in Texas, and then in September it will be blackbuck and oryx with my buddy Chacho out in West Texas. There will be several other hunts this year, but I am definitely going back to Arizona for another Aberts squirrel hunt as well!

I hope that you are all getting out and doing a lot of shooting, and hunting if you are lucky enough to be in a location with summer quarry. I would really be interested to hear what your summer looks like and what kind of summer hunting or pest control is available to you. In part I am interested to hear about your experiences, but also in part because I am always on the search for new places to go and game to hunt….. you might put some ideas into my head. The other thing that I’d like to leave you with is my thought on small game and pest hunting. This year I’ve taken a few dear, several hogs, a couple javalina, a couple turkey and several heads of African game, and got to watch my buddy Rossi take a bear…. I’ve also had my fill of small game hunting, in fact much more, for squirrel, rabbit, Eurasian doves and pigeons, quail, ground squirrel, prairie dogs and predators….. and hunting these smaller quarry can be every bit a challenging and as rewarding….. Not to mention a lot more opportunity….. grab your rifle, pellets, and gear and get out there! Americans have more opportunity for more types of small game than just about anywhere in the world. Even if you live in a more urban area, you can find productive areas to hunt, take advantage of the opportunity!

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A Couple Notes From South Africa

I just returned home from South Africa …… the flight seems soooo much longer on the way home than the trip over, I was worn out (we hunted hard) and I wanted to get home to my family, and delays only made it seem that much longer. I did get a chance to stop in Cape Town for a couple days to visit family before leaving, which was nice (and earned me brownie points with my wife). I’d been on the farm on the Eastern Cape, and it was great to get back to see Rob Dell and Andrew Myers, two good friends I’ve been hunting with for 13 years now…. I still have black hair in those early photos! I took several impala, springbuck, a couple bleesbuck and a big Wildebeest bull, along with a lot of small stuff. There will be a lot of videos and articles from material collected on this trip, but there are three things I wanted to quickly tell you about.

My Beloved Hawke Frontier Binoculars Came Home

I’d lost these Hawke binoculars four years ago, and they’ve been sitting out exposed until a worker found them a couple weeks before my arrive! After cleaning they still worked fine, even though something big had stood on them a time or two!

I hadn’t been out to the farm in almost four years, and one night sitting in the pub Rob asked me “Jim, what were those bino you brought out that you kept whining about losing”? I didn’t immediately remember because I loose and break gears as though I had my own manufacturing plant. But then I said “oh yea, my Hawkes” which brought to mind the fact that I’d lost two sets within a couple months. He walked over to a shelf and pulled a set of badly abused binoculars, caked with mud, antelope dung and hoof marks. They looked like they been through hell and back, but aside from some of the rubber having flaked away, were not as bad as I’d expected. After cleaning them, we found they worked as good as new…… well at least they worked! I gave them to a tracker that was using some pretty low end glass, and he seemed quite happy with them, and they will now live on in the field for a few more years! When Hawke tells you their binos are bullet proof, believe them!

The Omega Compressor

OK, so you’ve probably picked up I’m having a love affair with the Omega compressor. We have one on the farm that the AOA guys shipped over three years ago. In the past we ingratiated ourselves to just about anybody in the country that owned a carbon fiber tanks so we’d have enough air for the hunt. But then then Robert Buchanan shipped a compressor over for one of our hunts and let them keep it, and Hounslow is the only outfitter in S. Africa that I know of that are fully equipped for airgunners. I had several air hungry guns and was shooting nonstop, but we kept the tanks topped off and the guns charged for the duration. In all the years of operation, the Compressor has worked flawlessly, the only problem being that we blew the internal water pump years ago, and since an external one was rigged up, never bothered doing a replacement.

These pumps just keep on working! Hard to think of doing these hunts without a compressor… I used to think of a compressor as a luxury item, but could go on without one now….

Arrow Heads

All of these work, but my order of preference is clover leaf/Toxic, mechanical, and conventional if I must. My feeling is the conventional broad head acts like a wing at super high velocities, and can cause the arrow to do strange things on occasion.

I’ve tried several arrow heads on my arrow shooting airguns (FX Verminator, AirBow, and AirBolts), but found what might be the most effective solution… and cost effective at that. While at Gander Mountain recently (sorry to hear they are going out of business BTW), I saw the Toxic crossbow arrow heads, which for lack of a better description are a clover leaf design. They were expensive at about $40. for three, but I found look alike on ebay that were $11.00 for six. so bought several packs. They were accurate, sturdy (standing up to several shots through targets and hay bales), and punched a large hole….. more to the point they drill a big hole through anything you shoot them at. So you ask how do they work on game? I shoot a 500 lb Wildebeest at 50 yards, drilling a big hole though both lungs before breaking a shoulder and hitting rocks and trees 30 yards on the other side of the animal… and though the arrow broke I could re-shoot the arrow head! The other thing to note is that the wound did not close, and the bleed out was fast and continuous.

Well, I’ve been home for two days and I leave for Scotland on business over the weekend. When I get home I am going to hit the field on another prairie dog shoot, and am going to try to get out to see my buddies at AOA and maybe get in a fast hunt with the guys (if it’s not too hot for them 🙂 ) Hope you’re all having a good summer and will catch up soon!

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Made it to South Africa ……but still traveling

Sorry I haven’t been keeping up with the blog the last couple of weeks, but it’s been crazy times. Last week we had the prairie dog shoot in South Dakota, which was an absolute blast. Weather was hard on us, but all the guys bagged around 50 dogs per day each, and the whole event was great! The shooting was solid, lots of great airgunners and LOTS of Airguns, and my buddy Brett put on a great weekend for all of us. Breakfast and dinner at the lodge, box lunches brought to us out in the field kept us fed, and we broke up into small groups to work a handful of the 50 towns Brett has access to.

I have an article coming out next month in Airgunner in which I relate some of the details of the hunts and the guns; but I will say here that the Daystate Rengade was my go to gun and it performed flawlessly in the field! A lot of the guys had FX Wildcats, and I have a video out from last year using this bullpup at the same SD ranch……. Another very solid performer! And a start at the even was the Omega compressor supplied to me by AOA. This compressor, simple to use, quiet, reliable, kept all of our CF tanks and guns charged through heavy usage…… We were eating up the air and without this compressor we would have been severely hamstrung!

Now to the title of the blog; I left Minneapolis on Saturday and flew 7.5 hours arriving in Amstrerdam early Sunday morning. I had about an hour to make my away across the airport and jump my plane for Capetown. After 11.5 hours in the air on the second leg, I disembarked at about 9:30pm (still Sunday). This was a great moment for me, I’d been away for almost three years, and as many of you know SA is my second home. My mother in law lives on the coast about 40 minutes away, I hadn’t told her I was going to be in country and I plan to Surprise her with a short visit after my hunt.

All my gear and guns made it, but my gun case looked like it had been pushed out of the plane before it landed. A heavy duty aluminum case caved in at one end, and it took the police and I while to pry things apart. But they (along with a hammer and crowbar) helped me reform the case after inspection. One of the reasons I fly into Capetown rather than Jo’berg is that the SAP force are friendly, helpful, and very professional, and the two officers that were on when I arrived made the entrance a breeze.

I cleared customs after a quick look at my documents, and as it was quiet this time of night, had a chat with one of the custom officers who picked up on my accent. By 10:30 I’d caught a shuttle over to the Cape Verde Hotel which was a 5 minute ride from the airport, and was checking in. I’d slept about 8 hours across my two flights so was in pretty good shape, but I’d been sweating like a dog on a couple of ocassion S during the trip and badly needed a shower and change of cloths. I did this quickly, then ran down to the bar for a really outstanding burger and cold drink, then went to bed and slept a solid 7 hours.

After breakfast, I caught the shuttle back to the airport, where I am now sitting and writting. In a couple of hours I fly up to Port Elizabeth on the Eastern Cape, and my good friend and PH Andrew Myers will meet me for the three hour drive out to Rob Dells farm. The weather is beautiful and I am looking forward to being back in the veldt! If I get in before nightfall, will get my rifles sighted in so we can start hunting in the morning!

We’ll be going after blue wildebeest, kudu, blesbuck, impala, warthog, duiker and a bunch of small game…. So will have a lot of news coming your way and will try to stay in touch!

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Prairie Dogg’n!

With spring in full swing, it’s time for my first prairie dog trip of the year!

Prairie dogs are a great carmint hunting species, because they need to be culled to keep healthy populations contained in sustainable areas without wrecking havoc on agricultural land.

I’ve been out in Denver for my sons graduation from grad school, one more kid to go and I’m tuition free! While visiting I’ve been like a hunting dog made to sit and watch a parade of birds ……. there are prairie dogs everywhere! My sons condo is situated overlooking a park, and the number of prairie dogs is mind blowing considering we’re in the middle of a city. Every couple years the numbers get high, the city comes in and poisons them, animal right advocates sue, they get ruled against, and the cycle starts all over. There is no denying the damage they do, when I was flying in you could see vast areas of farms on the approach pockmarked with burrows. You’d see areas of cultivation with a big patch of mounds and dirt juxtaposed. Prairie dogs are a part of the landscape, and they should be protected and maintained in certain areas, but left unchecked they will go out of control quickly. The choices for control are poison, or shooting them, and my preference (for many reasons) is to shoot them!

On my trip out to Denver suburbs where my son lives, there are constantly expanding prairie dog towns popping up in parks, greenbelts, and often times lawns. Every couple of years they poison and bulldoze areas to clears these rodents of. This little town is situated between a freeway, a parking lot, and a busy intersection.

I fly home tonight and have a few days in the office, but then I am loading up and heading out to S. Dakota for a couple of days of prairie dog hunting with a group of airgunners. Theses are guys I’ve had online discussions with, but never met in person, and look forward to a few days of hanging with fellow airgunners…… ones that are as airgun-mad as I am, and will drive a few hundred miles for the sport.

I already started putting my gear together; and have packed an Omega compressor and 5 carbon fiber tanks to keep us aired-up, my Wildcat .25, Renegade .22, Compatto .22, and still have room to select 3-4 other guns, loads of pellets, a portable shooting bench (for sighting in not hunting), along with all my personal gear. I’ll get some shooting in, but will also help Brett Guide some of the guys, and will do a lot of video with the intention of getting something posted by the middle of the following week, before leaving for South Africa.

I’m really looking forward to hunting with these guys, I’m bringing a lot of the gear that I’ve been testing hope to get some other user opinions and feedback. I’m also going to be producing a couple videos for AOA that demonstrate the techniques I use for hunting these varmint: shooting sticks, optics, long range techniques, and the rest of my kit.

After that …………

Three days after returning from South Dakota, I’m off for South Africa for 16 days of non stop airgun hunting: going to try to add to my African game species with a Blue Wildebeest, as well as a lot of repeats on other plains game and small game species. Really looking forward to this trip: it’s my 9th hunt in SA, the 7th with airguns only, but I haven’t been over for three years which is my longest time away since my wife and I got married there over 20 years ago! Besides the hunting I have a lot of good friends that I am looking forward to seeing. Will try to get a couple updates posted along the way!

Hope you’re all off to a good summer, and I’ll be catching up soon with a lot of new guns and hunts!

Categories: Airgun Expedition, Airguns of Arizona, Big Game, biltong, Brocock, Daystate, Destinations, Ground squirrels, Long Range shooting, Pest Control, Prairie dogs, shooting sticks, Shooting technique, summer time hunts, Uncategorized, Wildcat | Tags: | 2 Comments

Gear Updates: New Compressor (for me), my perfect shooting styx,and updating my cameras

The Omega Compressor was the first bit of new gear I’ve been using….. and to be honest I don’t know how I’ve survived without it! Well yes I do, with 6 carbon fiber tanks I’d have to drive 40 minutes to have filled, and I never seemed to be able to get to the paintball store when their tanks were charged to 4500 psi, so I was always lower than need for my high pressure guns from the start. I’d often end up using my hand pump to top the guns off.

When the 70 some pound box arrived on my doorstep, I looked for a place to stow it away. I settled on a garden cart I bought at Costco that allows me to wheel it wherever I want for use. The compressor was well pack and very secure in its packing. The directions were concise and clear, the fluids and lubricants I needed to get started were included, and it took me less than 15 minutes to fill it, attach the filling hose and power cable, and hit the on switch. The fan kicked in and the water started pumping …. all over the floor! I took off the side panels (very easy BTW) and found that one of the hoses had slipped off the pump, and after reattaching it I hit the on and it started running without a problem.

I hooked up my large capacity, medium capacity, and low capacity tanks which all filled up to 4500 psi and then shut off when reaching this magic number, which I had set….. great to know the automatic shutoff works so well. Then I started filling guns directly from the compressor, and was impressed at how quickly rifles that charged to a high fill pressure such as the Bush Buck, or with a large capacity tank like the Texan, was charged.

So there is no doubt that even though the costs of the Omega is great as far as compressors go, it’s still a chunk of change. But I have to say, if you shoot a lot, or shoot guns that fill to a high pressure, it an investment that is well worth it. In retrospect, if I’d realized how hassle free these compressors were from a usage and maintenance stand point, I would have cracked the wallet a lot sooner!

Very compact, fairly quiet, clean, wife friendly compressor that fits unassumingly in a corner of the garage… this is one of the coolest and most useful items I’ve added to my airgunning gear in a long time! It is a gear changer for me, and I’ll be bringing it on our prairie dog shoot next month in South Dakota.

The Omega compressor has an intuitive user interface and the control board is uncluttered with only a few controls required. The large gauge is where you both monitor your pressure and set the cut off pressure. One the bottom row is the on/off switch which puts the compressor on standby, the start button which initiates filling and the off which cuts filling. There is a meter for monitoring run time so you know when to service, and the adjustments for setting up venting cycles.

On the top is the filling/monitoring port for water and anti-freeze, the bleed valve, and the fill hose connection. There is a knob that allows you to lubricate every 6 hours of operation as needed (there is an alert to indicate if lubrication required sooner)..

After getting the Omega set up, I went to town topping off my two 80 CF tanks, two 17CF tanks and two pony bottles to 4500 psi (which took a few hours), then I started filling guns directly, which only took a few minutes! After one week with this device, I don’t know how I’ve survived without it!

A lot of people that have followed me over the years know I prefer to use shooting sticks in the field, and lately I’ve been using the Primos Shooting Styx. The reason is simple: they are the most compact, easy and fast to deploy, and flexible to use shooting rest, I’ve ever used. They are also incredibly stable: I’ve been testing guns in the field of these sticks rather than using a bench rest, and the results I am getting are outstanding.

What I really like about these sticks is they are so compact, yet exceedingly fast to deploy…. and once deployed they are surprisingly stable!

Once opened it’s easy to adjust the height by opening or closing the legs, and grabbing them just under the notch allows you to lock them in place with a small amount of grip pressure.

These sticks are so simple I am amazed they work so well…., but they do! I have two versions: the Pole Cat Shooting Styx and Pole Cat Magnum Shooting Styx. These sticks are three pieces on each of the two legs, which are a narrow gauge hollow pole with an elastic cord running through the lumen…. much like the poles used in a camping tent. There is a clever retainer that holds all the pieces together when not in use, loosen this and shake the sticks and viola, they are deployed! I can keep these sticks in any of my daypacks or messenger bags, even the smallest, and they are great for shooting from a sitting or kneeling position.

In a couple weeks when we hit the prairie dog towns in South Dakota I will have these sticks with me, so if you are there take a look. Or better yet, give them a try!

Between my magazine articles, YouTube Videos, and other online projects, I am constantly challenging my existing photography and videography gear and have been Supplementing and Enhancing my Camera Equipment. My primary video cam has been the Canon Vixia HF G20 for a couple of years now, though I also use a Canon T-6i SLR for both video and still photography. I’ve supported this set up with three GoPro Hero 3’s. While I like the image quality of the GoPros there are two shortcomings in my books. the sound is not so great and they have no zoom function.

To get around this I started looking at other “action Cam” types of cameras and came across the Fujifilm XP 90 waterproof camera. It is the size and configuration of a point and shoot, but the image quality is very close to the GoPro, it has a 5x optical zoom, and a large LED monitor that actually allows me to see what I’m filming. And while a lot larger than the GoPro, I can still easily mount it on my scope, and with the 5x zoom can get much better action shoots of…. shooting!

The other thing I wanted was smaller camera than my Canon t-6i for still photography. But it still needed to produce images of publication quality to illustrate my magazine articles. And for this I selected the Nikon CoolPix A900 camera, which has a 35x digital zoom and produces great stills (20 megapixels) that are sharp. clear, and can be blown up without destroying the resolution. The LED display is on an articulated arm, which is especially useful if I want to use it as a backup videocam, and it captures a true 4k video.

This is all backed up with a number of adjunct gear, a Tascam DR5 audio recorder, a collection of wired and wireless lavalier mics, several tripods of various heights and weights, an array of mounts for scopes, babckpacks, chest or head mounts, and a mountain of back up rechargeable batteries for all of these devices.

I’ve mentioned the South Dakota Prairie Dog Hunt a few times, and we still have a few openings if you want to join, it’s going to be a blast! My buddy Brett Waibel has a great lodge with a lot of prairie dog shooting, and this is an excellent time of year to be out shooting them. I’m going to bring a lot of cool guns, we’ll have a compressor on site (see above), and whether you’ve shot prairie dogs before or not, you’ll enjoy this outing. Brett has given us a great price and it’s all inclusive… you just need to get yourself to the lodge!

This is going to be a fun shoot, you should join if you can! That’s it for me this week, got a lot of work to do this week for my day job, but am planning to get out turkey hunting next weekend. Hope your all off to a good spring/summer, and catch up next week!

 

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Struck Out on Turkey…. Getting Ready for Round II…..

I’m on my way home after a tough hunt, that didn’t exactly turn out the way I’d hoped. I was in Northern California after turkey. There are easier ways and harder ways to get gobblers out here, you can hunt the vineyards, farms, and suburban areas….. and this is both fun and productive, or you can go into the wilder places for mountain turkey, and that’s what we were doing on this trip. And to make it a bit more challenging, I only had two days free to hunt.

My gun of choice for this rough hunt was the Daystate Renegade, I wanted something compact and easy to carry in an already heavy load out.

My buddy Parrey wanted to use a compact and lightweight gun as well. so I brought my Brock Compatto for him to use.

I flew into Sacramento and then drove two and a half hours north, arriving at 12:00 am. Four hours later a friend (Parrey) was picking my up for the hour drive to the gates of a high country ranch. Driving in we’d stop in areas that my buddy knew, and fire of a coyote howl looking for a shock gobble. One of the areas where we got an immediate response was on a fire road, and we were able to work above and around the tom to set up a couple decoys (a jake and a hen) and settle in to call as the birds came off the roost.

It had been raining and everything, including me, was soaking wet and it was cold! Living in Minnesota 32 degrees doesn’t sound too bad, but sitting in a puddle when it’s 32 reminds you….. It’s cold! We heard a Google, then by a shift in direction we knew the tom was on the ground and moving towards us. But then a hen cut in front of the incoming tom and pulled him away. Then it went quiet….. I mean in an area where only the day before Parrey had been picking up birds all over the place, now we were only getting sporadic gobbles. And then the storm hit, a cell parked right over us and it dumped buckets on us, much of it blowing sideways. The mile hike in had taken us about a half hour, but it took us well over an hour to hike back to the truck. We sat there for another hour waiting for a break, but it kept getting worse so we decided to call it a day. I’d only had three hours sleep over the last two days, and was pretty ragged after a relatively short hike (albeit pretty nasty conditions). I was dropped at my hotel about noon, and when I got to the room crawled into bed and slept for a couple hours. When I woke up I had a combined lunch and dinner, hit sports authority for a couple items of gear I’d forgotten, went back to the hotel where I climbed back in bed and slept straight through to my 3:00 am wake up call.

We covered a large tract of land over two days of nonstop hiking and calling

We hike to a ridge and call, just trying to locate birds. They’d gobble on the roost, but as soon as they hit the ground went silent. Where only two weeks earlier Parry had seen a flock of a couple rio grandes, we couldn’t buy a response!

Driving out the next morning, we could see this was to be a much better day. From the stars and moon in the sky, it didn’t look like there was a rain cloud within miles. As we drove onto the ranch, we saw wet bear tracks in the road, and as we came around a bend, a smallish black bear cut across in front of us. We saw jackrabbits and deer in numbers, but strangely enough we did not get a single response. We set off on an six mile loop, along which were several canyons and saddles in which we were sure we’d find birds.

I was carrying a gun I’ve been shooting with really good results, the Daystate Renegade .22. This compact little rig was very comfortable to carry, and on paper I’d been getting some great results. I’d been down at the river before leaving home, with a bunch of life sized turkey targets, and between 10 -60 yards I could sink pellet after pellet into the kill zone on ahead shot. This was shooting off the same sticks (Primos Shooting Styx) that I’d be using on the hunt. I was so confident in this bullpup, that I could not wait to get on a turkey.

No matter how much you want it or how hard you work for it, nothing is a guarantee when hunting. I’d used up some of my valuable hunting time and a bit of cash without bagging a turkey, but had a great time …. even if I am a bit sore as I write this. We did take a break of a couple hours to shoot some ground squirrels, but my turkey will have to wait until next weekend when I head for another airgunning state…. more about that latter!

But alas, that didn’t happen. In all the miles climbing up and down the rugged hills and rock faces, cling every couple hundred yards, we only got a very few half hearted responses and always from a long ways off. What made it doubly frustrating is that we knew there were birds all around us, and every thing about the conditions told us it should be a banner day and not a shut out. But a shut out it was, we stayed out until the state mandated 5:00pm cut off and outside a couple hens, saw nothing.

Well that’s not entirely true, though we couldn’t find a turkey, we did happen across a pasture on the way out where ground squirrels were making their spring entrance, and I shot a few between 50-80 yards. I sat on the ground with the gun up on sticks, dropping them with head and a couple body shots. So while I didn’t get my turkey, I did get in a fun little varminting session, and feel even more secure with the gun. I’m jumping down to Virginia next week after we tape a few segments of American Airgunner in the studio, and will have another go at it.

What I can say is that the Renegade is dead accurate, hits hard with the JSB 18 gr pellets it prefers, and has a fantastic trigger. The side lever cocking action and the 10 shot magazine fed perfectly without a hitch noted, and with the strap I mounted the carried well. I appreciated this, because between my turkey hunting paraphernalia and camera gear I was well and truly loaded down. In a seated position with this rifle on sticks, it locks on and is rock stable, a great field gun.

Now I just need to use it to get my turkey!

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Categories: Airgun Expedition, Announcements, binoculars, bird hunting, bullpup, compact guns, Daystate, Ground squirrels, Small Game Hunting, Spring time hunting, turkey, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Prepping the Renegade for Hunting Season!

Man this gun is accurate! I was sighting in at 30 yards in preparation for my California turkey hunt. Headshots are the rule and they are frequently close in, 5-30 yards is the norm. Those close in shots can be tricky, so I’m getting my practice in. Loving these shooting sticks BTW.

I spent the weekend shooting the Daystate Renegade, the second bullpup design out of this great airgun manufacturing powerhouse. The first was the Daystate Pulsar, a beautiful and technology packed bullpup. And while I loved shooting that gun (and it shot very well), my taste run more towards less complex technology for the field…. The electronic trigger was outstanding, but the other onboard electronics, the built-in laser, not to mention a price tag that could send you into cardiac arrest … were more than I needed.
Then at the SHOT Show a couple of months back I spent time looking at the new entry, the Daystate Renegade. It shares many of the stylistic attributes with the Pulsar, with what for me is an important difference, it is mechanically actuated. It uses the same technology shared with the Wolverine and Regals models, both of which I use, like, and trust. There is still an electronic component as the Regals uses an electro-mechanical trigger they have named the Hybrid Trigger Unit (HBU). The electronic are used to sense the triggers location, but the actual sear release is manual. I also like that the HBU is powered by a standard 9V battery.

The stock allows for a comforatbvle mount regardless of whether I was standing, sitting or kneeling.

I am taking this bullpup out on a Turkey hunt in California when the season opens in April, but in the meantime, I’ve started shooting the gun on the range and plinking with it to get familiarized. The gun is quite compact and ergonomic. There is an adjustable buttpad, a cover over the rear action which makes for a comfortable cheek weld and provides a good line of sight using low or medium height mounts on the elevated rail. The pistol grip provides a comfortable hold, with good access to the safety placed right behind the trigger. The action is my favored sidelever cocking with a drop-down handle, which allows the shooter to cycle the action very quickly.

10 shot group off the bench at 25 yards

 

This 6 shot group was at 50 yards, with me sitting and shooting of the Primos Shooting Styx. What a combination!

I will post my quantitative results later bit I will tell you that this gun is very accurate, and I am looking forward to doing some long-range work with it on prairie dogs this upcoming season. With a high shot count, accuracy, power, shootability it goes on my list of impressive bullpups.

Also wanted to let you know, I will be hosting a prairie dog shoot in South Dakota, and will attach a link below for those that are interested. It’s going to be a lot of fun, you’ll arrive Thursday afternoon, hunt all day Friday and Saturday, and depart for home on Sunday. I’ve negotiated a great price which includes food, lodging, and limited guiding to the prairie dog towns (on private lands). I’ll also have a ton of guns along if you either don’t have your own or want to try something new. I’ll bring my Compatto, Bantam, Huntsman Classic, Regal and a few other guns if you want to have a go with them!  If you want more info or to register, you can contact me at echochap@aol.com.

I’ve been working on my home office/studio/trophy room the last couple of weeks as well. I am starting a series of “how to” videos for airgun hunting, and will record the non-shooting, non-hunting segments from here. I am always interested in hearing if there are topics you’d like to see included, and have already received some great input from blogs readers.

Wanted to share my new day hunter kit: I built up a kit for shorter airgunning trips where I don’t need a mountain of space consuming gear. It starts with a messenger bag manufactured by Leapers, which contains my binoculars, a range finder, a portable electronic call from Primos, a small game carrier, Primos Shooting Styx, a knife, GPS (or compass), extra pellets (and magazines when appropriate), snacks, toiletries, and water, and a light. This little kit can keep me out all day long, and is very comfortable to carry. It is unobtrusive and can be moved out of the way when hiking or shooting, but accessed without have dismount guns and gear.

Got everything including binoculars, range finder, e-call, extra pellets, knife, and shooting sticks packed in this handy tactical messenger bag.

I have about a dozen different carry options ranging from this compact set up to a high-volume pack that can keep me out for days. This is one of the topics I’ll be covering in the aforementioned video series.

Categories: Airguns of Arizona, bird hunting, bullpup, Daystate, Destinations, Hunting Accessories, Hunting Guns, Optics, shooting sticks, Small Game Hunting, turkey | 1 Comment

Spring Around the Bend!

We’re still in winter….. Deep in winter in some of the country…… But spring isn’t too far off. There are three things that keep me and my Airguns out hunting when we get to that time of year: the prairie dogs start popping up and staying up on the plains, the groundhogs in the eastern and Midwestern states come out, and in some parts of the country squirrel hunting is back with us! You have to look around to find a state with a spring season (mine is Kentucky), but it’s a fun and can be a challanging time of the year to hunt.

The challange is because the leaves are out and as the season progresses it and the ground cover and thorn patches get thick. Moving can be an effort, and finding a shooting lane once you find game and get in range has its own difficulties. Also nuts are not yet on the trees, so you’re not getting the cuttings raining down to help locate quarry. There are buds and new growth coming out, so squirrels may stay high in the thickening canopy.

This said, if you move slowly though the woods, keep an eye out looking for movement above and shaking branches you can get to the squirrels. On the upside, for the same reason you have a hard time seeing the bushytailed rodents, they have a hard time seeing you. This is the Season where I spend a lot of time slowly moving around a tree trying to pinpoint the source of the shaking tree limbs, while looking for a shooting lane.

I like a medium power, dead accurate rifle, preferably in .22 or .25 for this application. And while not as insistent on a multishot as I am for winter hunts (hard to single load with cold, shivering, or gloved hands)I do still prefer it. A gun I’ve used a lot is my Daystate Huntsman Classsic……. As often mentioned, bedsides accuracy, right power, quiet, multishot, I believe it is a beautiful gun and I just like to carry it, look at it, and shoot it!

As I write this post I am sitting in my hotel in Copenhagen, and I’ll be working the next few days before heading home over the weekend. The Daystae Renegade showed up on my doorstep right before I left….. only had time to sight it in and plink on my indoor range, but I like what I saw and am anxious to get home for some more serious range work with it! If all goes well. Plan to take that gun on a prairie dog trip to S. Dakota in the near future.

Also have some new shooting sticks coming in that I’ll be testing out: plan to both write and produce a video on this topic…. Stay tuned!

Categories: Brocock, Daystate, Prairie dogs, Small Game Hunting, Spring time hunting, Squirrels, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Recent Texas Pig Hunt

Just returned home after a few days of hunting in Central and West Texas; the good news was that it was a great series of hunts, I shot a few hogs with different Airguns, got out for quite a few rabbits in my down time from pigs, and I got to a feedlot to shot feral pigeons…… Lots of shooting! The bad side is I came home with a raging case of flu, and I’m on my way out West tomorrow to tour universities with my youngest daughter….

One of the hunts that I quite enjoyed saw me out with the Hatsan Hercules in .45. I was dropped at a blind that overlooked a feeder and mud wallow that always draws pigs. I’ve noticed that it tends to be smaller, younger, and yes, dumber hogs that come in during daylight. Under hunting pressure the big ones, especially the big dominate boars tend to go nocturnal, laying up during the day. So I did not have an expectation of finding anything big, but I did expect to see pork on the cloven hoof!

Small pigs came in, fighting, eating, and wallowing. The pig I’d laid my croshairs on got jumped just as I was shooting!

I settled in, and within an hour pigs started coming in, as excited they were all in the 40 – 80lb class. They were also very jumpy, they would run in the run out just as quickly. Finally I had one move out to where I had a good broadside head shot, and just as I was squeezing off the shot a second bigger one approached my target for a fight. I was committed to the shot and followed through, and when the .45 caliber roundball smacked him in the head just below the eye, he rolled over DOA. The challenger, which I could now see was a better pig, was off in a flash.

I was tucked away in a blind made of old pallets, with tree branches threaded through the slats. Offers good cover and an open shooting lane.

With all the pigs exploding off in different directions, I sat and watched for a few minutes. Nothing else was going to happen, so I climbed out of the blind to collect my cameras and go have a look at my entry for our next BBQ. With my back to the wallow, I was pulling my rifle out in case I needed a finishing shot. I doubted this because I hadn’t seen the dead pig move, and when I turned to walk over was surprised to see three more little hogs back at the wallow. They’d walked in while I was turned around, and with the wind in my favor and their attention on food and wallowing had not seen me.

The first pig went down hard to a head shot with the .45 roundball.

I dropped on my backside and pulled my shooting sticks out of my pocket, mounted the rifle, and lined up another shot. With a bang and the sound of the roundball hitting home for the second head shot in 20 minutes, the pig fell over. And then I realized what I had done ….. I’ll never learn!

I was caught flat footed stepping out of the blind, and dropped to my butt as I pulled out my shooting sticks and dropped pig #2!

My hunting blood was up and I took the shot, with the pig in the middle of an oozy, stinking, #@# filled wallow of muck, and I had to get the pig out before he sank! I ran over, ignoring the first pig, and threw a few dead tree limbs into the muck, to slow down me sinking into it as I reached out to grab a leg. I got it, but it was so muddy and slippery I could hold on. To make thing worse the mud acted like a suction cup and would not release the pig. Running back to my pack I grabbed my game carrier, which is a series of nooses I slip over the heads of rabbits and squirrels, and ran back. Taking a noose and slipping it over the leg of my slowly sinking swine, I put my back into it and pulled him out. Such was the effect of the mud, I almost broke my back pulling this little 70 lb animal out…… But I had him!

Great planning obn my part, I dropped him in the middle of the wallow!

My clothing and my person on the other hand, were a muddy, stinking mess. When I got back to the ranch I showered, and carefully bundling up my cloths, threw them in the trash to be burned! I’ve done this before, and my homecoming reception when bringing back cloths in this condition is …… Shall we say less than warm. The jeans were old and falling apart anyways!

I was a stinking mess by the time I pulled the second pig out of the quagmire.

So I was there for four days and this was but one hunt, and videos will come out on my site shortly. Next week it’s university of Washington with my daughter, then I leave for Denmark on business …….. But then it’s another hunt, this time a few days in South Dakota (providing the PDogs are coming out), then it’s turkey madness in April, with trips to ZVirginia and California on the books!

Categories: airgun ammo, Airgun Expedition, Big Bore Airguns, Big Game, effectiveness, Hog hunting, Hunting Accessories, shot placement | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

Out with the Twin Master … the What?

I was going through the gun safe getting ready for a hunt in Texas (that’s where I am writing this from), and came across a gun case that had lost it’s label. I opened it up, and there was my Rohm TwinMaster Hunter. I have another one back there somewhere, and had gotten them in an odd way. At a SHOT Show several years ago the manufacturer had asked me to test the rifles out.  I agreed, and about two months later they showed up at the airport, and I was called to pick them up. When I got there, I was given a bill for $400.00 (or around there, don’t remember exactly) for shipping and import duties. The guns ended up mine, because when I went to send them back and recover my out of pocket expenses, nobody returned my emails. Eventually I found out they had sold off the airgun business, and I could find no one to return the guns to or collect my outlay. That was OK, because I quite liked the the guns as it turns out, and $400.00 for the rifle and carbine was a great price, though I didn’t figure I’d get  much support with it if needed.

The stock is a Thumbhole sporter, with the trigger guard integrated into the stock. It has a solid feel, but is not bulky. The air cylynder is removed for filling using a propriatary attachment. A bolt action cycles the rifle, auto indexing a five shot shuttle magazine. This is not meant to be a gun review, more of a look back at an interesting hunting rifle….. But putting out about 16 fpe and very good accuracy I’ve had a lot of fun small game hunting with it, mostly for squirrel and rabbits,

The compact carbine was a natural pointer, and hunting for squirrel in the spring as the foliage got thicker was a natural environment for it. During these hunts I often used the single shot tray, as I was trying out some longer alloy and heavyweight lead pellets that didn’t cycle well with the magazine. However, with standard JSB and H&N pellets it was reliable. As mentioned, the magazine is a linear shuttle design, and though it works well enough, it is a bit awkward to load.

As an aside: these pictures also bring back some memories of places I haven’t hunted in a long time. This squirrel hunt took place in the Missinewa Forest of Indiana. There were a few hundred acres of woods with deer, turkey, and lots of squirrel. In eight or nine years of hunting there, I never ran into another squirrel hunter. I felt like this was my own private hunting preserve. I have found that regardless of where I am going to be spending time, by researching I can always find places to hunt on public land. With big game this often means a lot of pressure and low game populations, but squirrel are often left alone in these same areas.

I also used this handy carbine for several rabbit hunts in Michigan. I had an office there for a few years, and always kept a rifle stashed in my Jeep for pick up hunts before and after work. I don’t remember the number of shots per fill, but I didn’t carry a tank with me in those days but rather a hand pump. I don’t recall having to resort to that very often, one charge could easily get me through a week of small game and varmint hunting.

I still see these rifles turn up now and again, through I don’t believe there were more than a handful imported. It’s an example of a product that probably could have achieved decent sales, but circumstances prevented it ever having a chance!

Update: I am writing this from my hotel in Houston, I’ve spent a few days at a lecture series that wraps up tomorrow, then on my way to a buddy’s ranch for some hog and predator hunting. It’s a six hour drive, but I have to stop in Abilene to pick up my rifles and gear that I shipped to a friend to hold for me. They have a population of feral sheep on the property as well, and if time permits I might give them a try.

A final note, keep an eye out, I’ll be posting the information on our prairie dog shoot and airgunning event in S. Dakota coming up this summer. The way it’s shaping up my expectation is for a great three day event!

 

Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments