I’ve just spent the last several days hunting down in Texas, and we had to work around suboptimal conditions. I knew going in that April is not a good time, a lot of predators are already denned up, it was forecasted to be unseasonably warm, vegetation is heavy and even when animals come in to the call, they can be hard to see…… but hey, hunting in bad conditions is better than not hunting right? In the end what was toughest on us was the wind! We had gust over 30 mph up in west and central parts of the state, which caused us to pack up and quite literally, run for the border. We ended up hunting the second night at my friends son in laws ranch about a hundred miles south of San Antonio. In four days we drove almost 1000 miles, hunting day and night when not driving. I estimate we slept 12 hours in 4 days and 3 nights of hunting, calling most of the night and much of the day. My tally at the end was three cats, a fox, lots of raccoons, a missed coyote (shot was on the run, I couldn’t get him to stop). We had a lot more stuff come in, but they were skittish because of the wind, and wouldn’t come close or spooked easily.
I’ll tell you about a hunt with the Wolverine as I’ve been promising, I have to use the other material for articles I’m committed to write. But before that I’ll tell you about the 9 hogs killed, that almost killed us. We started the first night out for pigs, the technique we use is to drive the ranch roads where the brush borders crops, and glass for pigs. Once spotted, we stalk into shooting range, and using night vision on an AR type .223 and try to drop as many as we can. This is pure pest control, these pigs are causing a lot of damage and impacting this ranchers financial well being, and he wants them gone. We saw nothing more than the backside of a couple fleeing porkers. Around 3am we decided to call it a night, the wind was howling and based on the weather forecasted we’d decided to drive south for predators in the morning. We took off to return to my friends property and get what might be the last good nights sleep for a few days.
We were screaming down a country highway doing about 70 mph, and was busy fiddling with some item of gear when I looked up just in time to see a herd of maybe 40-50 pigs coming flying out of a field and across the road directly in front of us! I said “oh gosh” ( or something to that effect) as my buddy barreled through the middle of them. Don is a native Texan and told me he learned long ago not to swerve, but rather break gradually and go straight on. It was piggy Armageddon, when we rolled back off the side of the road, we found nine dead, including a couple big ones. If we hadn’t been in a humvee with a bull bar up front it could have been as messy for us as it was for the hogs.
At any rate, the next day found us rolling into Don’s daughter and son in laws ranch in the late afternoon. We unloaded our gear and made room in the truck, the son in law Tony was going to join us, and quickly got everything sorted out. He manages this property, which is in the business of raising genetically superior whitetail deer, that are sold for breeding stock in areas where the native deer are at the shallow end of the gene pool. When you have deer on the property worth many thousands of dollars, tolerance for predators goes down quickly. They have had problems with both coyote and bobcats killing fawns and have been trapping and calling pretty aggressively trying (without success) to eradicate them.
We were using Don’s humvee with a 2 seat shooting bench and calling tower mounted atop, and making a stand every half mile. The call Don likes is the FoxPro series, which has always been my goto as well, though lately I’ve been using the Primos Alpha Dogg with good results. At this time of year we focus on distress calls, jackrabbit, cottontail, rodent, woodpecker being the more frequently used. You never know what’s going to show up, but the cats, raccoons, and gray fox like the bird and rodent sounds and the coyotes like the rabbits. We also mix it up with mouth calls like the min blaster, and we will “smootch” them in once they’ve moved in on a call.
The gun I selected for this trip was the Daystate Wolverine .303 using the Emperor roundnose pellets. We were targeting bobcats, and I thought this would be a great gun for these medium sized predators. The first few calls were a bust, with nothing showing up. Then a pair of raccoons charged in on the fifth call, then a coyote on the next (but it didn’t hang around) then it went dead again. At about 3AM we were about to call it a night and decided to do one more set. About 30 seconds into the call we spotted a cat moving down the hillside towards, that hung up in the bush about 70 yards away. I was zeroed at 50 yards, so held a bit high and squeezed the trigger, and shot right over it’s head. A latter walk through showed that I’d judged the distance wrong and the cat was 50 yards away, not 70. We immediately started smootching (making a squeaking sound), but nothing. About 10 minutes later we caught the glow of eyes reflected from out red filtered lamps, the cat (if it was the same one) had moved about 150 yards to out right, and was about 60 yards from our position. He was walking and I couldn’t get him to stop, so I followed him through the scope and sent the pellet flying. It took the cat broadside and knocked him over, then after a minute of thrashing he got up and started moving, but we found him dead about 70 yards away (not easy at night in the thick bush).
So after a few jackrabbit and prairie dog hunts I finally had the chance to use the Wolverine on the game I thought it was made for! I will say that for bigger stuff like bobcats and coyote, I think I’ll take the headshot when possible, especially if it’s much further than 50 yards. The Wolverine sends a large diameter chunk of downrange, but it is at the lower end of the power spectrum for predator hunting (perfect for suburban applications). For the smaller predator like fox and raccoons, I have no problem with body shots. This rifle is very shootable, it has a great feel for a “thumbs up” shooting position, it has a very nice trigger, and it is accurate! The high shot count is a plus, however I wish it allowed the hunter to trade off shot count for power. I’d be willing to give up 4-5 shots to get another 30 fpe out of it when needed. While the rifle is a jewel as is, that extra power would allow the hunter to reach out a bit further with a body shot.
On another front, if you are a reader of my website “americanairgunhunter.com” you may have noticed a lack of new content over the last couple of months. I have been updating it and will release a new format at the end of April, with new video content as well. Stay tuned. I’ll be out in Phoenix in a couple weeks with my friends at AoA, Kip and I are going to do a prairie dog/rabbit hunt and a dairy farm pest control outing with some new guns, which is always fun!