Well, my California turkey hunt was a great experience, but from a results standpoint not what I’d hoped for. It took three days of hunting some very rugged country in the foothills leading up to the Sierras, to finally shoot a tom on my last day. That story is being used for an upcoming article, but I mention it here to tell you about one of the most challenging and stressful aspects of my hunting these days…. Getting the story, photos, and videos!
My approach to hunting has always been that, success is good but not necessary. It is the hunt, time spent in the field, that mattered most. And at the core that’s the way I still feel, however there’s been a shift over the last few years, where a significant portion of my income now comes from writing. And to write the type of articles I want to write, I need to have a certain level of success. Sure, the occasional piece on an unsuccessful hunt is acceptable, as a matter of fact it’s important to show that the guys you are reading or seeing in videos and hunting shows go through the same ups and downs. But you can only have so many of these, and the last couple of months the weather has been out to get me!
I was telling a buddy of mine recently, that if a state is in a long term drought, they need to invite me for a hunt. I’ll bring more rain in a few days of hunting than they’ve seen all year! In the last few weeks I traveled to South Texas and N. Mexico to an arid region that doesn’t see much rain, and it rained the entire 6 days I was there. But a rain could have been worked through, it was the 40 mph winds that shut down the predators. Then a couple weeks later I pitched up at a friends ranch in S. Dakota for a few days of prairie dogs. Now I knew I was going too early in the winter/spring transition and that the greater number of dogs would be down their holes getting their pups ready to invade the grasslands, but still expected to see a fair number. But again, rain, lightening, and high winds shut me down. I saw maybe thirty in three days and shot a dozen or so (at very long range). I did something I never do, went home a day early as the weather was projected (and did) get worse. Then the California hunt, rain and wind again!
Still, I’d be an absolute twit to complain too much, because in the end I hiked beautiful country, got some shooting in with a bunch of new rifles, had some hunting success (though limited), scouted some new area for return visits, and overall had a great time with a lot of my hunting buddies. My only “problem” is that I have to revisit all these spots so I can fulfill the writing and filming obligations. Now here’s where my wife gets a bit irritated with me ……. I made the mistake of complaining that having to redo these hunts was going to seriously impact my kayak fishing this summer….. but I get no sympathy. I mean I returned home from my turkey hunt in time for my wedding anniversary (dinner)… and even bought a gift and card before I left!
Three of the guns I’m shooting a lot right now are the Brocock Compatto, the Daystate Pulsar, and the FX Wildcat, and each is a superb example of Airgun manufacturing in different ways. The Compatto is light, compact, accurate, and powerful but maintains more of the feel of a classic sporting rifle. I’ve been carrying this gun in situations where I’ll be butting in a lot of miles, and as I get ready for my biking/kayaking/backpacking trips this summer expect this to be my go-to gun. The Wildcat has been blowing me away with it’s long range accuracy, and I’ve taken this on some long range shoots (including my recent rained out trip) and quite honestly do better at 100 yards with this than just about any rifle I’ve used. I find the stock a pleasure to shoot from just about any position, and love the smooth side lever action that’s been positioned well ahead of the trigger. This is the fastest cycling action I’ve seen on a bullpup (outside of a full auto gun I once had) and is a great prairie dog rifle. An the Daystate Pulsar….. Accurate, powerful, ergonomic with a trigger that breaks like glass, electronically controlled, consistent…. A thing of beauty from a design, engineering, ergonomics, and performance. The only negative is that it’s so beautiful I am hesitant to take it on many of my hunts where I can be pretty rough (abusive?) to my guns and I don’t want to scratch it.
On my way to the UK then over to Australia next month for my day job, but also squeezing in a hog Hunt in Texas and a return to S. Dakota to settle with the prairie dogs after they stood me up last time. Hope that you’re all getting out for some shooting, and can catch up next week when I’ll share some highlights of last weeks turkey hunt!