mseanbrowne

Boar Sight Shooting School

Cooper Backcountry lightweight rifle in .300 winchester magnum

 

Preparing for my upcoming CA Desert Bighorn Sheep I bought a Cooper Backcountry lightweight rifle in .300 winchester magnum. My beautiful custom classic in .270 shot so well I was confident they could make a light weight and accurate rifle. The rifle is 5 3/4 pounds! Should serve me well on any sheep hunts. I topped it with my go to Leupold 4.5-14×40 scope with the compensation drop (CDS) turret system. The hunt requires using non-lead bullets so I bought Hornady Superformance GMX and Barnes TTSX. The fast Hornady rounds are slated at 3260 so was hopeful they would shoot well. My first chance to sight it in at Los Altos and while they looked promising they just did not cooperate. I cleaned it well saturday night and returned Sunday to try the Barnes loads. My first group was an inch. Second group one ragged hole. My six 3 shot groups averaged 7/8″ so happy it is shooting them well!

 

Cooper test target and my target behind (Barnes TTSX)

 

Next step is attending Kyler Hamann’s ‘Boar Sight Shooting School‘ Kyler was the guide on my first hunt ever in 2002 when I took a great trophy wild boar. He has an incredible set up with hanging 8″ steel plates at distances out to 600 yards to replicate ethical shots on game. He even has a 30″ plate at 1000. I brought all five of my rifles dialed in and hoping to see them shine at distances I might reasonably take shots at game. For the Sheep hunt the goal is to be able to shoot 400 yards. The guides at Dry Creek say most shots are around 200 but want to be ready. I did not have time to have a turret made for the Backcountry so I had to fish one out of my bag that looked close. My 30.06 for Hornady 150 SST looked close all out to 400 where it drops about an inch more. So meet Kyler at the gate and follow him to the bench and start off with the Cooper. Just resting it on bags it rings the 300 plate no problem. After a couple shots on it the plate is hung up. He also has a board next to it for a group. I shoot a group at 300 as he watches through the spotting scope. It’s about 1.5″ at 300 yards. So time to try the 400. I hit the 400. Ask him to video and see if I can do it again. So happy to hear the distant ting and know I just put a round into 8″ vital zone of a Desert Bighorn. (volume up to hear the hit)

 

 

This is a great day and I shoot all five of my rifles. The two the really did well are my Remington custom rifle. This rifle was the original bargain basement ADL I took that pig with in 2002 with a Simmons 8 point scope and factory trigger. Since completely customized. It had no problem hitting the 400 and even the 500 yard plate. I didn’t try the Backcountry at 500 knowing that turret would be off. My other Cooper with the beautiful presentation grade stock has been sitting in my safe for seven years. It also hit the 500 yard plate! I’m a Cooper believer.

 

300 yard group with Cooper BackCountry (shot in black .270)

 

After finishing shooting all my rifles we decided to try to hit the 1000 yard plate with my Remington. My dial only goes to 600 and we could not even get it to the point we could correct from. Kyler asked me if I wanted to try his Cooper XLR Long Range rifle. Also in .300 win mag. Sure why not. He has it topped with a great NightForce scope. My first shot is near target and Kyler makes corrections on the dial. I have a clear image and my second shot is a hit. And my third shot hits again! Incredible to be making accurate shots at 1000 yards. That is a long way. Kyler tells me I hit it, and near center, all before I even hear the sound. I finish up by putting a bipod on the Backcountry to prep for hunting pigs at sunset. It should be fine at hunting distances. I lay down and hit the 225 plate, the 250 plate, and then the 225 again. Call myself ready. Well we saw a couple small pigs but not the boar I was hoping for. My freezers are full of elk and deer so we called it a night!

 

Kyler’s Cooper XLR Long Range in .300wm

 

I have a Cooper Jackson Excaliber rifle on the way in .300 Weatherby. I’ll be bringing that to the range when it’s all sighted in with turret. I will definitely come back again one more time before the Cady Mountains sheep hunt which starts right after Christmas.

Blacktail Rifle Hunt -October 2017

Sunset after the shot

Back to the Diamond C for my second CA blacktail hunt of the year. Not really looking for anything specific just out for a fun hunt and see what we can see. Friday night we’re out looking in the evening. Not long we see a big bobcat prowling the golden hills. We leave him be and keep looking. At one point between two distant stands of oaks a buck is silhouetted broadside on the horizon. He’s too small to chase but makes a beautiful picture. As the sun begins to set I’m thinking tonight is a wrap but Dylan spots a buck in the distance. It’s an old 4×3 that we’ve been looking for he’s in a great spot for us to make a stalk. So just like that we are switched on and that time I savor and so look forward to, between spotting a buck we want and making a stalk and hopefully taking a shot is now on. We grab our packs and are off towards a rising hill that we think will give us the vantage point to maybe make a shot. We get close and get low, scoot up to the edge. Dylan’s not seeing him. We keep looking and soon Dylan spots him. I lower my bi-pod legs and scoot my rifle forward. Dylan gives  me the range 355 yards. I’m on him and turn up my scope but he’s moving. I’m tracking him and he is walking when Dylan makes some whistling sounds and he stops. I start to make the shot but realize my safety is on. I slowly click it off an now he’s on the move again. Dylan tries it again and when he stops I’m on him. The sun is setting behind us and he appears in my scope in an orange glow. He’s quartering too and I have a perfect hold on his body and squeeze off the shot. I see him collapse instantly even through the scope. My customer Remington ADL in .270 does the trick with the Barnes 130 TTSX bullet. The VX6 at 18 power with a nice red dot lit at the reticle made it easy to hold and I find my shot hit perfectly. Dylan and his girlfriend Elizabeth come join us on the Rino to aid in the recovery. By the time they arrive the sun has set and soon the large full moon rises to light our way. This buck isn’t the biggest but this kind of spot and stalk and shot is my favorite way to rifle hunt blacktail. He is a great old buck  with a lot of character. Such a great time hunting with Dylan and the Carr family.

 

Dylan Carr and the scene of my 355 yard shot to my blacktail buck

 

Blacktail Buck with Diamond C Outfitters

Bass Fishing at Lake Chabot

Have had so much fun fishing with my brother Tim over the years but catching a bass has completely eluded me. We’ve killed it on trout, catfish, kokanee, and salmon but I was yet to ever land a bass. Well our last fishing trip his boat was temporarily out of commission so we decided to go old school and rent an electric motor powered small row boat and try Lake Chabot. We trolled around for trout but no luck so we went off into a little offshoot and tried casting for bass near some likely spots. Eventually we decided to try an area bounded by reeds that was almost a perfect box. We anchored and not long after casting to the periphery Tim landed a little bass. Well after that we proceeded to hook seven bass and landed six. I somehow got my big one off just as we were trying to net it.

Was another great time with Tim and now I can say I can add large mouth bass to my fishing resume!

Tim with bass at Lake Chabot

Sean with a little LARGE mouth bass

Wagonhound Archery Elk Hunt

My 2017 WY Archery Elk

 

While at the Boone & Crockett Big Game awards I shared a breakfast table with Randy Newberg. While telling him about all my preference points and no idea how to best use them he recommended Wagonhound in WY for an archery elk hunt. Taking him up on it I drew the Unit 7 tag and eagerly awaited my hunt. Spent a great deal of time preparing both physically and at the archery range. Made the 2 day trip out by car to retrieve the meat if successful. I arrived Sunday and my guide Cougar Sanchez and Eric Mares went out that night. We climbed some steep hills and he would occasionally bugle to see if we could pin point a bull. I was admiring two 3×3 mule deer with my binos when Cougar says, one’s coming get ready! I get with Eric down in a strand of timber and wait. Soon I see antler tips emerge over the hill in front of us and soon a bull elk is standing in front of me at 40 yards. No shot but it is so exciting and happens just like you have heard it might. He’s with a cow and as they circle around they wind us and take off. This is pretty encouraging for the week ahead.

 

Lodge at Wagonhound Outfitters

 

The next day we have breakfast at 4:45 and are off to hunt by 5:30 arriving in the elk woods around first light. Each morning usually involves a challenging hike up some steep hills but I find I can stick with my 20 something guides and get to the top with just an accelerated heart rate. This first day finds another bull elk coming and he emerges off to our side at 42 yards. He stops broadside and I let loose, my arrow flies above his back. I used the orange 60 pin instead of my 40! Pretty rattled but glad not to have wounded him. We regroup and decide to spend lunch back at the lodge. Monday night is another incredible experience. We see a monster on the opposite side of the mountains but he’s not coming. We hike up and then down into a narrow draw. This ends up being a great spot as first a bull comes from the wrong side and winds us. Then two raghorns emerge from the upwind side and proceed to feed within 15 yards of Eric and I who stay motionless. Hope to get his video of that. Soon after a 5×5 comes in within 20, I could shoot but he’s too small. We head back down and now the big bull starts coming. He even walks right by where we were set up earlier but now the wind is wrong and he never comes in. After that four big bulls way up top in some aspens start coming to us. I can’t believe it as they are so far off yet with my binos I see one actually trotting down the mountain. We set up and first it’s raghorns again and some cows with the big one behind a large group of trees. We hear him raking but he doesn’t come in time before the elk get behind and wind us.

Tuesday morning starts out the same. A steep hike up the mountain until we emerge into some sparce timber. We set up again as there are bugles in the distance. Eric is right behind me with Cougar set up 40 yards back this time with a Montana Decoy cow. Soon we hear a bull coming but he passes across 50-60 yards in front of us. Eric and I decide to move forward 40 yards. We get settled and soon that big bull comes back to us. He’s facing us with a cow and soon spooks off. I’m thinking maybe this spot is now blown but Eric tells me to get ready, ‘some are coming fast’. He’s not kidding. It sounds like a stampede the crashing coming close and I draw as two bulls literally crash into the woods and stop right next to us. They are both good bulls. I try to shoot the closest one and he spooks a little and I shoot behind him. Amazingly they don’t bolt off. I knock another arrow. Now they are a little behind us. I’m able to draw and rotate my body and shoot the rear one at only 25 yards. My green nockturnal lights up perfectly behind the crease and he runs off. I can’t believe it. We both think it’s a perfect shot. Deep penetration. We just sit still and for the next 45 minutes the show continues. Not long after my shot at 7:17am another bull comes in to my left with a cow. We just sit and video with our phones.

 

 

After 45 minutes we decide to look for blood. He left with my arrow but we soon find a good blood trail. After about 75 yards we crest a rise and see him laying in the distance. I am overjoyed, my first bull elk with a great shot and clean kill. We take lots of pictures and then Cougar and Eric skin and quarter him out. They are intent on packing him out in one trip which seems nuts to me but to their credit we somehow do it. It’s about a mile down to a road that we can bring the truck to. We rest every 100 yards or so with them doing the lion’s share and me with only a shoulder precariously on the bow holder of my day pack.

 

Scene of my 2017 WY archery elk

 

We get my elk meet back and hanging in the Wagonhound cooler within hours. Am so pleased as getting the meat is a big part of the experience for me and I know it will be perfect. Many times in archery if the shot is not perfect you need to leave the animal overnight which would have made a big difference for the meat. Am so pleased with this experience, greatful for Randy’s advice, all the great help from Wayne and Roger at Archery Only, without them I would not be a bow hunter. All the people at Wagonhoud. I leave Thursday morning and spend the night in Wendhover, NV. Up early and back to Los Gatos Meats & Smokehouse by 3pm. They know me well there and wrap up the tenderloins for me to cook that night. So grateful for another incredible hunting first. Now turning my attention back to rifles and prep for my California Desert Sheep hunt in December.

Wagonhound Elk Hunt

2017 Blacktail Hunt

Time for my annual Blacktail hunt with Dylan Carr. Had been practicing with the bow every night in hopes of taking a huge buck from a blind again. Well got laid off from work the day before I left so plans adjusted to management buck to be thrifty in case my job search goes longer than planned. Part of me hoping it doesn’t happen too quickly. Still Dylan had offered a try at Q-Tip a huge 5×4 so a little disappointed to let that chance go. Still hunting a management buck is often much more fun. Have been sighting in my rifles to prep for my Sheep hunt and selected the Sako 30.06 as the most reliable. It’s still set up for lead rounds which I can use in B Zone, 150gr SST Hornady Superformance.

I get to Dylan’s mid day Thursday. Alan is there and had taken the big 3×3 “Lopper” the night before. They weren’t sure of the shot and left him overnight. He was done but the coyotes got to him first ruining the cape. I end up donating mine for his mount. That night cruising we see a group with some huge bucks. Wart Head is the star along with Inline and Skyscraper a super tall 3×3. So cool to see these bucks out and about. Up by the gate we find a buck people had been telling Dylan about. He’s a 4×4 with kickers on both sides. I am sorely tempted to shoot him but keep to my plan and budget.

The next morning we are out again. It is so nice and cool for July. Wearing a light jacket even. Fog down below so we head up top. It’s not long until Dylan spots a buck feeding out on one of the golden hills in the distance. He puts the spotting scope on him and says he is a management buck and a good shooter. Almost a 3×3 but older buck. We decide to make a stalk on him. We back the truck out a ways so we can leave under cover and make our way down the hill. As we’re closing he’s eventually staring our way and we think he’s busted us. We decide we really can’t go one more ridge and set up by a dead three that gives us some cover. The range is 370 yards. I settle in and dial my turret. Set to 14 power I have a great view and am on him. He’s facing me so I wait and wait for him to turn. Finally he’s showing a lot of body and I start to squeeze holding right on him. At the shot I get the ‘who’s your daddy’ from Dylan and know he’s down at the shot. Those SSTs really drop em, kind of like the ballistic tips. We find him dead right there and the shot is perfect. Alan takes the truck to the road below and we have a fairly easy quarter mile drag at least mostly down hill.

We put him on the gambel and he weighs 130. We recover my bullet from just inside the hide and Clayton finds the separated lead core while skinning him. I’m  super happy with him and glad to have tried a longer shot in prep for the sheep hunt. 370 is my farthest shot on a deer to date. Hopefully I’ll get a great new job in a few months and be back for a giant Blacktail next time.

 

 

 

July bucks on Trailcam

Finally have a few bucks on the trailcam. The first is the same wide buck from May who now is starting to look like an 8-Point Whitetail deer. I’m calling him ‘Whitey’

Whitey -wide 3×3 looking like an 8 point Whitetail

This asymmetrical 3×3 I have nicknamed ‘Goofy’

 

Nice tall fork horn. Seen him before. He is ‘Twin Peaks’ Love the tongue out in this one.

Looks like a Scrub Jay captured in flight.

 

New Trail Cam

My old Trailcam finally gave up the ghost so have a new one and my first few pics for 2017 are coming in. Usual does and fawns but one nice buck starting to grow and the same old coyote.

 

Wide buck starting to grow on the trail by my house

Coyote on the prowl.

3 bucks in the grass across from my front door.

September Blacktails on the Trail Cam

Captured some of the regulars my own trailcam. My property has a great little deer sanctuary on an undeveloped half acre. A deer trail rises from the creek to a little flat clearing with a nice willow tree with a great horizontal branch for rubs or does to bed under.

This month I captured a big non typical that has a nice tall 3 on his right and an abnormal mass for a left along with great eye guards. A crab front 3×2 with super tall G2 on his left and a nice 3×2 that likes to rub the willow branch. Also a nice stare down between a doe and coyote.

Here is the big non-typical back in July still in velvet and now in end of September.

Big non-typical in velvet (July)

Big non-typical in velvet (July)

Big non-typical blacktail buck

Big non-typical blacktail buck

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3x2 Blacktail Buck

3×2 Blacktail Buck

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3x2 blacktail

3×2 blacktail

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Doe & Coyote stare down

Doe & Coyote stare down

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Salmon Fishing with Mike Bogue on the Sacramento River

My brother Tim is an avid fisherman, has his own boat, and I’ve had lot of fun over the years fishing with him and learning about fishing. Each year he does a guided salmon fishing trip with guide Mike Bogue on the Sacramento river. This year he invited me to join him. I knew this would be a great time and we had a chance at catching a big salmon but had no idea just how exciting and how great we would do.

We headed up to Anderson Sunday night for an early meet up with Mike at a nearby lot and then off to the boat ramp. In the water before sun up and started at a popular spot where Battle Creek joins the river. Already there were probably 10 boats working the spot. We set up not too close to the armada and back trolled our T155 lures into position. It took me a while to learn how to make sure the lure was working and to feel the bottom and then gently bounce the lead round ball sinker to keep the baits moving as the boat slowly worked them down the river current.

Hooking them is a definite skill as they first may gently pull on the bait and the second stronger pull is when you set the hook. I felt a few bites but I never managed to hook one. Mike however is a master and minutes into our first day he yanks his rod back into a deep bend, turns and hands it to me! After my initial surprise I got to work and reeled in a beautiful female salmon. I was amazed and I think the rest of the fleet were too as they watched us come late and just hook up and land our first fish.

Then it just kept getting better!

First fish of the trip

First fish of the trip

 

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We would fish a while and then Mike would have us reel in. Mike would freshen up our baits, adding a filet of sardine to the big lures. We fished a while and then moved down the river to a scenic spot all to ourselves. Soon Tim hooked his first fish and it was a big one. Tim has the drill down and lands his like a pro.

Tim hooks a big Salmon

Tim hooks a big Salmon

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My second fish of the day turned out to be a big male and it was a fight to get him landed. I would reel him in close to the boat, up to the sinker, lift up for Mike to net him only to hear my line going out as he makes another run. Finally I got him up and in position for Mike to net him. Incredible fight and the biggest fish I’ve ever caught!

Sean's second fish

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Tim would finish the day with a nice female. Another big fish to cap of an incredible day with us both getting limits of salmon.

Tim's second on day one

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After catching our limit we headed back to the hotel, enjoyed some time in the pool and then a great dinner at the Woodside Grill. The Gaia Hotel in Anderson is very nice, super convenient and the grill just a short walk away.

We’re back to meet Mike first thing in the morning. This time we didn’t fish for long with the crowd but headed back to some other spots that had been so productive our first day. Shortly after dawn Mike yanks back his rod and once again hands it to me. I get to start day two landing a nice male.

First fish morning of day Two

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Day two would be even better with us landing fish after fish. Tim and I both land a male and female each with some big ones. We had our limit by 10:30. Mike ties up in a nice shady spot and fillets the catch for us. Tim and I are heading back to his house in Walnut Creek where we put his vacuum packer to great use packaging some for his smoker and many many dinners.

Tim's first fish day two

Tim’s first fish day two

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Sean's second fish day two

Sean’s second fish day two

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Tim lands the last fish of the trip

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I’ve had lots of great memories fishing with Tim. Pulling in trout after trout in some host spot on the lake or landing catfish in the summer. Nothing compares to landing these huge salmon. Definitely the high point of my fishing experience. Makes me want to pack some rods next time I head out on the kayak and maybe do some line fishing after I’ve collected some abalone!

My August 2016 California Blacktail Hunt

August finally arrived for my annual hunt at the Diamond C Ranch in Humboldt, California. Arrived Friday August 12th and sat a blind the first night hoping for a bow shot at a big 4×4 seen on trail cams and dubbed ‘Q-Tip’. The sit was fairly uneventful with only some does and a small buck seen at the periphery of the woods adjoining the field that the trial feeds into.

Second night I moved to a new blind that had been more active hoping for a shot at a large non-typical that was called ‘Kong’. This time around 7:30 in full  daylight Kong and a younger 3×3 emerged from the woods and came down the trail towards the blind without a care in the world. For the longest time Kong was behind the younger buck but eventually he presented a broadside at just under 20 yards. This whole time my heart was pounding. I couldn’t believe this had even happened. I drew my bow, was a little shaky, tried to settle my top pin on him, released, MISS! Not just a close one but by a mile like a yard high left. They run off. I can’t believe it. I must have been just white knuckling my bow.

 

Large non-typical Blacktail buck

Large non-typical Blacktail buck

 

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I continued to sit the blind and then with about 5 minutes left of legal shooting light a 3×3 came in. Dylan had mentioned a 3×3 with one eye guard that was on the list. I decided he would be good bow buck, drew on him, relaxed, focused on my pin, released, and heard a good hit with my Nockturnal passing through him landing in the grass behind. I didn’t think he would go very far. We waiting about 45 minutes. Dylan arrived, we checked my arrow and it looked great. It wasn’t hard to find him, he went not 30 yards. Unfortunately he was not the buck we wanted to kill but a younger 3×3! Not a great day for me, missing a giant and then shooting a young buck.

2016 bow buck

The next day we drove around looking for a buck dubbed ‘The Whitetail’ with a rack on one side similar to one. We never did see him and a hunter would take him with a rifle shortly after I left. The next night we decided I would sit for Kong again. Not much going on this time, a doe and fawns, a spike. Kong is probably not going to take the trail for a while, so disappointed with my showing this year.

Monday I need to get back home but we decide to drive to a different area on the ranch. Early in the morning we spotted a wide 3×3 on a hill top. We decide he’s a good buck and as he disappears over the top we plan a stalk around the side. We get to a point where we can see his rack just above the tall grass. I quickly get prone with my new Browning A-Bolt Medallion, on the bi-pod, I can just make out his neck below the grass. I squeeze off a shot and he turns and moves off, not fast and I’m surprised I didn’t drop him. I work the bolt and put another in him from behind. We wait about 30 minutes and start to explore the area. Not finding any blood but I am positive he’s killed. We look a long time and finally find him, he was in a depression in the grass and hidden from view. I’m pleased with this buck, he’s fully 20″ wide. I’ll be thinking about Kong all year and if he survives I’ll hope I get the gift of another shot at him and can pull myself together and get it done!

The view of the shot for my 2016 blacktail rifle buck

The view of the shot for my 2016 blacktail rifle buck

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2016 Rifle Buck

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