Tag Archives: Hunting

Easton Axis Full Metal Jacket

Over my past few bow hunts my guide Dylan Carr has encouraged me to shoot heavier arrows. After having some pretty mediocre penetration on even medium sized pigs I decided to take his advice. I ordered a dozen Easton Axis Full Metal Jacket arrows from Bowhunter Superstore. They will cut and ship you arrows to your specified length, fletching type, colors, knocks.

I recently had my bow restrung and it was shooting a little high with my old arrows. I left it as is knowing it might be fine for the heavier ones on order. After receiving my new arrows I took them to Kings Mountain Archers to sight them in. My first shot at 20 yards was dead on. It also went right through the hay bale and the quarter inch rubber backstop. After a few minutes dislodging it I decided to skip 20. I shot some nice groups at various distances until I was too fatigued to shoot well enough to still make adjustments.

I shot some respectable groups and was feeling pretty good about my new arrows. Especially their energy and penetration. My deer target was pretty shot out and even my old arrows were going right through it. My new Cabelas target arrived so was anxious to try out the new arrows on it. The evening I went out to shoot a doe was checking him out from the other side of the fence. Well was able to get almost all my arrows into the smallest circle on the target.

So following weekend decided to head back to Kings Mountain to make sure my initial sight in was accurate. I always want to see how I shoot fresh and that first shot I always consider the most important one. The one I would be taking in the field. Had the range to myself so I did my usual 40, 45, 50, 55, 60 from the right side of the range. My 40 I could tell I flinched a little but the rest felt like good form. This turned out to be one of the best strings I can recall shooting. I think it bodes well for my hunt next month.

August Bow Hunt

I had originally planned to head up to the Diamond C Ranch in October for my first hunt this year however Dylan contacted me to see if I’d like to try for a buck we call ‘Club’ Dylan had been seeing regularly on a trail camera. He thought I could get a good chance at him with my bow hunting hunting from a ground blind. I was definitely up for it. I first saw club with twin towers and the 4×5 I took in 2009. That year his left antler was a single knob gaining him his nickname. Last year he was a 3×4 but this year he is a 4×5 and looking huge. Probably at his best given his age so we want to take him this season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I drove up Sunday morning on August 12th. Dylan and I both sat in the blind that first night. Unfortunately it had really heated up and we didn’t see a single deer the first night. The next day wasn’t much better. I sat in the blind alone before dawn and then back in it again at 6:30, again not a single deer. Luckily the blind was in the shade and a light breeze would blow in the opening now and then. After we would pull the trail cam card and review the pics we’d see club right there again with a bunch of other bucks and a big black pig but a half hour after shooting hours.

 

 

Tuesday Morning I’m in the blind well before dark and just before dawn I see the flash fire from the trail cam illuminating a tall buck in the distance across the fence line. I can see him in my binoculars, he’s a tall tined 2×3. It’s way too dark to make him out otherwise or even try for a shot. At dawn he is long gone and I don’t see any more deer that morning. The evening it’s now a lot cooler and at 8pm I see a tall velvet spike crest the hill and approach from the left. He jumps the fence and stops in front of the blind. I draw my bow on him to practice from within the blind. Shooting from a chair is not easy. I took Dylan’s advice and gave it some practice before coming up. It’s a 27 yard shot and feels good. I let down and hope more deer are on the way. At 8:30 I hear rustling in the trees on the hill to my right and a large pig emerges and starts to make his way down. It’s too dark to even read the lcd numbers on my range finder. When he passes in front of the blind I estimate 15 yards and can barely make out his outline through the tall grass. I try to hold my 20 pin on him and at the shot he speeds off and I hear my arrow clang against a metal fence rod in the distance. Miss! Now it’s too dark to shoot and a velvet forky appears on my left along with the tall tined buck off to my right. Dylan picks me up and we head back encouraged by getting a shot off and at least seeing some deer.

The next morning back in the blind. It’s much cooler actually rains a little. No deer sighted in the early hours. Dylan texts me to see what I want to do. With the cooler weather and light rain I want to look around and see if it’s got the deer moving. He picks me up and we head down to the willows and walk the ridge but don’t see any bucks below. We move off to another area that he’s seen a couple management bucks. As soon as we turn the corner there are two deer on a hill top in the distance under a big oak. It’s a doe and one of the management bucks. We slip out to try for him. We’re able to get very close before the doe busts us. He moves back to 23 yards and remains broadside while I draw and shoot. The shot is perfect and after 20 minutes we find him piled up over the crest of the hill. He’s a great management buck, nice bases, eye guards, and still in velvet with his summer coat and nice and fat. I am thrilled to have taken another buck with my bow four years after my first. I’ll be back in November chasing Club again, looking forward to seeing him hard horned and hopefully take him with my bow but am not above pulling out the rifle.

Turkey & Pig Hunt

Finally managed to make it up north for a Spring turkey hunt with my friend Dylan Carr at his Diamond C Ranch. I set out super early Sunday morning to get there in time to hunt all day. I met Dylan and his friend Harley and we set out right away to go try and locate some turkeys. We found a couple coyotes first and I managed to miss a 300 yard shot shooting just under one. Hopefully that cleared them out of the country and the turkeys could start talking. We would go to different spots and blow a hawk or crow call to draw out a ‘shock gobble’. Soon we had a Tom answering and set up to call one in. We had a little hen decoy out front with Dylan and Harley hidden behind me calling them in. This went on for a while until we figured they were not going to cross the creek to us. After a couple more stands and a major relocation we managed to call one in. It was pretty exciting with him answering and getting closer. Unfortunately he slipped behind us. Harley finally called me back to his tree and I was able to step out and shoot a huge tom at about 50 yards. He was just over 20 pounds with a 9 3/4″ beard. I was thrilled to have taken him. You don’t realize just how beautiful their feathers are until you see one up close. Iridescent blues and greens with another row of copper metallic all changing in the sunlight. Calling in a turkey is really an exciting hunt. I’ll definitely try to make this hunt each Spring.

After lunch back at the cabin we all grabbed our bows for some practice at the range they had set up with targets out to 50 yards. I was doing pretty well with some tight groups out to 50. I had hoped to kill a big boar with my bow or at least get some fresh pork to bring back for sausages. Although we’d seen some fresh pig sign in the morning there weren’t any pigs around. We had planned to drive about 30 minutes to another spot for a better chance. While we were heading out we spotted a big boar out in the middle of the green hills far off in the distance. Great luck for us. We headed way up high above and quickly grabbed our gear to start a stalk. We tried to ease down the rippling fingers and valleys towards where we had last seen the big boar. A couple does monitored our progress in the distance and a couple deer had bolted out below us, we’re hoping pushed by the big boar. We kept moving slowly down the hill side each crest hoping we’ll see him. Finally we reach another hill top and Dylan eases up and says he’s right there, forty yards. I ease out and aim low on the pigs chest for a heart shot but miss low. I quickly move back and we just wait. He didn’t spook. I knock another arrow, draw, then ease out once more taking my time, my forty pin just above his heart. I release just as he winds us and spins to bolt away. My arrow catches him from behind. We hear a solid hit. After about fifteen minutes we move up to the shot. My arrow has blood and paunch on it. We can track him fairly easy in the soft ground along with fairly frequent blood. We finally catch up to him in a creek bed where I’m able to put an arrow through the heart/lungs and that’s it. He’s a big nasty looking boar, black with Russian confirmation but small tusks. With a good deal of effort we 1 2 3 pull him out of the creek to a spot we can take some pictures. I’m really pleased, finally took a big boar with my bow on the ranch.

Big Fork Buck

Hunting with Dylan Carr for a late rut hunt  at the Diamond C in Humboldt County, California. We were looking for several big bucks, one in particular called ‘The Teacher’ but the weather wasn’t cooperating. Much of the ranch was socked in with thick fog. The first day we spotted this very big fork horn which captured my imagination. Late the second day we spotted him again from far away. Confirmed it was him through a spotting scope and then decided to try for him. We made a quick drive to the lower part of the ranch, hiked a ways, crossed a rocky creek bank, and eased up to a large rock formation. Dylan eased up and saw his doe in some trees. He put his pack down and had me come forward to set up saying the buck’s coming out any minute. I spun the power setting on my scope up a little and settled right in. Just as I did the buck emerged and then stopped broadside. Had him lined up perfectly and took the shot. They both ran over the ridge and we were pretty certain he was hit hard. We headed up to where he was at the shot but couldn’t find any blood. We walked just beyond the ridge and there he was down, shot perfectly behind the shoulder.

Couldn’t be more pleased with this old ‘management’ buck. You don’t see too many big fork horns since they are usually shot as management bucks. I have always wanted to take a big fork horn. He’s a great trophy in my book. We set up to take some pictures and the sun even came out for us. All the pics here.

Hightower

Hunting up at the Diamond C this week. The plan was to try and take a buck with my bow, however, I’m always willing to pull out the rifle when there is a buck that we simply want to take ‘by any means necessary’ right now! On Dylan’s ranch that’s not an unusual circumstance and pretty much what happened.

Wednesday I had a couple close bow opportunities. First with a bedded 3×3 that by the time I decided to get serious wisely evacuated the area. Later that night we came on a band of pigs and got to 50 yards. There were two black sows with a bunch of little ones. I found a lane in between the low branches of the oak we were under and put my 50 pin on one of the sows. My arrow sailed just over her back and they milled for a few seconds and then scrambled off. The next morning I shot three arrows at 50 on Dylan’s range and they grouped six inches high! Adjusted the pin and was good to go.

Thursday morning it was foggy up top. We weren’t seeing many deer out below and headed up there just as it was breaking up. Dylan had been guiding a very accomplished bow hunter before I arrived that tried for a big buck up here they named ‘Hightower’. He was pretty smart and they could not get within 100 yards of him.

It turns out he was the same buck standing next to my 5×7 last year when I shot him. After the 5×7 dropped he just stood there for the longest time and without the 5×7 next to him Dylan and I realized what a great buck he was too. In fact I was just about to shoot him when he moved off. We agreed if we had a chance at him we’d just pull out the rifle.

Well Thursday morning when we were checking out the ranch up top we came on a buck and a doe in the middle of a big clearing with no cover at all. We got up to a big oak tree. When he picked his head up I could see he was the tallest buck I’d ever seen. Dylan confirmed it was Hightower. The wind was wrong and the doe next to him had already busted us so we didn’t have a lot of time. Dylan handed me my Sako 30.06 and I jacked a round. He was about 120 yards and fell dead at the shot.

Was using the new Hornady Superformance ammo with a 150gr SST. I recovered the bullet from just under the hide on the offside. These shoot great through the Sako and it’s great to see they perform so well in the field too. The expanded bullet is actually wider than the .410″ three shot group from my ‘zero check‘ preparing for the hunt.

Thursday night we headed back out to hunt the pigs. We found that same band not far from a pond in a grassy clearing. We were able to sneak through the woods and get to about 30 yards as they fed towards us. I was able to shoot two of the smaller ones pretty quickly. They didn’t really spook and one of the larger black sows came right back into the middle of the field by us at 40 yards and I made a good shot on her as well. Having Dylan next to me with his Leica range finding binoculars made it seem easy. I really like my Hoyt Carbon Element bow. I will try again for my second bow buck when I return in November.

First Scouting Pics

It’s that time of year again, Dylan Carr from Diamond C Outfitters starts sending me the scouting pictures. I’m heading up to the ranch August 3rd looking for a big buck to take with my bow. These are representative of the quality of deer we’ll see. Hoping to get one of something extraordinary that we’ll focus on for the hunt.

 

 

I had seen the top buck last year and passed on him as his fronts were a little shallow. He’s a great buck though and might not hesitate to take him with my bow. Here is a picture of him last year from my November hunt.

Wild Pig & Upland Game

Friday, March 18, I’m headed back up to Redding to trying for wild pig again at the JS McArthur Ranch. The forecast for the weekend was heavy rain and it poured all the way to my first stop, The Free Dive Shop in Sacramento where I was looking to get a new wetsuit for the upcoming abalone season. ‘Sean’ helped me try on a few and ultimately I settled on the Cressi Sub Tecnica.

Then up to Redding and met with my guide Dave Johnson. We drive up to the ranch and as we come to the gate there seems to be a break in the rain. We pack my gear into the Rino and are off to our first spot to glass for pigs. It’s windy and cold but I’m ready with warm gear and gloves. We’re glad it’s not raining as maybe the pigs will emerge and feed. None seem to be out yet so we move to another ridge. We sight some pigs at this point far in the distance. We make our way close and then walk over a hill and to a raging stream. The pigs are just across 200 yards but turn out to all be wet sows. We were barely able to ford this stream in the Rino last time I was here and I know there is no chance today. On our way back up the ridge we spot five bull elk bedded down in a little valley out of the wind. These are the same bulls we saw last time although now they shed their antlers.

We make a complete circle now and move on back to a high ridge to glass again. This time we see five pigs in an open field on our side of the stream. One is brown, dark in the front and light in the back. From this distance looks like a little buffalo. We think he’s a boar and we decide to try for him. The wind is perfect and Dave is pretty sure we’ll get close. We drive to a spot just below them and park the Rino. At this point we need to cross a creek just deep enough to be over our boots soaking our feet in the icy water. We head up the grassy hill and emerge just behind some bushes. We try to get a good look at them. The black pigs are on the right and are sows. The brown pig is right in front of me but facing away and I can’t tell. Finally he turns right and I see he’s a boar. I try to set my rifle on the pack but it’s too low so I just sit back and get on him from a sitting position. A sow is behind him so I wait. When she clears I hold on his shoulder and touch off the shot. He’s down but then right back up again and I’ve reloaded and am about to shoot again as he’s moving broadside to the left but then goes down for good. I’m shooting my Sauer 202 in .300 Weatherby with my hand loads, 180gr Nosler Accubonds going 3100 fps. The shot was about 90 yards. He’s a good size boar, Dave thinks 160 pounds. We take some pics and then head back just as the rain starts to come down. We skin him out in an open hangar. At one point the clouds clear and the supermoon is shining full over snow capped mount Lassen.

The next morning I’m headed to Willows. My friend Jeff Ashlock has invited me to a pheasant hunt at the Thunder Hill Pheasant Club. We meet at 8am and he introduces me to some of his friends. We are going to hunt with Jim and Justin. Jim has a great Springer Spaniel we’ll be using named ‘Shawnee’ Soon we are at our field and thanking our luck for the dry weather. The four of us spread out and start to walk the field behind the circling dog. I’m on the outside left with Jeff to my right. It’s not long before a bird flushes in front of Jeff and flies left in front of me. We both hit it and our first bird is in the bag. Everyone is shooting well and soon we’ve all shot a few birds. We’ve seen a few jackrabbits flushed and I hope to try for one if a shot presents itself. Towards the end of our hunt I’m on the outside right and Shawnee flushes a big rabbit that runs right. I’m on him and shoot and roll him at about thirty yards. Shawnee deposits him near me, he’s really big, much bigger than I expected. We finish the hunt getting one extra bird, a holdover from an adjacent field. I had a fantastic time. Always enjoy hunting with Jeff and it was great meeting some of the friends he’s told me about and hear their hunting stories from Africa. I forgot how much fun it is to shoot a shotgun and hunt upland game.

November Blacktail Hunt

Friday November 12 – Arrived at the ranch around lunchtime and after getting unpacked Dylan and I head out. The first buck we see just within the tree line is a pretty good buck with a broken main beam. He’s also missing an eye on the other side. Looks like he’s gotten the worst of it. He’s watching a spike with three does in the open field and we wonder when he’ll come drive the spike off. We drive on and come to a right hand turn that has hills to our right and a lower slope down on the left. we see a coyote sitting in the distance on the hill side. Dylan has those Leica geovids and ranges him at 281 yards. I dial my new CDS turret on my .270 Cooper to 280 and step out for a shot.  I try to center the shaking reticle on it’s chest and squeeze. It falls at the shot and Dylan says I got it. We move up to check it out. I hit it low but still killed it. It’s a bitch with a nice coat. I’m so pleased with the CDS turret and ready for any shot on a big buck. Eventually we see Club again, he’s a nice 5×4 this year. A big fork horn in an opening with a doe. Later in the hunt we see a big 4×4 far out in a field with some does. Dylan calls him ‘The Teacher’ as he’s probably out of another buck they called ‘The Principal’ and he’s been pretty elusive. He looks interesting but we move on. Back near the cabin we get out and glass from the mound above the food plot. There is a buck with a short deformed rack in the near clearing. Farther down we find a rack in the grass that looks like a whitetail. Kenny arrives while we’re glassing. A cow died on the upper ranch and he’s going to sit over it this evening to try for coyotes. Holly arrives shortly after and we have a nice dinner of fried whitetail steaks from their Wisconsin trip.

Saturday November 13 – Up early and eventually back down to the lower ranch again. Right off we see a big 4×4 on a hill above us to our left. It’s the Teacher again and this time I get a closer look. He’s huge! I’m out and loading a round as he is moving below and to our right. We move to a grassy knob and I go prone but it’s too late for a shot. He does seem like a smart buck. Moving on we come to a narrow opening that has a nice looking 3×3 with a doe. We watch him for a while and Dylan take some video. Back to the cabin for lunch with Clayton and Ashley. Kenny is setting up again on the dead cow but nothing’s touched it so far. We’re back out after lunch. We see a spike with a doe and then a big fork horn with a doe. A little further on we see an odd looking buck. He’s a 4×3 and his left main beam hooks up. Dylan calls him ‘Captain Hook’ He’s also with a doe. We start thinking he might be a good bow buck. We drive on and enter a narrow wooded area and stop near a 4×4 just inside the tree line watching us. I take some pictures. He’s not a bad 4×4 although his backs are a little shallow. At the turn around we can see another ranch across the river and count 20 bucks in a clearing. Back to the Cabin for dinner with Holly, Clayton and Ashley, rib eyes off the bbq.

Sunday November 14 – On our way out there is a 4×3 above the decrepit ranch house with 3 does. We move on and see spikes and some forkies. We pass by Hook with a doe and a spike. Further on we have a view of a distant hill side where a lone coyote is sunning himself in an open field. He’s 800 yards so we leave him be. We pass a nice 3×3 with does.

Coming back now Hook is on the knob just above the rock pit. We drive to the barbwire fence line and he’s probably 100 yards from us. He’s with a doe and staring right at us. At this point we decide to see if I can get him with my bow. I slip out and Dylan hands me my bow, I crouch with the bill of my hat covering my face and slowly start moving in a low crouch up the fence line. I have a post in mind to range from. I take my time hoping that he doesn’t spook. I get to the post and take my rangefinder out and he’s still standing there. He’s at 55 yards. I estimate three posts to forty yards and start moving again. I get to my post and look up to range again. Still there. 39 yards. I start to clip my release on and as I do he turns endwise and puts his head down feeding! Now I’m thinking I can get to 30. I move up two posts stand and as I draw he takes three steps forward putting him just over the horizon of the hill side. I move even closer and now he’s broadside to me at 20 but I only see his back line. I contemplate shooting but decide against as I wouldn’t be able to see the impact. It would make too much noise to cross the fence so I back out. Back to the truck Dylan asks why I didn’t just shoot at 40. He says he’s still there and to approach from the other side of the fence line and keep a tree in between me and the doe. I’m off again, now my heart is pounding and I’m shaking a little. Try to calm down as I creep to the tree. I’m moving faster than before up to the tree but didn’t see the buck or the doe as I got closer. I get to the tree and then step out. There he is broadside at 10 yards, the doe as well, neither spook. I clip on and draw, I have my twenty pin buried in his chest and just as I put my finger in front of the trigger he simply walks down the hillside and the doe follows. I move to the other side of the knob but don’t have a shot. I should have drawn my bow before stepping out, should have believed that they were still there. Still, this was such an exciting stalk, one that I will be thinking about for the rest of the year.

We do some more glassing and watch one incredible buck fight. Two big bucks really going at it in the distance, the victor ends up with a rack full of grass. You can see how they can get hurt badly during the rut.

Lunch back at the cabin and then we take the Rhino up to Crandall’s to swap a trail cam card and put in batteries. We glass bucks from Deadman’s for a while. There are two 3x3s with a doe below us and a 3×3 in the distance bedded with a doe. After a while we head back to the cabin and into the truck. We see a pretty nice 4×4 right near the road who doesn’t seem bothered by us. We take some video of him and he eventually moves off. We head up to the willows and there are about 14 turkeys there. We look down into the valley and see a big 3×3 gets up with another big buck with a broken main beam. We decide to head back to the cabin and then eventually come back again to try for the Teacher. We’re seeing a couple spikes and lots of does out near the cabin from the knob above it. Soon Dylan spots a big buck and we get the spotting scope out. He looks awesome, deep forks. He’s a big 5×4. I see him leave the tree line and think he’s gone but he comes back out again with a doe. I grab my Cooper and rack a round, drop the bi-pod and we crawl forward on the knob. Dylan had grabbed the video camera. He says he’s at 234 yards and shoot when ready. I set the turret to 230 I’m holding on him and squeezing just as he turns his head back. He kicks at the shot and I try to find him in my scope as he runs in a large circle now moving away, I shoot again holding on his shoulder and he drops. I hit the base of his neck. Actually the first shot was perfect and he was probably about to drop. I’m so happy with him. He is a fantastic buck with deep forks and a small fifth. He looks like a potential B&C buck! We celebrate with a great dinner of Caribou steaks from their recent hunt.

Monday November 15 -Up early monday to try for pigs with our bows over at Dylan’s. Halfway there we can see it’s completely socked in so decide to abort and head back to the ranch to take care of my buck. We tour the ranch first but not much is out. A coyote manages to elude us. Back to the cabin for lunch and then we skin and quarter my buck. Dylan capes him and then we put the tape on him. He’s 139 3/8 gross with about 4” in deductions. He just might make the book when I can score him in January. Regardless it was the end of an amazing 2010 season taking the two best bucks of my life and so many great experiences hunting with Dylan again on the Diamond C.