martin's first hunt
Martin and I hit the range regularly, and I gave him the best advice I could to make sure he was amply prepared for his hunt. Martin drew a tag in a different area than I, which worried me a bit since it was his first hunt. Fortunately for the both of us, my dad knows the area where he drew a tag, so I called him up to see if he could give Martin a call and give him some pointers on where to go. My dad went above and beyond, and took Martin out the first day of the hunt, giving him his decades of hunting knowledge, knowledge of the terrain, and only some of the quirky advice and unorthodox methods that he has picked up over the years. I told Martin that if all else fails, and he drops a deer when he is in the field alone, he could always call me and I could walk him through it over the phone, and he could drive to Wells where I would be and we could skin it out, and dress it properly.
On the second day of the hunt at about 3 in the afternoon, I got the most excited phone call I can remember "Zander I dropped a fucking monster, you gotta help me gut this thing!". And sure as hell, Martin dropped one helluva nice buck for anyone, let alone for someones first deer.
Over the last decade since I have been in the real world, I have found myself going more and more into the "Tactical" realm, and away from practical, hunting rifles. At the time of the hunt 7x57mm Mauser hunting rifle was at my dads house, and I decided to not use it since I have not had much range time with it in the past ten years. Instead, I decided to use my Sako TRG-42 in .338 Lapua Magnum. This was the rifle that I had the most time behind, and I knew it would be able to handle any potential distance shots that I could possibly run into.
With that being said, using this rifle definitely had some downsides, mainly the size and weight. Getting in and out of a vehicle with it was definitely not the most svelte due to it being nearly five feet long. Weighing in at 17 pounds, offhand shots had to be limited to close range only. The mobility of the rifle is definitely not the greatest, which is something that is definitely needed in a good hunting rifle. More on this in the future though...
Along with the rifle, I was using some ancient Pentax 12x56mm Binoculars, which the clarity was severely lacking on. Since my last tag in 2002, I have not really upgraded, or invested much into decent hunting gear.
That being said, it was still a great hunt. I got to go places that I have not been in over a decade, yet I still found myself able to successfully navigate the barely there roads and trails that I grew up on.
That afternoon the lady and I went out, and had similar luck, with no bucks found. That night Martin got into town, and we were up until 1AM skinning and caping his buck.
As we progressed on our hunt, I told Martin how the previous day we had seen some Bull Elk. He had never seen a Bull Elk in person, and said that if he saw one he could die happy. Just like it was on cue, Martin spotted a nice 5x5 Bull Elk about 150 yards away. From there we went up to a ridge line where I have taken deer in the past, and glassed for a few minutes. After I had glassed the area with my Pentax binoculars, Martin spotted 3 deer bedded down. Once again, good glass paid off, even if they were only does. From there we went up and over, to the west side of the Pequops, where I snapped this nice picture. Take not of Gizzy (the official dog of Random Gun Stuff) admiring the view as well, with the Ruby Mountains in the distance.
- The .338 Lapua Magnum with a Surefire Muzzle Brake is loud as FUCK with no ear protection.
- Taking 1,300 yard shots across a canyon, with variable winds, when you can get closer, is a surefire ticket for failure.
The further we got into the canyon, the more deer we encountered. We got into several separate groups, including multiple forkys (2x2 Bucks for those who are not familiar with the lingo). Once we got to the top of the canyon I found a decent sized forky, and decided to take the shot. It was just over 300 yards away, which should be a chip shot for me and my rifle. I got set up, and went to dial my dope up, when I noticed the turret on my rifle showing 12 minutes. I was a bit baffled, since my scope is equipped with Zero-Stop, and turned the turret down, making sure it was at zero. At that moment, I thought that the Zero-Stop had slipped, and I was 8 minutes below zero. I dialed up to 3 minutes, and shot. Neither myself or my dad could see any impact, so I shot again, with the same result. At this point I was so beyond pissed off I did not take any further shots, nor go to my backup rifle, my dad's Remington 700.
After cooling off a bit, I figured out the problem. The set screws holding the turret to the elevation shaft had backed off, and after I missed the 1,300 yard shot, when I turned the turret back to zero, it had indeed went to zero, and the turret had rotated past the true zero. My 300 yard shot was done with 11 minutes of elevation instead of the 3, so my shots were beyond high.
With the problem figured out, we proceeded down the canyon, and I found a forky standing only 50 yards away. Needless to say, I aimed about half a mil low, and took the shot. He went down, hard, and we walked up to collect our bounty. We were lead the way by fearless Gizzy, who approached the deer with little apprehension. Unlike Didders and Zimba, she did not care about the blood on the ground, she immediately took the cleaning the eyes and ears of the deer.
- Having the proper equipment for your hunt can definitely either make or break your hunt. This, I will definitely touch on later on in another article.
- Having good glass pays off, and was definitely shown multiple times by the difference in clarity between Martin's Vortex Binoculars, and my Pentax Binoculars. Even though the Pentax had more magnification, the superior clarity of the Vortex made him able to see things that I could not. I highly recommend Vortex to anyone who is looking for great optics without breaking the bank. And if you do want to spend a bit more, Vortex has some high end stuff that rivals that of its European competitors.
- The .338 Lapua Magnum is downright inappropriate for deer at close range. There is so much I have to say on this, that it deserves its own article in the near future.
- I sure have missed my redneck hunting roots.