Tag Archives: Beretta

Friends

I have known legendary gun dog trainer, Gary Ruppel, for almost four years.  My beloved birddog, Pride, comes from his kennel.  When my family was considering adopting Pride in 2010, it was Gary who interviewed us to make certain it was a good match. The man is confident, opinionated, talented, kind, and loyal.  It takes time to earn Gary’s trust and friendship.  It takes even more time to earn the opportunity to hunt with him.

In mid-December, Gary and I were chatting on the telephone about our recent adventures.  I told him that Pride (now 10) was starting to slow down, and he and I should try to get into the field before the 2013 season ends.  I had never hunted with Gary, and I felt that it was finally the right time.  I have evolved into a veteran wingshooter who respects the quarry, the land, and my fellow hunters.  Gary agreed to go, and he suggested we head out after Christmas. 

Our plan, on December 30th, would be to hunt scaled quail on both private and public land outside of Hugo, Colorado.  I had never encountered a covey of quail in numerous upland trips throughout Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas.  To that point, I was excited to pursue the unfamiliar game bird.  Pride would team with Gary’s two English Pointers, Captain and Ashley, who are quail hunting machines. 

During several big game hunts over the last couple of years on the Cage Ranch, I had observed multiple coveys of scalies moving about the property.  With permission from Bob, we started our morning patrolling the different pastures where we thought birds would hold up.  It would be important to locate the game before the day warmed, and diluted the scent of the small animals.  We walked several areas where the cover is thick, and paralleled a food source.  The dogs worked each section of land thoroughly, but never showed any signs of enthusiasm.  As we slowly drove the ranch, Gary would get out of the truck to inspect the one day old snow blanketing parts of the land.  He scouted for the distinctive tracks that would indicate the presence of quail.  

Driving west, we approached a group of cottonwoods adjacent to the road.  As we neared the trees, I pointed to a three grey birds scampering away from our truck.  Gary exclaimed “scalies” and told me to get out.  As I hurried across the road, I loaded my Beretta, and Gary let out the dogs.  The pointers instantly winded the birds and gave chase.  I scanned the earth beneath the trees when suddenly two horned owls took off from their positions in the branches.  The movement startled the camouflaged quail who soared from their concealed location.  I shouldered my shotgun and fired at a single speedy bird that toppled to the ground.  I looked to my right and observed Captain and Ashley on point about fifty yards to the west of the trees.  Gary told me to make my way to him, as the covey was on the move.  Several birds exploded from the knee-high grass, and Gary shot two with his 20 gauge Winchester.  I remained in my position as Gary brought the dogs around.  We estimated that there were over twenty quail in the covey, and some had already fled to our north.  Moving with purpose and determination, Captain and Ashely located additional birds.  One quail jetted from my right at about thirty yards, and I shot him dead.  My execution prompted a sincere congratulations from Gary.  Admittedly, that felt pretty good.  Before continuing our hunt, Gary asked how many birds we had taken.  We counted seven and decided to stop shooting.  Captain and Ashley were still in hot pursuit, so we lowered our shotguns and admired their elegant skills.  We tried a few other areas before heading back home just after lunch. 

As a passionate and improving hunter, I appreciate the time Gary spends teaching me the nuances of the sport.   The sage advice has, and continues to impact my success in the field.  I look forward to spending more time with my friend.

Reviews

Product

Review

Sport-DOG Upland Hunter 1875

See http://www.huntfishgolfwork.com/unlucky-lucky/

HEVI-Shot   Pheasant

Number 4 shot is   overkill for quail.  Unfortunately, I   forgot to pack my number 6 shot.  Birds   went down, and went down hard.

Uplanders Warehouse

See http://www.huntfishgolfwork.com/shot/

Hankook Dynapro ATM

See http://www.huntfishgolfwork.com/shot/

SportDOG Nutrition

See http://www.huntfishgolfwork.com/shot/

Beretta A400 XPLR Light, 12 gauge

See http://www.huntfishgolfwork.com/my-2012-2013-season-ends/

Badlands Birdvest

See http://www.huntfishgolfwork.com/my-2012-2013-season-ends/

Garmin Oregon 450T GPS

&

Hunting GPS Maps

See http://www.huntfishgolfwork.com/bobs-day/

Ram 1500

See http://www.huntfishgolfwork.com/bobs-day/

Cabela’s Active Lite Jacket

See http://www.huntfishgolfwork.com/page/2/

Irish Setter Upland DSS King Toe Hunting Boots

See http://www.huntfishgolfwork.com/my-2012-2013-season-ends/

 

 

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Another Shot

Our initial trek to Eastern Colorado did not produce positive results.  Cover was thin and birds were scare.   We witnessed only a half a dozen birds (one rooster) situated in both walk-in-areas (WIA) and prime private land.  The hunting chat rooms underscored the challenges associated with the 2013-2014 upland season.  Some people found birds, but most struggled.  Not unlike past years, crowds diminish after the first couple of weeks.  To that point, I set up our men’s three day hunting trip for the third weekend of the season.

Four of us headed out to Northeast Colorado on Friday morning.  My favorite field has CRP that abuts freshly cut corn on three of the four sides.  As we neared what I would deem the most productive section of land, I split the group so we could begin to pinch the most dense cover.  Deep snow drifts made it difficult for the dogs to get to the bottom of the draw.  Otis and Pride ran quickly through the hundred yards of prime territory, and the hunters moved into advantageous positions.  Unfortunately, there was not a bird present.  I sent a quick text to a rancher friend of mine, and asked him if we could hunt his property.  He responded positively so we headed north to his house. 

While we were enjoying a vacation day, my friend was hard at work.  I asked him if he needed assistance.  He refused, acknowledging our desire to hunt, as well as his need to get an important project accomplished.  I convinced him that the hunting could wait, and that we would like to help.  The rancher explained that his cows needed to be moved to a new pasture.  We set up an electric fence, emptied and moved water troughs, and then we took the cows from one field to another.  Dave, Jeff, Bob and I actually had a good time completing our tasks.  The time was 3:15 pm, and we had about ninety minutes of hunting time available. 

Just to the north of the residence there is a bit of CRP that extends through a fifty yard tree line.  I told Dave and Jeff to enter the eastern part of the field quietly, and we would start our walk from the west.  As Bob and I drove by the tree row, we spotted two roosters walking into the tall grass.  Soon after piling out, Pride became immediately birdy and darted ahead of us.  As we approached the trees, a hen jumped in front of Jeff.  I yelled to be ready as there were at least two colored birds in our presence.  Pride took a sharp left and moved toward the fence line, so I shouldered my Beretta in hopes that the running bird would rise.  The roosters did eventually take flight; just sixty yards out of our range. 

I took the group into the adjacent CRP strips and formulated a plan.  Dave, Jeff and Otis would sneak to the east and begin to slowly walk to Bob and me.  As the four hunters came within twenty yards of one another I asked everyone to pause.  As we stood motionless, deciding on our next move, a rooster busted from the deep cover.  He flew west then banked a hard left moving toward the south.  Shots rang out as the mortally wounded bird glided seventy five yards before plummeting to earth.  Our dogs marked the downed bird and headed to fetch him.  The first bird of the trip was in the bag, and the last bit of the day’s sun settled in the west.

Day two was cold (nine degrees) and had us patrolling uncharted territory; northwest Nebraska.  Navigating the maps we eventually found the available CRP fields, but there was no sign of birds.  Four hours of hunting, and no opportunities had us heading back into town for some lunch.  We asked the locals for any recommendations, but mum was the word of the day.  As we were leaving, a friendly waitress suggested we try some areas just north of our position.  The first CRP field looked similar to the others, but had some unique structure abutting it.  We piled out quietly, and surrounded the area.  Otis darted up the center, obviously excited by something.  I started to run behind him as my instincts indicated potential action.   Without warning, a hen followed by a large number of pheasants, flushed from the tall grass.  I selected the first rooster and fired.  Unscathed he banked a hard left and moved away from my position.  Fortunately, a second rooster jumped up, and a single HEVI-Shot Pheasant shell downed him immediately.  Birds were still exploding from their position at the edge of the cover, but no rooster was close enough for another shot. 

The next WIA seemed to be untouched as the snow had no visible markings around it.   As we slowed down next to the field, a dozen birds exploded from the pit adjacent to the road.  The guys piled out of the trucks, and moved through the ditch in order to obtain a solid, legal shooting position.  More birds poured out, and headed away from the road.  I heard some shots but I stayed in the truck.  Despite the furious action, no pheasants were taken from the field.  We hunted multiple public areas the rest of the day, but were only able to push up a single hen. 

Day three’s plan would be to visit a few familiar Colorado fields, and hunt them until about ten am.  The first WIA is lined with rocky mountain junipers as well as plum trees.   The area had been hunted in previous days as there were boot tracks everywhere.  We marched the dogs into the wind, and bumped a coyote toward the end of the tree line.  Realizing that the predator would have moved any birds out of that area, we headed back to the trucks.  Our next field was minutes away, and had a few mounds of spilled corn around the contiguous road.  We managed to jump one hen on our walk west.  The wind was blowing from the south at twenty MPH, so we pointed the dogs into the wind and continued the hike.  Otis started to weave quickly on the field’s western edge.  I decided it was best to hasten my pace and keep up with him.  The fifty yard run culminated with two hens flying out of the corner of the field.  Otis’ young nose was on and he was not stopping.  For the first time on the trip, pheasant tracks marked the two-day old snow.  I watched Bob on my left as Pride was getting birdy in front of him.  Otis rocketed east then took a hard right, and moved a rooster out of his concealed position.  Bob and I fired at once, and the bird tumbled to the ground.  We decided to continue our hike toward the east; a mistake, given hindsight.  Almost immediately, Otis and Pride started to sprint after evading birds, and we attempted to keep up.  As we neared the center of the field we witnessed two sets of four pheasants fly across the road.  Admittedly, I make a tactical error.  I should have worked back to the road, and blocked for Jeff, Dave and Bob.  We piled into the trucks, and headed to our final field of the day.  Another forty five minute walk resulted in Pride taking me to the edge of a cornfield where he startled a hen hunkered down in the adjacent ditch.

After a big breakfast, we make our way back to Parker.  Despite the conditions, the second trip was really enjoyable.  I have great friends that stay positive and hunt hard.  While the bird sightings were rare, we managed to execute a few times when opportunities were presented.  There are eight weeks left in the season.  We will look for a significant weather change then head back east to give it another go.

Reviews

Product

Review

Sport-DOG   Upland Hunter 1875

http://www.huntfishgolfwork.com/unlucky-lucky/

HEVI-Shot   Pheasant

Six shots, three   pheasants down. I have not had to make an extremely long shot yet (40   yards+).  That said, I am confident of   the lethal, knockdown power of the shell.

Uplanders Warehouse

Visit the site   and get all you need in upland products.   

Hankook   Dynapro ATM

Another 670 miles   of tough driving in 2.5 days.  These   are great tires.

SportDOG Nutrition

SportDOG C9   nutrition keeps Pride in the field.  He   is 10 years old and continues to work all day, every day.  I am absolutely committed to these   supplements. 

Beretta A400 XPLR Light, 12 gauge

See http://www.huntfishgolfwork.com/my-2012-2013-season-ends/

Badlands Birdvest

See http://www.huntfishgolfwork.com/my-2012-2013-season-ends/

Garmin Oregon 450T GPS

 

Hunting GPS Maps

See http://www.huntfishgolfwork.com/bobs-day/

Ram 1500

See http://www.huntfishgolfwork.com/bobs-day/

Columbia Upland   Freezer Long Sleeve Shirt

See http://www.huntfishgolfwork.com/my-2012-2013-season-ends/

Columbia Full   Flight Chukar Pant

See http://www.huntfishgolfwork.com/my-2012-2013-season-ends/

Irish Setter   Upland DSS King Toe Hunting Boots

See http://www.huntfishgolfwork.com/my-2012-2013-season-ends/

 

 

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Unlucky but Lucky

November 9, 2013 was opening day of upland season in Colorado.  Admittedly, I started dreaming of this day when I closed the season in late January.  As fall approached, I began active preparation for the two and one half month season.  My lab, Pride, is ten years old and he needs to evolve into shape slowly.  We frequently toss a bumper in the early morning and late afternoon when the day is cool.  It is important that my gun dog is ready to endure long, hard days prowling public lands. 

My boys had basketball and soccer games on Saturday, so we decided to leave late in the afternoon in order to hunt on Sunday.  Opening weekend is busy, and the fields get crowded early.  In addition, the drought that has plagued the west over the last two years has caused a significant reduction in habitat that pheasants need in order to survive.  To that point, the numbers of birds across the region have seen a precipitous decline since 2011.  Greg and I decided to stay and hunt just across the border in Nebraska.  The walk-in-areas are limited, but we determined the crowds would not be a factor as their season was two weeks old. 

A rancher friend of mine told me that his family was going to attend the Pheasants Forever dinner in Holyoke and invited us to join them.  Pheasants Forever is an organization dedicated to the conservation of pheasants and other game birds.  Monies raised from these events support multiple initiatives including youth programs and habitat improvement.  These dinners are a great time to fraternize with other hunters who share the same passion for the outdoors.  Coincidentally, Greg spotted a man with whom he had gone dove hunting in September.  Mike and Art had hunted that day on private land, but they were only able to flush ten hens.  We asked if we could join them in the morning, and add three additional dogs to the pursuit.  They were open to the idea and we set a plan.

When Greg and I pulled into the motel we spoke to some hunters who were arriving from the field.  Along with harvesting four nice roosters, they filled three turkey tags.  Unfortunately, the hunters described difficult conditions, and emphasized the need to be efficient.  Sleep was non-existent as 5 am approached.  I had been posting questions on pheasant chat sites since 2:10 am, and I could not fall back asleep. 

At around 5:30 am we grabbed coffee, donuts and refueled the truck.  Greg and I would stop at the first walk in area, and let Pride do his business and take a run.  He actually got birdy when we approached the end of the CRP.  I hoped we would catch a couple of oblivious roosters prior to heading to feed in the corn fields.  Unfortunately, no birds showed themselves, so we loaded up in order to meet the rest of our crew.  Dave and Scott arrived with their dogs, Bogey and Otis.  Both dogs had been through extensive gun dog training with Gary Ruppel of Kiowa Creek Kennels.  The pups were ready to get on wild birds.

At about 7:30 am, we make our way into some dense CRP.  Spread out about one hundred and fifty yards wide, we worked the dogs into a quartering wind.  The group walked for hours, but a rooster never jumped.  Toward the end of the long trek, Pride and Bogey started to get excited.  The abutting country road was close, so an escaping bird would have to fly eventually.   Bogey went on point about 15 yards behind me, and a hen busted into the air.  While it was not the right gender, the action provided the dogs and hunters some much needed adrenaline.  Over the next couple of hours we managed to flush two additional hens. 

Hunting was hard and the day was getting warmer.  We made a joint decision to navigate the shelter belts on the property.  Blockers were deployed just inside the adjacent road in order to take down any evading roosters.  We collectively moved east with the four dogs.  I took Pride through the tree rows, but never saw him get hot.  We piled into Mike’s truck and moved to the next tree line.  The dogs worked through the dense foliage and they were obviously on a bird.  As we neared the edge, I heard Greg yell “rooster” and successive shots rang out.  With my gun pointed into the air I started to furiously look around.  I spotted the unscathed colored bird flying east, far out of my range. 

Mike and Art decided to head home as the early afternoon approached.  Dave, Greg, Scot and I made our way to a local restaurant to have some lunch.  The dogs needed a break, and we needed to refuel.  There are some public walk in areas just east of where we were staying in Nebraska.  I was told that the cover was thick and held birds.  It took about 35 minutes to make it to the field.  The temperature was in the 60s, and the wind was blowing at 15 mph from the west. Given the boundaries around the CRP, we had to walk with the breeze at our backs; a major disadvantage for the labs.  The cover was heavy, and difficult to maneuverer.   I bumped a nice eight point whitetail as I crested the first of two hills.   We covered every inch of the land but could not get a bird into the air.  Frustrated, Dave and Scott decided to head home.  Greg and I decided to hunt our way west with the hope that we would witness birds flying from corn to cover.  My Garmin GPS has every field that I have had success programmed into its database.  The setting sun provided enough light so that we could easily survey the land.  Unfortunately, we did not see one pheasant.  It was the first time over the last three years that I had not witnessed birds as the day closed.  Discouraged, we made our way to the highway and headed home. 

Upon immediate reflection, we realized that despite the absence of our quarry, we enjoyed our time in the field.  Spending time with friends and our dogs is always fun!

I will hunt hard over the coming months.  Hopefully, Pride and I will stumble across some birds.

Reviews – Prior upland product reviews can be found in archived articles

Product

Review

Sport-DOG Upland Hunter 1875

Awesome electronic dog collar.  All of the necessary features and functions. Easily programed for immediate effectiveness in the field.  There are great YouTube videos explaining each component of the collar.  Since my introduction to upland hunting, I have only used SportDOG collars.  My friends have recently invested in SportDOG collars for their new gundogs. We are all extremely satisfied with our SportDOG collars.

HEVI-Shot Pheasant

If the pheasant load is as effective as the duck load, I will ultimately be successful.  That said, I need to see a rooster in order to test my theory. 

Uplanders Warehouse

If you want to research and purchase the latest upland hunting equipment, visit this site.  Uplanders Warehouse offers a plethora of high end products at a competitive price. 

Hankook Dynapro ATM

So far so good.  I have put these tires through some tough terrain over the last year. No issue to date!  I purchased   the 10 ply tires.

SportDOG Nutrition  

I have used the SportDOG C9 nutrition products for almost one year.  My gundog and family dog have positively responded to the Hip/Joint, Hydration and Performance Vitamin products.  My dogs are old and these supplements have helped them adjust to their age.

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Make It Happen

I grew up watching Jimmy Houston, Hank Parker, Roland Martin and Bill Dance.  These television personalities became my mentors as my family and friends did not fish or hunt.  It was relatively easy to learn to fish.  My hometown of Swampscott, Massachusetts had half-dozen ponds that were untouched and loaded with bass.  I could walk the water with a variety of lures and catch fish.  The ocean was in close proximity, so surf-fishing became a regular activity as I got older.  Thanks to Mr. Tom Mann, I was able to participate in a few tournaments down south.  While I did not have success in these events, it certainly fueled my passion for continued involvement in the outdoors. 

Learning to hunt was not effortless as extensive firearm training is vital before you can enter the field.  Unfortunately, that guidance was not readily available in the suburbs of Boston, so I had to suppress my desire to participate in the sport for another fifteen years. 

In my late twenties, my good friend Scott Tynan and his pals in Michigan introduced me to rabbit hunting.  The training was brief and clear; keep the shotgun barrel pointed away from your fellow hunters, and don’t shoot the dogs.  Scott’s friends taught me how to clean my rabbits, and an old cookbook provided the recipe for my first stew.  This introduction was only a teaser as there seemed to be an invisible barrier prohibiting my continued involvement.   

A job took my family to Colorado in the winter of 2008.  Soon after my arrival, my buddy Bob Coyle, offered to help me purchase my first shotgun.  The Google search engine is an important tool when seeking out what to do next.  I was thrilled to discover that there is a local upland preserve & sporting clays range less than thirty minutes from my house.  I bought a membership, obtained some tutelage from a local professional and started practicing.  

In the summer of 2010 I completed my hunter safety course, and later that year, adopted my gundog Pride.  Over the last three years, we have regularly hunted pheasants in Eastern Colorado and Kansas.  My friend, Chad Cadwell, has graciously invited me to duck hunt with him on his prodigious lease in Weld County.  I have put in for big game tags each year but have come up short; until 2013.  With permission from my friend Bob Cage, I applied for tags on his ranch in Wild Horse, Colorado.  Amazingly, I drew both a pronghorn and deer tag.   

Preparation for the Pronghorn hunt involved multiple, and essential steps over an extended period of time.  Step one was to acquire all of the appropriate equipment and knowledge that would lead to a successful hunt (see below).  I leveraged the web and experienced hunters as resources.  Step two was to get trained on how to properly shoot my rifle.

Over the summer, I had Cabela’s bore-sight my rifle in order to get me near paper.  It was then time to visit the range in order to solidify my shooting confidence.  In three sessions, we managed to achieve a 1.5 inch grouping at 100 yards.  That would put me in the kill zone at 200 yards, even if conditions were less than ideal.

On the afternoon of October 4th, Chad Cadwell and I made our way southeast to the Cage Ranch.  Chad is a friend and veteran hunter who offered me his years of experience on my hunt.   We met Bob, Eric Rosel and his son Kelly at headquarters.  Eric also had a pronghorn tag to fill, and for the first time, he would be introducing Kelly to the sport of hunting.  Some cocktails, and a few hunting stories lead to incredible anticipation for the following day’s events.  Right before bed, I took a close look at my tag, and realized that my units were not the optimal areas on the ranch to hunt pronghorns.  I would be sequestered to the northeast where the tree lined habitat caters more to the mule and whitetail deer population.  Despite a new heightened level of anxiety, I managed to squeeze in a few hours of sleep before the 5:30 am wake up call. 

The Saturday strategy was simple; we would get Eric his animal first, then it would be my turn.  We purposefully traveled the ranch in Bob’s Ford F150; each of us glassing for pronghorn activity.  The early morning produced a few prodigious mule deer sightings, but no pronghorn.  Once we did spot a herd of speed goats, we stopped the truck, and started to pursue them on foot.  The rut was on, and it became evident that the bucks were in hot pursuit of any and all females.   As we climbed over a ridge, we could see the lone male rounding up his chosen mates.  Bob signaled to Eric to ready himself for a shot.  Unexpectedly, the buck initiated a determined sprint, and made a beeline directly at our position on the opposite ridge.  Eric repositioned himself, in an attempt to get the appropriate angle on the moving animal.  The pronghorn actually crested the ridge and then pulled an immediate 180 when he saw Bob’s parked truck.  Bob stood up and waived his hands in order to attempt to make the animal stop.  At two hundred and fifty yards the buck paused and looked back at us.  Eric steadied his aim, and shot him in the shoulder.  We celebrated the moment together; it was textbook execution and a clean kill.  Eric, Bob and Chad field dressed the animal, and we headed back to headquarters to hang him in the barn. 

It was now my turn to hunt.  I was a bit anxious as we headed to my units.  Hopefully we would see animals, and my preparation would allow me to perform under pressure.  As we made our way back down the road, I stopped Bob so we could glass where I would be hunting.  I quickly picked up four white bellies, but could not discern if a buck was present.  Opening day of rifle season presents issues for Bob and his team.  Trespassers regularly slip onto his land, and that can present safety issues when there are many people hunting his property.  To that point, we inspected a truck that had illegally parked on the one of the main roads.  In order rectify the situation; telephone calls were placed to the appropriate people. 

Bob could sense that I was a becoming increasingly edgy, so he took us back to the fields.    We headed to the general area where we had seen the four pronghorns from across the road.  After emptying out of the vehicle, we began a quiet jog to the nearest hillside.  The group cautiously peered over the edge of the ridge to see if we could spot the herd.  Bob signaled for us to get low as he spotted the animals grazing to our right.  He told me that there was a shooter-buck, and I needed to get prepared.  I began an army crawl in order to seek a better vantage point where I could set up for a shot.  Bob told me that the male was to my right, and standing at two hundred and thirty yards.  I carefully put the rifle in the bipod, and got to my knees.  The pronghorn herd immediately spotted my movement and started to run to the south.  The male isolated himself from the others, and dashed forty yards to the west.  He unexpectedly stopped and turned back towards us.  Bob whispered “he is at two hundred and seventy yards” so I put the crosshairs behind his right shoulder and slowly squeezed the trigger.  Despite the recoil of the rifle, I was able to watch the buck through my scope drop straight to the ground.  An intense feeling of elation overcame me as I had just fulfilled a lifelong dream.  I celebrated the accomplishment with my fellow hunters, and thanked them for their guidance.  

Participating in outdoor conservation is a privilege and requires many personal responsibilities.  Getting involved takes time, patience, commitment and direction.  I am proof that it is never too late to participate.  I look forward to paying it forward to younger generations of hunters and fisherman.

Product

Review

Tikka T3 Lite chambered in a 30-06 caliber

One shot one kill.  I like my average so far.

Limbsaver Recoil Pad

The change was worth it, as the pad absorbs the thump.  Great low-cost, easy to install investment.

Bushnell Elite Scope (3 x 10 x 40)

I made a scope change 10 days before my hunt.  That was scary.  I went from a 4x fixed power to the Bushnell with variable magnification.  Great advice from my friend Luke Lindsay. 

Barnes VOR-TX 168 grain bullet

Devastating.  At 270 yards, I hit the animal 4 inches high and 4 inches behind my mark, and the animal died instantly.

Under Armour

·         ColdGear Infrared Ridge Reaper Softshell Jacket

·         Ridge Reaper Shell Camo Hunting Bib

·         ColdGear Evo Scent Control Fitted ½ Zip

·         UA Speed Freek Chaos Hunting Boots

·         UA Camo Crew Socks

·         UA Base 3.0 Crew and Leggings

·         UA Hat

Under Armour has and continues to manufactures great products.  The question I had was whether the quality would translate into their hunting line.  It does.   Saturday started off chilly (29 degrees) and very windy, and I barely noticed the conditions.  As the day warmed, and we started to pursue the animals on foot, I dropped the jacket.   I ordered size large in all products and the clothing fit me perfectly. 

The Speed Freek boots are extremely comfortable, and did not need a break in period.  I stepped on a lot of cactus and yucca trees, and felt nothing on my feet.  I hope these boots hold up over time as I really like them.

UA base layers are and have always been the best.  Their technology and comfort continue to improve over time.

Vortex Diamondback Binoculars (10 x 42)

The Diamondback line from Vortex is affordable (around $200).  These are a great set of binoculars at an ideal price point.  Vortex is a brand all hunters need to consider.

Havalon Piranta Whitetail Hunting and Skinning Knife

This knife is EXTREMLY sharp and highly effective.  It was effortless to field dress the pronghorn.   

Badlands Recon Pack

Versatile and light pack; the Recon has all of the right features/functions.  Badlands makes great products, and the Recon is no exception. 

BOGs Bipod

Held our rifles steady for some challenging shots.  Smart purchase for an inexperienced big game hunter.

Leupold RX1000i TBR with DNA Rangefinder

We quickly ascertained the original and secondary position of the pronghorn.  Awesome product.

K2 Cooler (70 Quart)

I put 4 bags of ice in the cooler on Friday.  We used two bags over three days.  On Sunday, the two remaining bags were still frozen solid. 

2011 Ram 1500

Still running strong after almost 2 years.  Unfortunately my back windows just started to leak.  This is the first major issue with the truck.

 

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Our Thanksgiving Meal Will be Purchased in 2013

The Cage Ranch is about two hours from my house in Parker, CO. The sprawling 40,000+ acres is home to about 1,000 head of cattle as well as a plethora of coyotes, bobcats, antelope, deer, foxes, dove, quail and turkey. I visited the ranch just over a half a dozen times over the last year. Trips to the land have become a source of complete relaxation for me. Bob, the ranch owner, is a friend and an avid sportsman. Bob is use to my many hunting related questions, and his adept responses are filled with insight that I covet. He is keenly aware of my lack of familiarity with certain types of hunting, and is more than willing to mentor me. For that, I am greatly appreciative.

The spring of 2013 meant that I would purchase my first ever turkey tag. The Cage Ranch would be the land where I would seek my intended quarry. I took a Thursday afternoon off from work in order to get some scouting done. Turkey habitat had been planted years back, and a flock of gobblers had been seen strutting up and down the dry creek that runs through the northern part of the land. As a result of this knowledge, we made our way northeast using the cottonwood trees as cover. Hundreds of pairs of mourning doves were feeding as the afternoon turned into evening. Trying to glass every hundred yards or so, we hoped that we would spot the large birds making their way up to roost. We also paid close attention to the sandy bottom of the dry creek, as turkey scat, drag marks and feathers would indicate that we were hunting in the right area. Every so often, Bob let loose a gobbler shaker call in order to see if we would receive a response from a roaming tom. Two miles into our walk we were left smiling but confused – there was no discernable sign of the elusive target. A rare and hard rain had just graced the ranch, so there were plenty of watering holes available. Without a defined hunt zone, we decided to speculate where turkeys would be come morning.

Four thirty am arrived quickly, and the hot pot of Folgers tasted pretty good. We downed a couple of MET-Rx bars, and made our way north to the creek. The sun was rising, the air was warm and we were armed with our Beretta shotguns loaded with HEVI-Shot Magnum Blend shells. We hoped that we could intercept the turkeys as they moved from the trees to the ground. Bob and I took cover in a group of trees just off the edge of the arid river bed. We sat back to back in order to provide a 360 degree view of the territory.

We glassed and called for over an hour, but soon realized that turkeys were not present. While there was some obvious disappointment we decided to change strategies and attempt a predator hunt. I had recently invested in a FOXPRO Wildfire II, and it was a perfect time to see if the electronic call worked. We mounted the speaker on a branch about 50 yards from our blind. I selected the Lighting Jack sound while cranking up the call’s volume to twenty. It did not take but a few minutes before a big yote appeared on the berm about 150 yards east of our position. My Howa Hogue Heavybarrel 1500 .223 was unloaded and propped up on its bipod to my left. I muted the call and reached for the rifle with the ammunition in my right hand. The coyote was running at us at a high rate of speed so my movements were measured. As I raised the rifle to stare down the scope, the coyote appeared 25 yards from our position. Fearing that he would bust us, I used my left hand to activate the Fox Pro. The coyote immediately turned to his right, and started to move toward the call. I chambered a round and took aim. My movement caused the coyote to suddenly change directions, and actually run towards Bob and me. Twenty five yards turned to 10 in a matter of seconds. At that range, the coyote spotted us, and began to cascade away from our position. My first shot missed high; the next two were not even close. Realizing that my marksmanship was less than stellar, I apologized to Bob for the obvious choke-job. We set up in a few more places, but had no success. As mid-morning approached, I thanked Bob for hosting me at the ranch, and headed back to the office.

Next year I plan to take time off work and dedicate a few additional days to preparing for my turkey hunt.

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