Our days are getting a bit shorter and the evenings a
bit cooler (especially up here at 8000 feet). The elk are beginning to
bugle a bit and recently a lady (obviously not from here) called the
Sheriff’s department reporting a woman screaming for help. Turned out to
be an elk. These are the first signs that our hunting seasons are just
around the corner. The archery season for deer has started but no word
of any nice bucks being taken. I used to bow hunt a lot in Tennessee but
haven’t since we moved out here. I enjoy stalking and absolutely despise
sitting in a tree stand all day.
Years ago on my first trip to Alaska I was put on a stand
overlooking a large pile of donuts, Twinkies and enough sweets to keep a
whole herd of fat girls happy for a week. The days are long in Alaska
during several months of the year, and I was escorted to my tree stand
at about 5AM and sat there all day. When the guide told me I would hit
the tree stand at about daylight and he would come get me at dark, that
sounded bad enough, but when I found out that dark was at 1:30 to 2AM I
was ready to call it quits. I sat there for 4 days (four seemingly
never ending days) before I got my bear. I said then, never again. But
two years later I was up in Canada on a bear hunt in the Slave Lake
area. This time I was hunting with a bow. And again they put me in a
tree stand and told me the same bedtime story..”I’ll come back and get
you at dark”. To make matters worse the tree stand was a small slab of
wood about 12” X 12” and was maybe 350 feet in the air, well maybe 40
feet. Every little breeze made the tree rock back and forth like a palm
tree in a hurricane. And we had rain storms and lightning and gale force
winds every day we were there. Even if a bear had come in I couldn’t
have hit him with a Thompson sub gun and a 100 round drum.
Finally after 3 or 4 days of this I told the guide where
he could install that tree stand and asked if he had any other ideas. He
had heard the other guys kidding me about me stating that I would rather
be home hunting feral cats than sitting in a tree stand 18 hours a day.
He said he had something I might enjoy. This is the same guide that told
me I would like sitting in a tree stand most of my life. Now “something
you might enjoy” coming from this sadistic bastard didn’t really sound
too good, but anything other than full frontal flogging was better than
a tree stand.
He told me to get all my arrows and any other weapons I
might have lying around and he would roust me before daylight the next
morning. That in itself sounded a bit ominous but later when I was
getting in my jammies for the night he walked into my cabin and handed
me a brown paper sack, saying “I hear you don’t like to hunt with
anything but handguns, and this might come in handy in the morning”.
With a bit of hesitation I poured the contents of the bag out on my cot.
It was a 4” Smith & Wesson model 29, 44 magnum and 3 full boxes of the
old original blue box S&W ammo. HOT DAMN! Then I began to wonder, what
is it that we will be doing tomorrow that I will need “every arrow you
brought with you” and 150 rounds of 44 magnum ammo. I figured it must
be something special as handguns are outlawed in Canada and this must be
a prize possession of his and he is letting me borrow it.
I thought about this not a small bit as I went to sleep
and was up and dressed when he banged on my door the next morning. There
was that malicious grin again as he said smugly “you ready for this?”
With a sneer that would have made Clint Eastwood envious I said “Sure,
why not?” Actually there a small pucker factor going on there that he
didn’t know about. We hopped in his truck, me with my bow and every
arrow I brought with me and his prized model 29 and 3 full boxes of
ammo. We drove for about 30 minutes and then got to a small rise where
he stopped. he said, “you like Christmas lights?'” How do you answer
that? I was going over every scenario I could think of where I would
need a lot of ammo and arrows and link that to Christmas light.
Assaulting the North Pole and Santa Claus? Nah, not far enough north.
After that I drew a blank. He just looked over at me, smiled and said
“Get ready”. Oh hell, most of the wrecks in the South are started with
either “Get Ready” or “Betcha never did this before”.
As he drove up and over the rise his headlights shined
down on the area in front of us and it was like thousands of twinkling
Christmas lights. I looked over at him as I tried to figure out what was
in front of us, and he just smiled and said “you like hunting feral cats
don’t you, well those are cats eyes”. Lord I thought, I have died and
gone to hunter’s heaven. There were literally thousands of twinkling
cat’s eyes in the headlights. The guide looked over at me and said
“this is the big dump that everyone uses for 50 miles in every
direction. They have a really bad problem with feral cats. I thought you
might enjoy removing a few of them”.
We sat there in the truck for a few minutes until the
gray of dawn began to show itself. I was like a kid at Christmas waiting
to open his presents. I began to get my gear together. I figured I would
use the bow until I ran out of arrows and then go with the 44 magnum.
With all the cats there I really didn’t have to worry about scaring the
cats away but it still sounded like the best way to go. As the sky grew
lighter I hopped out of the truck. The guide handed me a thermos and
small sack of sandwiches and told me he would be back about mid
I couldn’t have been happier. I had thousands of targets
in front of me, it was cool weather and I had lunch and hot coffee. What
more could a man ask for. Well, maybe Salma Hayek to hold my arrows for
me, but I am not greedy. As the guide pulled away I started walking
into the dump. The cats were mangy critters with no fear of me at all.
They would stand and snarl at me and maybe slink off a few feet. I don’t
think any of them ran from me. There were cats of every color under the
sun, small ones, big ones, every kind of cat imaginable. I started
poking arrows thru the big mangy ones and within 15 minutes I had shot
up the 2 dozen arrows I had brought with me and started on them again.
Many of the cats were so diseased looking that if the arrow stayed in
them I just passed up on it. But most of the arrows went right thru and
stuck in the ground behind them. One big mangy looking cat must have
weighed 35 to 40 pounds just stood and snarled at me. He was up on an
old plastic milk crate maybe 15 yards in front of me. He was facing me
as I hit him pretty much center chest with an arrow. He just snarled at
me and walked off. I called out after him to just keep that arrow, I
have a few more.
It took me well over an hour, probably closer to 2 hours
to totally destroy all 24 arrows to the point of not being able to use
them again. I had brought a large pack of field tips with me and had
replaced the expensive Muzzy broadheads with the field tips before
starting out. I took the bow back to the tree where I has stashed my
lunch, took a break and drank some coffee and loaded up the 44 magnum.
Not having any ear protection, I wadded up pieces of a napkin to plug up
my ears. I started back out, but on the other side of the dump this
time. After the first shot or two the cats started hiding a bit. I
walked up to an old car hood and kicked it and it was like kicking a
hornet’s nest. There must have been 40 cats of every size and
description under that hood. They came out like a large covey of quail.
After I calmed down I began taking out the biggest cats. Even though
they were scruffy, mangy feral cats I still didn’t feel right shooting
the little guys, and there were more than enough of the big ones to
shoot. I didn’t hit every cat I pointed the gun at or shot an arrow at
but I sure put a small dent in the feral cat population that day.
The rest of the group kidded me about paying $1500 to
hunt cats but that was one of the most enjoyable $1500 hunts I have ever
been on. Well, one of them. There was also a dump shoot at the Y.O. one
year and a few cats went to their makers on that hunt too but none that
beat the Slave Lake cat hunt of 1990. The other guys got their bears and
went one with a trophy. I wiped out $400 worth of arrows and probably
almost that much in 44 mag ammo and went home with a bow case with
nothing in it but my bow and a lot of great memories. I did send the
guide several boxes of 44 mag ammo to make up for what I shot there.
Speaking of bows, and I know this is a gun site, but
I got a flyer from one of our distributors recently with a sale on bows.
Even at sale prices, several were right at $1000. I didn’t realize that
bows had gone up as much. Some didn’t even look like a bow with all the
gimmicks and gadgetry on them. I thought there were a lot of gimmicks in
the gun industry but there are 3 or 4 times that many in the archery
department. On that cat hunt I used the Bear Brown Bear bow, 65 pound
draw weight with 2 sight beads and cat whiskers to quiet down the
string. I use the AA75 arrows and finger release. That always seemed to
work for me. Years ago I taught archery at our shop in Florida. I still
have my national instructors card. We had Fred Bear there at one of our
archery clinics in 1979 and he showed all his bows and gear and people
were allowed to shoot them and try them out. At one point a young fellow
came up to Fred Bear and asked him if Bear Archery was going to put out
any fast bows. Fred asked him what he meant and the young fellow told
him that all the Bear bows were only about 175 FPS and anyone knew it
took at least 250 to 275 FPS to kill an animal. Old Fred gave that
fellow a very serious look ( I figured here is where Fred rips him a new
one) but Fred just shook his head and said “I guess we have been doing
it all wrong all these years”. The young fellow, feeling like had
imparted some serious knowledge to Fred, just walked off. Fred looked
over at me and said “I guess I was just lucky on all those hunts”.
Well, let’s see, what else do I need to tell you
about? Our next hunt is now 1 month away and I have no idea what
cartridge I plan on using or what animal I plan to hunt. My old 41 GNR
is always there for just about anything I might find there. My 41 GNR
barrel is probably 30 years old now. It is the same barrel I used on a
hunt with Larry Farley in the hills of Tennessee almost 30 years ago,
the same one I used in Africa in ‘92, the same one I used in Australia
in ‘99, and the same barrel I used on 4 or the
last 5 hunts in Monterey Tennessee. I didn’t use it on the Yak hunt with
was a mistake on my part. As we were getting our gear together the first
morning Kase noticed some play in the scope rings. The scope was moving
back & forth about an inch. Rather than take the time to sight it in, I
opted to take the 356 GNR, an identical 8” Contender/G-2 barrel, except
in stainless. That proved to be not a wise decision on my part as the
180 grain 35 caliber bullet just didn’t have the punch to put that 1600
pound Yak down with one shot. On the previous 3 hunts I had taken 2
Bison and 1 water buffalo with the 41 GNR and each animal went down with
1 shot. The 356 had punched completely thru a Nilgai on a previous hunt
so I mistakenly figured it would do the same with the Yak. The Yak have
several inches of heavy hair on their bodies and several inches of fat
under that and the 356 GNR, which has taken Blue Wildebeest and Black
Wildebeest along with Red Hartebeest for me in Africa, simply didn’t
have the power to get thru all that hair. The Yak died but not as quick
as we would have wanted. Kase’s Yak also ended up being extremely hard
to put down. Kase has taken probably 15 animals with the same box of 20
rounds of 378 GNR that I loaded for him 15 years ago. Invariably he
takes 1 round per animal, but that Yak sure killed his batting average.
If any of you plan on hunting Yak in the coming HHCs, make sure and use
enough gun. I wouldn’t recommend anything less than a 338 GNR and
preferably something larger. They are tough animals.
Getting a mind set for this next hunt is a bit hard as I
am not sure which cartridge to use. On a cull hunt in Africa I shot 60
Blesbok and 60 Impala. The concession had just been opened by the
government and had not been hunted for almost 50 years. They asked us to
cull out 120 animals for the local villages and to get rid of the old ,
lame, broken horn, barren cows, etc. I had brought 5 guns with me on
that hunt and got to use them all, and got to field test various
cartridges in each caliber. Back then we could bring as many guns and as
much ammo as we wanted, so I did. As we are not
culling any critters out, I have to make up my mind what critters to go
for. I would like to try out my Banshee cartridges, but I figure Scott
Boggs and one or two of the other Misfits will do that testing for me. I
have my new 366 GNR and the new 401 GNR to try out, but the 401 has
already accounted for at least one animal and did extremely well, so
maybe the 366 GNR, or the 284 GNR or even the new 307 GNR could use a
work out. I will have revolvers in the 284 GNR and 307 GNR should any of
you want to use one of these on game, and will have an encore barrel in
the 366 GNR on hand also. As always, should any of you want to use one
of my guns and ammunition on the hunt you are more than welcome. With as
many cartridges as I have it is almost impossible to use each of them on
a hunt. If any of you that are going on this hunt would like to use one
of the GNR calibers just let me know and I will have the gun or barrel
and plenty of ammo there for you to use. It doesn’t have to be a new
caliber either. Any of the GNR calibers is up for grabs. Bob denning is
bringing his daughter Tiffany and his wife Kaleen with him and Kaleen
will probably be using the 7 GNR Contender that Dave Manson’s girl
Friday has used on several of the hunts and has taken 4 hogs with it,
one shot each. Remember this is not imposing on me. This is helping me.
It helps me field test one of our cartridges and I plan on taking a lot
of pictures as I need them for the new book. So absolutely, feel free to
use any of our guns and ammo. Just let me know as soon as you can so I
can have the gun and ammo with me.
If any of you want to go, just call Sherry at
931-839-2091 and put down your $250 deposit. Remember they are way out
in the boonies so phone reception is not the best. If it doesn’t go
thru, try again later and if you do put down your deposit, make sure and
let me know so I can add you to the list. If I have figured right, we
currently have 36 hunters signed up and room for more.
Here are some of
the specials and the prices for us. On their web site these prices are
higher but he always drops the prices for us.
you shoot a Fallow Buck, you can add any hog or any of the standard exotic
rams and the total price is $1950. The standard rams are the merino (also
called barbaroussa), the Corsican or barbado sheep. That is a lot of good
you shoot a Fallow Buck you get a doe for the total of $1750.
hogs for $995. One of the hogs has to be a meat hog, like a sow or a young
hog. The other a trophy hog.
Here are the other
prices. You will notice the prices have been dropped for us off what he
Red Stag..$2450 to $3500
Elk bull..$2450 to $3500 Many of you saw the big bull elk that Kase and some
of the other guys took last Oct. They were the $2450 elk.
Sika deer..$1475 or $1950 with a doe
Bison..yearling $995, 3 year old $1450..big bull $2450
Water Buffalo..yearling $995....3 year old $1450 big bull $2450
Watusi Bull..same price as the Bison
Yak..$995 for 2 year old, up to $1750 for a big bull
4 horn sheep...$795
Black Hawaiian sheep...$795
Aoudad...$1450 to $1750
Blackbuck...$1450 to $1750.
And remember the price quoted is
the total price for the hunt. There are no hidden costs. If you decide to
take 2 hogs for $995 and you put down a $250 deposit, then your total
balance for the hunt is $745. There is no extra charge for food, lodging or
guides. Obviously if you like, feel free to tip your guide.
On the animals like
the Aoudad where it says up to $1750 that means the $1750 is a monster,
probably top 10 in the exotic record book. The bull elk also. Some of you
saw the huge 10X11 or 11 X 12 bull that was taken last year. That was the
$3500 elk. That same elk would cost you $15K to $30K out here.
So these are extremely good prices. If you want to join us we have at least
7 or 8 openings left, so call Sherry at 931-839-2091 and put down your $250
deposit. Book a buddy with you and if you do, make sure and let me know you
did so I can add you to the list and not overbook.
fall hunting season is almost upon us, and some new guns and accessories
will hopefully be released in time for hunting season. I will let you know
next month what they are. Til next time, take a youngster shooting. They are