Our next HHC (Handgun Hunter’s Challenge) is still 5 months away but we are already getting quite a few calls and e-mails asking about it. The date is October 25th thru the 28th and it will be at the Wilderness Hunting Lodge in Monterey Tennessee again. The fall hunt is always extremely popular as the mornings are cool and the days warm and the animals plentiful. As of the latter part of last week we already had 7 or 8 hunters booked for the hunt. The lodge holds 50 or more hunters so there is plenty of room for you and some of your hunting buddies also. The hunt is a good one. Alan Wilson, the owner of the WHL always goes out of his way to accommodate us with big game and little prices. The WHL is composed of several thousand acres in 4 or 5 different areas. He has also just bought a third farm which will add another 3000 acres to his total. Not sure what game he will have on this parcel but I will find out before the next hunt.
   Exotic game hunting is often bad-mouthed by those that have never tried it. They call it a canned hunt or “like shooting fish in a barrel”. Well, shooting fish in a barrel sounds a bit on the dumb side to me and the HHC is surely not like that. We have had several hunters to not get anything on these hunts. They are not a gimme. You can make it as hard or as easy as you like. You can sit in a ground blind and wait for a hog or exotic deer or sheep to wander by or you can make it extremely hard. Those hills are mighty steep and the hogs always head for the highest point in the area. After you have staggered up several of those steep hills you would be ready to slap hell out of anyone that says the hunt is a gimme.
One of his areas is what is called the canyon. And it is just that, a very steep canyon with walls almost straight up and down. There is a creek that runs thru the bottom of it and the hogs and deer love to stay down in it. Grass and ground cover grow alongside the creek which gives the animals more reason to stay down there. And if you kill something down there it can be a real chore getting it out.  One other area is a large acreage that he has bison, exotic sheep, exotic deer, elk, red stag, yak, water buffalo and several other species in. The area is several large open fields that are bordered by steep canyons where you really have to root the critters out once they hear the first shot.
I have had people tell me the Bison must be tame, they just stand there. Well, that is how Bison are. They have a brain the size of a tennis ball. They are extremely dumb, that is why they were almost wiped out 150 years ago. A Bison hunt is always pretty much a Bison harvest. I have taken several Bison thru the years and maybe 1 or 2 of them have been a really hard stressful hunt. The rest were a harvest. The Bison, like a lot of other animals can take a lot of killing. I have seen them absorb 7 or 8 rounds of hot 45-70, that many hot loaded 50-70, about that many 358 Winchester, 445 Super Mags, and other large cartridges before they dropped. Bullet placement is never more important as it is with a Bison. They just keep taking those heavy rounds and walk off, seemingly unhurt. Several of the other bovine family are the same. The Yak is fairly easy to get up on. He may be a bit smarter than a Bison but he is still as dumb as a box of rocks. Some Water Buffalo are the same, but not all. I worked hard to get up on one and once he saw me it became a game of catch me if you can. They can be dangerous, considerably more than a Bison or Yak. Alan had one that had killed a young Bison and gored another. He wanted him taken out before he killed another expensive animal.I got him but it was no cake walk. Again with the Yak and the Water Buffalo, have a round that will break him down and put him on the ground quick, or you may be in for a chase. A powerful cartridge like the 429 GNR, 445 Super mag, 455 GNR, 454 Casull, 475 Linebaugh, 500 Linebaugh, 500 GNR or 510 GNR are perfect cartridges for these big boys but again shot placement is the thing.  On the other side of the coin, if you like exercise  try hunting an Aoudad, a Nilgai, a Watusi Bull and any of several other animals that are anything but a walk in the park. On one hunt Kase literally ran for almost 2 full days trying to get a good clean shot at an Aoudad. When he would get to the top of one of the steep hills, the Aoudad was already on the next hill over. He finally put a sneak on him and hit him with his 445, but even then the animal took 4 rounds to keep him down. The Aoudad, also called the Barbary Sheep, grazes at 30 MPH. They are very alert and will run as soon as they see you, or hear you, or hear a rumor that you are in the area.
The Elk and Red Stag are pretty much the same way. If you work at it, you can put a sneak on them and get up to within 60 yards or so but if they see you, they are gone. Out here in Arizona a guided Elk hunt will run you a minimum of $8000 and you pay that whether you even see an elk or not. Most elk hunts in prime Elk country are considerably more. I shot a 6X6 bull elk at the WHL in march with my 41 GNR and it cost me $2150 if I remember right. A good hunt plus I brought back several hundred pounds of prime meat. For the bull elk, I recommend a large cartridge with some range as it is not uncommon to have to take a 200 yard shot. The 338 GNR, 350 GNR, 378 GNR, 366 GNR or any of those similar cartridges will do fine for elk. The Red Stag is normally smaller than a bull Elk and a bit easier to put down. I have taken them with the 350 GNR and the 378 GNR.
Some of the exotic deer, like the Fallow, Sika and Axis, are the same way. If they are out in an open field and you are 300 yards away, they will watch you but they don’t get too excited. If you start walking up on them or try to put a sneak on them, they are gone. Fairly long shots are the norm for these exotic deer. You will see a few of the in the woods but for the most part they are open field animals where they can see you from a long ways off. For these a medium range cartridge will do fine, a 308, 310 GNR, 30 GNR, 256 Falcon, 7 GNR, among others will work fine for these guys, but like I mentioned above, shot placement is the thing here. Point of shoulder or high on the shoulder are the best spots for the Elk, Red Stag or any of the exotic deer. Of the exotic deer, the Sika is known to be the best tasting of the three. And by the way, I often hear the Sika called the Sitka deer, They are totally different animals. The Sitka is from the northern west coast, while the Sika is from several Pacific islands. The Sika is pronounced Sigh-Ka, while the Sitka is Sit-ka. The Sika is a fairly small animal, running maybe a hundred pounds. The Fallow is about the same with the Axis being the heavier of the 3 by maybe 35 to 40 pounds.
The exotic sheep are a bit less spooky. They may stand around until you get to within 80 yards or so then they are gone, especially the older males. The younger sheep will often stand there until you get to within 50 to 60 yards but the big boys are long gone by then. Some of the more impressive exotic sheep ate the Corsican sheep, who usually have a tan or brown body with a heavy black collar and chest hair that often hangs down to the ground. A good one will have a full curl plus and they make a great mount. Their horns usually curl close to their head, sometimes extending a few inches out.  Another sheep is the Barbado sheep. This guy has the same body size and color of the Corsican but his horns go out in a gull wing flare. They may go straight out with only a slight noticeable curl to them.  On the sheep a medium size cartridge works best. Some of them, like the Merino sheep may have 5 or 6” of heavy thick wool on them so use a pointed bullet for these guys, like a 7 GNR, 7X30, 30 GNR or 256 Falcon. That bullet has to get thru that heavy wool and into the boiler room. A flat or blunt nose bullet often will hang up in the wool and not give you much penetration.The Spanish Goat in some coloration make a nice mount. I am not much on goat meat but some really like it bar-b-qued. They will often have very impressive horns sweeping out from their head 3 feet or more. These goats are sometimes called the Catalina goat but I really don’t think there is much difference in the Spanish Goat and the Catalina. The old Spanish explorers used to turn them loose on foreign soils along with hogs so that on their next trip thru they would have meat available. They don’t take a heavy or powerful round at all. I have taken them with the 30 Herrett, 44 mag, 41 mag and 7 GNR.
The exotic animals, because they are not familiar to a lot of folks, make great mounts for your trophy room. One such animal is the Muntjac. This is a little 20 pound animal that stands maybe 18” high. His most peculiar feature is his fangs. The Muntjac is a fanged deer. he has bristly horns that are like handling prickly thorn bushes. he also barks when he gets mad, which is most of the time. He is called by several names, such as the Chinese Water Deer, the Barking Deer, the Muntjac and several other names not quite as flattering. On this little guy the 240 Raptor, 257 Raptor or 6.5 Raptor or even the 240 Banshee and the 255 Banshee are perfect for him. They do extreme damage internally but don’t blow a big hole in the hide. A full mount is the only way to go for this little guy.  Another very unusual exotic is the Asian 4 Horn sheep. This guy is a really unusual animal and will always have some sheep in him and some goat in him. He will normally have the hair of a goat on his face or on his body. He will also have the wool of the sheep on either his front end or rear end. He will normally have both the hair and the wool. he will also have the side sheep horns that come out and curl down, and he will have the goat horns that are on top and normally go straight up, like  goat horns. They are normally all different colors although I have seen all white ones and all black ones, but for the most part they will be a mottled or mixed up coloration. On these guys your bullet normally needs to go thru several inches of heavy wool so choose a good penetrating bullet, preferably a pointed one that expands when it gets inside. A cartridge like the 7x30, the 7 GNR, the 30 GNR or the 256 Falcon will do fine.  A very striking mount is the Dall Sheep. The eastern Dall sheep, sometimes called the Texas Dall, is a very impressive animal, with his snow white coat and light colored horns. he will often have what is called a Roman nose that has been hit too many times fighting and often one of the tips on his horns will be broomed off also from fighting. They are truly impressive animals and make great mounts in your den or trophy room. They are fast and very wary. Often they will be taken on the run and sometimes at ranges of 100 yards or more, although more than likely will be taken at ranges of 50 to 60 yards in fairly dense woods. They do not have the heavy wool that other sheep have and any good fast, flat shooting round will do fine for them. The 356 GNR has been my favorite for the Dall sheep.
On the other end of that spectrum is the Nilgai. This critter has several names also, like The Blue Bull, The Devil Horse, and like the Muntjac, several not so flattering names. He is a big animal, the size of a horse. He has 2 devil like horns, usually 7 to 9” tall. A 9” Nilgai is a monster. They have a turkey beard in the center of their chest just like a turkey. They are also very aggressive animals not to be taken lightly. They are in the antelope family and extremely good eating. Kase took one in March with his 378 GNR Encore, a gun and cartridge he has taken 2000 pound animals with one shot in years past, but the Nilgai took 2 shots and the first one was right in the kill zone. I have seen them take 5 or 6 rounds from a 416 Rigby rifle before giving up the ghost. I would recommend the 455 GNR or 454 Casull as the minimum round for the Nilgai. 
Another critter not seen often is the Watusi Bull. This big boy hails from Africa and was tamed by the Watusi tribe. They were brought to this country and turned loose on exotic ranches quite a few years ago and have done very well. They can be extremely aggressive. On one hunt we had a big female Watusi with horns that had to be 8’ tip to tip, challenge us out in the middle of the field. She was snorting and pawing the ground and making small charges at us. I shot into the ground at her feet with my 510 GNR and she finally went on off. But they can be a good hard hunt if you are so inclined. Like beef cattle, they are great eating. A big heavy hitting cartridge is best for these guys. In a rifle a 45-70 or 444 works fine, in a handgun the 445 Super Mag, 455 GNR, 454 Casull, 475 Linebaugh, or 510 GNR would be my choice. Again point of shoulder or high on the shoulder. The Himalayan Yak is another animal that will fill up your freezer. Weighing 1500 pounds or more he is in the bovine family, like the Bison and other such animals and can be easy or hard to hunt. They sport a set of horns that will often be 4’ tip to tip, They normally have 5 or 6” of heavy hair covering their entire body, often dragging the ground and your bullet has to get thru that thick hair, into the body and to an internal organ. The cartridge on this animal needs to be something powerful but with a pointed bullet. Like a 338 GNR, 350 GNR or 378 GNR.
Another animal that will make you work hard is the Blackbuck. This little guy may only weigh 50 pounds but will run you ragged. He is very wary and spooks easily. If you do spook him you will surely earn this trophy if you do get him. They have one weak spot. They will come back to the same spot to crap every day. If you know they are in the area and you can find the spot where they crap, you can either try to stalk them or sit down and wait for Mother nature to bring him to you. If you do hunt Blackbuck, pass on the lighter colored ones like light brown or even a tan color as they are immature animals. When they reach maturity they will be a black with white on their inner legs and belly. A good one will have 3 curls to his horns, 4 is a trophy and 5 is a monster. For this guy a fast flat shooting bullet works fine. The 256 Falcon, 7 GNR or 30 GNR are perfect. 
Probably the animal most hunted on the game ranches is the wild hog, or wild boar, although I see just many sows as boars on these hunts. They can be aggressive or fairly docile. The have a peanut brain and may not know you are there but react to any quick movement or noise. Their eyesight is fair at best but they do spot lateral movement and once they spot that movement they are gone. If you can literally run uphill then you can chase after them but the best way is to work the middle of the hill and watch ahead of you. The hogs being alert are still dumb and will run up the hill, run maybe 50 yards on the crest and then start back down again. And if you watch ahead of you quite often you can intercept them as they come down the hill heading to a mud hole or wallow. Wild hogs, true wild hogs, have a shield on their shoulder and neck and your bullet has to go thru that, so choose your round well. A good hot 44 mag, the 429 GNR, 455 GNR or 454 Casull are excellent for these critters. One thing to watch for if you want a good trophy is look at the animal if you can before pulling the trigger. If he has floppy ears, he is a farm piggie gone wild. If he has a curled tail, a farm piggie. If he has a straight back, a farm piggie. If he has smooth hair or hardly any hair at all, a farm piggie. A true wild boar with a lot of Russian in him will be black or a dark brown with black mixed in. He will have big shoulders and small hams. He will have straight ears and a straight tail. He will have a hump on his back and very bristly hair. Once you know what to look for a true wild boar is easy to spot as well is a farm piggie gone wild.
An animal that is often found at the WHL is the Javelina. This little stinky is hard to hunt as they are fast and very wary. They have the scent of a skunk from a scent gland on their back. He is often called a pig or hog but he is related to neither. They are good eating but care has to be taken skinning them so as not to get the musk gland contents on the meat. Any good revolver round will do for these guys from 327 federal on up. They make impressive full mounts too.
Our HHC hunts are very popular hunts with usually from 30 to almost 50 hunters attending them. The prices are about 1/2 to 1/3 of what the other ranches charge and there are no hidden fees. If they quote you $700 for a hog, that is $700 total. No extra charge for room and board, no extra charge for a guide fee or for skinning the animal. The deposit is $250 and that is part of the $700 or whatever your animal costs. There are also side benefits to the HHCs besides the fellowship and hunting enjoyment. There are usually a couple of hundred guns on display there for you to handle, shoot and hunt with if you like. Plus we always give barrels and tools away along with holsters and such as door prizes. It is a good time for all and a chance to get away and meet some of the Misfits you hear from on this site every day. Grab a buddy and join us for the October hunt, Oct. 25 thru 28. It is in Monterey Tennessee and you can see more on the lodge at www.wildernesshuntinglodge..com. If you decide to go and fly in, you will fly into Nashville and either rent a car to drive to the lodge or let us know when you are flying in and more than likely one of the Misfits will be driving thru and can pick you up at the airport. If you do decide to join us, grab a buddy or two and call Alan’s wife Sherry, at 931-839-2091 and put down your deposit. Join us, You won’t regret it. Unless of course, you have to sleep in the same room with Puffy.
Til next time, take a youngster shooting. They are our future.
God bless,