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Monthly Archives: January 2017

Start Your Retriever Off Right

Here are a few helpful tips to help you do it right and get your retriever pup off to a good start:

wading
WATER
Taking your retriever pup out in a boat to the middle of a lake and throwing her overboard is not a proper water introduction. Ideally, you want the experience to be pleasant and fun.

Find a small pond with a shore that drops gradually from shallow to deep water. The weather should be mild, and the water temperature 60 degrees or warmer. Wading into the water with the pup will help alleviate any fear she may have. Bumpers and water retrieves can come later.

GUNFIRE
The worst thing you can do is to take a puppy to an open field and fire a 12-gauge over her head. That’s almost guaranteed to cause gun-shyness. Instead, recruit a friend or family member to help with this part of your pup’s training. While you handle the dog, have your training partner move a good distance away. Each time you toss a bumper, your partner should fire a shot with a starter pistol or cap gun. Be careful not to overdo it. A few shots each outing will suffice. Each day, decrease the distance between the dog and the gunfire and repeat the same drill. Keep in mind that introducing a dog to gunfire is a gradual process that shouldn’t be rushed.

gunfire
DECOYS
Don’t wait until hunting season to familiarize your dog with decoys. Incorporate them into their training exercises. Place a dozen or more decoys around a field when you’re tossing bumpers. This will help teach the dog that decoys are just part of the setup and not her main focus. Once he/she learns that, they can move on to retrieving bumpers around a decoy spread set in shallow water. This will help them learn how to swim through the decoys without getting tangled in the lines. If you hunt with motion decoys, incorporate them into your training spread as well.

BOATS The best way to acclimate a pup to watercraft is on dry land, where the boat won’t rock or tip over. Place your retriever in the boat and let her explore this unfamiliar setting. Do this several times over a period of a few days, and when the dog is comfortable in her new surroundings, launch the boat and take your pup on a cruise around the lake. Be sure to go slow and avoid rough waters. Keep the outing as pleasant as possible, with the dog sitting calmly beside you. Allowing them to run around while the boat is under way can be extremely dangerous.

BLINDS
Whether you hunt out of a permanent blind or a layout blind, your retriever should have a place of her own. Set up a dog stand or platform during your training sessions. Begin by teaching the dog to sit still on the stand. The younger the dog, the less patience they will have. But after several training sessions, they should learn to be patient and sit on the stand for extended periods of time.

blind1

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FIELD JUDGING MOOSE

Of all the living members of the deer family, moose have the greatest amount of antler material. They also show great variation in size, with the smallest racks coming from Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming, and the largest from Alaska, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories. A records book sized Shiras moose would not be even a desirable trophy in Alaska.

Moose, Alces alces, Canada, North America.
Although the widest spread antlers are sought in all categories for the records, strong development of antler palmation in both length and width is even more desirable. Many Shiras moose show only a single spike brow point on each antler, rather than a well-developed brow palm. This is undesirable since the length-of-palm is measured to a notch between brow points. The single spike brow dictates that the length of palm measurement must be ended at the edge of the main palm, obviously losing some potential that would have been fulfilled if the brow were palmate or even forked. High-scoring Canada or Alaska-Yukon moose have three or more brow points, on broad, well-developed brow palms that increase the length-of-palm measurement. This feature, along with broad main palms, markedly improves the score potential.

Although an Alaska-Yukon moose may have 15 or more points on each antler, not all projections count as points, especially if they are blunt in shape. One cannot accurately count the antler points on most trophy moose when the animal is in the field, so evaluation must generally be made on the basis of the amount of palm material present and the greatest spread.

moose-orig

Big trophy moose of all three classes tend to have the main palms lying flat to produce a wide spread, whereas smaller antlers are more apt to show cup-shaped palms and a narrow spread. The ear tips of a mature bull when laid flat are roughly 30 inches wide, with ears themselves being 9 – 10 inches. A bull with an extra ear length on either side would, then be approximately a bull with a 50 inch spread.

Even though moose can often be studied carefully in the field, and an experienced guide may make reasonable estimate of the greatest spread, it is very difficult to estimate the scores accurately at a distance. This is because the length, width, and symmetry of the palms are all hard to judge when seen from the side. A frontal view, with the animal’s head down and antlers nearly vertical, gives a much better chance for accurate evaluation, but may not be available under field conditions.

MOOSE_1

Typically, younger bulls will feature long and disguisable points, but with narrower spreads and shorter palms. As bulls age they tend to add in number of points that will be shorter and less recognizable having given way to wider and taller palms. As a rule, palm width and length pile up B&C points.

BREAKDOWN OF SCORING COMPONENTS – CANADA MOOSE

moose charrt

MAXIMUM VS. MINIMUM – A COMPARISON OF TWO RECORDS-BOOK CANADA MOOSE

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TOP – World’s Record Canada moose scoring 242 points

  • 15 x 16 point frame
  • Spread over 63 inches
  • Witdth of Palms averaging 22 inches
  • Length of Palms averaging nearly 45 inches

Bottom – Canada moose scoring 187-2/8 points

  • 11 x 11 point frame
  • Spread over 54 inches
  • Witdth of Palms averaging 12 inches
  • Length of Palms both over 36 inches

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Bear Hunt Mistakes

wawanglakebearBeing Afraid of the Dark
Sounds silly, but don’t let it fool you.  It is an ungrounded fear and one people need to overcome in order to have a successful black bear hunt; especially if you are hunting for a trophy. It can be very intimidating leaving a bear stand, by yourself, in the middle of the dark when you know with 110% certainty that there are active black bear in the area.  You’d be off your rocker if you weren’t a little apprehensive.  When you are hunting into the twilight hours, and getting ready to depart your stand, remember this, since 1883, in North American there have only been 30 reported black bear fatalities, most of which occurred during non-hunting activities. That means in 125 years, there has only been 30 fatal black bear attacks and subsequent deaths.  With the 100’s of thousands of hunters that take to the woods every year, that puts the odds of being attacked by a black bear inconceivably in your favor.  Hunting until you can’t see anymore gives you better odds when pursuing that trophy black bear of a life time. Most BIG black bears are taken within a half hour from dusk, when the smart animals feel most secure eating from an unnatural food source.  Stay in your stand as late as you can, and the odds of shooting a monster increase tenfold.

And should there still be bears on your bait when your ready to leave your stand (although this rarely happens), shining a light or a sudden loud noise will send these skittish critters running for miles. Black bears, in their natural setting, are extremely fearful of humans, and would rather turn tail and run then face an unknown advisory.

2 bear sized

Recovering Your Harvested Bear
Many people take to the bear stand, rightfully so, with excitement and anticipation of a successful hunt. Myself included, I get like a little child full of excitement when hunting these magnificent creatures. While most hunters will do a tremendous amount of prep work prior to the hunt, few prepare for what happens after the hunt.Bears rarely pile up on the bait or in an open area with easy access. Instead, these hearty creatures are famous for taking a double lung shot and running for miles, deep into thick woods and cedar swaps.Having a plan on how to recover your trophy will put you light years ahead of most black bear hunters when it comes to a successful hunt. Planning should include how to track and more importantly flag the path the animal takes. What to do if it starts to rain or gets dark. Who will help you track the animal and once found, how will you get it out? And how to protect the meat from spoiling on a warm fall night.

Weather
Avid hunters know that fall weather can change in a heart beat. It can go from warm, to cold, windy and raining in the blink of an eye. Having the right clothes in your back pack can make the best of a somewhat undesirable situation.

bear over logBugs
can be a huge annoyance in the great outdoors. Especially when you are forced to sit still for extended periods of time. Avoid bug sprays when bear hunting… PERIOD! A new, unfamiliar scent, along with an intuitive feeling that something isn’t right, will keep trophy bears from over coming fear and committing to your bait. Bug jackets and bug nets are a must. (Oh, on side note, make sure you practice shooting with your bug net on, more about that later). Regarding the portable propane bug eliminators. I have seen hunters use them with success. In fact, in 2008 there was a beautiful 350lbs sow taken while a hunter used one, however my vote is not in on them.

Boredom
Nothing will end your hunt faster than impatience and constant movement in your stand. If you are like most guys who can’t sit still for more than 30minutes at a time, you must bring something with to occupy your mind. I personally use a book. I have also seen guys use those portable, pocket video games. Regardless of what you use, make sure you sit sill and be quiet!

Natural Calls – Ever been in the stand when all of the sudden you have to take a pee? Sucks, doesn’t it? I don’t know how many times I have had this happen to me, yet somehow I always forget to bring a container along. Put a portable urinal on your packing list. Doing so will make the difference between shooting that monster and taking it’s offspring.

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Grouse Hunting Tips

Ruffed Grouse are the king of all game birds, and sometimes (most of the time) the most challenging. So here are a few tips and techniques that you can try that work well.

Ruffed Grouse

Ruffed Grouse

In order to hunt grouse, you need a place that holds birds. Ruffed Grouse like moist, dark places with little ground cover (like grass), but low overhead cover.  Our hunting areas here in Northwest Ontario are mixed timber and brush along creek bottoms. Grouse need food, and mostly live on buds and berries, but also feed on bugs and clover. Food sources differ from area to area, but grouse typically eat the same things everywhere. You will notice that grouse change their diet as the seasons change.

The ideal areas to hunt will hold the presence of water as that makes a big difference,  creek bottoms with mixed old growth and re-prod, and a road close by for grit.

Early in the season, you will find the birds in family groups or coveys. As season and winter progress, the groups break up and you will find birds mostly in singles and pairs. Early season birds hold pretty tightly here in our area, but it isn’t like that everywhere.

Ruffed grouse have a daily routine, so you can pattern them. They normally get up late and fly into a feeding area or along a road to pick gravel. Then it’s off to loafing and dusting the afternoon away. In the evening, they will go back to feeding, and usually roost around the same area.

Before season, and if you can, drive roads looking for new spots an checking old ones. Early in the morning or late in the evening, you can find grouse in the roads picking gravel. Mark these spots and come back during season to hunt the areas around them. Even if an area doesn’t provide birds, still go back a different time to check again if everything the grouse need is there so will they eventually.

German Shorthair Pointing at a ruffed Grouse in the Oregon Woods

When hunting grouse, use a dog that has a really good nose and hunts from close to medium range. It’s a good idea to sometimes stop in an area that will likely hold birds and let the dogs just circle. Grouse are hard to scent for dogs, so slow and steady is good.  Hunt up or down creeks, then turn around and hunt back in the opposite direction.   It’s hard to believe how many birds the dogs will miss the first pass, but after you leave, they will move around put out a good scent cone for the dogs.

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Moose Rack – How It Grows

Moose are the largest living member of the deer family (Cervidae) and fittingly bear the largest set of antlers. Moose antlers are usually paired and shaped like the palm of a hand with outstretched fingers, thus the expression palmate.

After a male moose reaches one year of age he starts to grow antlers that increase in size (becoming more elaborate with more points and heavier) for each new set of antlers he grows until he reaches his prime. After a male (Bull) moose reaches his prime the antlers start to recede each year until the moose dies.

Mature Bull Moose Antlers

North American Moose Antlers have larger antlers than their European relatives. World record antlers consistently come from Alaska, where antler spreads of six feet have been recorded.

Every year the cycle is the same. In the spring antlers begin to grow from the skull covered with a tissue called “velvet”.

By September the growth has completed and the velvet dries and falls off. Moose will often aid the removal of the velvet by rubbing their antlers on trees and shrubs (on occasion they’ll eat the velvet too!). The continuous rubbing on trees, combined with the dried blood and dirt will give the Moose Antlers the brown color hunters are accustomed to seeing in the fall.

What is the purpose for Moose Antlers?

Antlers do not serve a useful purpose until the fall and during the mating season (called the Rut). Even during this period of time, which in British Columbia is typically the first two weeks of October only serve as a tool for intimidation.

You see Moose for the most part only have to show off their antlers to scare off the rivals – younger and weaker males. On occasion a mature bull moose will chance upon a moose of equal stature; where intimidation and posturing will not work they may then face off head to head and engage each others antlers.

There have been situations where these wrestling matches have led the moose antlers to become so entangled that they cannot separate and both moose die.

Broken and/or damaged antlers can lead to a long road to recovery for a moose. It would take more than a morningside recovery to heal the damage. Recovery in the wild is a long process. At morningside recovery, we take it one step at a time.

When do Moose loose their antlers?

Between January and March is when moose typically lose their antlers; younger moose keep their antlers until later in the winter and it is usually only two year old moose that may still adorn their antlers come March.

Two distinct types of moose antlers are the “palmate” or shovel-horn type characterized by broad up-reaching parallel palms, and the “cervina” or “pole-horn” type, having long tines or spike-like architectures. The palmated antlers are either fully palmated in shape or of a split –palm, 

An antler from a yearling male moose

(1) An antler of a yearling male usually has two or three points on each side. Some may have four or more points on each antler branch or a small palm.

Yearling moose are the most easily aged identified, they typically have two or three points on each side and are of the cervina type. These young moose have small circumference of main antler beam, few points and narrow spread.

An antler from a two and a half year old bull moose

(2) An antler from a two and a half year old bull moose. Note the increasing palm development into an upward and backward pointing component and the forward and downward pointing brow tines. 

Antlers from a three and a half year old bull moose

(3) Antlers from a three and a half year old bull moose. Note the two point or forked brow palm development and wide distance between the innermost points on the brow palm. 

Antlers from a three and a half year old bull moose

(4) Antlers from a three and a half year old bull moose. Note the offensive architecture, forked brow palm and wide gap between opposing points. 

The antlers of a bull moose in its prime of life

(5) The antlers of a bull moose in its prime of life. Antlers are a butterfly or split-palm type. Note the palmate on the brow palm and the protective architecture afforded by the short distance between the innermost points of the brow palms covering the facial and eye areas. 

Antlers of older moose vary to such great extent that it is an impossible task to accurately identify an animal’s age.

Antlers of a ten and a half year old bull moose

(6) Antlers of a ten and a half year old bull moose. Note the changes in the brow palms. Palmate is beginning to regress and defensive structures are being changed to more offensive juvenile forked structures. 

Antlers of a senior bull moose

(7) Antlers of a senior bull moose. Note loss of points, regression of palmate and reversal of brow palm to the forked or two-point offensive structure typical of juvenile males. 

Antlers of a late senior bull moose

(8) Antlers of a late senior bull moose. Note the reduction in number of antler points, further regression of the palmate and accentuation of the juvenile offensive characteristics on the brow palm. 

Moose antlers will vary in size and rate of growth. Other than the yearling moose any attempt to judge a moose age is purely guesswork.

Until a bull moose reaches its prime at five-and-one-half years of age its eye guards will be of singular or two point (photos 1-4). As the moose age increases you can see a marked increase in the development of the palmate and the number of points. A moose in its prime (photo 5) shows distinctive butterfly-shaped antlers which signifies a moose is high ranking and breeding potential.

After the bull moose passes its prime the marked reversal of antler development shows. Photos 7 and 8 show the decline in the architecture of the moose antlers and therefore the social standing and breeding abilities also suffer.

Moose at very old ages of twelve and beyond will have moose antler development that may be described as grotesque or misshapen almost beyond recognition as typical moose antlers. No form of rehab or morningside recovery will aid in the reshaping or repair of the antlers.

Even though we are unable to determine a moose age by its antlers we are able to learn a considerable amount about the social structure and reproductive status of moose as they age.

If you are fortunate to shoot a moose (weapon or camera) with a trophy set of antlers, one thing is certain; the record head or picture mounted on your wall, is a bull with many years experience behind him.

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Tips for Winter Weather

winter

Winter can be a cruel thing.  Snow, while pretty, can wreak havoc on driving conditions. The aftermath of ice storms, while beautiful on a sunny day, can cut power to your home for days and make driving nearly impossible.

Take for example the Nevada family whose Jeep overturned in the Nevada mountains. James Glanton, 34, and Christina McIntee, 25, thought to stay with their vehicle, making it easier for rescuers to find them, reported CNN. They also thought to heat rocks in a fire, then place the heated rocks in the Jeep’s spare tire to smokelessly heat their vehicle. By making use of some ultimate survival tips, they were able to stay alive.

Winter’s not just tough on humans. In early December, the U.S. Coast Guard rescued a dog that fell through the ice of Sturgeon Bay, Wisc., according to a news release on the Coast Guard’s website.

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“The ice is really new right now, so it is really important to understand ice conditions,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Nathan Disher, officer-of-the-day at Station Sturgeon Bay. “In this case, the owner of the dog did the right thing by not trying to rescue her dog by herself and calling us for help instead.”  Click here to read five facts about ice

According to the release, the dog rested at a veterinary clinic and went home with its owner.

To keep safe, the Coast Guard encourages the acronym I.C.E., which stands for “Intelligence, Clothing, Equipment.” The Coast Guard hopes I.C.E. will help ice anglers and other outdoor sportsmen to know the weather and ice conditions before they venture out. Ice anglers should also dress for the water temperature rather than the air temperature and wear a life jacket. Screwdrivers tied on a string around your neck are also handy to claw your way out of the water if you should break through the ice.

Read more: http://www.gameandfishmag.com/survival/10-ultimate-survival-tips-winter-weather/#ixzz3KIhTHRiG

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Posted by on January 20, 2017 in survival, Wawang Lake Resort, weather

 

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The Best Shot Placement for Black Bear

SO, you’ve opted for a lung shot. Good choice. But where exactly you should place your bullet depends on your quarry, as the following tips reveal. (Please refer to the organ legend) Sometimes you only get one chance to bring down a big-game animal. Here are 7 ways to help make sure it truly counts.

  • Avoid the head-the target is too small and you’ll ruin the best part of your fireplace rug. You’ll also render your bear ineligible for official scoring.
  • As for spine or neck shots, it can be difficult to visualize exactly where to find the spinal column thanks to the bear’s long hair and thick body.bear-target

Again, lung shots are your best bet. Trace the back of the front leg up to about one-third of the way into the chest. The lungs on a bear are positioned a little more forward than on an ungulate, so you don’t have as much leeway if you shoot back of your aiming point. For the shoulder/heart shot, which is popular for anchoring bears in their tracks, follow the centerline of the front leg up to the one-third point of the body. Be careful not to shoot low or forward, or you’ll quickly have a wounded animal on your hands.

WOUNDED and lost big game animals are part of the somber side of hunting. None of us is comfortable with the subject, but if you have any measurable hunting experience, you’ve undoubtedly seen examples. Maybe you’ve even lost an animal or two yourself.

It’s a certainty that as long as there’s hunting, game will be wounded and not recovered. In such situations, it’s just as certain that the bullet didn’t hit the animal in the right place. Why exactly can be blamed on any number of variables, but in most cases it’s safe to say the shot should never have been taken in the first place.

As hunters, our most important priority is to do everything possible to ensure a clean, quick, humane kill-it’s our moral obligation every time we head afield. Here are some important considerations in making that happen.

BULLET PLACEMENT
Much has been written and discussed about selecting the best rifle, cartridge, bullet and optics for hunting specific species under various conditions. Most of this advice is sage indeed, helping hunters learn about and understand the limitations of their equipment. But when it comes to a quick kill, the single most important factor is bullet placement. A .243 in the heart or lungs of even the largest big-game animal, for example, is more certain to result in its demise than a .500 Nitro Express in its leg. Just think of hunting legend Karamojo Bell. It was his fanaticism over bullet placement coupled with an understanding of his quarry’s anatomy-that allowed him to tale down so many elephants with his meager .275 Rigby, a cartridge equivalent to today’s 7×5 7.

wawangbear2 (550x417)

MARKSMANSHIP
The first step in ensuring accurate bullet placement comes with the decision to squeeze the trigger. Before you hit the switch, you must have an extremely high expectation of putting the bullet right where you want it, and that means understanding your own limitations as a marksman. I’ve never been much impressed by tales of 450-yard kill shots on deer or other game. While such shots are possible, not many hunters can make them with any consistency. With few exceptions, I shudder when I hear hunters talking about their long shots-much like a gambling addict bragging about his one win, for each tale of success there are likely tenfold as many unspoken failures.

The longest shot I’ve ever taken was with a 7mm Rem. Mag. on a five-point bull elk in B.C.’s Muskwa Valley. It was 360 yards away. I had a solid rest, a reasonable amount of time and a mild, though gusting, wind. The bull was dead when we got to him, having never moved. Despite that, I’m not sure I’d take the same shot today if it were presented. Perhaps I no longer feel the need to, as I might have back when I was a much less seasoned hunter. Experience has taught me that too much can go wrong in such a situation-not to mention the fact few animals can travel as far, or as quickly, as an ells can when wounded.

Jon Hanson - Tiffin, IA 440 lb. black bear

Jon Hanson – Tiffin, IA 440 lb. black bear

No, I’m far more impressed by the hunter who tells me he snuck in to within 75 yards of a herd of elk, or never shoots at running game or at any animal beyond 150 yards. This is the hunter I admire, for he clearly understands that undisturbed game and cool-handed marksmanship should be the rule, not the exception. This is the hunter who believes that 20 bullets can equal 20 deer, and he’ll wait to shoot only when he’s extremely confident of accurately placing a bullet.

HEAD & NECK SHOTS
So, where on an animal should we try to place our bullet to ensure a one-shot, clean kill? There’s no denying the surest fatal shot is to the brain or spinal column. Either will put an animal down almost instantly, and result in very little ruined meat. Under most circumstances, however, this is not a shot I would recommend. For starters, the brain is a relatively small target, and even a narrow miss can result in a broken jaw, lost eye or other similar wound that condemns an animal to a most unpleasant, slow death. I once shot an antelope sporting a fresh bullet wound through the bridge of its nose. Whether the hunter who first hit it was aiming for the brain, I can’t say for sure, but the buck was clearly laboring, almost choking on blood, and would have suffered considerably had I not come across it.

Neck shots are equally uncertain, as the spinal cord must be severed to ensure instant death. Miss by even a little bit, and you’ve probably got an animal with a muscular wound from which it will likely recover, but not without considerable agony. In the worst-case scenario, you may sever the trachea-the animal will likely escape, but suffer a lingering demise. When neck shots don’t connect directly with the spinal column, an animal will often drop to the ground almost immediately but quickly recover and run off. If you shoot an animal in the neck whether by design or by accident-it’s therefore important to keep a close eye on it until you’ve confirmed it’s down for keeps.

Head and neck shots do have their place in the right circumstances, but they should only be taken at close range by capable shooters who know their quarry’s anatomy. They’re also acceptable in the rare event of an emergency, when a dangerous animal needs to be brought down in a hurry.

SHOULDER SHOTS
Some hunters prefer shoulder shots because they will disable game while also inflicting fatal damage to the heart or lungs. Even when no collateral damage occurs, a broken shoulder, or two, will bring down an animal, rendering it helpless. In my opinion, this shot should be reserved for dangerous game, particularly bears. While some hunters use shoulder shots on larger animals such as moose and elk, I find the resulting dispersal of bullet and bone fragments ruins too much meat. Having shot a whitetail through the shoulder last year, I can speak first-hand of the meat that was wasted. Another thing to keep in mind when considering the shoulder shot is that if you shoot too high or too far in front, you’ve got either a clean miss or an animal with agonizing wounds. And if you shoot too low, you’ve got an animal with a broken leg that can still escape, only to later succumb to its wounds or predators.

images539SD7BZHEART SHOTS
The heart shot gets a lot of attention, though I suspect most hunters don’t actually realize just how low in the chest the heart lies in big game. While no doubt fatally damaged if hit, the heart offers a small target, and is often covered by the upper leg. There’s little room for error: too far forward and you’ve got a non-fatal brisket shot; too low and you’ve hit muscle or broken a leg, with no expectation of quickly recovering the animal. And if your bullet strikes too far back, you’ve got a gutshot animal. The only practical room for error is if you shoot high and take out the lungs. While many believe the heart shot is almost instantly fatal, most experienced hunters will tell you that a heart-shot animal typically travels farther before collapsing than one that has been lung-shot.

LUNG SHOTS
I believe the lung shot is the appropriate shot for 90 per cent of the big-game hunting situations in Canada. First and foremost, a bullet through the lungs results in an almost certain one-shot kill. In most cases, the animal won’t drop on the spot, but seldom will it travel more than 100 yards or so before falling over; the damage a modern bullet does to the lungs is that devastating.

images5VJ79DJ0The lungs also offer a relatively large target, bigger than any other assuredly fatal zone on a game animal. This allows for a fair margin of error. Shoot low, and you’ll take out the heart; a bit high and you’ll sever the spinal column. Too far forward and you have a debilitating shoulder shot. Only when you shoot too far back do you have a problem-animals shot in the paunch typically suffer lingering deaths, and if you do happen to recover one, you’ve got a heckuva mess on your hands when it comes to field-dressing it. If you shoot just a little too far back, however, you may get lucky and strike the liver. Animals hit in this vital organ tend not to go too far before lying down.

The lungs on a game animal generally cover about two-thirds of its chest area when viewed broadside, more or less in the centre and a little toward the bottom. A professional hunter in Africa once told me he thought North American hunters tended to shoot dead centre in the chest of an animal; he believed the more effective shot was to the top of the lower third of the chest. He may well have been right, but 1 still maintain that allowing as much room for error as possible is the wisest thing most of us can do. As such, when my quarry is broadside, I generally aim for the centre of the chest, just behind the shoulder. Often, an animal will not react immediately to a lung shot, causing some hunters to think they’ve missed when they’ve actually made an excellent shot. I remember one moose I shot three times in the span of about 10 seconds. It didn’t take two steps during that time, and I couldn’t understand how I could be missing such a big target. The animal dropped soon after the third shot, however, and when I skinned it out, a salad plate would have covered all three holes in its chest and lungs. (For species-specific tips on lung shots, see “Top targets” on page 48.)

SHOOTING ANGLES
While we all prefer broadside shots, as often as not we face shooting opportunities from an angle. You still want your bullet to enter the chest cavity, however, so it’s important to visualize the path your bullet must take. With an animal quartering toward you, your target should be somewhere between the base of the neck and the point of the facing shoulder. If an animal is facing you directly, the centre base of the neck is the preferred target. The more difficult shot to visualize is when an animal is quartering away. Take your shot with the intention of breaking the far side shoulder and you’ll generally send your bullet through the desired lung region. Be aware that the tendency in this situation is to shoot too far back, resulting in an unwanted paunch shot. I recommend not shooting when animals are quartering away at extreme angles or facing directly away from you. While we all know the old “Texas heart shot” through the behind can be fatal, the odds are your bullet will break up or deflect on contact with bones, impeding its ability to get into the vital organs. I know some may disagree, but this is one shot I simply won’t take, and I advise others to follow suit. If you absolutely must tale this shot, at least be sure to use a well-constructed bullet designed for maximum weight retention and penetration. Remember, when it comes to shot placement, the goal isn’t simply a freezer full of meat it’s also to get the job done quickly and efficiently.

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