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Where to Place Your Trail Cams

A trail camera won’t stumble through a bedding area, leave scent all over a trail, or exaggerate the size of a rack. And it’ll never oversleep. But your perfect little scouting buddy must be chosen wisely and placed carefully if you want to pattern that old, crafty animal you know is around. Here’s how…

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The earlier version trail cameras were just a 35mm film point-and-shoot tucked in a weatherproof housing. It snapped a single picture when something triggered the sensor. After retrieving the camera, you ran to the one-hour shop to get the film developed, then thumbed through a week’s worth of pictures. More than once a stack of 36 prints revealed a handful of out-of-focus animals and a couple dozen shots of a wind-whipped brush or a drooping tree branch. That was only a few years ago.

Today, many website boasts several pages of trail cams, and even the cheapest one outperforms the original older ones. They have lenses sharp enough to count the ticks on a deer’s neck, electronic circuit boards so efficient that four AA batteries will run a unit for months, and memory cards that hold thousands of pictures you can download to your computer or delete at the touch of a button. And those are standard features on mid-priced cameras. The high-end ones will send a photo to your cellphone or laptop.

Like everything in the digital age, trail-cam technology has improved, competition has become fierce, and prices have plunged. Still, $200 is plenty of money, and matching a camera with the right features to meet your needs is critical. And even the best camera can’t take spectacular photos of a trophy buck if you don’t set it properly. But it’s not difficult to get started. These are the basics.

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Wildlife biologists use trail cams to measure herd densities, buck-to-doe ratios, and the like. Your goals should be simpler: learning about the deer on your property, figuring out where to hunt them, and having fun in the process. You can pinpoint ideal spots before you buy a camera, and the locations you choose can determine what model is best for you. Here are four sites for four different periods.

Time: Late Summer
Site: Mineral lick
Goal: To start an inventory of buck numbers and quality on your property.
Setup: Find a spot with moderate to heavy deer traffic and spade up dirt in a 2-foot circle. Pour in half of an ice-cream pail of stock salt or commercial deer mineral and spade it into the loosened soil. Pour the rest on top.
Tips:
• Establish one or two licks per 80 acres. Allow deer up to a week to find them.
• Situate each lick 10 to 30 feet from a tree for mounting a camera.
• Jam a stick behind the camera’s top edge to point it down toward the lick.

500Time: Early Season
Site: Mock scrape
Goal: To find bucks after velvet shed, when they often relocate. Mocks can draw up to 90 percent of the bucks you’ll hunt.
Setup: Rake grass and forest debris 5 feet away from a tree that has a green, overhanging licking branch 5 to 7 feet above the ground. Activate with your own “product” (drink plenty of liquids) or deer urine.
Tips:
• If you are not getting clear shots of a buck, aim the camera at the licking branch. Most bucks will work it with their antlers.
• Establish multiple scrapes in each area and hang cameras only on the most active ones.

Time: Rut
Site: Funnel
Goal: To determine where resident bucks are traveling and whether traveling bucks are in the area.
Setup: Find terrain features that channel buck movement and hang a camera near fresh tracks and rubbing activity. Check camera every three to five days—the rut moves quickly.
Tips:
• Mount camera at a 45-degree angle to the trail. Bucks often move through funnels quickly; a camera set perpendicular to the trail might miss the shot.
• Scuff dirt in front of the camera with a boot. Such a mini mock will often make a moving buck pause and get “shot.”

Time: Late Season
Site: Food source
Goal: To find out where to fill a last-minute tag, and to know which bucks have survived the bulk of the hunting season.
Setup: Scout widely to find the hot food sources in your area, such as waste grainfields and clear-cuts. Place camera within 30 feet of the most heavily trafficked area. Load it with fresh batteries if you hunt in an extremely cold area.
Tips:
• Set up and check cameras at midday to avoid spooking feeding deer.
• If no trees are located near the food source, mount the camera on a tripod and camouflage it with grass or brush.

Make the Next Shot Count!

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Calling in Coyotes & Wolves

Thanks to the prevalence of electronic calling devices, anyone can become a decent coyote caller with the press of a few buttons. But if you really want to step up your game, you need to first understand what makes these animals tick.

coyote-hunting

Prey Distress
Coyotes are nature’s great omnivores. Studies of stomach contents have found that coyotes will swallow almost anything that they can get in their mouths, including rocks, plastic packaging, harness buckles, and even the occasional rabbit. Knowing this, it doesn’t matter much which sort of prey distress call you use—most modern electronic callers offer everything from a whitetail fawn to a house cat—as long as you set up within a coyote’s earshot.

The manner in which a coyote approaches a distress call depends on its security level, which is influenced by its latest experiences. An unpressured coyote will often come in quickly and boldly to almost any distress sound. A pressured coyote, however, will take much longer to approach a call. He’ll wait downwind of the sound before slowly slinking in, wary nose to the air.

Upon hearing the initial prey distress cries, the test coyotes would usually run to a downwind position without exposing themselves and remain there until we left. They would later approach our stand area to investigate. One wary old alpha pair (the male was 10 years old) waited 17 hours before approaching the calling location, and then spent 45 minutes at our stand site sniffing around.

The takeaway? One of the biggest mistakes you can make with a distress call is leaving a location too soon. Spend at least 30 to 45 minutes on stand.

Another important factor is the time of day you target coyotes. Only 10 percent of respondents in a recent poll of about 1,400 coyote callers said dawn was best. More than half the hunters chose 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., followed by 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and then dusk, each of which got about 20 percent of the vote.

Whines & Yelps
These nonaggressive vocalizations—often made by pups—are probably the most effective sounds in a coyote caller’s repertoire because they trip so many behavioral triggers at once. With the press of a button you can target social interaction, territorial instincts, and protective maternal/paternal instincts. At certain times of the year, a case could probably be made that you’re appealing to their hunger, too, since several studies have documented coyotes cannibalizing pups.

Before switching to a different sound, we’ll increase the volume and intensity of the whines and yelps for three or four series in order to reach out to distant coyotes. This has proven extremely effective in all seasons and geographic locations, and at any time of day.

Challenge Howl
The challenge howl is a misnomer. A challenge is an invitation to fight, to do battle, such as a monarch bull elk bugling at a satellite bull. Coyotes don’t do that. Biologists call this vocalization the threat-bark howl because it more accurately describes the intent of the coyote: to threaten and demand that the intruder leave. Now. Field observations have shown that coyotes (unlike wolves) will avoid fights whenever possible. A wolf pack will run down an intruder and kill it. A pack of coyotes will run down an intruder, make him submit, and then let him leave the territory.

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For these reasons, callers should use this vocalization only if they know they are set up in a pack’s core territory. If a caller sets up near a den during whelping or denning season, the results can be spectacular. Having resident coyotes charge in on a close, loud, aggressive call rivals any approach of a rutting buck or strut of a spring gobbler. However, if you set up in overlapping home ranges and demand that every coyote within hearing distance leave, they probably will.

The key to locating a pack’s core area is to home in on their group-yip howls. Listen for a pack’s group howl night after night. If you are able to pattern their howling with some regularity, you should be able to determine their core area. Once you’ve plotted that on a map or GPS, study the terrain. Coyotes will typically hide out in the thickest, most secluded cover in the area. Make an educated guess and move in close before threatening the pack.

Many callers will break off a stand when a coyote bark-threat howls in response to their distress calls because they believe that it means the coyote has busted them and will not approach. That’s not always the case. The coyote may simply be protesting the source of the sound even if it hasn’t identified it. You can often get a barking, threat-howling coyote to expose himself for a clear shot if you wait him out and weaken your return howls, keeping them less aggressive than the coyote’s. Another tactic is to retrace your steps and then circle around to a different location. If the coyote doesn’t see or scent you, you can call him in to the new setup with whines and whimpers.

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Group and Solo Howls
Coyote calling is a numbers game. You want to offer sounds that appeal to the largest number of coyotes without alarming or intimidating them. The most effective howl to draw them in is a lone howl that is low frequency, high pitched, and long. It announces the presence of an unknown, young, small, nonaggressive coyote that any other dog within hearing distance will be willing to investigate.

Louder, long-range howls are more likely to get howls in return, but they are less likely to draw a coyote in to your stand.

 

 

Knowing that, here’s a simple formula for success: Locate coyotes with a group-yip howl (the collective yowling that you have undoubtedly heard on calm evenings) and call them in to gun range with a lone howl.

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Most of those vocalizations are aggressive in nature. This is important to know because such vocalizations will alarm and/or intimidate most coyotes. Submissive coyotes will often retreat to their core areas after howls are broadcast and remain there until joined by another group member or until enough time has passed for them to call back or investigate. That’s the exact opposite of what you want your howls to do.

It is important to remember that coyotes will sometimes investigate the source of your group-yip howls, so don’t get caught unprepared.

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Dropping the Hammer

By: Al Voth

How Safe is Your Vintage Firearm?
If you’re a serious gun nut and you haven’t noticed the increased interest in shooting, reloading and hunting with old style guns in the last decade you’ve probably been in a coma. Rifles and shotguns that haven’t come out of the closet in eighty years are being brought into the daylight, getting cleaned off and carried out to ranges and hunting fields. This particularly includes classic old lever action and single shot rifles. I haven’t been immune from this old-gun bug myself, as an 1894 lever action in .38-55 is one of my current project guns.

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Firearms with external hammers are common. At the top is a lever-action rifle, a pump-action shotgun occupies the middle spot and at the bottom, a bolt-action .22

The Winchester I’m working on is a great example because it’s been in production for well over one hundred years. But that old lever gun and all the other golden oldies hunting again aren’t the same guns Winchester and other manufacturers are producing today. Today’s guns might look similar but they are built of better materials, to tighter tolerances and have improved safety features. On the 94 in particular, the manufacturer has added a tang safety and a rebounding hammer. And while I often hear knowledgeable gun people bemoaning the addition of a safety as a cosmetic detraction, I never hear anyone complaining it makes the gun less safe. While those same Winchester experts will know every intricacy of the 94’s mechanism, including how to use it properly and safely, too many hunters don’t. A recent incident I’m familiar with serves as an illustration.

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Hunting with older guns, like this lever-action, can be dangerous if you don’t understand the principles of handling an external hammer.

Ignorance Can Kill
Two friends went out after moose, one of them carrying an older Winchester 94. By today’s standards that is hardly a state of the art moose rifle and the hunter in question had more than one ultra-modern rifle at home. For whatever reason, he chose to use the older 94 that day. By all accounts, he was a skilled and capable hunter. However, he didn’t understand the manual of arms for the 94 and in this case, what he didn’t know killed him.

As a testimony to their skill and abilities, these two had a moose on the ground before noon. The available evidence then shows that when the shooting stopped, our hunter pointed the rifle in a safe direction and carefully and conscientiously lowered the cocked hammer.

In the process of moving his truck up to the kill, our man with the 94 had occasion to rest the butt of the rifle on the running board. Being safety conscious he pointed the muzzle upwards in a safe direction as he fiddled with something else, confident in the knowledge that although the rifle chamber was loaded, the hammer was safely down. But like many hunting days it was wet and snowy and the running board was slippery. Somehow, in all the activity, the Winchester slipped off the running board and the rifle fell butt first toward the ground; his grip was still on the barrel, but it was insufficient to slow its fall.

From the heel of the butt to the spur of the hammer is about fourteen inches and the rifle weighs six and one quarter pounds. When the rifle fell, it dropped all of those fourteen inches and the spur of the hammer struck the running board with what was probably most of the rifle’s weight. The rifle discharged and the bullet struck the owner, killing him.

Was this a bizarre accident resulting from freak circumstances; or maybe a failure of the firearm’s safety devices? What about operator error? Do you know why the gun discharged? If you or a friend has a hammer gun sitting in the closet, then you better read on.

How Do You Hunt?
There isn’t a hunter in the country that would walk the woods with a round in the chamber of a lever-gun and the hammer at full cock. It’s too dangerous and it’s obvious that it’s dangerous. At the same time, I’ll bet you a steak dinner there are a significant number of hunters in the woods carrying old hammer guns with the chamber loaded and the hammer fully down; a condition which could be argued as being at least as, or even more dangerous, than carrying it with the hammer fully cocked. It’s a safe bet for me, because since encountering the fatal incident mentioned above, I’ve been asking every shooter I encounter with a hammer gun to show me how they make such a loaded gun safe. Too many ease the hammer to a full down position on a loaded cartridge.

Why is this dangerous? Simple, with the hammer fully down, it rests on the firing pin, which is in direct contact with the primer. A sharp blow on the spur of the hammer and the rifle will fire.

The generation for which older external hammer guns were originally made was comfortable with the idea of manually operated, exposed hammers. Having the hammer visible and easily manipulated by the operator was considered a safety feature. That generation of gun-handlers was comfortable with the concept that a firearm with the hammer fully down wasn’t necessarily safe, especially if it was loaded. Somehow, that principle has been lost to this generation. With the resurgence of interest in those old rifles, we need to relearn some of the lessons of our grandparents.

Hammer Down is Dangerous
We’ve already discussed lever action rifles, but there are other firearms we can add to the list as well; including a number of bolt action rimfires, pump-action .22’s and lots of exposed hammer shotguns. Some of these models are no longer manufactured but others are, in modernized versions. It can be difficult to tell from serial number ranges or a visual examination when a firearm’s internals have been changed. And how do you know some previous owner hasn’t deactivated a safety feature?

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This double-barrel shotgun demonstrates graphically how the hammer contacts the firing pin, which in turn contacts the primer, even when the hammer is at rest.

But let’s not limit our discussion to old guns. Have you ever seen someone load the chamber of a modern bolt-action rifle, and then while holding back the trigger, ease the bolt handle down? Their theory is that in this condition the rifle can’t fire because it isn’t cocked. And all that’s needed to ready it for shooting is to lift up and press down on the bolt handle, thus cocking the rifle. They think they’re being extra safe. Wrong! Depending on the design, their method is quite likely putting the firing pin in direct contact with the primer and even a light tap on the back of the bolt will fire the rifle.

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In rifle design, it doesn’t get any more modern than stainless steel and plastic. But like an old fashioned hammer gun, if you lower the striker on a live cartridge and hit the rear of the bolt, this rifle will fire.

To answer the question as to whether or not your particular firearm is dangerous to carry with the hammer down, do the following test. First, you’ll need a primed cartridge case. That’s no bullet, no powder, just an empty cartridge case with a live primer in place. If you’re a reloader, it’s a simple matter to make one up. If not, you’ll have to pull the bullet from a factory round and dump the powder. This is easily done with an inertia bullet puller available from most gun shops. With a double and triple check to ensure your case is only primed, slip it into the chamber of your firearm. Carefully point it in a safe direction, close the action and gently lower the hammer to its full down position.

A kinetic bullet puller, like this RCBS model, will quickly and safely convert center-fire cartridges into primed-only cases.

A kinetic bullet puller, like this RCBS model, will quickly and safely
convert center-fire cartridges into primed-only cases.

Then with the smallest hammer in your tool box, give the rear of the hammer a tap. Use about as much force as you might in driving a small finishing nail with that same hammer. Odds are your little tap will generate a little bang. If it did, any questions you had about the characteristics of your firearm are settled. The only thing left to do is repeat that demonstration to everyone who uses that particular gun. Don’t just tell them about it. Telling is theoretical. Put a primed case in the rifle and repeat the test, showing them what happens. It’s a lesson they won’t forget.

Testing a pump-action .22 to determine if a blow to the hammer will discharge the rifle.

Testing a pump-action .22 to determine if a blow to the hammer will discharge the rifle.

If silence was the result of your tap, you need to extract the cartridge case and take a close look at the primer. You’re now down to two possibilities. Either your gun is safe for hammer down carry or you just didn’t tap hard enough. A close inspection will tell you which the most likely scenario is. If there is any denting in the primer at all, you had some energy transfer and the firearm is unsafe to carry with the hammer down. If there is no mark at all, you may want to try repeating the test with a slightly harder hit. If there is still nothing, odds are you’re okay for hammer down carry.

A Browning 92 demonstrates the three positions commonly found on guns with external hammers; full-cock, half-cock (or safety position) and fully down.

A Browning 92 demonstrates the three positions commonly found on guns
with external hammers; full-cock, half-cock (or safety position) and fully down.

What About Half-Cock?
Any discussion about hammer guns and in what condition they are safe to carry invariably turns to the half-cock or safety notch. This is an intermediate hammer position somewhere between fully down and fully cocked and is intended to keep the hammer away from direct contact with the firing pin. The most common question, once people understand its purpose is-is that intermediate notch safe?

I think the answer is the same in every case. It’s far safer than hammer down-presuming the notch and sear are in good condition. Whether it’s safe enough for carrying in that position is dependant on the firearm’s individual design. Probably the best known example of one that isn’t safe is the Colt Single Action Army revolver. That’s why the universal recommendation to handle it with only five of its six chambers loaded, and the hammer down on the empty one. Lever action rifles, however, are generally far more durable and trustworthy. Each design has its own characteristics.

Short of taking your particular hammer gun apart and inspecting the parts, there are a couple of simple tests that will give you some indication of the gun’s condition. First, with the hammer in the safety notch position and the gun empty, pull the trigger firmly. Apply approximately three times the amount of force normally required to fire the gun. If the hammer drops, your gun needs attention. A second test is to reposition the hammer in its half-cock or safety notch position and then using your thumbs, try pushing the hammer forward. This is called a push-off test. Obviously, the hammer shouldn’t move. Never strike the hammer with another object to test the safety notch, use only a firm pushing motion. If your hammer gun passes both of these tests, the intermediate notch is probably in good condition.

In the half-cock or safety position the firearm's sear usually rests in a deeply undercut hammer notch. On the right hand hammer this notch is intact; on the left one the notch has broken out, making the gun unsafe.

In the half-cock or safety position the firearm’s sear usually rests in a
deeply undercut hammer notch. On the right hand hammer this notch is intact;
on the left one the notch has broken out, making the gun unsafe.

Your gun checks out okay. Does that mean its safe to carry hammer down? It’s still possible for the safety notch to break away completely and thus allow the gun to discharge. Certainly, you’re not going to allow that to happen deliberately, but if sufficient force were to strike your hammer, it could shear and the result would be unstoppable.

You’ve come to the point where you have to find your own comfort level with the mechanism. The job I recently retired from required occasional attendance at autopsies and maybe it’s a result of seeing too many gunshot wounds, but my comfort level with all safety mechanisms (not just safety-notches) is pitifully low.

Hunting Choices
Perhaps an example will serve to illustrate. I sometimes use a lever action model 92 in .357 Magnum when I’m calling predators. When I leave my vehicle, I typically load five cartridges in the magazine and leave the chamber empty while walking in to my stand. Sure, I can blunder into a coyote while moving in, but a flick of the wrist is all that’s necessary to go from safe to fire. When I reach my destination and set up to call, I lever a cartridge into the chamber and set the hammer at the intermediate notch. I judge that to be a safe condition considering the activity I’m engaging in.

Notice the difference. One situation is dynamic and active and for it I keep the chamber empty. The other is sedentary and in those circumstances I’m comfortable with a loaded chamber and a half cocked rifle. When I start to move again, I go back to chamber empty. That flexibility, in my opinion, is the key; adjust to the circumstances and you’re as ready as you need to be and still safe.

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Checklist for Backpacker’s

Checklist for Backpacker’s

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Black Bear Hunting at Wawang Lake

Working hard to provide active baits for each individual hunter is how we operate our hunts, and is what keeps our sportsmen coming back year after year.

BLACK BEAR HUNT RATES

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We have a very large bear hunt area (1,200 sq miles) surrounding our resort with a good healthy bear population due to years of black bear management.

Our hunts usually begin the Saturday on or after August 15th and continues for three weeks. Since we have consistently managed our bear population for several years we determine the number of hunters we will take according to the bear population we observe the previous year. We average 14 hunters per year.

What We Need to Know Upon booking, please inform us of each party members contact information, weapon (archery or gun) and will they be bringing a tree or ground stand. We need to know what type of weapon each member in the hunt party will be hunting with and whether they will be hunting from tree stand or would prefer a ground stand. More on our website

Days to Hunt (7 days) – Arrive Saturday and depart the following Saturday. Arrive Saturday and depart the following Saturday. If you would like to hunt upon your arrival, please check in between 11am-12pm (EST) and have all of your equipment prepared in advance (tree stands as assembled as possible, weapons/ammunition cased)

Transportation Requirements Since most of our baits are very remote, groups should anticipate driving their members to and from the sites. Most of our baits are road access and we provide private areas for each hunting group so that

dropping members off and picking them up will be systematic and easy. We advise to have 1 vehicle per every two hunters (three max) to ensure as little disruption to each party member’s hunt.

Rates
For a complete list of our Bear Hunt Rates please visit our website at:

BLACK BEAR HUNT RATES A $500.00  non-refundable deposit is required at the time of reservation to guarantee a hunt.

Other Costs Hunting license Canadian Funds (approximately). It’s MANDATORY to provide a current or prior hunting license FROM YOUR HOME STATE, or a hunter safety certificate, as qualification to obtain a hunting license in Ontario. Export Permit – $35.00 Canadian Funds (available at designated locations in the area)

Things to Remember Bring your own tree stand as we do not provide them. Comfortable climbers are the most popular and screw in peg types are acceptable, however, whatever type you bring bear in mind that our trees have very loose bark.

What is Included in our Bear Hunts

  • Modern Housekeeping Cottage for 7 nights
  • Pre-baited Sites & all baiting supplies during your stay & Freezer Service
  • Orientation trip to bait site
  • Experienced guide’s knowledge and advice (use it!)
  • Canadian Firearms Regulations All Firearms (does NOT include bows) being brought into Canada must be registered at the Canadian Customs at the time of entry into Canada. A one- year permit costs $50.00 Canadian, or there is a long term permit as well. If you would like further information, you can visit the Canadian Firearms Website through the link on our website or call toll free, 1-800-731-4000

Passport Cards (similar to a Passport) Information can be obtained at this website: http://www.travel.state.gov/passport/ppt_card/ppt_card_3926.html

Our season begins Saturday on or after August 15th

For further information, or, to book your next bear hunt please contact us at:
1-888-534-9217 or EMAIL

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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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Recipe: Moose Tenderloin Lettuce Wraps

This super simple lunch idea will definitely be something you’ll be sure to make over and over.

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Ingredients
marinated moose tenderloin (thinly sliced) Get Marinate Recipe HERE

1 head butter lettuce
1 carrot
1 mini cucumber
feta cheese

Honey Cherry Dressing
1/2 cup cherries
3/4 cup red wine
2 tbsp honey

For the cherry dressing simply put all the ingredients in a saucepan, bring to a boil and reduce heat and simmer.  Describe it as, once you can’t smell the alcohol anymore it’s ready!  Take it off the burner and let cool.  As it cools it will gradually thicken.

Pan fry the moose until desired done-ness.  If you are like me and you like your meat not kicking anymore, then simply remove the meat just before its cooked all the way through.  If it’s sliced thinly it will continue to cook after you take it out of the pan and will be the exact done-ness and will be nice and tender.

Next up shave your vegetables.  Grab a potato peeler and shaved off nice strands of carrots and cucumbers to add in to the lettuce cups.  If you prefer them chopped or grated, by all means go right ahead!

Place your butter lettuce leaves on a plate and begin to assemble and alternated between moose and veggies, crumble feta cheese on top and drizzle the Honey Cherry Dressing on top.

Make as many lettuce cups as you’d like depending on how much meat you used!

Enjoy!

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