Are you looking for some outdoors-oriented reading material? Do you enjoy classic hunting adventures from around the globe? Then log on to the NitroExpress.com Forum. There you’ll find links for literally hundreds of vintage hunting stories, and even complete books, such as Teddy Roosevelt’s classic African Game Trails and Good Hunting, plus the wonderful book African Campfires by Stewart E. White, one of Roosevelt’s close friends and hunting companions.
Among the downloadable titles are The Man-Eating Lions of Tsavo (leaflet edition) by Lt.Col. J. H. Patterson, the true tale that inspired the Hollywood movie, The Ghost and the Darkness, staring Michael Douglas and Val Kilmer. The online version of the Man-Eaters of Tsavo book (right) is a shorter, 140-page edition created for Chicago’s Field Museum, which purchased the skins of the lions from Patterson and put them on display.
Thomas Haugland, a Shooters’ Forum member from Norway, is a long-range target shooter and hunter. He has created an interesting video showing how to gauge wind velocities by watching trees, grass, and other natural vegetation. The video commentary is in English, but the units of wind speed (and distance) are metric. Haugland explains: “This is not a full tutorial, but rather a short heads-up to make you draw the lines between the dots yourself”. Here are some conversions that will help when watching the video:
.5 m/s = 1.1 mph | 1 m/s = 2.2 mph | 2 m/s = 4.5 mph
3 m/s = 6.7 mph | 4 m/s = 8.9 mph | 5 m/s =11.2 mph
In our Shooters’ Forum thread about Portable Shooting Benches, Forum member John H. of New Mexico (aka “Skratch”) showed off a nicely-crafted mobile shooting bench that he can haul with his ATV. This trailer-mounted, movable bench is built on a central tubular spine that also serves as the tongue for the trailer, which attaches to a standard hitch. The bench offers two (2) shooting positions so it works for both left-handed and right-handed shooters.
Up front, for storage, a surplus .50-Cal ammo can is secured to the trailer frame. The V-shaped middle section of the wood benchtop looks to be reinforced with a metal stiffener frame on the underside. The front section of the bench is supported by twin tubular uprights attached to the box-section axle housing. The two wooden bench-style seats (on left and right) ride on a cross-tube. At the ends of that cross-tube are adjustable legs for additional support.
Great Rig for New Mexico Varmint Hunting
There are plenty of great varmint hunting areas in Skratch’s home state of New Mexico — you’ll find some huge prairie dog fields there. But to get the best results on a varmint-hunting field session, you need a solid shooting station that can be easily hauled to new locations as needed. It looks like John (aka “Scratch”) has come up with an outstanding “War Wagon” for his New Mexico varmint safaris.
Click on image frames to see full-size photos
Some readers wanted to know how John’s War Wagon is positioned in the field and if it is ever detached from John’s ATV. John answers: “We do unhook the 4-wheeler for target-checking unless we have an extra along which is usually the case. That way we can level the table front to rear. We have an umbrella from a patio table to provide shade on extra warm days.”
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When you need ammo fast — lots of ammo, it’s hard to beat a progressive reloading press for output. We use progressive presses to load handgun ammo and .223 Rem cartridges for varmint safaris. With good dies, and proper press set-up, today’s progressive presses can produce surprisingly uniform and accurate ammo. No, you won’t see Benchrest Hall-of-Famers loading PPC cartridges on progressives. However, if you need 1000 rounds for your next prairie dog adventure, you should consider getting a progressive. Below you can see a Hornady Lock-N-Load AP configured to load .308 Winchester in bulk.
Proper Brass Prep
Just like a good paint job requires good prep work, great rifle ammo requires good brass prep. In order to make sure your rifle loading goes smoothly, make sure to perform the following brass prep steps:
Clean the brass (tumble, ultrasonic, etc.)
Inspect brass for cracks, deep dents, etc.
For military brass: de-prime, ream/swage primer pockets, size with small-base sizer die (small base usually optional).
Measure brass length — if too long, size and then trim.
Final inspection before loading.
Cleaning primer pockets may be something you’ll consider (I don’t clean primer pockets except for rare cases or match ammo).
Smooth and Steady Pace
Since you’re loading rifle ammunition on a progressive, you’re already saving a load of time, so there’s no need to rush things! Attention to detail is super-important for safety and for good results. Always keep an eye on powder level (goes down FAST) and what’s happening at each station.
The Right Press and Press Setup
Look for a heavy-duty, well-built press that will stand up to rifle loading. You’ll also want to make sure your powder measure will have the proper capacity (~25 grains for .223, ~50 grains for 308). If you are bulk reloading, ensure you have enough stations for sizing, charging, powder check, bullet feed, bullet seating, and (optional) bullet crimp.
More Ultimate Reloader Resources for Users of Progressive Presses:
National Hunting and Fishing Day (NHF Day) takes place on Saturday, September 27, 2014. The annual celebration serves as a reminder that conservation succeeds because of leadership and funding from hunters, shooters and anglers. National, regional, state and local organizations will run thousands of “open house” hunting- and fishing-related events around the country. Events will include Fishing Derbys, Hunting Expos, Wing-shooting tournaments, and much more. Over four million Americans will participate. For information on NHF Day, visit www.nhfday.org. To find NHF Day events, click the link below.
Never had a chance to hunt prairie dogs in the American west? Then check out this video. Dan Eigen (aka “Walleye Dan”), host of the We Love It Outdoors Television series, head to South Dakota for some varmint hunting. Dan teams up with Varmint Hunter Association President Jeff Rheborg to patrol some South Dakota Dogtowns where things get serious. In the video, you’ll see p-dog hits at distances from 70 yards to roughly 450 yards. The hunters were shooting from portable, wood-topped swivel rests, using AR-platform rifles on X-type sandbag rest. (Rifle zeroing session is shown at the 5:30+ mark.)
Multiple cameras were employed so you can see both the shooter’s POV and close-ups of the prairie dogs downrange. Watch the shooters having fun with a prairie dog cut-out and some Tannerite at the 9:00-minute mark. This guys are having a grand old time sending critters to Prairie Dog Heaven — we think you’ll enjoy the video.
Prairie Dog Hunting Starts at 2:00 Time-Mark in Video:
NOTE: This video actually covers three sequences: 1) Three-gun training; 2) Prairie Dog Hunting; and 3) Coyote Hunting. We’ve embedded the video so it plays back the Prairie Dog segment from 2:00 to 15:15. If you wish, you can slide the controls forward or back to watch the other segments.
Video found by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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One of our favorite Ruger bolt-action rifles is now available in a caliber better suited for varmint hunting. The versatile Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle, previously offered in .308 Winchester only, is now chambered in .223 Rem / 5.56 NATO. This newest version of the Gunsite Scout Rifle features a hybrid chamber that shoots both 5.56x45mm NATO and .223 Remington. This rifle is light and compact. With a 16.1″ barrel, it weighs just 7.1 pounds without optics.
The .223 Scout Rifle is offered in both right- and left-hand versions, both with a 10-round detachable box magazine. You can choose either an all-stainless version ($1099.00 MSRP), with SS receiver and SS barrel, or a dark version ($1039.00 MSRP) with matte black alloy steel action and barrel. The bolt offers Mauser-style controlled round feed, with a lever-style safety on the rear of the bolt shroud. The rifle features a 16.1″, 1:8″-twist rate, barrel fitted with flash hider which can be removed to attach other 1/2-28 threaded barrel accessories. Interestingly, the magazine for .223/5.56 Scout Rifle is dimensionally the same as the mag for the .308 Scout Rifle. The .223/5.56 mag employs a plastic insert to feed the smaller cartridge properly.
American Rifleman Field Test of .223 Rem Scout Rifle
Adjustable Length of Pull Through Buttpad Spacers
The black laminate stock is fitted with sling swivel studs and features checkered grip and forearm. A soft rubber recoil pad with three 1/2″ spacers allows the length of pull (LOP) to be adjusted.
Ruger Scout Rifles feature a Mini-14-style protected, non-glare, post front sight and receiver-mounted, adjustable, ghost ring rear sight. The forward-mounted Picatinny rail lets you use a variety of optics including LER scout scopes that allow “both eyes open” target acquisition. Ruger provides scope rings for mounting conventional scopes on the integral M77-style mounts built into the Scout Rifle receivers.
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Forum member Thomas Haugland from Norway has produced an excellent video that covers practical field shooting skills for hunters. In his video, Thomas (aka ‘Roe’ on Forum and Sierra645 on YouTube) shows how to verify his zeros from bipod and he demonstrates improvised field rests from the prone, kneeling, and sitting positions.
Thomas explains: “In this video I focus on basic marksmanship techniques and making ready for this year’s hunt. As a last check before my hunting season, I got to verify everything for one last time. My trajectory is verified again, the practical precision of the rifle is verified. I also practice making do with the best [improvised] rest possible when an opportunity presents itself. After getting knocked in the face by a 338LM rifle during a previous filming session, I had to go back to basics to stop [flinching]. I include some details from bipod shooting that hopefully some hunters will find useful. Fingers crossed for this years season, good luck!”
Thomas has produced many other quality videos for his Sierra645 YouTube Channel. On his “Langholdsskyting” YouTube Channel, you’ll find 30 more nicely-made videos (in both English and Norwegian) about hunting and precision shooting.
Below you’ll find a great video by Thomas that demonstrates up/down angle (incline) shooting. This video features some amazing scenery from Norway along with angle estimation sequences and use of the ACI (Angle-Cosine Indicator). Even without the technical tips, this video is well worth watching just to see the jaw-dropping Norwegian scenery! Yes that’s Thomas standing on the top of the peak in the photo (above right).
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Hunting season is right around the corner. For many of us, that means liberating a rifle that sits in a safe most of the year, grabbing a box of cartridges, and heading to the wilds. But this “once a year thing” carries with it potential risks.
It is all to easy to grab some rounds that may look right, but which are, in fact, a slightly different chambering. Likewise it is possible some hunting rounds got put in the wrong box after last year’s hunting trip. Be very careful when you get ready for a hunting trip — check the headstamp, cartridge dimensions, and bullet diameter of all your rounds. If you make an ammo selection mistake, the consequences can be disasterous, as this story reveals.
The .223 WSSM and 6mmBR Disaster Report by Dr. Jim Clary
Under most circumstances, shooters don’t have to worry about chambering the wrong cartridge into the wrong rifle. After all, the cartridges are well marked and we all know which rifle we are shooting on any given day. In many cases, incorrect cartridges cannot be chambered — larger cases will not fit in smaller chambers, for example. No problem! That being said, I can tell you that even an experienced, careful and normally safe shooter can make a mistake.
The following is an account of just such a mistake that could have resulted in death or dismemberment. Fortunately, the shooter was not hurt, but the rifle was completely destroyed.
Last year, a friend purchased a Savage Precision right bolt, left port, single shot bolt action in 6mmBR Norma. It was an incredible prairie dog gun and he spent the summer burning powder and busting dogs. In October, he purchased a stainless steel Browning A-Bolt Varmint in .223 WSSM. The weather in the upper Midwest turned sour by the time he got the brass tuned up and he only got to fire it a few times before he was “socked in” for the winter. Thus, he spent his evenings loading ammo for the spring thaw.
During a break in the weather, he grabbed both rifles and a couple of bags of .223 WSSM and 6mmBR cartridges and headed to the range to check out his new loads. In case you are not familiar, the 6mmBR is smaller in diameter and a mite shorter than the .223 WSSM. Because of this, it will chamber in a .223 WSSM, but the .243 caliber (6mm) bullet is too big for the .22 caliber bore. That is what happened to my friend.
The rest is history — when he squeezed the trigger, all hell broke loose. The entire bottom of the rifle blew out, including the magazine assembly. The explosion actually cut the stock into two pieces. However, the bolt held and amazing as it may seem, the .243 bullet was “swaged” right out of the .223 barrel.
6mmBR (left) and .223 WSSM (right) cartridges above the remains of Browning A-Bolt rifle.
One Small Mistake Is All It Takes
Now, realize that my friend has been shooting all manner of firearms, safely, for over half a century. He is meticulous, thorough and conscientious in his approach to reloading and shooting. However, he made one mistake. He put some lose 6BR cartridges in a baggie as he packed up from a prairie dog hunt last summer, without noticing that the baggie was marked .223 WSSM in black marker. Then, when the break in his winter weather came, he grabbed the bag, believing it to be the WSSM cartridges and didn’t check the head stamp.
Couldn’t happen to you? How many times have we emptied our pockets of cartridges and dropped them into a plastic container on the shooting bench? How many times have we set down to a marathon reloading session, loading several calibers in a row? How many times have we put the wrong bullets, cases or primers into the incorrect container? My point is that even the safest of us can make a mistake. So, look at the picture above and take a bit more time when you reload your ammunition at home or chamber a round in the field. It might save your life.
Here is a simple but effective product that can benefit varminters and game-hunters. The slip-on, padded RRR (“triple R”) gun rest cushions your rifle on any surface and helps eliminate noise when shifting the gun from one shooting position to another. The RRR slip-on rest is made of neoprene (wet suit material) with a built-in, thick Armaflex foam cushion on the bottom. This $19.95 sleeve protects the finish of your rifle, while providing a cushioned layer between your rifle and the supporting surface.
Hunters will appreciate how the RRR slip-on rest quiets the gun when the forearm is placed on supporting surface (watch video). The padded, neoprene covering acts like a sound deadener. With the RRR in place, the rifle forearm doesn’t clang or rattle, even when you set the gun on a metal frame or hard surface.
Video Shows RRR in Use in the Field
This padded sleeve works great when shooting from a truck, providing a padded surface when aiming from a truck mirror or door frame. Likewise, the RRR rest works well in the field when shooting from a tree-limb, or a boulder.
The patented RRR slip-on rest fits rifle stocks from 1¼ inches to 2¼ inches wide, and will not interfere with your scope. Installation is easy — after unloading the rifle, simply slide the RRR over the barrel and fore-end, with the RRR logo on top, so that the cushion section is under the rifle stock.
► The RRR slip-on rest cushions your rifle. This helps to keep the shot from going high even when the rifle is placed on a hard surface.
► The RRR protects the finish on the stock of your rifle from scratches when resting on hard surfaces.
► The RRR can be slipped over the fore-end with a sling attached.
► The neoprene, water-resistant RRR works well even in wet or snowy weather. (But you should remove from gun after a wet hunting session.)
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Adam Scepaniak, of The Guns and Gear Store, has written an interesting story about Prairie Dog Hunting in North Dakota. If a P-Dog safari is on your “bucket list”, you’ll want to read the full story in the Sierra Bullets Blog. Adam provides many tips that can help you plan a successful prairie dog adventure.
Prairie Dog Hunting in North Dakota with Sierra Bullets (Excerpt)
It’s that time of year where lots of men and women point their vehicles westward and try to push the limits of their rifles on prairie dogs. I was a part of this group of people just a few days ago while in northwestern North Dakota. CLICK HERE to Read Full Story.
Grass Was Too Tall at First Location for Prone Shooting.
Little Missouri National Grassland
Once my hunting party arrived at the Little Missouri National Grassland in North Dakota we immediately began scouting for prime prairie dog towns. There is a certain amount of strategy involved in choosing a prairie dog town … for several reasons. For one, you should try to always stay “above” the prairie dogs.
Small objects like rocks, cactuses, and prairie vegetation can easily obstruct your view if you’re shooting prone on a level plane. We encountered this in the first small prairie dog town we stopped and shot at. The prairie dog town was very visible while walking and standing, but once we laid down with our rifles on bipods the two-foot prairie grass became a severe obstruction. We shortly moved on because the small town became quick-studies to our shooting.
The second prairie dog town we hunted was at the base of a small ridge with a dried, cattle creek at the bottom. This area offered better shooting opportunities because we were above most of the prairie dog holes, and if we were not above them, a deep ravine separated us from the prairie dogs removing any obstructions from our rifle scopes which was our previous problem. This area had its own disadvantage though because of some other wildlife present. There were approximately fifty head of cattle in our close vicinity grazing, which was to no surprise because many ranchers utilize the National Grassland for grazing. We had to wait for the cattle to leave our area as to not have an incidental hit due to a rare ricochet. As the sun passed over the horizon we decided to return to this spot the next morning, but would change our shooting position to increase our advantage.
This Location Offered a Nice Overlook.
Zoomed Image Shows Individual Prairie Dog Mounds.
My previous varminting best was a 275-yard shot near Mobridge, South Dakota on a separate prairie dog hunting trip. With more experience and better reloading, Here in North Dakota I was able to make a solid hit on a prairie dog just over 400 yards which made me ecstatic! For a central Minnesota, shotgun-raised guy, I was pretty happy that my bullet selection and hand-loading ability produced a 125-yard improvement.
Once we cleaned and cased our rifles for the journey home we had shot a little over 200 rounds of my Sierra® reloads. This was a lot less than previous prairie dog trips I have been a part of, but our hit percentage was substantially higher as well. Traveling into a new area meant a lot more scouting and experimentation for us as a group. In future trips or hunts of your own, it can be very beneficial to schedule an extra day just for scouting[.]
Little Missouri National Grassland is a National Grassland located in western North Dakota. At 1,033,271 acres, it is the largest grassland in the country. Within its borders is Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The Little Missouri National Grasslands was once a part of the Custer National Forest, but is now a part of the Dakota Prairie Grasslands, a National Forest unit consisting entirely of National Grasslands. A predominant feature of the grassland is colorful and beautiful badlands, a rugged terrain extensively eroded by wind and water. It is a mixed grass prairie, meaning it has both long and short grass.
The boundaries of the grasslands on certain maps can be misleading. Within the boundaries of the national grassland are significant portions of state-owned and privately-owned land, much of it leased by cattle ranchers for grazing.
The grassland is administered by the Forest Service as part of the Dakota Prairie Grasslands from offices in Bismarck, ND. There are ranger district offices in Dickinson and Watford City.
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