April 26th, 2021

Wind Wizardry for Varminters — Keep the Wind at Your Back

Varmint Hunting varmint safari wind war wagon trailer longmeadow game resort
This impressive war wagon hauls varmint hunters around the Longmeadow Game Resort in Colorado.

When you’re on a varmint expedition in the Western states you can bet, sooner or later, you’ll encounter serious winds. Here’s some advice on how to minimize the effects of cross-winds on your shooting, and easily improve your percentage of hits. In essence, you want to use your ability to change shooting positions and angles to put the wind behind you.

A benchrest or High Power shooter must operate from a designated shooting position. He must stay put and deal with the wind as it moves across the course, from whatever direction it blows.

Put the Wind at Your Back
By contrast, a varmint hunter can move around and choose the spot that provides the most favorable wind direction. In most cases you’ll get the best results by moving your shooting position so the wind is at your back. This will minimize horizontal wind drift. Once you’re in position, use wind flags to direct your fire in line with the prevailing winds. A varminter who calls himself “Catshooter” explains:

The String of Death
I remember the first time I was on a dog town in the Conata Basin, in the Badlands area of southwestern South Dakota. Along with two other guys, I drove out for 21 days of shooting, and I never saw wind like that before. If all four tires of our vehicle were on the ground, the weather man said these were “mild wind conditions”.

After the first four or five days, we got smart. We would park the truck on the up-wind side of the town so the wind was at our back. Then we took a piece of string on a 3-foot stick, and set it in front of the shooters, and let the string point at the mounds that we were going to shoot.

For the rest of the trip, we didn’t have to deal with wind drift at all. We just shot the dogs that the string pointed to. We started calling our simple wind pointer the “String of Death”.

We were hitting dogs at distances that I would not repeat here (with benchrest grade rifles). After the first time out, I always took a wind rig like that.

Benefits of Swivel Benches
In a large varmint field, you’ll want to orient your shooting position to put the wind at your back if possible. If you have a rotating bench such as this, you can further adjust your shooting orientation to work with the wind, not against it. You may also want to position simple flags (posts with colored tape) downrange to alert you to wind changes you may not notice from your shooting positions.

Photos by Chris Long, taken during Chris’s Wyoming Varmint Hunt with Trophy Ridge Outfitters.

Permalink Hunting/Varminting, Shooting Skills 3 Comments »
April 18th, 2021

Sunday Gunday: 20 Practical 4200+ FPS Varmint Slayer

.20 20 practical varmint cartridge .204 Tikka lilja Warren

Do you have .20-Cal fever? Do you yearn to see what a 4200+ fps projectile can do to an unsuspecting prairie dog? Well you could go out and purchase a 204 Ruger rifle, fork over the money for a new, complete die set, and hope that the brass is in stock. Warren B (aka “Fireball”) has a more cost-effective solution. If you have .223 Rem dies and brass, all you need to shoot the 20 Practical is a new barrel and a .230″ bushing to neck down your .223 cases. Warren’s wildcat is simple, easy, and economical. And the 20 Practical matches the performance of the highly-publicized 20 Tactical with less money invested and no need to buy forming dies or fire-form cases. Warren’s cartridge was aptly named. Practical it is.

20 Practical Tikka Bolt Action for Varminting

by Warren B (aka “Fireball”) and Kevin Weaver

After building my 20 PPC, I wanted to do another .20 caliber, this time a repeater for predator hunting that could also serve as a gopher/prairie dog rifle. I wanted to use a Tikka M595 stainless sporter I had. This rifle is the ultimate repeater with an extremely smooth-feeding cycle from its single-column magazine. Since the Tikka was a .223 Remington from the factory, I first looked at possible case designs that would fit the magazine. The 204 Ruger was a very new round at the time and brass was scarce. I also didn’t care for the overly long case design or the standard throat dimensions of the cartridge. I then looked at the 20 Tactical. It was a nice cartridge but I didn’t like the fact that (at the time) an ordinary two-die Tac 20 set with just a plain full-length die and standard seater were $150. Not only did the costs bother me, but I was accustomed to using a Redding die set featuring a body die, a Type-S bushing neck die, and a Competition seater. To be honest, I also didn’t care for the 20 Tactical’s name–there is absolutely nothing tactical about the cartridge. I didn’t want to adopt a new cartridge based on what I perceived to be a marketing gimmick (that “tactical” title).


Warren B, aka “Fireball”, with his Tikka 595. With its smooth action and phenolic single-column mag, it cycles perfectly in rapid fire.

.20 20 practical varmint cartridge .204 Tikka lilja WarrenSimply Neck Down .223 Rem to Make a 20-223 Wildcat
I decided the best thing to do for my purposes was to simply neck down the .223 Rem case and make a 20-223. I already had the dies, the brass, and a rifle that would feed it perfectly. I decided to call the cartridge the 20 Practical because as you will see in this article, it truly is a very practical cartridge. In addition to the generous and inexpensive availability of brass and dies, the 20 Practical is an easy case to create, requiring no fire forming as a final step. Simply neck your .223 Rem cases down, load and shoot.

[Editor’s Note: Over the years, other shooters have experimented with .223 Remington cases necked down to .20 caliber, some with longer necks, some with different shoulder angles. Warren doesn’t claim to be the first fellow to fit a .20-caliber bullet in the .223 case. He gives credit to others who did pioneering work years ago. But he has come up with a modern 20-223 wildcat that involves no special case-forming, and minimal investment in dies and tooling. He commissioned the original PTG 20 Practical reamer design, and he and Kevin did the field testing to demonstrate the performance of this particular version.]

I chose Kevin Weaver at Weaver Rifles to fit and chamber the barrel to my rifle. Kevin does excellent work and is great to work with. Kevin liked the idea of the 20 Practical so much he agreed to purchase the project reamer. (BTW Kevin didn’t even need to purchase a Go/No-Go gauge, he just used an existing .223 Rem gauge.)

Before Kevin ordered the reamer, I talked over the reamer specs with him. My priorities were tolerances on the tight end of the .223 Rem SAAMI specification, a semi-fitted neck with no need for neck-turning, and a short throat so that we could have plenty of the 32gr V-Max in the case and still touch the lands. I also wanted this short throat in case [anyone] wanted to chamber an AR-15 for the 20 Practical. A loaded 20 Practical round will easily touch the lands on an AR-15 while fitting into the magazine with no problem. With its standard 23-degree shoulder, the 20 Practical case also feeds flawlessly through an AR-15.

As for the barrel, I only use Liljas on my rifles. I have had great luck with them. They have always shot well and they clean up the easiest of any barrels that I have tried. I had previously sent my Tikka barreled action to Dan Lilja so that he could program a custom contour into his equipment and turn out a barrel that would perfectly fit the factory M595 sporter stock. There isn’t much material on an M595 sporter stock so the contour had to match perfectly and it did. Dan Lilja now has this custom contour available to anyone who would like to rebarrel their M595 sporter with one of his barrels.

There Are Plenty of Good .204-Caliber Varmint Bullet Options
20 Practical .204 Ruger .20 caliber bullets

How to Form 20 Practical Cases — Simple and Easy
Forming 20 Practical cases is very easy. No fire-forming is required. Start with any quality .223 Rem brass. Then simply run the case into your bushing die with the appropriate bushing and call it done.

Project Componentry
My 20 Practical rifle started out as a Tikka Model 595 Stainless Sporter in .223 Remington. Though the M595 is no longer imported, if you shop around you can find M595 Sporters for bargain prices. Mine cost under $500. I think the action alone is worth that! The receiver has a milled dovetail for scope rings plus a side bolt release like expensive BR actions. The bolt cycles very smoothly. Ammo is handled with super-reliable 3- or 5-round detachable single-column magazines (FYI, Tikka’s M595 22-250 mags will feed a 6BR case flawlessly.) We kept the standard Tikka trigger but fitted it with a light-weight spring. Now the trigger pull is a crisp 1.8 pounds–about as good as it gets in a factory rifle. We replaced the factory tube with a custom, 24″, 3-groove Lilja 12-twist barrel. Dan Lilja created a special M595 sporter contour to allow a perfect “drop-in” fit with the factory stock. For optics, I’ve fitted a Leupold 4.5-14x40mm zoom in low Talley light-weight aluminum mounts. All up, including optics and sling, my 20 Practical weighs just under 8.5 pounds.

Test Report–How’s It Shoot?
I sent the barrel and barreled action to Kevin and in a very short time it was returned. Kevin did a perfect job on the rifle. I had asked him to try to match the bead blasted finish of the Tikka when he finished the new barrel. It came out perfect and the only way one can tell it is a custom is the extra two inches of length and the “20 Practical” cartridge designation.

So, no doubt you’re asking “how does she shoot?” Is my “prototype”, first-ever 20 Practical an accurate rig? In a word, yes. Even with the standard factory stock, and light contour barrel, it can shoot 3/8″ groups. Take a look at the typical target from this rifle. This is from an 8.5-pound sporter with a very skinny fore-end and a factory trigger.

Gunsmith’s Report from Kevin Weaver
The 20 Practical: Origins and Development

Editor’s NOTE: We can’t say for sure who first necked down the .223 Rem to .20 caliber and chambered a rifle for that wildcat (as opposed to the .20 Tactical). But here is an account from way back in 2006 when the Warren B first came up with the idea of a .20 Practical cartridge, complete with reamer specs.

A year ago I received a call from Warren with a great idea. Warren asked “Why couldn’t we simply neck down the .223 Remington case to 20 caliber and get basically the same performance as the 20 Tactical? This way you can forgo the expensive forming dies that are needed for the 20 Tactical.” The idea made perfect sense to me, and I saw no major technical issues, so we got started on the project. I ordered a reamer from Dave Kiff at Pacific Tool & Gauge (PTG) with a .233″ neck. The .233″ neck should allow for a simple necking-down of the 223 Remington case to produce the 20 Practical in just one step. No fire-forming necessary! Furthermore, the PTG 20 Practical reamer Dave created should work with any available .223 Rem brass, commercial or military.

The first 20 Practical round was launched down range (through Warren’s Tikka) just a few months later. The brass formed as easily as expected. All one needs is a Redding type “S” bushing die with a .230 bushing and with just one step I had a .20 caliber case ready to shoot. Warren is brilliant. [Editor’s Note: We concur. For more details on Warren’s case-forming methods and his tips for adapting .223 Rem dies, read the technical sections further down the page.]

It would be almost six months later until I got around to building a dedicated test rifle chambered for the 20 Practical. I used a Remington 722 action, Remington synthetic semi-varmint stock, and a 24″ Douglas stainless steel XX 12-twist barrel. I formed and loaded about 30 cases using Remington brass in about 20 minutes. I used a .223 Rem seating die to seat the 20 Practical bullets. The .223 seating stem seated the small 20-Cal bullets just fine. The first loads sent the 40gr Hornady V-Max bullets down range at a modest 3500 FPS. I did not shoot for groups. I just wanted to use this load to sight in the rifle and break in the barrel. Load development was painless–I used reduced .223 Rem loads for 40gr bullets and worked up from there. In the table below are some of my preferred loads as well as Warren’s favorite recipes for his 20 Practical.

Bullet Wt. Powder Charge Wt. Velocity FPS Comments
32GR H4198 24.1 4025 Warren’s lighter gopher load
32GR AA2460 27.8 4154 Warren’s coyote/prairie dog load
32GR N133 26.0 4183 Coyote/PD load, clean burn
33GR H4198 26.0 4322 Hot Load. Use with Caution!
33GR N133 27.0 4255 Kevin: 0.388” 5 shot group
40GR H335 25.0 3583 Kevin’s barrel break-in load
40GR H4198 24.0 3907 Hodgdon “Extreme” Powder
40GR IMR4895 26.0 3883 Kevin: 0.288″ 5-shot group
40GR N133 25.0 3959 Kevin: 0.227″ 5-shot group
Warren’s Load Notes: My pet loads are all with IMI cases, 32gr Hornady V-Maxs, and Fed 205 primers (not match). These are the most accurate loads in my rifle so far. I haven’t even bothered with the 40s as I have the 20 PPC and 20 BR for those heavier bullets. I prefer the lighter bullets in the 20 Practical because I wanted to keep speed up and recoil down in this sporter-weight predator rifle. Also, the 32gr V-Max is exceptionally accurate and explosive. I like N133 the best as it burns so clean. IMI cases are tough and well-made.
Kevin’s Load Notes: I used Remington 223 cases, Hornady V-Max bullets, and Remington 6 1/2 primers to develop the above loads. CAUTION: all loads, both Warren’s and mine, should be reduced 20% when starting load development in your rifle. All load data should be used with caution. Always start with reduced loads first and make sure they are safe in each of your guns before proceeding to the high test loads listed. Since Weaver Rifles has no control over your choice of components, guns, or actual loadings, neither Weaver Rifles nor the various firearms and components manufacturers assume any responsibility for the use of this data.

Comparing the 20 Practical and 20 Tactical
Kevin tells us: “The 20 Practical and the 20 Tactical are almost identical cartridges. There are only slight differences in case Outside Diameter, shoulder angle, and case body length. The neck length on the 20 Tactical is a bit longer, but there is still plenty of neck on the 20 Practical to grip the popular bullets, such as the 32gr V-Max. Here are some specs:

Cartridge Bolt face to shoulder Shoulder O.D. Shoulder Angle Total length
20 Tactical 1.5232″ .360 30° 1.755″
20 Practical 1.5778″ .3553 23° 1.760″

Both the 20 Tactical and the 20 Practical are fine .20 caliber cartridges. At present, the 20 Tactical is the more popular of the two because it has had more publicity. However, my favorite would be the 20 Practical. Warren’s 20 Practical gives the SAME performance as the 20 Tactical without fire-forming, or having to buy expensive forming dies. So with the 20 Practical you do less work, you shell out a lot less money, yet you give up nothing in performance. What’s not to like? To create 20 Practical cases, just buy a .223 Rem Redding Type “S” Bushing Die set with a .230 or .228 bushing and have fun with this great little cartridge.”

(more…)

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April 8th, 2021

Practical Shooting Skills for Hunters — Field Rests

Thomas Haugland HuntingHunting season is here — and we know many of our readers will soon head to the woods in pursuit of deer, elk, or other game. To make a good shot, it’s wise to rest your rifle when possible. In this video, methods for stabilizing a rifle in the field are demonstrated by Forum member Thomas Haugland, who hails from Norway. Thomas focuses on practical field shooting skills for hunters. In this video, Thomas (aka ‘Roe’ on Forum and Sierra645 on YouTube) shows how to verify his zeros from bipod and then 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!”

Permalink - Videos, Hunting/Varminting 1 Comment »
April 4th, 2021

Get FREE Classic Hunting Books as Downloadable PDFs

Free PDF hunting books Nitro Express Forum

With the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, plus the anti-gun rhetoric coming out of Washington, it’s important to have some diversions from the unsettling news. To help get your mind off COVID and the ongoing attacks on the Second Amendment, here are some great FREE BOOKS to read. You can download these to your computer, laptop, or tablet, and read them whenever you like.

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.

CLICK HERE for Hundreds of Vintage Hunting Books and Articles | Alternate Link

Theodore Roosevelt Good HuntingAmong 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.

You’ll find scores of classic adventure tales, recounting hunts in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas. You’ll doubtless find something of interest, whether it be Bear Hunting in BC, Chamois Hunting in Bavaria, Reindeer (Caribou) Hunting in Iceland, Jaguar Hunting in South America, or Dangerous Game Hunting in Africa. Hundreds of articles, all scanned from original texts and saved as PDFs, are available for downloading — and they are all free for the taking. Many of these works feature handsome original illustrations, as shown below.

Theodore Roosevelt Good Hunting

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March 7th, 2021

Sunday GunDay: Half-Mile ‘Hog Rifle, John’s 6mm Rem AI

groundhog varmint rifle .243 6mm Rem Remington Ackley Improved AI

Spring varmint season is just around the corner. So here’s a very accurate Half-Mile ‘Hog rifle, that can drill a groundhog at long range. While just about any cartridge from a 22 magnum on up will do the job on a groundhog at close range, when you want to “reach out and touch” your prey at very long distance, it takes a case capable of tossing a heavier, wind-bucking projectile at ultra-high speeds. This week we feature a 6mm Remington Ackley Improved (6mm AI) belonging to our friend John Seibel, who ran the Varmints for Forum website for many years. John’s handsome BAT-actioned rifle sends the 87gr V-Max at a blistering 3675 fps. With its 1/4-MOA accuracy and flat-shooting ballistics, this gun is a varmint’s worst nightmare, a rig that regularly nails groundhogs at a half-mile (880 yards) and beyond.

Quarter-MOA Accuracy For Long-Distance Varminting

GunDay Report by John Seibel
John reports: “So far this gun has been an awesome long-distance varmint rig, with enough velocity to smack those critters hard at 800 yards and beyond. I have some more testing to do, but it seems that the 87gr V-Max (molyed) pushed by 52 grains of N160 or 51.5 grains of RL-19 shoots very well indeed. Velocity runs around 3675 fps. I shot consistent 1″ groups at 500 yards with both of these loads. Warning: These are max loads that work in my rifle, so start at least 10% lower and work up.

500yd SteelMy fire-forming procedure is just jam and shoot. I start with a powder (such as H414) that works for the parent case, fire a few cases as I work up the load to where I get a well-formed case, then shoot them at varmints. Then I work my load up with the newly-formed cases over a chrono. If a load looks good at 100 yards, I will go straight for 200 yards. I’ve seen that some loads which grouped well at 100 won’t shoot well at 200. If it is consistent at 200, then I’ll shoot it a steel plate at 500 yards. Then the truth will be told.

Man I love that BAT action! I have tried some Berger 88gr Lo-Drag bullets as well. They have the same BC as the V-Maxs but offer excellent accuracy. The action is BAT’s Model B round action configured Right Bolt, Left Port, with a fluted .308-faced bolt. The port is 3.0 inches wide — perfect for the 6mm Rem Improved cartridge’s OAL. I use a NightForce 8-32x56mm NXS scope mounted to BAT’s 20-MOA aluminum Weaver-style base. I use Burris Signature Zee rings because they are self-aligning and easy on scope tubes, plus you have the option of adding more MOA if needed.

Krieger with Harrell Brake
The barrel is a stainless Krieger 1:12″ twist Heavy Varmint contour, finished at 26″. I installed a Harrell’s muzzle brake because I hate recoil and I like to be able to spot my hits when target shooting and hunting–especially hunting.

When hunting I am usually by myself so when I eyeball a varmint I want to see my shot flatten him … and I hardly ever miss (heh-heh). Make sure you have your earplugs in though — that muzzle brake is loud!

Easy-Steering Thumbhole Varminter
The stock is Richard’s Custom Rifles Model 005 Thumbhole Varminter. This is a big stock that rides the sand bags very well. Took me a while to get used to this stock as I had never shot a thumbhole before. It is very comfortable and easy to control when you are shooting a moving target. In fact, my first kill with this rifle was a coyote at a little over 200 yards, she was moving along at a slow clip and I had to give her the ole’ Texas heart shot before she disappeared over a hill! (It’s pretty rare for me to shoot moving varmints though — at long-range, I want my cross-hairs steady on the target.)

Regarding the stock selection, I like Richard Franklin’s stocks because they are well-suited to my kind of shooting. I prefer a stock that is flat most of the way back towards the action because when I’m shooting out of my truck window it has to balance around mid-point. Also his stocks seem to track very well on the bench. I guess the stocks I like the most are his Model 001 and Model 008 F-Class. [Editor’s note: John often shoots from the driver’s seat of his truck because he is partially paralyzed. He also has a hoist in his truck bed for his wheelchair. Even with his mobility challenges, John tags more varmints in a season than most of us ever will.]

6mmChoice of Caliber — A 6mm with More Punch for Long Distance
I picked the 6mm Rem Improved mainly because it has that long neck for holding long bullets and it doesn’t burn the throats out as fast as a .243 AI would. I don’t use Remington brass; it splits when fire-forming and seems to work-harden fast. Another reason I picked the 6mm Improved was what I saw in the field–it seemed to be a perfect long-range groundhog getter. I saw my stocker, Richard Franklin, flat smack groundhogs out to 900+ yards with regularity. The OAL of a 6mm Improved does make it hard to remove a loaded round from a standard Remington 700 action. That’s why I went with the BAT Model B, with its longer 3.0″ port. For a standard action, a .243 AI might function better.

As for the 6 Dasher, from what I have read, I think it is a fine round. I’m a hunter though and a lot of case-forming isn’t worth it to me. Forming the Ackleyized cases is bad enough. The 6-250 is a real screamer and very accurate but it doesn’t have the capacity to drive the heavier bullets as well as the 6mm Improved. I have tried a .243 WSSM, also with a Richard’s stock (#008) and a BAT action. It may not shoot as well as the 6mm Rem Improved, but I like those short fat cases.

John’s Views on the Great Moly Debate
Editor: John started with moly-coated bullets for this 6mm Rem AI rifle, but he has moved away from that. He does have considerable experience with coated bullets, and now, at least with custom, hand-lapped barrels, he normally uses uncoated bullets. He now favors coated bullets only for the small .17 caliber.

Moly or no moly… hmm? I have used moly and Danzac for several years, mainly Danzac. In my experience, both moly and Danzac can work well for somebody who shoots a lot of rounds before cleaning. A barrel has to be broken-in correctly whether you use moly or not. I have done break-in with naked bullets, using the conventional method of shooting and cleaning till the copper stops sticking. I have also gone through the break-in process using molyed bullets from the start. It seems to me the barrels broke-in more readily with moly bullets than with naked bullets. I think if there are any rough or sharp places in the barrel the slick molyed bullet doesn’t grab it as badly and the moly will “iron” the flaw out without leaving copper behind.

molybdenum danzac bullet collet moly varmint bullet

The main mistake I think most people make with moly is improper cleaning. By that I mean they don’t get the bore clean from the beginning. Some people will scoff at me for this but I use JB bore paste for most all my cleaning, hardly ever use a brush. Just JB and Montana Extreme or Butch’s Bore Shine. It works for me! Now shooting molyed bullets works fine to say 500 yards, but any further and you really need a lot of tension on the bullet. If not you will get bad flyers.

Personally, I use coated bullets only with .17 cal rounds now. I did use them initially in my 6mm Rem AI but I am starting to move away from that. With proper break-in, the fine custom barrels we have now will not copper if you clean correctly and don’t push those bullets too fast! And remember that powder-fouling build-up is an accuracy-killer too. That is another reason I use a lot of JB paste.

groundhog varmint rifle .243 6mm Rem Remington Ackley Improved AI
John lives and works on a farm in Virginia. Getting rid of intrusive varmints is part of the job of running the farm. Here is one of John’s bolt-action pistols, which is very handy when shooting from a vehicle.

The Guru of Varmints For Fun
For many years John Seibel ran the popular Varmints For Fun website (now offline). This site offered excellent advice for hunters and reloaders. John covered a wide variety of varmint chamberings, from big 6mm wildcats, to the popular 6BR, 22BR and .22-250 caliber varmint rounds, and even the micro-caliber wildcats such as the 20 Vartarg and 20 PPC. Shown below is one of his favorite rifles, a 20 PPC with a special short version of Richard Franklin’s Model 008 stock.

John tells us: “I guess one reason I started my web site is that I was getting a lot of inquiries about hunting groundhogs, custom rifles and reloading. Plus I thought it was a fine way to get young people interested in the shooting sports. Lord knows hunting and firearms aren’t taught any more. I get a lot of young hunters and shooters asking what’s the best caliber for hunting varmints, and they’ll ask for reloading help too. It’s a shame, but many of them have no one to teach them. I do my best to help.

Showing others that a person can still shoot, even with a disability, is another reason I started my web site. I am a C 6-7 Quadraplegic, which means I have no grip in my hands. Imagine shooting those 1.5 oz Jewels that way! I had a therapist tell me I wouldn’t be able to shoot or reload once I got out of the hospital…shows you how much he knows! First time I got home from the hospital it was deer season and I had Pops park me at the edge of some woods. Well I had a 7-point buck on the ground in thirty minutes! Being raised on a farm didn’t hurt none either–it helped me figger ways to jury-rig stuff. Of course I couldn’t have done much if it wasn’t for my family and my lovely wife Cathy[.]”

John’s Favorite 20 PPC Varmint Rifle

Cartridge History Lesson — the Original .244 Remington
Here’s bit of cartridge history. The 6mm Remington, parent of John’s 6mm AI, actually started its life with a different name, the “.244 Remington”. What we now know as the “6mm Remington” was originally called the .244 Remington. The cartridge was renamed because it was not a commercial success initially, being eclipsed by the .243 Winchester. The .244 Remington and the 6mm Remington are identical — only the name was changed.

6mm Remington cartridge .244 John Seibel varmint rifle

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March 5th, 2021

Top Hunting and Shooting Equipment Brands in 2020

Hodgdon Federal Winchester Hornady brass bullets ammo powder reloading consumer survey Southwick Associates

As record numbers of Americans enjoyed the outdoors amid the pandemic in 2020, purchases of hunting and shooting equipment soared as well. Southwick Associates completed 15,000 hunter and recreational shooter surveys in 2020 through the online HunterSurvey and ShooterSurvey consumer panels and identified the top brands in the market.

What brands are favored by gun guys? Well here are the results of 2020 consumer surveys conducted by Southwick Associates. The surveys asked hunters and shooters to indicate their most frequently-purchased hunting and shooting product categories. This “Top Brand” list was compiled from 2020 internet-based surveys conducted through HunterSurvey.com and ShooterSurvey.com websites.

In 2020, most frequently purchased brands included:

  • Top Traditional Rifles brand: Savage
  • Top Handguns brand: Smith & Wesson
  • Top Reloading Powder brand: IMR
  • Top Reloading Presses brand: Lee Precision
  • Top Reloading Dies brand: Lee Precision
  • Top Handgun Ammunition brand: Federal
  • Top Shotgun Ammunition brand: Winchester
  • Top Magazines brand: Magpul
  • Top Gun Case brand: Allen
  • Top Binoculars brand: Vortex
  • Top Reflex/Red Dot Sights brand: SIG Sauer
  • Top Laser Sights brand: Crimson Trace
  • Top Non-powered Aftermarket Sights brand: Trijicon
  • Top Trail Camera brand: Wildgame Innovations
  • Top Camo Apparel Brand: Mossy Oak
  • Top Hunting Knives brand: Buck

Topline results of the Southwick Associates consumer tracking study are available in the Hunting & Shooting Participation and Equipment Purchases Report. This in-depth resource tracks hunting & shooting participation and equipment purchases for more than 100 products.

Top Traditional Rifles Brand Savage recently introduced a new straight-pull rifle, the Impulse:

savage straign pull impores

The list above is only a fraction of all hunting and shooting categories tracked by Southwick Associates. Southwick Associates also tracks the percentage of sales occurring across different retail channels, total spending per category, average prices, and demographics for hunters and shooters buying specific products. Full reports, with a wealth of information, are available from Southwick Associates.

Permalink Gear Review, Hunting/Varminting, News 1 Comment »
January 17th, 2021

Sunday GunDay: 6.8 Western — New Cartridge, New Rifles

6.8 Western cartridge winchester browning hunting .277 WSM

Winchester and Browning have introduced the new 6.8 Western, a new .277-caliber cartridge designed for long-range hunting. The new 6.8 Western is a high-capacity cartridge with a modern 35-degree shoulder, optimized for a conventional short action. The 6.8 Western is VERY similar to the existing .270 WSM. It shares the same 0.535″ rim diameter, and the same 0.277″ bullet diameter, however the 6.8 Western’s case length is slightly shorter. The .270 WSM has a 2.100″ case length, while the new 6.8 Western has a 2.020″ length. That’s just 80 thousandths shorter. Both cartridges, the 6.8 Western and .270 WSM, share a 35° shoulder, so in fact, the 6.8 Western is VERY close to the existing .270 WSM, just .080″ short. With a 1:8″ twist, the 6.8 Western should be able to shoot bullets up to 175 grains.

6.8 Western cartridge winchester browning hunting .277 WSM
CLICK HERE for full 6.8 Western SAAMI Drawing.

In designing this new cartridge, Winchester wanted WSM performance in a slightly shorter case: “The key feature… was to shorten up that shoulder, shorten up the OAL of the cartridge so we could get longer, sleeker, heavy-for-caliber bullets to really drive the G1 BC higher and higher, to get the flattest possible trajectory.” Winchester claims that the 6.8 Western is the “largest [cartridge] on the market to fit into lighter, short-action rifles like the Winchester Model 70, Winchester XBR, and Browning X-Bolt Pro”. That’s a bit deceptive, since the .300 WSM, with a 0.2100″ case length, will fit in many of those rifles with most bullets. Oh well — there’s always some marketing hype.

6.8 Western cartridge winchester browning hunting .277 WSM

6.8 Western cartridge winchester browning hunting .277 WSM

6.8 Western — High-BC Bullets, Good Knock-Down Power, Tolerable Recoil
What is the real advantage of the new 6.8 Western? Fundamentally it can be loaded with heavier, higher-BC bullets than a 6.5 PRC, while having less recoil than a .300 WSM (with most bullets). (But the same can be said of the older .270 WSM.) WideOpenSpaces.com states that with the 6.8 Western “recoil is much lower than the .300 Win Mag, .300 PRC, and the .300 WSM cartridge. At the same time, the 6.8 is said to deliver more energy to the target than a 6.5 PRC [or] 6.5 Creedmoor[.]” Winchester is even claiming more downrange energy than a 7mm Remington Magnum.

This video, with lots of field footage, explains the main features of the new 6.8 Western:

This video has great cartridge illustrations, with 3D Animations and comparative energy tables:

“When people think of the perfect long-range rifle cartridge, they want many key features — good precision, flat trajectory, large down-range energy, and manageable recoil.” — Keith Masinelli, Winchester

6.8 Western cartridge winchester browning hunting .277 WSM

This video shows loaded ammo. Direct comparison with .270 WSM at 8:55 minute time mark.

Why Develop a New Hunting Cartridge So Similar to the .270 WSM?
With interest in long-range hunting growing rapidly, engineers at Winchester and Browning sought a solution that could offer magnum performance with a modern high-BC projectile, yet chamber in a short action rifle for shorter bolt-throw and less weight. The 6.8 Western was “designed to be capable in any big-game hunting scenario and a great fit for those who enjoy long-range target shooting”. For the 6.8 Western, the designers basically shortened the .270 WSM case to allow for longer bullets (with the same cartridge OAL limits), and possibly make the case a bit more efficient.

6.8 Western cartridge winchester browning hunting .277 WSM

The First 6.8 Western Rifles from Browning and Winchester

Browning X-Bolt Pro in 6.8 Western
6.8 Western cartridge winchester browning X-Bolt Pro hunting .277 WSM

Browning will release a light-weight, X-Bolt Pro rifle chambered for the 6.8 Western. This will have a 26″ barrel with 1:7.5″-twist, so it should be able to shoot all the high-BC .277-caliber bullets. With a carbon-reinforced stock, this rifle is relatively light-weight — just 6 lbs., 12 ounces before optics. The rifle has a 3-lug bolt with 60° bolt lift. Trigger adjusts from 3-6 pounds, fine for a hunting rifle. According to Wide Open Spaces, the barrel and receiver are finished with Tungsten Cerakote to protect the rig in harsh weather conditions. On Browning’s website, the Browning X-Bolt in 6.8 Western has a $2,469.99 MSRP. At that price, it may make more sense to buy a used X-Bolt rifle and re-barrel it.

“The 6.8 Western cartridge brings a new perspective to long-range hunting and shooting,” said Ryan Godderidge, Senior VP of Sales, Marketing, and Firearms for Browning. “It provides magnum-level performance in our short action rifles, giving the shooter highly effective down-range energy, even at longer ranges, while allowing for a lighter-weight platform.”

Winchester Model 70 in 6.8 Western
6.8 Western cartridge winchester browning X-Bolt Pro hunting .277 WSM

Winchester will release a Model 70 chambered for the 6.8 Western. It will have a 24″ stainless barrel, stainless action with 3-round hinged floor-plate internal magazine. Wide Open Spaces reports: “Right now, it appears the Model 70 Extreme Weather MB is the first 6.8 Western that will roll off their factory floors. The stock is composite with a Pachmayr Decelerator recoil pad. At 44.25″ overall, this rifle is shorter than the Browning X-Bolts, but weighs slightly more at seven pounds even.” Listed MSRP is $1,599.99 for this new 6.8 Western Model 70.

6.8 Western cartridge winchester browning hunting .277 WSM


CLICK HERE for Outdoor Life 6.8 Western article.

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January 14th, 2021

New NRL Hunter Competition Series Kicks Off in February 2021

NRL Hunter competition Championship hunting match

There will be a new NRL competition series in 2021 — NRL HUNTER (NRLH). This will complement the popular NRL tactical series and NRL22 rimfire series. For its inaugural (first-ever) 2021 season, NRL HUNTER will host nine regional hunting matches, followed by the NRL HUNTER Championship — the Grand Slam Finale. The Season Championship will take place August 2-8, 2021 at the Cameo Shooting Complex in Grand Junction, Colorado. The championship match will be directed by NRL HUNTER developer Scott Satterlee and the NRL’s Director of Match Operations.

NRL HUNTER 2021 Series Schedule (Ten Events):

1. Nehawka, Nebraska – February 19-21, 2021
2. Farmington, New Mexico – March 5-7, 2021
3. Arbuckle, California – March 26-28, 2021
4. Mount Pleasant, Tennessee – April 16-18, 2021
5. Laramie, Wyoming – April 23-25, 2021
6. Dupuyer, Montana – May 6-9, 2021
7.Hammett, Idaho – May 21-23, 2021
8. Dalton, New Hampshire – June 25-27, 2021
9. Price, Utah – July 23-25, 2021
10. NRL HUNTER Grand Slam Season Championship
Grand Junction, Colorado – August 2-8, 2021

The first-ever NRL HUNTER match will take place in Nebraska, February 19-21, 2021:
NRL Hunter competition Championship hunting match

NRL HUNTER, a division of National Rifle League (NRL), is a series of competitions for hunters by hunters. It provides a competitive format for new and seasoned hunters to learn about their skills, gear, and local hunting terrains. To participate in matches, hunters must purchase a $100 Annual NRLH membership ($75.00 for Young Guns). For more information, visit NRLHUNTER.org.

NRL HUNTER RULES | NRL HUNTER FAQ | NRL HUNTER MEMBERSHIPS

There will be three gear-based Classes: Open Heavy, Open Light and Factory. In addition there will be separate Ladies and Young Guns divisions.

NRL Hunter competition Championship hunting match

NRL HUNTER’s founders state: “Hunting isn’t merely a hobby or pastime; it is our way of life. For us, it is about community, education, and a strong foundation of ethical harvesting. It is the desire to be the most proficient hunter possible, it is the passion that has driven NRL to develop the NRL HUNTER series[.]”

Bushnell will be the Title Sponsor of the 2021 season of NRL HUNTER. “We are truly honored to have Bushnell on board as our Title Sponsor for the NRL HUNTER Series,” stated Travis Ishida, NRL President. “This is a terrific partnership in which both groups share the same vision and passion for the hunting community.” Since 1948, Bushnell has offered a full line of products for hunters. Bushnell now sells riflescopes, binoculars, rangefinders, spotting scopes, and trail cameras.

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December 24th, 2020

The Attack on Traditional Ammunition — What You Need to Know

hunting fishing wildlife ammo ammunition NSSF

Spending by hunters on their activities helps the economy and funding from hunters helps preserve wildlife. According to the NSSF, sportsmen contribute more than $2.9 billion every year for conservation. And over the last century sportsmen have paid many billions for on-the-ground projects in every state, protecting the natural environment and our fish and wildlife.

hunting fishing wildlife ammo ammunition NSSFhunting fishing wildlife ammo ammunition NSSF

Unfortunately, hunters and hunting are under attack from misguided environmentalists who are seeking to ban hunting in many areas, as well as restrict or even eliminate traditional lead-based ammunition.

The NSSF video above and Infographic below address the issue of traditional ammunition, explaining why the attacks on lead ammo are misguided. Lead pollution is a real issue, but the amount of lead left in the wilderness from hunter’s bullets is miniscule compared to most important causes of lead pollution such as industrial waste and improper disposal of lead-compound batteries. What is REALLY going on, particularly in blue states like California, is that the leftists are attempting to use “green” strategies to advance their anti-gun agenda. This really isn’t about “getting the lead out” — it is about getting rid of guns.

hunting fishing wildlife ammo ammunition NSSF

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December 5th, 2020

Competitive Shooting Can Make You a Better Hunter

Competitive Shooting Hunting Doug Koenig Bruce Piatt

Shooting Sports USA has an article of interest to competitive shooters who also enjoy hunting. This article was authored by Josh Honeycutt, a highly-accomplished hunter. To explain how competitive shooting can improve hunting skills, Honeycutt interviewed two leading pro shooters who both hunt: Doug Koenig and Bruce Piatt. The story outlines eight ways competitive shooting can help develop shooting skills and a mental awareness that will help hunters. Thorough the eight points, the article explains how skills learned in competition can help deliver better results during your hunts.

READ HUNTING ARTICLE HERE »

Competitive Shooting Hunting Doug Koenig Bruce Piatt

competition shooting hunters hunting

free hunting targets

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December 1st, 2020

Reading the Wind When Hunting — Smart Advice from Norway

Norway Hunting Snow

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

How to Gauge Wind Speed and Hold Off Using Reticles

Thomas Haugland long range shooting hunting hunter norway

This field video shows how to observe natural indicators — trees and vegetation — to estimate wind velocity. Then it shows how to calculate hold-offs using the reticle hash-marks. Thomas shoots a fast-cycling Blaser R93 rifle with Norma 6XC ammunition.

More Interesting Videos from Norway
There are many other interesting videos on Haugland’s YouTube Channel, including Game Stalking, Precision Reloading, Shooting Fundamentals and Tips on how to use a Mildot Reticle on a scope with MOA-based clicks.

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November 21st, 2020

Cartridge Comparison Guide Covers 250+ Cartridges

Cartridge Comparison Guide

Cartridge Comparison GuideThe Cartridge Comparison Guide is a remarkably comprehensive 340-page, spiral-bound book. Covering over 250 cartridges, the Second Edition of the Cartridge Comparison Guide is the product of many years of labor by Andrew Chamberlain, a Utah-based hunter. Andrew says his Guide “compares every factory available cartridge from the 17 calibers up to the 50 caliber cartridges”. (Sorry, most wildcat cartridges are not covered.) Chamberlain’s Guide also compiles cartridge data from major ammunition manufacturers such as Barnes, Federal, Hornady, Norma, Nosler, Remington, Sierra, Swift, Weatherby, and Winchester. It shows the optimal velocity achieved for each bullet weight and calculates bullet energy, recoil, and powder efficiency. Large color photos illustrate handgun and rifle cartridges.

The Cartridge Comparison Guide provides data for thousands of cartridge/bullet/velocity combos. Quick reference sheets and ballistics charts cover Trajectory, Velocity, and Energy out to 500 yards. The Cartridge Comparison Guide also offers a firearms lexicon, plus Appendices covering Cartridge Selection for Game Animals, Bullet Selection/Design, Bullet Expansion, and Wound Channel Characteristics.

New Content in Second Edition of Cartridge Comparison Guide
The Cartridge Comparison Guide (Second Edition) costs $29.99 plus shipping and tax. CLICK HERE to visit the Online Store where you can order the 340-page book. Here’s what’s new in the Second Edition:

  • Addition of Shotgun Ammunition (Both Slug and Shot loads).
  • Momentum Calculation for all Rifle, Shotgun and Handgun loads.
  • Integration of Shotgun Slug Ammunition with Center Fire Rifle Data Tables.
  • Factory Load Summary Added (Shows manufacturers and loads produced).
  • One factory load and one hand load for every bullet weight available in each cartridge.
  • Over 90 pages of additional ballistics content (roughly 35% more than in First Edition).

Cartridge Comparison Guide

Great Resource for Hunters
One of Chamberlain’s main goals in creating the Cartridge Comparison Guide was to help hunters select the right cartridge for the job: “This started as a personal project to gather information on the more popular cartridges commonly used for hunting. I wanted to find the best all-around performing cartridge and rifle that a guy on a budget could shoot. I began comparing cartridge performance, versatility, bullet selection, powder efficiency, recoil generation vs. energy produced, standing ballistic data for different environments….”

Black Rifle Cartridge Comparison Guide

The Black Rifle Cartridge Comparison Guide (CCG) was created for semi-auto AR-platform and Modern Sporting Rifle users. The Black Rifle CCG covers virtually all popular rifle, shotgun, and handgun cartridge types used with magazine-fed, semi-automatic black rifles or AR “pistols”. There is information for 50 unique rifle cartridges plus shotgun and handgun cartridges. The book provides ballistics data for all these cartridges via easy-to-use data tables. The tables cover factory ammunition and handloaded cartridges, included the newer .224 Valkyrie.

black rifle cartridge guide book

The data tables compare standardized rifle and handgun cartridges from .17 caliber to up to .50 caliber. The book also provides data for 20-, 16-, and 12-gauge Shotgun cartridges. A handy summary table identifies each rifle cartridge presented and notes if it can be fired from a factory available MSR platform, a semi-custom platform/upper, as well as a semi-custom barrel. This 275-page, spiral-bound book is on sale now for $21.99.

Giant Cartridge Poster for Computer Wallpaper (1665×1080 pixels)
Here’s a great illustration of hundreds of cartridges and shotshell types. For dedicated reloaders, this would work great as desktop “wallpaper” for your computer. CLICK HERE for full-size image.

cartridge poster

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November 6th, 2020

Vortex Offers Resources for Deer Hunters

Vortex whitetail hunting podcast

Vortex has assembled a variety of audio-visual resources to provide hunters with the info and tools they need to accurately sight-in their rifles, locate the right hunting gear, track game successfully, and then harvest and haul their game meat efficiently and safely. Here are two Vortex videos, plus a podcast that can help hunters with their late fall hunts.

How to Mount a Hunting Scope

This video shows, step-by-step, how to mount a scope on a hunting rifle. This explains how to ensure the rifle AND scope are level, and how to secure the rings properly. Then the video explains the best procedure for zeroing the scope at your desired distance.

Vortex Podcast with Hunting Advice from Expert Hunters
Learn to improve your whitetail ground hunting game with the podcast team here. This podcast covers tracking, stalking, equipment selection, hunt safety and many other important topics.

Vortex whitetail hunting podcast

Meat Care After the Shot — Pro Tips
Ryan Lampers of Hunt Harvest Health discusses meat care techniques and tricks to ensure the game you take makes it to your table in the best condition possible. This video covers warm-weather hunts, keeping meet cool, gutting vs. the gutless method, how to take the heart, liver, and rib meat, shot placement, blood-shod meat, and avoiding contaminants. The video also covers all-night pack-outs, loading your pack with meat/gear, meat shelves vs. putting it in your pack, ageing meat, quarters Vs. boning, keeping your pack clean, kill kit items and more. For serious game hunters, this is a must-watch video.

Hunting Optics Selection — Scopes, LRFs, Binoculars
Here are some helpful hints on choosing optics for deer hunting. This Vortex promo piece discusses selection of riflescopes, rangefinders, and binoculars. Article: Choosing Glass to Conquer Whitetail Country.

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October 17th, 2020

How to Have Success on Your Hunt — Tips from Kristy Titus

Kristy Titus NRA Women Hunting guide

Kristy Titus Offers Hunting Tips

As part of NRA Women TV, hunting guide Kristy Titus hosts a series of videos that explain important strategies and shooting skills for hunters. Titus is a certified instructor who has hunted around the globe. She grew up in the outdoors, running pack mules in Oregon with her father. In these videos, Kristy discusses demonstrates field positions that can be employed during a hunt. She also explains preparation for a hunt, including fitness training.

kristy titus video hunting

Shooting Positions and Rifle Support in the Field
Because of interferring terrain features, it’s not common to get a prone shot on game. That’s why hunters nead to practice shooting from various positions. You can use tree limbs or boulders for support (see above). In addition, many hunters bring bipods or tripods to help make that once-in-a-lifetime trophy shot. We have used telescoping Bog-Pod supports on varmint hunts. In this video, Kristy explains various shooting positions and training routines.

Fitness Training — Prepare for the Trek
Kristy explains: “Hunting can lead you into some steep, rough country. It’s really important that you train both your body and your mind to handle the elements and the rigors of hunting. With no two hunting situations being the same, we must train to be adaptable and make the most of every opportunity. The most important aspect of hunting success, ultimately, is the person behind the rifle. So, if you plan on going on a mountain hunt, get out and train your body. Train with your firearm. Get off the bench and have some fun with this. Do some positional shooting or, if you want to add a stress dynamic… have someone put you under a time parameter.”

Kristy Titus NRA Women Hunting guide

“When it comes to bolt-action rifle fit, there is no ‘one size fits all’,” says Titus. “When picking out your rifle [consider options] after the purchase to ensure you are as comfortable as possible.”

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September 30th, 2020

Padded Rifle Fore-Arm Rest Sleeve Is Great for Hunting

RRR gun rest padded neoprene

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.

Key Benefits of the RRR Slip-On Padded Fore-Arm Rest
1. The RRR sleeve cushions your rifle. This helps to keep the shot from going high even when the rifle is placed on a hard surface.
2. The RRR sleeve quiets the gun. The padded, neoprene covering acts like a sound deadener even when you set the gun on a metal frame or hard surface..
3. The RRR protects the finish on the stock of your rifle from scratches when resting on hard surfaces.

RRR gun rest padded neoprene

Video Shows RRR in Use in the Field

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September 26th, 2020

Twenty Tips for Hunters on National Hunting and Fishing Day

hunting safety annual day top 20 tips

Today is National Hunting and Fishing Day. To help the avid hunters among our readers, here are Twenty Tips that can help ensure a safe and successful hunt. These tips have been compiled from our AccurateShooter Hunting Forum, with help from Hunting Editor Colton Reid (who has already been out hunting this month). Some items are preparatory — such as working with maps, sighting in the rifle, and improving physical fitness. We also talk about equipment — having the right gear, from proper boots to a GPS for multi-day hunts.

Of course there are entire volumes written on hunting, but these 20 Tips can benefit all hunters. Follow these suggestions and you should have a safer hunting experience with greater likelihood of success. If you liked these pointers, you’ll find two dozen more helpful hints on the NSSF Website.

hunting fishing day Hunting guide

Preparations Before The Hunt

1. Map Your Hunt and Notify Others — Before your hunt, make a plan and notify friends and family members about WHERE you are going and your intended return date and time. Print out a Google Satellite map and locate landmarks and trailheads. Mark where you plan to park your vehicle and give a copy of this map to friend and/or family members. A hunter may injure himself by falling off a rock, or tumbling in a creek-bed. After that kind of injury the hunter may be confused or unable to walk. If you get stranded in the wilderness, you want trusted persons to know where you are. So, before you leave on a trip, provide a map to a friend or family member. Show them where you will leave your vehicle, and where you expect to be every day of your hunting adventure.

2. Licenses and Permits — Make sure you have a valid hunting licenses and all the necessary tags. Begin this process with ample time before your intended hunt(s). The NSSF adds: “If you are crossing state or national borders, find out about any special considerations you must take care of. Border crossings can mean knowing about firearm transport laws or Chronic Wasting Disease-related regulations.”

3. Work on Your Fitness — On a multi-day hunt you may be trekking many miles. You need to be in good shape. If you are out of shape you may be putting yourself in a precarious situation, particularly if you underestimate the terrain difficulty. As the NSSF says: “Not being able to handle the conditions lessens your chances of success, can turn a great experience into an agonizing one and can endanger your health.”

4. Do Your Homework — Study the area you will be hunting. Talk to other hunters. Look at satellite photos. Get a real sense of the walking and terrain challenges. For a multi-day hunt, MAKE a PLAN. The NSSF states: “Eliminate surprises. Learn as much about where you will be staying, the area you will be hunting, what the weather might be like and what you need to bring[.]”

5. Rifle and Ammo — Make sure your rifle is sighted-in and your ammo is tested. Sight-in your rifle with the ammo you plan to use on your hunt. CLICK HERE for 4-Shot Sight-in Method. After sighting-in from the bench, confirm your zero by shooting from typical hunting positions (kneeling and with forearm supported on a rock or post).

hunting rifle sighting in target

6. Shooting Positions — Practice the shooting positions you will use in the field. Practice sitting, kneeling, and prone positions. You should also practice with shooting sticks, using your day pack as a rest, and with a bipod. Try to have a rock-steady rest before taking your shot.

Hunting Positions

7. Back-Up Irons — If possible, select a rifle with back-up iron sights. While modern scopes are very durable, they can and do fail (glass can crack). If you’ve invested a lot of time and money in your hunt, back-up iron sights can keep you in the game even if your riflescope fails.

8. Communications and GPS — Bring a GPS if you are in a wilderness area far from civilization. It’s a good idea to bring a cell phone, but you may not have coverage if you’re quite a distance from populated areas. A smart-phone also doubles as a digital camera to record your trophies. For navigation and safety, consider getting Garmin inReach Explorer+. This high-tech handheld unit features interactive SOS, connecting you to the GEOS 24/7 search-and-rescue monitoring center. They also allow you to send and receive text messages, no matter where you are, via advanced inReach satellite technology. Yes you can communicate even if you are miles from the nearest cell tower.

9. Select Good Gear — Make sure you have GOOD BOOTS that are comfortable — you’ll spend a lot of time on your feet. You may want a pack with harness for your rifle so you have both hands free. On a multi-day trip, make sure you can carry enough water, and that you will stay warm enough at night. Good practices for backpacking apply to multi-day hunts.

10. Make a Checklist — Create a complete checklist of the gear and supplies you need. That includes arms, ammunition, rangefinder, binoculars, proper clothing (including spare clothes), hunting accessories, sleeping gear (on multi-day hunts), toiletries, medications. Don’t forget a good first aid kit — lots of bad things can happen during any wilderness trip. You can cut a hand, break an ankle or worse.

During The Hunt

11. Have a Plan — know where you plan to go and when. Try to be where you want in the early morning and early evening hours when deer are likely most active.

12. Take Your Time — If you spot a deer and get too excited and don’t take your time you may spook him. Go slow and glass. If possible, wait for the animals to bed down and relax. Then work out the best way to approach your prey. Remember, “You get so few opportunities, don’t screw it up!”

13. Glass More, Walk Less — Let your eyes do the walking — get good binoculars and use them. With their heightened senses of smell and hearing, deer/elk are able to spot you way better than you can spot them. If you are walking around a lot, chances are you are getting spotted by your prey.

14. Riflescopes Are Not Binoculars — Never use a riflescope as a substitute for binoculars. The temptation to do so is real, but when one does this, one is by definition pointing the muzzle of the gun at unknown targets. We like binoculars with built-in rangefinders. When glassing at long range, try supporting your binoculars on your pack.

hunting scopes binoculars Zeiss Colton Reid

15. Be Sure of Your Target before Shooting — Every year during whitetail season, farmers everywhere are forced to spray-paint their cattle or risk having them “harvested” by hunters who don’t bother confirming the species in their sights. Hunters with “buck fever” can make mistakes. When in doubt, don’t shoot.

hunting scope deer rifle

16. Know When to Unload — When finished hunting, unload your firearm before returning to camp. You should also unload your gun before attempting to climb a steep bank or travel across slippery ground.

17. Hearing Protection — While pursuing and stalking your prey you’ll want full sensory use of your ears. But when you’re finally ready to take the shot, slip in hearing protection. A shot from a large-caliber hunting rifle can exceed 170 decibels. Unprotected exposure to noise from a SINGLE 170+ dB shot can cause permanent hearing damage. (Source: ASHA.org). If you make a follow-up shot, you double that noise hazard. Therefore a hunter with a non-suppressed rifle should have hearing protection available.

hunting safety annual day top 20 tips

You can keep a pair of quick-insert plugs on a cord around your neck. Or, get the Howard Leight Quiet Band QB2HYG. This is a plastic ring with earbuds, you can keep around your neck.

hunting safety annual day top 20 tips

“Once a hunter is successful, the REAL work begins.” — Colton Reid

18. Harvesting the Animal — When dressing your animal, be careful with the meat. You’ll want very sharp knives. Some hunters prefer knives with replaceable, razor-sharp blades. Don’t rush the task. Make sure you don’t get moisture or dirt on meat. The three spoilers of meat are heat, moisture, and dirt.

19. Pace Yourself When Packing Out — If you DO succeed, and bring down a big buck, will you be able to dress the animal and carry out the meat? Always be prepared to hike out with extra weight. If you are successful, make sure not to waste the meat you worked so hard for. Choose a pack that can help you carry a heavy load. Remember, this is not an insignificant challenge — you may be carrying 60 to 100 extra pounds in addition to your other gear. Again, take your time. Rest as needed. Don’t hurt yourself.

20. Remember to Enjoy the Experience — Our Hunting Editor, Colton Reid, offers this sage advice to all hunters, but particularly to novices: “Have fun, and appreciate your hunt, whether you bag a buck or not. It is a privilege to experience the wilderness and to get away from the city. Enjoy it while you’re out there. And keep your spirits up. You may get tired, but remember that ‘comes with the territory’. At the end of the day, yes you may be exhausted. And you may want to quit and go home. But stay positive, stay focused. Be patient, the experience is worth it.”

hunting fishing day Hunting guide
CLICK HERE for Hunter Training/Mentoring Programs State-by-State.

Prepare For Your Hunt — Get Fit and Practice Positions

As part of the NRA’s Tips & Tactics video series, Kristy Titus explains how to prepare for a hunt. Titus, co-host of the Team Elk TV show has hunted around the globe. She grew up in the outdoors, running pack mules in Oregon with her father. In this video, Kristy discusses fitness training and demonstrates field positions that can be employed during a hunt.

Kristy explains: “Hunting can lead you into some steep, rough country. It’s really important that you train both your body and your mind to handle the elements and the rigors of hunting So, if you plan on going on a mountain hunt, get out and train your body. Train with your firearm. Get off the bench and have some fun with this. Do some positional shooting or, if you want to add a stress dynamic… have someone put you under a time parameter.”

Visit WhereToHunt.org

There’s a great online resource for hunters that will help you find game locations in your state and ensure you have all the proper permits and game tags. WheretoHunt.org features an interactive map of the country. For all 50 states, the NSSF has compiled information about hunting license and permits, where to hunt, hunter education classes, laws and regulations and more. For each state you’ll also find a link for required applications and license forms.

Click Map to Get State-by-State Hunting INFO
Where to Hunt hunting license game location

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September 25th, 2020

Smarter Glassing for Hunters — Using Binoculars with a Tripod

Vortex Binoculars

With hunting season underway (or coming up soon), we know that many readers will be out in the field — with a set of binoculars. On most game hunts, you’ll speed a lot more time glassing with binocs than looking through your riflescope. With wide field of view and extended low-light capability, a good set of binoculars will be your most important game-finder. And with premium LRF binoculars, such as the new Vortex Fury, one tool serves both for spotting and laser ranging.

“Without the stabilization of your binoculars [provided by] a tripod … you will be missing a majority of the game you are glassing for.” — Outdoorsmans.com

In this article, Vortex Optics’ Mark Boardman, an experienced hunter, explains the benefits of using a tripod with high-magnification binoculars. Everybody knows that powerful spotting scopes work best when mounted to a stable tripod or otherwise secured to a steady mount. Yet when most folks use binoculars, they never even think of using a tripod, despite the fact that tripod adapters are available for many premium binoculars.

Vortex Binoculars


» READ FULL ARTICLE with More Tips for Hunters

Vortex BinocularsOutdoorsmans Tripod Adapters
Outdoorsmans.com sells tripod adapters for various kinds of binoculars. These really work: “Mounting your binoculars to a quality tripod is a must for the serious western hunter. Without the stabilization of your binoculars [by] mounting them to a tripod … you will be missing a majority of the game you are glassing for.”

A serious hunter should learn how to glass with tripod support, using methods outlined here. With binoculars offering more that 8X magnification, you can really benefit from a steady mount. You’ll be amazed at the difference the tripod will make.

Story tip by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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September 22nd, 2020

Hunting Safety Checklist — Be Safe on Your Annual Hunt

Hunting Safety Checklist family safe hunter
Elk Hunt with Horn Fork Guides, Ltd., in Colorado.

Next Saturday, September 26, 2020, is National Hunting & Fishing Day. The annual celebration takes place on the the 4th Saturday of September every year. 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.

colorado elk hunting winter hunter

Hunting Safety Checklist
A good hunt begins with preparation. And during the hunt, safety is a key priority. To help hunters, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) has created a Safety Checklist for hunters. This Hunting Safety Checklist, produced as part of the NSSF’s “Hunt S.A.F.E.” campaign, helps hunters follow good, safe practices in the field and at home.


Download NSSF Hunting Safety Checklist »


hunting safety day checklist

Hunting Safety Checklist family safe hunter

Father/son hunting photo courtesy SportsmansGuide.com. Elk photo courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

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September 13th, 2020

The Successful Hunt — Tips & Tactics with Kristy Titus

Kristy Titus hunter hunting video bipod shooting position

As part of NRA Women TV, hunting guide Kristy Titus hosts a series of videos that explain important strategies and shooting skills for hunters. Titus, co-host of the Team Elk TV show, is a certified instructor who has hunted around the globe. She grew up in the outdoors, running pack mules in Oregon with her father. In these videos, Kristy discusses demonstrates field positions that can be employed during a hunt. She also explains preparation for a hunt, including fitness training.

Click each link below to watch other Kristy Titus Hunting Videos.

Kristy Titus hunter hunting video bipod shooting position

Kristy Titus preparing for hunt positional shooting hunter hunting video bipod shooting position

Kristy Titus follow up shots hunter hunting video bipod shooting position

Kristy Titus hunter hunting video bipod shooting ethical shots position

Kristy Titus hunter hunting video bipod shooting position

“When it comes to bolt-action rifle fit, there is no ‘one size fits all’,” says Titus. “When picking out your rifle [consider options] after the purchase to ensure you are as comfortable as possible.”

Kristy Titus hunter hunting video bipod shooting position

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September 12th, 2020

Resources for Hunting Season and Safety Tips

hunting safety 2019 checklist hunter license
Hunting Season has already started in some states, and is right around the corner in other locations. For readers who plan to hunt game this fall, we recommend you brush up on hunter safety and learn the laws in your jurisdiction. Here are some helpful resources for hunters: Safety Tips, Hunter Education, License Requirements, and Where-to-Hunt interactive map. Top photo courtesy Horn Fork Guides, Ltd., in Colorado.

Visit WhereToHunt.org

There’s a great online resource for hunters that will help you find game locations in your state and ensure you have all the proper permits and game tags. WheretoHunt.org features an interactive map of the country. For all 50 states, the NSSF has compiled information about hunting license and permits, where to hunt, hunter education classes, laws and regulations and more. For each state you’ll also find a link for required applications and license forms.

Where to hunt hunting license state information NSSF

Click Map to Get State-by-State Hunting INFO
Where to Hunt hunting license game location

Hunter Safety Tips
NRAFamily.org has a good article listing six salient safety tips for hunters. Anyone preparing for a fall hunt should read this article before heading into the field. Here are three key bits of advice:

1. Be Positive of Your Target before Shooting
This might sound overly simplistic, but the fact remains that, every year during whitetail season, farmers everywhere are forced to spray-paint their cattle or risk having them “harvested” by hunters who don’t bother confirming the species of the large ungulate in their sights. Why does this happen? The most likely explanation is “buck fever,” meaning that the hunter wants so badly to see a nice big buck that sometimes his eyes deceive him into thinking that there’s one there. When in doubt, don’t shoot.

2. Scopes Are Not Binoculars
Never use a riflescope as a substitute for binoculars. The temptation to do so is real, but when one does this, one is by definition pointing the muzzle of the gun at unknown targets.

3. Know When to Unload
When finished hunting, unload your firearm before returning to camp. You should also unload your gun before attempting to climb a steep bank or travel across slippery ground.

Hunting Affiliation Groups
There are many good organizations dedicated to promoting hunting and preserving our hunting habitats. These groups all offer valuable information for hunters:

Ducks Unlimited
Mule Deer Foundation
National Wild Turkey Federation
Pheasants Forever
Quail Forever
Rabbits Unlimited
Safari Club International
Squirrels Umlimited
Varmint Hunters Association
Whitetails Unlimited
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