Hunting Tips

Long-range ctgs:  Left to right, 7mm RSAUM, .270 WSM, .270 Winchester, 7mm Remington Magnum, 7mm Weatherby Magnum, 7mm STW, 7mm RUM.  These are just a few of the many cartridges that might be considered excellent for open-country hunting, and you could include the fast .30s, which I use a lot.  It is impossible to love them all equally, and for me the .270 WSM stands out as offering exceptional performance in a wonderfully tidy package.

MY FAVORITE (NEW) MAGNUM

I grew up in what we used to call the magnum craze, the late 1950s and on through the 60s when every new cartridge wore a belt and was called a “magnum.” Some were flops, but this era produced some of our most popular cartridges, including the 7mm Remington Magnum and .300 Winchester Magnum. Starting in about 1998 I think we went into a second magnum craze. In a brief period we have seen: Four long Remington Ultra Mags and two short Remington Short Action Ultra Mags; four Winchester Short Magnums and three Winchester Super Short Magnums; and now two Ruger Compact Magnums. All of these are fat-cased unbelted cartridges. Weatherby brought out the huge-cased .30-.378 and .338-.378 Weatherby Magnum, both belted cartridges.Read more
Steve Hornady, right, is one of the many devoted fans of the .280 Remington.  Over the years he has used it to take most of his mountain game, including this excellent Dagestan tur from Azerbaijan.

CLASSIC CARTRIDGE: .280 REMINGTON

As standard cartridges go the .280 Remington has one of the oddest histories. Based on the .30-06 case necked down to take a 7mm, or .284-inch bullet, the cartridge was introduced in 1957. It has never had enough sales to support an extensive variety of factory loads, yet those who use it generally swear by it. It is thus almost a cult cartridge, supported by a relatively small group who worship at its shrine. Among them have been some of America’s most astute riflemen. It is the favorite hunting cartridge of Jim Carmichel, longtime Shooting Editor at Outdoor Life, used for an amazing variety of game. Steve Hornady of Hornady Manufacturing has used it to take the majority of the mountain game he loves to hunt.Read more
Yes, this is a sheep hunter’s Holy Grail, a big Marco Polo argali, taken in the Pamir Mountains of Tajikistan in 2003.  These hunts are expensive but, shockingly, not as costly as many North American sheep hunts.

THE POWER OF THE CURL

Many years ago I invited my then boss to join me in one of my secret public land hotspots for wild hogs. I’ll never forget how he looked down his nose at me and sneered, “No thanks. I’m not much of pig hunter,” as if that was the lowest life form on Earth. This fellow was a widely experienced hunter who I admired greatly…at least until that moment. You see, by his own description he was a sheep hunter, which is either the greatest snobbery, or the greatest addiction, in our hunting world. Perhaps both.Read more
Given adequate gun weight the .416s aren’t all that bad, but I would never tell anyone they’re a lot of fun to shoot off the bench.  This is the .416 Ruger in the Ruger Hawkeye, and it’s obviously quite a handful from a static bench position.

.416 REVOLUTION

Resurrected by Ruger and Federal in 1988, it’s an article of faith today that the .416 Rigby was one of the most popular of the British big bores. Historical records do not bear this out. Introduced in about 1911, the .416 Rigby was long held as a proprietary cartridge by the British firm of John Rigby. This means that they had a monopoly on both rifles and ammunition. The rifles were more or less custom made, and the ammo was expensive.Read more
I’ve long been a fan of aperture sights on dangerous game rifles:  They are faster and more visible than traditional open sights.  This is my .404 Jeffery built by Gun Creations in Lubbock, Texas.  The aperture sight is just perfect for such a rifle.

OPTICAL SIGHT OPTIONS

Among American hunters open sights are almost obsolete. As I’ve written before, I genuinely believe they have their purposes—but they are very limited. It’s axiomatic that you can’t hit something if you can’t see it, and telescopic sights, rifle scopes, enable you to see better. Telescopic rifle sights have been in common use since the 1950s, and almost universal during my entire hunting career (which started in the 1960s).Read more
The .264 Winchester Magnum was conceived as an ideal “western” hunting cartridge, ideal in open country. Although it hasn’t been popular for many years, it’s still a great mule deer cartridge. Boddington’s .264 accounted for this fine Wyoming buck in 2007.

THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT THE 6.5MM

The 6.5mm, caliber .264, never popular in the United States, has remained a European standby since the first military cartridges in that bullet diameter made their appearance in the early 1890s. I’m not generally reactionary by nature, but I’ve long had a soft spot for the 6.5mm. This is not altogether rational.Read more
This fantastic giant eland, taken in Cameroon in early March 2008, is probably my very best African trophy.  We were lucky to catch a glimpse of this great bull the first time we hit the herd, so we stayed with them until he offered a shot.

AFRICA’S TOUGHEST: LORD DERBY’S GIANT ELAND

At the peak of the midafternoon heat we took a break in the shade and drank some water. About six that morning we’d picked up the tracks where we left them the night before. By now I’d lost track of how many times we’d hit the herd, failed to get a shot, and had watched them break into their ground eating trot, vanishing in a cloud of dust. We were in northern Cameroon, and these were Central African giant eland, Lord Derby’s eland.Read more
The 7mm Remington Magnum, left, introduced in 1962; and the .300 Winchester Magnum, right, introduced in 1963, rank respectively and the most popular and second-most popular magnum cartridges in the world, both achieving this position on merit.

CLASSIC CARTRIDGE: 7MM REMINGTON MAGNUM

Roy Weatherby was a savvy gun guy. He was also a marketing genius and a true zealot who believed in his theories about high velocity and his own cartridges that produced them. In the postwar era the belted cartridges that bore his name began making serious inroads into the staid American firearms industry. He made the majors nervous, and they responded with their own cartridges bearing the suddenly popular “magnum” suffix. Winchester led the charge, first introducing the .458 Winchester Magnum in 1956, following in 1958 with the .264 and .338 Winchester Magnums. They completed their quarter of short magnums in 1963 with the .300 Winchester Magnum, all based on the .300 H&H case shortened to .30-06 length (nominally 2.5 inches), necked appropriately with body taper removed.Read more
Thought must be given to exactly how you’re going to get your pig from where you shoot it to the nearest road.  I was a lot younger when I did it this way!

GOING HOG WILD

In just a few hours it would be a hot July morning, but a pleasantly cool dawn was just breaking when we took a stand on a ridge. In the early morning the pigs would work their way up from the irresistible barley fields in the broad valleys below, headed toward thick chaparral bedding areas in the higher hills behind us. In theory our ridge straddled a movement corridor, and we would soon see pigs.Read more
I used Trijicon’s 5-20X mil-dot reticle on a recent hunt in Pakistan. I had done my homework and knew the values for both the mil-dot and the turret adjustments, and I was ready for shots at longer ranges.

SCOPE RETICLES

Okay, the word is actually “reticule.” You won’t get the word “reticle” to come up on your spell-check. But over the years, in our little world, we’ve shortened it to “reticle.” Whatever you call it, it is the arrangement of aiming point or points that you see when you look through your riflescope.Read more

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