Hunting Tips

Grizzly bears are extremely omnivorous, but they are also very effective predators. In Arctic Alaska one of a bear’s first actions upon coming out of hibernation is to kill a moose. He’ll cover the kill, and then lay on it for several days.

GREAT GAME ANIMALS: THE HUMPED-BACKED BEAR

The bald eagle is America’s icon, without question a regal bird. Benjamin Franklin’s preference was the wild turkey, a choice that today’s turkey hunters would no doubt approve. Legend, or at least Hollywood, has it that Theodore Roosevelt thought the grizzly bear was a better choice. True or not, I vote with Teddy! To me the grizzly bear is the ultimate symbol of the American wilderness, and North America’s ultimate game animal.Read more
If you are going to use iron sights at all—or think you might—then you must commit the time required for serious practice.  Most of us today grew up with scopes, and we don’t wake up in our middle years and find sudden proficiency with iron sights.

SCOPES OR IRON SIGHTS?

Ken Elliott and I had an argument regarding iron sights that ran for years. Ken, my long-time boss, believed strongly that a centerfire hunting rifle should wear iron sights in addition to a scope, preferably with detachable mounts. I never agreed. Only once in my hunting career have I removed a scope in favor of iron sights (more about that later).Read more
This young bushbuck ram perched on termite mound near our camp in central Tanzania and watched us for hours. With chestnut and white on the legs and white patterning on the body, this is an exceptionally colorful bushbuck.

AFRICA’S WHITETAIL, THE BUSHBUCK

Okay, so I didn’t really know what a “bushbuck” was the first time I went to Africa. Most hunters probably don’t. Obviously, it’s some kind of buck that lives in thick bush, right? The bushbuck, Tragelaphus scriptus, is actually the smallest member of the group of spiral-horned antelope, and is very possibly the most widespread of all of Africa’s antelopeRead more
The .300 Winchester Magnum, left, shown with the .300 H&H and .300 Weatherby Magnum.  Introduced in 1963 as the replacement for the old-fashioned .300 H&H, the .300 Win. Mag. is faster than the H&H, but not as fast as the .300 Weatherby Magnum.  It is also much more available, and develops noticeably less recoil.

CLASSIC CARTRIDGE: .300 WINCHESTER MAGNUM

Introduced in 1963, the .300 Winchester Magnum was the last of Winchester’s family of standard-length belted magnums, following the .458 Winchester Magnum (1956) and the .264 and .338 Winchester Magnums (1958). All were based on the .375 H&H case, shortened to (more or less) .30-06 length and necked to caliber. The .300 Winchester Magnum would become the most popular of all.Read more
My 2003 ram is one of the good ones, with heavy horns and a very deep curl.

MARCO POLO'S ARGALI

The year was probably 1272 when Venetian traveler Marco Polo first encountered the wild sheep with the fantastically curling horns that, more than 700 years later, still bears his name. This meeting almost certainly took place in the Pamir Mountains of Central Asia, a range of high valleys and rocky ridges that lead from present-day Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan into western China. For Marco Polo, this “roof of the world” offered a potential trade route to the Orient. For today’s naturalists and sportsmen, the Pamirs, plus a small slice of northeastern Pakistan, define the range of the most coveted of the world’s wild sheep, the Marco Polo argali.Read more
I took this Pyrenean chamois in Spain in 2005.  It was a tough hunt, but I missed two shots

CHAMOIS: THE SMALLEST GOAT

Depending on which authority you adhere to, there are eight or nine varieties of chamois from northwestern Spain to Russia’s Caucasus, plus Alpine chamois introduced to New Zealand’s Southern Alps. The genus is Rupicapra, aptly translated as “rock goat,” with both males and females growing very similar horns (like our Rocky Mountain goat, to which the chamois are distantly related).Read more
A spectacular greater kudu, taken in Namibia by Jim Morey, left, with professional hunter Dirk de Bod, right.  This is a big bull with incredibly tall horns—but even this amazing kudu doesn’t reach the magical 60-inch mark.

AFRICAN GAME PROFILE: THE GREATER KUDU

The greater kudu is probably the second-most recognized of the hundred-plus African antelope. Thanks to Chevrolet the much more common impala is probably the most recognizable, but there’s a big difference. If you’re hunting in an area where impala occur you will probably take one, and he’ll give you a nice trophy—but the impala will be taken along the way, perhaps for camp meat, maybe for leopard bait. He will rarely be hunted specifically, and is almost never near the top of a hunter’s “wish list.” The greater kudu is almost always near the top!Read more
: Caroline and Craig Boddington set up to wait for a pig over a waterhole. This is a very good evening technique, but it assumes an undisturbed area with plenty of pig sign around the water.

LET'S GO PIG HUNTING!

My 15-year-old cheerleader daughter, Caroline, has been going to the range with me for several years, and she did her hunter safety course quite a while back…but she hasn’t really expressed much interest in actually going hunting. So I was pretty surprised when, just the other day, she announced that she’d like to give it a try. It was spring break, so we made a couple of trips to the range to make sure she really was ready—and I made a couple of phone calls. The next week, thanks to the long late spring daylight, we went after school with my old friend August Harden and she got her first big game animal, a California wild hog.Read more
Donna and Brittany Boddington with Brittany’s huge mountain zebra, taken in Namibia with the little 7mm-08.  Shot placement counts, of course, but this little cartridge performs much better than its mild recoil and paper ballistics seem to suggest.

BEST FOR BEGINNERS

The first big game I ever shot was taken in 1965 with a .243 Winchester. The rifle was a first-year production of what would quickly come to be known as the “post-‘64” Model 70, topped with a fixed 4X Unertl scope. I thought it was a pretty trick setup, and it worked just fine for me! Actually, it was a pretty darned good rifle. The much-reviled post-’64 Model 70 worked just fine and shot straight. Those fixed-power Unertl scopes weren’t anything like the quality of their famous target scopes, but it also worked just fine—and in those days a fixed 4X scope was pretty much standard for big game.Read more
British Columbia outfitter Mike Hawkridge and the author with Boddington’s most recent Rocky Mountain goat, taken at the tail end of a typically difficult goat hunt, requiring lots of climbing and just one opportunity.

GETTING YOUR GOAT

The Rocky Mountain goat ranks as one of North America’s most under-rated game animals. The wild sheep he shares much of his domain with—bighorns in the south, Dall and Stone sheep in the north—get most of the glory. I suppose this is because North America’s wild goat got cheated in the horn department, carrying short, thick, beautifully curved daggers rarely approaching a foot in length, while the wild sheep carry those gorgeous curling horns up to four times the length.Read more

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