Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Upping the Ante with a 300 Win Mag

Hunters have been planning what they would like to hunt this year for months. I have had deer and bear on the brain for months, but I have also been on a different mission. I have also had hunting sheep on the brain. I decided last year that I wanted to expand my range a bit for hunting. What do I mean exactly? I needed wanted to customize a rifle for long range shooting. Pennies were saved, reviews read, manufacturers contacted, and I came to the conclusion that if it isn't broke, don't fix it. I have been shooting Remington all my life and I saw no reason to switch. My decision was easy on which rifle to purchase - the Remington 700 SPS 300 Win Mag. This was the rifle for me and the rifle that was going to be able to reach out and drop an animal in one shot.

After I purchased my rifle from Bass Pro Shops, the first thing I did was investigate my stock options. No, not my retirement funds, but rifle stocks. I love Remington rifles, but the synthetic stock is hollow and feels cheap. I narrowed down to three stocks, but one stood out to me more than the others. I made the decision and purchased the Blackhawk Axiom Ultra-Lite rifle stock. When it arrived, I spent some time reading the provided information and directions for mounting the 300 WM barrel. As I began installing the barrel, I noticed the anchor bolts were not lining up. I tried over and over and finally contacted Blackhawk. The customer service team at Blackhawk was awesome and patient. I relayed my problem and my thoughts. They informed me that for some reason, the stock that was provided was for a short-action rifle, even though I had ordered the long-action stock. The Blackhawk team had a new one boxed and shipped out to me right away. No questions asked, just great service. I am still impressed at how well they handled everything. Once I verified the correct fit, I shipped the short-action back. After that, the biggest issue I had was that the barrel didn't seat into the stock as easy as it should have. The barrel bracket was hitting and not allowing for the barrel to drop in. With a few minutes of coercion from my Dremel tool and some filing, the barrel dropped in nicely! I anchored the bolts and loved the feel of everything and it looked very cool.

Black is my color for dress pants, but not for rifle stocks, especially ones I want for hunting. This was one more thing I had been researching for weeks. I knew I wanted to have Utah Hydrographics dip the stock for me and I knew exactly what pattern I wanted. As a member of the Badlands Operative Pro Staff, I asked my fearless leader if he would give the OK to have my stock dipped in the new Badlands Approach camo pattern. With his approval, I made the arrangements with Utah Hydrographics and worked out all of the details. Those guys have great customer service, too! They got back to me really quickly and answered every question I had. I shipped the stock and began following up on my other research.

While waiting for my stock to be dipped and returned, I had two more components I needed to make decisions on. With a 300 WM, I needed a scope that was not only high quality, but that would allow me to reach out and touch something from a great distance. With my involvement on the MINOX Adventure Team I was shared some info on the ZX5 rifle scopes before they were released. Emails to our team leaders were sent with questions, limitations, and availability. For me, the ZX5i 5-25x56 SF was my number one choice. Read the specifications and you'll understand why. It would be a few weeks before I would receive my scope choice, but with having to wait for my stock to be dipped I knew I had time. In that time, I would need to purchase some new scope rings and mounts.

Warne Scope Mounts was not a name I was familiar with at the time, but one day while going through my Instagram feed, I saw an article posted from regarding lapping your rings and if it was needed. I was intrigued and read the article from start to finish. It was informative and exactly what I needed to hear. After a few messages back and forth, I knew my decision had been made for me. I ordered the bases for the Remington and the 30mm rings to accommodate my MINOX scope. These rings would be a vertically split instead of the typical horizontal split. The vertical split has many advantages over the horizontal, in my humble opinion.

My scope and rings arrived at nearly the same time, but still no stock due to Utah Hydrographics being backlogged and also having issues with my stock. You see, my stock was shipped in four pieces and each one had to be dipped in an odd way for proper coverage. The guys were completely honest with me and said it would be a couple more weeks. Being in no hurry, I waited patiently, but I'd be lying if I said I was eager to see the finished product! True to their word, my stock was completed under two weeks. When the UPS man dropped a box on my doorstep, I nearly jumped from my chair knowing exactly what was being delivered. true to their word, the stock was completed and it looked like it had been a pain to do, but they did it! I put it all back together and began my rifle assembly.

The reassembly took some time as I like to be precise. After checking the action to be sure the rifle wasn't loaded, I began. The bases, scope rings, and scope mount went on with ease. Everything fit perfectly! After leveling my scope, I noticed something that I hadn't caught prior to me having my stock dipped. The bolt action worked great, but the bolt wouldn't come all the way back due to hitting the inch wide lip of the stock. I was pretty miffed at myself at first, but that quickly dissipated. To remedy the situation, my trusty Dremel tool was charged up and I slowly removed enough of the lip to allow the bolt to fully extend out. Success!

Now, with the rifle fully assembled and ready to shoot, I now have plans to head out to sight it in with some friends from work. I need to use full copper ammunition, due to California regulation, but I am ready to move forward. This is going to be a great year for hunting and the Remington 700 SPS 300 WM is going to help me fill my freezer!

Friday, April 8, 2016

2016 California Big Game Hunting Digest!

Image provided by CA Fish and Wildlife

Time to do some reading and planning over the weekend. The coveted 2016 California Big Game Hunting Digest is out with updated information. There is continued information on harvest reporting and repeated information on lead free hunting. The license fees did not change this year. Licenses go on sale April 15, 2015 (but you must submit you choices by June 2 to be included in the draw) and I hope this give you time to really look them over.

Personal decisions must be made. How much time do you want to hunt vs. how much time will you have? Do you have the funds? If so, put in for a good tags or tags! Do you have children that will accompany you and will they be hunting? 

Don't wait and do not hesitate! Do your research, ask the biologists, and get those weapons ready to hunt! Do plenty of scouting, practice, and get those trail cameras up.

At the end of the day, YOU must ultimately decide. Not your buddies or what everyone tells you online. Review the options carefully and best of luck drawing that tag or tags!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Old Bowhunter Learns a New Trick

A couple years ago, after some long research, I talked with Mark from Sole Adventure, about using a thumb release vs. my wrist release. We discussed the pros and cons, but he recommended I give it a shot. Despite my reluctance, I tried a thumb release and didn't care for it. I couldn't get comfortable with the release I was using, so I simply went back to my wrist release. Last year, I spoke with him again and he encouraged me to give it another shot, but this time I chose a different release. I have been using the Scott Archery releases for years, so I purchased a Scott Exxus, the same that Mark uses, and began shooting with it. He had much success with it and this time I decided I wouldn't give up so easily this time.

Over the course of a few days, I felt myself falling into the same drab style of frustration and irritation. I could not get comfortable shooting it. What was I doing wrong? Why was this so difficult? I went back and adjusted the trigger, rotated the thumb piece to fit my hand perfectly and tried again. After a dozen shots, I was shooting left by 2-3 inches every time. I knew my anchor was off and that I needed adjustment in my form. Back to the drawing board I went. I videoed my form, release, and then made some adjustments. Same result. Over, and over, and over. Back to the wrist release I went for a week or so.

A few weeks ago, I started shooting with the Exxus again and loved the feel and accuracy, even if I was three inches left. It was a consistent three inches left. I studied my form and found that was fine, but the consistency in my arrows showed me I was being repetitive, which was good. It meant I could fix it. I double checked my stance and that was fine, too. Then came the moment when I shot over the weekend and robin hooded an arrow. Eureka! So I tested what I thought was my issue and shot another round at 5 different targets. I hit every one of them. Low-and-behold I found the issue!

It turns out I was holding the release wrong! So I found the proper grip, anchored properly, and shot some more. It worked like a charm. I am not out of the woods yet though. Now the key will be to find that same point over and over for the next few weeks until it becomes second nature. It's a challenge for sure. We older bow hunters are far from perfect. Take the time to learn something new and work hard at it. You might surprise yourself like I did.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Random Drawing for Alaska Dall Sheep Hunt!

Reposted with permission from the CA WSF.
The California Chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation is having a Random Drawing for Alaska Dall Sheep Hunt!

I have been thinking about hunting sheep for about a year now. 
In fact, one of my bucket list items is to hunt Dall Sheep in Alaska. 
Now is a perfect opportunity to buy some raffle tickets! ~ Al Q.

Whether you love hunting Dall sheep -- or you need a Dall sheep to complete your "FNAWS" (Four North American Wild Sheep) -- don't miss your chance to participate in this random drawing for a 2017 exclusive Wrangell-St Elias National Preserve 10-day guided hunt for Alaska Dall Sheep.

Drawing will be held April 30, 2016. You do NOT need to be present to win. GET YOUR TICKETS TODAY! $20 FOR 1 CHANCE; $100 FOR 6 CHANCES.

This hunt is donated by Paul and Donna Claus of Ultima Thule Outfitters and will be personally guided by Alaskan Guide/Outfitter Donald C. Martin, a CA WSF Director.

Grand prize in this random drawing is a 1x1, fully guided 10-day hunt for Dall sheep with Ultima Thule Outfitters (UTO). The hunt will take place on Ultima Thule's exclusive federal concession within Wrangell-St. Elias National Preserve, bordered on one side by Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and on the other by world famous Kluane National Reserve in the Yukon.

The drawing does not include commercial flights to/from Anchorage. The winner is responsible for the nonresident license (85.00) and sheep tag (about $510) and available in advance on the internet. You can add black bear tag and wolf tag as well since there is some overlap in areas. Also not included are the standard processing, shipping, taxidermy, personal items, and gratuities. It does include transportation to and from Anchorage to the lodge, all meals and lodging, and field dressing plus guiding. 

Paul and Donna Claus have built a strong reputation based not only on success, but also on quality. Thanks to strict management of the resource, the Dall sheep of the Wrangells are allowed to reach their true trophy potential.

This hunt is an excellent opportunity to experience one of the most spectacular regions in Alaska while in pursuit of one of North America's most majestic big-game animals, the Dall sheep. Special thanks to Paul and Donna Claus for their continued support of wild sheep.

There is no limit to how many tickets you can buy! Proceeds will go to support CA WSF's outstanding work on behalf of California's Desert Bighorn Sheep as we continue PUTTING AND KEEPING SHEEP ON THE MOUNTAINS.

You do NOT need to be present to win!

13th Annual Fundraiser and Banquet 
April 30, 2016 
3pm - 11pm 
Marriott Rancho Cordova 
11211 Point East Drive 
Rancho Cordova, CA 95742

Buy your raffle tickets and then get super pumped for sheep hunting by watching the videos on the Sheep Shape Facebook page. I've watched a couple and I am indeed stoked!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Improving the Odds and Increasing Opportunity

This blog has been dedicated to hunting ever since I started it. The main focus was bow hunting and getting more people involved. As I have lived in California now for ten years and learned many of the ways of the people, the laws, and the areas to hunt, I decided last year I would start hunting with a firearm again. There are many reasons why I wanted to focus on bow hunting for six years, but it was a personal choice. Late last year, I decided I wanted to purchase a new rifle. It had to have knock-down power, longer range capability, and needed to be something I would really enjoy shooting. After much research, I realized the only way I could accomplish this was to put together my own rifle.

My rifle build has become an interesting one. I found the base rifle online that I wanted to purchase, but my local Bass Pro didn't have it in stock. I sent some emails and the fine folks at BPS had it in before I knew it! Last Saturday, the family and I went to Bass Pro Shops in Rancho Cucamonga to pick up my new weapon. The girls were nearly as excited as was. Not for me picking up my rifle, but for the boats, the toys, the food, and the atmosphere. I wanted to pick up my rifle, but also sit in on Steven Lenoir's Trail Camera Seminar. Traffic was crazy on the way up and we made it just in time for the seminar to start. Lucky for me, no one had sat down yet, so I introduced myself to Steven and we began talking about everything hunting. After his seminar and swapping stories for a while, I made my way over to the firearms counter.

I waited in line to pick up my rifle and spent some time checking out ammunition, gadgets, and sidearms. When my number was called, I sauntered to the counter and proceeded to have a great conversation with Larry, who had helped me with my initial paperwork a few weeks prior. He has great customer service skills and is quite a jokester. Plus, he is efficient and makes the process go smooth. Thanks for the great conversation and service Larry!

Once the rifle was home, I weighed my options and reveled in my new purchase. Now starts the breakdown and build of my new hunting rifle. What did I get? Well, I'll be sharing that in due time, but I am videoing the process and making some modifications to allow this rifle to accommodate me. I have done plenty of research on stocks, mods, scopes, etc. Now comes the fun part!