By Al Voth
It’s SHOT Show time again, and I’m in Las Vegas with 60,000 of my closest friends trying to find out what’s new for predator and varmint hunters in 2014. The hunt for info will go on all week and it can get as exhausting as tracking a coyote through 3 feet of snow. In the first couple of days, I’ve managed to scope out some goodies.
Rifles For The .17 Winchester Super Magnum
You’ll recall that Winchester introduced the .17 Winchester Super Magnum rimfire round last year. It made waves as the hottest rimfire on the market. That ammo has been making its way into stores, but rifles have been in short supply with a budget-priced Savage bolt-action as the only choice. Winchester has seen fit to add an elegant single shot to our choices and the 1885 Low Wall is being chambered in the .17 WSM. With an octagon barrel, sweet trigger and classic lines, this is a beautiful rifle. And for popping things like burrowing rodents, a single-shot is all a guy needs.
If you need more shots, then consider the Volquartsen semiauto chambered for the .17 WSM. Like all guns from this firm, it absolutely oozes quality and is guaranteed to shoot 1/2-inch groups at 100 yards with factory ammo. That kind of performance will cost you, with the price tag coming in around $1,800 for the basic version. The first production run is expected to ship in about 4 months.
Primos Dog Catcher E-caller
Primos is introducing a new entry level e-caller called the Dog Catcher. I love the name and the caller looks like it should fill the role of a basic unit that’s priced around the $100 mark. It will come with a fixed 12-sound menu, is powered by AA batteries, has a 150-yard remote and can even play two sounds at once. For a hunter who doesn’t want to drop 5 bills for a full-featured caller, this caller looks like it should do the job. I’m told it’ll be on store shelves around mid-summer, in plenty of time for putting the smack down on fall predators.
I always say the best place to hunt coyotes is close to a dead cow. Now, just in case you don’t have a dead cow handy, Hunter’s Specialties has a substitute. They call it Bait ’N Blast and tell me it’s essentially 3 pounds of dehydrated animal parts. Just add 3 quarts of water and you have an MRE for coyotes. Apparently it smells pretty bad, which is exactly what you need to attract predators, so don’t mix it in the kitchen. They’ve tried it on hogs, too, and it works there as well. This is already on some store shelves and priced at $8-$10 a bag.
That prolific builder of modern sporting rifles, DPMS, has come up with some major improvements to the .308 Winchester version of the AR. The model I like is called the GII Hunter and is pictured below. This second-generation version has been extensively re-engineered to make it lighter, more reliable and provide better compatibility to standard .223 caliber parts and accessories. It weighs-in at only 7 3/4 pounds with a 20-inch barrel, meaning it should carry easily on steep hills or deep snow. With a Magpul MOE stock, Hogue grip and carbon fibre free float tube, it looks good, too. The price will be around $1,600.
Caldwell Chair Pod
Caldwell was showing a lot of neat stuff at the show, but one thing that caught my eye was their Chair Pod. As you can see in the photo, it’s a chair with a rifle support system attached. This should work great for plinking at ground squirrels or prairie dogs. I know some elderly shooters who have limited mobility, but still like to get out into the rodent fields; this product gives them an option other than a full-blown bench-rest setup. I’m also thinking it’ll be better than going prone with the rattlesnakes and biting bugs. The price is around $200.