While predator season can be a year-long event, fur hunters limit themselves to a specific season. That’s usually my case. While I’ll take care of problem animals whenever the need arises, my season doesn’t start until the fur gets prime. Around my neck of the woods in Alberta, that’s early November, which means there’s not much time left to get ready. Let’s take a couple of posts to look at getting gear ready for that rapidly approaching season. Do you know how to choose reliable predator hunting ammo?
If you shoot only factory fodder, things are as simple as purchasing what you need. However, if you’re serious about accuracy, you should be buying ammo from within the same lot number. This is the only way to ensure consistency. Ammunition companies can and do change their load “recipes” in ways that are invisible to the consumer. It’s all as safe and accurate as they can make it, but there could be changes in powder, primer or bullet specs that can only be eliminated if the same lot number is used. I’ve seen factory ammo undergo complete powder changes, switching from an extruded stick powder to a ball type. It’s always been that way, and I suspect it might be even more prevalent now, as the ammo companies have been hit by powder shortages, too, and I’m sure substitutions are being made to get product out the door.
For handloaders including myself, it’s a little more complicated because we need to develop our own recipes—and the only way to do that is through experimentation. I often end up testing new bullets or powders, and that means investing some time at the loading bench and at the range to make sure the loads are as safe and accurate as I can build them. Once I’m satisfied the recipe is solid, I’ll go into production and lay in an ammo supply for every rifle I expect to use during the course of the winter.
The weather is considerably warmer now during load development than when I’ll be hunting, so I try and limit my powder choices to those that are relatively insensitive to temperature changes. That usually means any of Hodgdon’s Extreme line of powders. Of the loading I’ve done so far in preparation for the season, I’ve used H4831, H4895 and Varget from the Hodgdon line. Another favorite, again because of it’s insensitivity to temperature change, is IMR’s 8208-XBR. It’s probably the least temperature-sensitive powder you can buy.
Any of these are great choices for a killer predator ammo recipe. And if you need help zeroing-in on a good load, take a look at Hodgdon’s free online resource: Their Reloading Data Center is a regular destination for me, no matter how many manuals I have on the shelf. If you don’t have all your ammo ready to go yet, you’d better get at it. I know I have some work to do.