Tool: Scoped rifle
Range: 45 yards
Wind: 10 mph, in your face
You have to love Texas because you never know what’s going to spring from the brush … coyotes, bobcats, illegal aliens? One minute I’m working the controls of my Johnny Stewart Prey master call, and the next minute this catnip-charged kitty is bolting across the sendero in front of me. Although the surprise meeting flooded me with enough adrenaline to consider wearing adult diapers, it’s a now-or-never moment, and I have to gather my wits.
Luckily, I saw the cat crouched at the edge of the opening and my sixth sense sent a warning to “re-arm.” Lying across my lap is my 12 gauge shotgun equipped with a Hunter’s Specialties Undertaker choke tube and stacked with Winchester Xtended Range shotshells. I’m good to 60 yards with this lethal combination and already shouldering the shotgun when the cat springs into action. As the cat prepares to duck into the brush, my bead is already swinging ahead of the bob-tailed blur. A crushing blow from the pellets sends the cat tumbling into a prickly pear, but I don’t mind the retrieval because the cat’s pelt is my own economic stimulus plan. –Mark Kayser
Tool: Scoped handgun
Range: 115 yards
Feel The Power
The sound of my rattling horns nworked perfectly, and moments ago this buck slipped in. He’s got a really good rack for the area I’m hunting, and I want him. My single-shot T/C Encore pistol is chambered in .460 S&W Mag. (this choice meets the state’s straight-wall case requirements) and is stoked with Winchester Dual Bond bullets. The gun carries a Nikon Encore prototype pistol scope and is sighted-in to shoot dead-on at 100 yards from a solid rest, and my BOG Gear Red Legged Devil provides that.
There are some limbs between the buck and me, and if I wasn’t using avariable-powered scope, they might concern me. But by starting with the magnification on low power and then slowly cranking up the scope, I can essentially pick an unobstructed path to the target, which is one of the advantages of using a variable-power scope. I’m going to take the buck high in the shoulder, put him down where he stands, then quickly reload and be ready for a second shot should he try to get up. –Larry Weishuhn
Tool: Scoped muzzleloader
Range: 110 yards
Wind: 30 mph, left to right
It was the wind that masked my movement while sneaking within muzzleloader range of this bull, but now the small bush directly in front of the bull is blowing violently back and forth, giving me only peek-a-boo looks at his vitals. Once he begins moving again, I’ll have only a split second to make a shot at a moving target. My solution? Aim a tad higher and forward, right at the point of the shoulder.
After many anxious moments recovering heart/lung-shot animals that sprint several hundred yards after taking a lethal hit, I now prefer to break down big game animals for a quick recovery. I’ll hold on the top of that dark crease in the elk’s mane—to the right of where the tan meets the dark brown—avoiding the bush altogether. I’m holding dead-on because my rifle is zeroed at 100 yards; even if the wind pushes my 275-grain bullet a couple inches to the right, I’ll still catch shoulder bone. Note: I realize the bull is skylined, but thanks to my elevated position, I have a good view of the opposite ridge and am good to go. –Gordy Krahn
Tool: Compound bow
Range: 2 yards
Wind: 20 mph, in your face
Look Out Below!
So how did I end up in this predicament—at full-draw with a curious buck looking up at me? Let’s just say that even though I had everything planned out perfectly, right down to knowing exactly which trail this early season buck should take to a nearby clover field, nothing is a slam-dunk when it comes to deer. Like clock work, the does, fawns and small bucks paraded past my treestand as the sun began to set, and then Mr. Big showed.
But he decided to loop downwind of the main deer trail, and he must have picked up my boot scent because he followed my entrance trail right to the bottom of my tree. I drew my bow 40 seconds ago, when it looked like the buck might give me a broadside shot. Unfortunately, the buck walked straight toward me. If I let up on my draw, he’ll bust me. If I shoot, I’ll wound him. And I’m too tired to stay at full-draw. Yelp, yelp, yelp, yelp, yelp … maybe I can convince him I’m a wild turkey. He just loped off, but he didn’t seem overly spooked. I’ll rest this spot a day or two and then try him again. –Dave Maas
Tool: Scoped rifle
Range: 185 yards
Wind: 15 mph, left to right
Buck At The Buzzer
To me, mature muleys are not only tremendously impressive, they’re also the toughest big game animal to find in North America. My hunt started almost seven days ago. I’ve hunted extremely hard, as well as having walked nearly all of the thousands of acres of this Wyoming property. I’ve seen many sizeable bucks, in addition to many small bucks, does and fawns. I’ve been passing up bucks in hopes of seeing a real trophy. My single-shot rifle, a .30-06 T/C Encore topped with a Nikon scope, is loaded with a 165-grain Winchester Ballistic Silvertip. I know exactly where it will strike a target out to 400 yards.
My gun is resting on my Western hat, which is sitting on top of a small boulder. The season ends in only 10 minutes (30 minutes after sundown). This deer is skylined, but it’s 20 miles to the nearest human habitation, and the area immediately behind the buck is devoid of livestock and other hunters. If I didn’t know that, I wouldn’t shoot. I’ll hold for a shot to hit the buck a third of the way down from the top of his shoulder to drop him in his tracks. –Larry Weishuhn
Tool: Scoped rifle
Range: 170 yards
Wind: 5 mph, swirling
The Waiting Game
The velvet bull has spotted me, but he’s no special prize. Caribou are not particularly wary; even if the swirling breeze carries human scent to them, they won’t flee like hard-hunted whitetails. The hard-horned bull hints at greatness: fair mass, lots of long top points and good back points. But what of the bez and shovel? Most caribou with good tops sacrifice bottoms to get them. I’m standing with my 10-power binoculars pressed to my brow, rifle still slung.
Should the antlers measure up, I’ll ease my bolt-action rifle down and spread the legs of my shooting tripod as I sink to my knees. The 2 1/2-10X42mm scope will be set at 5X, my compromise for being ready for anything at close range. I might crank ’er up if the rack proves too good to pass. I’ll await a broadside shot so I can slip my 140-grain Barnes TSX behind the shoulder, minimizing meat damage, but if necessary I’ll take him head-on, where neck and brisket join. With that bullet flying at 3,150 fps, a 5-mph breeze is no threat at 170 yards. Caribou – it’s what’s for supper. -Ron Spomer