Many shooters I’ve worked with recently have had problems with consistency. Many of these problems[…]Read more
Many shooters I’ve worked with recently have had problems with consistency. Many of these problems can be easily corrected by paying attention to your set up or pre-shot routine. Here are some tips to remember for proper set up and improved shooting.
Feet First. If your stance is not correct, then you are going to have problems with the rest of the game. Make sure you address the break point of the target, not where it is coming from. New shooters have a tendency to favor setting up their stance toward where the target is coming from, instead of where they want to break the target. This can lead to problems in keeping the gun speed consistent with the target. If your body is binding up at the point where it should be moving smoothly, the gun slows down and you are behind the target.
Hold Point. Don’t look for the target too soon. Holding the barrels too close to where the target appears for the first time can cause a shooter to panic because the target is moving its fastest right off the machine. This puts the shooter into catch-up mode, trying to get the barrels back on the target. Try pulling the barrels away from the machine to where the eye has a chance to see the target as a clear image. This will make the game seem much slower to the eye and cause the hands to move more smoothly and not jerk the gun forward.
Target Line. Watch the line of the target closely as you view your preview targets. Again, many shooters will hold the barrels too high when calling for the target. The barrels act as a visual distraction to the eyes, and you will not see the target clearly or or pick it up late. Holding the barrels high also causes the gun to move like a seesaw: when the shooter recognizes the target to be under the barrels, they lower the barrels to see it and then have to raise them to get back on line. Too much gun movement makes for inconsistent scores. I would rather the barrels start just beneath the target line so the shooter sees the target and moves right to it.
This time of year, many anglers and wilderness lovers are planning trips into the backcountry, oftentimes in places where there are wild bears. In the vast majority of situations, humans and bears coexist peacefully in the wild, and tens of thousands of encounters occur without incident every year. But when bears do become aggressive, you’ve got to react quickly to protect yourself. The best way to do this is to carry a can of bear-deterrent, which sprays concentrated capsaicinoids—the stuff that makes hot peppers hot—to cause irritation in the bear’s eyes, nose, and throat.
Not sure if bear spray really works? In July 2010, famed zookeeper Jack Hanna effectively used pepper spray to drive off a young male grizzly that threatened Hanna and several others huddled on a narrow ledge in Glacier National Park. That same weekend, pepper spray was used by two other hiking parties, a Student Conservation Corps worker, and a park ranger. In all cases, which involved both grizzlies and black bears, the spray proved to be 100% effective, and no one was injured.
I’ve always used pepper spray,” Hanna told a reporter at the time. “You don’t need it for years, but when you need it you really need it.”
Spray vs. Guns
When most people think of protection from bears, they think gun…big gun. In fact, I carried a Winchester Model 1300 throughout my career as a guide in Alaska. But relying on a gun poses several problems, not the least of which is that it is quite difficult to fire accurately at an animal that is charging you—especially if the encounter happens quickly and unexpectedly, as it usually does. Unless the user is extremely proficient with a firearm, he risks wounding the bear, which might make it more aggressive. Plus, guns are heavy and unwieldy, which makes them unsuitable for many hiking trips.
But there’s an even more compelling reason to use bear spray: it works better. According to a 2008 study co-authored by Dr. Stephen Herrero—whose Bear Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance(1985) is the definitive book on the subject—bear spray is considerably more effective than a gun when it comes to deterring bear attacks. The researchers studied the use of bear spray in Alaska over a 20-year period and found that the spray stopped “undesirable” behavior an impressive 94% of the time with grizzlies and 100% with black bears.
Sserve with desired vegetable and starch. Scalloped potatoes or roasted red bliss potatoes are a nice accompaniment.
3 pounds: Elk, Deer or Venison Top round (denuded-removing the side muscle and all the silverskin on the top)
1 bottle red wine, 750ml
2 14oz cans beef broth
1-2 packets of beef gravy mix
1 fresh rosemary sprig
2 C frozen lingonberries (There may be lingonberry compote available at your local higher-end grocery store. Another berry may be substituted)
1 6oz can of pineapple juice
3 T cornstarch (hydrated in enough water to make a thick liquid)
1 C granulated sugar
Salt & pepper
Cracked black pepper
Wine Suggestions: A full bodied Cabernet Sauvignon or Red Zinfandel.
Method for Red Wine Sauce:
Bring red wine to a boil in 2qt. sauce pan and reduce by ¾. Add beef broth and bring back to a boil. Slowly whisk the gravy mix into the broth until it begins to thicken. It may not be necessary to use all of the mix. Reduce heat and simmer 15-20 min. allowing it to slowly thicken. Once it is at your desired consistency remove from heat and place rosemary sprig into sauce. Set aside in warm place until needed.
Method for Lingonberry Compote:
Bring lingonberries and pineapple juice to a boil in 2qt. sauce pan. Add ½ c sugar until combined and reduce heat. Taste the sauce to determine if more sugar is necessary. Once sauce is to your liking, whisk in small amounts of cornstarch until the sauce has thickened a little. It may not be necessary to use all of the cornstarch. Simmer sauce for 10 min. to thicken to desired consistency. Remove and cool.
Method for Grilled Elk:
Portion the elk into 3-4 oz. medallions and sprinkle cracked black pepper and salt on both sides of meat. Grill elk on pre-heated hot grill to desired doneness. Once it is ready serve on pool of red wine sauce and top with lingonberry compote.
This past spring Joe DeProspero and I packed into the Selway River for a spring black bear hunting trip. It was Joe’s third spot-and-stalk hunt in the Selway wilderness for bear.
He has been on many hunts at the Flying B Ranch since 2011, which includes the successful harvest of four bear, whitetail and mule deer, and the elusive mountain lion. He and I spoke in February about a particular drainage we had glassed on a previous hunt.
The drainage was intimidating and if there is anyone up for a challenge, it is Joe.
We made plans to pack in about 12 miles up the river and set up camp to hunt six days in an area we thought had probably not seen a lot of people for quite some time.
On the way to camp we were faced with our first obstacle of the trip. The creek was still up from the current snow melt and we had to find a way to cross it.
The safest plan was to throw gear across the creek, take our boots off, and wade the stream. The cool water of the creek felt invigorating on our tired feet. After our navigation, it was a short hike to camp.
The first day of bear hunting found us up early enjoying coffee around the fire. At daybreak we had our first visitor close to camp as we heard a wolf begin its lonely howl. We attempted to draw him into an opening close to camp, but found it had other plans, thus squelching our opportunity.
By now the coffee had warmed us and we headed out of camp early. By noon that day we had spotted a black bear up toward the head of the drainage that would require some work to close the distance.
We made plans to head toward the bear and see how close we could get.
In trying to cross the first drainage to close the distance, we found that the north facing slopes still had snow. We began to sink up to our waists as we trudged through the white powder-it was time for plan B.
Creek in the SelwayJoe navigating around the big boulders back to camp down Pinchot Creek.
Next we decided to drop back down to the main creek and get directly below the bear for a different route. On the way down we spotted a red bear that was sitting on the snow covered slope. While watching the bear, Joe noticed two little fur balls rolling around nearby. We soon came to the conclusion it was the sow just waking up from the winter with her two cubs.
They had wintered in the base of a cedar tree. Bears are tough!
Continuing down the hill, we entered an area that recently had a wildfire pass through it. We didn’t know there were so many ways around downed trees as we were forced to crawl over, under, around, and through the spider web of trees.
It was very physical and tiring through the steep stretch and by the time we made it to the creek, it had turned into a full day and we still had to return to camp. With the bear still lingering in the same spot, we were confident it would be there the next day. We would try again.
Another early start found us in great position at noon. Joe took his time and got comfortable with his rifle over a hunting pack looking at a distance of 350 yards to the bear. Being patient and waiting for the best shot opportunity, Joe took his shot…a perfect one.
Three days into the season we had our first bear down!
Once again we were faced with deep snow and two stream crossings to reach the bear. After making it safely, we both sat down by the bear and thought we had the best seat in the world looking over the Selway drainage.
We dressed the bear and requested a packer meet us on the river trail to pack the hide out. We continued the hunt for another bear and possibly a wolf. We spotted one the last evening of the hunt, but could not get a clear shot.
It was another awesome hunt with my great friend Joe. Thanks Joe! He and I have already made tentative plans for the next spring bear season. I am definitely looking forward to another fine backcountry bear hunting trip!