Though hunting season is coming to an end, the fallen leaves in early December can make spotting Ruffed Grouse a breeze; arguably it can be some of the best hunting of the season. Though primarily Ruffed Grouse are ground-dwelling birds, they are skilled at flying short distances and well adapted to mid-flight twists and turns to help them navigate amidst the thick forest growth. Look for them in deciduous forests, with a rich undertow of shrubs, that act as both shelter and food source for the birds. Common food sources are the buds and leaves of poplars, birch and alder as well as coniferous needles and insects. Ideally, the area should have adjacent growths of cedar, fir or spruce - these surrounding areas act as a shelter from predators or harsh weather conditions that the grouse will flush to if threatened. Work small patches of the dense cover, ideally with a dog or partner. If you've got your dog, give him his head and follow his scent. In a two-man team, work small patches of dense undergrowth with one partner in the heart of the area, the other one around the perimeter ready to shot the grouse that flush. Late season grouse tend to short-flush to the nearby spruce trees and take refuge on mid-level branches, so keep this in mind when selecting perimeters.
Technology has left us all far too reliant on instant data accessible at our fingertips, used without any delicate thought given. Like the basic skills needed to use a compass, a map can (sadly) just as easily stump the best of us. Whether hunting, hiking, camping, fishing or whatever could be bringing you to the wilderness a topographic map is a must. How to use one? Just as important. Using this tool you are able to plan your trip smartly, and avoid any unpleasant surprises - and unlike a regular map, where you mostly see roads and highways, a topographic map provides a more realistic view of the landscape. Topographic maps show boundaries, fields, lakes, vegetation, glaciers, permanent snowfields, mines, caves, shorelines and most importantly contour lines. Contour lines are drawn to show and connect points of equal elevation - if you physically followed a contour line, you would be travelling at a constant elevation. Depending on the specific terrain, each map will show contour lines for certain intervals of increased elevation - Each line may be shown to represent 10, 20, 30 or even 100ft in elevation gain between two contour lines. To make the maps easier to read, look out for the index contour lines - thicker, bolded lines - here you'll see the elevation marked (usually every 5 lines or so is an index line). Another key feature is paying attention to the space between the contour lines (contour gap). If the contour lines are close together, you're looking at a relatively steep slope. If the contour lines have wide spaces (or there are none at all) you're looking at a relatively flat terrain.
For USGS topographic maps, 1:24,000 is the scale most often used. Maps based on metric units use a scale of 1:25,000, where one centimeter equals 0.25 kilometers A 1:24,000 map is large and provides a lot of detail about the area -- it will include buildings, campgrounds, ski lifts, footbridges and private roads on a map of this scale. A larger scale map (1:600) gives you extreme detail of a small area, while smaller scales (1:250 000) gives you a large overview with less detail.
With these basics, you can use a topographical maps to determine if a climb looks too steep for your adventure level; using the map you can plan an easier (or wiser) route around any hills or mountains. As mentioned earlier, following the contour lines from the map your elevation will remain relatively stable. Once you've chosen the best route, look at the scale to find out the exact distance you'll be hiking. This way you'll know the amount of supplies you'll need in your backpack.
“What gun should I buy”, is the most frequently asked question that I get as a hunting instructor. “Buy a 308 Winchester” is the best – and shortest – answer that I can give. Read on if you want the long answer.
There are many factors and variables that can determine which rifle is the most appropriate for an individual. I am going to do my best to provide some general guidance on what caliber and rifle you should buy based on these factors and variables.
As a new hunter you need to build your confidence and skills as a shooter. The only way to develop your skills and confidence is to shoot, a lot. Seeking out instruction from experienced shooters is a critical starting point to learning the basic shooting principles. Once you have the basics covered, you will need to find the time to practice regularly. Ideally, you must enjoy your shooting experience to ensure that you do practice often.
My first rifle was an ultra-light 30-06 rifle. I was a 14 year old, skinny lightweight. My light 30-06 had a heavy recoil and neither my skinny frame nor the ultra-light rifle absorbed the recoil. I instantly became gun-shy after I shot the 30-06 for the first time. The kick of the recoil and the shocking sound of the bang caused me to develop a flinch. I would pull my head back and close my eyes every time I pulled the trigger. Obviously, this didn’t result in confidence building. I did not enjoy the shooting experience, so I did not practice enough to fix my flinch. As a result, I failed to develop confidence and accuracy.
I only recently started to enjoy shooting. This is largely because I purchased a 7mm–08 caliber rifle a few years ago. This is a medium sized caliber rifle and it is very pleasant to shoot. Because I enjoyed shooting this rifle, I practiced more and began having excellent shooting results – which helped me build my confidence as a shooter. I still fight off those bad shooting habits to this day, but I have definitely improved as a shooter since I have built my confidence by shooting a rifle with less recoil. I still find the recoil and bang of my 30-06 and 300 Winchester calibers shocking; however, I have improved my confidence and skills to absorb the recoil, and ignore the bang, in order to consistently shoot accurately with larger caliber rifles.
Recommendation: I recommend that you purchase a medium caliber rifle to develop your skills and confidence as a new hunter and avoid being beat up by the larger caliber rifles. If you weigh over 180 pounds, and have a bit of girth around your shoulders, you may enjoy shooting a 30-06.
To become a confident shooter you will need to shoot a lot, so affordable ammunition is important. The 308 is the most common rifle on the market resulting in 308 caliber bullets to likely be one of the cheapest ammunitions you can buy. A box of 308 ammo is readily available for less than $20 a box, which works out to one dollar per shot. In comparison, the short mag calibers, and 7mm-08, can be as much as $40 a box for ammunition. A new shooter can easily shoot 10 to 20 rounds each time they go practice with their rifle so this could really add up over time, especially if you start to enjoy shooting and want to spend time becoming an expert marksman or markswoman.
Each caliber of ammunition can shoot several different bullet lengths and weights. The amount of gun powder capacity in each cartridge will vary the speed and trajectory of the bullet. The weight of a bullet is measured in grains. A larger cartridge with greater capacity for more gun power will be capable of shooting a heavier bullet, or small bullets faster. A longer bullet will be more stable over its flight. Each rifle will have a specific bullet weight that will produce the best accuracy and versatility for hunting.
To avoid the discussion and debate on the optimum bullet weight for each caliber, I will recommend the following: Choose a 165 grain bullet weight for the 308 or 30-06; choose a 140 grain for the 7mm-08; choose the 180 grain for the 30-06 and the 300 Winchester if you are hunting Moose and Elk. These bullet weights should give you the best all-around performance.
Recommendation: consider the 308 or the 30-06.
The caliber you choose must produce enough bullet energy for the type of game you plan to hunt. Bullet energy is the weight of the bullet multiplied by the velocity that the bullet is traveling when it hits the target. A bullet must have minimum 1500 foot/pounds (ft/lbs.) of energy when it strikes an animal to ensure an efficient and ethical kill. A light bullet, such as a 243, will not have sufficient energy to kill an Elk or Moose at a range of 200 yards. A heavier caliber, such as a 300 Winchester, will impact a deer with 3300ft/lbs. of energy at 100 yard range. At this range there is twice as much energy than is required to kill an animal efficiently. The surplus energy will distribute throughout the muscle tissue and will cause massive flesh damage (blood shot meat). You only need to kill the animal once, and you don’t want to destroy more flesh than necessary. However, at a range of 400 yards, the 300 Winchester would impact a target with 1500ft/lbs. of energy, so it is a practical choice for long range hunting. It is important to pick a rifle that is appropriate to the size of game and the distance that you would expect to find the game.
I use a 7mm-08 caliber for deer and sheep. I could use the 7mm-08 rifle for elk provided I expect to have a shot at an elk at a short range (less than 200 yard). I use a 300 Winchester for all moose and elk hunting. They are larger animals and require more bullet energy to efficiently kill them. I also use my 300 Winchester for sheep hunting because it is an effective long range caliber, and I can expect to only have an opportunity to shoot at long ranges.
My recommendation is to consider the 308 or 7mm-08. The 308 caliber and the 7 mm caliber are ideal deer calibers to a range of 300 yards. They both have enough energy to kill an elk within 200 yards, and likely have enough energy shoot a moose within 100 yards. The 30-06 and the 270 caliber rifle both have plenty of energy to harvest an Elk or Moose out to 300 yards; however, they have too much of a surplus of energy to harvest a deer at short range (less than 100 yards).
Keep in mind that a 300 yard shot requires a high degree of skill and experience. I have never shot at an animal over 250 yard. 90% of the game I have shot has been less than 60 yards away.
The 30-06 is widely considered the most versatile caliber for North American big game. The 270 is widely considered the most accurate long-range shooting rifle. They’re both excellent choices of firearms provided you have the body mass to sustain the recoil.
The 308 and the 7mm-08 are a smaller cartridge than the 30-06 and the 270 and therefore have less gunpowder, produce less bang, and less recoil. If you are primarily going to hunt deer than I recommend choosing one of these calibers and forgo the recoil of the more versatile 30-06. There are also some new 30 caliber short magnum cartridges that produce amazing ballistics. If you are going to be strictly an elk or moose hunter then you must consider the 30-06 caliber the 300 Winchester mag or the 30 caliber short mag. Keep in mind these calibers are not very pleasant to shoot so you may be sore after practicing.
I only recommend purchasing a bolt action rifle. They are safe and reliable. I like a clip, but others prefer a drop plate. A clip allows you to load and unload easily, but you run the risk of losing the clip along the way. A drop plate takes a bit more time to load and unload, but you can’t lose it.
If you have short arms then you should consider buying a rifle with a smaller stock. Savage Arms and Browning both make rifles that are designed specifically for women.
You will have a choice between buying a wood stock or a synthetic stock. The wood stock is pretty and heavier than the synthetic stock. The extra weight can be a good thing for a new shooter since it will help absorb some recoil. It is also pleasant to look at, and you should really like your rifle since you may only buy one or two rifles in your lifetime. Wood stocks and blued barrel need to be dried off after every use and should be oiled regular to keep the rifle from rusting. The synthetic stocks are very practical because they are lighter for carrying around all day. The stainless barrel and synthetic stock will not mind getting wet and will require less maintenance overtime.
The most important factor in choosing a firearm is to ensure that you enjoy shooting your firearm so that you practice more and develop your skills and confidence. If cost is your primary barrier than the 308 or the 30-36 calibers are excellent choices because they both have affordable ammunition. If you weigh less than 170 pounds you should consider the 308 or the 7mm-08. If you weigh more than 180 pounds and you intend to hunt elk or moose regularly than you should consider the 30-06 or the 270 caliber.
Lastly, if you want a wood gun, then I would lean towards the Browning X-Bolt. Browning does a great job of providing numerous and diverse stock sizes; they have some great options for women. If you want a stainless gun with a synthetic stock, than I would check out the Tika T3 Stainless.
Eat well and wild.
Article Written Dylan Eyers of EatWild
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For one year we are going to test the rugged durability of the Filson Original Hunting Vest. Wearing it daily, whether in the field or city, we will challenge this piece to take on any and every situation; from rain to snow to Vancouver summers, hunting, fishing and city wear. Every month we will post an update on how we are wearing it in, and more importantly how it is holding up. Follow the adventure or test your own vest at www.upknorth.com/store.
To us harvesting wild meat isn't for the thrill of the hunt, but rather knowing where your food is coming from and what is going into it. We are from a generation that portrays the image of hunting as the need for the thirst and thrill of the kill; to solely claim their trophy. The true origins of hunting were, and in our opinion should still be, centred around a need to live respectfully alongside nature, take what you need, be it gathering or hunting, and use every last piece thoroughly and efficiently. Industry is feeding Western society; Literally animals are stuck in (for lack of a better word) cramped feed lots, force fed GMO crop and injected with hormones and antibiotics to keep them alive. These same animals are corralled to slaughter and shrink wrapped with a sticker that makes you believe you are eating 'natural' and sustainable product. The way food animals are raised is unhealthy and unmoral, and it is this fact that has been responsible for a rising interest in the number of people turning their heads to hunting. It seems that going back to basics is the only true and sure way to obtain 'natural' anything. This new generation of 'Urban Hunters' are also the new 'Urban Growers' - that grow food not for show, but for concern and lack of trust from the food industry as a whole. One of the primary arguments against hunting is taking the life of an animal; an argument that can be countered by observing how most farmed animals are kept. Death is a cycle of life; eat or be eaten. There is no need to waste, but there will always be a need to live. The reality of it is we need very little, if any, meat and one or two large hunts can last a family for a majority of the year. Bear in mind the sometimes harsh reality of the cycle of life, and that almost no animal dies from old age in the wild but is killed because it becomes weak.
Familiarize With Open Fields & Heavy Bush: A young dog can easily be over intimidated by large open spaces, and heavily covered bush areas - which are common spaces from which you could expect to hunt. Let your pup run free in these areas from a young game - getting familiar with the noises, shadows as well as chasing field birds helps drive predatory instinct.
Waterwork: Whether hunting on land or in water, every dog will come into contact with water at some point or another. Proper introduction to water and swimming at an early age will strongly benefit in the long run.
Sit & Stay: Although these are basic and cliché dog commands, they serve as fundamental commands for more complex hunting situations.
Scent: Keep frozen pheasant feathers or duck wings as a tool to train and help develop their sense of smell. Use these in combination with duck decoys to familiarize your puppy with waterfowl.
Gunshot Field Practice: A dos that is trained only in theory may not perform as well on the field. Target shooting and familiarizing your dog with the sound of a firearm is essential. Introduction to the presence of guns will prepare your dog for actual hunting situations.
For over 83 years R.L. Winston Rod Co. has been perfecting their fly rods and redefining the heritage of fly fishing. A Winston fly rod is designed to be the ultimate combination of performance, quality and beauty. Made with the most advanced materials each rod is made with passion, pride and the highest level of craftsmanship - some rods taking over a year to build. No shortcuts are taken in creating each individual piece to ensure that they all cast beautifully, have incorporated smoothness, lifting strength and the ability to accommodate a variety of lines. The company takes an uncompromised approach to creating the finest fly rods in the world.
It is hard to imagine a more beautiful geographic location to wet a fly line than in the Pacific Northwest. The fish are big, the rivers are even bigger, and the weather is generally mild. Though it can at times be (very) wet, this is a small price to pay for such pristine natural beauty and endless fishing opportunities. Patience is key - and a virtue when it comes to fishing. You may find fish one day and then return to the same spot the next day to find nothing there. Likewise, just because you didn't see fish in a prime location one day doesn't mean that you shouldn't check back again the next - every river runs different. Find a good reel, a good line, plenty of backing and good company. Whether experienced or beginner, fishing is a primitive skill, yet a nobel one. The hours, patience and dedication bring about a strong appreciation for the food you catch - a respect for what nature is giving you; and a desire to not waste it.