Archive for the 'Hunting' Category

Does a Police Checkpoint on a Bike-Trail Violate the Fourth Amendment?

BY Herschel Smith
2 days, 23 hours ago

He poses some interesting questions, and I’d like to see this issue studied a bit by him or someone equally familiar with both constitutional and case law.

My own view is that simply putting a sign up at an entrance to so-called government property (like a park) isn’t reason enough to justify a search.  That’s not a so-called “administrative search.”  I assume and believe that for public places, the rules of “Terry Stop” still apply, i.e., there must be articulable reason for the search such as suspicion in the commission of a crime.

I’ve given this some thought too concerning stops and searches of hunters on public lands.  Almost every hunter is aware of his training, i.e., when you are approached by a DNR officer, put your weapon in a safe condition, be polite, and be prepared to have your privacy invaded.  He may and probably will demand to see your hunting license and examine your harvest.

But why?  What gives that DNR agent the right to do that?  The fact that they’re on “public land?”  Do the citizens not own the public land?  What’s the difference between public hunting land and a downtown sidewalk?  Do we allow cops to come up to us and frisk us, demand to identify us, and demand to search our belongings because we’re walking on a sidewalk “owned” by the state?  No, most states do not have stop and identify statutes, and besides, those are unconstitutional even if they exist.

Why does a DNR officer have the right to assume I don’t have a hunting license just because I’m hunting (that’s the assumption behind demanding to see my hunting license, right, that I don’t have a license)?  Why does the DNR officer have the right to force me to open the tailgate of my truck and examine my harvest?  Does he have evidence of a crime to make such invasive demands?  Without such evidence, or at least suspicion, does that search violate the fourth amendment?

I would claim that it does.  England had rules regulating hunting under the notion of the royal forest.  As of the 12th century, nearly a third of England’s land was designated “royal forest,” and only the king’s men and other nobility were allowed to hunt game there.

We don’t live in England.  We live in America.  We fought a war over things just like this.

I think this is pregnant ground to be tilled, and I’d like to see lawyers take this up with some offended hunter – perhaps all the way to the supreme court.

The Complete Guide to Public Land Pheasant Hunting

BY Herschel Smith
1 week, 2 days ago

Gun Dog.

The Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland said it best: “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” How do you navigate the millions of acres of public land and walk-in ground just waiting for you to drop the tailgate and unclip your dog’s leash? Rather than wandering, perplexed as a hunter on Rodeo Drive, here’s how to map out your pheasant quest.

It starts with a destination, dictated in large part by how far you’re willing to travel. If you know how to read, you’ve already got an idea of where you want to go. Each region has sweet spots handed down from father to son, shared by multi-generational groups and “discovered” by newbies dazzled by clouds of birds darkening the sky at the end of a cut-cornfield drive. My revelation came at the nub of an ancient shelterbelt in South Dakota. It was being pushed by two friends while I shivered, hopes high and temperature low. Out of the mist rose a mob of what I thought were blackbirds they were so numerous, until a roar of wings and telltale cackles broke the still air.

I missed twice, shook my head, reloaded and dropped a late riser whose technicolor pelage vibrated against the pristine snow even when stilled by my shot. That was a good year, but even a bad year in South Dakota is better than most other places combined.

Other states have their proponents and having explored them all after three decades roaming public land, I understand the allure of each. Northeast Montana, Iowa, Nebraska, and western Kansas are all strong contenders for the bronze and silver medals. Not coincidentally, most of those states have sophisticated public-access initiatives to help hunters chase ringnecks across vast prairies and through shin-tangling thickets. “Walk-in” programs are the golden key that unlocks the door; start your quest there, long before you fill the tank and crate the dog.

Dickinson and Mott, North Dakota are worth your attention. They’re lower-key, smaller towns with fewer amenities than most, but surrounded by public access. Williston’s oil boom has subsided and lodging options are myriad. The rolling hills beckon, if you don’t mind the mix of drilling and development alongside your new favorite cover. Plentywood and other small towns in northeast Montana along the “High Line” are also on my radar. Western Kansas towns including Norton, Goodland, Jetmore and Osborne are podium-contenders, offering a 365-day license bargain and warmer late season weather.

Like the Oscars, I’m saving the best for last, but the supporting cast of South Dakota towns east of the Missouri River offer plenty of opportunity. Watertown, Aberdeen, Brookings, and Redfield welcome hunters and have plenty of public access. South Dakota counties with the highest pheasant harvest numbers include Brown, Beadle, Brule, Lyman, and Spink.

For those of us who don’t have trained bird dogs, we’re left at the mercy of outfitters and their dogs for guided hunts.  That can get expensive.

I’ve got the quail hunting covered.  If any of you have suggestions for Grouse and Pheasant, drop me a line in the comments.

Air Rifles as Survival Tools

2 weeks ago

We talked previously about quiet game hunting in less permissive environments. This recent article at Survival Blog touches on several useful applications for Air Guns.

Quiet, hard-hitting, accurate, affordable, and reliable. A good quality air rifle in .177 or .22 caliber meets all these criteria. No, you don’t have to spend thousands. Just one hundred to three hundred FRNs will provide you and your family with a nice rifle and several thousand pellets.

Springer and now gas ram rifles take care of problem pests around the garden and homestead, rabbits, gophers, ground squirrels, starlings, and crows are dealt with humanely and did I say quietly?
My German-made Dianas, both a Model 34 Classic, and a Model 34 EMS, and both in .177 caliber are equipped with inexpensive scopes and will easily maintain quarter-size groups at 30 yards, Both will push a heavier 9.5 -10.5 grain pellet out to rabbit and squirrel killing distances of 40-50 yards, if you do your part with pellet placement. As many old hunters said it’s not so much what you hit them with as where you hit them.

More at the link.

And Outdoor Life reports on The Best Air Rifles of 2023.

Choosing an Air Rifle for Small Game

The rifles I gravitate toward for small game and varmint hunting are primarily .22 and .25 caliber rifles that generate power in the 20 to 40 ft-lb range. This energy output, in conjunction with sub-1-inch accuracy at 50 yards, makes for an ideal flat-shooting, small-game rig. Features that separate the top picks from the rest of the pack are an ergonomic design, fast cycling action, reliable high capacity magazines, large volume air storage with a correspondingly large shot count, shot-to-shot consistency, and a low sound signature.

Choosing an Air Rifle for Predators

For most hunters, it makes sense to choose an air rifle that can take either small-game or predators. The rifles I use for combined small-game and predator hunting are .30 to .35 caliber, and are designed to shoot Diabolo pellets at 50 to 100 ft-lb. These rifles are fine for shooting a coyote or bobcat at closer range (within 50 yards), but not over-the-top to use on smaller-bodied game, such as rabbits or squirrels.

In my opinion, a primary predator gun should be optimized for solid lead slugs, generate 100 to 150 ft-lb, provide at least 10 consistent shots per fill, and print groups under 1 inch at 100 yards. I don’t mind a single shot rifle, but I want a fast-cycling action, easy access to the loading port, and a light, crisp trigger to enhance accuracy.

Other models and applications are discussed at the link to Outdoor Life.

Hunting Tags:

Idaho’s grizzly petition rejected by feds

3 months, 3 weeks ago

This isn’t good news for ranchers and residents. Of course, the government, either purposefully or through incompetence, was dragging its feet.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will study delisting populations of grizzlies near Yellowstone and Glacier national parks

Idaho’s audacious bid to strip grizzly bears of Endangered Species Act protection was rejected by the Biden administration Friday.

But its neighbors Montana and Wyoming had better luck. Responding to delisting petitions from all three states, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said bear numbers in the Greater Yellowstone and Northern Continental Divide ecosystems may be strong enough to qualify as distinct populations that can be considered for delisting. The agency will spend the next year collecting data to determine if each of those populations are indeed healthy enough to move from federal to state management.

The service dismissed Idaho’s much more expansive request that grizzly bears across the country be stripped of their threatened and endangered status. The decision came just a day after Idaho Gov. Brad Little threatened to sue the agency for failing to act on the state’s petition, submitted last March, within the required 90 days.

“The response is seven months late, and it took a threat of legal action from the State of Idaho to simply receive a response,” Little said in a prepared statement. “While we continue to evaluate the decision from (the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), this is another example of federal overreach and appears to have a disproportionate impact on North Idaho.”

There are about 1,000 grizzlies each in the Greater Yellowstone and Northern Continental Divide ecosystems, which are centered around Yellowstone and Glacier national parks.


Members of Idaho’s congressional delegation groused about the decision in a joint news release, saying the state is better poised than the federal government to balance the conservation and management of grizzlies with human activities. At times, they implied the state has a more robust bear population than official estimates indicate.

“Given more and more grizzly bear and human encounters in Idaho, it is abundantly clear our state’s grizzly bear population has recovered,” Sen. Jim Risch said.

There’s more at the link. Being closer to the situation, States can manage their own problems better. Both the Griz and federal land should be returned to the States for management. Looks like those “rare” attacks will resume when hibernation is over.

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Richard Mann Picks His Best Rifles for Hunting Wild Pigs

BY Herschel Smith
4 months ago

Field & Stream.

  • Ruger Scout Rifle 350 Legend
  • Marlin 1895 Trapper 45-70 Government
  • Wilson Combat Recon Tactical 450 Bushmaster
  • Mossberg Patriot Predator 7mm PRC
  • Kimber 84M Hunter Pro Desolve Blak 280 Ackley Improved
  • Bergara B14 HMR 300 Winchester Magnum
  • Winchester XPR Stealth Suppressor Ready 308 Winchester
  • Franchi Momentum All-Terrain Elite 308 Winchester
  • Stag Arms Pursuit Stag10 308 Winchester

Visit his reasons as the link.

What do you notice about these choices?  They are all large bore guns.  The 7mm PRC is just simply too much for a hog unless it’s 400 pounds.

With many of these rounds you won’t have ribs left.  I wouldn’t have a problem shooting hogs with any of these rounds, but take note that if you want to preserve meat and not tear it to pieces, you need a somewhat smaller round (like the 6mm ARC) and you need to aim carefully, be a good shot, and hit them right behind the ear.  They’ll go down instantly.

Michigan Hunter Gets Jail Time for Sabotaging Another Hunter’s Treestand, Causing 20-Foot Fall

BY Herschel Smith
4 months ago

Outdoor Life.

Steele left his phone number and asked for the hunter to contact him. The unnamed hunter also discovered that Steele had deleted the pictures from his trail camera. The hunter called Steele and apologized, only to have Steele insist that he must stay away from the area, which the hunter eventually agreed to.

Weeks went by. Eventually, the hunter returned to his stand, pulled the memory card from his camera, and started climbing the stand. The stand looked normal and the climbing sticks were sturdy. But as soon as the hunter climbed onto the platform, it collapsed underneath him. He fell 20 feet to the ground, where he injured his back and ankle after landing on his feet.

The hunter worried that Steele was watching him on camera and left the area, limping. Upon returning home, he dialed 911 to report the incident. While at home, the hunter discovered his SD card had been wiped of images again. DNR conservation officer Josh Boudreaux responded, and opened a hunter harassment investigation.

Weeks later, the hunter returned to the same spot again with new straps. The next day, he received a text from Steele.

“Are we going to work something out for this spot or what?” the text read. “I got a picture of you yesterday going in there with climbing sticks. Just not gonna respect I was there first?”

Investigating officers paid close attention to the hunter’s treestand after learning Steele was “using a camera to spy on the hunter.” They soon discovered that Steele had gone out to cut the hunter’s straps a second time.

Good Lord.  He was ready to sacrifice the life of a man for the sake of a chance to kill an animal.  What a jerk.

He should have been charged with attempted murder and prohibited from hunting ever again in the state.  A hunter harassment investigation should have been a criminal investigation.

What do you want to bet – he wasn’t trying to feed his family.  He wanted to kill a trophy buck to brag to his buddies and show pictures around.

What a jerk.

Ultimate Big-Bore Combo: Henry .45-70 Rifle & Magnum Research BFR

4 months, 3 weeks ago

We know how important ammo consolidation can be for both cost savings and ease of training/use. Here’s a great hunting combo.


Almost all shooters – and hunters – are plenty familiar with how Old West cowboys acquired both a long gun and handgun in the same chambering. That combination was most likely a lever-action rifle and a single-action revolver. A few popular pairings would have been traditional handgun rounds like the .44/40 Winchester, .45 Colt, and .32-20 Winchester.

Old-school shooters paired Colt and Winchester. Our modern-day mates are Henry Repeating Arms and Magnum Research. The method of putting together the perfect combination today may not be quite as critical to life and death, but it’s certainly a viable option for hunters, ranchers, and shooters building a supply of ammunition.

We’re taking this one boot step beyond the Old West today, as modern metallurgy and heavy-built actions allow us the ultimate big-bore combo rig that’s not in a handgun chambering but in the classic walloping .45-70 Government. The Magnum Research Biggest, Finest Revolver (BFR) and Henry Repeating Arms All-Weather Side Gate rifle are perfect playmates.

Photo: Kristin Alberts/

It’s no mistake that we hunted Cape buffalo in Africa – on two separate trips – with the .45-70 Gov’t. The first foray saw that Henry rifle take down the buffalo with one well-placed shot. The second saw an even bigger beast drop with two rounds from the BFR. With a wide range of factory ammunition and reload recipes, the chambering can be tailored to handle smaller plains game as well.

But it’s not only for worldly adventures. In fact, the .45-70’s rich American historical bloodlines run deep, from U.S. military use and competition shooting to bison hunts. There’s good reason the round is still thriving 150 years later. We’ve harvested whitetails, varmints, warthogs, and all sorts of African plains game with this round from these two guns. They pack easily, look good together, fly well, shoot with 100 percent reliability, and do the job every single time.

The link also has a very informative 7min video.

The Hottest New Rifle Scopes of 2023

4 months, 3 weeks ago

Field & Steam

If you’re in the market for a rifle scope you can use to hit stuff that’s a long, long, way off, there’s some good news for you in 2023. If you’re in the market for a more general-purpose rifle scope, like a fixed 4X or the one-time industry standard 3-9X, you may have to fire up your time machine. Consumers drive the market, and the market says we need more long-range optics, and that’s what 2023 has given us. From a 1-10X LPVO to a 5-30X rifle scope that retails for less than seven Benjamins, you should be able to find something you like this year. Of course, there are sure to be some new red dot sights as well. From around $370 to ten times that much, here are the latest rifle scopes for 2023.

The GPO Spectra 1.5-8X44i with G4i reticle.


GPO has added their very practical illuminated hunting reticle to one of their very practical hunting rifle scopes. Their Spectra 1.5-8X44i rifle scope now has the G4i reticle. This is a thin-wired German #4 style reticle with a small, illuminated dot at the center. The reticle brightness is fully adjustable and powers down when the scope has been stationary for more than three hours. This is a wonderful reticle option, in a great hunting scope, with a suggested retail price of $949.

There are others, including a reflex red dot.

Deer Hunting: Preparing for an All-Day Sit

BY Herschel Smith
5 months, 2 weeks ago

American Hunter.

This is the primary reason hunters pull the cord on all-day sits. It’s tough to sit in a tree or ground blind all day, but it’s almost impossible to do so if you’re too cold, too warm or soaking wet. That’s why high-quality clothing is worth the price.

Hunters have learned that layering is the key to regulating temperature. The widely accepted three-layer system, which consists of a base layer, mid layer and outer layer, works well, but you must understand why this system works—and what may cause it to fail.

The base layer should be made of thin, wicking fabric. Cotton is out because it holds moisture, which robs the body of heat. The mid layer is an insulating layer that is designed to hold heat while still wicking away moisture. The outer layer is your protection against wind and rain, and it provides an additional insulating layer. Moisture is your enemy, so don’t pile on all your layers then hike a mile to your stand. Instead, shed your top layer and allow the perspiration to evaporate. Any exposed skin will lose heat, so a face mask, beanie and gloves that extend above the cuff of your jacket will help retain heat. Mittens are warmer than gloves, but in recent years I’ve come to prefer a hand-warmer muff with heat packs inside, and I always carry extra hand and foot warmers. In extreme cold, a sleeping bag or body suit will help keep you warm.

While I can’t say I live in the coldest of climates (certainly not compared to some of my readers), I can say that I have never gotten cold during a sit.  Boredom is my biggest enemy.

I wear a short sleeve sports shirt, wicking and non-cotton, with a long sleeve Merino wool shirt over that, the next layer is fleece, and the final layer is a Simms GorTex Parka.  It’s pricey, but fishing companies make the best rain gear.

I use Mechanix camo Impact gloves for mild days, and if it’s really cold I have Swany brand ski gloves.  I might invest in another brand (Hestra Guide Gloves), but they’re very pricey.

One trick I’ve known all of my life is that you lose a lot of warm air up through your neck coming from your whole body.  Using the hood of your parka prevents most of that.  Also, if you’re prone to your face getting cold, wear a balaclava.

Finally, a really enjoyed wearing a neck gaiter for the first time last season.  There is nothing like it.

New Jersey Judge Halts Black Bear Hunt Just Days Before the Opener

BY Herschel Smith
5 months, 3 weeks ago

Outdoor Life.

New Jersey appellate court judge issued an order on Wednesday, Nov. 30 to temporarily pause the state’s first black bear hunt since 2020, which was set to start on Monday, Dec. 5. The halt is in response to a lawsuit filed by the Animal Protection League of New Jersey, the Humane Society of the United States, and Friends of the Animals. These three organizations decry active black bear management and denounce population count methods used by the state. (If this all sounds familiar, it’s because a similar lawsuit was filed in Montana over wolf hunting.)

Many New Jerseyans were shocked on Nov. 15 when governor Phil Murphy and the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife reinstated a limited black bear hunt. Governor Murphy had sworn to end the hunt once and for all during his campaign but changed his tune after bear encounters spiked across the state. New Jersey has one of the highest concentrations of black bears in the country, with an estimated population of around 3,000 to 4,000 bears. New Jersey is 8,723 square miles, putting the population density at around one bear every 2.2 square miles. However, since much of the state is made up of metropolitan areas, densities in some places are likely much higher than that.

No one deserves this more than a state who would elect the likes of Bob Menendez and Cory Booker to the U.S. Senate, and Phil Murphy to the governor’s mansion.

Actions have consequences.  Suck it up, New Jerseyans.  Call the cops while that black bear is charging you or tearing your pet dogs to pieces.  Their response time should be less than half an hour.

Modern game management techniques and herd size control are only for smart people.  The rest can go pound sand.

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