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Air rifles for deer?? 232-inch Megatron buck! Best arrows ever? Velvet bucks

Today’s Top 5

Deer hunting with AIR rifles??   

Seems like deer hunters are always finding new ways to put venison in the freezer. Add the air rifle to the list — in 12 states anyhow. Not your Daisy Red Ryder. These guns are big-bore, precision and QUIET, and maybe could help solve urban deer issues. From the AR D&G website:

> In 2018, AR became the 12th state to allow deer hunting with big-bore air rifles. Rifles must be at least 40 cal with projectiles delivering at least 400 lbs of energy at the muzzle. Rifles must also be charged from an external tank of compressed air.

> In range tests, [air rifle enthusiast Seth] Rowland convinced Ralph Meeker, the AGFC’s deer program coordinator, that big bore air rifles are effective for taking whitetails. He also presented ballistic charts that demonstrated air rifles being comparable to deer-legal centerfire options.

> “For pistol, you could use 25 ACP and 32 ACP,” Rowland said. “Of course, there weren’t a lot of people doing that, but it didn’t make sense that those could be legal and mine wasn’t.”

> The AGFC conspicuously noted that air rifles are not subject to the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act excise tax, a vital source of funding for state wildlife agencies.

> Hunting with a big bore air rifle has many advantages. It is quiet compared to a centerfire ignition rifle or handgun. A big bore air rifle discharges with a pneumatic crack that is not discordant with ambient woodland noise.

> Lack of noise and [high] accuracy also makes air rifles suitable for hunting in urban and suburban environments where ordinances prohibit centerfire weapons. Also, air rifle bullets usually pass through a deer and leave an exit wound, hastening quick, clean kills.

> Another advantage is lack of recoil. This, combined with the lack of muzzle blast and concussion, contributes to proper shooting technique and, by extension, greater accuracy.

You can get an intro-level big-bore air rifle for about $800. If you want to go big-time, you’ll pay crossbow-like prices. Just don’t ask Santa for one:

MS hunter rattled up a 232″ megatron!

I’ve always considered rattling to be more of a western, open-country thing, but guess not! MS’s Heath Hodges told Buckmasters that active grunting and rattling were key for calling in calling this giant:

> Few places in the Deep South produce deer that can rival those found in the block of counties within an hour’s drive of the Mississippi River.

> Last season, Heath collected a brace of wallhangers that could stop traffic. He scored first while bowhunting the week before Halloween. That buck, which had been following the Yazoo River with an even bigger buddy, tallies 178″ as a semi-irregular.

> Heath’s next buck was much bigger.

> Heath was aloft with his .35 Whelen, rattling antlers and grunt calling by 2:30 the following day.

> The does were antsy, and he discovered the reason when he heard a buck grunting off to his right. Soon after answering the deer, he saw it about 65 yards away, coming quickly down the nearby trail.

> Heath literally broke the whitetail’s heart when it stopped less than 20′ from his tree. The 21-pointer scores 232 3/8″ by the BTR’s yardstick.

ANOTHER black whitetail!

GREAT shot of a “melanistic” buck — still needs a cooler name than “melanistic” (@theqdma):

Are these things somehow becoming more common?

Bullet design > cartridge choice.  

We’ll never see an end to fights over which cartridge is “best” for whitetails, which might be why Brad Fitzpatrick at Outdoor Life takes a different approach: He says BULLET choice — composition, weight, cores, jackets, partitions, tips, more — is what can maximize a cartridge’s effectiveness:

> While some cartridges do offer real, measurable advantages over the competition, it’s the bullet that actually dispatches the animal.

> Nosler’s design was just the first in a series of major developments in bullet design. By electrochemically attaching the lead core to the bullet jacket, manufacturers managed to create projectiles that were less likely to experience jacket/core separation….

> Hunting bullets kill by expanding and shedding energy. That expansion generates hydrostatic shock and damages vital tissue. A bullet that does this efficiently and consistently is effective on big game, and a bullet that fails to do so isn’t.

> Our preoccupation with finding a perfectly-mushroomed bullet has led many hunters to believe that only a bullet that performs as such can be effective, but that’s simply not true. I’ve seen bullets that expanded and even broke apart in game that had a dramatic and definite effect, killing the animal very quickly. A recovered bullet doesn’t need to be beautiful. It simply needs to shed energy.

[Click the pic to learn more about bullet characteristics:]

> …if you’re planning to hunt big game at extended ranges there are some good bullet options including Berger’s Hybrid Hunter, Hornady’s ELD-X, Nosler’s Accubond Long Range, Federal’s Edge TLR, and Barnes’ LRX. All of these bullets have high ballistic coefficients so they’ll carry energy and velocity better at extended ranges, and they’ll all expand more reliably at lower velocities than many traditional hunting bullets. At more moderate ranges — say 400 yards or less — it’s easier to choose a bullet since the velocity variation won’t be as dramatic.

The only way you’re gonna know which bullet is most effective in your caliber, gun and typical hunting situation is to hit the range! I’m not a handloader, but I’ve got boxes of rifle bullets that I’ve tried to see which is most accurate in my gun — and that’s really the most important part of the equation.

If I have loads that my gun doesn’t like, I’ll give them to my buddies who shoot the same caliber. It’s always surprising to me that what works in one gun doesn’t in another.

Meme of the week!

CWD News

1. MN: DIY CWD test just months away?

Sounds cool but the post says:

> …a quicker tool that could detect the disease in live animals would help hunters or others more quickly determine if they can butcher and eat the animals.

Live animals?? Maybe they mean recently deceased….

2. TN holding public CWD meetings…

…starting this Tuesday, July 9.

3. MO is REDUCING # of CWD counties.

> …from 48 to 29 starting in July. However…added Christian, Howell and Oregon counties to the CWD Management Zone because of recent CWD detections in Oregon, Stone and Taney counties.
Heck yeah!

News

1. IN: New private land access program.

> The Deer Hunt Registry connects hunters with landowners, golf courses, parks, land trusts, farmers and other communities they would normally not be able to connect with.

2. PA: Sounds like Sunday deer hunting is coming.

> Senate bill 147…would allow hunting on 3 Sundays: one in the statewide firearms deer season, one in the statewide archery season, and a third to be chosen by the PA Game Commission.

> The bill also makes trespassing a primary offense, something that carries stiffer penalties. It also allows trespass to be enforced by Pennsylvania Game Commission wardens.

Also maybe a new doe tag system:

> …would provide for the sale of antlerless deer hunting licenses through the PA Game Commission’s PA Automated Licensing System. This means hunters could potentially buy their antlerless licenses online or in person at the same outlet where they bought their original license.

> Currently, hunters apply for antlerless deer licenses by sending a paper application with a check or money order to a county treasurer or similar applications….

3. MI trying to open up more land for deer hunters.

> The MI Dept of Natural Resources is inviting property owners in 14 counties to enroll their land in the Hunting Access Program, and receive an annual payment for providing this seasonal right of entry.

4. MeatEater buys First Lite camo.

If it sounds like MeatEater has gone waaaaay beyond what it started as, here’s why:

> …with the recent 8-figure venture capital funding round from bigwigs like the Chernin Group, the buying power of the brand is proving to be both powerful and fruitful.

5. SC: 2018 deer harvest was slightly up.

> …109,208 bucks and 85,778 does were harvested for a statewide total of 194,986 deer. This represents a 5% increase in harvest from 2017 and a 13% increase since 2016. The 2018 harvest is 39% below the record harvest established in 2002 (319,902).

> After many years of rapidly increasing during the 1970s and 1980s, the deer population in SC exhibited relative stability between 1995 and 2002. Since 2002, however, the population has trended down.

6. ND: 6K gun deer tags remain after lottery.

7. IA DNR made Iow City council accept bowhunters…

…as a way to cull the city deer herd, not just sharpshooters. Props to the DNR!

8. SD man will pay $37K for illegal guiding…

…on the Pine Ridge Reservation, article says.

9. OR proposing a blacktail change.

> …might be allowed to fill their general-season tags with single-point spike deer for the first time….

10. PA: Lyme disease down because of low acorn crop?

> Last year…10,208 cases…down from 11,900 in 2017…. The reason for the decline may lie with the number of acorns available to feed field mice, one of the lead carriers of the disease….

> “We are thinking we are in a low part of the mast cycle where there are fewer acorns, which helps explain the decrease in cases.”

Gear of the Week

When micro-diameter arrows first came out, I was a doubter. No one could really explain their benefit, or maybe I just didn’t take the time to investigate — I was happy with my Carbon Express Maxima Reds.

Here’s some interesting (and convincing) info Deer & Deer Hunting just came out with on these new T64 FMJs. Easton paid for the review, which I always appreciate knowing:

> The T64 FMJ leads the natural evolution of the FMJ concept and the theories behind small-diameter shafts and prominent Front of Center (FOC) weight distribution. Here is arguably the most technically advanced hunting arrow ever constructed that, in one slender shaft, addresses all of the desired attributes that promote accuracy and penetration.

> Where the T64 differs from other shafts in the FMJ lineup is its profile. The arrow starts at the front end with a 6mm diameter. It remains at this diameter for about the first 6 inches before tapering to a micro 4mm diameter at the nock end.

> …having more of the shaft weight skewed toward the front of the arrow significantly improves an arrow’s in-flight stability – think of a lawn dart and how that weighted front end assists in a good throw.

> Before building the raw T64 shafts, Easton tested to determine the arrow’s inherent F.O.C. With just the bare shaft (no nock, insert or fletching installed), the arrows revealed a 4.375% F.O.C. That’s nearly 1/2 to 1/3 of the way toward our target F.O.C. percentage.

[According to Easton, “F.O.C. stands for ‘front-of-center.’ FOC describes the percentage of the arrow’s total weight that is located in the front half of the arrow. The more weight that is located in the front half of the arrow, the more forward is the arrow’s center-of-balance.”]

> Then they tested again after the arrows were built. With a 100-grain point installed and using the standard RPS insert, the assembled arrow’s F.O.C. came in at 12.81% — smack in the middle of the optimal F.O.C. range for a bowhunting arrow.

> …the T64’s tapered profile further contributes to penetration. Since the shaft starts at 6mm diameter directly behind the broadhead, the decreasing diameter of the shaft as it moves through hide and muscle tissue means significantly less friction on the shaft the farther it penetrates.

> Fine-tuning can be achieved by trimming the shaft length from either end, depending on your needs. Cutting from the front, which you can safely do up to the maximum cut line indicated on the shaft, will weaken the spine. Trimming from the nock end has the effect of stiffening the spine.

Here’s a quick Easton video on ’em.

Tip of the Week

How to get a late summer velvet buck.

I’d love to put a nice looking velvet buck on my wall someday. Great conversation starter for my buds and maybe non-hunters who wonder “what’s wrong” with that deer’s antlers….To put one on the wall I’ll need to go to a mid-South state with an early buck season, like KY, TN, or SC. But of course it takes more than just showing up. NA Whitetail has some great info, here’s an excerpt:

> …late-summer bachelor groups are usually found on natural edges and are keyed in on the best food they can find. It could be a soybean field, an overgrown place with a lot of natural browse or a favorite clover food plot.

> …at this time of year they aren’t bedding far from food. High temperatures and an abundance of food and cover make this possible. They’ve been unpressured all summer and feel comfortable hitting these food sources with predictability.

> …3 types of bucks we might encounter at this time of year. [One is the] social butterfly…the easiest type to kill in early season. …you have his buddies’ inexperience on your side. Instead of holding tight to his bed…every afternoon he’s largely at the mercy of his younger, less wary companions. [But] your scent-free game must be totally on point. [Easier said than done when you’re sweating your tail off in early Sept!]

> Try to find a pattern. High-pressure, low-humidity days seem to put these deer on their feet earlier in the afternoon. So do cool, rainy days. But the pattern varies from deer to deer, so you’ll have to figure this out on your own. Cameras and careful observation often will reveal huntable patterns you can tap into.

Full post is here.

Quote of the Week

“I hate the fact that deer are being labeled as zombies.”

– U of MN veterinary and biomedical sciences professor Peter Larsen talkin’ ’bout CWD. But it looks like deer don’t need to be zombies to eat people (@fuzzyfawnwildlife):

Lol! Peter also said:

> “This is a clear threat to deer heritage.”

Dang straight it is….

Shot of the Week

What’s better than winning the Super Bowl? Killing a nice deer, duh! Okay Eagles QB Carson Wentz didn’t say that, but when you’re a native ND dude who grew up hunting and can’t get out during the season, what do you do? How ’bout Axis hunting in Hawaii in June — nice deer and GREAT eatin’! @wentzbrosoutdoors shot:

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The Deer Blaster is a year-round weekly roundup

of the best, worst and funniest stuff in deer hunting — put together by a couple diehard deer nuts including Ted Gartner << that’s him right there! Ted’s down in TX but we have other guys all over. All Deer Nerds!

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