Mar 06 2019
By Bernie Barringer
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Black bears come in a variety of colors, some of which defy description and some are multi-colored. But for the purpose of clarity, we can generally divide the colors into four categories. Black, cinnamon, blonde and chocolate. More than 90% of the black bears in North America are black in color. The western half of the US and Canada has all the other colors, of which chocolate is most common among the colors other than black. The vast majority of color phase bears are found west of the Mississippi River, and a line that would extend northward into Canada. Biologists speculate bear populations that bear that have lived in thick forest for thousands of years are darker, while bears in more open country can be lighter in color.
The Grand Slam of Color Phase bears is when a hunter harvests all color phases. Sounds simple right? Chocolate or dark brown bears are found in a line from the western edge of Minnesota and Ontario south to Arkansas and west of that line. Cinnamon bears can be found scattered throughout the Rocky Mountains, Cascade Mountains and west to California and much of Western Canada including Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. Blonde bears are found in generally the same areas as the cinnamons, but are more prevalent in the southern Rockies than anywhere else, where blondes and cinnamons can make up as much as 35% of the population. There are pockets in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta where blonde bears can make up to about 10% of the bear population.
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February 26, 2019
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I like hard places and whitetail hunting was becoming less than hard. Good deer numbers and ample opportunity were making it something different than what I grew up doing. Deer hunting was hard when I was a kid. I needed to go back to a more difficult place, not just for me, but for my kids. Noticing the current trends of introducing young ones to hunting, I knew I had to do something different with my own to give them a similar experience that forged in me a true love for hunting. Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not complaining about robust deer populations and liberal seasons. However, we don’t have to go with the trend of “easier” all the time. What made me appreciate hunting in the beginning was difficulty at the start. Are we making hunting too easy for our kids? Here is a bigger question: are we raising kids that can carry the “conservation torch” when our time is over? Are they equipped with the right internal values to withstand the future battles coming towards modern hunting?
I’m torn about the current philosophy of introducing kids to hunting. In essence, it’s usually a make-it-as-easy-possible mentality. This falls in line with the trend of giving all teams trophies at the end of the season and not keeping score. Really? You don’t have to look far to realize this is building dysfunction in some kids. Value is forged from the sweet cocktail of defeat mixed with the hard-to-come-by, and rare, victory. Our goal as parents should be that our kids value wildlife, wild places and conservation-based hunting. We’re creating a structure for them to value something, not just acquisition of cheap victory. Are we as parents making a mistake?
I was raised in a family of three brothers with a dad who was a serious bowhunter. My father didn’t caudle us in hunting – at all. I was the only brother who navigated the gauntlet. The “tough love” philosophy worked for me, but it didn’t for my siblings. I’m now the father with four children of my own. I’ve adopted a mixed approach. I’m using many of the great things I learned from my father, but also constantly adopting some updated strategies.
You want to make it enjoyable, and to make success a real possibility without it overshadowing the possibility of failure. The common denominator between the most dedicated hunters I know is difficulty in the beginning. Initial struggles caused them to fine tune their hunting, and ultimately, value wildlife and success A LOT. Many would-be hunters; however, were casualties to the past introduction strategies that didn’t have any “caudle” at all. We can’t afford to loose any more hunters, or create hunters that can’t carry the future burden of wildlife conservation.
I’ve adopted a two-fold strategy ripe with open dialogue between the kids and myself. The hunting near our house is great. Actually, we hunt deer 150 yards from our back door. My kids have experienced some great protein-gathering adventures just minutes out their bedroom door. Access is key, and they’ve had some world-class access. And it’s pretty easy. However, they know the internal satisfaction of killing a deer in the backyard isn’t as high as killing a deer in a “hard place” – even though the meat tastes the same. They know this because I’ve indoctrinated them to believe so.
We have a “hard place” we hunt. We hunt there on purpose. My kids are learning hard is good, and self-imposed limitation is honorable. Our family culture values include being honorable over harvesting game. For many years we’ve traveled to hunt Arkansas public land in a region with low deer densities and difficult access. Rugged terrain and a monoculture of mature pine and oak timber make deer numbers low. We use our mule, Izzie, which they helped train, to pack into backcountry. Engagement in the process is critical, and them having skin in the game with the mule is high-octane motivation.
We recently got back from a three-day rifle hunt near season’s end. I took my oldest son, Bear, who is 13, and my good friend’s son, David, who is 16. Burning a ½ day on both sides traveling in, we hunted two full days of the three-day hunt. The boys both hunted a total of 20 hours each, and they never saw a deer. Bear actually hunted 10 hours straight in the same location on the second day. He left camp before I did and returned at dark. Upon arriving back at camp I said, “Bear, did you come back to camp during the day?”
“No Dad, I hunted all day.” He said.
“You didn’t come back to camp for lunch?” I asked.
“Nope, I had some Cliff bars and fruit snacks.” He replied.
“Did you see anything?” I questioned.
“Yup, a flock of turkeys.” He said.
“Bear, you just hunted 10 hours in the same spot and never saw a deer. I don’t know many grown men that would do that,” I said with a heaping dose of pride. “Good job, son. Your dedication will pay off. I promise.”
As the campfire crackled under a blanket of stars Bear told the riveting story of watching the flock of turkeys feed past him. He glowed as he recounted the event as if he’d witnessed something truly spectacular – and he had. He ended the ancient oral campfire ritual by saying, “The best part of the day was when I saw a giant…(dramatic pause)…grey squirrel! I almost shot it, Dad, but I didn’t.” David and I laughed out loud as we validated the philosophy building deep in his internal man - the hard places are fun, they make us strong, and give us identity. And harvesting critters isn’t the end-all of successful hunting, and good parenting includes making it hard on purpose sometimes.
Jan 29 2019
300 Win Mag vs 7mm Mag
Most hunters probably agree that the 7mm Remington Magnum and .300 Winchester Magnum are both fantastic choices for hunting a wide variety of big game, including bear. They’re both calibers able to handle the longer range shooting of hunting the big ungulates, but also the big body structure of bruins. However, many people get confused about the pros and cons of the two cartridges.
The 300 Win Mag on the left, and the 7mm Mag is on the right. They're both flat shooting, hard hitting and very accurate cartridges for bear.
In this article, I’m going to detail the history of the cartridges as well as their strengths and weaknesses in order to provide you with the necessary information to decide which you should use in various hunting situations.
Remington changed the shooting world forever in 1962 when they introduced the Remington Model 700 rifle along with the 7mm Remington Magnum. Using a shortened .375 H&H Magnum case paired with a .284" bullet, the 7mm Remington Magnum offered a significant ballistic improvement over most other popular cartridges of the day like the .30-06 Springfield.
Additionally, the new 7mm Remington Magnum cartridge fit in a standard length rifle action. This meant it could be used in many of the same rifle models popular among hunters during that time period chambered in cartridges like the .270 Winchester and .30-06 Springfield. With all that in mind, it's not surprising at all that the flat shooting and hard-hitting 7mm Rem Mag quickly caught on with hunters in North America.
Designers at Winchester during that timeframe could see what direction the wind was blowing and they began work on a .30 caliber magnum cartridge using the case from the .338 Winchester Magnum (itself descended from the .375 H&H) as a model. The company formally introduced the fruits of their labor to the world in 1963 as the .300 Winchester Magnum.
Like the 7mm Mag, the .300 Win Mag had a significant ballistic advantage over cartridges like the .30-06 and also fit in a standard length rifle action. For those reasons, the .300 Win Mag was also an instant hit with American hunters.
You can see some of the differences between the .300 Winchester Magnum and 7mm Remington Magnum in the photos. The .300 Win Mag has a slightly greater overall length (3.34" vs 3.29"), but both cartridges are used in standard (instead of magnum) length action rifles. The .300 Winchester Magnum has a slightly longer case length (2.62″ vs 2.5″) as well as a shoulder that sits .156" further forward than the shoulder of the 7mm Rem Mag. Though they both have the same rim diameter and are very similar in overall length, the .300 Win Mag has a 5-8% advantage in capacity over the 7mm Rem Mag due to its shoulder placement and longer case length.
As you'd expect from the fact that the two cartridges are very close in overall size, the ballistics of the 7mm Rem Mag and .300 Win Mag are also pretty similar.
The biggest difference between them is the size and weight of the bullets they fire. The 7mm Remington Magnum uses .284" bullets and the .300 Winchester Magnum uses .308" bullets.
Everything else being equal, the smaller diameter 7mm bullets have a higher ballistic coefficient and a higher sectional density than the larger diameter bullets of the same weight from the .300 Winchester Magnum. However, the .300 Winchester Magnum generally uses heavier bullets than the 7mm Remington Magnum.
For instance, the vast majority of 7mm Rem Mag loads shoot bullets in the 139-175 grain range. On the other hand, most .300 Win Mag loads use 150-230 grain bullets.
As you can see in the table below comparing 150gr Barnes TTSX and 168gr Nosler AccuBond Long Range loads in 7mm Remington Magnum to 165gr Barnes TTSX and 190gr Nosler AccuBond Long Range loads in .300 Win Mag, the .300 Win Mag has a small edge, but there isn't a gigantic difference in the ballistics of the cartridges.
The .300 Win Mag has slightly less bullet drop and carries more energy down range. This is due in large part to the fact that the cartridge uses heavier bullets and has more case capacity. However, since the 7mm Mag bullets compared above have a slightly higher ballistic coefficient, the gap in kinetic energy between the two bullets closes slightly at longer ranges.
The table below shows how a 10mph crosswind impacts those same loads out to 500 yards. As you can see, the Barnes loads have a nearly identical amount of wind drift, but the 7mm Rem Mag has a slight edge over the .300 Win Mag with the AccuBond loads. For all practical purposes, there isn't a significant difference in the ballistics of the .300 Win Mag and 7mm Rem Mag at typical hunting ranges. They’re flat shooting, hard hitting, and very accurate cartridges.
That being said, the .300 Win Mag has more recoil than the 7mm Rem Mag. For example, when fired from the exact same rifle, a .300 Win Mag load firing a 165 grain bullet has about 25% more recoil than a 7mm Rem Mag load firing a 150 grain bullet at a similar muzzle velocity.
The .300 Win Mag and 7mm Rem Mag are both extremely popular magnum cartridges and consistently rank among the best-selling rifle cartridges in the USA each year. For that reason, virtually every ammunition manufacturer of note produces a wide array of high quality factory ammunition in nearly every major bullet model for both cartridges.
Along with lots of choices for ammunition, there are many great hunting rifles produced by nearly every firearms manufacturer chambered in 7mm Remington Magnum and .300 Winchester Magnum. Additionally, because the cartridges are the same length and have the same rim diameter, rifles of the same model chambered in each cartridge are virtually identical.
The vast majority of 7mm Mag loads shoot bullets in the 139-175 grain range. Most .300 Win Mag loads use 150-300 grain bullets.
When using quality bullets and with good shot placement, both the 7mm Rem Mag and .300 Win Mag are excellent for hunting black, brown, and grizzly bear at all practical hunting ranges. However, since they are such flat shooting and hard hitting cartridges, the 7mm Mag and .300 Win Mag really shine in situations where hunters need to take shots out past 200-300 yards.
The smaller caliber 7mm Remington Magnum is wonderful for smaller and lighter animals. By the same token, the lighter recoil of the cartridge also makes the 7mm Mag a great choice for smaller framed or recoil shy hunters. It’s also ideal for situations where a lightweight rifle is really desirable, like on a backpack or mountain hunt.
On the other hand, since it shoots heavier and larger diameter bullets, the .300 Win Mag has a clear advantage when hunting larger, tougher, and more dangerous game.
Don't get me wrong, you can absolutely hunt species like grizzly bear with the 7mm Rem Mag and untold numbers of hunters have successfully used it in that role over the years. There’s also nothing saying the .300 Win Mag isn’t suitable for smaller animals or that it isn’t appropriate for a mountain hunt.
Like I said earlier, the 7mm Remington Magnum and .300 Winchester Magnum are both quite versatile, but each cartridge is just a better choice for certain applications. The fact that I have to nitpick the strengths and weakness of each cartridge like that really speaks to their overall effectiveness. All that being said, the difference between them isn't as great as it is sometimes made out to be and the animal will never know the difference if your shot is placed correctly.
This article was first published by John McAdams on The Big Game Hunting Blog and is reprinted here with slight modifications for length with his permission.
View the original article at: http://thebiggamehuntingblog.com/7mm-rem-mag-vs-300-win-mag/
Jan 23 2019
Squirrels, Feists and Mules
By Clay Newcomb
January 22, 2019
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The Grey squirrels of the Ozark Mountains quickly transform into nuggets of gold, metaphorically speaking anyway, when two things happen. The first is when they’re being treed by squirrel dogs. A squirrel in the front yard doesn’t get a guy too excited, but when they’re being chased and treed by a trained dog – things get serious. The action of the dog increases their value exponentially. Secondly, when they’ve been skinned, battered, floured and put in hot oil. Squirrel meat is known as a delicacy in many places – the Ozarks of Arkansas being one of them.
This last week we combined squirrel hunting with dogs and mules, the second being a passion of mine. My good buddies Trae Autrey and Michael Lanier are squirrel hunters, period. They take this stuff serious. They both run treeing Feists. These little dogs only weigh between 15 and 17 pounds soaking wet. They’re athletic and gritty little dogs that love to tree squirrels. Michael said, “Their size makes them easy to keep. Squirrels aren’t big animals and you don’t need a big dog to tree one.” When I asked Trae why he liked Feists he replied, “When the squirrels are moving good, a Feist will use his eyes, ears and nose to find squirrels. You’ll tree every squirrel in the woods with one.”
Trae also rides mules. He and Michael often use them when hunting these late season “cat” squirrels (Grey squirrels). The Ozarks had very little mast crop last fall and there just aren’t many around. I can’t tell you where they go, other than they’re hard to find. When food source is limited the squirrels seem to go on lock down, biding their time and energy waiting for the first new food availability of the spring. Using mules allows a guy to cover lots of ground trying to find squirrels. On our hunt we probably traveled six or seven miles, and it would have been a tough day on foot.
On January 18th we left the truck around 8 a.m. and headed into an area that Michael felt was holding some bushy tails. “It’s the only place I’ve found that had some acorns,” he said. We treed two right off the bat and had them in the game bag in no time. Two of us were carrying shotguns and one had a scoped .22. After a few more hours and several miles of riding, we had only the two from earlier in the morning to show for it. We went back to the truck for a mountaintop lunch of fried potatoes and squirrel. However, this wasn’t just any fried squirrel, it was fried in bear oil (also known as bear grease). I brought a pint of rendered bear fat just for the occasion. Many might presume bear oil would have some gamey or “beary” flavor, but it’s actually very mild tasting oil. You can substitute it for any cooking oil called for in frying or any recipe. The squirrels were excellent.
I learned quit a bit about Izzie, the mule I trained, on this hunt. She did fantastic and no problem around the gunshots, dogs and the other mules. As a matter of fact, I shot my 410 shotgun off her back four times. I’d shot a .22 off her before, but this was the first time I shot a louder-type gun. I took great joy in my feet hardly hitting the ground the whole day. That might sound lazy, but after all the training it’s highly rewarding to reap the fruits of your labor. It’s also a lot of good core-muscle exercise to ride a mule for eight hours. At the end of the day we’d had more fun than you could imagine.
Watch for the video about this hunt on the Bear Hunting Magazine YouTube channel coming out on Tuesday January 29. It’s a ton of fun and I think you’ll enjoy it. I’m pretty sure it’s going to break the internet….or least I like it ton.
Photos by Brent Reaves (Reckless Drift Media)
Nov 05 2018
Massive Manitoba Whitetail
by Clay Newcomb
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It was the final day of my hunt in one of the most iconic regions of North America’s whitetail country. It was November 3rd 2018. Time wasn’t just fading metaphorically; I had 14 minutes of legal shooting light remaining. Manitoba is known for massive, knarly whitetails, and I’d been after them for six-and-a-half days. While bowhunting earlier in the week a mature buck with impressive antlers bedded down at 75 yards, but never offered a shot. This had been my only encounter with a target animal. The deer weren’t doing what they’d done the year before so I laid down the Mathews bow on day three and picked up the muzzleloader. They’d been patternable and visible last year, but they weren’t now. On some hunts, my goal is take an animal with a certain weapon. On other hunts the goal is take a certain type of animal. This hunt was the latter.
I was hunting in the Southwestern third of Manitoba, known as the Parkland Region, with Tom Ainsworth of Grandview Outfitters. Hunting with Tom and Debbie is like going to a good friend’s farm for a week. Home-cooked meals were served at Tom and Deb's everyday. If professionalism, hospitality and personal connection in an outfitted hunt could be graded, it would be hard to find a metric to describe these people. They are old-fashioned rural Manitoba ranchers, farmers and hunters. Hard work, honesty, and clear communication are just how they operate. They had a strong conservation and land-stewardship ethic before it was cool. Tom is a character of characters, an articulate orator, a student of wildlife and the history of the region. To a Southerner, he’s just fun to listen to talk. And he’s passionate about big Canadian whitetails.
Southwestern Manitoba is big agricultural country that borders massive amounts of public land. Tom Ainsworth of Grandview Outfitting hunts over 3,000 acres of private farm ground for giant Canadian whitetails.
He’s got access to over 3,000 acres of private agricultural land, and he knows it all like the back of his hand. After 40 years of hunting these properties, his knowledge of deer behavior and movement is notable. Every drive to the stand was like a whitetail-classroom as Tom described patterns he’d seen over decades. He hasn’t been educated by the trends, and sometimes hype-filled whitetail media. His knowledge comes from the personal experience of four decades of observation. Some of his strategies and philosophy may not work in other places, but they work here. That’s all what matters.
The year prior I’d taken a spectacular buck on the second day of the hunt with my bow. Could lightning strike twice? I was beginning to think it wouldn’t. The rut is compact in the far North. By November 1st, in much of the whitetail’s range, the bucks are cruising for does and rut-induced hunter opportunity is high. Here the bucks are still on a feeding pattern and even traveling together. It had happened relatively easy for my hunting buddies, James Lawrence and Steve Schultz. They had tagged out by day two, but I couldn’t seem to catch up with a buck.
James Lawrence of Arkansas harvested this 250-pound Manitoba buck on day two of his hunt with Tom Ainsworth of Grandview Outfitting.
Steve Schultz took this fine 9-point buck on the first morning of the hunt in Manitoba.
On the morning of day six I saw two bucks 600 yards away on the back edge of a soybean field. I knew I had to get aggressive. I slipped out of the blind to stalk the bucks simultaneously with a coyote spooking them off the field. However, this gave me the opportunity to move into position if they returned. I cut the distance in half and made a brush blind on the edge of the field. It was now 9 a.m. I texted Tom and told him I’d be sitting all day. The high temperature for the day was 28 degrees, but I was wearing my First Lite Chamberlin Puffy jacket and Sanctuary bib overalls. I stayed warm. Miraculously, a rare southeast wind blew consistently all day, sending my scent into the large cut bean field. I waited.
After seeing the giant Manitoba buck at daylight, he left the blind and closed the distance by 300 yards. He ended staying there for over 9 hours waiting for the buck to return. It was the last day of the hunt so he just had to do what it took!
After seeing several coyotes and just a few deer the whole day, nine-and-a-half hours later the buck appeared a mere fourteen minutes before the end of legal shooting light. Using a spruce limb as a gun rest, I made a 248-yard shot using Steve’s long-range muzzleloader. The buck dropped in the field.
An iconic image of the giant Manitoba whitetail on the back edge of a cut soybean field just seconds before the shot. After appearing briefly at daylight, the buck didn't return until 9 hours later near dark.
The buck had character for days, bladed tines, and the kind of mass any whitetail hunter would drive across the country to find. And the bean-fed meat? Lord knows my family and I will partake of it with incalculable reverence in a sacred dinner-table celebration of the hunt and our ancient, honorable and relevant way of life. Hunters are the good guys who care about wildlife and want to see them thrive. Long live the hunt, and long live the beast!
Call Tom and Debbie Ainsworth for an affordable Manitoba whitetail hunt at 1-(204)-546-2751 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Clay with the giant Manitoba whitetail taken in the fading moments of the hunt.
The buck had lots of mass, just what you're looking for in a Canadian whitetail. The buck weighed 248 pounds.
The buck was 18.5 inches wide with 5-inch bases and 10.5 inch G2s. Certainly an older-age-class buck! Just what Clay was after.
The buck had incredible mass. The G2 on the left side was bladed and nearly two inches wide and ten inches long.
Look for the hashtag #huntfishmb for more great content and opportunities to hunt in Manitoba Canada.
Visit www.huntfishmanitoba.com for more information on hunting whitetail deer in Manitoba.