Boddington’s Adventures

Should you try to come up with the "perfect" rifle for your hunt, or choose a versatile rig that will work for a variety of situations?

By Craig Boddington

I have friends and colleagues to whom the hunting rifle is about as interesting a tool as a shovel. They’re focused on the hunt, and whatever tool is in their hands they will make work. I actually envy them, because I’m an inveterate rifle nut. I spend sleepless nights agonizing over the exact right rifle, cartridge, load, and scope for an upcoming hunt.

The reality is, in any given situation there are a whole bunch of setups that will work just fine, and you have to be pretty offbeat for a choice to become wildly unsuitable. Even so, as a rifle nut,  I fantasize about taking the exact, perfect rig for a given hunt, and when I can I work pretty hard to make sure my choice is close. The problem is that the situation you envision may not be even close to the situation you have to deal with.

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No matter how prepared you think you are for a hunt, it's still a good idea to make a list and check it twice.

By Craig Boddington

I’m not big on gear lists and “hunting preparation” checklists. No doubt I should be, but when I get ready to go on a hunt I generally rely on experience, getting ready and packing things as I have in the past.

Of course, that assumes that I have some history with a given hunt. In a month or so Donna and I are going on a backpack sheep hunt in Alaska’s Brooks Range. I’ve done pure backpack sheep hunts before, but it’s been a long time, back when I was younger and in better shape (and could carry more stuff I didn’t need). Our outfitter, Erik Salitan of Bushwhack Alaska, gave us a very good gear list, and this one I’m paying attention to.

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When you're traveling internationally with guns, it's crucial to ensure your paperwork is in order.

By Craig Boddington

Just a few weeks ago I did something really stupid. Donna and I went on a hunt in the West African nation of Burkina Faso (that wasn’t stupid; it was a great safari!). At first I was really proud of myself. I got our firearms serial numbers and passport photos to the outfitter in plenty of time, so local gun permits and hunting licenses could be issued. Burkina Faso requires a visa, applied for in advance, so we got that done as well. Nothing was difficult, but there was a fair load of paperwork. I was so busy slapping myself on the back for getting done that I forgot a very basic step. We were already through security and on our way when I realized I hadn’t gotten a U.S. Customs Form 4457 for my rifle.

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A good hunting partner or guide who can spot for you, and talk you through the shot, is invaluable.

By Craig Boddington

Sometimes the easiest part of shooting is squeezing the trigger. There’s a reason our military snipers operate in two-man teams, one in the role of shooter and the other in the role of spotter. In terms of training, both team members are equally familiar with each role. Some teams trade off spotting and shooting, just like you and your hunting buddy. Other teams come to rely on individual strengths. The two skill sets are quite different, but some people are simply better at the almost mystical art of calling wind.

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Hunting from a stand is not easy or particularly exciting—but it can be very effective.

By Craig Boddington

The old adage in the Eastern deer woods goes something like, “He who sits the longest gets the deer.” There is nothing easy about sitting on a deer stand and trying to concentrate—especially when it’s cold—but there are a number of species and situations where playing the waiting game is by far the best option, and our good old white-tailed deer is just one of them.

Let's make sure we understand our terms. When I say “sitting still” I’m talking about stand hunting, sitting as quietly and as motionless as possible, preferably in a well-scouted and well-sited location, and hoping the game’s natural movement will bring it to you. Or, in areas with hunting pressure (like our Eastern whitetail woods), hoping you can outlast the competition and the movement of other hunters will push deer your way.

 

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