Boddington's Adventures

These days it's easy to take our electronic gadgets into the wilderness with us.

By Craig Boddington

There was a time not so long ago when we literally “checked off the net” on hunting trips. I sort of liked that. Once you’re out in the blue there really isn’t much you can do about a minor catastrophe at home, and in genuine emergencies there have long been ways to get messages through. Unfortunately, "checking out" doesn’t work very well these days. In our Internet-powered information age, many of our friends, relatives, and business contacts naturally expect that we can (and will) remain in touch no matter where we are.

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Hunting free-range red stags in the U.K.

By Craig Boddington

The stag was tending hinds in a clearing just on the edge of the thick fog. He was too far to count points, but the rack was very big, seeming to dwarf his body, which, in turn, dwarfed the bodies of his hinds. The stag’s roars carried clearly across the dell, and we watched the herd for quite a while as they drifted in and out of the mist.

Unfortunately that was all we could do, because we were near our boundary, and the herd was well out of our area. But at least we saw him, and he was well worth seeing. We were hunting private land on the edge of the New Forest in southwest England. Well, it was "new" when created by William the Conqueror in the 11th Century! And these were free-range English stags, the same red deer that got Robin Hood into trouble, as the legend goes.

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What if you get to your hunting destination but your bag doesn't?

By Craig Boddington

We all worry about it. In my experience it doesn’t happen all that often, but it does happen: You arrive just fine at your hunting destination, but one or more of your bags doesn’t.

The best way to ensure that your bags arrive with you is to arrive in plenty of time for your first flight, and absolutely do not let your travel agent book close connections. For me that means at least an hour on domestic flights, and about two hours on international connections. But even with the best planning flights can be delayed, and sometimes, for whatever reason, your luggage doesn’t make the flight.

The only hedge against this is to pack your carry-on bag as if it’s the only bag you will receive. (Once in a while it will be.) Just the other day, traveling from California to South Africa (via Phoenix and New York) it happened to me: My gun case made it in just fine, but my duffel bag did not.

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When it comes to handling loaded guns, it is absolutely impossible to be too careful.

By Craig Boddington

We talk endlessly about the relative dangers of one member of the Big Five versus another. Statistically, even hunting dangerous game is a whole lot safer than a lot of other popular pastimes—but I am convinced that the most dangerous creature of all is another human with a firearm. For a guide, who is often in front, the risks are obvious. I am not resentful of guides who are anal about checking chambers and not allowing rounds to be chambered until permission is given. This just makes sense, and I was that way back when I was doing a little guiding. I’m the same way with my kids, but it’s actually worse when you’re hunting with a stranger with unknown safety habits—and a level of excitability that is also unknown.

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You never know if opportunities at game will come easily or not at all, so don't pass up a gift when it's given.

By Craig Boddington

I’ve often written that goat country starts where sheep country stops, and that goat hunting is thus generally tougher than sheep hunting. This is true, but it always depends on your luck and the exact circumstances. Just recently I did a spring hunt for Beceite ibex in southeastern Spain. Realistically, because of intensive and effective management in somewhat restricted islands of habitat, hunting any of the four Spanish ibex is generally less demanding than hunting the other races of ibex. The Beceite is often the least strenuous of the four Spanish ibex because their country is lower, wooded hills that usually aren’t especially steep…although locating them when they’re in the trees can border on impossible.

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