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THE ULTIMATE SNIPER by Maj. John L. Plaster USAR (ret.) [Book Review/Radio Interview]

Posted on 12 August 2010 by Cork Graham

You may be asking what a review on a sniper instructional book is doing in an outdoors magazine dedicated to effective wildlife conservation practices and game and fish cooking. What you might be missing is how the path of hunter to sniper has returned to hunter in the last ten years. It’s evident in the camouflage and even the equipment being used in the hunting community.

Hunter, Sniper, Hunter

Major Plaster uses the phrase “Close to the Earth” to describe that quality about the best snipers from around the world. This refers to the fact that almost all the best snipers, certainly the most recognized, had younger years based in the country, with a solid hunting background. Whether Russian snipers who hunted wolves in Siberia, or Austrailians who shot kangaroos, or American snipers who were raised hunting elk, deer and squirrels, all the highly regarded snipers had a solid background learning woodcraft in their youth.

How does this pertain to you, the hunter, just trying to do better in field? A lot!

In the last twenty years, the hunting community has benefited greatly by the equipment that has been developed for the sniping community. Previously, it was the sniping community that benefited most from what the hunting community provided. There’s this cycle that seems to have come completely around, where techniques and equipment gained through hunting were brought to the sniper schools of past: and now, the equipment and knowledge that is used in sniping has come full circle back to hunting…and anything you can do to be that more efficient in taking your game, lessening the chances of crippling or loss, is a level of effectiveness to reach for–good wildlife management and conservation practices demand it.

One of the easiest ties to recognize are the camouflage improvements to hunting clothing, advances in the military that were picked up and improved upon in the hunting community. There are also the improvements in rifles that make it almost a foregone conclusion that if you’re purchasing a new bolt-action rifle from a reputable manufacturer, you can pretty much expect it to shoot under 1 MOA.

A review of writings by Jack O’Connor would quickly tell you that in the 1930s and before WWII a rifle that shot 1.5 MOA was pretty good. And we’re not even talking yet about shooting technique and optics, of which the improvements in binoculars and laser rangefinders has been amazing! Sometimes snipers can even make good optical equipment purchases  through the civilian hunting market because the advances have come so fast in this hunter focused market—driven by a market that wants the best and has the money to pay for it.

And let’s not forget those skills taught snipers that every hunter can benefit from knowing and practicing: attention to detail, personal and environmental awareness; and  rifle, optics, and cartridge knowledge, and finally, but never least important–marksmanship.

The Ultimate Sniper

Of all the books out there, that takes a reader from the most basic skills to the most advanced, the latest updated and expanded the 2006 release of The Ultimate Sniper rises to the top. A large book with 573 pages, everyone of them worthwhile. It was written and compiled by sniper instructor and lecturer Major John L. Plaster, USAR (ret.), whose prior experience with MACV SOG in Indochina and starting a number of highly regarded sniper schools, are well-known.

Even though the sniper’s instructional tome is directed toward military and law enforcement snipers, there is so much information that applies to your hunting improvement. Here are just  few of what  The Ultimate Sniper covers.

Basic and Advanced Marksmanship

If only these sections were taught to everyone who picks up a rifle. In the basic section, Plaster writes about sniper attitude, proper sight picture, shooting positions and breath control, and one shot sighting in. With the advent of the Caldwell Lead Sled, I’ve found this to be one of the easiest to perform.

When Plaster gets to the advanced marksmanship techniques, there’s information in there that will improve your shooting skills immensely.

Get Support

I’ve lost count of how many hunters I’ve seen miss because they just brought their rifles up and fired off-hand. How much more venison would have ended up in a hunter’s meatlocker had they used a better shooting rest?

A sniper is always aware of the best shooting position, always on the lookout for the rifle rest. This can be as simple as shucking a backpack and dropping it down the ground to lay the rifle over (one of my favorites if the ground permits) or dropping to a sitting position—many drop to a knee, when a sitting position is much more stable…

Bring shooting sticks with you. Plaster shows you how to make your own. You can make them long or short. I carry a foot-long tripod made with wooden dowels in my hunting pack, and also carry a set of Predator-styx slung across my shoulder with a thin bungee cord. At a moments notice, you’ll have a much better shooting rest than an offhand shot could ever be.

That’s not to say I won’t take a quick shot at something close in the brush, or even running from an offhand position. But, it takes a lot of practice to do what is called “snap shooting.” Major Plaster co-produced and hosted an excellent video called The Ultimate Rifleman, which was directed specifically toward the hunter, and where he taught how best to prepare for a running shot on big-game. If you happen to find an old copy, snatch it up—you can find quite a bit of that type of information in the The Ultimate Sniper DVD that Major Plaster still produces.

Excellent skills deteriorate rapidly…if you come away from these sections on marksmanship with only one thought, it should at least be: practice, practice, practice!

Breath and Squeeze

The art of marksmanship is covered in great detail and every hunter will be well-served by rereading the sections dedicated to the integrated act of shooting. Using a chart and graph, Plaster reveals major components of excellent marksmanship: breathing, and trigger control, integrated with good body position and scope picture.

Like in archery, shooting a rifle requires follow through. If we all had to hunt with flintlocks like our ancestors, the importance of follow-through would be that much more apparent to the average shooter. Keep your eye on the target, sights on the desired bullet impact point, and a solid stockweld.

Know Your Round

One of the best things you can do toward improving your shooting skills is knowing what your bullet does in flight. I do this two ways, actually going to the range and shooting at 25 yard increments out to 600 yards with my hunting loads. Also, I use my ballistic software (I have copy of the Nightforce Ballistic Program that has a collection of factory rounds cataloged and the ability to type in values from a chronograph) to get a pretty good idea of travel of my bullets in their arch. I sight most of my rifles in at 1.5 inches high at 100 yards. If I run across a really close buck and want to shoot it in the neck, I aim a bit lower…little adjustments that can make a great difference when you know what your bullet’s doing in its travel.

BLACKHAWK!®’s Pro Marksman Folding Ammo Pouch with two windows for checking your dope before your shot, along with the sliderule style Mildot Master.

Expanded Awareness

Kim’s is a game that was first described in the story Kim, written by Rudyard Kipling. It’s a game that was taught to Kim when he was being trained to spy. It’s a game in a variety of forms that’s taught to spies and snipers and anyone involved in intelligence gathering. Its purpose is to improve memory skills. Attention to detail is also covered in it, which to a hunter is very useful.

Plaster has included a sniper’s version of the Where’s Waldo visual puzzle. I suggest using the Where’s Ivan as an example and sketch a herd of deer with a small buck and medium-sized buck and monster buck scattered within the herd. Then, give time limits to you and your friends to pick out bucks, and then try remembering where exactly they are in relation to the rest of the deer in the group.

Then, when you’re out in the field, scan for deer and remember what qualities there are in deer, or whatever your prey–what makes them stand out against the landscape? During archery season, and early rifle seasons, in the West, this is easy, as the red-brown and light brown hides of deer really stand out on green grass and foliage. Against the snows of winter, or the dry brown grass, a deer’s darker winter hide really stands out.

Train your subconscious to pick out inconsistencies. One of the best sighting techniques I was taught as a teen was to look for horizontal lines. Aside from the horizon, Nature normally stretches out in vertical lines, tree trunks rising to the sun, and hillsides washing downhill. When you see horizontal lines on a hillside, like the back of a deer, cougar, pig, elk, bear, or cow, it’s very apparent when you’re looking for it!  And how many of us have looked at a group of rocks, suddenly seen one of them shapeshift into a wild boar on the hoof, before running off? Pay attention…and use your optics!

Wind and Range

One of the most confusing for many hunters is estimating for wind and range. There are so many things in the environment that because of size, position, and distance can drastically effect a hunter’s ability to estimate distance: inclines, declines, objects much larger than your target. They’re all covered in this section of the The Ultimate Sniper.

And you might be surprised how much wind can effect your bullet even at ranges under 400 yards…but I’ll leave that to the reading.

Close to the Earth

One of the most important points to take is that about how the best snipers had a connection to the earth that went way back to their childhoods. From all parts of the world that has turned out some of the most impressive snipers (Australia, Scotland, Russia and the US) most of them had a hunting and woodcraft background that started in childhood. Close to the earth has relevance in a number ways. It’s the background of snipers, like Vasili Zaitsev (hunted wolves and wild boar in Siberia), Chuck Mawhinney (hunted elk and deer back in Oregon) and Carlos Hathcock (hunted squirrels and other game for the table), all well-grounded in a youth of hunting and learning wood craft. It’s the deep inner knowledge of how we are related to the earth, how we standout, and how we can blend in with this earth.

It’s also the level of awareness that almost seems psychic in its ability to detect and enable a sniper to be two or three moves ahead of the target. It’s almost innate in someone who was introduced to firearms as a hunter, as compared to just a competition shooter. Remember that the German sniping instructor sent by Hitler to hunt down Zaitsev was better equipped, but Zaitsev relied on his “cunning” as the Germans liked to comment, and is carried in the Soviet sniper’s motto: “While invisible, I see and destroy.”

Major Plaster puts forward a hypothesis that the reason there were hardly any well-trained snipers in the Iraqi Army during what would have been a great environment for snipers, the trench warfare during the Iraq-Iran War, goes out without a blip because an Arab society that historically had a reputation for longrange shots, was by modern times devoid of them because of an enmasse move of the hinterland population into urban areas–like in so many other parts of the world. They basically lost cultural skills instilled and developed through years of pre-service experience in the country.

By improving your woodcraft as a hunter, you will increase the number of successes while hunting. Every hunter would be best aided by reading the chapter on stalking and movement. Addressing “The Wall of Green” as the author calls it, is most often hard for new and experienced hunters: much like a stream fisherman who fishes an ocean coast for the first time and doesn’t know how to read the coastline for fish. It’s overcoming this, using the scanning tactics described by Plaster, that has led me to shoot a number of deer and feral pigs in their beds. You can see an example of this, when I’m picking out a wild boar that is only 10 yards away from me in deep brush in this episode of Cork’s Outdoor TV.

If you’ve ever had failures sneaking up on those open-land antelope in Wyoming and Arizona, the section on stalking will be very helpful.

Get The Ultimate Sniper, read it, apply the techniques, read it again and see how you might improve or modify the information for your own environment…no matter your present level, I’d be surprised if your skills didn’t improve—and get out there and practice, practice, practice!

Get your copy here:


Tips and Techniques directly from the Master

Major John Plaster is well represented on two websites. As an advisor at Millet Sights, he has written a number of articles to help the shooter. He has his own http://ultimatesniper.com, where he offers his books and has a shipload of information, not the least of which are pdf scans of historical books going back to mid-1800 printings about sniping. In the following broadcast of Cork’s Outdoor Radio we talk about some of the tips. This one would be helpful to a lot of hunters by helping undersand what your bullet can and can’t do—even if you can shoot that far, depending on what cartridge you’re using, you might not want to based on the information in this brief: TERMINAL BALLISTICS

For your daily commute on your MP3 player – Download and Enjoy MAJ John L.  Plaster’s interview on Cork’s Outdoors Radio:

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Waterfowl Season Starts Now

Posted on 16 June 2010 by Cork Graham

It’s amazing how the screech of a poorly blown duck call can sound like a teacher drawing her nails across a blackboard. Such is the sound of waterfowl hunters who start much too late in their preparation for the season.

Being prepared isn’t just about calling, either: there’s making sure your shotgun’s shooting as well as last year; checking your duck jacket to see if you need to patch some holes, or just get a new one. Is your ammo shooting the way you think it is?

Every year it behooves the hunter to make sure everything is working as they want, and to find out long before it’s time to head out into the field. All too often the first chance at putting wild duck on the table turns dismal—leaky waders, missed shots—or, more dangerously so, duckboats sinking!

A great waterfowl season begins months before that opener in October.

Take out your waterfowl hunting clothing now. If it’s your duckhunting coat, hopefully you didn’t pack it away in a footlocker or drawer for the off-season. This compresses the insulating materials and such repeated season storage depletes their ability to keep you warm the next season. Check it for those holes, and perhaps take it to the tailor to have those shell loops replaced if they’re all stretched out.

Get Callin’

Spring is also the best time to start your calling practice. As master duck caller—and the one who taught me how to call ducks as a thirteen-year-old newbie duck hunter—Billy Gianquinto recommends, every duck hunter should purchase their calls in spring, get a good instruction tape or CD and practice everyday. It’s during this time, that I carry my duck and goose calls in my truck so that I can practice during a day’s commute.

What’s nice about practicing your calling in the vehicle is that you need to have one hand free for driving, which forces you to learn how to use your call with one hand: much more appropriate for a duck hunter holding a shotgun in a blind with the non-call hand. This especially comes in handy when learning how to use a goose flute with one hand instead of the normal two.

Get a good collection of duck hunting videos, not just the slicing DVDs that just show the kill shots. Get the DVDs that take you from calling to learning how to set a decoy set, to best of all, how to call based on what the ducks are doing.  Gianquinto and Cajun Duck Commander Robertson Clan have some great calling instruction videos.

Hittin’ What You’re Shootin’ At

Cork Graham successfully testing the original Black Cloud through a Remington 11-87 and SP-10 on Sacramento Valley snows and specks

Now’s a great time to look at what your shotgun really does and with the ammo you choose to shoot out of it. So many duck hunters just purchase a shotgun and a box of shells and head straight out into the duck blind, not even knowing how their shotgun is shooting.

What sighting in at the range is to a deer hunter with a newly purchased rifle and scope, patterning a shotgun is to a duck and goose hunter.

The average hunter might be surprised at how many people who purchase a new shotgun think that it need only be pointed in the general direction, and you hit what you’re shooting for. Must have been all those cartoons and mythical descriptions of how the trench guns worked in battle, especially to infantrymen whose rifle skills were wanting—but there are many that think a shotgun has magical properties.

When I received my first pump shotgun I was surprised at how much I was missing. This was a shotgun built by a major manufacturer—what could be wrong? A trip to the range and aiming at a dot on a large piece of white butcher paper quickly offered an answer.

The shotgun was patterning up to the right. I could have taken it to a gunsmith and had the pump modified, but instead I just remembered to adjust my shot picture while shooting. Had I not taken the shotgun to the range to find out what was really happening, I’d probably have gone on with a hit and miss for years.

The decision to pattern a shotgun should be taken not when just getting a new shotgun, but also to see how a new shot load does out a specific firearm. It’s also wise to check into a new choke when purchasing a shotgun.

For years I only shot the different chokes that came packaged with my shotguns and never inquired into the multitude of chokes, until last year and a chat with George Trulock, owner of Trulock Chokes and a man with a vast firearms knowledge that started in law enforcement, and distilled through many years researching the effects of chokes on shot. I learned how 3-inch chokes are a prime length for patterning a shot load especially steel shot.

Unlike a rifle that is accurate because of the effect on a bullet by the rifling, a shotgun influences its shot effectiveness by forcing a load of shot into a column that will spread out in as uniform a pattern as possible. By having a choke that that forces the load in three inches instead of two, the pattern delivered is much more uniform: think shot hitting a wall, because it’s so steep and angle, as compared to sliding along the wall because the angle is lessened by the longer length of the 3-inch choke.

The importance of chokes appropriate to the load was made clear a couple years ago when I tried Federal Premium’s Black Cloud ammunition for the first time. What I consider the deadliest duck medicine out there, I noticed that not only did the unique collared barrel shot perform amazingly, with solidly killed ducks, but also that the Trulock Black Cloud choke I got for hunting with the new cartridge performed admirably. One of the main reasons it works so well is that it’s designed to let out the shot and wad in a staggered manner that permits the shot to pattern effectively without creating so many flyers that destroy a pattern.

New for this year, Federal Premium has the new Black Cloud Snow Goose load. While the first release of Black Cloud was flying at 1450 fps, the new Snow Goose is screaming at 1635 fps!

That means it really cuts the geese, but that also means its patterning is effected differently than the slower shot. According to Trulock, the higher the speed, the wilder the flyers as they bounce off the inside wall of the choke instead of slide along its sides.

As Trulock said, it’s a tug-of-war between killing speed and uniform patterns. Too many flyers and the loss of not only the uniformity of the pattern, but also more holes in that pattern that a duck or goose can escape through.

Now, all these are just guidelines. Like everyone’s personal preferences for hunting equipment, a shotgun has its own personality and by learning it’s personality, not just shooting it, but modifying it, do you make sure every shot counts…and the earlier you start preparing for the fall season, the more prepared you’ll be to make your fall waterfowl season that much more enjoyable and successful.

For your daily commute on your MP3 player – Download and Enjoy the latest news at Federal Premium on Cork’s Outdoors Radio:

TOPICS: Federal Premium PR Manager Tim Brandt talks about the history of Federal Ammunition’s merge with ATK, long line of excellent ammunition for big-game and waterfowl hunting, along with the new and upcoming offerings.

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On the Track of Wily Wild Boar Babi Guling

Posted on 12 February 2010 by Cork Graham

Two rounds of Winchester .300 Win Mag ETip on Babi Guling
Two rounds of Winchester .300 Win Mag ETip on Babi Guling

 Back when I was a 20-year-old combat photographer, still fresh to my freedom from a Vietnamese reeducation prison, recruited and being trained to be another Captain America in the US’s war against Communist Totalitarianism (you know that 80-year event we had before this present Islamist Totalitarian threat …that one that those under 20 say, “Huh, we were really at war with the Russians? It wasn’t really a Cold War?”), T. Michael Riddle was the lead guitarist for a band called Valhalla, being mentored by his friend Ronnie Montrose.

Montrose was watching the news on the Contras versus Sandinista war, that I was having a front seat to at the time, and the music and chorus came to him. He brought them to Valhalla. Valhalla added lyrics and they released Freedom Fighter in 1985, on the album Valhalla. Now a master guide and outfitter, Michael Riddle asked me if I wanted to try the pig hunting on the 27,000 acres of prime hunting land he has sole access to in Central California under Native Hunt.

Cork’s Outdoors TV was due for another episode, so I answered, “You betcha!”

Leaving at night, and arriving at his headquarters near Fort Hunter Liggett in the early morning darkness, we were greeted by a few of Riddle’s guides and three clients, a father and two sons from Aptos. While waiting for morning light in the office, we heard a bunch of pigs grunting outside and Riddle pointed them out. All about 70 to 120 pounds. Just a bit big for what we had planned, but when hunting light came, they’d be more than available to the father and sons group who tagged out early.

This was on the free-roam area of the Native Hunt headquarters ranch mind you. Riddle also has a collection of pure-strain wild boar he imported from Poland a few years back. He keeps them on 900 high-fenced acres, along with bison and fallow deer.

Now before you get in a tiff, and say, “High fence? And you’re likened to Aldo Leopold by the London Times, the same Aldo Leopold who was a major proponent of democratic free roam hunting opportunities—what?!”

…As I said, I’ll be writing about this in a future column about how the human population of the new millennium is nowhere as small as that of early 1900s, and so our wildlife management and improvement of hunting opportunities need adjustment…but suffice it to say, high-fence when done right (as it is at Native Hunt), 900 acres is just as demanding and fair chase as hunting non-fenced game.

Remember this isn’t Ohio or New York, where what they call mountains we in the West call road bumps and hills. Native Hunt’s acres of penned exotics game is as the crow flies is 900 acres. When you take into consideration the steepness of the mountains, it’s near 3,000 to 5,000 acres of terrain Michael Riddle has in his fenced area. That’s pretty challenging with a rifle and especially with a bow.

But, Riddle and I were after a feral hog in the 50-60lb range to produce an episode of Cork’s Outdoors TV, teaching you how to roast a wild boar the way they do in Indonesia, something they call Babi Guling, which just means “pig revolving”, i.e. pig revolving on a spit, in Malay and Indonesian.

Until then, Riddle would be taking a client on another property who wanted to hunt a wild boar with his traditional longbow. When we arrived at the other property with the client, not too attentive to sound control while grabbing his bow, the client spooked a herd of wild boar feeding in an open field of young barley only 60 yards away, 10 minutes before shooting light. I tagged along for a while, listening to a multitude of wild turkeys and coyotes calling to each other…

Each time we thought we’d get back on the pigs, they were yet another ridge away. The client, who’d never shot at anything other than target with longbow, did get his wild boar later that afternoon: a testament to the guiding patience and skill of Riddle’s lead guide, Sam. A perfect 50-pound roasting size, the client and I joked about trading another opportunity at a larger wild boar. I half-heartedly joked with him about it as there were a lot of wild pigs on the properties (by that afternoon I’d see at least 50 I could have taken with my rifle), but all were 20 to 100 pound more than what we wanted—50 pounds was just going to fit into the Caja China Riddle has at the Native Hunt Lodge.

After a tour of the animals that makes the Jolon Ranch such a nice little exotics safari right out from the lodge, we went to sleep and woke in the morning to venture through the fog outside of the bounded area and were immediately onto pigs within 50 yards of the high bison fence. We heard the grunt of a couple pigs, and from the sounds of movement coming from the brush right next to us; there must have been about 10 pigs in the herd.

As we had only two days before having to return to the Bay Area, I was going to take the shot, whichever was available…Yes, we got lucky in a number of ways, but I’d be cheating you out of the adventure, if I told you everything that happened, recorded in the latest episode of Cork’s Outdoors TV, the boar stalking set to Valhalla’s Freedom Fighter.

Click on the latest pig hunting episode screenshot photo link at the bottom and stay tuned for the Roasting Babi Guling cooking episode coming up…!

Shemagh’s That?

Not only an opportunity to check out Native Hunt’s offerings that would make any international outfitter proud, the trip was also done with the intention of trying out some equipment I’ve never used before: the Nightforce™ 3.5-15x56mm NXS, non-lead ETip ammunition from Winchester, and Blackhawk!®’s Thermo-Fur Jacket and Shemagh.

Nightforce™ 3.5-15x56mm NXS

This is quickly turning into my favorite all around scope for long and close range. Were it that the reticle couldn’t be illuminated, I don’t think I’d be so excited about using the Nightforce Optics™ 3.5-15x56mm NXS with MilDot in scenarios other than which it was originally designed: military and law enforcement long-range tactical applications.

With high-quality glass and a large objective, the scope makes easy work of drawing down on a target in early twilight, and picking out targets in dense brush, lowlight conditions.

Because the posts of the reticle are outlines instead of the normal solid black ( I love this design for long-range shooting, because you can see what’s behind the post), it’s not as easy to discern the fine reticle lines from branches in tight brush. But, and this is a BIG but: when the reticle is illuminated with a simple pulling out of the parallax knob, the red-lit reticle really stands out from everything in a way that even a solid traditional 4-Plex type reticle can’t do.

In Hunting Babi Guling, you see how fast I’m shooting right after I notice a pig only 15 yards away, draw up, and get a clear picture of the boar in my sights, and take the shot, a milisecond after Valhalla says, “Roll the dice!”

Winchester ETip in 180 gr.  .300 Winchester Magnum

Ever since I shot my first California blacktail near Chester, California with a poly-tip pointed bullet out of my .280 Remington in the mid-1980s, when manufacturers first really started pushing the highly accurate, but just as unpredictable mushrooming qualities, I blew softball-sized chunks out of that small buck. Unlike some who think that a big hole means a quick kill, I prefer a bullet diameter-sized hole coming in, and silver dollar sized hole on the way out.

Anymore explosive energy of the bullet, and you’re finding too many bullet fragments sent through the meat that translate to bloodshot and unusable meat. With some bullets, the fragmentation can be horrendous.

As I’ve always stated, I’m not focused on trophy hunting. When it comes to making sure I’ve got full use of the meat from a dead animal, it starts with the shot: so that I’m not spending all day trying to correct by trimming away too much wasted meat. A good copper and lead bullet, with good mushrooming qualities and retaining 70 percent of the bullet weight is perfect for me.

Gladly surprised with this first time using an all-copper bullet and that also had a poly-tip (I’ve used the Barnes Bullets and found them to be more than adequate in accuracy and killing ability), I came upon the very dead-in-under-a-minute roasting boar. Instead of the mega-sized hole I remembered from my first poly-tip experience on the buck, there was a neat silver dollar hole in this pig’s chest.

Accuracy wasn’t a problem either, as I was still hitting the 12-inch gong at 175 yards that Riddle has mounted across the lake and halfway up the ridge at Native Hunt. I’m looking forward to putting these 180 gr. non-lead bullets [now required in Central California because of the Condor Area closure] through the paces at longer ranges on bigger pigs…and since I need to do a prosciutto preparation episode with a wild boar in the manner of Serrano ham, before it gets too hot in California, that should be pretty soon… 

Blackhawk!® Thermo-Fur Jacket

If you read my last column you saw me wearing this great jacket while holding a freshly culled cottontail rabbit. The Thermo-Fur Jacket that works more than efficiently as an insulative liner for a breathable shell-jacket, but can stand on it’s own in a medium breeze and no rain. When I was hunting the wild boar on the episode I was actually wearing it under the Cabela’s® GoreTex shell: it kept me toasty without overheating. I would have probably used it on it’s own, but I needed a jacket that would at once be quiet as the Cabela’s shell is (and so is the Thermo-Fur), and yet, I could be sure wouldn’t catch on hook-like brush as the Thermo-Fur would—didn’t want to shred something I just got.

Had I been hunting wild boar in the open barley fields, like in which those pigs we found on the longbower’s hunt, I would have easily just stayed with the Thermo-Fur: the jacket was that warm in the cold of morning, even with the hanging fog and moisture!

And it’s not just that jacket keep you warm, but that it really just keeps you comfortable. It’s weird to say, but it’s almost as though it has a variable magical thermometer control that doesn’t let you get to warm or cold…just comfy. Few man-made materials do this. This is why I more often enjoy wearing outerwear made from natural fibers than polyester, and have been a fan of Filson® and clothing for so many years for my hunting needs.

When it comes to Blackhawk!®, I’m learning as I use their equipment and clothing, that they seem to answer questions before they asked. A perfect example is the positioning and design of the pockets. Easily accessed and placed and oriented in an efficient manner, you’re not searching around for things when you need to keep your attention out in front of you, especially when you’re going into deep brush after potential danger—the zippers are also very quiet!

There was one thing that I was reminded about and that is the more you let moisture stick to your skin, no matter how insulative and wind-cutting your outergarment might, it’s all for naught if you the clothing against your skins doesn’t draw the moisture. I’d highly recommend using one of the many undergarments, T-shirts and crewnecks that Blackhawk!® has to do that job. I was wearing a cheap, red cotton longsleeve shirt and had it gotten colder, I’m sure I would have gone over the tipping point and been freezing: start right from inside to out!

In the Thermo-Fur Jacket, roominess of the pockets goes all the way from the waist up near the shoulder-that almost makes your jacket a light field pack pocketed chest harness! For those of you who might be in harms way, you can appreciate those large pockets for tossing your spent magazines to reload later. For the hunter that forgets a packs, you might also appreciate those large front pockets for carring a couple tenderloins, or even a couple backstraps, back to camp when you get that pack.

I’m looking forward to writing the column planned for when I receive the other two layers of the Blackhawk!® Warrior Wear Jacket System, that should be coming in soon. If you remember an article written by my colleague Wayne Van Zwoll more than ten years ago, showing distaste for the prevalence in tactical and military type clothing in the hunting fields and mountains over the last 20 years, you’re sure to find my upcoming column interesting…

Cork Graham warm and toasty in BLACKHAWK! shemagh

Cork Graham warm and toasty in BLACKHAWK! shemagh

Blackhawk!® Shemagh

I’ve always been a jungle boy. Raised in the tropics and at home in the jungle like many in Europe and America might be in a pine forest or mountain meadow, deserts just freak me out! So, though I’ve used the very efficient dark green and loam patterned see-through sniper’s veil that has served well as a hood, face camouflage material, headband and scarf, I’ve never really had the opportunity use the Middle Eastern desert Shemagh that so many special forces units are using these days.

When I tried it on our hunt for babi guling, first as a scarf to keep my neck warm and prevent early morning coughing from the cold that might signal my location to a boar, and then later when the wind picked up as a hood and head covering, I was totally amazed. Made from the simplest of materials, cotton, it did more to keep my head warm than a full jacket hood and a ball cap.

My understanding is that the weave of the Shemagh is loose enough to enable pliability, but tight enough to act as a phenomenal windbreaker and help in retaining body moisture, too.

I’m sure to have one in my kit for hunting, whether that’s for comfort, or for camo. One side has a predominance of black squares which works great early and late in the day for calling in coyotes, and the other side with the predominance of olive drab looks like it’ll do well during waterfowl season to cover my face, while enabling me to look up and watch the descent and flight pattern as they work the dekes, without flaring them with a big white face.

You will have to learn how to tie a Shemagh properly for use as snug camo, but I’ll do a snippet video to show how easy it is: Indonesian or Arab style.

Related Links and Articles:

  1. Nightforce Optics

  2. Blackhawk!®

  3. Winchester

  4. Native Hunt

  5. Not Bored Chasing the Boars

  6. Wild Hogs!

COMING UP

  1. The River Cottage Meat Book by Michael Fearnley-Whittingstall [Book Review]

  2. Surmounting the Cultural Conflict of Tactical Clothing and Equipment in the Outdoors

 

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CLICK ON THE ABOVE PHOTO TO WATCH THE EPISODE

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