Tag Archive | "Wild Boar"

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Posted on 23 June 2012 by Cork Graham

California draws visitors from all over the world. Some come for the wine. Others come for the sun. Many come to see what has been described by such literary luminaries as Jack London and John Steinbeck. It was Steinbeck Country (the Duckworth family, depicted under a pseudonym in The Grapes of Wrath, has a family graveyard and ranch just down the way) that a production team from Finland’s JIM TV had come to film an episode of AMERICAN FOOD BATTLE. The main ingredient was to be the well-known feral hog of California.

Within an hour of meeting the cast and crew at the gate to Native Hunt Ranch, we were onto pigs. They were huddled under the overhang of a large, old oak when we came over the knoll in a four-wheeler. I knew they had to be there what with how a cold snap and rain had rolled in the night before. I breathed a sigh of relief as they weren’t where they normally were on Native Hunt Ranch. There was a lot riding on getting a pig today. I had a new AR-15 that UT Arms had specially made for our sister online publication, GCT Magazine, that need to get practical use, and I was guest-hosting a new cooking show for Finland’s JIM TV satellite channel. AMERICAN FOOD BATTLE had come out all the way from Helsinki to see how we hunt and eat in Monterey.

Frankly, I was actually delighted with how swiftly things were happening. Though I have spent a bit of time at rocker and friend, Michael Riddle’s Native Hunt Ranch, and enjoyed watching the multitude of animals on the property, there’s nothing guaranteed in nature. Normally, the pigs like to hang out in a canyon that bisects the ranch, a thoroughfare between the Fort Hunter Liggett Military Base on one side, and another ranch on the other.  It wasn’t very comfortable navigating across the green hills of Monterey County in the early morning drizzle, and so I knew the pigs had the same problems. Like the log house lodge that serves as respite from the cold and rain to guests, the shelter  under California oaks provides the same.

When we encountered the feral hogs, I pointed to a glade of oaks, and hushed, “Pigs!” Henry Dhuy, the cameraman, grabbed his equipment from the back of vehicle. I grabbed my AR-15 from its case, and did my best to chamber a round quietly. The pigs were tired from what must have been a horribly unsettling night of rain, thunder and lightning, and were sluggish in making a break from comfort: all of them were huddled next and on top of each other to keep warm from the wet and cold. By the time I edged over the hill, and checked back to make sure the Finnish cameraman was ready, two had come to their feet. One of them would be mine.

Laying the forestock of the AR-15 on a collapsible bipod, I quickly lined up the crosshairs on the smaller of the two pigs. This was a cooking show and I was doing my best to get the best-tasting porker in the bunch, 50 yards away. With the RR-CQLR’s crosshair bead centered on a point made by an imaginary crossing of two diagonal lines, from base of ear to eye on the other side, I touched off a round. The 65-grain hollow-point hit the 55-pound sow, and she jumped straight up in the air, just like countless cottontails I’ve shot in the head with a .22LR. After a few photos to record the event, we transported her over to the skinning shed on the other side of the ranch, and began the quick process of gutting and skinning the perfect-sized porker. Innards are oft lost in this modern day.

“You want the liver and kidneys?”

I think it’s because so many hunters, and even cuisine enthusiasts, just haven’t been taught the merits of liver, heart and kidneys. Our parents delighted in these. Our ancient ancestors, long before the advent
of agriculture thrived and survived on these, so much so that it was all they needed….and they didn’t get tooth cavities which became more prevalent as we moved from hunter/gatherers to farmers, from meat to grains.

“Do you want to work with these?” I asked our culinary masters from Finland. Chef Henri Alén, and Sommelier Nicolaus Thieulon, are co-owners of the successful Muru Ravintola, a French and Italian fusion restaurant in Helsinki. Veterans of a variety of cooking and travel shows in Finland, they’re well-versed in not only cuisine and but also pairing good food with wines. They took the liver, kidneys, heart and ham. I took the ham and the backstrap. The meat cut like butter it was so tender.

Heading back to the lodge’s open bar and roofed kitchen, we began work on meat preparation. I was going to offer my old bear, deer and wild boar standby Vietnamese-style marinated and grilled meat on rice noodle and salad, for the competition. The Finnish team opted for wild boar bourguignon.

Knowing the Fins have a long history with firearms, not the least of which is noted in history and present day by Sako, a manufacturer of fine rifles and ammunition, I invited the hosts to do a bit of target shooting off the back deck at a metal target stand 50 yards away. I’d been looking forward to getting more practice with a GLOCK 17 and my new favorite 1911, the S&W 1911TA. Emptying the 1911’s magazine into the target, the show’s producer, asked if he could have Henry Dhuy, a Los Angeles-transplanted cameraman, collect some video of me teaching an impromptu basic pistol shooting class, albeit at very long ranges.

Alén and Thieulon were ringers. Henri attributed his great shooting with the Glock 17 to his days as a recruit in the Finnish Navy.  When we were done it was time for me to get to work on the grilling of the meat component of my dish so that both our dished would be ready at the same time. I’d say more, but that would be cheating the viewers of finding out who won the competition. According to the producer, this season is presently being being edited and will be broadcast on JIM TV spring 2013.


Explaining the recipe…

So what was it like to be on Finnish TV? Very edifying! Here in the States, aside from language-dedicated audiences, such as those of Canal 14, we shoot in English for an English speaking audience. In Finland, a nation that was one occupied by Russia and Sweden, the production team shot English with me, and then in Finnish and Swedish between Alén and Thieulon. It gave me a lot to think, and you’ll begin to see some add-ons at Cork’s Outdoors, and our other multi-media publication, GCT Magazine, for our international audience.

 Hunting the Black Rifle

When hunters began using AR-10 and AR-15 rifles many words were fired back and forth between two camps. One camp considered the introduction of the “Black Rifle” a pall on the activity. The other camp lauded the attributes of the AR as a fine addition to the hunting community, either with a full 30-round magazine, for varmint control, or a five or 10-round for big and small-game. Many of those in either group can often be determined by their generation.

Many more options, many more calibers.

Those over thirty years old are often in the first group. They were also likely to have had their first experience in hunting with a more traditional lever action, pump, or bolt-action rifle. AR enthusiasts, on the other hand, were often introduced to the AR-style of rifle through M16/M4 they were issued in the military, or attracted to the firearm through watching action-adventure movies. Perhaps they purchased a civilian version of weapon they carried during their youth and want to recapture that part of their military life, and used it to plink and enjoy the relaxing activity of target shooting. Unlike the other shooter who probably graduated from a learning to shoot with bolt or pump action wood-stocked and started hunting small-game, then developed into a big-game hunter, the shooter first introduced to shooting through the military, had never hunted, but suddenly wanted to try it out, especially if they’re part of the “slow-food” movement that has sprung up in response to Michael Pollan’s bestseller, The Omnivore’s Dilemma. They went to the firearm in which they were well-versed: the AR platform.

Personally, I have no problem with the use of using AR type rifles, though I also prefer to hunt with a more traditional bolt-action or lever-action rifle. I’m not partial to shooting fast with a rifle having the type of pistol grip on AR and AK-type rifle. It’s a smoother transition to shoulder a rifle or shotgun from a two-handed, ready, carry with a traditional type of grip, like the straight, English-style grip on a Winchester 1894, or a curved grip on a Model 70. An AR15 on the other hand makes, because of its overall design, for a precision rifle for shooting from a rigid position, a stand or a blind, with a platform a set of shooting sticks. The reason is that the pistol grip  found on Black Rifles positions the trigger hand in a very relaxed position when the rifle is shouldered and enables the shooter to put all tension into the trigger finger.

In the world of traditional hunting stocks, this positioning of the grip hand is accomplished by either adding a pistol grip to a slightly modified stock, or forming a stock in the manner done for a thumbhole stock. One of the most accurate rifles I ever owned, the Savage 93R17 BTVS, was a true tack driver, for not only the stainless steel bull-barrel and AccuTrigger, but also the thumbhole laminated stock.

With regard to whether using an AR-15 or AK-47 is sporting or not, is pretty mute. Most states already require a round limit on magazines. Also, most hunting situations offer only a few viable shooting opportunities before the animals make it to safety: while shooting to remove the enemy’s will fight is the norm in war, incapacitation; shooting for a “clean kill” is the objective in hunting. Regarding overtake, there are laws and whether the shooter is a law-abiding hunter, or poaching game hog, is irrespective to what firearm the person in question is carrying. Finally, do you think the animal being shot really cares how sporting it was that you just killed it with a 5-shot bolt action rifle, or AR15 with a hunting regulation-required 5 or 10-shot magazine?

Whether you hunt with a traditional wood or composite stock, or an AR15 rifle that was originally designed to arm soldiers, is your prerogative. How you carry yourself in the field is was matters, and just as importantly how much time you spent on the field getting to really know the ins and outs of your firearm of choice, and its ammunition, to make sure that your shot is fast and efficient, both for the least amount of duress to the animal targeted, and the increased likelihood its flesh will be delicious at the dinner table.

Cork Graham is the publisher of GCT Magazine and Cork’s Outdoors. For his latest books, writings, and appearances, follow him at www.corkgraham.com, Facebook and Twitter. He is also a small-arms instructor and security consultant with ETS; for more information visit: www.emergencytacticalskills.com

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Pride Fowler Industries, Inc. RR-600-1 Rifle Scope [Product Review/Radio Interview]

Posted on 16 March 2012 by Cork Graham

Glass it’s all about the glass. That’s what everyone tells you about picking an excellent rifle scope. The problem is that to really appreciate what that means, you need to take it out into the field. 

Sure, you can see across the sporting goods store and see what a mounted elk or deer looks like, quartered by the reticle. You can even walk outside and check the scope in natural light out on the street. But, it’s the evaluating in the field that really tells of the quality of a scope you’ve put on your rifle. And, contrary to what you may think I find that that when checking glass, it’s not the long shots that indicate glass quality, but the close ones in the brush.

This is for two important reasons: clear definition of reticle against distraction, such as branches and vines; and light transmission in low-light conditions. What I was reminded on a pig hunt in Northern California awhile back is that the RR-600-1 3-9X42mm Rapid Reticle scope not only has an impressive lens system, but everything about the scopes is high quality and of excellent durability. Were this scope available twenty years ago, it would have easily been in the $2,500 to $3,500 range. That was before prices dropped because China got into the market with some very good components and opened opportunities for a number of scope manufacturers over the years.

What PFI has done is stay true to the “high quality at a reasonable price” philosophy that scope manufacturers on the Pacific side followed as compared to the heavily unionized competitors in Europe, who charge an arm and leg for optics that if it weren’t for their two-to-three-hundred-year-old brand doing the selling the price would be much, much lower. PFI stuck to standards of glass that negated China, and remained true to Japanese glass. No one in Asia, or most of the rest of the world for that matter, makes glass as good as the Japanese. Anyone who has ever had to work professionally with a camera can attest to that, whether your loyalties fit Nikon or Canon.  Like all good scopes, the PFI glass is multi-coated: contrary to the myths perpetrated by German and Austrian scope sales reps in the 1980s and early 1990s, that many gun writers bought into, it’s the lens and types of lens coatings that improve your ability to see in twilight, not whether you’ve got a humongous objective bell and a 30 mm tube. There are reasons for a 30 mm but they revolve more around adjustments than use once the scope is set…especially if you don’t need to make  turret adjustments, like come-ups, on a more traditional long-range scope.

The tube is black anodized 6061 T6 aluminum tubing, which is not only strong but light. But, as I say, what is it about PFI that makes their scopes unique and above so many? It’s the reticle.


The innovative and fast RR-600 Rapid Reticle


If you were introduced to long-range shooting in the military post-Vietnam, likely you went through some training in mildot. It was a number of calculations to determine angles and distances. It was not fast, even for the fastest. The Rapid Reticle on the other hand, is fast and accurate!

Their reticle design is based on the premise that a variety of cartridges deliver a bullet trajectory that can be grouped with others. For example, a 150gr. .30-06 is similar to a 150gr.  .308 Winchester, and a 150gr. .280 Remington.  Based on this premise, John Pride and Mickey Fowler, both winners of the Bianchi Cup, designed the Rapid Reticle to not only provide ranging, but also ballistic drop compensation. What they did that was innovative, getting away from the way it was normally done with mildot for range estimation and turret come-ups for compensating for bullet drop.

They took trajectories and grouped them. For the RR-600 it was a number of common hunting rounds. For the RR-800 and RR-900, it was a collection of trajectory compatible military rounds used in the military sniping community. From this data, they designed a reticle for each line of scopes that enables the shooter to simply adjust for drop by laying the range-corresponding stadia line on the target. Though the RR-600 doesn’t have range estimation, the RR-900 does. This was accomplished was by integrating the Rapid Ranging system.

The Rapid Ranging system is based on the average head being nine inches tall. By measuring a nine-inch target with the bracket system on the RR-CQLR-1, or the head-and-shoulder Rapid Ranging system on the RR-900-1, you can easily discern your target’s distance. Reports from the hunting field and the battlefield have been excellent: a number of endorsements which are on their site. It’s a scope that that can be used to get an SDM (squad designated marksman) qualified for long-range shooting in a fraction of the time that it would take get a sniper qualified on the standard milidot and turret system.

Not only a good looking and functioning scope system, it’s just plain simple.  And when there’s a lot of stress, as in combat, or even the jitters that might hit a hunter during that moment of truth, the better it is to not have to fiddle with a lot of things like calculations and making sure you gone through the process of doing your come-ups. It’s one thing to be on a hunt when you’re calm and in charge of time. It’s another when your team has been ambushed and you’re suddenly on counter-sniper detail: the Rapid Reticle and Rapid Ranging system earn their bars on this one.


Three-shot groups for 200 yards, 300 yards, and 400 yards at 100 yards for a .280 Remington


So simple, all you have to do with the RR-600 is sight it in at 200 yards, check for 400 yards, and you’re ready to go. I sighted in for 200 yards at 100 yards and then walked my rounds up the paper to see the variations per each stadia line. As a kid with his first 4-plex-reticled scope back in the late 1970s, the innovations in the market have been stupendous, but not in a long while has a manufacturer come out with something as fast, accurate and durable as the Pride Fowler Industries Rapid Reticle line of scopes.

Happily, you won’t have to make sure you’ve got change in your pocket, either! Don’t you just hate being at the range and realizing after searching your pocket that you’ll have to ask some next to you if they’ve got change, or you’ll have to use one of the screwdrivers that becaue of its shape will automatically scratch or mar the notch in the top of the turret in order to make elevation and windage adjustments to get zeroed? The designers at PFI made sure that all you have to do is unscrew and remove the turret covers and adjust by turning the adjustments with your fingers–now how sensible and forward-thinking is that? I’m still wondering who in the world was the ning-nong who came up with the penny or dime slots for getting your scope on target.


No more digging in your pockets for change!

Also, as everyone knows, wind can kill a good shot. The RR-600 stadia line lengths help compensate for left and right winds up to 10 miles per hour.

That’s not to say that when you’re out in the field you can extend the range of your “hail Marys”. What it does enable is the opportunity to make very accurate shots out at ranges well within the capabilities of your round, such as 200 to 500 yards. It’s something I’m looking forward to reporting further on this fall.

To get your own RR-600, order directly through their website: www.rapidreticle.com  

For your daily commute on your MP3 player – Download and Enjoy the interview of Pride Fowler Industries Vice President Richard Nguyen, on Cork’s Outdoors Radio:

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SHOT Show 2012 Media Day with Winchester Ammunition…and a ‘few’ others!

Posted on 18 January 2012 by Cork Graham

First covering Shotshow in 1997, perhaps it was about time to attend Media Day: I prefer to trial and evaluate new products in the field, so shooting at the public relations range event is more often just a redundancy…except when patterning shot and performing ballistics tests. It was also an opportunity connect up with a classmate of mine from my childhood days attending the Phoenix Study Group in Saigon.

Bill Skinner, a freelance cameraman for CNN, CBS and a number of other media organizations, had finished his latest contract shooting for the US State Department in Afghanistan. So, getting away to enjoy one of his passions, tactical-style firearms, was a nice respite. There were the Armalites, Colts, Springfield Amory, Browning offerings—I ran through a nice .308 offering from Armalite that I’ll look forward to trying in the field for wild boar in Texas. After a few well-placed shots into the metal targets at Springfield Armory’s range with what is a sweet-shooting version of the 1911, the Range Officer, we walked up the hill to Winchester’s display of the new Razorback XT, in .223 Remington and .308 Winchester.

Because of how the proliferation of AR-15 style rifles have inundated the market, and been effectively used in the battle against the overpopulation of ole Mr. Razorback in states like Texas, what better decision than to release a powder and projectile match as these rounds with a proper bullet to rip through hog hide and gristle and reach the vitals in a large pig?

The Armalite offering for wild boar?

The Razorback XT .223 round was released in a 64-grain bullet, while the .308 version is delivered in a 150-grain. Some might think that a .223 round is a little too light for feral pig hunting, but up to 200 yards, this round does it job. For someone who hunts most of his feral hogs in California, and often in the lead-free zone of Central California, the non-lead attributes of the Razorback XT is a God send! It is specially designed to not start deforming until after having pierced the hog’s armor. Now, all we have to do is get around the legal restrictions of the AR-10 and AR-15 design in California, which is laughable.

…Right after putting a number of Razorbacks down range, Skinner and I nwent over to the shotgun range to check out the latest release of Winchester’s wildly successful Blind Side.

An impressive, light load that patterns well!

This year they’re releasing a #5-shot load in 2-3/4-inch shell, along with a #2-shot load. From the way it patterns it looks like a great round to get those ducks in the 25 to 40-yard range…my favorite for shooting over decoys. Check out the latest episode of Cork’s Outdoors TV below:

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