Oct 03, 2012 01:53PM ● Published by tina
Originally published - October 2012
By Rafe Hembree, Outdoor Enthusiast
For most of my life, I’ve been told repeatedly that I need to stay focused. You remember the kid in elementary school that constantly stared out the window wishing he was out there instead of wherever he was? That kid was me. If there was a tree in view, my eyes were scanning it for movement of a squirrel or bird so I could watch its activity. Even as an adult, my short attention span gets the best of me especially when it comes to my outdoor activities.
Past my childhood adventures of squirrel and rabbit hunting, I got heavily involved in quail hunting in my teenage years. Of course, deer hunting was my passion, but I needed something to do between the morning and evening hunts. At the time, our lease was on the Spade Ranch in Colorado City, TX and there was a plethora of quail. Dad and I invested in 2 pointers and then things blossomed. We began travelling all over the panhandle of Texas and Oklahoma chasing quail. We made a perfect team because I was a much faster shot than Dad and I was left handed. All the birds that got up quick and to the right were mine. The long range and left side was his. During my quail hunting stint, our two man operation grew to 9 dogs, 4 shotguns, custom dog trailer, cases of shotgun shells and all the dog accessories imaginable.
Outside of the depletion of the quail population due to drought and fire ants, I’m still not sure to this day why we really stopped hunting birds. Nevertheless, we sold the trailer and got out of the pointer business but it was fun while it lasted. After that, I seemed to go back and get focused on deer hunting again. New techniques and bow hunting were becoming wildly popular so I picked up a bow. Today, bow hunting is my choice of action, because it’s very intense and the adrenaline rush of letting an arrow fly is highly addictive. It’s also somewhat scientific in terms of all the variables you have to contend with prior to shooting. On a personal level, I have several nice trophy deer on my walls. I’m just not sure I want to chase a large buck down in south Texas at this point in my life. Meat hunting is clearly my intent, so, bow hunting for big game will always be my fall back hobby when others grow stale.
My latest attention grabber (aka obsession) is predator and varmint hunting. This sport is an absolute fit for me, because you never do the same thing at any given moment. The latest predators of choice are coyotes and crows. To ranchers, they’re both highly invasive as each have the capability to kill baby calves as soon as they’re born into this world. Predator/varmint hunters have been increasing in numbers for several reasons. One of the contributions is the popularity of the AR-15 rifle. People got tired of letting these rifles just sit in the gun case unused so they took them out and sighted them in for use as long range varmint rifles.
The requirements for Varmint/Predator hunting are fairly minimal. You need a series of calls (a good electric caller is fine, although, I prefer mouth calls to get coyotes almost on top of you), a bow or rifle, a pop up blind or somewhere you can hide, and a good pair of binoculars. I like to use my AR-15, but only for long-range sniper style shots over 250 yards such as those you’d find at a prairie dog town. Most of the time, my Ruger mini .30 Carbine is my choice. With a fixed power scope on it, nothing gets by it at less than 100 yds. Truthfully, for the round I’m shooting, anything past 100 yards is just guesswork and not a fair or safe shot.
The joy of diversification is when you get tired of coyote hunting for the day; there are options, such as crow hunting. Usually, I’ll jump on the Ranger and move somewhere else, preferably with some open areas. Next, I’ll set up a few crow decoys and set the electric caller out in the open. If you’ve never been crow hunting, you’re missing out on an absolute riot of a good time. There may not be any crows visible for miles, but when they hear that call go off, they come out of the woods from every direction just to see the show. For crows, I prefer a shotgun because there’s no challenge in waiting till they get still.
So what’s next? It’s hard to keep me focused, but it’s not hard to keep me outside. I’ve been secretly keeping a close eye out on the pelt market. If it goes back up again, I might just have to start a series of trap lines.