Before you read this, please read the part one of this blog article, it will give you the starting point of my hunting tips for getting Red Stags - Norwegian-style.
1. The Bullets
I love 30 and 338 bullets. They are very effective, have great penetration and are affordable.
If I had to choose one bullet for everything hunting, it would be a 250 grain .338 bullet, travelling at 850- 930 m/s depending on the game I was targeting.
I have hunted in Scandinavia, Europe, Africa and North America and this bullet is adequate for 95% of the situations I have found myself in.
Anyway, I am not required to choose one bullet or caliber for hunting, and therefore I do have a couple of setups I go back to, again and again.
2. The Optics
As I mentioned before, in the part A of this article, I use big objective scopes on field hunts.
The Zeiss rifle scopes are excellent; I have used them for the last 12 years: Initially with the Victory line, then I moved onto the HT line and I am now using the V8 line. I prefer the latter - V8 2.8-20x56 - because of its great range, excellent light-gathering capabilities and the BDC (Bullet Drop Compensator) adjustment on top. I usually match the loads to the BDC and test it thoroughly before the season starts. By testing and adjusting I know that if I decide on a shot at >350 meters, I will hit the mark.
The scope is just half of the setup, and it is complemented by the binoculars. After I started using my Zeiss 10 x 56 RF (Range Finder), I became a much more effective hunter. I previously used binos and a rangefinder separately, but it is difficult to visualize the same in the rangefinder and in the binos (because of shifting from monocular vision to binocular vision). I was never really sure if I had ranged target spot on under the moonlight; with the Zeiss 10 x 56 RF I am able to be 100% sure. Aditionally, I prefer the 10X magnification, so I can be able to identify the gender and the age of the deer.
A bullet - it is said - is a complete idiot. It does exactly what you tell it to do and nothing more, in any conditions, sunlight or moonlight. I therefore practiced a lot with the BDC, at different ranges varying from 50 - 400 meters; I have a good notion of my capacities and have no problem taking longer shots, even under the moonlight.
3. The Rifles
For a long time I used a .308W (my first rifle, a 1993 Remington 700 VS). Then I went over to a 300WM (Remington 700 Police Sniper), and then a 338RUM (Remington 700 Sendero), followed by a 6.5x55 Swedish Mauser (Blaser R8) and finally the 7mm Blaser Magnum (same rifle but with different barrel). I have used now this last one for about 3 years and I like it - a lot. I am presently considering building a 300 Norma Magnum rifle. The cartridges we can get presently - with the 230 and 250 grain bullets - are so appealing, I am having trouble resisting the urge.
The setup I currently use (despite of my love for 30 and 338 bullets) for evening and moonlight hunting is, therefore, as follows:
- Blaser R8, 7mm Blaser Magnum
- GRS Bifrost stock
- Zeiss V8 2.8 - 20x56
- Zeiss 10 x 56 RF Binoculars
- 175 grain Nosler partition bullets, Norma Brass and Norma MRP powder
- Harris Bipod 6-9"
- Limbsaver sling.
For stalking, I use a different setup. I did not opt for light, as I have never liked light rifles and I want at least a 30 cal. bullet. In dense vegetation, the chance of the bullet hitting a twig on the way to the animal is higher. That is why I want to use a big-assed bullet, so that the deflection is less of an issue.
Anybody who knows me, knows I love big calibers in classic rifles. Our GRS stocks are excellent, but even I cannot deny that some rifles look better on a classic stock. I started using 375 H&H, 416 Rigby and 500 Nitro Express, just to test it... and you know what? It works like a charm! Actually, a big bullet ends up doing lesser damage to the meat than a smaller bullet. The speed of the big bore is much less than the smaller calibers, it just punches a hole in the animal and down it goes.
Anyway, the setup I use in stalking is, as follows:
- Bergara B14 HMR rifle in 308W
- GRS Berserk stock
- Zeiss V6 1-6 x 25 (the shots are typically only 25-75 meters)
- Zeiss Conquest 8 x 42 binoculars
- Limbsaver sling
When going on a stalking hunt, I always use a Ebelerstock Phantom backpack. I first came across to these backpacks when I was in the QRF team; we used it for the Barret M82A1NG sniper rifle.
The beauty of this backpack is that, once you've taken the shot you can free both hands to handle the animal, since the rifle is safely put away into the backpack. I love it.
There is absolutely no reason why you shouldn't use the same rifle for different types of hunting... I know many who do so. There's - however - no question you'll get more fun & function out of a rifle that is set up for specialized hunt.
There's also no denying that it is a a lot of fun to research, discuss, trade information on rifles, and do extensive tests with your setup. Once the tests are performed, don't forget to train with the setup you elected, as that is the most important part. Remember to avoid putting together a setup so expensive that you end up not having the funds to use it! It is far better to concentrate on one rifle and use it get to use it and know it extensively.
All the best :)
CEO GRS Riflestocks AS