Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Eyes Have It!

I have been working hard for a while.  It has also been very hot here in Southern California.  It’s way too hot to venture into the Mojave Desert.  There is no doubt about it, I have really got the itch to go hunting and I can’t wait to get out there again. 

Before I get into the body of this message though, I have to relate a story that happened while serving aboard the last vessel.  I was working aboard a ship that was doing training for errant young men.  It was a boot camp on the water where we drilled the boys hard in physical training, lifeguarding, CPR, ship fire fighting, and several other disciplines.  We also did several night operations to boost the boy’s confidence and challenge their fears. 

Unknown to the boys, some of the training staff is placed on the beach (as shadow observers) in full camo to watch the boys operate and give assistance if there is an injury.  On a moonless night, as several of us staff approached a remote beach by Zodiac on Santa Cruz Island, I was illuminating the shoreline with my super-bright green LED flashlight.  All of a sudden I see a big set of eyes, right in the tree line by the water’s edge.  I immediately get all jacked up and call out, “Eyes!  I’ve got eyes!”.  The instructors in the boat look at me like I’m nuts.  They have no clue what I’m talking about.  The eyes were big and shown bright green from my flashlight. 

As we beached the Zodiac, the eyes were about 100-feet away and beginning to move through the brush and up the hillside.  I explained to the guys what I was talking about and they began to get excited too.  The only guy that wasn’t too excited was the guy we were leaving on the beach alone to wait for the cadets.  He was a little freaked out because we couldn’t get a positive ID on the animal.  What ever it was, moved up the hillside slowly and kept looking back at us.  We guessed a deer, a goat, a pig, it was anybody’s guess what we saw.  That did provide a bit of excitement for me though and made me think that I had to get out coyote hunting again soon. 

Some quick coyote hunting tips for the new guys:

  • Wind Direction:  Always walk to your stand location into the wind.  Don’t let your scent beat you there.  Also, shoot your animal before he gets downwind or the game is up.
  • Range the area:  Use your rangefinder and range some key points in your field of fire. 
  • Anticipate:  Position yourself facing the most likely direction the coyote will come in from.  Have your partner cover your back.
  • Equipment:  Check your gear before each stand.
  • Decoy:  Use a decoy so the predator sees it and not you.
  • Camo:  Camo everything, especially your face and hands.
  • Comfort:  Get comfortable, stay still and have your rifle in position to shoot.
  • Sounds:  Be absolutely quiet walking into your stand and never skyline yourself.  Take the low route and avoid cresting hills.
  • Don’t overcall.  Learn to use a howler and appeal to all of the animal’s emotions.  Be patient and don’t break the stand until you’re sure there are no predators around.
  • If you make a kill, keep calling.  There may be others out there.
  • Hunt safely and always make sure your rifle is unloaded when you approach your vehicle.   

Good luck to all and remember that safety is always your first concern.  Never let the excitement of the moment override your basic hunter/safety safety rules.   And check out RedHunterLLC.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

How to Improve Your Night Vision

As humans we are gifted with an amazing set of senses.  One of the most amazing is our sense of sight that allows us to focus and see in near darkness as well as bright sunlight.  When night hunting predators, our night vision is very important and we should do everything possible to preserve and protect it.
A key factor for effective night vision is a chemical called Rhodopsin.  The text book definition is as follows:  Rhodopsin, also known as visual purple, is a pigment of the retina that is responsible for both the formation of the photoreceptor cells and the first events in the perception of light. Rhodopsins belong to the G-protein coupled receptor family and are extremely sensitive to light, enabling vision in low-light conditions.”
To give you a better understanding of the mechanics of the eye and night vision, you’ll have to bear with me and dive into this a bit deeper.  So, hang in there as we take a little trip inside our eyes.  Understanding how the abovementioned chemical and the mechanical aspects of our eyes work will help you to be a more effective night hunter.
The door to our eye’s engine room is the pupil.  It automatically expands and contracts (just like a camera lens) depending upon the amount of ambient light we encounter.  When the light is very bright, the pupil closes down and allows just the right amount of light for us to see well.  In low light situations, the pupil opens wide and lets in all the light available.
The light is then projected into our eye and on to the eye’s retina.  The retina has two different types of cells called rods and cones.  Cone cells perceive colors in bright light and rod cells perceive black and white images and work best in low light.  Rhodopsin, the chemical I mentioned earlier, is found in the rod cells.
Rhodopsin is the key to night vision.  It is the chemical that the rods use to absorb photons and perceive light. When a molecule of rhodopsin absorbs a photon, it splits into a retinal and an opsin molecule. These molecules later recombine naturally back into rhodopsin at a fixed rate, and recombination is fairly slow.
So, when you expose your eyes to bright light, all of the rhodopsin breaks down into retinal and opsin. If you then turn out the lights and try to see in the dark, you can't. The cones need a lot of light, so they are useless, and there is no rhodopsin now so the rods are useless, too. Over the course of several minutes, however, the retinal and opsin recombine back into rhodopsin, and you can begin to see again.  Simply stated, exposed to light, the pigment immediately photo-bleaches, and it takes about 30 minutes to regenerate to your optimum night vision again.
Keep in mind that the retinal used in the eye is derived from vitamin A. If a person's diet is low in vitamin A, there is not enough retinal in the rods and therefore not enough rhodopsin. People who lack vitamin A often suffer from night blindness and they cannot see in the dark.  So, a couple of weeks before night hunting starts, you may want to start pumping some vitamin A into your system.
The predators we hunt have several advantages over us humans.  You’ll want to even the odds as much as you can by taking good care of yourself and sharpening your senses the best you can.  Don’t forget to get your body in shape before the hunting season starts.  I guess Mom was right.  Take your vitamins and you’ll be a more successful hunter.  For your other hunting needs and tips for more successful hunting, be sure to check our RedHunter LLC.  Good hunting and shoot straight.       

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Mystery of Barrel Twist Rates

What is the ideal bullet weight to use with your rifle barrel’s rate of twist? If you know the rate of twist of your rifle barrel, something called the “Greenhill Formula” could be a big help when it comes to finding that magic pill.
For the majority of standard rifle cartridges, the Greenhill Formula is expressed this way:

T=150(d/r) (Note: For velocities in excess of 2,800 fps, substitute 180 for 150)
“T” is the twist rate
“d” is the bullet diameter
“r” is the bullet’s length to diameter ratio (bullet length divided by its diameter)

Let’s illustrate this formula by using a very common caliber and bullet. Suppose you owned a .308 caliber rifle and you were going to be using 168-grain Sierra Match King bullets. Using the formula above, you would arrive at a calculated twist rate of 1:11:.76. Since that’s pretty darn close to 1:12, let’s just call it that. The whole thing seems to make good sense because the typical twist rate for most of the classic .308 rifles is 1:12.

Let’s look at another example. Suppose you were using that same .308 rifle and you wanted to shoot a heavier bullet. This time we plug in the data for a Sierra 175-grain Match King and the Greenhill Formula equation looks like this: T=150 X .308/4.081 and that equation computes our optimum twist rate to be 1:11:.32. So, we have a difference of 0.44 of an inch. That may not seem like a whole lot but in this application, it is.

Check a lot of the custom .308 rifles on the market and you’ll notice that their twist rates are faster (1:10 to 1:11.25 range) than the typical classic .308s of old. The faster twist will enable the new custom .308 to shoot heavier 175-grain bullets well while the classic 1:12 twist rifles will max out accuracy wise around the 168-grain mark.
That’s not to say that the newer rifles with a faster twist won’t shoot the lighter weight bullets because they can, and very well. The lighter bullets don’t seem to mind being rotated faster so the faster twist is a benefit over the slower twist barrel. Therefore, you’ll get the best of both worlds with a slightly faster twist rate.
Having a Chronograph to check the speed of your hand loads can really help your load building efforts too. If you are on the cusp regarding your bullet weight and twist rate (bullet a tad too heavy for your twist) you may be able to pinch additional accuracy by going for the hottest “safe-load” you can build.
Can a bullet be over stabilized? Can it be spun too darn fast? Yes it can. If the exiting bullet is spun too fast, the bullet has a tendency to travel along its downward arc while its bullet tip points skyward. This attitude steals velocity and hence increases the bullet’s susceptibility to wind drift. If all factors are as they should be, the properly stabilized bullet tip should tip downward as the bullet begins its downward arc.
If you over stabilize a bullet, chances are you will never notice it. Unless, of course, the over stabilization is extreme and you are rotating the jacket right off the bullet. Typically though accuracy deterioration from an “over-stabilized” bullet will only be noticeable at very long ranges. For your average 100 to 250-yard hunting range, it’s not really much of an issue.

Using this formula will most certainly help when planning the purchase of your next rifle. The preparation and homework will make it more likely that, in the end, you’ll be happy with the rifle, caliber and bullet weight that will best suit the intended purpose of the new rifle.  Another important accuracy factor is your glass.  For the best performance, choose a quality HAWKE rifle scope from RedHunterLLC.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Big Bucks Doesn't Guarantee Top Performance

Last year, before starting RedHunter LLC with my partner John Hunter, I bought a nifty, new tactical riflescope from a company internationally known for its quality optics. It cost me a good amount of money so I assumed that was an excellent quality scope.  I mounted it on my 25-06 and sighted it in at the range.  I achieved excellent results with teeny, tiny groups.  Naturally, I was very pleased with its performance.
As soon as I had a chance I loaded up my gear, picked up my hunting buddy and drove to the desert to do some coyote hunting.  My super-accurate Tikka T3 Lite with its new tactical scope was all sighted in and ready for business.
Our first two coyote calling stands were dry and we had just begun the third when at about 10PM, a nice coyote came into the call.  Mr. Coyote locked up at about 150-yards but thanks to the lighting skill of my buddy Ken, I had a bead drawn right on the coyote’s boiler room.  I squeezed off a round and heard that unmistakable sound of a bullet hitting flesh.  I looked up, confident that the Hornady 75-grain V-Max had done its job and the coyote was dead before it hit the ground.  NOT!  The coyote was up and starting to run off.  I fired again and he went down.  I was amazed that he could survive my 25-06 when I knew exactly where I had placed the rounds.
After checking around us 360-degrees, we set the laser on him and walked out.  Low and behold, the animal was still alive.  I had to put him down with one more shot.  I wounded an animal twice.   Something I consider inhumane and troubling.  But why were my points of impact not agreeing with my point of aim?  I was right on him and I knew where I placed the shots.  This really bothered me.  Naturally, Ken teased me about my marksmanship but I knew something wasn’t right.
The next morning I set a can out at about 100-yards and shot at it with my scope set at 3-power, our usual night setting.  I was resting on sand bags and held steady.  The round impacted about 4-inches low and to the left.  I fired again and the same thing happened.  Hmmmmm….the scope was dead-nuts on at the range.  Then I remembered that while sighting in at the range, I set the scope at 16-power so I could see the target better and shoot for the tightest groups.  So, I cranked up the power to 16 and fired at the can again.  The result was a clean, dead-on shot through the middle of the can.  Something was definitely wrong with the scope because points of impact should not change when you change power settings.
After we got home, I removed the new tactical, big name scope from the rifle and sent it back to the manufacturer for testing.  They tested it and concluded that the scope was bad.  They sent me a brand new replacement scope. 
Another lesson learned.  You can bet from now on when sighting in my hunting rifles at the range, I’ll be checking the point of aim at different powers.  You might want to check yours too.  Remember also that if you don’t reload your own ammo, purchase and use the exact brand ammo and bullet weight you originally sighted in with to retain a consistent point of impact.
Good sportsmanship dictates that when we shoot an animal, it needs to be dead before it knows what happened.  I did not enjoy dispatching that poor coyote after I had wounded it.  I hate to see any animal suffer.  Learn from my experience and check those points of impact at different levels of scope magnification.
At the 2009 Shot Show in Orlando, Florida, John and I closely examined every scope manufacturer there.  We wanted RedHunterLLC to offer the best possible optics for the dollars spent.  After two solid days of examination, testing and comparison, we determined the HAWKE optics line as the brand of optics we wanted to offer our customers.  HAWKE is new in the United Stated but well known in England.  HAWKE offers an incredible value for your hard-earned dollars.  MY 25-06 is now topped with a HAWKE 4 X 16 – 50 Sidewinder and I love it.  The HAWKE optics are clear, sharp, work great in low light and are reasonably priced.  The warranty is great too.
All of RedHunterLLC’s products are field proven by John and I and we don’t sell products we don’t believe in or use ourselves.  Side-by-side, HAWKE optics outshine the competition and perform like optics costing three times the price.  We don't show every HAWKE optic (rifle scopes, spotting scopes, binoculars, etc) in our RedHunterLLC web store but we can order any product you want and have it shipped to you quickly.