Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Why HAWKE Optics?

As many of you know, RedHunter LLC is a proud dealer of HAWKE Optics.  Who is HAWKE and why did we choose them?  Well, because we literally spent days at the last Shot Show in Orlando, Florida just looking at optics.  There were manufacturers from all over the world showing their scope, binocular and spotting scope lines.   Everybody was there boosting their wares.   Small factories were there as well as all of the premium big name brands.

Our goal was to sort through them all and determine what we thought represented the best value for the dollars spent.  After examining them all, and I mean all, we settled on the HAWKE line of optics.  HAWKE has been in business for 30 years in the United Kingdom and the British designed HAWKE Optics have just been introduced here in the United States.

Here is a bit of news for you regarding rifle scopes.  Just about all of the rifle scopes made today are made and/or assembled in Asia.  Almost "all" of the lenses are ground there and the only determining factor betweena cheap scope and a more expensive model is the "quality" of the lens grind.  What it comes down to is, "How much quality control do you want in your lenses?"  Better brands should be spending more money on quality control than the so-so brands.  The scope's mechanical engineering may be done by the different brand manufacturers but many share the same basic parts and proven design features.

So, at the shot show when we compared  the HAWKE rifle scope optics and features next to the most popular premium brand, we were very impressed.  Same for the HAWKE spotting scopes.  During a recent Antelope hunt, we did a side-by-side comparison of the HAWKE Frontier spotting scope (Under $225.00) and a $3,000 Swarovski Spotting Scope and the results astounded the hunters and guides.  They were amazed at the clarity of the HAWKE spotting scope and could not see any apprecible difference in quality between the two.

Same for the HAWKE HD binoculars.  When the professional guides looked through them, they were impressed.  The HAWKE HD binos cost $400. and we put them side-by-side against a $1000. pair of Leupolds....the HAWKE binoculars won hands down for clarity, light weight (Titanium body) and brightness.  Needless to say, the Leupold owner was not happy.  But, he did buy a spotting scope from us.....LOL

It was never our intention to put any other brand down.  Our quest was, and continues to be, to find the best products for our customers (and ourselves) and offer these field tested products at a reasonable price.  I can honestly say that I have replaced three of my rifle scopes with HAWKE Optics and I love them.  John and I presonnaly use all of the products we sell.  If we don't believe in them, we don't sell them.

Speaking of rifle scopes, I just got word that the new HAWKE tactical line (built on the Sidewinder 30 chassis) is due out next week.  I have already ordered a 4.5 X 14 X 42 Illuminated with an SR6 reticle for my .223 AR Rock River Arms Coyote rifle.  I will be testing this new, smaller offering and write a review on it soon.

Here is a sneak peek........


Friday, November 13, 2009

Where are all the coyotes?

I live in the communist state of Kaliforniastan, sometimes referred to as Commiefornia.  Life here is very interesting because we have a never-ending supply of big brothers and big sisters that are always taking care of us little people.  They care so much about our every need and thank God, they know what is best for us or we would have to resort to thinking for ourselves.  Ha!  And you know how people get in trouble when that kind of "independent thought" begins to take place.  OMG!  Anything can happen.

Thanks to our elite class of rulers, many, many restrictions have been passed down and legislated to help govern us, the great unwashed, you know....keep us in line so we don't hurt ourselves, the planet or the Three Toed Tit Mouse.  Unfortunately, these abundant helpful rules and restrictions have caused businesses (you know, those evil businessmen that hire employees and pay taxes) to leave the state in droves.  Hmmmmm...could the coyotes be leaving too?

The last three years have proven to be pretty dry for us Southern California desert coyote hunters.  I am speaking of the weather and the coyote population.  The bottom line is that there seems to be a declining coyote population in the desert areas that were once quite fruitful.  So where have the coyotes gone? 

Any of us that have hunted coyotes have a great respect for their intelligence.  I think the coyotes have figured the game out and the smart ones have moved to "no-shoot" areas surrounding suburban housing developments.  It is the perfect coyote habitat.  Lot's of tasty cats, small, delicious dogs and plenty of food left out to feed on during the evening hunt.  Even better, some of the compassionate humans have actually begun feeding the local coyote population.  Yup, suburban areas surrounded by foothills are truly a coyote's paradise.  It may even be a part of Obama's "No Coyote Left Behind" program.  Yeah, that's it....the new ACORN logo wil be a coyote giving up his paw.

As I mentioned in a prior post, we scoured areas on our last hunt that were usually good areas for calling coyotes.  However, no sign was evident and we had to keep scouting instead of hunting hard.  The drought has definitely taken its toll because we saw no jackrabbits or rodents.  Where there is no coyote food, there will be no coyotes.

So, as I sit at my desk and look at "Ralph" my skinned coyote friend, I contemplate the location of his former companions.  I spend hours (when my wife is distracted on Facebook) searching Google Earth in hopes of finding some hidden "honey hole" and striking the mother load on my next series of stands.  All too often however, the Google photos are old and what looked great when the photos were taken is dry as a bone when we get out there.

As most of you know, the key to successful hunting is scouting.  Well, that is where the reality of our daily lives takes its toll.  All week long I am a slave to routine.  By day I sit behind a desk and attempt to solve engineering issues (OK, I may daydream a bit about having a triple on a stand).  In the evenings, time must be devoted to family and general welfare, personal tasks.  That doesn't leave much time for serious scouting.  (Those damn retired guys have all the luck)

So, I guess I will continue to seek out unincorporated, sparsely populated areas where it is legal to hunt and shoot.  I won't have time to scout those areas but I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts that coyotes will be there.  In this time of drought, I believe that those places will bear the most fruit.  It worked last weekend and for the limited amount of time I have to hunt, those areas seem to have the best calling odds.

So, stay legal, hunt around rural homes (as per DFG and local laws) and never take a shot in the direction of a house or road.  Good luck and keep the faith.      



Wednesday, November 11, 2009


DRT bullets must be made from Uranium enriched gold or “Unobtainium” or some other substance from another galaxy far, far away.  They are waaay too expensive for most of us working stiffs.  It may be a great product but manufacturing limited numbers gets expensive and I am not one that will pay that price…not yet, anyway.

My buddy tried the Varmint Grenades (.223) on a bunch of ground squirrels up in Cedarville and did not notice any “grenade-like” results. It killed them but most passed right through. More “explosive” results were achieved with standard hollow points and Nosler Ballistic Tips.

I won some non-lead Dead Coyote bullets (.224, 70-grains) in a club raffle and loaded up some.  They were very accurate from my .223 RRA Coyote AR at the range and I will try those on the next coyote hunt and see how they perform.

I have tried the Barnes TSX rounds from my 22-250 Tikka and although they would group two touching, I would always get a flyer. I’ll try them from my AR and see what happens.  I am not a Barnes fan though, mainly because they were a player in this whole Kaliforniastan non-lead ordeal. It’s like trying to forgive a wife that cheated on you. No matter how good the product is, I can’t forget their role in that mess and I don’t “trust” the company.

Thinking back to last weekend’s coyote hunt, I am amazed we called in as many animals as we did….considering the reeking oil odor from my rig. I recently noticed my valve cover leaking so I had the gasket changed about a week before the hunt.  After I got the rig home (a short drive from the Jeep shop), I cleaned all traces of leaked oil from the engine.  However, after an hour of driving, as my hunt buddy and I were riding on the freeway heading to our first hunt spot, I mentioned to my buddy that I could smell burning oil again. Gauges looked great so when we stopped for gas, sure enough, oil was leaking from the valve cover again. So we hunted all weekend, smelling like smoldering crankcase oil, leaving a trail like a stunt plane at an air show. I never noticed oil was blowing out of the dipstick area too.

On Monday, I dropped my FSJ hunt rig off at my mechanic’s place and he mentioned that there was excess crankcase pressure. Fortunately, the cause was diagnosed as a bad PCV valve (cheap fix) and now my baby is back home awaiting another post-hunt clean up, air filter cleaning and engine scrub. She’ll be ready to hunt real soon.

I just got word that HAWKE Optics will be introducing a new line of tactical scopes for 2010. That will be a perfect excuse for me to buy new glass for my RRA AR Coyote rifle. The tactical line will be built on the very successful Sidewinder chassis. Demos units will be here at the end of November and RedHunter LLC should see some serious inventory by mid-January. I don’t have pics or specs yet but I’ll keep ya’ll posted. The HAWKE Sidewinder 30 scopes have been very popular and really perform in the field. Every customer has been thrilled with their purchase.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Things have been real busy around the ranch and last weekend I finally got an opportunity to get out and call some coyotes. On Friday afternoon I packed the hunt rig with my gear, food and guns and picked up my buddy Ken. We forged our way through the usual crappy California traffic and headed out to some desert country to catch up with ol' Wiley Coyote.

We scouted some of our favorite calling areas in one zone and found no sign whatsoever. No tracks, no scat, no nothing. We saw no rats, mice or jack rabbits either. WTF? I guess the dry weather we have been having for the last several years has taken its toll on the desert dwelling animals.

I decided to break out my call and give one area a shot, just for the hell of it. I was using our RedHunterLLC Backstabber call (one of my favorites) and after calling for only about 30-seconds, out of the cover came 4 dogs. Ken's trigger finger was twitching and I yelled WAIT! They were not coyotes but just some wild dogs. Three took off and I used the coaxer on the back end of the Backstabber to bring him right up to us. He was a cute little pup about 2-months old. He looked like a cross between a Lab and a Pitbull. Big paws and big jaws but he was a bit on the friendly side. He was skinny as a rail and real hungry.

I reached into the cook box of the rig and pulled out a sleeve of Ritz crackers. He was loving them but it seemed cruel to feed crackers to a dog in the desert. I reached back into the cook box (the dog's eyes were wild with anticipation) and pulled out a can of Spam. By this time, he was drooling with both front paws on my rig's tailgate. I chopped up the Spam into small pieces and fed him slowly. He wolfed the Spam down like there was no tomorrow. God knows when he ate last. I then took the Spam can and filled it with fresh water. He lapped up two cans and sat down and gave me that, "Is there more?" look. I tried to pet him but he was not into the affection thing. I don't believe he has had much human contact. He was pretty darn good though and I felt bad leaving him in the desert to his own devices. Ken and I joked that when he got back to his pack, the others would smell Spam on his breath and ask, "Hey! Where did you get the Spam?"

Anyway, sundow soon came and we began night hunting. The Backstabber did a great job and I called in fox after fox...unfortunately, they were Kit Fox and we can't hunt them here in Kaliforniastan. No coyotes came to the call. I tried some howls but could not get any to howl back. Truth is, they just were'nt there.

We decided to move to another location and hunted on and off as we traveled down remote two-track dirt desert paths. We heard nothing and saw no tracks or scat. We ended up throwing in the towel at about 3 AM and camping for the night.

On Saturday we scouted and still found very few paw prints and zero scat. These used to be good areas but for some unknown reason, the yotes seemed to have moved on.

By Saturday night we were in an area that I usually always hunt with success. We saw some tracks but none of the usual territorial markings of scat along the trail. Finally at 7PM on Saturday night, we called in our first coyote.

It was a big night for Ken because he was trying out his new Rock River Arms heavy barrel AR in .223 caliber. Prior to our hunt, Ken had loaded up a bunch of different ammo and shot for groups at the range. The new rifle seemed to like just about everything he stuffed in the tube. Just for kicks, he loaded up some 50-grain Barnes Varmint Grenades that shot very accurately at the range and packed them for this hunt. Barnes touts their "explosive" effect on animals so Ken thought he'd give them a try.

Coyote number one was young, dumb and hungry. He came right in from just about dead down wind and stopped about 100-yards from the rig. I had his eyes lit up with a dim red light and Ken put a round right between the red dots that were the coyote's eyes reflecting back to us. We set our green laser line out to mark the location and went out to pick up the yote.

We were surprised when we got there because the hit was good but the animal was not dead. It was wounded and suffering. Ken and I never like to see an animal suffer and we strive to make sure they're dead before they hit the ground. Using Nosler Ballistic Tips, Sierra Blitz Kings or Hornady V-Max bullets assures that once hit, the yote is on to the promised land quickly. As far as we are concerned, the Barnes Varmint Grenades are for ground squirrels, period. Ken had to shoot the animal twice more at point blank range, into the vitals before the yote expired.

So we learned a lesson that night. Stick with bullets that have demonstrated proven performance on the game we usually hunt. The Barnes Varmint Grenade was the first "lead free" round we have tried on coyotes and we were not impressed.

By the end of the weekend, I had called in ten animals. Four coyotes and 6 Kit Fox. Two smart coyotes winded us and high-tailed it out of the area and two fell to Ken's AR. I decided to do the calling for most of the weekend so Ken could bloddy his new AR. The Backstabber did a great job and when there were animals around, it pulled them right in.