Tag Archives: Urban Huntress

The Closer You Get

FINDING PEACE WITH SHORT-RANGE PRECISION HUNTING

Brittany Boddington 

I’ve gotten a lot of questions about where I stand on hunting and shooting from long distances, although I usually tend to stay out of these matters, because I figure that everyone has her or his own reasons to hunt.

People always have their own driving motivations and passions, and hunting is a personal experience. It is rooted in being alone in the wild and connecting to Mother Nature. This can be done no matter what weapon you choose to hunt with or how far you choose to shoot from, but for me hunting is all about the stalk and getting up close and personal with animals in their natural habitat. Bowhunters often criticize rifle hunters because they don’t get as close to the animal they are stalking before they are able to take a shot, but the same is now happening with traditional hunters and a technique that some in our sport are calling precision hunting.

For Boddington, getting close on her first bow hunt was very exhilarating. She says she finally understood all the hype about archery. This rusa deer in Australia was taken at 25 yards with a Bowtech Heartbreaker set at 48 pounds draw weight. (BRITTANY BODDINGTON)

I HONESTLY HAVEN’T MADE up my mind on how exactly I feel about the new wave of long-distance shooters as hunters. I agree that hunters should be able to take long shots here and there when the conditions demand it; in some cases, a long shot may be your only shot. Open plains, for one.

I have taken animals out to around 500 yards when I’ve run out of cover and conditions were calm enough for me to feel comfortable with the shot. I certainly do not go looking for animals to shoot at 500 or more yards, but then again, the rifles and scopes I am using are sighted to shoot well at around 200 yards because that was where I put them when I sighted them in at the range.

I always try to close the gap and to get as close as possible. This is probably because I am a decent shot but my accuracy increases as the target gets closer, as is the case with most people. I also like to see the animal up close, and I enjoy the challenge of staying still as a statue when the animal looks my way, and then moving ever so slowly to get just a little bit closer and shorten the range.

It is always a gamble to take that step or move to the next tree for a better shot. You have to weigh the likelihood of the animal running with the advantage you gain by moving in. I like to hear them breathing and see where their eyes are looking. I like to be able to smell them as I sneak in closer and closer. These little details are lost when you start shooting from long distances.

Sometimes, long distances are required to take a shot. This hartebeest in Mozambique was taken at 475 yards. Boddington had no options but to take the shot or give up since her party had run out of cover on the edge of a floodplain. She knows that other hunters prefer to shoot from this far out but she likes getting significantly closer; “my hunt … revolves around the animal,” she says. (BRITTANY BODDINGTON)

THERE’S SO MUCH TECHNOLOGY being released these days in relation to long-distance shooting. Scopes are more powerful and more versatile than ever. The best way to really experience everything these rifle/scope combinations have to offer is to shoot targets or animals at long distance.

It takes skill and practice to take an animal at 1,000 yards. I can understand that it must give the shooter some serious satisfaction to take long shots like that and be successful. I only worry about what happens when a shot at that many yards goes slightly awry. What will the result be when whatever species you’re shooting at is hit poorly and a follow-up shot is needed but the brush or landscape will not allow it? It seems like a perfect scenario for inexperienced long-distance shooters to end up wounding suffering animals.

Author Brittany Boddington has hunted in a variety of situations, sometimes when a longer shot is required to harvest big game. But it’s her preference to get as close to the animals she hunts as she can, though she understands that what some in the industry are calling precision hunting is all the rage now. (BRITTANY BODDINGTON)

 

Hunting for me is about the experience. Guns are the tools of my trade, but my hunt does not revolve around my tools; it revolves around the animal. I can understand the skill and the allure of long-distance shooting and precision hunting, but I think it is safe to say that it is not for me. CS
Editor’s note: Brittany Boddington is a Los Angeles-based hunter, adventurer and journalist. For more, go to brittanyboddington.com or facebook.com/brittanyboddington.

Gobbler Down!

AFTER GOING TURKEYLESS IN TEXAS, A TRIP TO KANSAS HELPS SNAP BRITTANY’S SKID

By Brittany Boddington

After my first turkey fail, I was anxious to get back out and try again.

This time I headed to Kansas and hunted with Dan Bell of Bell Wildlife Specialties (785-589-2321; huntingkansaswhitetails.com). I was a little nervous since my first try for turkey was so unsuccessful in Texas (California Sportsman, June 2016), but Bell assured me we’d get the job done.

I arrived at midday and we immediately went on the computer and got my hunting license and turkey tag printed out. We had to wait for the rest of our group to arrive, but by the time they got there I was in my camo, ready to head out and redeem myself.

The view from Brittany’s blind usually included turkeys, but in many cases they were just hens or small jakes. The author wasn’t sure a mature tom would show up before her hunt wrapped up. (BRITTANY BODDINGTON)

THE FIRST AFTERNOON WAS pretty exciting. Bell thought that we should try sitting in a cool little grassy area with trees and a little creek bed running through it.

Boddington was dressed for turkey success, but she was going to have to work for this bird. (BRITTANY BODDINGTON)

We hid ourselves in a spot with some taller grass and bushes and brushed ourselves in as best we could. We sat as still as possible and Bell tried doing some calling on his slate. The sun was at that magical angle where everything looks golden when Bell made a little sound to let us know there was a turkey creeping in from behind us. I was so excited I struggled to stay still.

After what seemed like forever, a jake finally popped out from the creek bed and stood about 20 yards from me next to a tree. It was dead still while looking around, and I knew instinctively that this was not a big enough bird to shoot. Still, I was excited to see it anyways and wanted to let the guys know that it was around.

They were at a different angle and couldn’t see the young male turkey yet. I moved just a bit to signal to them that the jake was out, but it must have spotted me because it took off and was gone.

The next morning we went out long before daylight and climbed into a blind that overlooked a big field. There was water down below and a tree line that wrapped around us. We set out some decoys, did some calling and waited. It wasn’t long before the first hen arrived. She made her way along the tree line, heading toward the water below, and was followed by a few more hens. We settled in, called a little and waited. A little while later the same hen emerged from the trees closest to us and made her way over to the decoy. The other hens followed and circled around for a bit before they wandered away.

Besides guiding hunts for whitetail, pheasants and turkey in the Harveyville, Kan., area, Brittany’s friend Dan Bell is also a taxidermist there. (BRITTANY BODDINGTON)

As the morning progressed two coyotes crossed the field in front of us, but unfortunately I didn’t have a rifle with me and they never came in shotgun range.

That afternoon we tried another spot, which overlooked an old cornfield that was out of use. Bell had heard that the turkeys were roosting nearby, so we hoped to catch them headed in for the night. This time we didn’t sit long before the first one arrived. It was a jake, so we watched him circle around for a while.

To our right a hen popped out; as we watched her, two big longbeards came walking in right behind her. We all got pretty excited – probably too excited and I ended up rushing my shot and shooting right over the top of them. Things weren’t going as well as I’d hoped.

I ONLY HAD TWO days to hunt and I had ruined my first chance, so I was not very happy with myself. But I didn’t give up either.

The next morning we tried the same spot again and had the same result, except the coyotes didn’t show up. In the afternoon we tried a new spot tucked in a corner of a grassy opening surrounded by trees. We did some calling and heard some rustling in the brush but never got a turkey to come out.
That should have been my last chance. I had to leave for the airport around 8:30 a.m. the next morning, but we decided to squeeze in one last hunt before I left.

Finding a tom to wander into shooting range took patience. Eventually a big enough bird was within range. (BRITTANY BODDINGTON)

Finding a tom to wander into shooting range took patience. Eventually a big enough bird was within range. (BRITTANY BODDINGTON)

We got up and out extra early and drove further than we had before. We settled into a blind on a tree line overlooking two big empty fields. As light started to break through the trees, a hen appeared. She slowly worked her way past us and across the field into the trees on the other side. We could hear more turkeys coming down from a roost nearby, and sure enough, one by one they crossed in front of us as they made their way out for the day.

The clock was ticking and no big toms had appeared. I started to consider shooting a jake just so that we would have a turkey to take home. I didn’t want to, but given my streak, desperation was becoming a factor. I second-guessed myself a few times after passing on a few birds.

Urban Huntress 6I knew we had to pull the plug on the morning hunt in about 30 minutes and was praying something would arrive before that. I looked down and when I looked up there were two big longbeards walking toward me. I got so excited I fumbled trying to get myself in position, but thankfully the toms were looking at a hen and didn’t notice. I waited for a good shot. When the turkey stopped I took it, and thank goodness the bird didn’t fly away this time! I had my very first eastern turkey and it was gorgeous!

Finally, success! Brittany was running out of time and staring at the reality of ending another hunt without filling her gobbler tag, but this nice tom cooperated for her and guide Dan Bell, allowing her to notch her first tag. (BRITTANY BODDINGTON)

Just before I shot it had started to drizzle, and when I pulled the trigger it seemed to open up the skies. By the time I got to the turkey it was pouring rain. We gathered up our gear and got out of there just in time to head to the airport.

Just when I thought all hope was lost, it ended up being a successful hunt, and definitely one that I will not forget. Now it’s time to hit the range and work on my shotgun skills for the next turkey season! CS

Editor’s note: Brittany Boddington is a Los Angeles-based journalist, hunter and adventurer. Like her at facebook.com/brittanyboddington and follow at instagram.com/brittanyboddington