Idaho: Big Country, Big Whitetail Bucks

idaho buck 2016 vinnieGuest blog from our longtime friend Vinnie C. from Florida, who has blogged with me from day 1 since I launched Big Deer 8 years ago. Thanks for your support and this great hunting post man:

Left Florida with 95-degree weather and traveled to NW Idaho where temps were in the 20s and 30s. Time to hunt giant whitetails!

I was hunting with very good friends: Lou, who owns the property I’ve hunted for at least 5 years now; Vince, who invited me along years ago; and DJ, the newest member of the group.

Opening day, October 10, was cold and rainy early, about 38 degrees. At sunup I sneaked down a hillside to my favorite rock, a vantage I have been hunting for years. It cleared at first light, and as I glassed the surrounding area a few deer materialized from nowhere. Saw some young bucks and a couple does with yearlings. Herd looked to be in fantastic shape and the animals didn’t seem to be under any pressure whatsoever.

About 8:00 I noticed movement on the plateau below me at about 600 yards. When I put the glasses on the buck I could see pretty good head gear even at that range. I was trying to get into position for a possible shot when he decided to head down the face of the plateau into a fairly deep ravine. I thought about making a play on him but decided to sit tight, being as it was only the first day of a seven day hunt.

About 20 minutes later I heard a shot from Vince, who by the way is also the one who turned me on to longer range shooting. He was hunting way off to my left, and whacked a beautiful 10 point at almost 400 yards. I waited a little at my spot, then went to help my friend drag his deer down the mountain.

The next day was a bit colder, and I got to the rock early. It was a morning you can only dream of, with spectacular mountains in the background and a river running through the breathtaking hillsides. With the country crisp and alive, deer started moving early, looking for a nice place to lie up on the sunny sides of the hills.

idaho buck 2016 vinnie 2

Around 8:30 I saw a shape appear on the plateau. Put the glasses on him and knew right away he was a shooter. The buck was about 525 yards down the mountainside. I nestled my Browning A-bolt in 300 Win. Mag. firmly in the crease of my backpack and coat, and ranged and dialed him at 500 yards. I had a solid rest and was ready to send a 180-grain Nosler down the hill. I exhaled and squeezed off the shot.

The deer never flinched! He just moved along his route, across to my right. I was shaking a bit now and chambered another round. I ranged him again and he was 445. I figured I had shot over him, so I adjusted the distance, squeezed off another shot and hit him hard behind the shoulder. He reared up his hind legs and I knew I had smoked him good.

I got a rush and goose bumps. There is no feeling more exciting than knowing you just shot a nice buck! He was biggest bodied deer I have ever killed. Incredible hunt and incredible buck, and a day I will never forget.

On the third day, it was 28 degrees, and deer were on the move, butting heads and thrashing the bushes. I saw a couple more shooters that morning, and then I heard a shot  the distance. DJ had shot a nice 10-pointer and the hunt was complete. I spent time with some of the finest people on the planet in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. Cannot wait for next year!—Vinnie C. from Florida

Saskatchewan Huntress Smokes 205” Mule Deer

sask taylor 1From my friend Oneil Baillargeon, who enlisted the help of Anthony Springer as they looked for a huge muley buck for Oneil’s fiancé, Taylor Mills:

“Had an amazing week in southern Saskatchewan. Taylor was fortunate enough to draw a pretty special mule deer tag this year, so Anthony and I went down for a few days at the end of July to do some scouting and talk with landowners.

We came across “Big Smo” nearly 3 months ago, and went back to hunt him when the season opened. After putting over 30 miles on foot, and Taylor passing up a 170-class buck, and us sneaking into 40 yards of a 185-190″ buck that she decided wasn’t quite big enough, we were able to pinpoint Big Smo once again. A 4-hour wait at 100 yards for him to get up, a well-placed muzzleloader shot by Taylor, and the rest is history.”

Taylor says, “Five days, 35 miles on our boots and some pretty rugged terrain. None of that crosses my mind after being able to harvest this buck of a lifetime! I am more than thankful for all the help and hard work Oneil & Anthony put in and for capturing the whole story. Couldn’t ask for a better first Mule Deer Buck!”

The rack taped 205 2/8” green, way to go Taylor and Oneil, what a gorgeous buck!

Montana: Summer Strommen’s First Buck

Friend and longtime Big Deer blogger Luke Strommen writes:

So proud of this young lady! Summer, who turned 10 two days earlier, was so excited to go hunt for her first buck.

MT summer buck 1

It was 25 degrees and really foggy on opening morning of the two-day youth hunt. After setting up in a blind on edge of a wheat field, I told Summer that we would try to tag the first buck that gave us an ethical opportunity, if we saw one.

She was hunting with a .308 and low-recoil 125-grain loads. The bullet really drops after 300 yards, but I won’t let my girls shoot that far anyway. Our rule right now is to keep it under 100.

This buck tantalized us at 60 yards for 20 minutes before legal shooting light arrived. Then Summer raised the rifle and delivered a perfectly placed shot. Meat in the freezer and memories for a lifetime.

MT summer s buck

At home, we pulled out the tenderloins and ate them for lunch, 6 hours after she killed the buck. #America’sprotein!

MT summber buck 4

I am very thankful for the Hunter Apprentice Program administered by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, which allows responsible hunters 21 years of age or older to take out kids for two days of hunting before the general season.

My girls are taught rigid firearms safety and have to recite the safety rules and demonstrate safe firearms handling before they are allowed to participate. I don’t force my girls to go…it’s their choice. If they don’t want to hunt yet, they don’t have to. So far they lose sleep over anticipation of hunting for a buck.

I’ll take these hunts with my girls over any hunt I have ever had or ever will.—Luke Strommen

Flying with Guns: Best Hard-Side Travel Cases

mike gun caseYou’ve heard that airline baggage handlers are gorillas that throw bags and gun cases around, but in my experience that is not the case. I peek out the plane window whenever I can and watch those guys, and for the most part they are responsible with peoples’ bags.

Now, I understand that some people flying with guns have horror stories, and some of those have been posted here on the blog. But I’ve been lucky with my rifles over the last 30 years, and yes, I knock on wood.

I’ve always used a top-quality hard case.

With all those miles you fly and connections, plus the last leg of a journey to and from your destination, your case (and guns and scopes inside) will be subject to a lot of thumping, rattling and shimmying in the belly of airplanes, bed of trucks, boats, etc. Don’t skimp on a hard-sided case!

BEST TIP: Buy a quality hard case that will hold 2 rifles. Even if you don’t carry a back-up rifle, the case will be large enough to pack your binoculars, 2 boxes of ammo, shooting stick and some other stuff, which saves you room and weight in your other bag. Definitely buy a case with wheels that you can roll easily through the airport (all the best cases nowadays come with wheels).

Here are 2 great choices, both available from Cabela’s:

Pelican Double Rifle Travel Vault: This is one of the best hard cases I have ever used, and the one I carry now. These are the same type cases that traveling military and professional photographers use (on a typical BIG DEER TV shoot our cameramen might carry 6-8 Pelican cases). The exterior is made of polypropylene copolymer material that is fairly lightweight but thick, tough and durable. Available in black or desert tan, the latter my favorite.


Inside, the open-cell core foam and solid-wall construction absorb shock to protect your guns and optics and their zero. Easy-open latches combine a C-clamp with a secondary action that works like a pry bar so they lock tight but release with just a light pull. You can latch on 4 locks.

Case is 53 inches long, and can be checked as your second bag with no additional oversize fee (other than the customary second-bag fee). Empty, the case weighs 26 pounds; with two 8-pound rifles it still comes in well under the airlines’ allotted 50 pounds a bag.

I am not the only one who has had good luck with this Pelican case. In more than 100 Cabela’s customer reviews, it got 5 out of 5 stars. Cost is around $240; this case will last you for many years, probably forever.

SKB iSeries 5014 Double Rifle/Bow Case: This one is a no-brainer if you sometimes take guns and sometimes bows on a plane. The case holds 2 bows or 2 rifles or a bow/rifle combination that you stack inside. The high-density polyurethane shell closes tightly and is rugged. It has 4 trigger-release latches with TSA-approved locks, and 4 more holes along the case for your private locks.

skb case

Interior has thick foam and Velcro straps for securing bow limbs, something I have always liked in a case. This case is big enough for the biggest travel job, but still a good size to handle and roll (54 inches long and 26 pounds empty). So again, no oversize excess fee.

While I have not used this particular new case, I have used several similar SKB cases with great results and cannot imagine that the iSeries 5014 is not a quality one. This case retails for $280 and comes with a limited lifetime warranty that covers up to $1,500 in damage. Green, black or tan.

Once you’ve got your case, read our ultimate guide to flying with guns before you take off.


Record Gun Sales Continue As Americans Fear Clinton Presidency

gun cabelasOver the past 7 years, a popular saying in the firearms industry has been, “Obama has been the best gun salesman we could have!” The President’s anti-gun rheteroic and actions have produced record gun sales that will no doubt continue, and likely increase substantially, as law-abiding Americans anticipate a win for Hillary this November.

As this article in the Washington Free Beacon points out, “Both President Obama and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton have publicly expressed support for Australian-style gun confiscation measures. Clinton has also said the Supreme Court was wrong on Second Amendment gun rights protections…”

Let me repeat that: support for gun confiscation and wrong on Second Amendment gun rights.

“There is no doubt that the string of record monthly gun sales have been driven by the anti-rights agenda of the Obama Administration and the millions of dollars that Michael Bloomberg has spent assaulting the Second Amendment,” Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, said. “Now add to that the fact that Hillary Clinton has doubled down in attacking gun ownership in her White House campaign and it is no surprise that we continue to hit new gun sales records.”

I repeat a third time: confiscation.

Regardless of your political stripes, remember that when you go to the ballot box in November.

There are 2 pro-gun candidates in the race. We blogged about Donald Trump’s position on the Second Amendment. The NRA endorsed Trump last month.

What about Libertarian Gary Johnson, the former Governor of New Mexico?

Johnson said in 2012, “I’m one of those who believe the bumper sticker: If you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns. The first people who are going to be in line to turn in their guns are law-abiding citizens. Criminals are going to be left with guns. I believe that concealed carry is a way of reducing gun violence.”

On the Second Amendment, Johnson believes the right to bear arms is a basic Constitutional right and expresses the democratic principle of self-defense against tyrannical government.

There are many issues in this messy and crazy election, but on our guns and the Second Amendment, the choices are crystal clear.