If people thought the aggression of Black Lives Matter couldn’t happen in a red state like Texas, they were wrong. A new, viral video shows BLM protesters blocking traffic and brandishing guns in an attempt to intimidate those trying to get through in Plano, TX.
As a note for accuracy about who these protesters actually are, multiple Black Lives Matter shirts are visible. The signs being held up also indicate their allegiances.
At one point, you can see one of the protesters point a gun at the man who is yelling at them to move out of the road. But it’s what the police do that really has people talking.
Instead of trying to clear the street, the officer just stands there and only gets involved to deal with the driver. While it’s obvious he’s trying to keep things from escalating, that’s no excuse to stand idly by when unlawful behavior is clearly happening.
In response to this video, I’ve seen several BLM supporters claim that the protesters have a right to be armed. That’s true, but pretending anything in that video is legal shows a fundamental misunderstanding of how open carry (or any carry of a firearm) works. One of the things that a firearms instructor will drill into you is that you can not instigate a confrontation and then finish it with a gun while claiming self-defense. In this case, you can’t block traffic, entrap people, and then threaten them with a firearm. You certainly can’t shoot anyone in that situation. Once you instigate a confrontation as the BLM protesters did, the legal hurdles to claim self-defense become massively high.
Further, I want to note that there is no situation in Texas where a protest can legally block a roadway. Even if this protest was originally permitted, it had reached the point of law-breaking by the time the camera started rolling. Police should have moved to clear the road to de-escalate the situation. Instead, nothing was done until motorists started to get into it with protesters. That’s a failure of the police to do their jobs, likely due to restrictions placed on them further up the food chain.
This kind of lawless mob behavior is not just limited to urban centers. Plano is an affluent, Dallas suburb. If local authorities don’t get control, things are going to get out of hand, and people are going to die.
Special operatives and “violent nomads” of all types frequently operate in or near countries that are at war or in political crisis, and thus are vulnerable to being kidnapped for ransom—sometimes as a calculated attempt to thwart a mission, sometimes simply as a result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. More and more frequently, travelers to unstable regions face the same risk. The most predictable points of vulnerability in a traveler’s schedule are his departure from and return to his hotel at the beginning and end of his day—but an abduction may also be the result of a staged automobile accident. Common ruses used by kidnappers to apprehend a target on the road include:
The Bump: The attacker bumps the target’s vehicle from behind. The target gets out to assess the damage and suddenly finds himself in the trunk of a car.
The Good Samaritan: The attackers stage what appears to be an accident or feign a car problem. The target stops to assist and suddenly finds himself in the trunk of a car.
The Trap: Kidnappers use surveillance to follow the target home. When he pulls into his driveway and waits for the gate to open, the attacker pulls up from behind and blocks his car. The target finds himself in the trunk of a car. In each of these scenarios, the target ends up imprisoned. But he doesn’t have to remain in that state. Take the time to understand how a vehicle’s trunk operates, learning its vulnerabilities and how to defeat them.
If locked in a trunk, always try to be positioned in a way that allows access to escape tools. Then employ one of these methods to get yourself out:
CONOP: Concept of Operations; COA: Course of Action; BLUF: Bottom Line Up Front
Every time the question of a bigger rifle or smaller rifle (for any game) springs up, someone’s bound to say it: Karamojo Bell killed a thousand elephants with an .256. No, wait, with a .275. No, wait, he killed 1011 elephants, but only a few with the .256. No, but he was sniping out undisturbed elephants from long distance. Exploits of W.D.M. Bell, Esq., nicknamed “Karamojo” because of being the first European to penetrate the territory of the Karamojo people, became legendary and controversial. Any scientific argument must begin with a study of the sources, so let’s turn to the book that made W. D. M. Bell famous: “The Wanderings of an Elephant Hunter”, published in 1923. Our comments will follow.
CHAPTER II. THE BRAIN SHOT AT ELEPHANT (EXTRACT).
In hunting elephant, as in other things, what will suit one man may not suit another. Every hunter has different methods and uses different rifles. Some believe in the big bores, holding that the bigger the bore therefore the greater the shock.
Others hold that the difference between the shock from a bullet of, say, 250 grs. and that from a bullet of, say, 500 grs. is so slight that, when exercised upon an animal of such bulk as an elephant, it amounts to nothing at all. And there is no end to the arguments and contentions brought forward by either side ; therefore it should be borne in mind when reading the following instructions that they are merely the result of one individual’s personal experience and not the hard and fast rules of an exact science.
As regards rifles, I will simply state that I have tried the following: .416, .450/.400, .360, .350, .318, .275 and .256. At the time I possessed the double .400 I also had a .275. Sometimes I used one and sometimes the other, and it began to dawn on me that when an elephant was hit in the right place with the .275 it died just as quickly as when hit with the .400, and, vice versa, when the bullet from either rifle was wrongly placed death did not ensue.
In pursuance of this train of thought I wired both triggers of the double .450/.400 together, so that when I pulled the rear one both barrels went off simultaneously. By doing this I obtained the equivalent of 800 grs. of lead propelled by 120 grs. of cordite.
The net result was still the same. If wrongly placed, the 800 grs. from the .400 had no more effect than the 200 grs. from the 275. For years after that I continued to use the .275 and the .256 in all kinds of country and for all kinds of game. Each hunter should use the weapon he has most confidence in.
Again, the smallest bore rifles with cartridges of a modern military description, such as the .256, .275, .303 or .318, are quite sufficiently powerful for the brain shot. The advantages of these I need hardly enumerate, such as their cheap ness, reliability, handiness, lightness, freedom from recoil, etc.
For the brain shot only bullets with an unbroken metal envelope (i.e., solids) should be employed; and those showing good weight, moderate velocity, with a blunt or round-nosed point, are much better than the more modern high velocity sharp-pointed variety. They keep a truer course, and are not so liable to turn over as the latter.
CHAPTER X. RIFLES
The question of which rifles to use for big-game hunting is for each individual to settle for himself. If the novice starts off with, say, three rifles : one heavy, say a double -577 ; one medium, say a .318 or a .350 ; and one light, say a .256 or a .240 or a .276, then he cannot fail to develop a preference for one or other of them.
\For the style of killing which appeals to me most the light calibres are undoubtedly superior to the heavy. In this style you keep perfectly cool and are never in a hurry. You never fire unless you can clearly see your way to place the bullet in a vital spot.
That done the calibre of the bullet makes no difference. But to some men of different temperament this style is not suited. They cannot or will not control the desire to shoot almost on sight if close to the game. For these the largest bores are none too big. If I belonged to this school I would have had built a much more powerful weapon than the .600 bores.
Speaking personally, my greatest successes have been obtained with the 7 mm. Rigby-Mauser or .276, with the old round-nosed solid, weighing, I believe, 200 grs. It seemed to show a remarkable aptitude for finding the brain of an elephant. This holding of a true course I think is due to the moderate velocity, 2,300 ft., and to the fact that the proportion of diameter to length of bullet seems to be the ideal combination. For when you come below .276 to .256 or 6-5 mm., I found a bending of the bullet took place when fired into heavy bones.
Then, again, the ballistics of the 275 cartridge, as loaded in Germany at any rate, are such as to make for the very greatest reliability. In spite of the pressures being high, the cartridge construction is so excellent that trouble from blowbacks and split cases and loose caps in the mechanism are entirely obviated. Why the caps should be so reliable in this particular cartridge I have never understood. But the fact remains that, although I have used almost every kind of rifle, the only one which never let me down was a .276 with German (D.W.M.) ammunition. I never had one single hangfire even. Nor a stuck case, nor a split one, nor a blowback, nor a miss-fire. All of these I had with other rifles.
I often had the opportunity of testing this extraordinary little weapon on other animals than elephant. Once, to relate one of the less bloody of its killings, I met at close range, in high grass, three bull buffalo. Having at the moment a large native following more or less on the verge of starvation, as the country was rather game less, I had no hesitation about getting all three. One stood with head up about 10 yds. away and facing me, while the others appeared as rustles in the grass behind him.
Instantly ready as I always was, carrying my own rifle, I placed a .276 solid in his chest. He fell away in a forward lurch, disclosing another immediately behind him and in a similar posture. He also received a .276, falling on his nose and knees. The third now became visible through the commotion, affording a chance at his neck as he barged across my front. A bullet between neck and shoulder laid him flat. All three died without further trouble, and the whole affair lasted perhaps four or five seconds.
Another point in favour of the .276 is the shortness of the motions required to reload. This is most important in thick stuff. If one develops the habit by constant practice of pushing the rifle forward with the left hand while the right hand pulls back the bolt and then vice versa draws the rifle towards one while closing it, the rapidity of fire becomes quite extraordinary. With a long cartridge, necessitating long bolt movements, there is a danger that on occasions requiring great speed the bolt may not be drawn back quite sufficiently far to reject the fired case, and it may become re-entered into the chamber.
This once happened to me with a .350 Mauser at very close quarters with a rhino. I did not want any rhino, but the villagers had complained about this particular one upsetting their women while gathering firewood. We tracked him back into high grass. I had foolishly allowed a number of the villagers to come with me.
When it was obvious that we were close to our game these villagers began their African whispering, about as loud, in the still bush, as a full-throated bass voice in a gramophone song. Almost immediately the vicious old beast could be heard tearing through the grass straight towards us. I meant to fire my first shot into the movement as soon as it became visible, and to kill with my second as he swerved.
At a very few paces’ distance the grass showed where he was and I fired into it, reloading almost instantaneously. At the shot he swerved across, almost within kicking range, showing a wonderful chance at his neck. I fired, but there was only a click. I opened the bolt and there was my empty case.
I once lost a magnificent bull elephant through a .256 Mannlicher going wrong. I got up to him and pulled trigger on him, but click ! a miss-fire. He paid no attention and I softly opened the bolt. Out came the case, spilling the flake powder into the mechanism and leaving the bullet securely fast in the barrel lead. I tried to ram another cartridge in, but could not do so. Here was a fix. How to get that bullet out.
Caliber .256 is very small when you come to try poking sticks down it. Finally I got the bullet out, but then the barrel was full of short lengths of sticks which could not be cleared out, as no stick could be found sufficiently long, yet small enough.
So I decided to chance it and fire the whole lot into the old elephant, who, meanwhile, was feeding steadily along. I did so from sufficiently close range, but what happened I cannot say. Certainly that elephant got nothing of the charge except perhaps a few bits of stick. That something had touched him up was evident from his anxiety to get far away, for he never stopped during the hours I followed him.
At one time I used a double .450/.400. It was a beautiful weapon, but heavy. Its drawbacks I found were : it was slow for the third and succeeding shots ; it was noisy ; the cartridges weighed too much ; the strikers broke if a shade too hard or flattened and cut the cap if a shade too soft ; the caps of the cartridges were quite unreliable ; and finally, if any sand, grit or vegetation happened to fall on to the breech faces as you tore along you were done ; you could not close it. Grit especially was liable to do this when following an elephant which had had a mud bath, leaving the vegetation covered with it as he passed along. This would soon dry and tumble off at the least touch.
I have never heard any explanation of the undoubted fact that our British ammunition manufacturers cannot even yet produce a reliable rifle cartridge head, anvil and cap, other than that of the service .303. On my last shoot in Africa two years ago, when W and I went up the Bahr Aouck, the very first time he fired at an elephant he had a miss-fire and I had identically the same thing. We were using .318’s with English made cartridges.
Then on the same shoot I nearly had my head blown off and my thumb severely bruised by an English loaded .256. There was no miss-fire there. The cartridge appeared to me almost to detonate. More vapour came from the breech end than from the other. I have since been told by a great authority that it was probably due to a burst case, due to weak head.
On my return I complained about this and was supplied with a new batch, said to be all right. But whenever I fire four or five rounds I have a jam, and on investigating invariably find a cap blown out and lodging in the slots cut for the lugs of the bolt head. Luckily these cartridges are wanting in force; at one time they used fairly to blast me with gas from the wrong end. The fact that these faults are not conspicuously apparent in this country may be traced to the small number of rounds fired from sporting rifles, or, more probably, to the pressures increasing in a tropical temperature.
I have never been able to appreciate “shock” as applied to killing big game. It seems to me that you cannot hope to kill an elephant weighing six tons by ” shock ” unless you hit him with a field gun. And yet nearly all writers advocate the use of large bores as they “shock” the animal so much more than the small bores.
They undoubtedly “shock” the firer more, but I fail to see the difference they are going to make to the recipient of the bullet. If you expect to produce upon him by the use of big bores the effect a handful of shot had upon the Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, you will be disappointed. Wounded non-vitally he will go just as far and be just as savage with 500 grains of lead as with 200. And 100 grains in the right place are as good as ten million.
The thing that did most for my rifle shooting was, I believe, the fact that I always carried my own rifle. It weighed about 7 lb., and I constantly aligned it at anything and everything. I was always playing with it. Constant handling, constant aiming, constant Swedish drill with it, and then when it was required there it was ready and pointing true.
A lot of controversy about Karamojo Bell comes from Mr. Bell himself. “The Wonderings of an Elephant Hunter” was written when the trails were still hot, memories fresh, and from the “here’s what worked for me, under my specific circumstances” position. Later in life, however, his views became more radical. In an article titled “Big Bores vs. Small Bores”, for example, published posthumously by “The American Rifleman” in 1954, he urged everyone to dump the big bores and hunt all animals with rifles of the .308 Win. class (he praised the cartridge, even though he had no personal experience with it). All dependent on bullet placement, he wrote, “a .600 caliber 900-grain bullet in the right place will kill as dead as a 100-grain bullet”. A few paragraphs later, he called the .318 Westley Richards “the deadliest” of his foursome of favorites, that also included the 6.5 mm. Mannlicher, the 7 mm. Mauser, and the .303 British. So, he could see the difference in killing power between .318 and 7 mm, but not between .22 Swift and .600 NE. Er… seriously? Was it rhetorical vigor, or was W.D.M. Bell simply pulling the readers’ collective leg? These British “old chaps” loved a good prank – oh, pardon me, practical joke! What most people tend to learn over their lifetimes is that a radical view on anything is usually wrong. That includes Karamojo Bell and his small-bore rifles. On the one hand, Bell certainly didn’t kill over a thousand elephants with a 6.5 mm rifle. .As we already know, he used rifles for at least eight different rounds. For the trip into the Karamojo country, he had a battery of three rifles, two already mentioned and a.303 British. For three of his trips – to Liberia, up the River Bahr Aouk, and into the Buba Gida Potentiate and the Lakka country, he carried only one big-game rifle: a .318 Westley Richards. This is a medium bore (.330, or 8.4 mm) round that came loaded with a 250-grain (16 gram) bullet at 2,400 ft/s (730 m/s), or a 180-grain (12 gram) at 2,700 ft/s (820 m/s). He is credited with killing over 1011 elephants in his career, but the .256 accounted for the minority of kills, due to various ammunition problems.
On the other hand, critics tend to downplay Bell’s experience, saying he was mostly shooting undisturbed elephants at long distance in an open country. In fact, Bell killed all kinds of elephants in all kinds of terrain. That included the 12-foot grass in the Lado Enclave, where he had to shoot from an improvised elevation. If Bell couldn’t see the difference between bigger and smaller cartridges, why would he use the .318 WR on so many trips, and why did he order one .416 Rigby after another (as Rigby’s record books testify)? On the other hand, when African national parks carried out large-scale elephant culls – the nearest thing to Bell’s ivory hunting in modern world – the weapon of choice, to our knowledge, were semi-automatic military rifles and the 7.62 mm NATO (the military version of the .308 Win.). Karamojo would’ve approved. The bottom line is, precisely as Karamojo himself claimed in his earliest prose, the 7 mm Mauser was what worked for a specific person under specific circumstances. It’s not a magic bullet for everyone everywhere. In any case, Bell’s books make a wonderful read, whether you agree with his views or not. He was one of the people who had a unique experience, intelligent enough to know their experience were unique, and talented enough to preserve it for later generations in high-quality prose and imagery. And, as long as you don’t take Bell’s tips literally, his advice on knowing your weapon, the killing spots of your quarry, and being able to put every bullet where it belongs, still makes a lot of sense.
We’re in the early months of the centennial of U.S. participation in World War I, the so-called, “War to end all wars.” With the vantage of 20/20 hindsight, we now know that rather than “making the world safe for democracy,” as Woodrow Wilson hoped, World War I instead set the stage for the next round of global conflict.
The United States entered the war in 1917 as a relatively unknown quantity. The U.S. Army was tiny in 1917, and many wondered whether it would be able to mobilize enough men to really make a difference. In the end, the U.S. was able to put over a million military personnel in Europe – enough to sway the balance of power in Europe against the Central Powers.
November of 1918 saw the Armistice signed and a tenuous peace return to the world. And suddenly, America felt and saw the power of her military might. This came at the cost of hundreds of thousands of killed, wounded, and missing servicemen.
After the initial euphoria of victory wore off, Americans began to ask what had been gained from the war. As the Great Depression swept the world and Germany slid towards totalitarianism, this question became all the more pertinent. When war flared again in 1939, one can hardly blame those who advocated for U.S. isolationism given that U.S. participation in the Great War seemingly did little to prevent another conflagration. But what these people didn’t realize was that America would win World War II because of their experience in World War I.
When the U.S. entered World War I in 1917, the Army more closely resembled that of the Civil War than that of World War II. The horse was still the prime mover for the majority of the Army. The National Guard was still organized in state entities with no division alignments, ill-suited for modern warfare. The Army had few effective machine guns and virtually no modern artillery. There were no tanks or aircraft. Thus it was that machine guns, automatic rifles, gas masks, grenades, artillery, tanks, and aircraft all had to be supplied by the French and British in the first year of U.S. participation in the war.
While the equipment and organization of the Army lagged behind the rest of the world in 1917, there were greater and more serious gaps at the strategic level. Very few leaders had commanded or maneuvered anything larger than a brigade. Now the Army was designing divisions of 28,000 men – a massive and unwieldy organization.
The Army would struggle to keep command and control across these huge units throughout the entirety of the war. There was very little concept of command and staff operations in the U.S. Army at the strategic level at the outset of the war.
And the man chosen to lead the new American Expeditionary Force had some strong ideas about warfare that did not mesh with the realities on the battlefields of Europe. General John J. Pershing stated that, “the ultimate success of the army depends upon their proper use in open warfare…Aggressive offensive based on self-reliant infantry.” In other words, Pershing said that movement and maneuver in the open would be the foundation of U.S. tactics rather than the trench warfare of literally everyone else.
There was a problem with this, of course. The French and British had been trying this for years – with calamitous results. In fact, just as the U.S. was entering the war, the French were annihilating a large part of their army in the Nivelle Offensive. The enormous losses they incurred from this operation caused whole divisions to mutiny.
This led to massive reforms within the French Army. The Germans were already moving toward infiltration tactics. All sides were experimenting with combined arms with tanks, airplanes, artillery, and infantry working together. And here came the Americans, scoffing at the battle-hardened British and French, saying that trench warfare had made them immobile and scared to attack.
As one American brigade commander told his men in 1917, “The war will be won in the open; the Boche is in the trenches now and has been for four years. We have got to be able to drive him out and that is why this French instruction is valuable; but remember we are going to get him out into the open and then all the old and fixed principles of our school of warfare will come into play.” In the first American offensives of 1918 at Cantigny and Chateau-Thierry, thousands of Americans died in droves in front of German machine guns and under bursting artillery shells. Divisions were cleaned out in weeks and had to be revitalized with barely-trained replacements. It was an unsustainable form of warfare.
Throughout 1918, the Americans struggled to adapt their tactics to their adversaries. They fielded tanks at St. Mihiel, built up a formidable Air Service, and slowly learned how to fight war in the 20th century. Pershing and his staff began to learn that prosecuting war on the battlefield was not the only fight; as important was negotiating with allies. Unfortunately, Pershing was not a man cut out for diplomacy.
While he certainly looked the part, he lacked the temperament for dealing with his British and French counterparts – with whom he clashed constantly. To his credit, he had been placed in an incredibly difficult situation: raise, arm, train, and field the largest American army ever created while staving off British and French attempts to take all his troops for their own offensives.
But he didn’t make it easier on himself by blowing up at his allied counterparts and creating what could have been international incidents, had the Allies not needed American assistance so badly. Fortunately, he had some good subordinates, such as George C. Marshall. It was Marshall who not only organized and planned the Meuse-Argonne Offensive – the war-ending battle – but who smoothed over Pershing’s relations with everyone from foreign generals to Pershing’s own irate division commanders who objected to his micromanagement.
It was junior officers – men like Marshall, George Patton, Douglas MacArthur, Dwight Eisenhower (although he was never afforded the opportunity to fight in Europe), Mark Clarke, Lesley McNair, and Walter Kruger, amongst so many – who looked at the lessons from World War I and realized that the U.S. Army needed to change if it wanted to be competitive on the battlefield in another war. They knew that the Army could not sustain the disastrous casualty rates that “open warfare” had caused.
So they began to change the Army after the World War. Change was slow because they were still fighting the general officers who had grown up in the pre-World War I Army. Patton and Eisenhower were threatened with court martial if they didn’t stop publishing articles about such heretical things as the tank being the basis for offensives rather than dismounted infantry.
Efforts of the World War I generation were not helped by popular distrust in the military as the Army battled small budgets, low manpower authorizations, and increasing responsibilities around the world. Marshall moved his way through the Army staff system, overseeing sweeping changes to doctrine and staff procedures.
By 1939, he was the Army Chief of Staff; the WWI officer corps was finally in a position to effect the changes that they had envisioned and written about for twenty years. It wasn’t a moment too soon: the same day Marshall was sworn in, Germany invaded Poland.
In 1940, Marshall – remembering the poor performance of commanders in World War I – began the GHQ Maneuvers in the southern U.S. He called up National Guard divisions and paired them with Regular Army divisions to create full-scale army maneuvers: hundreds of thousands of men moving around Texas, Louisiana, and the Carolinas.
Here he and other military leaders were able to evaluate new technologies, test new doctrine, and get a feel for whether commanders were effective or not. Many were not, and were relieved of command, probably saving many lives in the coming conflict. The entire maneuvers provided Marshall and other key leaders the informational snapshot that they needed in order to start building the Army to war footing. Just as the maneuvers were winding down in the winter of 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and the U.S. was at war again.
One of the first things that the War Department did in 1942 was to operationalize the National Guard. One of the key lessons from World War I was that the Guard was needed on the front lines, but that they needed a time to train up. The other move was to get rid of the 28,000-man monstrosity of a division. The Army’s divisions were cut down in size, made more agile and adaptive, and given greater lethality through the addition of more enablers.
The Army got rid of the brigade and replaced it with the regimental combat team, composed of an infantry regiment, a field artillery battalion, and an engineer company. Infantry regiments gained antitank capabilities as well as their own organic artillery companies. These smaller and faster forces proved far more effective than their lumbering predecessors of World War I.
The Army adopted a tank corps as well and began training for combined arms warfare. Although the Army was still behind the 8-ball when it entered combat in 1942, the results would have been far more disastrous had it not been for the efforts of the generation of officers who had lived through the Great War.
Another key take-away from World War I was building relationships with Allies. Marshall and Eisenhower were far more patient men than Pershing had been, and were able to navigate the diplomatic pitfalls of being an allied commander far better than someone like Patton or MacArthur would have.
But Marshall did have his breaking points. For example, during a 1944 planning conference with the British, Prime Minister Winston Churchill was demanding an Allied invasion of the island of Rhodes, at which Marshall finally exploded, allegedly stating, “No American is going to land on that goddam island!” These outbursts were minimal, however, and the American and British coalition managed to stay together to defeat the Nazis and the Japanese.
There was one more way that World War I taught the U.S. people a lesson, and that was in the realm of veterans’ affairs. Between 1919-1920, the U.S. military sent millions of servicemembers back into civilian life. Many were wounded – both physically and mentally – and there was no real plan to take care of these “ex servicemen” as they were called at the time. Congress had passed a bill in 1924 granting a bonus to those who had honorably served during the war, but during the Great Depression the payouts had been
cut back. In 1932, thousands of veterans descended on Washington D.C. in the infamous Bonus March. They were eventually evicted at gunpoint and with tear gas by Army units in one of the most shameful treatment of veterans in our nation’s history.
MacArthur, Patton, and Eisenhower all took part in this execrable affair. With that living in recent memory, veterans services organizations and WWI veterans in Congress resolved that nothing like it should ever happen again. The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 provided a whole range of benefits to veterans returning to society, the chief of which was access to a college education. This act is commonly known as the GI Bill.
From the battlefield to the staff room to the college campus, World War I veterans made their presence felt. While World War I would lead to World War II, it was American experience in the first that brought victory to the second.
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About the Author: Angry Staff Officer is an Army engineer officer who is adrift in a sea of doctrine and staff operations and uses writing as a means to retain his sanity. He also collaborates on a podcast with Adin Dobkin entitled War Stories, which examines key moments in the history of warfare.
A big muley on restricted land tempts the hunter to take a high risk shot if he moves to a narrow opening on public land. It’s a 300 yard shot with a 10 yard window for success – Do you take the shot?
SHOOT OR DON’T SHOOT?
As dawn shepherds darkness from the fields you spot the telltale dark blobs that are deer, feeding their way toward cover and daytime bedding areas. Shooting light arrives, and you urgently scan the fields for the big buck you’ve been hunting since opening day. Then there he is, grazing with several other bucks. He’s on off-limits property, but at least you finally have him spotted. Then he begins to move. He’s headed for a property you can hunt – but the problem is, you’ll only be able to see him for a short ten yards after he jumps the fence and before he disappears into a brushy draw.
Following three smaller bucks, the big buck makes his way to the dividing fence. You hit them with your rangefinder; they are exactly 351 yards distant. There is no discernable wind. You crank the dial on your scope to the 350-yard mark. Then the three smaller bucks jump the fence and are soon swallowed in the brushy draw. The big one lingers, and you’re in an agony of doubt. Will he jump? If he does, will you get a shot? He’s awfully close to the border, should you even try? Then it happens; he hops the fence, walks five yards, and stops to browse. You can see him clearly through the scope, though only the top half of his body shows above the sage. This is the first shot opportunity you’ve had in a week of hunting, and likely the only one you’ll get.
TIME IS RUNNING OUT.
You drew a tag in Utah this year, in a unit known for producing great bucks. Opening day your buddy whiffed a shot on one, his bullet just grazing the top of its shoulders. The buck went into hiding, and you’ve been searching for him ever since.
The weather has been perfect; crisply chill in the morning, with just a hint of frost atop the clover. Middays have been warm, comfortable enough to make you hunt some shade and a nap. Evenings have been beautiful, watching herds of mule deer pour out of the draws and off the mesas to feed in alfalfa fields, cleaning up what the farmers left behind when they baled the final crop of the year. Some of those farmers have given you permission to hunt on their land, and there are a few parcels of public land you can hunt as well. It’s been great, but with just one more day left of the season, your time to hunt is almost up, and your finger itches for the feel of the trigger.
Your rifle is an elite product of the gun maker’s art. It’s a lightweight model chambered in 6.5 PRC. The barrel is slightly longer-than-standard, sporting 24 inches of gleaming carbon fiber and stainless steel. Twist rate is 1:7.5. It’s the most accurate rifle you’ve ever owned, and shoots your Hornady ammo into tiny sub-half-moa groups anytime you can get yourself together enough to shoot that good. An Atlas bipod and a lightweight rear shooting bag helps meet that challenge.
The ammo you are shooting is a bit controversial for hunting. It’s Hornady Match ammo, topped with their 147-grain ELD-M bullet. It’s a “soft” cup-&-core bullet, tipped with Hornady’s proprietary heat and friction resistant tip. You’ve had good luck with it on deer-sized animals and, despite the controversy, have complete confidence the bullet will give you satisfactory terminal performance on a mule deer. The bullet sports a radically good G1 BC (Ballistic Coefficient) of 0.697, and exits the muzzle at 2921 FPS (Feet Per Second). You’ve zeroed the rifle at 200 yards, gathered ballistic data, and formulated a drop-chart for use at 7000 feet elevation and 50 degrees; generic numbers for the area and temps you’re hunting in.
The scope mounted atop your rifle is one of the best hunting scopes available; a Leupold VX6 3-18X44 with CDS ZL2 turret; which means it sports a Compensating Dial System (CDS) and Zero Lock turret that will make two complete rotations (ZL2). After gathering ballistic data with your rifle and ammo you contacted Leupold and ordered a custom yardage-marked dial to match. It was a simple matter to switch the factory turret for the custom edition, and now you can simply range a deer, crank the dial to the corresponding yardage on the turret, and squeeze off a careful shot. It’s an awesome system; you’ve practiced extensively, and in wind-free conditions you’re confident of making a clean kill further away than you like to tell folks. You’re ready; now the big buck just has to make a mistake.
Why I Took The Shot
This is a true story. I was the hunter, and events happened exactly as outlined.
Here’s how it played out: When the buck jumped the fence I was ready, crosshairs steady, safety off. I knew that with this rifle, at this distance, I could make a first-shot hit on a British teacup. When the buck stopped to browse I settled my crosshairs for a high-shoulder shot, which would drop him in his tracks and prevent him from dashing back across the border. Then I pressed the trigger. I had my scope adjusted to 9-power to give me a wide field of view, the better to watch my bullet’s impact as the buck dropped in a heap, disappearing into the sage. I worked the bolt and stayed on the spot for a couple minutes just in case he stood up, though I was morally certain he was dead in his tracks. A few minutes later I approached, and found him exactly as anticipated, stretched out in the sage. The bullet had taken him as intended, high through the lungs and both shoulder blades, which imparted colossal shock to the spine and nervous system, dropping him instantly. Terminal performance was excellent.
I gave thanks, took photos, and processed the buck. It was a good hunt, for a great deer, with an awesome rifle. I would take that shot again, anytime and every time.
SUCCESS WAS DETERMINED IN ADVANCE
There is never a certain outcome when hunting but odds for success are greatly improved by managing the variables that are under your control. A great rifle with proven optics and tested ammunition were certainly contributing factors to success. Practice, patience, and documenting ballistics also enhanced the outcome. Accomplished hunters do all of these things and let lady luck have a small part in the game.
I’d love to hear your opinions in the comment section below.