SCI Orange County Major Supporter of Mojave Youth Quail Hunt

For the third year, there was another great turnout for the 2012 Mojave Youth Quail Hunt.  The 46 young participants, ranging from 8 to 14 years old, enjoyed the weekend and bagged a total of 15 birds. Thanks to the parents for bringing their child, or another youth to this outdoors event.

The hard work of all the volunteers and support and donations from several organizations and private individuals made this event possible. Safari Club Orange County Chapter members, Lisa McNamee and Ron Mizrahi, presented each hunter with backpacks and vests.  Attendees toured and enjoyed the SCI Sensory Safari van that Lisa and Ron arranged to be at the hunt.

Safety was the main focus and the 22 volunteer guides did a great job. There have been no accidents during the three events.

Kudos to California Fish & Wildlife for their support and for allowing the season to be opened two weeks early for this youth hunt.

Riverside chapter of Quail Unlimited furnished T-shirts, California Deer Association along with Quail & Upland Wildlife Federation furnished hats for all the young hunters.

Thanks to the Mojave National Preserve and staff, with special mention of Neal – Wildlife Biologist, Dora – Park Ranger and Kirk – Law Enforcement.  Hats off to all the volunteers who made this happen: Rob, Toni, John C., John N., Frank, Jim, BJ, Shell & Sandy, Bob & Teresa, Tom & Debra, Lyle & Marie, Joel & Christine, Alex, Russ & Marilyn, Hamilton, Dave, Doug and Duke.

Donations from organizations and companies: Quail & Upland Wildlife Federation/John Nelson Safari Club Orange County, Hunter Safety Instructors of Southern California, Society for the Protection and Care of Wildlife/Water for Wildlife, Alpen Optics, Del Taco, Barstow Vik’s Janitorial Service/Las Vegas Hampton Inn, Barstow Culligan Water, Barstow H2Oasis Mohave Valley, AZ Colorado River Distributors, Needles Southern California Friends of the NRA, California Deer Association, Quail Unlimited/ Craig Riedel, Quail Forever, Predator Callers of Orange County, Channel Island Sport Fishing, Ventura Sport Fishing.– Cliff McDonald


New Winchester Varmint X Loads

Varmint_X_front_view_HRVarmint X combines the legendary excellence for which Winchester is known with today’s latest technology, resulting in a cartridge designed specifically for the demands of predator and varmint hunters.

The super accurate Varmint X lineup will initially feature offerings in four of the most popular centerfire rifle calibers for predator hunting: .204 Ruger, .223 Rem, .22-250 Rem and .243 Win. The charcoal-colored, polymer-tipped bullets in each caliber are optimized for long-distance accuracy and explosive impact on coyotes, prairie dogs and other varmints.

“Predator hunting is on the rise and our new Varmint X line gives shooters a high performance, accurate cartridge for the challenging shot angles and distances common in predator and varmint hunting,” said Brett Flaugher, Winchester Ammunition vice president of marketing and sales.

A recent study by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service showed that hunter participation in predator hunting has doubled over the past ten years.

The Winchester Varmint X line will hit store shelves in January 2013, just in time for prime coyote hunting. Each caliber will be available in 20-round boxes and 200-round cases.
Varmint X ammunition specifications:

Caliber Weight Velocity
204 Ruger 32 grains 4,000 fps
223 Rem 40 grains 3,700 fps
223 Rem 55 grains 3,240 fps
22-250 Rem 55 grains 3,680 fps
243 Win 58 grains 3,850 fps

Drayton Valley Does It Again!

SCI canada-chapter112612

Last year’s International Chapter of the Year does it again! The Drayton Valley SCI Chapter, located in Alberta, Canada, once again staged a picture-perfect fundraising banquet. Easily selling out their 400 seats in this rural community of 7,000 people, the chapter also sets the standard very high by earning disproportionately high revenues. The secret is the hard-working and dedicated team that works tirelessly to give back to its appreciative community. Pictured, left to right, are Bob Valcov, Director of SCI-Canada; John Whipple, SCI President; Paula Mahan, Drayton Valley Chapter Banquet Chair; Coby Mahan, Drayton Valley Chapter President; the Honourable Diana McQueen (PC), Alberta Minister of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development and Member of the Alberta Legislative Assembly for Drayton Valley-Devon; and Archie Nesbitt, Chair of the SCI-Canada Committee.


Last Ibex First

ibex-4-112612Most of us do our hunting in some kind of logical order. For instance, in North America it’s more common to start with a whitetail rather than a brown bear or desert sheep. In Africa most people start the Big Five with a buffalo, but rarely with a rhino…and those of us who dream of spiral horns usually take a kudu before getting around to mountain nyala, Derby eland, or bongo.

If you think about these scenarios, the progression isn’t based altogether on difficulty, but on some combination of challenge plus availability and cost. Most of the time I follow the typical curve, with finances a major consideration! Just last week, however, I broke that mold completely. Our record-keeping system reckons there are 14 varieties of ibex. With Iran no longer issuing visas to Americans, the Persian desert ibex isn’t available, and although the Nubian ibex remains huntable, it can’t be imported. I’d love to have one…but it’s not an animal I’m willing to leave behind. So, last week, in the Tien Shans of Kyrgyzstan, I took what could well stand as my last ibex…the mid-Asian ibex.

ibex-3-112612Hunted in Tajikistan and Kazakhstan as well as Kyrgyzstan, the mid-Asian ibex is plentiful, available and, together with the Mongolian ibex, is probably the most affordable of the entire group. He’s also one of the largest ibex, with potential for the longest, heaviest, and most impressive horns. Hunting him is a great adventure that takes place in some of Central Asia’s most majestic ranges, so, all together, he makes a sound choice for a first ibex…and, if planning and forethought count at all, he makes a very poor choice as a last ibex.

Okay, so the Spanish ibex also offer a pretty good place to start. My own first ibex was in the Gredos…but since then I’ve hunted the rest of the Spanish ibex, both Mongolian ibex, the Bezoar goat, and the list goes on. While not taking the available and affordable mid-Asian ibex, I took an Alpine ibex in Switzerland, a kri-kri in Greece, and both the Sind and Himalayan ibex in Pakistan. I agree: It doesn’t make much sense!

I started to say that this wasn’t altogether my fault, but it actually was. I should have gotten one years ago. Tajikistan is not known for big ibex, while both Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan are. But on both hunts in Tajikistan, in ’99 and ’03, I saw very good ibex. I’ve often said in print and in seminars that, once you’re there, an extra trophy fee is a lot cheaper than going back…but that’s good advice that I haven’t always followed. On the first trip to Tajikistan I could have taken an ibex for an extra $1500, a pretty cheap ibex. The problem was that Marco Polo hunt was a big stretch, and I just didn’t have another $1500. So we glassed up a magnificent billy sunning in a perfect spot, and I watched from below while a camp-mate and guide stalked him for two hours. They got within reasonable range and the ibex was totally unaware. But stuff happens and the shot missed. I’d still love to know how big that ibex was.

A fine mid-Asian ibex, taken in the Tien Shan Mountains of Kyrgyzstan. Available, affordable, and obviously a magnificent trophy, this is a sensible first ibex for many hunters; Boddington saved it for last.

On the second trip to Tajikistan I had the extra cash and evil intent toward ibex. However, to be honest, a second Marco Polo hunt was, in itself, of questionable purpose. If I was a true collector I’d have spent that money doing something I hadn’t done—but, honest, it’s such a good hunt. I’d do it again. Even so, I planned to take an ibex along the way; it just didn’t happen. We glassed some good ones, and a camp-mate took a dandy…but I was the last guy to take a ram, and he came very late in the hunt. You know how that goes: It was time to head for the barn.

Wow, that was nearly a decade ago. I considered hunting mid-Asian ibex several times, but just never got around to it. Then, seemingly suddenly and certainly surprisingly, I was running out of ibex (and goats in general). It was time to take the first ibex last. There are lots of options, but for an ibex-only hunt Kyrgyzstan probably offers the best combination of quality, price, and availability. I didn’t shop much and I didn’t quibble; my Macedonian buddy, Saso Ivanov of Hunt Europe, had been to Kyrgyzstan twice before, and he set us up with Vitale Sevian in the Tien Shan Mountains in the northeast corner, past the big Lake Issyk-Kul.

ibex-1-112612For me this was an added bonus. Today we call this big ibex “mid-Asian” because they occupy a large range—but in another time they were called Tien Shan ibex. Ninety years ago Kermit Roosevelt penetrated the Tien Shans from the China side to hunt these long-horned ibex, and his book, East of the Sun and West of the Moon remains a classic adventure.

Adventure we had, but not classic. Sevian’s base camp was an incredible surprise: Electricity, running water, heat, and no sleeping bags required. The mountains were high, but the horses were sturdy, so I don’t rate it as a particularly difficult mountain hunt, although we did spice it up with a few days in a tent spike camp in driving snow. We saw a lot more argalis than ibex, but that was just fine. The ibex were there, and for me it was early in the hunt when we got the drop on a group of 15 males and I dropped the hammer on what I thought to be the best one. ibex-2-112612I could have been wrong, and I might have been right, but he was a 12-year-old billy with heavy, wonderfully curling horns, and it couldn’t have worked out better. I doubt that he’s my last ibex, but he could be my last type of ibex for whatever goals we crazy hunters pursue. First, last, or in between, those big ibex of Central Asia are magnificent.—Craig Boddington

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