Monday, April 1, 2013

Key to Long Rang Hunting - Leupold Range Finders! by Cristy Crawford

A Nebraska rifle hunt, chasing huge bodied whitetails was a check off the enormous list of life-long hunting adventures I consistently spend my spare minutes a day dreaming about. When I had the opportunity to drive up to Nebraska (equipped with a friends custom 7 short mag long range precision rifle) I jumped at the opportunity.  I had reached a stage in my hunting experience where I strived for the next biggest challenge. I had almost quit rifle hunting all together, when I became obsessed with the close encounters of bow hunting.  I had literally spent so much time bow hunting I was tucking a release out of the way that wasn’t there.  With long range rifles precision requires more skill than some inexperienced long range rifle shooters realize.  Similar to bow hunting, all the cards have to fall just right. Too much gusting wind or a small amount of shake due to nerves and you will miss your mark every time. 

Being a southern girl I haven’t had many opportunities to hunt in any extreme cold conditions.  I had left my warmer Texas November air for the breezy 40 mph wind gust of the first “small” snow of the season for Nebraska.  I did not have much experience with subzero wind chills, although I did have enough experience in the field to know I better pack enough quality layers for just about any weather situation mother nature could throw at me. 
I knew the odds were against me opening day of rifle season with snow blowing sideways at 40mph but I came to hunt and I was not about to stay at the hunting camp.  After passing on a few smaller bucks I headed back to camp to prepare for the next morning’s adventures.  However, this hunt was not filled with a renowned guide or luxurious lodge. I had a basic understanding of the ranch from some great guys that had hunted the land in previous years.  I had the opportunity to go out on my own with spot and stalk skills and great equipment. 

Earlier in the year I received a great product from Leupold Optics. The RX 1000 rangefinders equipped with archery angle compensation along with bullet ballistics and a pair of BX-2 Cascades 10x42 binoculars.  The one thing I didn’t know I was being equipped with was a rangefinder that would stand well above other rangefinders at camp, which were double and even triple the retail price of my Luepold.  The cold front pushed through and snow covered the beautiful sand hills. The wind subsided and sun shined bright and made an amazing glow off the distant snow filled hills.  I would soon find out the combination of two degree temps and sun reflecting off the snow made it impossible for other hunters to get a true yardage reading.  I never had a problem getting my Leupold rangefinders to get an accurate yardage. It helps to always range long range targets three times just to make sure you get an accurate reading.

Long range hunting is no place to skimp out on quality equipment. The terrain of the Nebraska Sand Hills makes every third step worthy of another view from the binoculars. What appears to be flat land is filled with hills and valleys perfect for big whitetails to travel undetected. Using the terrain to my advantage I worked my way about four miles from my vehicle.  Glassing every third step and taking my time, I had many close encounters with smaller bucks and does.  Unlike the 40mph winds I faced the day before this morning was perfect.  Minimal wind with the sun shining bright and reflecting off the snow covered hills. The fact that it was 2 degrees did not really matter. Deer were moving and it was only a matter of time and patience I would find the one. Finally I skirted around the back side of a hill and spotted a beautiful mature whitetail standing on the side of a hill.  Even without optics I could tell he was a large mature deer.  After confirming my excitement with my Leupold Cascades it was time to get in position for an ethical shot.   I decided to backtrack around the hill and get in position on the much flatter hillside to my left.  After what felt like thirty minutes of slow positioning I finally felt comfortable to set up for the long range shot.  I ranged without a problem and got three consistent numbers from my RX-1000’s. At 592 yards stood a mature 155 gross with 9inch split brow tined whitetail buck.  After a few minutes in the scope I was able to gain composure and squeeze off a quality kill shot. 

The peacefulness and serenity of the outdoors always brings me back for more.  Successful hunts aren’t always ones that end in kills. Enjoying the outdoors with others and the conversations about experiences are always some of the best times in the field.  It wasn’t until I got back to camp filled with excitement and the story of the hunt on the tip of my tongue just itching to get out of my mouth did I realize I was the only successful hunter in camp that morning.  Others had those amazing tails we as hunters have all listened to so many times about the one that got away.  Due to the strong glare of the sun and 2 degree temperatures my rangefinders were the only ones in camp to get a quality reading that morning and I was the only one with Leupold rangefinders in my pack.  It was at that moment that I realized just how lucky I was to have a great piece of equipment in my pack that morning.  I must send a big thank you to Leupold for making such quality equipment and for helping me with my largest whitetail to date.


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