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World-Record Hanson Buck: 20 Years Later

Milo hanson WR 1993I saw this great picture yesterday and it reminded me of the visit I made to Milo’s house in  Saskatchewan one day in November 2013. It had always been a goal of mine to see the world-record typical buck in person, and hear the story from Milo himself. Here are excerpts and snippets of what he told me; my entire interview with Milo aired on BIG DEER TV last fall:

It was 1993, and the big buck had been seen several times, “he was known around town.” On Monday night it snowed, and the next day a guy saw the buck go into patch of willows. He got Milo and a small group of hunters, and “we devised a plan to push him out.”

With one guy pushing the bush and the others flanking and posting, they jumped the buck and Milo got a glimpse of him. “He looked like an elk, to this day I still have that image in my mind.”

The buck got away, and they kept pushing in the new snow. They jumped him again, and, “I was just lucky that he came out on my side.” Milo fired and hit the buck high in the back. “He staggered and ran into a patch of brush; I ran up there and shot him again.”

Milo walked up to the new world record and, “I just couldn’t believe it.” His buddies came over to see the deer–“none of us could believe the size of it.”

Milo, who hadn’t smoked in years, was shaking, and he asked a buddy for cigarette. “The only bad part about shooting the buck was that I smoked again for another 5 years.” (I thought that was one of the best lines from our interview and so I included it in the first draft of the show; but the network had us cut it out for the final, not PC I suppose.)

They hauled the great buck back to Milo’s shop. It didn’t take long for the word to get out. “Cars and trucks came from all over and people lined up to see the buck. A DNR guy came out and, ‘You know, that buck might be a record, you’d better lock it up.’ We are country folks, and we had never heard of such. We’d never locked our doors or the shop. But then we started getting paranoid, so I hid the rack in barley piles and behind bales, kept moving it around.”

In the years that followed, many outdoor shows and conventions down in the U.S. paid for Milo to come down to their events in late winter, display a replica of buck and talk with hunters as they came by to see the record rack. “My wife and I got to see a lot of the U.S. that we never would have seen, and we really enjoyed that.”

The hoopla of the Hanson buck has died down, but hard-core deer hunters like you and me are still interested. “We’ve had people from all over the U.S. and Canada stop by and want to see the buck; not so much now, but pretty regularly for years.” Milo always obliged, and still does. “We enjoy it.”

He paused in thought and gazed again at the stunning rack that hangs on his basement wall, like he has done millions of times since that cold, snowy day in 1993. “You know, I still can’t believe it. And I sure can’t believe it’s been 20 years ago.”

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Rut Tactic: Crack Up a Buck

eliot MTHere’s an off-the-wall tactic to try one day this November, courtesy of my friend Eliot Strommen (Luke’s dad) who hunts strictly w/a longbow out on the Milk River, Montana. It’s similar to rattling, but w/a twist.

Eliot glasses for a mature, rut-crazed buck crossing an alfalfa field, swaggering alone or trailing a doe. He then eases into the timber downwind of the deer, glides lightly through the woods and creeps as close as he dares to a spot where the buck can hear him. He sets up behind a tree, picks up a stick and starts cracking trees and whipping brush, making all sorts of racket.

For the interesting next step, he picks up his right foot and paws one, two, three….then the left foot, one, two, three. “If you watch a deer paw the ground or make a scrape that’s generally the sequence it uses,” says Eliot, who wraps his unusual routine by pinching his nose and grunting and wheezing with his voice.

The idea is to sound like an inferior buck there in the brush, one that is invading the big deer’s airspace. “Try to get on the buck’s nerves,” Eliot says. Sometimes it works. “I’ve had big 8-pointers run up to within 30 yards of me with their back hair raised,” he says. “They often stamp, snort and look.” He’s never killed one using the technique, “but I’ve missed a few w/my longbow.”

Other bucks have fallen for his ruse, but they have hung up outside Eliot’s self-imposed 20-yard longbow range. “You compound guys hunters who can shoot a lot farther than me ought to try it this fall,” he sums up.

 

Posted in BigDeer | 3 Replies

Review: Barnes VOR-TX Ammo & Copper Bullets For Hunting

barnes 1Copper bullets for hunting came onto the scene more than 30 years ago. But since I have been traveling all over the country and shooting lead bullets with great success during that time, felling my share of bucks and a few elk, I never felt the need to go non-lead.

Until last September, when I traveled to the Central Coast of California to hunt for blacktail deer. Doug Roth, my host for this hunt, told me to bring copper bullets, as lead projectiles were prohibited in the area we’d hunt. This was a first for me, but I gladly did so, seeing this as an opportunity to test a different kind of hunting bullet.

On the hunt I carried a Remington Model 783 rifle in .270. In my past experience with the .270, most any brand of 130-grain lead bullet had always proved very accurate. So for my first “copper hunt” I chose the Barnes VOR-TX .270 with 130-grain Tipped TSX (Triple Shock) boat-tail bullet.

barnes ttsxPhoto: As to the bullet’s design, notice the circumferential grooves in the long shank. I understand these grooves serve as relief valves, giving the hard copper material little slots in which to expand as the bullet travels down the bore. This in turn reduces pressure and leads to good accuracy in most rifle barrels.

Now see the bullet’s blue polymer tip, which serves two purposes. First, it improves the ballistic coefficient of the TSX bullet for better performance at long range. Two, upon impact with a thin-skinned animal (deer), the tip is driven back into the nose, initiating rapid expansion. As the bullet penetrates, the nose peels back into 4 sharp copper petals that basically double the bullet’s diameter to create a wound channel. The nearly 100% weight retention of the copper bullet results in great penetration and tissue damage, since the bullet doesn’t break apart and continues to do damage all way through an animal to the exit wound.

That is what this Barnes bullet is designed to do. So how did it perform for me?

barnes accuracyFirst, as you can see in this next photo, the 130-grainer shot super accurately in my Remington .270. At .6 inches with two holes touching, this was one of my best 100-yard groups, but I can consistently shoot MOA with this rig on a good day with little wind.

cali blacktail scenicPerformance on game: As you will see on TV later this year, the blacktail buck I shot with this bullet was quartering-away, pretty hard.  I could not have asked for a better angle for bullet-testing purposes. I aimed back on the last ribs and let the copper pill run three-quarters of the way up and through the animal and vitals, and into the off shoulder. The buck ran 60 yards, maybe, and piled up.

The bullet did not exit, and we found it when we skinned the deer. It had mushroomed nicely to about halfway back the bullet, which made for a “longer” mushroom that I am used to with a lead bullet. But I think this is pretty typical with a hard copper bullet.

On the smaller pig that I drilled at about 120 yards, the bullet blew through the critter noticeably fast and blew up a big cloud of dust on the off side. (A copper bullet is lighter and less dense than lead, and velocities are higher; this Tipped TSX 130-grainer is about 3,060 fps at the muzzle.) So fast was that bullet that it looks like I missed the piggy on TV. But no, it bolted 20 yards and went head over heels in a death roll.

In my limited experience, the Tipped TSX performed wonderfully, both at the range and on game. As we skinned the buck and I found the bullet, I asked my new friend Doug, who has hunted big game across North America with lead bullets for 30 years, and who through his first-rate California guiding business has seen as many animals shot with copper as any man, what he thought.

Given his druthers, I suspect Doug would still use lead. “I will say copper bullets have come a long way,” he says. “The early ones didn’t perform or expand very well. But the newer tipped rounds, like that Barnes you used, are pretty good.”

Some final notes: I look forward to using this copper 130-grainer more this fall, not because I have to, but because it might solve a dilemma for me. I love a lead 130-grainer in the .270 for its accuracy, as mentioned earlier, but oftentimes this bullet does not exit on a good-size buck. It kills deer dead, but with no exit wound, blood trails are non-existent. Bucks can run off and be difficult to find. Sometimes for that reason I go with a heavier 150-grain bullet for .270, but then I give up some velocity and flat trajectory at long range.

I like a hunting bullet that works hard all way through a deer, and then exits with a good-size hole. Copper bullets are noted for their penetration, so the 130-grain Tipped TSX might be just the ticket for me in my .270. I need to try it more on broadside deer to see.

In the end, I am glad I got the chance to hunt with copper bullets and I will do it again. The Barnes VOR-TX with Tipped TSX Bullet is available in some 20 calibers suitable for deer hunting, from .22-250 to .300 Win Mag. Best price I found on the Web was $41.99 for a box of 20 cartridges.

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