Browning Footwear Trail Shoes

Glenwood mens ATCAS FG

For 2017 Browning is launching a new line of footwear aimed (pun) at outdoor enthusiasts who like to spend the summer months scouting, checking cameras, hiking or running. The Trail Footwear line offers three new styles–the Pursuit Trail, Delano Trail and Glenwood Trail–all of which feature high-density foam, EVA footbeds with arch support, suede overlays, abrasion-resistant materials and a durable traction design that will keep you upright on slippery trails or rocks. These models are available in women’s sizes 6-11 with half-sizes from 7.5 to 9.5 and men’s sizes 8-13 with half-sizes from 9.5 to 11.5. There are a wide selection of colors and styles, but my favorite is the Glenwood Men’s ATACS FG camo (shown here). As someone who loves trail running almost as much as hunting, I’m always on the lookout for affordable, durable running shoes, and these new models fit the bill. They’re great for off-season work and early-season, warm-weather hunts in dry country. Best of all, prices start at just $49.99. Now you don’t have any excuses not to be in shape for hunting season. www.spgoutdoors.com

A Royal Rigby

IMG_7698There are some rifles that have a history so powerful you feel chills when you simply hold the gun. Such was the case when I shouldered Hemingway’s .577 double and worked the action on Jim Corbett’s .275 Rigby. But no gun quite matches the feel of Harry Selby’s .416 Rigby. Selby hunted Africa during the glory days of safari, having trained up under Philip Percival, the “Dean of African Hunters” and the headman on Ernest Hemingway’s safaris. After hunting closed in Kenya, Selby began looking south and moved his operations to Botswana, then an untrammeled wilderness where lions roared and elephants were regular moonlight visitors in hunting camps. On all those hunts Selby carried his .416, a gun that, as the story goes, Selby simply picked up as a stopgap when another hunter ran over his .470 double with a pickup truck. But Selby was so fond of that Rigby that he never did order the proper double to replace his broken .470. Instead, the .416 became his primary weapon, the one he used when he led Robert Ruark on the safari that inspired Horn of the Hunter. Today, Selby’s Rigby is part of a private collection. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to examine the rifle closely, thumbing every worn scar on the smooth walnut and wondering how many times Harry looked over those patinaed express sights into the face of a charging lion. Harry Selby’s Africa is gone forever, but not his rifle, and for that I am thankful.

Fishing the BVIs by Sailboat

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To truly experience all that the British Virgin Islands have to offer you need to move. That’s because each of these tropical islands–and there are many tucked in this Caribbean chain–has their own flavor and offers a unique experience. Jost Van Dyke, Cooper, Norman, Virgin Gorda, Saba Rock and many other little spits of dry land are scattered throughout BVI, and seeing them all requires a boat. Sure, you can take the water taxi, which is not unlike any other taxi service on dry land in every corner of the world, and that’s to say crowded, uncomfortable, and uninspiring. If you are a little more adventurous you can sail.

Our crew consisted of six guys from the same hometown in Ohio. In case you aren’t familiar with Ohio, the Buckeye State offers many great outdoor opportunities, but sailing wouldn’t be at the top of the list. Or at the bottom. So we traveled to BVI, rented a catamaran, and hired the best guide we could find–the incomparable Raul Nelson–to lead us. And, after three days on the water, a group of six Ohio guys made a pretty admirable sailing team.

If you’re an angler BVI has a lot to offer, everything from tuna and tarpon to grander marlin in the deep blue waters south of Virgin Gorda. Which species of game fish you choose to pursue is up to you, but this is one of the few places where you can, if your boat is licensed, catch a variety of fish without a guide. The waters around the Bitter End Yacht club are home to some fantastic tarpon, and just south of Virgin Gorda you’ll find deep water and big pelagic predators. Plus, there’s something very rewarding about sailing into open water in search of game fish. I think Ernest Hemingway would be proud. Oh, and there’s lots of rum, too. Papa might have liked that as well.

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In Search of the Golden Fleece

IMG_9125.jpgJust after World War II a band of North African Barbary sheep were released in the Hondo Valley of New Mexico, and since that time these animals have spread throughout the mountainous areas of the desert southwest, taking up residence in the Big Bend area of Texas as well as several mountain ranges in New Mexico. Since they are desert-adapted and capable of surviving in arid, rocky environments the Barbary sheep–or aoudad–thrived in its new home. Today, there are large numbers of these sheep ranging throughout the region, and that has become a problem.

It’s become a problem, primarily, because aoudad are capable of spreading disease to native desert bighorn sheep. For that reason states like Texas offer aoudad hunts year-round without the need to purchase a tag. For hunters they offer a great opportunity to pursue mountain game at a very affordable price. You can hunt free-ranging aoudad for a few thousand dollars today in many areas, and that’s a fraction of what it will cost you to hunt horned sheep elsewhere in the country.

But don’t think for one second that their status as an exotic makes these animals easy to hunt. Aoudad thrive in really rough country, bouncing around on steep cliffs and hanging off rimrock ledges that would give most experienced hikers the sweats. If, like Jason and his Argonauts, you set out in search of the ram with the golden fleece be forewarned–this is not a hunt for the faint of heart. Sure, you might find a ram in low country that’s easy to access, but odds are if you want a big one–thirty inches or more around the curve of the horns–you’ll have to climb.

That’s just what I had to do on my last trip to the Big Bend area of Texas with Steve Jones’ Backcountry Hunts. There were plenty of aoudad where we were hunting, and we saw hundreds of animals a day, but the big rams, well, they stayed out of sight and out of reach. When we found one that looked good guide Robert Curry and I started climbing, moving up a shale slide that was so steep I dared not look down for a full forty-five minutes. We finally got our ram, but it was a real challenge. If you’re a serious hunter and you aren’t afraid of heights scribble aoudad somewhere on your bucket list.

To read the full story of the hunt check out the September, 2017 issue Rifleshooter Magazine.

Kahr’s New Look

CT (1).JPGWith 14.5 million CCW permit holders in the U.S. it’s little wonder that there are so many manufacturers offering good carry guns. Kahr has been making reliable semiautos for more than two decades–long before half the grannies pushing grocery carts across the supermarket parking lot were carrying heat–and that offered the brand plenty of insight into what shooters want. Guns need to be light but manageable to shoot, easy to break down and clean, and affordable. Really expensive carry guns have a market, yes, but many shooters need something that they can afford and afford to beat up during daily carry. To meet the needs of all consumers Kahr offers two distinct pistol lines; the Premium Series and the Value Series. This year the company is offering up a new addition to the Value line, the CT380 Tungsten. Rather than run down each feature of the gun in typical review fashion (which I will do in Handguns Magazine), I’m going to address the most common questions that people typically ask if they’re considering buying a new pistol.

  1. What  makes a “Value” gun different from a “Premium” gun? Answer: Not much. Basically, Kahr’s Value guns have fewer machining steps, rollmarking on the side, MIM parts, and traditional non-polygonal rifling. If none of that makes sense or matters to you the Value line is what you’re looking for in a carry gun.
  2. Is it really made of Tungsten? Answer: In all fairness, nobody every really asked this. Actually, the CT380 has a Tungsten Cerakote finish. For the uninitiated, Cerakote is a baked-on ceramic finish that has a matte appearance and is tough enough for daily carry. It’s also available in a bunch of different colors–like Tungsten.
  3. How large is the gun? Answer: The CT380 is a single stack .380 ACP, so it’s quite thin. Slide width is actually only three-quarters of an inch, and the gun is 4.4-inches tall and 5.5-inches long. The Kahr is a bit taller than competing .380 single stacks because it comes with a seven-round magazine with finger grip.
  4. What’s that thing on the grip?  Answer: it’s called a Grip Glove. It’s soft to the touch and adds very little width or weight to the gun. It’s a nice touch.
  5. Does it have a manual safety? Answer: No. The final stage in cocking the striker actually occurs when the trigger is being pulled, so there’s a fair amount of trigger travel. It’s a fairly light, smooth trigger, though.
  6. How are the sights? Answer: Basic but functional. The front is pinned, the rear is dovetailed into the slide. It’s a standard three-dot configuration and the sight are functional under most lighting conditions.
  7. Did you carry it and, if so, what were your thoughts? Answer: I did carry it, and I liked it. The gun is trim and fits well on the hip, so it’s easy to conceal. The extended magazine is a bit awkward since it adds a point to the gun that will make it obvious to just about anyone that you have a gun, so pay attention. Accuracy results and complete function tests are covered in Handguns, so I won’t get into all the details here. But this is a light, dependable, tough gun for those who don’t mind not having a manual safety. It’s also quite a bit more comfortable to shoot at the range than most compact .380s because of the grip design.
  8. How much will it cost me? Answer: MSRP is $439, and street price will be lower than that.

Courteney Boots

Onthe left,a pair of Courteney Vellies that have served duty on four continents. On the right, a new pair of Courteney Safaris.
On the left,a pair of Courteney Vellies that have served duty on four continents. On the right, a new pair of Courteney Safaris.

Good footwear is essential equipment for the outdoors, but not all boots are created equal. The very best boots provide support and protection in the field and last for years, and even though they cost a bit more initially the long-term value of high-quality footwear is very high. Like marathon runners and endurance hikers, hunters are very particular about what they put on their feet, and with good reason. Boots can make a hunt and, conversely, they can ruin the experience.

I don’t often promote specific brands, but I’m making an exception. Six years ago, I purchased a pair of Courteney Vellie Boots. Pronounced Fellies, the word actually comes from the Afrikaans word veldskoen, or “field shoe.” Vellies are comprised of animal leather uppers and strong leather footbeds that are impervious to thorns and sharp rocks. You’re unlikely to see vellies in too many places outside southern Africa, but they are a regional favorite. I’ve worn my Courteney Vellies on four continents and they’ve served me exceptionally well, from campfires and game fields in the Kalahari Desert to Argentina’s dove fields to estates in Europe where I’ve worn them quail hunting.

Although my Vellie boots have been very durable and remain so, I decided it was time for a new pair. I opted for a pair of buffalo-hide Safari boots from Courteney which, like my Vellies, are hand-built in Zimbabwe. Built with the same attention to detail as their other boots, the Safari is an ideal all-around boot for warm, dry weather. If you’re looking for Courteney boots in the United States, I recommend contacting African Sporting Creations at http://www.africansportingcreations.com. Jim and his team will help you find the right boots for you, and I hope they carry you to as many wonderful and exotic places as I have been in my own Courteney boots.

Syren Gets Serious About Female Shooters

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Women are the fastest growing market for hunting and shooting products, and companies are starting to understand that the old concept of “shrink it and pink it” doesn’t apply to today’s serious female shooters. Syren, a division of Italian shotgun maker Caesar Guerini, has gone beyond the simple aesthetic changes and has designed a shotgun from the ground up with women in mind. The new Syren line includes the Tempio, Magnus, and ELOS field over/unders, the Fabarm-inspired XLR5 Waterfowler semiauto, and a full line of devoted sporting shotguns that give women a serious edge on the clays course. For the last five centuries, shotguns have been designed and built to fit men, and rather than embarking on a total redesign companies have, until recently, just chopped stocks to shorten length of pull for women shooters. The Syren guns, though, have stocks that are built to conform to a woman’s frame. That means that initial stock designs were completed in conjunction with some of the top female shooters in the industry. The results have been impressive; Syren has introduced more new models for 2015, and the demand continues to rise. For more information visit http://www.syrenusa.com