Scouting North Country for Deer and Moose in August

August is a great time to scout in Northern New Hampshire for Deer and Moose sign. I began my scouting trips last month and found plenty of Deer and Moose sign in one area.


Last Month’s trip produced a young bull in the early morning dew at roadside. On the August cover.

Yesterday I went all the way to Pittsburg, NH to see what I could find and then worked my way south.

As I headed north I photographed the closed resort “The Balsams” at Dixville Notch. It is a shame that the economy is so poor for so long and this place is so silent in its nestled beauty. DSC_0306

As you might suspect the deer sign increased as I moved south but so did the Moose sign. I spent the night camping ($25/night) at Lake Francis State Park on my solo journey .


The highlight of my night there was a visit by a Raccoon who sniffed my tent and made mouth/ nose sniffing sounds that were so rapid that it could not have been a bear.  At 2 AM I shouted  “Beat-it”! . And he did…My guess is that this Raccoon made the rounds to every campsite looking for scraps left by messy campers. I am not a messy camper as food was locked in my car. It is the rare bear visits that can really light up your night they say!

In the morning at 5:30 AM I got in my car, no coffee yet,  and hit the road to Moose Ally on Rt 3 with my Nikon D60 hoping to put a Bull in my Camera lens.

Strangely after two ten mile passes I did not see a single Moose. Even Moose Alley Trail was silent.



Nada, Zip! Are the Moose there? Of course they are.  Just not when I was driving at 20 mph. Morning at Lake Francis is glorious!


Oh, I listened to F&G radio on 1610 AM talk about the great Moose numbers for NH (Over 6000) the majority being above Concord NH. I have made this trip before to Moose ally and have always seen Moose. Hmm. Whats up with that? So I drove two logging roads and still nothing but Moose tracks. Moose must be somewhere? Just not roadside!

Back to camp for some breakfast I thought.  I had enough camp wood to cook over the fire. Breakfast over an open fire is something my family did for more than a half century and it brought back fond memories as a young boy.


I used one non stick all metal skillet for all my cooking starting with Coffee. Coffee made on a hot skillet is fast to heat up. Hot Colombian Roast Coffee..  Coffee in hand, I added butter to the skillet and cooked up two eggs over easy and put them aside while I cooked sausage, home fries and canned baked beans till they were bubbling hot and then added back the over easy eggs to the bubbling hot pan.  I could have had some venison but I was fresh out of it.This year, I hope.

I wanted to show you photo’s of Bull Moose but here is my breakfast feast over the fire instead. It was grand to be here just the same! Any day in the north woods is grand!

I used the clean, well maintained Shower facilities there at Lake Francis. Refreshed, I headed south for more scouting. I stopped at LL Cote Sports Center in Eroll, NH. I have been a customer of theirs for decades. It is just gigantic inside with everything imaginable for sportsman and women.

Heading further south I rounded a corner and there on the roadside was a Mackenzie Deer Target at the woods edge, you know, the ones that are so life like at archery shoots,  only it swapped ends as I approached, and ran into the woods.  A young handsome spike buck! Too fast for me to get a snap shot of his long neck and sweeping long spikes. Seeing is believing they say, so I marked the area and scouted. The deer sign was encouraging.

On the way south I came across these wind turbines that will forever be a part of this landscape and produce so little energy that it will take decades to break even, if ever.  Wait the photo captured them saying something as they turned. Y I K. I interpret that as a form of YUK!DSC_0304


I stopped at my nephews camp north of Berlin to check in on it, all was well. This camp was part of my family for 50 years. Shot my first deer there in 1967. Just a year later much of the heard was decimated by snow and winter-kill. We could walk on to the roof of camp back then. Guess Al Gore was still in diapers.

It was there that I learned to chop wood, and the value of a warm cabin in sub-freezing temperatures and the value of a good hunting friendships and getting up at 4:30 AM each day.

Back home now, my clothes are all smokey. A nice trip, a few Moose photos would have been better. When I got my moose three years ago. I scouted in my area for hundreds of field hours never seeing a Moose, just their tracks so stay at it. There is a Moose around the next bend in the road so be ready! ©

Ballistics for Northeast Big Game

I liked to think that I know something about ballistics. The more I study ballistics the more convinced I am that I know very little. I learn that External Ballistics is the study of a bullet passing through air as it goes down range which I do study as in bullet drag and ballistic coefficients (BC). Terminal Ballistics is the study of what happens when the bullet strikes big game such as deer bear and moose.  It has been documented by many hunters that New Hampshire deer are killed at an average distance of 40 yards. External ballistics in the case of a 40 yard shot are of less importance in the travel of your bullet than Terminal Ballistics when it arrives.

Field hunters on the other hand encounter game at longer ranges such as out to 200 or 300 yards need to be concerned with both External ballistics so the bullet gets to the target with as much energy as possible and deliver that energy in the form of lethal Terminal ballistics so the bullet must be streamlined as in a spitzer or ballistic tip of some kind.

Those of us that hunt in the woods of northern New Hampshire know that sometimes a shot at 40 yards seems long. Bullet selection for ballistic performance in this situation is to shoot a round or flat nose bullet. (Oh don’t get me wrong you can shoot pointed spitzer bullets too and I do) but they don’t give up their energy on the animal as readily as a flat point or round nose. In fact the some pointed bullets penetrate so well that they are still screaming along after exiting the animal. I have been a fan of long range spitzer bullets for years, mostly as a result of salesmanship. No matter what the range. Serious study points out that in Africa for example a round nose or flat point are preferred to put down game that can rip you to shreds, or as I like to say in the case of Cape Buffalo that catches you on his horns and do the “Mexican Hat Dance” on your body. Why is it that Dangerous game Pro’s stay with round nose or flat point bullets? It is because the distances are very short thus bullet BC or streamlining is not needed. What “is” wanted is to hit dangerous game with a preverbial barn door. Verses just poking a hole in and through the animal.  A round or flat point bullet spends its energy faster inside the animal, and shots are usually less than 100 yards such as those encountered by Moose Hunters. A compromise bullet that is the best of both worlds is to shoot a spitzer bullet that has a soft nose or one that is designed to expand fast on impact though you still don’t see these compromise bullets used on dangerous game. African Professional hunters (PH) prefer round nose because they are time proven to leave more energy in the animal and not in the bullet.

All that said, Bullet placement is key to all of this. The best hunting shot is really not a heart shot unless you have a rest or shooting sticks and can make the shot. The higher percentage shot is higher, just above the heart and center lung shot performing what doctors call a bi-lateral pneumo-thorax or double lung shot. Why? The lung kill zone is 8-10 inches instead of 4-6 inches The arteries above the heart can be damaged by the shockwave alone and perform an instant kill via hydraulic shock to the brain but combined with entrance and exit holes in the hide and lungs the deer succumbs in mere seconds. I want my bullet to still pass through the deer with punch. This will make for great campfire arguments to last until bedtime.® 2013

Rifle Shooting Practice for Deer Hunting

I like to shoot tight groups from a bench rest at 100 yards it makes me feel good. But honestly it does me little good when it comes time to deer hunt.

Practice for deer hunting is best performed after your rifle has been bench tested for groups at the distances you are going to hunt.

Here in New England the average shot at a deer with a rifle is around 40 yards or so. At my club, the range I can place targets are typically in increments of 25 yards. So the 50 yard mark should be ideal to shoot off hand at a target with no specific bullseye painted on it. The kill zone is basically an 8 inch circle but practice with a 6 inch area behind the shoulder and centered on the lungs. A double lung shot provides the largest vitals area see the website above.


I like to take cardboard and create the chest/neck area of a deer. I sometimes draw a deer chest that goes left and one that goes right in the same image. In the images I am sure to create the neck chest and front leg and elbow joint which are key landmarks for your rifle whether with open sights or with scope. The front leg of a deer has that pointed elbow joint at the base of the chest. I use that leg/joint in a broadside shot to position my crosshairs just behind it and above it so the point of aim is a bit below the center axis of the body and just behind the leg. A hit in this location is in the center of the lungs and into the arteries just above the heart. This gives you some radial error of a few inches for adrenaline, being slightly off the mark etc. and still make a great clean shot to Vital organs.

Should you have a desire to attempt a shot at a walking deer, like I do, then it is important to practice shooting at moving targets as well. Balloons that move 6 inches on the target in the wind are a great way to learn your trigger’s breaking point.

As much as it is fine to shoot fast shots in tight groups, it is the first shot that counts. Everything else is secondary. How long it takes you to get that shot off is equally important.

I time myself with the a five second practice sequence with the safety at full on. Counting begins with the word Go and then count one-thousand one, one-thousand two etc. At 50 yards it takes me 4 seconds to get the shot off with accuracy. Or have the friend time you from spotting a deer you want to shoot and the time it takes to bring your gun up to your shoulder take it off safety and make the shot. Try to improve this time sequence.

Of course there is no adrenaline so that factor is missing. Dry fire is valuable as well. Before live fire you can do the drill and see where your cross-hairs end up when the firing pin falls. You are training your upper arm muscles to obey minor changes to get a shot dead center and feeling where the trigger breaks as well.

Practice with the clothing you are going to hunt with when hunting time is near. If there is a shooting concern with clothing you can resolve it before going afield. It is great to practice with a hunting partner as well to spot mistakes.

Recoil reduction is key to deer hunting for all hunters so a state of the art recoil pad will help the expert as well as the novice. Both Sims Limb Saver® and the Pachmayr Decelerator® have a great recoil pad and even a slip-on style recoil pad. Use them! You will be glad you did.

I have endorsed them for years and don’t want to own a rifle without one.

Make a pact with yourself to try the stand and timed fire sequence! It will bring home the venison this fall!

In addition to this valuable practice, veteran deer hunters still hunt and stop periodically where there is a strategic view and have a tree nearby to brace their rifle against for a steadier shot at approaching game. Remember to have the wind either in your face when still-hunting or cross winding your body.  ©


Rifle Supressor for .22 rimfire

I met a couple of shooters at the range yesterday that were experimenting with their new .22 rimfire, Gemtech ( suppressors (silencers) since their approval by ATF authorities taking fingerprints, photos,and doing a thorough background check (takes about 6 months). I would show a photo of the but it is just a tube about 7 inches long.

What they discovered was that on the Smith M&P .22 below, that the suppressor needed a special washer for the bullet to come out straight. At 25 yards the suppressor was throwing the bullets a foot left and a foot low. I suggested a phone call to the manufacturer while at the range and a special flat washer was purchased over the phone to set the correct alignment with the barrel just for that rifle model. My shooting acquaintances were happy again.

811062_01_md Smith M and P rifle


If you live in New Hampshire you are allowed to purchase and shoot with a suppressor with approvals above. In CA, DE, HI, MA, MI, MN, MO*, NJ, NY, RI, or VT the politicians have outlawed them. This model was purchased at Riley’s in Hooksett.

Again, these suppressors (and other NFA items) are transferred to individuals on an ATF Form 4, which requires a $200 stamp tax, a chief law enforcement sign-off, and a set of fingerprints to be submitted to the ATF.

When shooting standard .22 ammo at 1050 fps all you could hear was the click of the action. But when high velocity ammo was shot the bullet made a loud crack as it broke the sound barrier, thus losing the quiet capability.