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Hunter’s corner: If ever there was a time to upgrade your deer rifle, it’s now



For the Monitor
Saturday, November 26, 2016

Robb and I continue in our quest to put some venison in the freezer. To date, we have seen 13 deer. We have had no shots fired since opening day. The blustery winds have made it a challenge as the wind takes away the deer’s sense of smell and reduces the ability to hear. As a result, they bed down and remain alert to movement – vigilant and safe.

Our areas in Epsom and Northwood were a real disappointment. WMU J 2 remains a shining star, producing 12 of the 13 deer we have jumped. The recent weather changes will help the hunter facilitating great deer movement as long as the wind tapers off a tad. The cooler temperatures are definitely helping.

I don’t know if you have been watching the sale prices on deer rifles but they are approaching fire sale levels. If ever there was a time to upgrade your deer rifle, now is the time. The usual choice of calibers is .30-06; .308; .270 and 7-08. I have always been shy of felt recoil so as much as the .30-06 offers the best bullet options, it also has the highest felt recoil. Next in line in the recoil department is the .308. I once owned a .308 and it was brutal to fire.

I still own a .270 and 7-08 (well, Robb has sort of taken possession of it). With the right bullet combination, both are capable of downing a whitetail, moose or black bear. My favorite woods rifle is the Marlin Guide Special in .45-70 caliber. I know what you are thinking. “Doesn’t the .45-70 pack a serious recoil punch?” And actually it doesn’t because it came Magna-ported. If you were to buy one today, my advice would to have it Magna-ported.

A scoped Remington model 787 is current on sale for $299.98. Equipped with a 3-9 x 40mm scope, this is a very tempting option. Not to be out done by the Mossberg model Patriot, which also comes equipped with a 3-9 x 40mm scope and is offered at $399.98. The Ruger model American without a scope is offered at $369.98.

New from Thompson/Center is the T/C Compass. The Compass comes in too many calibers to mention and is a product of advanced machining technology and incorporates all of the new-age thinking of firearms manufacturing. It comes with a suggested retail price of $399. This offering is clearly in the affordability range and if you are considering an upgrade, it may reach the top of your list.

The most recent Fish and Game hunting report – through Nov. 13 – shows that 2016 is on par with 2015. So far, 7,354 deer have been registered with 7,374 registered through the same period in 2015. Those hunting north of the Notch have the opportunity to hunt on snow and those hunting south of the Notch are enjoying an abundant acorn crop. The rut is still in play. The regular firearms season ends Dec. 4 in all WMU’s except WMU A, which closed Nov. 27. The archery season closes Dec. 8.

Through October, a total of 787 – 422 males and 365 females – had been reported to Fish and Game. At this point in the season, this year’s harvest was 30 percent higher than the five-year, in-season average of 604 bears. Bait hunters harvested 483 bears, which represents a new record. The bear season closed Tuesday.

Fish and Game banded 834 ducks in the pre-hunting season. This included 649 mallards, 154 wood ducks, 24 black ducks and seven black duck/mallard hybrids. This is the second highest number of banded ducks in the 28 years of the program.

Attention trout anglers, Fish and Game stocks trout during the fall months to bolster winter ice fishing. For a complete listing of all the lakes and ponds that are open 12 months a year, you need to go to Fish and Game’s website.

Additionally, Fish and Game hatcheries will stock out post-spawn brook and brown into selected bodies without a closed season before winter. These fish can range from 2-3 pounds each. Fish and Game is also stocking portions of the Cocheco and Lamprey Rivers with surplus brood fish from the New Hampton Hatchery.

A long-standing Washburn family tradition is to go hunting Thanksgiving morning. Robb’s work schedule precluded it this year. However, with a slight modification we were able to go hunting on Thanksgiving eve. With the second half of the duck season open, it presented us with a challenge – ducks or bucks? We opted for bucks. Robb was on a scrape line and I was on a crossing but it was not to be. We are still seeing fresh buck signs and remain optimistic.

(Bob Washburn can be reached at hunterscorner@aol.com.)