|Big Bore for Small Game|
|Taking it in another direction, my son Jamie and I head out into the Southwestern desert with the Career Dragonslayer .50 caliber rifle. With the objective of tagging a few desert jackrabbits, we get into some hot shooting action and have the opportunity to put the gun through its paces!|
|I’ve written previously about the .50 caliber Dragonslayer big bore airrifle in the context of big game hunting (see the article on my Dragonslayer Boar Hunt). However, I thought the gun might serve well as a small to moderate size varmint rifle as well, due to the intrinsic accuracy and high (relatively speaking) shot count. I was planning a trip out west from my home in Indianapolis to attend the SHOT show, and since my son had the weekend free we arranged to meet up for a few days and decided to carry along a couple rifles to see if we could put together a hunt. I grew up in California and spent a lot of time all through the deserts there as well as Arizona and Nevada, and always jump at the opportunity to return to my roots.
I had arrived in Las Vegas for the SHOT Show a couple days before my son flew in from Denver to join me. Once he arrived we headed over the the convention center and had a great time wandering the convention floor looking at all the new guns and gear. I had several appointments lined up with the various airgun companies and we kept very busy the first couple days. But eventually we did find time to get out into the desert for a bit of hunting. I had brought two guns along and had focused the first couple of solo hunts on the Techstar, but on this shoot we decided to take turns using the Career DragonSlayer, with one of us shooting and the other snapping off photos.
I had been using the Dragonslayer for several months by this time, and had been really impressed by the accuracy. I can honestly say it is one of the most accurate guns I have in my fairly extensive airgun collection. When I’d received the rifle from Cobra Airguns to evaluate, I’d had no intention of keeping it. However, I found it so comfortable to shoot and such an excellent blending of power and accuracy that I had to buy it. I had used Thompson Contender .50 caliber roundball on my earlier big game hunts and saw no reason to change, it is consistent and hard hitting ammunition in this gun.
Making our way along the winding dirt road on a crisp and sunny afternoon (I love these days in the desert), we spotted large numbers of rabbits. If you have read many of my hunting stories you’ll recognize the territory we hunted as I’ve been working this area for years. I only hunt it 2-3 times per year and limit myself to 20-30 rabbits an outing to make sure the population stays high.
We drove and hiked the brush glassing the area carefully, looking for silhouettes and the amber back lighted glow of rabbit ears, standing alert while scanning for danger. We stalked the high desert landscape using the cactus, brush, and Joshua trees for cover while we worked into shooting position. I took several rabbits at ranges between 30 to 70 yards and had a great time, but the best part was watching my son shooting.
I had taught him to shoot when he was 4 or 5 years old, taking him hunting with me even before that. And while he’d always been an excellent marksman and always enjoyed being out in the field with me, the strong attraction that I had for the hunt never really manifested itself as strongly in him. But on this outing he was making some great shots and having a great time. He dropped a rabbit at about 50 yards offhand, and as he walked over to collect his downed quarry four more rabbits scattered around us. He lined up on a running rabbit and rolled him at 30 yards, then spun around and dropped a third one that had stopped a moment too long behind a bush! I’ve shot literally hundreds if not thousands of jack rabbits, but have never quite matched that feat! It was starting to get late and we’d planned on going out on the town that night, but the kid did not want to leave! This was a first, but talking later that evening he told me that besides the excitement of the hunt, the Dragonslayer was an absolute blast to shoot ……. I guess this gun is lost to me on our future hunts together!
There are some guns that just feel right, and everybody that has shot my Dragonslayer has liked it. Overall I’ve thought most of the Korean guns that I’ve had experience with are pretty good shooters, though the designs can tend to be blocky and somewhat unorthodox. But having said this I think the Dragonslayer is the highest quality, and undoubtedly the best looking of the Korean products. This particular gun has been used to take everything from jackrabbits all the way up to large boar, and that is a lot of flexibility in a single shooting platform. I’d still like to see another 30 – 50 fpe when hunting big feral hogs, but for everything else this gun is hard to beat.
|You probably recognize the spot, I've been hunting here since I was 14 years old! Always great to be back!|
|Taking aim at a rabbit while peaking over the top of the bush used to cover my approach (above). Looking over the barrel of the gun (top right) as the jack attempts to sneak away (middle right). Showing of a few rabbits taken on this hike (Lower right)|
|Jamie stands 6'5" and finds this gun a comfortable fit. I was really impressed at how well he shoots the rifle offhand, and watched him connect with a couple snap shots at running rabbits!
Besides being very accurate, the roundball we were using had an excellent terminal performance, with all hits resulting in one shot kills.
There is now two generations of Chapman approval on the Dragonslayer.... looks like I'm going to have to buy another!
|NOTE: I wrote this a few years back, then neglected to post it. The trip had three of my favorite things; hunting with my son, hunting jackrabbits in the Mojave Desert, and shooting an accurate big bore airgun. Since this trip, my son has graduated from college and is off to grad school, so I hopoe we can still find time for these trips in future!|