Sage Rat Hunting Sight-in Strategies

Sage rat hunting in Oregon has exploded in popularity.  More and more hunters are taking to the fields  of Southeast Oregon each year to take advantage of the target-rich environment set up by the habitat found in the alfalfa pivots in this region.  The alfalfa pivots are The Perfect Storm of soil, weather and nutrition that cause unnatural overpopulation of sage rats (Belding’s Ground Squirrels).  So, how do we get the most out of our firearms to maximize our hits (and fun) when shooting sage rats?  We’ll give you some ideas that may help!

Your sight-in strategy matters!

First off, sage rats are small targets.   The body of a sage rat is not much larger than the cardboard inside a roll of toilet paper, and when the babies appear, the targets sometimes more closely resemble a walnut in size!  Precision and accuracy are necessary to consistently hit them but your sight-in strategy can also make the difference as to whether you or your buddy takes home the hit-percentage bragging rights!  Sight-in too closely and it increases the number of targets on which you need to hold over.  Sight-in too far away and mid-range misses can rob you of your sharpshooter title!  We’ll look at some sight-in distances for common cartridges used in the sage rat fields.


Rimfires are not all created equal.  Historically, more sage rats have died at the hands of .22 long rifle (LR) shooters than any other firearm.  Of those, the Ruger 10-22 has probably accounted for the vast majority of those kills.  The 10-.22 is fast, accurate and inexpensive to shoot and does so with virtually zero recoil and a mild report.  It’s a blast (pun intended) to walk your shots onto target well past 100 yards but the .22 works best at point-blank to 100 yards in the hands of most shooters.  A strategic sight-in with a 75 yard zero will give you a great opportunity to make good hits in the effective range of this great little cartridge.  (Choose hollow-point (hp) bullets for the best chance of anchoring your targets quickly and beware of ricochets!)

A new King?  Around No Off Season a new king has emerged.  The .17 HMR (Hornady Magnum Rimfire) has supplanted the .22 LR in popularity and ammunition expended.  Accuracy and range are almost ideal for sage rat shooting, and although not as inexpensive as .22 LR, the ammunition is reasonably priced especially if you shop sales during the year.  This round makes 150 yard shots relatively easy unless the wind is really blowing!  You will give up little with a 100 yard zero for your .17 HMR rifle but 125 yards may be even better.  With your groups printing in the center of a 125 yard bullseye, you won’t really think about holdover out to 150 yards, then holding at the top of the back or head (standing targets are much more forgiving in elevation) will garner quite a few extra yards to your effective range.  A 150 yard zero is not a bad option for the experienced shooter who naturally holds a little low on the targets at the height of midrange trajectory around 100 yards.  (Poly-tipped ammunition anchors ‘rats better and has fewer ricochets than the hollow-point bullets.)

The .22 WMR (Commonly referred to as a “.22 Magnum” or  a .22 Mag” for short.) is the parent case for the  .17 HMR.  The .22 WMR cartridge carries more energy than the HMR but isn’t quite as flat shooting.  A similar sight-in strategy will still get you in the ballpark.  Bullet construction deserves a deeper look with this cartridge. 

Purchasing poly-tipped .22 WMR ammo (i.e. Hornady V-max) is suggested.  A .22 WMR with the original solid and hollow-point ammo is one of the highest ricocheting combinations requiring  more care around irrigation pivots.  In the hands of experienced shooters using sufficient restraint, it will work fine but less so with other shooters.  While more expensive, you may find the poly-tipped ammo to be more accurate, flatter shooting  and more deadly than the older, blunt-nose ammunition.

Finally, the relative newcomer to the rimfire ‘rat cartridges is a little speedster known as the .17 WSM.  Utilizing cases for nail guns used in the construction field, this cartridge bridges the gap between the rimfire and centerfire worlds.  For those wanting more reach but not wanting to handload, this is a great option.  The report of the WSM is slightly louder than the HMR but the sound of the bullets hitting target is audibly louder as well.  Calm days make this a legitimate 250 yard rimfire!  Your sight-in strategy should reflect this.  A 150 yard zero is the minimum suggested sight-in distance for this little rimfire.  A 200 yard zero for the experienced shooters is a viable option.  (Poly-tips versus hollow-points are still a great idea to minimize ricochets and maximize lethality.)

The Centerfire Zone

Centerfire varmint cartridges enter an entirely new realm of reach, energy and target reactivity!  The .223 Rem is still at the top of the hill especially with those who don’t handload their ammunition.  Other offerings include a multitude of .17, .204, and .22 caliber cartridges and wildcats that work splendidly for sage rats.  Centerfires particularly offer something over the rimfires on the windy days which seem to happen frequently in sage rat country.  Slightly heavier bullets deflect less in wind and the larger cases can push them faster creating laser-like trajectories and minimum wind deflection.  A 200 yard zero will require only slight adjustments on horizontal targets at the height of mid-range trajectory usually occurring around 150 to 175 yards.    

Although it has little to do with sight-in strategies, a few more tips on bullet selection are in order when you graduate to centerfires. 

A major caveat when shooting the .223 cartridge is to resist the urge to buy the bargain basement, full metal jacket ammunition.  It’s cheap, it’s tempting, and it’s dangerous!  Full metal jacket bullets can be abbreviated “FMJ”.  It may also be called “Green-tip” or “Ball ammunition”.  If there is not a hollow point, exposed lead or a poly tip, it is full metal jacket construction.  FMJ bullets ricochet terribly and are a major hazard to irrigation equipment, livestock and neighbors!  No Off Season and other outfitters and landowners will not allow any FMJ bullets on their fields.  Some hollow-point target ammunition also utilize tough bullet jackets that tend to ricochet.  Always listen for the “zing” of skipping bullets.  If it is occurring on a regular basis regardless of the cartridge or bullet, be extra careful about what is beyond your target.  Every cartridge ricochets in certain condition; some are just worse than others. 

Higher caliber varmint cartridges (6mm/.243 on up) as well as long range rifles/cartridges require the right circumstances to be safe.  Another consideration for the larger cartridges is recoil.  Larger cases and heavier bullets create more recoil.  Even larger .22 caliber cartridges such as the .22-250 and .220 Swift, while extremely deadly and more effective in the wind, will likely cause the rifle to jump off target requiring a spotter to call the shot and robbing the shooter of some in-scope action.  This can be mitigated with a suppressor or a muzzle brake but the latter increases muzzle blast significantly.

Sage rat hunting is one of the most fun past times the shooting sports has to offer.  These sight-in strategies will help increase your effectiveness on these small, challenging targets and may help you get bragging rights when the dust settles and you’re rehashing the day’s sage rat shooting with your family and friends!

Sage Rat Hunting: Choosing a time

Someone said that “The best time to go hunting is when you can.”  That’s probably true,  but timing your sage rat hunting requires some planning!  Several factors will help determine how to maximize your fun shooting these prolific little varmints.  Weather, hay growth and cartridges of choice all influence when you will find the most satisfaction hunting sage rats.  The timing of the babies surfacing is another factor affecting target numbers and high-volume shooting. 

The weather on a given day influences target number more than any other factor.  As with anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere, the weather tends to get better as we move from winter into spring.  Generally, the later the hunt, the better the weather tends to be.  Any given day can be cold and blustery in the High Desert country of Eastern Oregon, but the temperatures gradually creep up and the likelihood of precipitation gradually decreases. 

Calm, sunny days are what everyone hopes, and, while optimal, they are not absolutely critical for good shooting.  There’s no welfare in ‘Ratville, so the sage rats still have to come out and make a living sometime!  Cold, windy weather just causes them to come up a little later, hug the ground a little closer and run for their dens with less provocation. 

The downside of those sunny, warm days is hay growth.  The warmer and sunnier the year, the more quickly the alfalfa grows.  The taller the hay grows, the more difficult it is to spot targets.  These are the trade-offs.   Everything has its advantages and disadvantages! 

As with the weather, the timing of the babies coming above ground can’t be predicted.  We have seen a few of babies as early as the first week of April but it is usually latter April before they begin to come up in numbers.  There is always a good supply of next-generation targets by the first week of May.

So, what’s the best time to book your hunt? 

To fully answer that question, the cartridges you like to shoot also come into play. 

For hunters who prefer to shoot primarily centerfire cartridges, early hunting has some advantages.  Early season hunts risk poor weather but they also provide the sage rat shooter the first crack at a population that’s had months to forget the report of a rifle.  Early hunts also offer larger targets.  (The larger males seem to be the first to arrive above ground as they are moving among the burrows, taking care of business, and providing for the next crop of targets.)  Perhaps most importantly, there is rarely much hay growth in early April.  The short hay makes almost every ‘rat in the field visible, so a centerfire shooter can really stretch the barrel of their varmint rifle!

For those who prefer shooting .22 LR, later hunts work well since it’s fairly certain that the babies will be up providing more targets within the reach of the .22’s.  No Off Season recommends May hunts for those wanting to primarily run rounds through their favorite .22.  The risk of hay growth is offset by the number of targets providing closer shooting.

For the full arsenal hunters, especially those with a .17HMR or a .17WSM in their stable, the time of year is far less important.  These versatile rounds can reach out in the early season and are still affordable in the target rich environment of May. 

Knowing the factors affecting shooting can help you zero in on the best shooting possible.  But, within these parameters, it’s still true that “The best time to go sagerat hunting is when you can!”

Tim Titus

Remember, “No crowds, no limits, no seasons…no bad days!”

Long Range Chucks

LR ‘Chucks. My brother Terry and I did some long range rockchuck hunting today. Terry built a 6.5 SAUM last year but has had little time to shoot it. It performed admirably hitting this ‘chuck at 687 yards! A Stiller Predator action, Pac-nor barrel, McMillan A-3 Sporter stock, Jewell trigger, Defensive Edge muzzle brake and a Nightforce ATACR 5-25X scope round out the package. After hitting his chuck, we got some valuable dope on his gun and load at 900 and 1030. Good stuff!

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940 yard coyote

A 940 yard coyote. First round hit. Ben is at it again!
BeFunky Collage

I had my LR rig out to let a couple of sagerat hunting clients try out the Nightforce ATACR scope. After they finished, Ben checked the far rim for rockchucks, spotting one. While we attempted to relocate the rockchuck, he spotted a coyote on the rim. Everyone got on their spotting scopes. He ran the drop using the Kestrel Applied Ballistics program. First round hit!

.243AI, 105 gr Berger VLD,Nightforce 5-25 ATACR, McMillan A5, YHM-3300 can, Leica 10X40 BRF, Kestrel 4500 AB

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Some Long Range, Some Called

Some long range, some called..

Ben and Gus went to my brother’s place after calling behind our house where Gus made the running headshot on his coyote. As they pulled in, they saw a coyote on the pivot. A stalk put them at 710 yards with nothing but a bare alfalfa field between them and the coyote. Ben ranged, dialed and put one in the midsection with a wind that was heavier than he expected, but it went down quickly. When they got to the coyote, they spotted another that Gus hit at 370. (A mile and a half blood trail never turned the coyote up.) But, as they were looking at the area of Gus’s hit they turned to find yet a third coyote on the pivot! This one was ranged at 730 yards. At the shot, the coyote just stiffened and tipped over!

It got dark on them while tracking Gus’ coyote so they went back in the morning but ran out of snow and had to give it up. They found a good stand near where they quit tracking and called. A coyote came hard on Ben’s side but turned just out of shotgun range. Ben switched to his rifle and, not to be outdone by his cousin, put a running headshot of his own on it! On their last stand, one more coyote backdoored them in the only place he could have got it done and made it out with his skin.

Overall, a pretty good couple of days for Team NOS.

Happy New Year from No Off Season!

via (1) No Off Season.

Ben and Gus

Coyotes in Your Pocket

A Quest to Shotgun Coyotes

 New country, a new set-up and no real clue of what is coming.  Six minutes into the stand a coyote blows out of the brush line just feet from my youngest son, Ben, and I.  It has our scent now and it’s going hard across the small meadow in front of us.  Simultaneous shots from my 12 gauge and Ben’s .17 send her skidding through the hay stubble before she makes it 30 yards.  Did that really just happen?  This is a little more up-close and personal than our normal sets!


We’re riflemen.  In fact my wing shooting ability leaves much to be desired.  Before Ben was hardly a twinkle, his older brother, Hank, used to tag along with me while pheasant hunting in Central Washington.  I’d pick Hank up at the house and take him on short hunts with me after work.  He was five or six at the time.  My German Shorthair bitch, Jill, had far more experience with pheasants than I so it wasn’t a big surprise when she locked on a ringneck not far from the house.  Hank and I walked in and a beautiful rooster erupted into the clear blue sky.  I fired twice and, as was many more times the case than I would like to admit, the bird flew over the fence and into an adjacent field. I reloaded and in less than a minute, Jill locked on point again and once again a rooster cackled as it made its ascent into the fall sky.  Two shots from the Browning hurried it on its way not touching a feather.  What do you do?  I told the dog, “Find us another rooster, Jill.”   Hank adds from behind me, “Yeah. Find us a slow one!”  He was a cute child….

Needless to say, shotguns are not my forte’.  I’ve shot them.  I hit occasionally but I’m by no means a natural wing shooter.  I guess that’s the reason that I’m primarily a rifleman.  I strive for set-ups that bring me the advantage when rifling coyotes.  Slightly broken terrain to get some elevation, a mosaic of vegetation to see approaching coyotes and some openings in which to stop the coyote for a shot are the things I look for in the ideal stand.  As soon as the coyote gets inside 200 yards, I’m looking for a place to bark him to a stop and the result is a dead coyote.  Accurate rifles, crisp triggers and good glass are what life is about, isn’t it?  2013-12-27 11.12.04

And, yet, there’s been a nagging thought in the back of my mind that I haven’t been as well- rounded a coyote caller as I should be.  Driving by miles of coyote country to get to an area conducive to good rifle stands has never bothered me.  But, the result of choosing poor stands haunts me and haunts the coyotes that have left those stands with their PhD in their hands.  I’ve really been OK with all that at least until one particular coyote hunting contest.

The coyotes were responding during this hunt.  Boy, were they responding!  We had hot coyotes coming hard and from unexpected directions.  Some were not about to stop.  The resulting fast, moving, close-up shots are low percentage rifle shots and cost us just enough coyotes to take us out of the money.  For most of us contest hunting is really less about the money and more about our pride.  Afterwards, I told Ben that we just had to learn to shotgun coyotes.  So, as hard as it was, I began leaving the rifle home.

Feeling about half naked and wondering if I could hit anything anyway, I started my quest.  I had previously purchased a Remington 11-87 turkey gun with coyote hunting in mind.  A Dead Coyote choke tube was installed.  I put a Tru-glo fiber optic three dot sight on the rib making it more like an open sight than a shotgun bead– comforting to the rifleman-turned-shotgunner.

My brother told me of his attempt to remodel his scattergun for coyotes and how far off of the point of aim (POA) it shot so, after taking out a second mortgage on the home, I purchased a few boxes of Heavi-shot’s Dead Coyote 3” T-shot and patterned my gun.  It was good thing I did as the center of the pattern printed about 12 inches high at 40 yards.  Good to know.  The difference between POA and POI (point of impact) could have stopped my shotgun-coyote efforts before they got off the ground.  Lesson number one:  pattern your shotgun.

I recently received a Burris Fast Fire III which I mounted in a Speed Bead mount on the 11-87.  The elevation and windage adjustments removes the patterning issues with this shotgun and the 3 MOA red dot makes it possible to point and shoot with little thought to the process.  Keeping both eyes open is still necessary but is fairly natural even for a shooter with ingrained rifle habits.

The next stand turned out a little different than the first.  Ben and I set up next to a slightly larger opening–Ben again with his .17 and me with the 12 gauge.  Not long into the stand a pair was coming hard from Ben’s side.  Barking had little effect and Ben took a shot at the lead coyote, a big male.  The shot missed and I opened up with the shottie finally knocking the coyote down on shot number three.  Ben put a finisher in him with the .17.  As we walked up to the coyote, I realized I already had over ten dollars worth of shotgun ammo in this coyote hide!  Lesson number two:  heavier than lead loads are expensive.

Nov 2012 Coyotes 008I’ve tried some four buck lead, copper-coated lead as well as the Heavi-shot loads and all have been effective.  The position of the coyote in relation to the shooter and the coyote’s adrenaline level seem to have more impact on the effectiveness of the shotgun than the load itself.  However, a friend of mine, Bob Morris, has much more experience shotgunning coyotes than I.  He feels the heavier-than-lead loads are significantly more effective and that the new 15 gram per cc ultra-heavy shot is even better yet.  Prices have sky-rocketed recently on the tungsten alloy shot and the shells are getting increasingly expensive but if you want to maximize the effectiveness of your shotgun for coyotes, they may be worth the money.   Stock up now if you can find old inventory of UHD loads.

Since, my primary coyote hunting partner went to college this fall, I’ve been double carrying a rifle and shotgun on most stands.  The shotgun stays in my lap and the rifle is set up next to me on a Primos Rapid Pivot Bipod.  A US Hunter shotgun stand enables the shooter to set the shotgun aside when a rifle shot is necessary without putting the muzzle in the dirt.  The shotgun has accounted for over 80% of the coyotes this fall although the rifle has finished a few after knocking them down with the shottie.  The shotgun opened up a lot of areas closer to home that would have been too tight of cover for good rifle stands.  A couple of shotgun doubles have fallen to the 11-87 and having coyotes close enough to hear them breathe adds another dimension to the game.

Recently after making a delivery to a ranch on which I have permission to hunt, I set up next to an island of brush surrounded by meadow and then sage.  It was late and this would be the last stand of the day.  I sat next to a large greasewood looking over the electronic caller so I could see the downwind (Titus’ Rule).  A thundering of feet coming from over my right shoulder became evident.  Turning my head ever so slightly to the right and looking out of the corner of my eye I saw the coyote stopped ten yards away at the edge of the brush line.  It moved to its left stopping just on the other side of the greasewood from my chair.  It was standing four feet from my right rear pocket.  Its next move should have put him behind me so when he didn’t show up, I jumped to my feet.  He started away with the classic loping–while-looking-over-his–shoulder move of a big coyote but made it less than 20 yards before the shot collided with his head and neck.  Now that’s a coyote in your pocket!

He was one of the fattest coyotes I’ve ever killed.  He had fed well over the summer and fall but the game birds and animals would get a break from his dining now.   Lesson number three:  coyotes in shotgun range have radar.  Full camo including your face and hands will help but any move you make will be noticed by the coyotes even when using motion decoys.  Don’t move until you’re ready to take the shot.  My quest has also taught me to raise a knee up and rest the shotgun over it to minimize the amount of movement necessary to bring your shotgun into play.

After another ranch delivery, I stopped to make a stand.  Again the sound of footsteps preceded the appearance of the coyote ten yards to my right.  As I slowly began raising the shotgun, the coyote immediately saw it and turned away from me into the opening next to the caller.  The first shot knocked him down but he began to regain his feet.  The second shot hit him again and after the third shot, I was still forced to switch to the rifle to finish the big male.  Feeling a little silly staying there after the barrage of gunfire, I nonetheless held my position and checked the shotgun.  One shell left. 

Sure enough, two minutes later more footsteps are coming.   Out of the corner of my eye a coyote is about to cross behind me into my scent cone at just two or three yards and, again, it doesn’t come by.    Jumping to my feet, it actually surprises me to see the coyote roll at the shot.  But, she too begins to regain her feet and I set the now-empty shotgun down and finish her with the rifle as well.

Lessons four and five:  continue to call even if you’ve fired multiple shots.  The security of the cover may make additional coyotes comfortable enough to still respond to your call.  And, secondly, a coyote on adrenaline can take a lot of punishment.  If a coyote is still struggling, keep pounding it until you are sure it’s finished.  Bob Morris again instilled his wisdom in me for lesson number six when he said, “I thought everyone took at least ten rounds of shotgun shells in their pocket.”  Indeed.  Point well taken.  I’ve since added a Mesa Tactical shotshell carrier to the side of my shotgun’s action.

Shotgunning coyotes has become a sport unto itself opening up new areas to hunt that many times have more dense coyote populations than the open country sought after by the rifleman.  The close-up, fast action puts a new spin on an already exciting sport while helping reduce depredation on wildlife.  Don’t give up your rifle but for a new challenge, break out the shotgun and set up where you can put some coyotes in your pocket!

Adjusting Pressure & Altitude on your Kestrel 4000 Series

Your Kestrel 4000 Series Weather & Environmental Meter will measure air pressure in order to calculate barometric pressure and altitude. Changes in either air pressure or altitude will affect these readings, so it is important to make adjustments as necessary if you bring your Kestrel to a higher or lower altitude.

To adjust the altitude, first you will need to obtain a barometric air pressure reading from a local weather source to use as your reference pressure. Once you have that reading, scroll to the “Current Altitude Screen” on your Kestrel. Once you are there, press the center button to enter the adjustment mode and then use the right and left arrows to adjust the reference pressure.

As you are doing that, you will notice that the altitude reading will change as your reference pressure changes. When you are finished, press the center button to exit the adjustment mode.

To adjust the barometric pressure, first you will need to obtain your altitude from a topographical map, landmark or the Internet. Once you have that number, scroll to the “Current Barometric Pressure Screen” on your Kestrel. Once there, press the center button to enter the adjustment mode.

Again, use the left and right arrows to adjust the reference altitude. Again, you will notice that the Barometric Pressure will change with changes in the reference altitude. When you are done, press the center button to exit the adjustment mode.

*From the Kestrel Tech Team

NOS Long Range Shooting School

No Off Season put on its first long range shooting school for my cousin, Kristy Titus.  Kristy is an up and coming outdoor TV personality and, as such, wanted to increase her knowledge and competency in long range shooting.  We don’t pretend to be experts in the field but I felt we could give Kristy a good foundation to start her on the right path in long range shooting.

Ben spotting and evaluating Kristy’s benchrest technique

The course began with classroom time on equipment, shooting form and technique and ballistics.  We then mixed range time with classes on ballistics programs, MOA calculations and use, wind doping and environmental factors affecting shots as well as slope shooting.  Ben demonstrated LR reloading techniques.

At our range, we worked on Kristy’s benchrest technique, evaluated her rifle’s performance and introduced her to more of the equipment she would use in her long range shooting.  We had her shoot a rifle of known accuracy to evaluate her BR shooting and got her on gongs at 200 yards.  Kristy is a representative for Swarovski so we got to enjoy using some nice optics she brought for the event.


After getting her shooting form and techniques headed in the right direction, we moved right into prone work on the gongs.  She practiced with a headwind and then went on to 400 yard gongs in a full value crosswind.  We wanted her to use the same tools in the class as she would on her own so, even though we took weather with the Kestrel 4500 with HORUS/ATRAG ballistics, we had her work her firing solutions on the Shooter program on her Smart Phone.  Her first 400 yard shot in the full value crosswind was a hit and she was able to put a three shot group on it measuring just over one MOA.  Not bad for her first time shooting that far.

400 yard gong

After still more class time, graduation day found us heading to the rockchuck fields for some in-field practice and evaluation.  Kristy’s first opportunity came on a steep uphill shot into a quartering wind at 211 yards.  Kristy made perfect adjustments and sent the big rockchuck into the air!  Let’s just say that Kristy’s natural enthusiasm really came out!  Her next shot at 270 yards in the opposite direction resulted in a consecutive hit on another steep shot in the wind.  At that point she would have been rightly content to stop if her instructors hadn’t urged her to move to the portable bench to try some 650 yard ‘chucks.

At the 650 yard bench

Again, Kristy used the Shooter program to input the shot parameters.  She dialed her solution into my rifle scope (Her gun was not quite ready for this kind of shot) and after two very near misses, she had her first direct hit on a 650 yard rockchuck.  To say she was stoked might be an understatement!  We may have just created another LR varmint hunting addict.  A few minutes later she took another turn on the rifle and scored a first-round hit at 650.  She was virtually in disbelief at what she could accomplish with some basic knowledge and the right equipment.

Kristy and Ben with some of the day’s rockchucks

We really enjoyed taking someone with very little long range knowledge and experience and in three days have them start making hits on targets the size of a football at 3/8 of a mile.  I’d say she graduated with honors.  Thanks for coming over, Kristy!

Kristy’s Blog of the event can be seen here:

NOS’ First Major Sports Show

No Off Season is back from our first-ever major trade show, The Pacific Northwest Sportsman’s Show, held at the Expo Center in Portland, Oregon.After finding out No Off Season was headed for Portland, a friend of mine who has done many trade shows in another industry asked if we shouldn’t maybe go to Eugene or Central Oregon for our first show.I simply replied, “No.Portland is our market.”The PNW Sportsman’s Show is billed as “The Biggest Sports Show West of the Mississippi” with an attendance of some 60,000 to 70,000 people.They expected 25,000 people through the doors on Saturday alone!Talk about jumping in with both feet!To top it off, after a very busy winter, we didn’t pull the trigger on this venture (or adventure) and secure our booth until a week prior to the show opening.Needless to say between ordering supplies and materials, arranging printing, ordering an additional banner, arranging travel and accommodations, packing displays and inventory and all the other small things it takes to set up an effective booth, it was a challenge just to get to the Show.

2012 PNW Sportsman Show booth

John Collett, my sales rep for the show, was extremely helpful and secured a great booth for us.  NOS had a corner location at the end of an aisle giving us extra room to interact with the public and display the NO Off Season wares.And, interact with the public we did!Thank you to all of the great people who stopped by and waited patiently to learn about our hunts and our products.And, my apologies to those who stopped and weren’t able to stay long enough for us to meet you.We really appreciate the overwhelming support and attention you all paid to our display.Sales and bookings exceeded our expectations.We are just now coming up for air after booking the many hunts and shipping the many orders for products that were placed at our booth and on-line after the show!

The taxidermy mount of Ben’s 1044 yard rockchuck was a real hit as was the fluttering MOJO Critter and Jack Attack decoy. The long range rifle display caught the eye of many of the hardcore shooters at the show.I joked that by the end of the first day my MOJO decoy had already attracted more hunters than it ever had coyotes but then it was in front of more hunters in a single day at the PNWSS than it ever had been on coyotes!Interacting with so many predator hunters and varmint shooters was a treat for us.We learned a lot about the products that drew special interest and those that are better served with on-line marketing.And, the calendar has filled significantly with sagerat hunters interested in an above-average varmint shooting experience.I’m already looking forward to next year’s event. A little experience goes a long way and even with the overwhelming success of this show, we hope to be even better prepared to take care of our customers the next time around.Without you, No Off Season is nothing!

Thanks to O’Laughlin Trade Shows for putting on an outstanding event and a special thanks to my wife, Lori, and to my son, Ben, for all the hard work and help you both were in making this happen.You guys are awesome! No Off Season has offered to do seminars for the 2013 Show on either Coyotes 201: Advanced Tactics or Long Range Varmint Hunting.Let O’Laughlin Trade Shows know if you like the idea of one or both topics.The e-mail address is or call them at 503/246-8291.Let them know you are interested in Tim Titus and No Off Season doing some seminars.

Thanks again for your support and for your business!


Of Waffles and Bobcats

My oldest son, Hank, was home for the holidays.  The last morning of his visit, he shot a coyote off the patio and had bear sausage for breakfast—a Hardcore morning. He could hardly wait to get back to So Cal and tell his buddies and girlfriend about his morning. There was a reason they called him Hank “The Mountain Man” Titus in the Marine Corp!

This morning my youngest son, Ben, and I woke early for a bobcat hunt. Ben grabbed a box of Reeses Puff cereal for his breakfast. I suggested that we had some left over waffles he could heat up–a manly breakfast.  No bear sausage in them but definitely more Hardcore than Reeses Puffs! After our manly breakfast we hit the road with CCR playing “Run Through the Jungle” on the stereo and a glow in the eastern sky. This was gonna be a good day.

I’ve taken two bobcats this season so we were trying to get Ben his first ‘cat of the year. Our first stop was a rim I had located during my deer hunt this Fall. The trail across the top was littered with ‘cat scat. It was the best bet we had to call in a bobcat for Ben.

The first stand was a blank but the rim is over a half mile long so I suggested a move down the rim and setup again. It’s a great rim with boulders strewn along the hillside below it—ideal habitat for a desert bobcat. We set up quartering one of the boulders. We set the Foxpro Fury and Jack Attack decoy 65 yards upwind in case a coyote came in and I started the Foxpro with my usual bobcat standby, Adult Cottontail. After a couple of minutes, I gradually increased the volume to almost max then backed it back down. Then at ten minutes I switched up to the Baby Cottontail sound.  A couple of minutes later Ben says he’s got a ‘cat spotted. It’s coming towards us along the bottom of the rim but for some inexplicable reason (Who can figure cats?) it climbs to the top of the rim and comes down the top. As it slows, I call the range to Ben–220 yards, 215 yards…. I tell him he has a right to left wind then I correct it and tell him to hold zero wind. The wind is coming straight at us. The cat stops and Ben shoots but there is no sign of a hit. The cat flinches  but doesn’t run off. Ben is cold and a little Bobcat Fever has set in. Now he doesn’t know what to do and the ‘cat moves further down the rim then stops with just its’ head and neck visible. It actually beds on top of the rim still close to 215 yards away.

Turns out Ben decided to hold a little wind after all and probably just parted the hair on the right side of the ‘cat. I see Ben’s head shaking and I think he’s shaking his head in disgust at having missed the shot.  (Ben regularly hits rockchucks at over 1000 yards.)  Then I realize he’s actually shaking that bad. (He later described it as convulsing!) Between the cold, Bobcat Fever and his nerves over having missed his first chance of the year on a bobcat, he’s having a hard time holding it together.

The cat remains bedded for several minutes. Ben wisely chooses not to try the head/neck shot under the circumstances so we wait on the cat to make a move. Thankfully the sun finally makes it over the ridge and the warmth starts to relieve some of Ben’s shakes. I switch the sound to Lucky Bird to try to make something happen and the cat gets up and starts moving further left and closer to us. It hesitates only once but not long enough for Ben to squeeze off a shot then disappears from view.

Now Ben thinks he’s blown it completely as the cat doesn’t show up for several minutes. I change sounds back to Adult Cottontail while Ben in his own words is “praying his head off” and I see what looks like the cat sitting on top of the rim at just over 100 yards. Ben confirms it is the cat and slowly moves his rifle almost 90 degrees to line up again. This time it all comes together and Ben looks like Tim Tebow pointing to heaven saying, “Thank you, Lord!”

Here are a couple of pictures of a very relieved young man and his first ‘cat of the season.


Nice Belly

A well-timed prayer can really increase the faith of a young man! 

Back at the truck we put on our victory song as we head out, CCR’s “Fortunate Son”.  Yeah, it’s a good day….and it’s a good thing he had his waffles or he probably couldn’t have pulled it off!

Epilogue:  The cat was a nice female. We estimated her to be around 22 pounds. The .17 Fireball did virtually no damage to the hide so we’re hoping she will bring enough to cover a chunk of the cost of a new range finder for Ben.