Sage Rats Go Mainstream

No Off Season just finished filming a sage rat hunt with Scott Haugan for an upcoming episode of his show, Game Chasers, on the Outdoor Network.  Scott and Tiffany Haugan with their two sons, Braxton (9) and Kazden (7), and their cameraman, Travis Ralls, came to southeast Oregon this week to film the episode.  Scott was focusing on the opportunity to start young shooters and train with multiple weapons for other hunting endeavors.  They also spent a lot of time documenting the damage caused by sage rats and the need to control these destructive varmints.

Scott and Kazden

Scott and Kazden

 The weather was terrible the day they arrived.  Ice cold winds of 25 mph were the order but the kids as well as the adults were able to get some decent shooting in between warm-ups in the truck!  The second day was much better with sunshine and only a moderate breeze.  The looks on the boys’ faces as they whacked ‘rat after ‘rat was priceless.  Although they may have to edit it out of the final cut, the boys giggling as they made a good shot or the sage rats did acrobatics just makes me happy!  (There were a few giggles out of the adults too!) 

 They all shot with everything from .22 single shots to AR15’s.  Scott and Tiffany as well as the boys did quite a bit of archery shooting with Judo points and they even did a little shotgun shooting off sticks to get the kids ready for upcoming turkey hunts.  These boys have literally hunted all over the world.  Braxton shot a zebra and Kazden shot his first wildebeast in Zimbabwe last year but both of them thought the sage rat hunting was over-the-top for volume and action! 



 They all enjoyed just hanging out and experiencing ranch life.  Two of the local buckaroos roped a couple bull calves that my brother, Todd, needed to castrate–just impromptu entertainment on a working ranch. A game of horseshoes whiled-away some time while Scott and Travis filmed and did interviews.  (I had to sign a “Model Agreement” for Travis to use some interview footage.  If you saw my old, fat butt, the last thing you’d expect is for me to sign a “Model Agreement”!) 

 They stayed in the B&B on the ranch and we fed them BBQ and dutch oven desert but they never required nor asked for (and didn’t receive) any special treatment.  Although I didn’t know what to expect going into this project, the Haugan’s are just a neat family with very well-mannered kids.  I dealt with Scott in the planning and throughout the filming and never saw him make a bobble with me or his family–just a genuinely nice and very likeable guy.  

Scott, Braxton and Kazden

Scott, Braxton and Kazden

The weather just kept getting better with warming temperatures and less and less wind  They made some shots at over 200 yards with the centerfire rifles and plenty of close range shots that kept the kids interested.  We missed an opportunity at a badger on the final morning.  It left the field before Scott could get on it. 

 It was an enjoyable hunt for everyone.  The episode will air next March on Scott’s show Game Chasers on the Outdoor Channel. 

Travis the Cameraman

Travis the camera man

 No Off Season and sage rats are going main stream!  Stay tuned!

More information on our guided hunts

and Check out Scott’s blog  

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Calling all Long Range Varmint Shooters!

We’re going through a transition.  I hate that word.  Transition generally denotes change and change is not always comfortable but I find the transitions in the predator and varmint hunting world are easier because they hold promise.  I love to call predators.  It’s one of the most exhilarating things in the world but after a long, cold winter of piling on layers and fighting the snow, the varmint fields start to look pretty inviting.   The colony varmints are starting to come out now—actually they’ve been starting to come out for weeks but the transition in the weather isn’t keeping up with the desire of my mind!  Our sage rats are trying to get out between rain showers and snow squalls and icy winds .  The “‘rats” don’t offer the heart pounding excitement of a charging predator but, hey, there’s something to be said for a hunting sport that doesn’t require a 4:30 alarm and can see hundreds of rounds fired per day! 

The sage rats offer the shooter an unequalled opportunity to burn ammunition and utilize that last quarter inch you wrung out of your handloads at the range.  This early season ground squirrel and prairie dog shooting is made for the accurate centerfire rifle.  It’s just as hard for the grass to go above ground as it is for the squirrels so the cover is almost non-existent.  With relatively exposed targets and large ones at that, we get to stretch the legs on the heavy barrel rifles with the Hubble-like scopes.   Accuracy trumps terminal bullet performance now and laser trajectories make reaching the practical limits of your rifle’s accuracy on a target that only spans two inches less than a mathematical, computer-driven event and more a relaxed chance for trigger time.  We just bust out the benches and shoot!  That said, the rockchucks have been peeking out about as long as the sage rats.

Our country doesn’t hold a lot of rockchucks so we have to practice self-imposed conservation measures to keep from shooting them out.  What that means for others is up to you but for us, we’ve put a self-imposed limit of “No rockchucks under 1000 yards ‘til May.”  A few years ago 400 yards would have been just as realistic in conserving the resource.  For you, the minimum range may be much further.  My son, Ben, connected on his first rockchuck of the season last year at 1044 yards so, “Game On!” as they say .  The size of rockchucks makes them a viable long range target.  They will weigh up to maybe fifteen pounds in our area.  So, now the need for a dedicated long range rig comes into play and, yes, you better get to the computer or, better yet, carry one with you.  One nice thing about long range rockchuck shooting is that there are generally multiple targets at similar ranges and they don’t necessarily run off when the shots are coming out of the next zip code.   This allows a shooter with a spotter to “walk” onto target.  It doesn’t make it pure sniper “one shot, one kill” stuff but it allows newer long range shooters a chance to work their way into the game.  “One shot, One kill” stuff can be progressed into as the LR shooter gains experience.

A few good sage rat shoots have kept the reloading press busy already this spring but the big events have been our LR rockchuck attempts.   The first two attempts resulted in more data-gathering sessions than killfests.  Does  “No animals were harmed in the process of this shooting” mean anything to you?  On the third try of the year, it started to come together.   My son, Ben, and I each connected on 1000+ yard rockchucks in one evening. 

You can read the whole story here: 

1000+yard Rockchuck

It felt like sweet success but I’ve also come to know that “Pride comes before the fall.” So I won’t hold my breath that the feat can be repeated any time soon.  But, you know what?  Today is another of those rare-for-this-spring sunny and calm days.  Maybe we should go out to see if it was just a fluke or not…..

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