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<em><strong>Island Life</strong>: Lanai has the world’s largest herd of free-range axis deer.</em>

<em><strong>Island Life</strong>: Lanai has the world’s largest herd of free-range axis deer.</em> (Lee Thomas Kjos/The Raw Spirit/)

Before going to Hawaii, the idea of deer hunting there struck me as akin to pineapple on pizza—an odd combination that contradicts the natural order of things. Proper pizza is topped with meat, not fruit (and, no, tomatoes don’t count), and deer are hunted in timber, mountains, deserts, and swamps—not in a tropical honeymoon getaway like Lanai.

The flight from Honolulu didn’t take long, for which I was grateful. The gentleman in the seat next to me was friendly but large. I’m not built like a Milanese runway model either, so we both tried to make the best of it as our forearms jostled for the center armrest. He was wearing flip-flops, shorts, and a T-shirt, and his carry-on consisted of a Daiwa spinning rod and reel. He said he was making the hop from Oahu to visit family for the weekend.

I, on the other hand, was in full tourist mode, wearing a pineapple-decorated shirt, long pants, and hunting boots. If my bright white Montana skin didn’t give me away, my jet-lagged demeanor certainly marked me as someone who had just arrived from the mainland.

This wasn’t the first time I had crossed multiple time zones to get to a deer camp—but it was the first deer camp where I was handed a mai tai upon arrival and experienced a robotic toilet seat in my room that took hands-free ­operation to the next level. Before I knew it, my attitude was adjusted.

Lanai is an interesting place, even by the standards of Hawaii. In 1922, it was purchased by James Dole for about $1.1 million and transformed into the world’s largest pineapple plantation. The pineapple business eventually petered out—the final harvest on Lanai occurred in 1992—and the corporation that owned the Dole Food Company sold the island to Larry Ellison, the mega-billionaire former CEO of Oracle Corporation, in 2012 for $300 million.

And when I say sold the island, that’s exactly what I mean. Ellison owns about 97 percent of Lanai’s 90,000 acres, with the small remainder belonging to the state of Hawaii.

The island’s single settlement, Lanai City, has about 3,100 residents, the majority of whom work to support the island’s tourism industry, which centers around the Four Seasons Resort—my deer camp—also owned by Ellison.

As you might imagine, most visitors to the island come to hit the beach, or to golf, or just to get spoiled by the posh service at the resort. But a small handful are drawn to the middle reaches of Lanai—the high ground that was once divided into rows of pineapple trees but is now covered in grass and scrub brush, and is home to the world’s largest herd of free-range axis deer.

<em><strong>Axis Marks the Spot</strong>: The author and his hunting guide, Alec Pascua, admire a nice buck.</em>

<em><strong>Axis Marks the Spot</strong>: The author and his hunting guide, Alec Pascua, admire a nice buck.</em> (Lee Thomas Kjos/The Raw Spirit/)

The Road Less Traveled

You’re not likely to see the former pineapple groves featured on many postcards or in tourism brochures. They just don’t fit most people’s idea of Hawaii. But the savannah that covers the interior of the island, which rises up to a ridge of mountains, has its own kind of beauty—as long as you don’t stare too closely at the ground. The dark-red soil reminded me of Georgia clay, and I’m sure that during the rainy season, it turns into a slick boot-sucking gumbo. But it was hot and dry when my companions and I went to sight in our ­rifles, and with each step we kicked up puffs of dust.

Everywhere I looked, bits of frayed plastic sheeting poked out of the ground, fluttering in the wind. Shards of broken PVC pipe dotted the landscape too, along with valves and other pieces of hardware I couldn’t identify—all remnants of the vast irrigation network that had once ­delivered water across the plantation and was now slowly deteriorating under the sun. I’m guessing it’ll take many decades, if not centuries, for the land to recover and reabsorb the detritus.

Our shooting range consisted of a couple of benches, some target standards at 100 yards, and a smattering of steel targets that stretched out to 700 yards.

There were seven folks in our group, and we were here to test some new gear from Browning and Leupold. We had several different rifles to choose from, chambered in either .300 Win. Mag. or 6.5 Creedmoor. Since I planned to do a lot of shooting, I grabbed one of the six-fives and a couple of boxes of ammo.

The ammunition was part of Browning’s Long Range Pro series, which is tipped with Sierra MatchKing bullets. Browning has expanded this line to include 130-grain SMKs for the 6.5 Creedmoor, and 175-grain and 195-grain SMKs for the .30/06, .300 WSM, and .300 Win. Mag.

While Browning isn’t touting the Long Range Pro as a hunting load, the company recognizes that plenty of hunters will give these bullets a try on game. My own experience using match bullets on game has been quite positive, though I’ve limited it to shooting animals mule-deer-size and smaller.

The combo of the match ammo, the McMillan stocked Browning X-Bolt, and ­Leupold’s VX-6 2–12 delivered excellent accuracy. After confirming my 100-yard zero, I started plinking steel and built a range card. The rifle had no problem ringing the most distant targets and handled nicely from unsupported field positions too.

<em><strong>Meet Your Match</strong>: Browning’s Long Range Pro, tipped with Sierra MatchKing bullets, dropped the author’s island deer.</em>

<em><strong>Meet Your Match</strong>: Browning’s Long Range Pro, tipped with Sierra MatchKing bullets, dropped the author’s island deer.</em> (John B. Snow/)

Stalking the Tropics

Early the next morning, I jumped into a pickup with Alec Pascua, a 48-year-old hunting guide who spends his days off freediving with a spear gun in the pelagic waters off the island.Locating the deer wasn’t difficult. In the mornings and evenings, they are on the move in large numbers, feeding, going to water, or looking for a spot to bed and get out of the sun. Finding a big buck isn’t a given, though, and you can end up pinned down with a lot of nervous deer looking your way and many blown stalks.

But one by one, my hunting partners and I put bucks on the ground. My deer came on the second day. Pascua spotted him way out on a flat below us feeding in the brush. I took a seated position, braced my shooting sticks against a log, tucked my pack under my armpit to support the rear of the stock, and dropped the deer with a shot to the neck.

Read Next: Axis Deer: The Perfect Summer Bowhunt

A Cut Above the Rest

Afterward, Pascua and I loaded the deer into his pickup and drove to a small house in Lanai City with an archway made from antler sheds and wild sheep skulls, under which hung a sign that read Bob the Butcher.
At first glance, Bob and his wife, Lorie, who run the business together, didn’t inspire a lot of confidence. They gave off a disheveled lack of urgency that might have been the result of years of living on island time, partaking in ­perspective-altering substances, or both. Then I saw him at work, carefully trimming the meat from the tips of the ribs to create frenched racks of loin, and rolling the shoulder meat into roasts tied up neatly with butcher’s string. It just so happens that Bob is a classically trained chef who’d had enough of the restaurant rat race and wanted to take it down a notch. Without a doubt, he’s the most talented game butcher I’ve ever met.

It’s nice to think that every game animal gets processed with such expertise, but it is especially good to see axis deer treated with that care, because if I were to rank the best venison I’ve tasted, axis deer would be right at the top of the list.

To satisfy my culinary cravings and my desire for quirky adventure, I’d go to Hawaii again in a heartbeat. While I’ll never desecrate a pizza with pineapple, I’d gladly cross the Pacific to belly-crawl through the grassland on Lanai for axis deer and spend more time in the most unusual, and luxurious, deer camp I’ve ever seen.

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Why Passing This 180-Inch Deer Was the Right Thing to Do

https://www.wideopenspaces.com/why-passing-this-180-inch-deer-was-the-right-thing-to-do/

Facebook: Don Higgins / Higgins Outdoors

Don Higgins passes a giant buck he named Smokey in 2016. You might think he’s insane, but not so fast.

It’s common knowledge in the deer hunting world: if you want to kill absolutely giant bucks, you’ll have to pass great bucks. And, as you’ve seen in another article of ours, Don Higgins recently tagged a buck he called Smokey during the 2017 Illinois archery season. Not just any buck, but the buck of a lifetime.

Many people don’t know the history Don has with this 200-plus Illinois giant. He passed this buck many times in 2016, and Smokey was no slouch. This deer was probably a 180-inch deer then, but Don knew the potential it had with another year of development.

Along with knowing its potential, Don had this buck dialed in. He knew its personality, its favorite bedding area and its favorite place to feed. Therefore, he was extremely confident he would be able to get another crack at him the next year.

Here’s a video of one of the hunts when Higgins passed Smokey. Would I be able to do it? Absolutely not at this point in my hunting career! But do I think he’s an idiot like most hunters screamed? Absolutely not! I admire the man for his discipline, as well as his knowledge and expertise in the woods. And if a hunter has the abilities to let a deer walk like that, more power to him.

Here is the video, check this out!

Passing Smokey

Posted by Don Higgins / Higgins Outdoors on Wednesday, August 16, 2017

As you can see, this is an incredible buck for any bowhunter. When Don posted this video on his social media pages, it was followed with mixed opinions. Some praised him and many said he was a fool because the deer was at full potential.

Don Higgins

But Don was able to silence the haters this year when he harvested Smokey just like he thought he would. A whopping 207 inches of Illinois bone later, Don had harvested his second 200-inch Illinois whitetail.

Well done, Don. I just can’t get over this video and also what Smokey turned into this hunting season.

NEXT: IS IT OK TO SHOOT A DOE WITH FAWNS?

WATCH

oembed rumble video here

The post Why Passing This 180-Inch Deer Was the Right Thing to Do appeared first on Wide Open Spaces.

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https://www.wideopenspaces.com/why-passing-this-180-inch-deer-was-the-right-thing-to-do/

Facebook: Don Higgins / Higgins Outdoors
deer hunting

Don Higgins passes a giant buck he named Smokey in 2016. You might think he’s insane, but not so fast.

It’s common knowledge in the deer hunting world: if you want to kill absolutely giant bucks, you’ll have to pass great bucks. And, as you’ve seen in another article of ours, Don Higgins recently tagged a buck he called Smokey during the 2017 Illinois archery season. Not just any buck, but the buck of a lifetime.

Many people don’t know the history Don has with this 200-plus Illinois giant. He passed this buck many times in 2016, and Smokey was no slouch. This deer was probably a 180-inch deer then, but Don knew the potential it had with another year of development.

Along with knowing its potential, Don had this buck dialed in. He knew its personality, its favorite bedding area and its favorite place to feed. Therefore, he was extremely confident he would be able to get another crack at him the next year.

Here’s a video of one of the hunts when Higgins passed Smokey. Would I be able to do it? Absolutely not at this point in my hunting career! But do I think he’s an idiot like most hunters screamed? Absolutely not! I admire the man for his discipline, as well as his knowledge and expertise in the woods. And if a hunter has the abilities to let a deer walk like that, more power to him.

Here is the video, check this out!

Passing Smokey

Posted by Don Higgins / Higgins Outdoors on Wednesday, August 16, 2017

As you can see, this is an incredible buck for any bowhunter. When Don posted this video on his social media pages, it was followed with mixed opinions. Some praised him and many said he was a fool because the deer was at full potential.

Don Higgins

But Don was able to silence the haters this year when he harvested Smokey just like he thought he would. A whopping 207 inches of Illinois bone later, Don had harvested his second 200-inch Illinois whitetail.

Well done, Don. I just can’t get over this video and also what Smokey turned into this hunting season.

NEXT: IS IT OK TO SHOOT A DOE WITH FAWNS?

WATCH

oembed rumble video here

The post Why Passing This 180-Inch Deer Was the Right Thing to Do appeared first on Wide Open Spaces.

Follow us on Twitter @freaknhunting
Follow us on Instagram @freaknhunting

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Ruger Announces New Custom Shop 10/22 Rifle with Skeletonized Green Mountain Laminate Stock

Posted from: http://huntinginsider.com/ruger-announces-new-custom-shop-10-22-rifle-with-skeletonized-green-mountain-laminate-stock/

Sturm, Ruger & Company, Inc. (NYSE: RGR) is proud to introduce a new 10/22® Competition Rifle to the Ruger® Custom Shop line of firearms. This new variation boasts a skeletonized green mountain laminate stock and a stainless steel bull barrel. The 16-1/8″ stainless steel bull barrel features black Cerakote® accents and is fluted to reduce […]

The post Ruger Announces New Custom Shop 10/22 Rifle with Skeletonized Green Mountain Laminate Stock appeared first on HuntingInsider.

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Posted from: http://huntinginsider.com/ruger-announces-new-custom-shop-10-22-rifle-with-skeletonized-green-mountain-laminate-stock/

Sturm, Ruger & Company, Inc. (NYSE: RGR) is proud to introduce a new 10/22® Competition Rifle to the Ruger® Custom Shop line of firearms. This new variation boasts a skeletonized green mountain laminate stock and a stainless steel bull barrel. The 16-1/8″ stainless steel bull barrel features black Cerakote® accents and is fluted to reduce […]

The post Ruger Announces New Custom Shop 10/22 Rifle with Skeletonized Green Mountain Laminate Stock appeared first on HuntingInsider.

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Land & Legacy – Determining the Success of Your Season

Posted from: https://sportsmensnation.com/podcasters/land-and-legacy

Here is your pre-season pep rally! We take time this week to discuss how you should gauge the success of your season. Yes, big bucks are fun and play a role in our season, but there is much more weighing in on the success of a long hunting season. The outdoors is a medium or a way for you to draw closer to creation. Don’t overlook the opportunities this season to understand the importance of being silent and listening!

In addition, to determining the success of a season, we also discuss why you need to record your hunting observations. Each hunting season is an opportunity to learn more about what deer want to be doing on your property. These patterns or lack of patterns you are observing are strong indicators of the habitat work that needs to be completed on the property. We walk you through how to interpret these signs on your property. We will teach you to be intentional this hunting season and take a note pad to the stand with you. Learn more about your property and yourself more than ever this fall.

We hope this season is filled with encounters, not only with target deer, but with the Creator himself. Enjoy.Learn.Share! #ForLoveoftheLand

Follow FreaknHunting on Instagram @ http://instagram.com/freaknhunting
Catch us on Twitter @ http://twitter.com/freaknhunting
For the hat trick, we’re on Facebook @ https://facebook.com/FreaknHunting/

Published

on

Posted from: https://sportsmensnation.com/podcasters/land-and-legacy

Here is your pre-season pep rally! We take time this week to discuss how you should gauge the success of your season. Yes, big bucks are fun and play a role in our season, but there is much more weighing in on the success of a long hunting season. The outdoors is a medium or a way for you to draw closer to creation. Don’t overlook the opportunities this season to understand the importance of being silent and listening!

In addition, to determining the success of a season, we also discuss why you need to record your hunting observations. Each hunting season is an opportunity to learn more about what deer want to be doing on your property. These patterns or lack of patterns you are observing are strong indicators of the habitat work that needs to be completed on the property. We walk you through how to interpret these signs on your property. We will teach you to be intentional this hunting season and take a note pad to the stand with you. Learn more about your property and yourself more than ever this fall.

We hope this season is filled with encounters, not only with target deer, but with the Creator himself. Enjoy.Learn.Share! #ForLoveoftheLand

Follow FreaknHunting on Instagram @ http://instagram.com/freaknhunting
Catch us on Twitter @ http://twitter.com/freaknhunting
For the hat trick, we’re on Facebook @ https://facebook.com/FreaknHunting/

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