Big spread of golden eagle makes top trophy for huntsman's den. Jeep is used to cruise hills and plains looking for winged sheep-killing varmints.
Guns For the Hitter tagte
Belly-crawl may be needed stalking up on eagle-eyed eagles, but ranges are still upwards of 300 yards.
YOU NEED BENCH-REST AIM, A RED-HOT RIFLE, AND THE STALKING SKILL OF A PLAINS INDIAN TO BAG THE WILY GOLDEN EAGLE
By BURTON T. WHITLOCK
IT IS NOT TOO DIFFICULT to hit distant objects under favorable shooting conditions. Big-bore riflemen rack up some remarkable scores with their special rifles. . . an experienced woodsman can stalk and kill the wiliest animal. Each is a specialized form of sport. But there is one rifle game that combines the two, that requires the ability to stalk game, and the ability to hit relatively small targets at long, unknown ranges. This is the sport of hunting "killer" eagles.
People not familiar with the Golden Eagle admire him and condemn those who hunt him. But the sheepman who loses up to 30 per cent of his lamb crop to eagles can hardly be expected to love them. To him, they are predators like other predators, and cruel as any lobo. Eagles will actually run sheep until the woolies collapse in exhaustion, and the killers will then alight and start tearing at a sheep while it is still alive. Associations have been formed by stockmen to control eagles, and planes have been hired from which to hunt them. Eagles, when they develop an appetite for livestock, are outlaws, and as such they are hunted.
Successful eagle hunting requires the skill for deadly long-range shooting, plus the ability to stalk under the most trying conditions. Eagles are shot at 300, sometimes 400 yards—extreme ranges even for much larger targets. An eagle rifle must be superbly accurate, with a good, solidly-mounted scope. Unless the outfit will consistently toss minute-of-angle groups, it is practically useless for eagle shooting. Shots are few and far between, and the ones you do get are long and hard, so you want the most dependable equipment obtainable.
The .222 Remington is just a little weak for eagle shooting. The .220 Swift, .220 Weatherby Rocket, and .22-250 are the best performers in .22 caliber, loaded just under maximum to give good accuracy. My favorite hot-shot is a .22-250. I started using 63 grain bullets because I felt they would hold up and buck wind better; but I have since concluded that 55 grain bullets at 3850 to 3900 feet per second are better. The super-fast .22s are bad medicine up to 300 yards, but fall off after that. Eagles are seldom shot
Eagle-shoofer's gear includes scoped rifle of minute-of-angle grade, duffel bag for rest, and Navy mask to hide face from bird.
at less than 300 yards, so generally a bigger caliber is needed. The ,22s are just not wind-bucking bullets.
The 6mms. are better long-distance performers. Their bullets start out slower than the fast .22s, but equal or excel at around 200 yards and over. A 6 mm is a good compromise if you will use only one rifle. The man who shoots only one rifle soon learns how to hold it in almost any situation.
But heavier calibers will buck more wind, hold velocity better, than either the .22s or the 6 mms. The old longdistance standby, the .270, is hard to beat: and a .300 Magnum is still better if you are man enough to shoot it right. The Weatherby .257 Magnum, the .25 Ackley Magnum, and the new .244 H & H Magnum, plus the recently revived .25-06, are strictly in a class by themselves. They seem to be the last word as far as flat shooters are concerned.
I recently converted a nice Model 70 in .257 Roberts to .25-06, adding a Weaver 6X scope with rangefinder crosshair in Tilden's split-ring, two-piece mount. The net result is a rifle of medium weight, with a good, solidly-mounted, scope. I have not used it on eagles yet, as they are hunted only during winter, but the rockchucks have been taking a real mauling. Unfortunately, the recoil is more than I expected, but you can't have everything. The way this rifle tosses out those 25-caliber slugs to great distances is most gratifying, so I'll put up with some recoil and be happy.
To estimate distances accurately, I planned on using a rangefinder crosshair reticle in my scope. Mature eagles run pretty much the same in size. With a little practice, a fellow should become pretty sharp with a rangefinder, and eliminate big errors in judging distances. When I put together the .25-06, I gave this theory a chance, and put the rangefinder reticle scope on it. The rangefinder has been very helpful in estimating distances while shooting rock-chucks. The most accurate way is to measure them the long way, so if one is feeding, I simply turn the rifle sideways and estimate the distance to determine my hold.
Hunting-type scopes are best, and should be at least 4X. A 6X is my favorite. The scope (Continued on page 41)
Eagle has telescopic vision, can spot strange objects, but Whitlock has had luck using moving jeep as blind.
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