16 September 2012“The Rugers just arrived. Can you come up Sunday afternoon and stay through Monday noon? I’ll mount the Zeiss scopes on them, and will do my best to shoot them to at least get them on paper before you get here.” said Tim Fallon from the FTW Ranch. Before I could answer he continued, “Craig and Donna (Boddington) will be here as will Jim Bequette along with Kyle Lamb. They’re here for Craig and Kyle to do some filming for the “Guns & Ammo” tv show. You just as well come up as well and we’ll shoot our rifles. Oh yeah, Jerry Baker is coming up Monday for a while as well to shoot the guns he’s taking to Africa to hunt Cape buffalo about the time you and I are hunting ibex in Kyrgyzstan.” Guns? Old friends? How could I refuse offers like that? Tim Fallon is the owner of the FTW Ranch, about 12,000 acres of fabulous, rugged Texas Hill Country west of Kerrville and north of Uvalde. Tim and his family and “crew” have done a fabulous job not only in terms of the animals on the property, which include native species such as whitetail deer, but also unique “exotics” such as hog deer, several species of sheep, true ibex and even markhor. The ranch also has some of the more common exotics as well such as Axis and fallow deer, and blackbuck antelope. In addition essentially the entire ranch is a series of rifle ranges. It’s on the FTW where Tim and former Navy Seal Instructor Doug Prichard established SAAM (Sportsman All Weather All Terrain Marksmanship) as well as a fantastic dangerous game course. Training includes time in the class room and then on various of the ranch’s ranges. I’ve personally gone through these classes several times and every time I do I learn more about guns and shooting that helps me in hunting. Yes, they do teach long range shooting, but they also teach you to learn your firearm’s limitations and your own limitations with it. FTW Ranch’s SAAM is by far the finest and best shooting “school” I’ve ever seen. I highly recommend it to anyone who hunts, and especially to those who are spending big dollars to hunt foreign lands for unique animals. I arrived at the FTW while everyone as out in the field shooting and filming. About 30 minutes after I got there Tim walked in. We said our “Hello’s” and Tim lead me in to his office. There on one of the desks were the two Ruger 77 All Weather .300 RCMs, topped with Zeiss scopes with external adjustment turrets. I picked up the one that had been assigned to me, checked to be sure it was unloaded (even though I knew it was) and started cycling the action, checking for safety purposes after each cycling The action was smooth, it fit properly when I raised it to my shoulder. The “cheek pad” as even correctly set so when I rested my cheek on the pad it lined up properly with the scope. I then noticed the rifle had a muzzle brake, something both Tim and I had talked about with the Ruger engineers. It’s not that the .300 RCM has that much recoil, for to me it’s not bad at all. I wanted the muzzle brake so when I pulled the trigger the recoil wouldn’t cause me to lose the sight picture when I took the shot. With the muzzle brake on the .300 RCM we would be able to gently tug the trigger then actually see impact. Muzzle brakes are not necessarily “standard issue” on Ruger rifles, but I hear tell quite possibly in the future they may be putting muzzle brakes on select models and calibers. When time permitted Tim and I headed to the range closest to the lodge and shot three different Hornady loads in both rifle, shooting for groups at 100 yards. Interestingly both rifles preferred the heavier and somewhat slower loads. Both guns essentially clover- leafed three shots at 100 yards. This accomplished we then with two rounds remaining (we started with a limited amount of ammo) headed to one of the ranch’s many ranges where we had a 500 yards target. Allowing for about a minute and a half of left to right wind and about eight to nine minutes of adjustment up on the external turrets, from a good solid prone rest, then gently tugged the trigger. Same procedure with 2 rounds from each rifle. Each shot rang the gong and I watched the bullets strike the target about an inch left of dead center. I headed back out to the FTW shortly with more ammo to do some serious shooting before heading to Asia for our ibex hunt. By the time I leave I’ll have shot many rounds from in the field positions with the .300 RCM Ruger. I mentioned Jerry Baker. Jerry is an accountant who has been a friend for well over 20 years. Among other things he also does work for the FTW Ranch and he and Tim over the past many years have become good friends as well. Jerry is somewhat of a character whose company and sense of humor Tim and I enjoy. There’s seldom a dull moment or a lack of conversation when Jerry is around. One of the first hunts Jerry and I did together years ago was an Alaskan brown bear hunt with Chris Branham. The hunt was a tough one. Bears normally close to the shoreline were as high as they could get along the coastal areas. I won’t bore you with some of the details, but I stalked an imaginary bear for nearly 8 hours. Then with mere moments left in the day, the imaginary bear was replaced by a “real” bear. I was totally bushed from hard climbs, but finally made the last moment 800 yard stalk, including cross as waist deep glacial stream. From about 100 yards I shot my bear with a Freedom Arms .454 Casull revolver. I was so tired that when the bear went down it took me nearly a hour to reach my bear. After some very quick photos, we skinned the bear and started down a really bad place down toward the water’s edge. About a third way down, Jerry and I both got caught in a rock slide/avalanche... To say it was “hairy and western” would be an understatement! After that hunt Jerry became an Official Boone & Crockett Scorer. Thus, I could hardly think of anyone I wanted to score the big Alaskan brown bear I took in May 2011 hunting with Wayne Woods. Some of you may have seen the hunt on my “A Hunter’s Life” television show, a full show in 2011 and in a Best Of shows playing this fall on the show on The Sportsman Channel. Well over 60 days of drying time had passed, actually about a year and 60 days since I shot my bear that squared 10 feet 5 inches and is now at The Wildlife Gallery being mount life-size. It was past time to have my bear skull officially scored. I had called Jerry before he left and asked if he would score my brown bear. He assured me he would. So while I busied myself with other things Jerry scored my bear skull. “Why-soooon, you not gonna believe this....” said Jerry. Immediately I thought he was going to tell me as he had once in the past when I asked him to score a rather narrow though tall10 point I had shot in Kansas that my buck missed going into the all time Boone & Crockett record book by 1/8 of an inch. It takes a minimum net score of 170 to make the All Time record book. Jerry told me my buck netted 169 7/8! Remember this I prepared for bad news... “....your brown bear scores exactly 28! Congratulations Kid, your name is going into the Boone & Crockett Record Book!” I was thrilled. This is one I will actually “put in the book”! I’ve taken some other animals that qualified, but I never sent the score sheets in. To me this, my, bear deserves being in the record book. I believe the Alaskan brown bear is one of the top animals top trophies in North America and the world. I could not be more pleased! I’ll let you know how Tim and I do on our Asian ibex hunt. But also you’ll be able to see that hunt on my new show, TRAILING THE HUNTER’S MOON which debuts in July 2013. Enjoy what’s left of summer, serious hunting seasons are only a short time away and closing fast!