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During some seasons, perfect snow-tracking conditions never come to the North Woods. A lack of snow, of course, makes tracking nearly impossible. Too much snow—2 feet or more—leads to an ­energy-­zapping plod and indiscernible tracks. Crusty snow is too noisy, resulting in spooked bucks and frustrated trackers, while dead-calm days and ultra-cold temperatures cause equally maddening outcomes. Conditions are everything, and they are almost never perfect. Tracking is a low-percentage strategy no matter how you look at it. But then there are days when everything comes together.

With a crusty snow in the southern Berkshires, Blood wanted to reroute to New York. But when he hit Exit 1 on the Massachusetts Turnpike, he started seeing fresh snow on tree limbs. “I jumped out of the truck at a rest area and saw that there was nearly 4 inches of powder. I was thinking, This could work,” he says. “What I call a deer-­killing day is when there’s fresh snow on the ground and a wind. It takes away a buck’s senses, and everything’s moving in the woods. That’s the high-­percentage day we hope for. We wait all season for a chance to hunt that.”
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To read the rest of @gerrybethge 's story, Blood on the Snow, about legendary buck-tracker Hal Blood, hit the link in profile or pick up a copy of our Winter issue. Illustration by @melbs74 #outdoorlifemagazine #outdoorlife #hunting #deerhunting #northwoods #bigwoods #snowtracking #deertracking #whitetails #winterhunting #oldschoolhunter
During some seasons, perfect snow-tracking conditions never come to the North Woods. A lack of snow, of course, makes tracking nearly impossible. Too much snow—2 feet or more—leads to an ­energy-­zapping plod and indiscernible tracks. Crusty snow is too noisy, resulting in spooked bucks and frustrated trackers, while dead-calm days and ultra-cold temperatures cause equally maddening outcomes. Conditions are everything, and they are almost never perfect. Tracking is a low-percentage strategy no matter how you look at it. But then there are days when everything comes together. With a crusty snow in the southern Berkshires, Blood wanted to reroute to New York. But when he hit Exit 1 on the Massachusetts Turnpike, he started seeing fresh snow on tree limbs. “I jumped out of the truck at a rest area and saw that there was nearly 4 inches of powder. I was thinking, This could work,” he says. “What I call a deer-­killing day is when there’s fresh snow on the ground and a wind. It takes away a buck’s senses, and everything’s moving in the woods. That’s the high-­percentage day we hope for. We wait all season for a chance to hunt that.” - To read the rest of @gerrybethge 's story, Blood on the Snow, about legendary buck-tracker Hal Blood, hit the link in profile or pick up a copy of our Winter issue. Illustration by @melbs74 #outdoorlifemagazine #outdoorlife #hunting #deerhunting #northwoods #bigwoods #snowtracking #deertracking #whitetails #winterhunting #oldschoolhunter
It’s a question that comes up a lot. What is the perfect hunting rifle? More specifically, what’s the perfect hunting rifle for the challenges that come with stalking game in mountains and the wide-open spaces of the West?

This is a topic I’ve pondered and one that my friends and I have kicked around plenty. We’ve discussed it while passing a flask back and forth in the Alaska Range. We’ve talked it over while glassing for mule deer in eastern Montana. Some of my most productive brainstorming sessions have occurred after rifle matches where my buddies and I compare notes on the newest gear and innovations and how they could be incorporated into our hunting kits.

Over the last decade, I’ve seen gun companies attempt to answer the question with firearms that combine elements of traditional hunting guns and long-range target rifles, often with mixed success. Adding a heavy barrel and an adjustable stock—two of the most common alterations—doesn’t get you there. Although accurate, these rifles often handle like a hippo in a wading pool. As much as I value tight groups, ergonomics still matter, as do portability and even aesthetics.

So, about a year ago, I set out to design my own hunting rifle that gave proper emphasis to these often-overlooked attributes. I worked with a number of companies to pull this together—some of which you probably know, like Defiance Machine, Proof Research, and Manners Composite Stocks, as well as others you might not be familiar with. I tapped the talented crew at Divide Gun Company, a small rifle maker out of Salmon, Idaho, for the final execution of the project.
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Hit the link in profile for the full details of shooting editor @john_b_snow 's ultimate open country hunting rifle or pick up a copy of our Winter issue. Photograph by @billbuckleyphoto #outdoorlifemagazine #outdoorlife #hunting #shooting #pewpew #longrangeshooting #hunting #biggamehunting #deerhunting #elkhunting #customrifle
It’s a question that comes up a lot. What is the perfect hunting rifle? More specifically, what’s the perfect hunting rifle for the challenges that come with stalking game in mountains and the wide-open spaces of the West? This is a topic I’ve pondered and one that my friends and I have kicked around plenty. We’ve discussed it while passing a flask back and forth in the Alaska Range. We’ve talked it over while glassing for mule deer in eastern Montana. Some of my most productive brainstorming sessions have occurred after rifle matches where my buddies and I compare notes on the newest gear and innovations and how they could be incorporated into our hunting kits. Over the last decade, I’ve seen gun companies attempt to answer the question with firearms that combine elements of traditional hunting guns and long-range target rifles, often with mixed success. Adding a heavy barrel and an adjustable stock—two of the most common alterations—doesn’t get you there. Although accurate, these rifles often handle like a hippo in a wading pool. As much as I value tight groups, ergonomics still matter, as do portability and even aesthetics. So, about a year ago, I set out to design my own hunting rifle that gave proper emphasis to these often-overlooked attributes. I worked with a number of companies to pull this together—some of which you probably know, like Defiance Machine, Proof Research, and Manners Composite Stocks, as well as others you might not be familiar with. I tapped the talented crew at Divide Gun Company, a small rifle maker out of Salmon, Idaho, for the final execution of the project. - Hit the link in profile for the full details of shooting editor @john_b_snow 's ultimate open country hunting rifle or pick up a copy of our Winter issue. Photograph by @billbuckleyphoto #outdoorlifemagazine #outdoorlife #hunting #shooting #pewpew #longrangeshooting #hunting #biggamehunting #deerhunting #elkhunting #customrifle