Makin’ Meat with the SilencerCo Harvester 300
With most of October gone, I am out deer hunting. I can’t help but think this is kind of like going to the grocery store. The aisles look a little different from the Kroger, Piggly Wiggly, or Food Lion I frequent. But make no mistake, I am meat hunting. In fact, I am meat hunting, makin’ meat, with the SilencerCo Harvester 300.
The weather has been warm, in the 70s, and I know that if I take a deer, I will have to quickly skin and get the venison cooled down. There is no thought of big chocolate horns on a whitetail buck here (I know they are antlers; I just like to say that for the people that worry about such things). In fact, antlered bucks aren’t even legal in this season. We are in a four-day antlerless “doe” season here in West Virginia and I am browsing in the meat department. The mountain men called it “makin’ meat.”
In the gone-forever days of the mountain men—aka the fur trappers that opened up the American West—hunting equaled survival. No doubt, many of these men enjoyed the hunt at times, but if they killed no game, they went hungry. Makin’ meat included the pursuit and hunting of various game animals, along with the processing and transportation of the bounty of their hunt. Mountain men saw deer, elk and buffalo in numbers we cannot envision, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t experience hungry times. Try to imagine being in a camp with several starving partners and a successful member of your party comes in with a fat elk or deer; he has made meat, and now you can feast.
200+ Years Later
For many experienced hunters, taking game, processing it and adding this meat to the larder is old-hat, commonplace. It’s just what we do. In the past few years however, a new meat hunter has come on the scene. A younger, hipper crowd has discovered the advantages of wild venison and other game. They even have a splashy name: locavores. A trend toward eating healthier and looking for free range meat with no man-made additives has led these locavores, and even Vegans who might be tempted to jump off the wagon for a backstrap on the grill, right into a deer stand.
Yep, that’s right, the skinny-jean-, cool-beard-, horn-rimmed-glasses-, and goofy-hat-wearing crowd discovered that those cute deer that run in front of their electric cars are simply delicious. And guess what? Those guys that wear the blaze-orange in pursuit of the deer aren’t so bad after all. In fact, some of the new deer hunters come to the old salts for advice and mentoring. I think it’s great. At a time when we are all trying to boost hunter numbers, they are a Godsend.
Another Result from COVID-19
Hold on to your hat, there is another group out there besides the “hipsters” who want to cash in on the bounty of the “free,” low fat, high protein meat. I would say these people are already hunters, but now, more than ever, they are seeing the advantages of going to the field and harvesting their own steaks and chops.
Most of us are beyond tired of the fiasco of the past several months, compliments of the Coronavirus. Mask wearing, cancelled events and bare shelves at the grocery store have many of us taking a new look at food sources and being prepared for emergencies. Meat shortages have made many casual hunters think more seriously at filling freezers with wild game. Again, we are talking about meat hunting here, those big antlers are pretty on the wall, but no one has found a way to make them very palatable.
Reason #1 to Hunt with a Suppressor
- First, one of the basic premises of hunting is being quiet. It is one of the first things a young hunter must learn to do; be quiet in the woods. Deer and other animals usually hear us invading their woodland home long before they see us (or we see them). The crashing boom of a high-powered rifle is of no advantage to the hunter. Indeed, it usually means you will leave that area without additional shooting opportunities after a shot is taken, as the sound of the shot may keep game animals from visiting that area for some time. In short, the less noise you make, the more game you will see.
Reason #2 to Hunt with a Suppressor
- Secondly, deer hunting with a suppressor is safer—you are protecting your hearing without over-the-ear or in-ear hearing protection. Wait, what was that again? The trend lately has been to wear hearing protection while hunting; personally, I have never liked wearing hearing protection in the field (in truth, I don’t like wearing it at all, which is why I tend to say “huh?” a lot). The fact is this – wearing muffs or any type of ear protection, passive or active, somewhat disconnects you from your surroundings. Without those protectors, you are more attuned to what is going on around you. You hear the birds, the slight breeze and the twig that snaps 40 yards to your left. You would have heard those sounds with active ear protection, but it is not the same and you can definitely tell the direction of the sound better with no protection at all.
Reason #3 to Hunt with a Suppressor
- Finally, you are going to make more accurate shots with a suppressor. Time and again, we see that when shooters are not worried about recoil and the “big boom” of a high-powered rifle, they will be more accurate. Reduced recoil also allows you to stay on target to either confirm the kill, or quickly take a second shot if your first one missed. Accuracy is key to being a successful hunter. Clean, one-shot kills are what we all want to humanely dispatch animals. The suppressor not only lessens the sound of the shot, but also it reduces recoil and who doesn’t want that?
Makin’ Meat in West Virginia (with the SilencerCo Harvester 300)
It is late evening, almost too late. With the warm temperatures, I know the deer may not move until almost dark, so I slip down an old woods road and try to avoid the dry leaves. Crossing a little creek, a field starts to come into view. The opening of the gate could make some unwanted noise and I pause to survey the brushy field before me.
It is so quiet you could hear a mouse pee on a cotton ball.
The low light has me concerned, but I quickly spot two deer to my right, at maybe 125 yards. If I am going to be makin' meat this evening, this is it, as there is no time to look for something better.
A fence post will have to serve as a rest for the rifle. When the crosshairs of the scope settle on the deer’s shoulder, I find I am not as steady as I want to be. I start to take the slack up on the trigger, but stop, the sight picture is not right. “What’s the matter with you?” The nagging little voice pops up in the back of my head. I hate to admit it, but he’s right. This isn’t a 6x6 elk or even a heavy horned whitetail. It’s just a choice doe in the meat department, in the back by the deli. “OK, just settle in and do it,” I say to myself.
And that is what I do. I steady the rifle, take in the traditional breath, release half of it and start the slow, steady squeeze. The shot goes off without a hitch and I am struck with the same thought every time I shoot the Mossberg 6.5 Creedmoor with the Harvester suppressor. That sounded more like a .22 Magnum.
And Then, This Happened …
The shot felt good, but my heart sinks a little as I watch the deer run off toward the woods. It is the feeling every hunter gets when you fear you have missed, or worse yet, only wounded the animal. I try to watch it closely in the gathering gloom, but don’t see any signs it may be hit. Every hunter has felt this, the old worry deep in your gut thinking you may have wounded the animal and there could be a long recovery, or none at all.
I stop for a minute, rerun the shot in my mind and put it all away. The shot felt good, I know the rifle is zeroed and I felt sure I heard the bullet hit. I just need to go look. It takes a few minutes to find a good blood trail and the deer ran maybe 75 yards. In truth, I am hit with the same mix of wonder, exhilaration, thankfulness—and, a hint of sadness—as when I come upon any animal I take. It’s just what I feel, it’s not good, it’s not bad, it just is what it is.
All of this drifts away as I think about the work ahead. I need to skin and quarter this deer and get it cooled quickly. I look over the muscle groups with the hide still on them and think about the tender steaks and roasts to come, not to mention the wonderfulness of the backstraps. I have made my run to the woodland grocery store and done well. There will be other deer this season, but there may not be one as good as this. I have made meat.