Use a Rifle Rest to Kill More Predators

For optimal accuracy in the field it's important to have a solid shooting platform.

Use a Rifle Rest to Kill More Predators

More than 20 years ago, I had an excellent weekend turkey hunting with the legendary Col. Tom Kelly, author of “Tenth Legion,” “Better on a Rising Tide,” and other books revered by those of us with the springtime affliction of chasing gobblers.

Kelly was, at the time, leading the annual Westervelt turkey school in Alabama at which hunters attended to learn about turkeys, hunting, swap tales and tactics, eat well, and imbibe in a little brown water each evening. Kelly’s wisdom was soaked up, stories and strategies detailed and explained by all, and if things worked out, we’d have a gobbler of several hanging by the lodge at lunchtime.

Kelly is now 93, lives in south Alabama and occasionally still goes afield for doves or other game. Two cool things about that weekend stick with me, among others, from the overall experience. One is that Kelly had a paddle-box call the size of a loaf of bread that made a horrible, screeching sound. Turkey hunters often say real hens sound ugly. This box call would’ve come from the ugly hen that fell from the tree and hit every limb on the way down.

However, Kelly said he knew of the history, and it had called a gobbler within range in the late 1800s, during the 1900s, and he planned to do the same after 2000 to cap the trifecta. I asked him once about it at the NWTF Convention, and he said he did it. Pretty cool.


The Important Part

The other advice — this is something all predator hunters can do — that Kelly offered is to insist that I use a gun rest after we got set up. He carried one made of a length of finger-sized river cane with a Y-shaped rest stuck in one end. He’d carved the Y-rest from a sapling.

Find a tree, he said, get set up and then put your gun on the rest between your legs. If it’s on your knee, you’ll wiggle and fidget. If it’s on your lap or the ground, you may miss a shot. If you lose the rest or it breaks, you haven’t wasted money. Get another cane and Y-branch, carve it with the pocket knife every red-blooded American man should carry, and you’ll be set.

He’s right. A rest is invaluable for certain hunting situations, including for predators. If you’ve watched any of the Foxpro Hunting TV videos with Al Morris on the gun, he uses a Bog Pod tripod. It’s stable, adjustable, quiet, light, swivels and is a great tool to have in the field. 

I have a Bog Pod tripod and like it a lot. It also works with a crossbow or rifle for deer hunting in a blind or on the ground. As you might expect, it’s super for kids to help them gain confidence and make a good shot. For turkeys, I prefer to go lighter with something like Kelly made from the woods.

I’ve also used the Primos Pole Cat shooting sticks, including the monopod and tripod. Primos has short and long models; the short one is great if you’re sitting on the ground. If you want one with more features, the Primos Trigger Stik has a well-designed head that swivels, pivots and works with camera gear. My Polecat monopod also screws into my Canon camera, which is useful when I need stability.

If you want something that offers even more rigidity and security, look at the Ulfhednar Deadlock clamp. Based in Norway, Ulfhednar creates products that are designed for tough use afield in severe conditions. The Deadlock clamp moves quickly, locks securely, helps absorb vibration, grips your rifle forearm or guard securely, and the head’s threads allow direct mounting on most standard tripods or ball heads.

Why Do They Work?

We shoot our long guns off a bench at the range to zero a scope and dial in ammo. Yet, in the field, we want to be Timmy Toughguy and freehand the shots or make do with something off our knee while leaning against a tree.

I get that some people don’t like carrying a lot of gear in the field. I’m a minimalist, too. But using something that can help you make a quicker, cleaner kill on game by ensuring a good shot simply is the smart thing to do.

In the field, we get excited when we see a coyote or bobcat, or a deer or turkey — our heart rate increases. Adrenaline starts coursing through our bodies. As mentioned above, if we’re propping a rifle or shotgun on our knee, all kinds of things can happen, and a few are detrimental.

A gun rest helps. Whether it’s a tripod or one you make yourself, use a rest, and make better shots. It’s that simple.


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