I'm here right now in South Dakota going after a different feathered quarry--pheasants, ducks and geese. Polaris, Winchester (guns and ammo), Browning and Mossy Oak teamed up to host a group of writers from the hunting and ATV world to test their products in actual hunting situations at the Prairie Sky Guest and Game Ranch.
Amid howling wind and snow flurries (Is it really necessary for winter-like weather yet?), we got warmed up for the event today by shooting clays on a grassy, windswept hillside and terrorizing the terrain in one of Praire Sky's pastures with Polaris' Sportsman 500s and Ranger XPs. The ATVs and Rangers were both the upscale packaged Browning additions and were quite impressive. They wouldn't let us jump any hills or submerge them in the deep prairie potholes, but I have a hunch had they let us, the equipment would have faired much better than the rider.
The shooting highlight came when Howard Communications' Kevin Howard and writer Nick Sisley got the bright idea for us to take turns shooting at a crossing, high-flying pigeon and move back 10 yards between each shot until nobody could hit the target anymore. What a great test, not so much of shooting ability--much of the shots were pure luck and nothing you would want to try on live game--but more of the ultimate capabilty of the Winchester loads. We were launching them through a mix of field-grade and sporting over/unders as well as Browning and Winchester's lines of semi-autos.
Ben Maki with Mossy Oak, miraculously punched a clay from the sky at 75 yards (my best was 65), which drove the more classicly trained shooters of the group bats. Suddenly everyone had to try and try again and eventually Sisley and Mossy Oak's Brady Arview achieved the feat. For the record, Maki was not able to replicate his success.
As I write this, Maki is whining over my shoulder that at least he broke one on his first try while Arview required EIGHT shots.
I'll be back tomorrow with an update and pics of how the actual hunting plays out. Stay tuned.