Working the Night Shift with Springfield and ATN Thermals
Andy Husek 06.25.20
With the recent boom in the predator population here in Michigan and my never-ending quest to find more opportunities to get out hunting or fishing it seemed to be the perfect match. I had done enough research and have aquired enough gear to give this whole night hunting thing a solid effort. For me, once I got over the discomfort of walking around in the woods with a rifle a 10 o’clock at night I was instantly addicted. Growing up, as with most, you could hunt from 30 minutes before legal sunrise until 30 minutes after legal sunset. It took some getting used to stomping around the woods all hours of the night.
Earlier this year before the whole country was put into lockdown because of the Coronavirus I ventured off to Texas to try out a couple new to me items and really embrace the night time hunting gig. The first item was a Springfield Armory St. Victor chambered in .308. It was the perfect weapon for Texas knowing that we might tun into coyotes, hogs, bobcats, jack rabbits etc. Texas is a target rich environment! The St. Victor was perfect because it allowed for quick follow up shots being that it was an AR platform and in a caliber that was big enough to take down the largest of boars we would run into.
The St. Victor weighs in a 7lbs 11oz so not terrible to tote around in the field and comes standard with a 16″ LW Profile CMV, Melonite®, 1:10 twist. I had shot it a couple times before we headed to Texas and was pleased with the groups I was getting and could not wait to complete the setup.
I topped the St. Victor with and ATN Thor 4 640 4-40X thermal scope. The functionality and features of the Thro 4 are unbelievable and highly recommend that if you are looking at thermals you give ATN a hard look!
The Thor 4 is compatible with a lot of ATN’s accessories like the ATN X-Trac, the Quick detach mount and several other items you may want based on how you are going to be running your setup. I love that it has the integrated slot for memory cards and you can record video and audio right from the scope. The video quality is amazing and the audio is just as good!
We had some good success on this trip for coyotes and hogs but I was able to take a “unicorn” of a bobcat! This thing was as big as any cat I had ever seen in northern Michigan, had colors you wouldn’t believe and wasn’t missing one spot of fur. Pretty rare and why I why I say it was a unicorn for south Texas.
Mostly the cats down there are scrawny and brown with virtually no colorings at all. As you can see this cat is quite the opposite!
I lucked out because not only was this my first bobcat, but I will likely never shoot another one that looks this good and certainly not one from Texas. This one is coming back to Michigan with me and will sit prominently in my man cave.
I talked to the local taxidermist there and he gave me some good field care tips for predators that are applicable not just to Texas but to everywhere you might be taking predators and are looking to preserve the fur. Here are a couple things he told me:
- He walked me through the 1 incision method. This is the most common method used by trappers who are selling fur to market and keep most of the hid intact except for the area around the vent where you make you single incision. This is what I did on the bobcat and it works out perfectly.
- Do not pull on the hide like you would when skinning a deer. Keep a firm tension on it and let your SHARP skinning knife do the work. They hide of these predator is much more delicate and it is very easy to rip the fur if you are too rough.
- Get the hide cold immediately, especially in places like Texas. Hair slip can happen a lot faster than you think and you want to be prepared to get that animal and hide cooled down as quickly as possible.
- That bring me to the next point. Keep the fur dry, so don’t submerged it in a cooler filled with ice unless it is thoroughly wrapped in plastic bags. Again, do not get it wet and make sure it is clean!
- Lastly, when in doubt, just take it to your local taxidermist immediately if you can and let them do it! A lot of times they may charge you a small fee but it is well worth it, especially when you are dealing with the trophy of a lifetime.
My cat is already back here in Michigan and I could not be more impressed with how he turned out. I like to think a lot of it had to do with the field care tips my taxidermist gave me, but I am pretty sure it is mostly because of the artistry of my guy and the beauty of the cat itself!
He now greets everyone as they step downstairs into my man cave.
Here’s another angle that shows more of it’s coloring: