Champion Arms 28 Nosler
Peering into the scope, the buck’s silhouette is easily distinguishable from the does under the dim fog of the early morning. With the turret set to two, all that’s left is to wait for daybreak to verify if the deer is indeed the short-tined ten-point we’ve been after.
Management bucks, as in the case of this corn hog, are typically mature, breeding-age deer with genetically inferior antlers that ranch managers don’t want to have passing their DNA through the deer herd. Mangers will offer budget hunts for bucks not deemed trophies.
Clearly the boss of this feeder, the buck stands firmly under its center, posturing against any others that venture too close.
“You ready?” whispers my guide Geoff lowering his binocular.
“Yep,” I reply, slowly sliding my finger around the trigger.
The muffled report from the silencer slumps the one-hundred-sixty-pound deer in a heap.
“Congratulations!” whispers Geoff, as I pull back from the scope to see the bright white belly of the buck facing our stand.
It’s the third one that’s dropped in its tracks from almost 200 yards. Have I become this great of a shot? Unlikely. Like my friend’s reply to the photo I texted to him of myself with the deer:
“It must be the gun.”
Saturday at Champion Ranch
I’m at the Champion Ranch in Brady Texas, an 8,000-acre hunting ranch located in the geographical center of the state of Texas. Here guests can pursue a variety of exotic and native game ranging from whitetail to wildebeest while enjoying first-class amenities like fine dining, a rock waterfall pool, and onsite long-range shooting and reloading school.
At the invitation of owner Joel Swan, my job for the weekend was to field-test his sister company Champion Arms’ latest creation – the Champion Arms Gen2 hunting rifle. Chambered in .28 Nosler, the first thing I noticed about the gun was its smooth Iota Kremlin composite stock coated in a KUIU-esque olive camo pattern. Topped with a US Optics 2.5 – 20 X 50 scope that’s manufactured exclusively for Champion Arms, the gun’s hardware is comprised of a Stiller Precision Firearms action, H-S drop magazine, adjustable 8 ounces to a pound-and-a-half Timney Calvin Elite trigger and a 24” Proof Sendero Light carbon fiber barrel. The barrel sent 195-grain Berger EOL reloads out to a 1000 yard targets with deadly accuracy from a less-than-great shooter like myself.
For hunting, Berger’s stats show the bullet moving at 3050 fps for up to 200 yards with 2″ to 5″ of penetration before rapid expansion. This explains why all of the Texas whitetail I shot were immediately dead after impact.
The optional .30 Cal Omega 300 silencer from SilencerCo attached to the model I was using made ear plugs a forgotten inconvenience of shooting large hunting calibers.
“We built this gun out of necessity for our clients,” Swan explains between bites of a juicy ribeye steak prepared by the ranch’s Executive Chef Aaron Chavez. “I’m a huge fan of long-range shooting and have had custom rifles built for me personally. But after many discussions with our clients, I realized we share a lot of the same problems with having custom guns built, ranging from performance to delays. So, Champion Arms was basically created out of a necessity to provide clients with top-end hunting rifles that could perform to the level we all expect.”
The following morning, Geoff and I strike out before sun up to one of the dozens of deer stand locations throughout the property known as Cool breeze. Most of the large box blinds on the ranch are identical, each anchored into hard hill country rock with railed stairs leading up to the door platform. Once inside, twin swivel chairs make for a comfortable sit during long periods waiting for deer movement.
After daybreak, we glass several trophy bucks that began filtering down from the cedar breaks to the oak hammock where the feeder is located. One of the bucks is a magnificent ten-point with tall G2’s well north of 150 inches, yet barely three-and-a-half years old — a stunning example of the ranch’s strict management practices.
As we wait and watch over the next hour or so, several more bucks begin to congregate near the feeder. Before long Geoff spots an old gnarly-horned eight-point that Joel had shown us photos before from the trailcam.
“That big eight Joel saw is coming in from the left,” he hisses.
“I don’t see him,” I reply.
“Just wait, he’s standing behind the mesquite watching.”
The old buck that we later age at six-and-a-half years of age is much warier than the younger bucks that hadn’t made their way onto the ranch’s hit-list as of yet. Yet after several minutes, it cautiously steps into the open. While its antlers are small in comparison to the trophy deer, its body dwarfs everything else. He displays a deep brisket with short, thick legs and dense muscling around his neck.
“Safety’s off,” I whisper, letting Geoff know that I was ready.
“Bout 180 yards,” he replies.
Again, only the muffled report and slight recoil gives notice that another buck has fallen in its tracks.
After a week of hunting with the Gen2, I must say the rifle is all that a North American big game hunter needs. Dialing the scope’s turret to the correct yardage, then taking shots that stay consistently zeroed in made the experience pleasurable.
Retailing for around $7250.00 the price comes at a premium, but for a whitetail hunter, it’s a high-quality custom rifle that’s simply a must-have.
By trip’s end, I’d taken four beautiful Texas hill country bucks, stayed in a five-star hunting resort, and hunted with one of the most accurate and effective weapons I’ve held to date. The venison will soon be processed and shipped to my home in Florida where breakfast sausage and cubed steaks will remind me of the incredible experience of hunting the Champion Ranch.
Dustin spent his childhood exploring the bass-rich ponds that once blanketed the Central Florida landscape. At age 16 he headed east to hone his skills on redfish and sea trout in the famous Mosquito Lagoon. After high school He graduated with a B.S. Degree in Environmental Science began his career as a Senior Environmental Engineer while also traveling the U.S. as a freelance outdoor writer in search of fishing and hunting adventures. Over the past decade hundreds of Dustin’s works have been published in numerous well known travel, fishing, hunting and outdoor publications throughout the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom.