The Van and the Hunt
Note: The Catmobile, a varmint-hunting van designed
by Gordon Burrell, a professional varmint hunter, will
help you take more predators. Burrell says, "I've
built the Catmobile to keep my hunters warm, dry and
comfortable and to make sure we leave little or no scent
in the areas we hunt." Burrell’s hunters
only get out of the van to retrieve a downed varmint,
remaining the rest of the time inside the van or looking
out the top of the van while Burrell or the hunters
call to the varmints.
The Catmobile – a 1977 Chevrolet van that Burrell has sprayed polyurethane foam in to make it scent-tight and soundproof – has a large hole cut in its roof that’s fit with a Plexiglas sliding door. When Burrell stops to call, he can pull the sliding top back, stand up in the van, call, operate his lights and look for predators, while his hunters stay warm, comfortable and dry inside the van until he spots a predator approaching. Burrell also believes that 90 percent of his and the hunters’ human odor remains in the van rather than flowing out of the top of it when hunting. “I believe that keeping most of the human odor in the van is one of the reasons we’re so successful,” Burrell stresses. “I put a heater inside the van that runs off a battery, and if we’re hunting in cold weather, my hunters can stay nice and warm inside while I’m outside the roof calling.” The Catmobile also features a large bench seat in the back, electrical plug-ins mounted behind the driver’s seat and gun racks on the side of the van to give a predator hunter all the comforts of home, even on the worst weather nights. “One of the biggest advantages to the Catmobile isn’t only comfort for the hunter, but also the ability to call and hunt the same areas repeatedly without leaving scent and spooking the animals we don’t call in when we hunt,” Burrell reports. Burrell hunts at night, a legal practice in Texas, which means the varmints only see or hear the old van and encounter little human odor.
Burrell drives his van around the ranch to places where he knows he can call in predators. Once the van stops, Burrell directs his hunters to stay in their seats until he motions for them to stand up, get their guns and come up through the opening in the van’s roof.
“I make my own varmint calls, and I hand-load all the bullets we shoot,” Burrell emphasizes. “When you’re hunting on quarter-horse, sheep and cattle ranches, you want a bullet that will go in an animal, blow up and not exit, to insure that your bullets won’t ricochet. We usually use .223 and .204 rifles. On this particular hunt, we’re using a Thompson/Center Encore .204 rifle with a Thompson/Center 3-9X riflescope. We load our ammunition so that the bullet travels about 2500 to 2700 feet per second. At this speed and with this size bullet, the bullet will go into the animal, expand, put the animal down and not exit. I want to have all the energy from the bullet inside the predator. I don’t want to waste any energy from the bullet to exit the animal.” Burrell learned this method of loading when he hunted predators for their fur. He didn’t want to shoot a bobcat with a bullet that would blow a hole in the animal and cause the price of that fur to drop from $100 to $50 because of a big exit hole. When he shot a bobcat with a bullet that wouldn’t exit, he only had a small entry hole and no exit hole in the fur. Therefore, the pelt would bring a premium price at the market. “We load the .223 rifle with plenty of Hercules shotgun powder,” Burrell says. “By downloading our shells this way, you still have the velocity you need and the expansion that you want from your bullet, but the sound of the shot is much quieter.”
For more information you can contact Rick Adley of
Trophy Wildlife Adventures at (817) 656-1200. For information
about Thompson/Center, go to www.tcarms.com.
Tomorrow: What Kind of Lights Does the Catmobile Use?