The third day of the Ky modern gun season started out cold and dreary with light rain mixed with sleet. All morning I had set around debating with myself on if I should suffer the weather , the climb up the mountain and the hours and hours of boredom. I had stopped hunting deer over 15 years ago. I found after killing several, it seemed more work than fun. The difference this year was I had in my hands the new Colt 901 M.A.R.C. carbine with the new modular rail. The 7.62 gun is a new variant of the LE901 and was sent to me just a few days prior for T&E and writing about. I REALLY wanted to do something special with it and since season was so close. I decided it would be nice to be possibly the first person to take a head of big game with it. Around noon I decided to try it again for the fifth day after all.
I had been to the same area over the last few days and knew there was deer in the area. While I do not deer hunt anymore, I do small game hunt and shooting squirrel is a favorite fall pastime for me, I had noted the heavily used game trails in the area I like to shoot the tree rats and it had passed my mind to tell my friends who do still hunt deer about it and maybe they could use the area. They lust for the horns more than I ever did, The area also had the advantage of being 3/4 of the way up a mountain and there is no way an ATV could get to it. Now a days, hunters are lazy in my areas. They will use the 4-wheel drive ATVs to drive to the toilet if they can get it through the door. Most will put out feed for the animals year round and have a tree stand that set above the feeding section. I am told by hunters with a straight face that none of that makes it easier to kill the deer though. I often add. “then why do you do it”? I never get an answer. I hunt from the ground by walking/stalking and watching over areas they will travel or eat. If I can get on a large rock I will, but never a tree stand. I do not think of it as a real hunt to me, nor would I feel any bit of real accomplishment if I shot one from a tree stand. That is just my feelings and opinion on the matter, not a rag on anyone’s system.
I knew the spot would be free of the average hunter since no ATVs could get to it. And, no ATVs means no one would be willing to climb up a mountain carrying a tree stand. So that means no other hunters. Never mind it is my own private land since locals rarely let something like private property stop them,
I was lucky in that it had rained all night and the leaves had become wet and soft. The days prior had been warm and dry and I had spooked deer in the area just trying to sneak close to where I had in mind. No such problem that day,.
The mountain is a pretty good climb, so it took me a while to get to where I wanted to be moving slow enough not to spook everything within a mile. Finally I arrived and leaned up against a large beech tree, and pulled the gortex hood over my head and got out a paper back book. In my experience its best to have something to help with the boredom. I settled the rifle across my lap and double checked to make sure a round was chambered. The ammo used this trip were loaded with the excellent Barnes Triple shock X solid copper hollow point. The 308 bullet in this load being 165 grains, One of the perks of the TSX is the 3 rings cut down on surface and the bullets will get slightly higher velocity with less pressure and cut down on copper fouling. I use the TSX bullets in everything I intend to shoot something live with. I use them for deer, varmints and they are my choice in my personal self defense 5.56 and .45ACP rounds.
To my surprise I had not been setting 20 minutes when I heard movement on the opposite hillside to me. I was setting almost all the way to the top of a finger that runs off a ridge line and another finger ran parallel to the one I was on. I could see most of it and down the middle of the two. It took me a few seconds to spot a doe. Not being able to take a doe in the county I live in, I had to watch it pass. To fight the boredom I watched the deer through the optic for a while I thought about what a great shot it was giving me. The scope used is the Leupold 3x-9x TS-30 with a Mil-dot and it was clear on the over cast rainy day. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a small bush shaking, I moved the scope to see what the deer was and to my surprise it was a buck! Instantly I was tensed up and excited. It had been 16 years since I last saw a buck while hunting for one. And with the new gun in my hands just for this reason I had to take a second or two to calm myself and not get a little too excited.
The next three hours were torture. The game was 240-250 yards away and I could only see them through small under growth and tree branches. No clear shot I was confident to take presented itself. There is not such thing as a “brush busting” bullet. Even the smallest twig can send your bullet in any direction other than what you want and I was not willing to try it out anyway and mess up the chance with this new Colt. the buck and two doe walked around in a large circle. About the time I thought I should have risked a shot, I would hear a grunt or snort and around they would come again. it was agony I had to admit. I wanted to kill the thing and it was getting cold. The wind and sleet had gotten worse and I had my gloves in my pocket. I took them off on the way up so I would not sweat too much and no the metal of the gun was hard to hold in the cold weather. I could not risk the noise and movement to get them out.
About 90 minutes before dark I saw some rapid movement near where I first spotted the buck and directed the optic that way. I almost laughed out loud as I saw the buck mounted on the doe doing his level best to make another young buck, This went on a while as I watched trying not to feel like a pervert. The doe would sometimes tire and move off a bit and the buck would walk after her, At this point I knew I could have done just about anything and gotten away with it. When the rut is on, the bucks don’t care if you detonate a nuke. They only got one thing on their mind and its not worrying about getting shot. If don’t deer hunt, imagine two teenagers on a date looking for some place private.
I watched this bit of romance for a while as the two slowly started going up the hill and toward a large amount of brush I knew I would lose them in as the sun was going down. I knew I was running out of time. At last the buck started humping the doe and they moved into an area open enough for me to figure now is as good as it is going to get., As he was on top of her, I put the Mildot cross hairs on his shoulder and fired. it was almost a 250 yard shot and was exactly what I was hoping for. I have always been a long range shooter so the short 40 yard or 10 yard shots always felt like a let down to me. A rifleman needs some distance to add to the sense or pride from making a clean kill and fine shot. Nothing shows skill like a clean hit at some real distance.
As soon as I fired I listened and did not hear any noise of movement or running and not even stumbling and branch breaking. I knew he was dead and dropped instantly. I looked through the scope and saw a few legs twitching, I set for a few seconds with the intentions of letting ti die where it is but it seemed to be trying to get up, I started to move to the down animal but it rolled down the hill crashing through brush. It did this three more times until it came to rest in the middle where the water runs off. I walked down to it and saw I had hit it a little high because of the angle and severed his spine, He had been trying to move but was only getting his upper neck going enough to cause him to roll down hill. He was dead but just did not know it yet. I almost felt bad about shooting him during his romantic love making, but decided if you gotta go……
I rolled him over and was pleased to see he was an 8 point, This was the biggest rack I have taken, the next largest being a 6. I was never a trophy hunter and never will be, so this was very nice for me. I am just as happy with a button buck, a spike or a doe. The way I hunt is not easy and getting one while being on the ground with them and not baiting them with feed all year is hard, and anything killed that way is something to be proud of in my mind. This was icing on the cake,
I got him gutted after I snapped the above picture ,filled out the tag for it walked off the mountain and got some help to drag him the mile off the hill. Two fine neighbor hood teenage boys came and dragged it off the hill for me. Finally well after dark, we got him in. I gave the meat of the animal to one of the boys family that needs the food. I sawed the horns off to keep for myself. The memories of the earned kill , a fine rifle and fine shot are all I need to enjoy it, I am not much for having the head mounted any more.
The Colt 901 MARC was all I hoped it would be for this hunt. The lighter weight made it easier to carry straight up hill all day. The original LE901 was a little heftier than this new model. Not a lot, but when you are carrying a lot of stuff up hill, it helps a lot more than you think. Fighting though low brush is a lot easier with the 16 inch barrel as well. Having the handling of a carbine but in 7.62 was a nice feature. I hunted with a 5.56 for years and have taken deer with it, the 7.62 is not something you have to have. The 5.56 is just fine for deer sized game as long as you use a decent bullet. I don’t want to give the idea I think the 556 won’t do this job, so keep that in mind. Had this gun been some kind of 556 I would just as happily used it with the same amount of confidence.
I did not use anything but the factory trigger. The milspec trigger is just fine. People who say you have to have a match trigger to make precise shots are just not that good of shooters, Yes it helps if you are already a decent marksman, but for most it is trying to buy skill with equipment, I used much maligned factory milspec trigger to make a 240-250 yard one shot kill. Practice. The stock was also the stock that come with the gun
You may note the 20 round magazine in the picture. In some states, and Ky being one of them, you can not have more than 10 rounds in your gun. I used a small block of wood to block it off myself for the hunt. It held 9 rounds while blocked off in this way. I wanted a little wiggle room in case some how it moved in a way to allow one more round and I got checked by the conservation officers. That would have been a bad day. So without a factory 10 round mag in hand in time for the hunt, I blocked it myself and went to the side of caution.
The ammo I used was the Federal premium 165 grain Barnes TSX ammo. The TSX bullets are always my choice. The will expand at even low velocity and retain all their weight. The bullet went clean through the deer shoulder and spine from 250 yards and shot through. they are superb bullets, Accurate and always perform as advertised. You can handload them or buy them as factory ammo. Normally I would hand load them in what I want but did not have any .30 cal TSX on hand when I got the gun, so I used factory this time.
The optic was all I could ask. The nice compact TS-30 A2 optic was small and light and did not get in the way or snag on anything. You do not need a huge scope with a huge objective, You also do not need a large amount of magnification. 3x-9x is plenty , IF the glass is quality and crisp and clear. You can make a very long range shot with low magnification but you will be hard pressed to make a very close shot with high X. It is always best to leave the optic on its lowest setting when moving since you may get a close shot on a moving target. You can always zoom it in later. And if you do see a far shot but do not have time, You can still make the shot at the low setting, If you think otherwise you just have some kind of mental block. The optic has an illumination feature, but I did not have a battery in it. When it got close to dark I really missed that glowing red cross hair. It is indeed a handy thing to have when it starts to get dark and you are holding a black cross hair on a a dark animal in the shade. In my opinion the illuminated cross hairs is never a waste on quality optics.
After 16 years I finally bagged another deer. It was a long hard hunt and I feel it was earned and it gives me a great amount of satisfaction. All of the things came together from scouting during small game hunting, to the hike in, to the marksmanship and the final shot with a fine rifle. If not for the rifle I would not have even went hunting deer again, the Colt 901 MARC may be meant for other things, but it is also certainly a fine hunting rifle for the modern rifleman.
This is not the actual review of the new Colt 901 MARC but a bonus side test. The start of the full review will start this week with the first part of the full testing and review coming soon after