Ace Is WILD Blog 

Ramblings, Rants and Raves...

Here is where you will find a lot of things that don't fit into other categories... Opinions, announcements, political chattal, and anything that involves "Chousing Around."


Pessimism is rather unbecoming. However, one cannot help but notice that the times are definitely changing. The price of everything is up. Interest rates are up. The difference in the monthly mortgage payment on the average size house today has increased by $800-$1,000 per month in just the last year. Inflation is rampant. You have probably seen your cost of goods increase exponentially, and especially so on things like firearms and ammunition. 

Perhaps most importantly, as I write this, we are less than a month away from the midterm elections. Big changes are expected, which you’ll know about by the time you’re reading this. 

Do you remember five or six years ago when there was a big slowdown in gun sales after the election? I recall you were able to buy a Smith & Wesson M&P Shield at full retail for $189.99 after rebate. I bought five. I also remember the screams from the firearms industry for the industry organizations to “do something” to help with the slow sales.

The funny thing is, at least according to the NICS background check data, there wasn’t as big of a slowdown as we all thought. It was much more an oversupply problem. 

This time will be much different, and the responsibility to make it through lies not on your industry representatives, but solely on you. The question now is not if there will be a downturn, but, rather, when the downturn will occur.

There are many variables in this equation, but most experts agree that it has already started and will likely occur sometime in the next 6 to 12 months.

Regardless of when this downturn comes, you need to be prepared to not just weather the storm, but to hopefully thrive while others flounder. The following tips will help you do just that. 

Review Your Marketing

This includes everything from your sponsorship of the local softball team to the ad you put on the local diner placemats to radio and television commercials and, of course, your social media ad campaigns. Determine which methods and means are giving you the greatest return on your investment. Anything that is not making money should be reduced or canceled. Anything that is making money should be increased, and, if possible, substantially so. Think like the ants in the grasshopper and the ants story. They know that winter is coming, so they stock up on all the food they can before it comes. 

Winter IS coming. Don’t be like the grasshopper and think you can wait until it is here. Too many people wait until a softening of the economy occurs, and then cut their costs by cutting their marketing. This is a huge, huge mistake. As a matter of fact, there is no better time to make money and steal business from your competition then during a downturn in the marketplace. Why? Because most of your competitors are thinking just like I mentioned above — that their marketing is a “cost” that needs to be reduced to save money during the downturn.  One of the most important lessons you can learn in business is that your marketing should never be a cost. Rather, it should be an investment that pays you returns and dividends. You should be ecstatic to dump as much money as possible into your marketing program(s) because, if done correctly, they should crank out multiples of that money spent. If they are not, you probably need a serious review and overhaul of your programs.  

Ramp Up Your Content Program

What’s that? You don’t have a content program? Then start one. Now. Add a blog to your website, or, if you don’t have a website, start one with a blog. In the online world, content is king. The only way to compete is to have content. Good content will always outperform average content or bad content, but any content is better than none. 

If you want to see some great examples of content done right, check out the blogs by Cheaper Than Dirt,,, and to start. Don’t be overwhelmed and think you have to do what they are doing, but you should be putting up a good piece of content at a minimum of once or twice a week. Again, more is better. Starting now will put you well ahead for when difficult times come. The challenge to accomplishing this is that it is one of the easiest things to put off because it really isn’t that difficult. Everyone thinks, “Oh, I’ll just do my (insert any other necessary business need here) right now and do my content later.” 

Wrong. You might be able to do that a couple of times and get away with it, but sooner or later, there will be more urgent needs that come up and you’ll be so backed up it will become overwhelming. This is as important as any other part of your business. You put a sign on your door so that people know who and what you are. Today, your website and content strategy are just as important as the sign on your building. If you want to make it easy to remember and actually get your content up and out, put it on your calendar just like any other appointment, and make that time sacrosanct. 

Develop an Irresistible Offer

The irresistible offer has saved many a business from failing. The key to an irresistible offer is that it should make you more than a little uncomfortable to offer it. Conversely, if you find it easy to make the offer, it is likely what is referred to as a “highly resistible” offer. These are offers like “10% off” or, worse, “25% off of MSRP” (Hint: Everyone knows that this is not really a deal.) 

Remember what your goal is. Breaking even or even losing a small amount on the offer is fine as long as you are getting something of value from it — like a new customer. I have seen excellent irresistible offers that made very little money per sale but gained the business a great deal from people taking advantage of it. Sometimes that was adding to a contact or customer list, sometimes it was leading to additional sales of accessories or ancillary goods, and, other times, it was gaining customers that make regular purchases — the best kind you can hope for in your business.  

Go Through Your Inventory 

It’s time to push out anything that has been sitting or lagging for very long. One of the worst times to be sitting on a pile of goods is when nobody wants to buy them. That time might be coming, and soon. Plan your future purchases for the next 12 to 18 months strategically. Focus on items that are popular and that sell during good and bad times. Now might not be the right time to add on that fancy whizbang widget with no history as a “trial run.” It might be exactly the right time to stock up on ammo or other accessories and consumables that are more modest in cost.

Come up with a list of everything you sell or service you offer in your business that people buy regardless of their economic status. Ask for help from your customers here. Supermarkets run specials on liquor during lean times. People tend to not give up their alcohol, plus it brings them into the store. Everyone buys milk and eggs and butter, no matter how lean times are. Find YOUR milk, eggs and butter. 

Grow Your Contact and Email List

If you don’t have a customer relationship management software program and don’t have a list of current and past customers, start one now. This is so important that you should drop what you are doing and find one immediately. There are plenty of free or very low cost options out there like HubSpot, Zoho, Insightly, and others. Take some time, look through them, and pick one that you can start and grow with. 

Next, do absolutely everything in your power to gain methods to contact your current, past and prospective customers in the most cost-effective way by contacting them directly through their email, a sales flyer delivered to their address, through their social media account, and, now more than ever, through their cell phone. Setting up your CRM and customer list the right way will pay huge dividends down the line in both good and bad markets. In a down market, it could be the difference between making it or breaking it.

Finally, you will likely do and feel better if you look at the coming downturn as an opportunity rather than a challenge. It’s an opportunity to build your business, to win market share and customers, and to ultimately build a stronger and better business. 

Remember, winter is coming.




Every year, I reflect on what I have learned from the previous 12 months, looking at what was successful and what was not, determining where I can improve, and setting up a plan for doing more of what worked. Finally, 2022 is over, and we brave forward to 2023. Another year passed—another year of absolutely terrible outdoor pictures.

Ace Luciano with trophy Kudu
An errant shadow, photo bomb or improper exposure can ruin a photo. Photos are one of the best ways to relive a hunt. Spend the time and take lots of photos to ensure you get the perfect shot.

It never ceases to amaze me that someone would spend time, money, energy and ammunition but not take time to set up and take proper photos. Admittedly, I have been guilty of this on more than one occasion. On various hunts, time, weather, darkness and any number of other conditions dictate that you must hurry along your photography.

So, what is the successful outdoorsman to do to properly memorialize his or her trophy? Follow these tips, and the quality of your pictures will be vastly improved:

  1. Position the animal to its best advantage. If your trophy has horns or antlers, put its head up, silhouetted with similar colors behind it. For a fish, hold it upright so the full length and width of the fish are displayed. Remember to put trophy fish back in the water as quickly as possible so others may catch them.
  2. Use light to your advantage. If you have to take pictures in the dark, use vehicle or ATV headlights to assist in lighting the area. If no such methods are available, use whatever light source you may have, such as a lantern or flashlight. However, you will have a better photo about 30 minutes after the sun comes up the next morning. If at all possible, you should to wait for natural light. During daylight, always do your best to get the sun in your face and behind the camera when taking a photo, just like a camera’s flash. That may make it a bit difficult on the person being photographed, but a few seconds of squinting will yield a better picture and better memory.
  3. When possible, get low. I often lie down on the ground to take the best photographs. This position changes the perspective and silhouettes the entire animal more effectively than if you take the picture from above. Taking the picture from the same level is a bare minimum.
  4. Take a minimum of 10 to 15 photographs from each angle and position when possible, and aim for 20 to 30 if you can. Thanks to digital photography, pictures are so cheap now that it makes sense to take as many as possible. Cheaper Than Dirt!’s Dave Dolbee and I discussed his photo process. Back in the days of slide film, he would easily take 100 pictures (three rolls of 36). With digital film, he gets instant feedback about the photo quality but often shoots a minimum of 200 to 300 to get 2 or 3 perfect shots. I find that when I take a lot of pictures, one or two almost always truly stand out from the others.
Ace Luciano with trophy fish
Not every pose is for everyone. Some pictures will come out better than expected, and others will be scrapped. Either way, you will want to try multiple angles and poses and pick the best ones later.
  1. If necessary, and you are able, wait. You have worked hard for your trophy and deserve to have it shown in the best possible way. If the situation is not correct, wait until you can move the animal to a better location, or even for better light, the following day. Snap a quick picture if you want to show it where came to rest. Then, seek a better backdrop, perfect lighting and any other feature or condition that will perfect your attempt to immortalize your trophy moment.

It goes without saying that if the weather is not right, or in the case of some game animals, the degradation will be too great overnight, you should do the best you can. If conditions improve the next day, you can always shoot more photos. Properly posing and positioning your trophy in the best circumstances will ensure that you have not just a memory, but another true trophy that you can display, share and use to relive the event as often as you wish. That is the true “trophy” of any hunt—the experience.

I stepped off the plane in Barcaldine, Australia, after 18 hours of flight time into a scene from a movie.

In one direction there was the Australian outback, as far as I could see. In the other direction there was a tiny building consisting of a cement room for luggage delivery and two restrooms that made up the Barcaldine airport, and an older, weathered gentleman in his early 70s dressed in faded jeans, a baseball cap and a safari-style shirt that read “Australian Outback Outfitters.”

That man was Mike Mackay, our host for the week and one of the most unusual and interesting characters I’ve met in all my adventuring. 

This adventure actually began almost a year earlier when I was approached by a newcomer to the optics world — Riton Optics —  to use and evaluate their new dangerous game rifle scope. We would be hunting on Mackay’s Hotspur “station,” (what Australians call a ranch) of approximately 15,000 hectares as well as his brother’s station, Rosedale, that measured just over 122,000 hectares. Our entire hunting area was 20 by 25 miles of private land. 

Mackay’s family homesteaded 22,000 hectares in a very wild Australia in 1835. Mackay’s grandfather was one of the original settlers to Queensland, and over the course of a decade, they lost almost 15,000 sheep and 14 of 17 of the men who settled with him to attacks from the native aboriginals.

If that alone didn’t make Mackay an interesting fellow, he also left the family farm for several years and had one of the largest saw mills in Tasmania, made and lost $1 million American, then decided it was time for him to “find some adventure.” That took him to the U.S. frontier of Alaska in his mid-40s to guide brown bear hunters for renowned Alaskan master guide Butch King.

After almost two decades, Mackay returned home to take over the family farm and quickly realized he could add some income to his ranch using his newly acquired guiding skills.  

Gearing Up

Australia has some rather strict gun laws that require permitting for import of any firearms into the country. My original choice of firearm, a lever-action .45-70, was too troublesome and expensive to import. Instead, I mounted my Riton scope on one of the camp guns, a Winchester Model 70 chambered in .375 H&H magnum — the preferred minimum caliber for chasing scrub bulls.

The Riton RTSMod 7 1-8x rifle scope comes in two configurations — one for tactical and one for dangerous game hunting. The RT-S Mod 7 1-8x28IR-H hunting optic was developed in cooperation with noted big-game hunter, journalist and shooter Craig Boddington as a short- to medium-range hunting scope that can be used for any hunting situation — including dangerous game. This scope, complete with the Riton German #4 Mod 1 illuminated reticle, is capable of fitting any caliber of weapon, while providing quick target acquisition at low magnification and precise targeting at increased magnification levels.

The tactical model was also developed in conjunction with a true expert in the field, Charlie Melton, a former Navy Seal team sniper and trainer. The RT-S Mod 7 1-8x28IR has a first focal plane illuminated reticle for a true one-power magnification similar to a red-dot sight, where both eyes are open for quick target engagement in close-quarters combat.

I was told I would be the first hunter to use the scope on dangerous game. 

The Prey

To explain a scrub bull requires a bit of a history lesson. 

Most folks are not aware that the only non-marsupial or “placental” mammals native to Australia are bats, rats and mice. All other native mammals on the continent are marsupials. Every other mammal species on the island has been introduced over the years. In the late 1700s, Australia was a penal colony for Great Britain. As part of the transfer of people to the area, they brought with them various mammals such as goats and cattle for milk and meat, cats and dogs for pets and pest control and rabbits as part of a farmed meat supply. Later on, different species of deer were also imported for sport and food. 

The new citizens of the continent were mostly minor criminals — many of whom were city people who had no experience with animals of any kind. Needless to say, some of those animals escaped and, with unlimited land, resources and zero predators, they established wild populations that have grown mostly unchecked for the past century. 

Fast-forward 175 years or so and these feral oxen have populated their habitats with completely wild herds of cattle. These “scrub bulls” are seen as somewhat of a pest. A 1,500-pound bull can easily jump a 5-foot fence to get to domestic cows and will often get into corrals despite the best efforts of farmers. The real problem occurs when the scrub bull figures out he doesn’t need to jump over a fence, he can go right through it.

There were several violators on Mackay’s hit list.

Spotting the Herd

If you would have told me prior to experiencing it that it would be so difficult to find and then close the distance on what looked like a domestic bovine, I wouldn’t have believed you. 

We spent three days driving and hiking all over the property to locate the herd of wild and domestic cattle the bulls had been hanging around with. 

We located the herd on the fourth day, but they had other ideas than letting us put an effective stalk on them. No sooner did we jump out of the hunting vehicle than the entire herd stampeded away into brush too thick for us to chase after. Fortunately, they didn’t move far and we were able to get on them early the next morning. 

“These buggers are smart and rather cheeky,” Mackay told us. “They like to feed out in the open where they can see danger coming, but close enough to the brush where they can make a quick getaway. Fortunately, there’s a tree line that should get us within 50 or 60 meters of them as long as everything stays in our favor.”In order to ensure a favorable breeze, we hiked approximately a quarter-mile downwind, circling up behind the herd and rather quickly got to within 200 yards of them. 

Almost an hour later, we hadn’t closed any distance and we had to decide whether to make our move or wait and hope. The herd made up our mind as it began feeding back towards us.

We then took some decisive action, but we were quickly running out of cover. I let Mackay know that with the Riton’s 8X magnification and the .375, I could easily take one of the two bulls we were looking at broadside from where we were — about 100 yards. He let me know that tracking was something that we did not want to do with a wounded bull in thick cover, so he preferred to get within 50. 

At 75, we caught the attention of two cows we hadn’t seen. At that point the young bulls started moving toward us, and Mike and I began to get nervous.  

There were two target bulls in this herd — one jet black with horns that went almost straight up, and another “painted” with horns that went almost straight out.Surprisingly, both bulls moved towards us with the rest of the herd, as they couldn’t quite make us out in the brush

“Ace, which ever one of those buggers turns broadside first, I want you to put down with authority,” Mackay whispered. 





I took a half step to my left, rested the Model 70 against the bark of a tree trunk and took a bead on the black bull. He immediately turned and faced me head on. The other bull, 20 yards closer, turned full broadside to my right. I swung on him, the RTS reticle and bright red dot lining up immediately behind his shoulder. As I pulled the trigger he turned slightly, putting my first shot about 10 inches behind where I wanted it. The entire herd stampeded to our right, and as my bull passed an opening in the tree line at 40 yards, I fired another round that rolled him so hard he plowed up dirt as he fell. 

He had been the “herd” bull and we watched as the entire herd milled about in confusion for about a minute. Then, something odd happened … three or four other bulls went to the downed bull and began to maul him with their horns. We were so concerned they would seriously damage both trophy and meat that we ran up shouting to chase them away. 

I was both ecstatic at the culmination of this hunt and surprised at the size of the animal on the ground. 

Bottom Line

There is a lot to like about the Riton RTS MOD- 7 1-8H, not including the mouthful that is its name, and not the least of which is crystal clear glass and a reticle specifically designed for fast target acquisition.

You will love or hate the 34mm tube that allows for a ton of MOA adjustment but, with its extra-thick tube makes the scope a bit more bulky than others in this class and can make finding a quality pair of rings more of a challenge. For this project I chose and continue to choose Warne rings. They’re made to exceptionally tight tolerances, tough as nails and available in a wide variety of configurations. 

You will never hurt this scope, though. That’s the biggest advantage. Riton offers one of the best lifetime guarantees in the business — lifetime, 100% full replacement — but you’ll likely never have to use it. That’s the best warranty you can get. 

Finally, as a business owner, you’ll love the fact that Riton is not only one of the least expensive optics in its class, it has exceptional margins and enforces MAP pricing on all of its products. 

Riton RT-S MOD 7 1-8X28IR-H 

  • Capped elevation and windage turrets with zero reset
  • Parallax setting: Fixed at 100 yards
  • Tube diameter: 34 mm
  • Objective lens diameter: 28 mm
  • Focal lens position: Second focal plane
  • Illuminated reticle with six daylight-bright illumination settings
  • Field of View at 100 yards: 142 feet @ 1x, 17.5 feet @ 8x
  • Material: 6061-T6 Aircraft Grade Aluminum
  • Weight: 24 ounces
  • Length: 10.9 inches
  • Eye Relief: 4 inches
  • Click Value at 100 yards: ½ inch
  • Adjustment Range: 175 MOA
  • Mounting Length: 7.3 inches

MSRP: $1,129.99


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