Bass Pro Shops is for the Birds!

The South Texas hunting season is fast approaching. Bass Pro Shops is now selling the 2013-2014 hunting and fishing license. Temporary and year round permits are available. It is important to note that the lines for license renewal grow longer as the season grows nearer. Our great customer service associates Elizabeth, Liza, Deana, Ryan and Arnold are ready to assist you in your choice of the available Texas licenses.

The south zone special white-wing season runs September 01, 02, 07, and 08 of 2013. The daily bag limit is 15 white-wing, morning, or white fronted doves in the aggregate to include no more than 2 morning dove and 2 white fronted dove. The regular dove season runs from September 20 – October 23, 2013 and December 20 – January 15, 2014.



 Due to our extended and prolonged drought, the population of birds has decreased. Limits will still be attainable with some great tips in our hunting department. Adrian, Stanley, and Jerry are just some of our hunting buddies to help you out. They can assist you in the right selection of ammo and firearms for the best hunt of your life. Currently Bass Pro Shops is running super pricing on shotgun shells and accessories. We have the largest selection of camouflage clothing, snake boots, hunting vests, and ice chests in the Rio Grande Valley. We even carry the complete line of Yeti coolers.

Our associates at the Bass Pro Shops Harlingen are friendly, knowledgeable, and always ready to assist you the minute you walk in. Make us your first and last stop for all your hunting needs.


Mike Frazier



Ammo too Expensive or not avaliable?

Hornady LNL Classic Kit

With recent times ammunition has become not only scarce, but prices are also starting to rise. This is where a reloader will have a "one-up" on the people who buy factory ammunition. Whenever a person who reloads wants to shoot all he or she has to do is sit down and load however many round they want. Be it 50 or 500 the quantity does not matter. If you are one who does not reload then you have to get in your car, drive to the store and buy your ammunition. That might be a 100 round box or in some cases all you might be able to find is a 20 round box. This is why it would be advantageous for someone who shoots a lot to get into reloading.

If you are wanting to get into this hobby Hornady has just the solution for you. This is their Lock-N-Load Classic reloading kit. With the exception of brass, powder, primers,projectiles and dies, this kit comes with everything you need to get started reloading. Here is a list of the included items:

  • Lock-N-Load Classic single stage press
  • Lock-N-Load powder measure
  • Electronic scale
  • 8th Edition Hornady Handbook of Cartridge Reloading
  • Three Lock-N-Load die bushings
  • Primer catcher
  • Positive priming system
  • Hand-held priming tool
  • Universal reloading block
  • Chamfering and deburring tool
  • Primer turning plate
  • One Shot case lube

Series 2 pistol die setAnother piece of hardware you will need to start reloading is reloading dies. Unlike the Hornady Lock-N-Load reloading press, reloading dies are specific to every caliber. Pictured here is the Hornady Series 2 Pistol die set (9mm to be more specific). The far left die is the full length sizer die, middle is the case mouth expander die and the right is the bullet seating die. So not only is each die set for a specific caliber, but each die in that set has a specific use.

If you have never reloaded before I highly recommend reading as much information as possible. The Hornady Handbook of Cartridge Reloading is an excellent source of information on not only cartridge specifications but also a beginners guide to reloading. Here is a YouTube video of Hornadys Lock-N-Load Classic kit.

Come out to the Hunting department in Bass Pro Shop and will we be more than happy to assist you with your reloading questions.


We look forward to seeing you,

Grayson Barnes


Hunting Season is Upon Us

Now that the long hot summer months are almost coming to an end, the beginning of the hunting season is upon us. And what better way to kick off your season than dove season.

It has been a long time coming, especially for us migratory bird hunters. With this year proving to be a wetter year, forecasts show a better than average migration in store.  More birds mean better odds of shooting your limit.  That bodes well for those of us who enjoy dove fresh off the grill.  I want to mention a few products and strategic moves that may allow for a more successful season. First and foremost we need hunting licenses, but don’t forget to buy your migratory bird stamp. Choosing a shotgun comes down to money and personal preference. Once you have decided on a shotgun we are going to need some shells. 7 ½ shot or 8 shot is what is usually used while hunting dove.  Thorough practice is highly recommended.  I encourage you to pick up some Winchester AA Tracker shotshells.  This new ammo has a black wad that tracks your shot.  If you miss high, low, left, or right you will know and this allows you to correct your aiming point and fix any mistakes you may have made.  These shells have proven to be great teachers and are just what some of us need to hone in our wing shooting skills before opening day. 

Finally let’s go hunting. Best times to hunt are going to be just after sunrise or late afternoon, that’s when doves are most active, eating, and looking for water.  Make sure you are not in plain view, because doves have amazing eyesight and will see you before you see them. Choose a tree next to a fence line or around water.  Enhance that area you have chosen with a few still dove decoys and one or two deco Mojo VooDoo Decoys.  The spinning wings of the mojo brings a more constant flight into your setup.  Before I used mojo dove decoys I would shoot my fair share of doves. However, once I began using these in my setup the groups of dove increased and the limit became more attainable each hunt.  Now that we are all well informed hope everyone has a very good season. And remember all your necessities you will need for a successful hunt can be found at your local Bass Pro Shops.


Quail and Chukar Hunting Seminars - hunting seasons opening soon!!

Hunting for quail and chukar can be a multi-faceted process...especially if you are just getting started or newer to the sport.  Let Bass Pro and outdoor enthusiast Jim Matthews break it down for you!!

Jim is an accomplished outdoorsman and you know his name from his regular publication Outdoor News Service or from his writings in Western Birds, the Wingshooter's Newsletters.  Jim knows a ton on the topic and is ready to share all at his upcoming seminars at Bass Pro Shops.

Sign up directly with Jim by contacting him via phone (see flyer).  You'll be glad you did...he gives a very comprehensive presentation and you will walk away feeling well informed!

Bass Pro Shops can help with all the gear you need...firearms, ammo, calls, camoflage apparel...with knowledgeable associates to assist that have real experience with bird hunting!!

Call Jim for more details at the same phone number!




Zombie Nation 2013

Zombie Nation MagazineOnce again, Guns and Ammo has brought to the news stands one of the most important publications of its kind in the world.  We all know what's coming and I for one want to be the first to get my hands on the state of the art weapons, ammunition, prepping information.  The first issue of Zombie Nation gave us just enough to wet our whistles so to speak and this issue takes it even further.

The second issue of Zombie Nation hit the street about a week ago and I snatched up two of the ten copies on the rack before anyone else could get the drop on them because I don't want to be the only one left standing around while my neighbors are bugging out.

There are a couple things that caught my attention with the first one being a gorgeous Modern Sporting Rifle from Spike's Tactical in Apopka.  Their SL 15 Zombie looks like it would lay down some precision lead while defending your homefront from the biters.  Magpul equipment and a plethora of Spike's custom touches, make this zombie slayer a welcome addition to the gun safe.  "Don't Forget To Double Tap" is milled into the upper unit rail system as a constant reminder of the need to put walkers down for the count.  Spike's custom ST-T2 heavy buffer is machined from solid billet then filled with High Density Tungsten Powder (HDTP) to tame recoil for repeated accuracy.  The features keep stacking up so my advice would be to get your hands on one before Z-Day arrives.

My second favorite new toy (if I could afford it) is the Standard Issue 1911A1 .45 cal rail gun from Iver Johnson.  This zombie-themed pistol is so beautifully appointed with you guessed it, "ZOMBIES" that you may not want to carry it.  Stunning is the only word I can find to describe the graphics on the slide and the zombie-green grips.  A fully adjustable rear sight and a pickatinny rail-equiped frame ensure that you can mount a light, lazer, or keep it naked while still putting rounds where they count.  Get yours before I get mine.....  Or should I say before my wife gets hers?

There's way more to this mag than just things that go boom, including knives, blunt instruments, comm gear, rations, and even navigation equipment so you can find the only safe haven for miles.  I especially appreciate the effort the writers went through to bring us some of the most up-to-date tactics with a zombie twist.  These practices might be necessary in the event of any national or local emergency including; hurricanes, floods, fires, mass power outages, or even a Sharknado......  Well maybe not Sharknado, that would just be silly.

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando


New at Bass Pro Shops, CMMG 300 AAC/Blackout AR-15!!!

CMMG 300 BlackoutNew here at Bass Pro Shops is an AR-15 rifle chambered in 300 Blackout. The rifle is manufactured by CMMG Incorporated. CMMG manufactured not only full AR-15 rifles but they also manufacture AR-15 parts and accessories. This company was founded in 1999 and has been growing exponentially ever since. They now offer everything from magazines to a fully built rifle like we have here.

The specs on the rifle are:

  • Caliber - 300 AAC BLACKOUT.
  • Barrel - 16" M300 Profile Barrel, WASP Treated 4140 Chrome-Moly Steel, 1:7" Twist, 5/8-24 Threaded.
  • Hand Guard - M4 Hand guard.
  • Sights/Gas Block - Flat top/railed gas block.
  • Trigger assembly - Factory Trigger.
  • Magazine - 30 Round  P-Mag.


300 AAC Blackout  The 300 AAC Blackout(7.62x35 MM) is fairly new to the industry, but since the 300's acceptance by SAAMI(Sporting Arms Ammunition Institute) the cartridge has been gaining popularity. If you are unfamiliar with the 300 Blackout it is basically a .223rem case cut down and re-necked to fit a .30 caliber projectile, but its actual parent case is a .221 Fireball. Having the same case as a .223rem this means that the 300 blackout will function in a magazine designed for a .223rem and hold the same capacity. Now you might be asking yourself "What is the 300 Blackout good for?" Here are some of the advantages to this cartridge:

  • Subsonic ammo that will cycle an AR
  • Uses standard .223rem Magazine and bolt
  • Better muzzle energy when compared to a .223rem
  • Wide projectile selection (.308")

300 Blackout assortment


The 300 Blackout is becoming very popular with hog hunters. The low recoil, light noise crack and excellent energy producing make it a perfect fit for hog/pig control. Combine this cartridge with a suppressor and you will have a quiet, reliable rifle that will suit your needs.(Please check local game laws. Not all states/game can be legally hunted with a suppressor. Look here on how to obtain a suppressor).

Here is a YouTube video of what this round sounds like subsonic/suppressed vs. supersonic.

Now every pro has its cons. The only cons I could think of were slightly more expensive to shoot, factory ammo is a little harder to find(but what ammo isn't right now) and bullet drop after two hundred yards is significant.  These cons should not steer you away from this rifle. It is an excellent choice. Shoot one and you will realize what I am talking about.

Stop by Bass Pro Shop and ask an associate behind the gun counter to see this rifle. I am sure you will be impressed.



This Weekend @ Bass Pro Shops Altoona - Last Chance for Summer Camp!

This is it - the last weekend for your kids to experience free educational fun during our Family Summer Camp! Make sure your kids don't miss out on this terrific opportunity! 


Activities start at noon, unless otherwise noted.


Family Summer Camp

Saturday, July 13 and Sunday, July 14, Noon-5 p.m.

Daisy BB Gun inflatable shooting range - Outside
FREE wildlife carousel - just inside the front entrance turnstiles.
Casting BucketsDeer Track Craft

Soft Foam Shooting Arcade


12-2 Crafts (while supplies last) - Kids paint their own deer track! 


Saturday, July 13 - our last night for free Homemade Ice Cream samples  -  5-6 p.m. Stop by for some sweets treats up by the carousel!


Kids' Workshops - Designed for children 6-12 years of age. Each child will receive ONE free lanyard (while supplies last) and a FREE pin for each workshop they attend.


Workshops are:


Noon - Fishing
1:00 - Water Safety
2:00 - Hunting & Shooting
3:00 - Outdoor Discovery
4:00 - Bird Watching


Noon - Hunting & Shooting
1:00 - Archery
2:00 - Wildlife Adventure
3:00 - Camping
4:00 - Backyard Adventure


Other Happenings this Weekend!

2 p.m. - Join our Fishing experts at the Main Aquarium for a Deep Cranking demonstration.

Try Before you Buy!

The Gifts Department will be serving up samples of deep-fried catfish using Uncle Buck's Light 'n Krispy Fish Mix and Uncle Buck's Beer Batter - then liven it up with some Uncle Buck's Camo Ammo Hot Sauce!

Coming Up!  

Bass Pro Shops Tent Sale

  • July 20-28 - Storewide TENT SALE & Clearance Event!

20-50% off regular price on select items! 

  • July 27-28 - FREE PBR Family Event

Free games and activites - Noon - 4 p.m.

  • August 2-18 - The 2013 Fall Hunting Classic



Outdoor Cooking Primer - Seasoning Salt

It's always fun to try some of the interesting rubs, shakes, and seasonings we have on our shelves. But, many people also have a go-to general seasoning, like seasoning salt, at the ready. I like to have something I've thrown together always on hand and with all "natural" ingredients. This is going to have to be my next ammo in my cooking arsenal. 

Thanks, once again, to Chef Kevin from our friends at Hy-Vee in Altoona, Iowa, for another quick, easy recipe - his not-so-secret Seasoning Salt!

Chef Kevin’s Seasoning Salt

2 tablespoons salt

2 teaspoons white sugar

½ teaspoon paprika

¼ teaspoon dry mustard

¼ teaspoon onion powder

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon corn starch

¼ teaspoon black pepper

Combine all ingredients, mix well.

Chef Kevin says the corn starch is to help keep the rub from clumping together...and the seasoning will work great for any type of meat!

Make a batch up and store it in a sealed container in a cool location and season away!


Like us @  Bass Pro Shops Altoona or Tracker Marine Center

Tweet us @bassproaltoona

Pin us @

Find Altoona Hy-Vee on Facebook at


What We Would Take

North America is seriously awesome. Not only does it have the United States of “Amurica” but Alaska as well! All this great land really gives people many chances to enjoy the outdoors. Along with some of the most dynamic landscapes there is also some of the most dynamic hunting available. The game is as diverse as the continent.  Kids can hunt rabbits in their backyard any day of the week and some people save up their whole life to hunt moose in Vancouver.

The wildlife ranges from squirrels to alligator to whitetail deer to bighorn sheep. There is a reason people travel from all over to hunt here. But what if you could only use one caliber to hunt all North American game for the rest of your life? Interesting question if you ask me. What would be a perfect varmint caliber might not be enough to take down an elk. So I decided to ask the Hunting Associates what they would take. Here is what I got back.

Single Votes:

.270Win – There has been a long debate between this and the .30-06Sprg for North American hunters. Both are solid calibers and come down to personal choice. Many people love the capability of this round and its’ softer push. Just note that some guides will not allow hunters to use this caliber on specific hunts.

.280Rem- Hunters can get higher velocities and shoot heavier bullets than the .270Win with this caliber. It is noted as being capable of taking any North American game with good shot placement. Guess what it is based off of? The .30-06Sprg.

Honorable Mention:

.30-06Sprg- I was honestly pretty sure this would have been the overall winner, (but as my fiancé likes to remind me) I was wrong. This caliber is extremely versatile and has proved itself it hunting and battle fields for decades. Ten bucks says this is what your Pappy used to take at least ten bucks* with. (*Deer, I would never claim your Pappy to be a thief.)

Winners (Tie):

.308Win- Introduced in 1952, the .308Win became widely used with the military. It did not take long for hunters to hop on that train. There is a great amount of statistical information about this caliber. It is not the most expensive round to practice with and bulk ammo can be found. It would seem though that this is the new generation’s favorite hunting round.

.300WinMag- After listening to what everyone had to say I may have changed my mind about the best overall round. Since the game in North America includes grizzly bear you are going to want something with some real stopping power. Put a muzzle break on a .300WinMag and most people (including ladies) can shoot it without needing a shoulder replacement.

Now with everything else, this is just our opinions. Feel free to argue for or against any of the calibers mentioned above. What really matters is appreciating the fine hunting heritage this continent has and being able to have good shot placement with whatever caliber one chooses.

Sharpshootin’ snowballs! Yee-haw!


The Off-Season Part 2

   Last month I talked about some of the chores you will have in the off season as preparations for hunting season. Today I will look at the firearm side of things as we look forward to a new season.

   Now is the time to do thorough cleaning and inspection of your firearms. So we shall start with cleaning. This last year some new items in gun cleaning have emerged that have helped change the way we clean firearms. The first name is Otis. They pioneered the cable type of gun cleaner. These are pulled from chamber opening to muzzle. Using a plastic coated cable we are safe in not harming the rifling of the barrel. One of the added bonuses of this system is its compact size. Coiled in the pouch this cleaning cable will travel most anywhere with you. So it can go along on the hunt or to the range if need be. If you have a scoped rifle you will want to clean the lens and inspect rings and mounts for being solid. If something should be out of place or need repair or replacement this is the best time to look at and do the needed repair. This is months ahead of the hunt and you will have the time to test any change.


   Ammo, if you have living in the Arctic Circle for the past 6 months you may not know there has been a severe run on all ammunition since the end of 2012. It would be best to check your supply and keep it stocked as if you would hunt tomorrow. Just as a quick update here, shotgun loads look good as far as supply is concerned. Rifle ammo is in short supply in many calibers; however more of this ammo is manufactured in the months of June and July and up to the end of the year, so just watch for it.


  Now it is the time to look at the camo and hunting clothes you use or will need. Again this is the best time to start looking at these items as it will allow you to give all your attention to the actual hunt. Most of these items will have the most selection early in the summer. So make your list and check it twice, huntin’ season is coming!


~Bill Mellentine (Hunting Team Lead)


D-I-Y “Pet Fishing Lure” Project

I am going to put out two situations and you can decide which one pertains to you more.

It is Friday afternoon and you have only two hours before your uncle’s birthday party starts. And it is not just any uncle either; it is your favorite uncle. It is the uncle that taught you how to bait a hook and where not to take your vehicle to get an oil change. (Way better than the uncle that almost set your hair on fire during a Fourth of July get-together gone wrong.) And you don’t have a gift…


You just realized company is coming over tonight and your dining table does not have enough rustic flare to it. Sure, the pinecones and random burlap do make a statement but it is not enough! (I know it is hard to pick just one, as these two situations are quite common where I come from.)

What these two situations have in common is the solution. A do-it-yourself “Pet Fishing Lure”!

With just basic household/tackle box items and a pair of scissors you can make your own in less than twenty minutes. Here is what you will need: a mason jar, rocks*, a “sticky” label*, a small washer, fishing line and a sinking fishing lure.

(* = Optional, but recommended.)

For the fishing lure we are using a Rattlin’ Rapala - Sinking. They come in multiple sizes and colors.  Of course, many other companies make similar lures. (This one just happened to be hanging out in my tackle box.) The lure needs to be a sinking one, as you do not want it to float and hit the lid.

First, puncture a small hole into the top of the mason jar’s lid.

Second, attach a small length of fishing line to the washer. Make sure you have enough line to work with, and that the washer will not fall through the hole in the lid.

Then, slip the line through the hole with the washer sitting on the top of the lid. Adjust the line so when you tie the knot onto the lure, the lure does not hit the bottom of the jar. (Do not rush this; it may take a couple tries to get it at the right height.)

Once you have the lure hanging high enough finish the knot and snip the excess line.  Wash the rocks clean. Fill the bottom of the jar with the rocks. Fill with water. Slip the lure in and screw the lid on tight. To hide the washer, use the “sticky” label. Write a cute phrase or put your pet fishing lure’s name here. (Personal favorite shown below.) Place label over washer and press down.

And there you have it, your very own “Pet Fishing Lure”! Other things can be used to decorate the bottom of the jar. Spent ammo casings and bottle caps work great as well. (Unfortunately, shotgun shells float.) Let your rustic-creativity flow and have fun!


The Perfect Pack

A few years ago I found myself at my local Bass Pro, with my buddy’s girlfriend. She wanted to surprise him with a new backpack for all the outdoor activities we enjoy. (That’s a lady to marry right there!) She settled on a Red Head backpack that had a lot of space and a built in hydration pack. Within two days I received the call from my buddy wanting to break it in. Who am I to deny such a request?  We met at the determined spot and time, strapped on our packs and began our desert trek. I quickly noticed how much more room the new backpack had than mine (a converted high school backpack) and how nice the hydration feature was, especially in the desert. After the hike, I decided it was time to upgrade my pack and headed back to the Bass Pro.


              As man-code goes I could not get the same pack as my friend’s so started going over my options. I settled on the Red Head Hybrid Pack . It had a lot more room than my previous pack, and was hydration-system compatible. It has the perfect amount and sizes of pockets for specific storage for most outdoor activities. Another little bonus is that the pack can come apart into two sections. This lets us have a full sized pack, good sized back pack, or a waist pack that can carry a decent load. (The term fanny will not be used, except for right there.)

                Over the past few years I can easily say I have gotten my money’s worth out of this product.  Whether I am hiking the local trails, fishing small creeks for trout or heading to the range, this backpack fulfills all carrying needs. I especially enjoy the use of the waist pack separate from the main part. Not every situation requires a full sized pack, which makes this quite convenient. Most of my activities really only require the use of the top half. For example, for fishing it will hold a standard sized trout net, my three piece rod (broken down), reel, all necessary tackle, bait, tools and more. When I hit the range, I easily fit my two full size pistols, eye protection, ear protection, ammo and targets. There is always plenty of room to stash my wallet, phone and keys in a pocket as well.

As far as the waist pack goes, I typically have it converted to a survival bag that carries what I have assembled for my kit. (I would like to add that I will be throwing in this comprehensive survival kit, just as extra precaution.) Keep in mind; this is just the waist portion, leaving the upper portion available for more use. I can also toss this pack in the back of my truck, just in case something was to ever happen. Also for those with kids, having them carry the waist pack would be a great way to include them and make them feel like an essential part to whatever activity is going on.

With my first big-game hunt coming up last November, I began wondering if I would need to upgrade my pack. I loaded the main pack with the basics for whitetail hunting, and attached the waist pack as well. I locked the buckles across my chest and slung my rifle over my shoulder. Then using the waist buckles, strapped in over the rifle. It secured the rifle firmly and comfortably, leaving me completely hands free. Between the waist straps and the most comfortable sling ever, hiking with my rifle was a breeze.

If you are looking for a new backpack for yourself or a gift, I am sure by now you know which one I would suggest.


Turkey Hunting and Shotguns

                                                             Strutting Toms

I do quite a few turkey hunting seminars every spring and it’s amazing at how many new turkey hunters of all ages that are hitting the field every year. If you’re thinking about going turkey hunting and your weapon of choice is a shotgun, there are a few things you need to know and do before your first morning out.


First off, what gauge of shotgun are you going to use, 10, 12, 16, or 20? I have only heard stories about the 10 and 16 gauge but I do not personally have any experience with them, but the 12 and 20 gauge, I do have firsthand experience and have seen both knock a turkey down like there was no tomorrow.  There’s a lot of veteran turkey hunters who feel that the 20 gauge is a little on the light side for turkeys, but I know that under the right circumstances a 20 gauge is very deadly. Using a 20 gauge full choke with a 3 inch mag and the right load at 35 yards is very deadly, but anything much further than 35 yards your pattern will be to spread out and you may end up with a wounded bird. But with some of the new turkey loads like Hevi-Shot that has a mix of 5, 6, and 7 shot your kill distance has just increased past the 35 yard mark. My oldest son killed his first turkey when he was 10 years old at 32 yards with my old 20 gauge Mossberg with a Winchester 3 inch mag 4 shot and that bird dropped as if he was hit with a 12 gauge. I know a few older aged hunters who use a 20 gauge because of the difference in weight and the kick being less than a 12 gauge. A 20 gauge is a great shotgun for women and kids just learning or unable to handle anything bigger without problems.  The 20 gauge is starting to become a favorite for a lot of veteran turkey hunters.

   Mossburg 20 Gauge                                      

My old Hunter’s Specialties camo taped Mossberg 20 gauge

I would say without a doubt that the 12 gauge is the most popular shotgun used by turkey hunters. The great part about a 12 gauge, especially the new ones made special for turkey hunting, is their shorter length.  Many also come already dressed in camo or matt black, and have the ability to shoot three different shells, 2 ¾”, 3”, or 3 ½”. If you wanted to shoot 2 ¾” shells it would be really close to the same challenge as if you were using a 20 gauge 3”mag, but, if you have the ability to use a larger shell for turkey I would highly recommend it. When I hunt with a shotgun I shoot a Mossberg 835 Ulta Mag 12 gauge loaded with a Winchester 3” 4 shot in the chamber and then backed up in the magazine with 2 Winchester 3 ½” 4 shot. The first season I used that Mossberg I called a very nice tom in from my left and 2 hens came in from my right. Those hens went straight to the tom and I couldn’t get them to come any closer than 55 yards. Little to say he walked away with the hens and I never got the shot. So since that morning I start off with a 3 ½” 4 shot backed by two more 3 ½” 4 shot. If I would have had a 3 ½” shell in the chamber that morning that tom would have went home with me, but that’s hunting. The one disadvantage of using a 3 ½” shell is that it kicks like a mule on steroids. Now I know you don’t feel the kick when shooting at an animal but when I had to pattern that gun every time I pulled the trigger I saw stars.

Mossburg 835 Ulti Mag

The Mossberg 835 Ulta Mag in both camo and matt black with the Undertaker Sighted Choke Tube


Choke Tubes


               Any time you choose a shotgun for turkey there are two things you must make sure of. First, you need to find out if your barrel is threaded at the end so you can use different choke tubes or like my Mossberg 20 gauge the barrel has no threads and came factory made as a full choke.  My Mossberg 835 Ulta Mag has a threaded barrel so I can use different choke tubes for other types of hunting. Since my 835 was made for turkey hunting I use a full choke Undertaker Sighted Choke Tube from Hunter’s Specialties with great results. Choke tubes are designed to give you tighter patterns out to certain yardages before they start to widen from the end of the barrel. Choke tubes are made for different patterns from skeet, improved cylinder, modified, full, and extra full. Depending on which choke tube you use will depend on how far down range your pattern will stay tight before it starts to open up and become ineffective. When choosing a choke tube be very careful because there are a lot of choke tubes out there made for water fowl, so make sure what you are looking at is for turkey. This brings up the second must, patterning your shotgun.


Shot Size             


There are three recommended shot sizes to use for turkeys, 4, 5, and 6 shot. Plus now the ammunition manufactures have come out with special turkey loads that are nickel plated, copper plated, and mixed shot size. Not all shotguns are created equal; some may shoot 5 shot better than 6 shot, or 4 shot gives you a better pattern than 5 shot. During my seminars I like to tell all the new hunters to get with a couple buddy’s, buy the 3 different shot sizes made by different manufactures and go out and pattern your guns together, make a day of it. Not onld does shot size affect your pattern, different manufacturers can also produce different results. Federal, Winchester, and Hornady all make great ammunition but when I patterned my 835 the Winchester Supreme 4 shot gave me the best pattern from ten yards out to forty with a 3” and with a 3 ½” ten yards out to sixty.




When you’re getting you ammo pick up a couple packs of turkey head targets. The two I prefer the most are Bass Pro Red Head and Hunter’s Specialties. The Red Head target has the duel-color flake-off technology. What happens is whenever your shot hits the head neck the top layer of color flakes off and turns green, but if you miss the head neck it shows up white. This is great so you know from a distance what was kill shots and what is not. Hunter’s Specialties turkey target is in color and has the vitals outlined so you know exactly where and how many pellets are actual kill shots. It also has on the right side a column for you to record seven different pieces of very important information. Those seven pieces are yardage, number of hits, gauge, shot size, and ounce of load, ammo brand, and shell length.

H.S Turkey Target

As you can see there is a lot of information you can record




               What I like to recommend when you pattern your gun is you start at 10 yards and aim right were the turkeys head and neck meet. Most turkey hunters start at 20 yards but I’ll tell you at the end of this why I say 10 and not 20. Shoot only one time and then check your target to see how many pellets are kill shots. This close you should have at least 10 to 15 pellets in the kill zone. Some hunters say 5 pellets is enough but I prefer 10 or more, I want that bird down and not going anywhere. One pellet to the brain will kill but the more the better. If your pattern looks good, put a new target up at 20 yards and repeat this same process out to 40 with a 3 inch. If you’re shooting a 3 ½ inch start at 10 yards and go out to 60. Use a new target every time. If your pattern was high or low or off right or left at 10 yards do it again with a new target to make sure you didn’t pull the shot. A friend of mine had a brand new shotgun right out of the box and it shot one foot to the right on every shot. He ended up taking it to a gunsmith and having the barrel replaced. If you’re dead on but didn’t have enough pellets in the kill zone this is when you try a different shot size or brand. This is why I said make a day of it.

               Now the reason I say 10 yards is a few years ago I called a boss tom in and I thought he was going to come out about 20 yards to my left and it would be a slam dunk, well that didn’t happen. When that bird came into view and the way I was set up he was 5 yards to my left and when I was able to shoot he was less than 10 feet from the end of my barrel. I knew what my 3 ½ would do at 10 yards but being this close I knew I had to be dead on. I put my bead right in the middle of his head and pulled the trigger. That 3 ½ inch 4 shot hit that bird so hard he did a back flip and it was over. I sat there in disbelief at what had happened. When I looked at that birds head I seen that if I would have been ½ inch to the right I would have missed completely, or ½ inch to the left I would have decapitated him. It was almost like hitting him with a slug.

               Knowing exactly where your shot is hitting at different yardages is an ethical responsibility all turkey hunters should know before they hit the fields. Just like big game hunters sight in their rifles every year, turkey hunters should pattern their shotguns every year.

Mark Campagnola

Hunt Hard and Shoot Straight






Looking For Some .22 Long Rifle Ammo?? You Need To Read This!

Attention Bass Pro Shoppers! As some of you may know .22 long rifle ammo are little gold nuggets at this moment in time. If you have been looking for some ammo lately you know who has it and who doesn't. You know when their shipments come in and what the limit is on .22 long rifle. Here at the Leeds, Alabama store we are currently getting ammo on a regular basis. We DO NOT have scheduled shipment dates, it simply arrives when it arrives. (sorry for the inconvenience) You can always call us to see what we have in stock of ammo or any of our products at (205)702-7500. Please ask for the GUN COUNTER. Thanks,

Bass Pro Shops Hunting Associates



Offset Your Ammo Cost: Part 3


     After reading parts one and two of this series, you now know what you need to get started reloading.  Additionally, you have brass that is ready to
be loaded.  Now it is time to get down to the real business of loading your own ammo.  This process is all about repetition, consistency, and efficiency.  
While I won't be able to teach you what is going to work best for you, I will be able to present the process and give you some great tips that help me be as
efficient and consistent as possible.    

                                                                                                         STEP 1:  Prime Cases (Pistol and Rifle)

    The first step to loading your rounds is seating new primers into the casing.  Most single action presses have a primer arm that you can swing out of
the way or use to seat primers. Here you can see the primer arm swinging into position to prime the casing. You can also choose a hand primer that allows you to prime cartridges away from your press.  If you are using your press, install the proper shell holder for the round that you are loading.  Insert the cartridge into the holder and pull your press handle down to raise the cartridge up.  Place a primer facing upward into the holder on the swinging primer arm on your press.  Lower the arm into the groove of the piston that your shell holder is sitting on and continue an upward stroke with your press handle.  You should feel some resistance as the primer seats into the primer pocket of your casing.  If the primer does not feel like it is feeding into the case, don't force it.  Lower your press arm and check that you have the correct shell holder installed.  Raise the press arm and seat the primer.  Make sure that you have the press handle all of the way up before lowering it back down.   Inspect the cartridge to insure that the primer is flush with the rear of the case.  If it seems bulged, crooked, or smashed you will have to deprime it and put a new primer in it.  If you find a case or multiple cases that will not accept a primer, check to see if there are crimp marks around the primer pocket.  Sometimes you will run into military brass that has crimped primer pockets which need to be reamed before seating a new primer.  If you do not pick up range brass or use military brass, this will probably never come up while you are loading.  After seating primers, I like to load my cases upright into a loading tray so I can easily transition to the next step.

                                                                                                                STEP 2:  Charging Cases  (Pistol and Rifle)

    For this you will need your powder, powder measurer, scale, and primed cases in a loading tray.  You can get a traditional scale or digital, but I prefer the latter.  Additionally, it wouldn't be a bad idea to have a powder trickler and powder funnel handy as well.  You do not have to have those, but it will save you some time and help you especially if you are trying to brew up an extremely precise load.  The first thing that you should do, if you have not done so already, is open your reloading manual to the caliber you are loading.  Find the powder that you selected on the data chart and figure out how many grains of powder is recommended to load.  I always start with the low side number and usually find the most accurate load will be in the low to mid velocity range.  Do not start with the high number on the right.  Once you have a good idea of how many grains of powder you would like to load, fill your powder measurer up with powder.  Make sure that you have the proper dispensing tube screwed onto the bottom of your powder measurer for the case you are loading. Here is an RCBS powder dispenser with a powder baffle (inside the clear powder tube) and micrometer upgrade installed.  Additionally, notice the green dispensing tube at the bottom that the case is up against.  There is a large and small size for the dispensers, make sure you are using the appropriate one.  You will have to unscrew the metering bolt until you are dropping close to the appropriate charge.  This is where the consistency factor really comes into play.  You are measuring the powder out by volume and not weight so you have to be very consistent at what you're doing.  In order to get any manual powder measurer to work properly, you must use the same stroke repeatedly.  I like to slowly move the arm up and tap it upwards at the top and then move it down in a smooth motion and tap it again at the bottom.  If I tap too hard or too light at either spot, I may have more or less powder in the charges, respectively.  My recommendation is to practice this until you can consistently drop within 0.2 grains of your targeted charge.  For instance, if I am loading a .223 and I want to drop 25.5 grains of powder, I would be sure that I could consistently drop between 25.3 and 25.7 grains.  It is possible to drop an exact charge every time, and with practice, you will.  For that kind of accuracy, I would recommend a micrometer upgrade for your powder measurer.  A flaky or spherical powder usually meters the most accurate for me.  Rod shaped powders shoot well but are hard to meter in your powder measurer.  This is also where a trickler will come into play.  If you are 0.10 off just trickle the extra little bit in and you are perfect.  
    To insure that my powder measurer is set up to dispense the correct weight, I weigh out every drop until I hit my target weight 3 times in a row.   That will tell you that your powder measurer is set precisely and you are being consistent in your motions.  I will then only weigh about every 7-10 loads after that to make sure that they are coming out consistent.  If you are loading a competition or hunting load I would recommend weighing every powder charge before funneling it to the casing.  If you are loading range or general purpose ammo your audit every 7-10 loads should keep you consistent enough.  If anything feels funny or you are unsure if you double charged a load, dump it out and do it again.  Double charges are not very common because most powders
have enough volume to overflow a case on a double charge, but it should be considered.  It is more likely that this will happen accidently in a pistol rather than a rifle load.  As mentioned earlier, I like to keep my loads within 0.2 more or less than my target weight.  You will not see much change in accuracy holding those tolerances.  Make sure that you keep your brass layed out neatly and add your charged loads to the loading tray.Lay your cases out in a loading tray once they are charged with powder.  The loading tray will keep them upright and unable to spill the powder you just measured into them.  Once you get into a flow with this and gain some confidence in your style and powder measurer, this step will be easy, accurate, and efficient.  
      Automatic powder measurers are available from most of the major reloading manufacturers.  The advantage of using these is every powder charge that you load is measured out to an exact weight.  This makes automatic powder measurers useful for competition shooters and hunters who look for an exact charge in each load.  Furthermore, they require no extra skill to use.  You load your powder into the measurer, set the digital display to dispense the amount you want to use, press a button and it drops your powder into a small dish on a scale displaying the exact weight.  You then put a funnel over your brass and pour the powder into the casing.  There are a couple of disadvantages to using these.  The first and most important to me is time.  This process takes
considerably longer to execute than a simple volumetric manual powder measurer.  The second is the price of these units are about 3-5 times as much as a manual measurer.  If you are specializing in large or small rifle loads for long range shooting, this would be a worthy investment.  For short range hunting and target loads, I would consider the manual powder dispenser.

                                                                                                                             STEP 3:  Seating (Rifle)

    The first two steps of this process are identical for rifles and pistols.  Step 3 is slightly different between the two but most of the same practices are employed for either one.  This step is also a spot where you can test around at different C.O.L.'s(Case Overall Lengths) to try to achieve greater accuracy.  With that being said, the first thing that I would instruct you to do is open your reloading manual and see what the recommended C.O.L. is for your round.  You do not want to vary too much from that setting, seating the bullet too deep will probably over pressure your round and could cause damage.  Seating the bullet too shallow could cause numerous problems including an over pressured round and an action not closing completely. 
    Semi-automatic guns like an AR-15 have another limiting factor in the C.O.L.  That is the clip.  The maximum C.O.L. for any .223 or 5.56 round to be shot out of
an AR-15 is 2.260."  I'm not saying that there is no magazine on the market that won't go out to 2.265" or 2.270," but in most cases you want to shoot for
<2.260" as your maximum case length to shoot out of an AR-15.  In order to do this, you must have your seating die set up correctly.  An example of a seating
die can be seen at the right. Make slight adjustments to your seating die after you measure to see how far away from your targeted C.O.L. you are. Place an empty cartridge in the shell holder and pull the press handle all of the way down.  Your cartridge should now be as high up in the press as it will go.  Unscrew the seating bolt on top of your die several turns and begin threading the die into the press.  Continue to screw the die in until it stops on your case.  Unscrew your die one full turn and tighten the locking ring on the threads of your die.  Tighten the die back up to your press and it is now properly set up but you still have to adjust your bullet depth.  Place a bullet into the mouth of your casing with the pointed end up.  You should be able to get the bullet to just sit on top of the case mouth.  Boat tail bullets are generally easier to set since they sit down into the throat of the case a little further.  Place the case into the shell holder on your press and slowly pull the press arm down to raise your cartridge.  You
should not feel any resistance as the case and bullet enters the seating die.  Once the press arm is all of the way down and the case it at its highest point, screw the seating bolt on the die in until you feel it pushing against the bullet.  Slightly raise the press arm and screw in the seating bolt another 1/4 turn or so.  Lower the press arm slowly again to seat the bullet.  Remove the cartridge and measure the length and see how it compares to the C.O.L. you are trying to achieve.  The length will more than likely still be too long, so continue to screw in the seating bolt using small increments.  Do not screw the entire die in further, just the bolt at the top of your die as shown in the photo.  Test often as a small adjustment will make a big change in your C.O.L.  This step requires a feel much like dropping powder does.  If you lower the press arm all of the way and then nudge it down, chances are your C.O.L.
will be shorter than if you just lower the arm with no nudge at the end.  Just like with metering powder, I like to check my work until I get about 3 in a row seated to the correct length without making adjustments.  I will then check every 7-10 cartridges for the correct C.O.L.  Very slight variations in length can be expected, but if it is more or less than 0.05" from your target length, you may have a problem and should check yourself carefully to see what is going wrong.

**NOTE:  Please check your specific die for instructions setting it up in the press as it may vary from what I have demonstrated here depending on the type of crimp it applies to the cartridge.**
Here is a bullet in a .223 before being seated, notice the cannellure on the bullet.Here is the .223 after being seated, not the cannellure position now.
    STEP 3: Seating (Pistol)

    This step is the same as seating for a rifle but you have to modify your brass slightly before you begin.  In order for your case to accept the bullet correctly, you must expand the case mouth before you start loading.  You will notice when buying dies that pistol dies generally come with three dies
while rifle usually only comes with two.  The extra die is the expanding die as seen in the picture.  The only thing that this does is slightly open the case mouth so your bullet fits nicely into the case.  To set this up, pull the arm of your press so that it is fully engaged and the shell holder is at the
highest point.  Screw the expanding die into your press until it touches the top of the shell holder.  Tighten down the lock ring on the die and secure the set screw.  Lower your shell holder back down and insert a cartridge.  Raise the case into the expander die until you feel some resistance.  Take the cartridge out to see if your case has expanded enough to comfortably accept a bullet, if not screw the top adjustment screw on the expander die in further and repeat.  Do this until you can comfortably place a bullet in the case that sits straight up and doesn't try to lay over in the case.  You will then set
up your seating die as instructed above.  The seating die will pull the walls of the case back in to the bullet to secure it in the case and set it to the depth that you have adjusted your die to.  Case expanding can be done when you are doing case preparations but I would just assume to do it before I load a fresh batch of ammo.

                            Here is a pistol bullet and case next to the expanding bolt before being expanded, notice how far the bullet stick out of the case.Here is the 9mm after being expanded.  Notice how much further the bullet sits down into the case.

                                                                                                                                    Step 4:  Enjoy

    Congratulations on successfully completing the reloading process.  You should now have uniform consistent rounds that you can shoot with confidence.  
The final step is storing your loads that won't be immediately shot.  I keep a reference book with a load number for each batch that I reload.  The reference
number will include information like the powder, powder weight, primer brand and size, bullet brand and weight, C.O.L., and anything else I deem relevant to
the load.  I will then use an old ammo box, coffee can, or hard case slotted ammo boxes to store ammo in.  Write the reference number on the storage
container so you can reference the load after you shoot it and leave feedback in your reference book based on its performance.  Keeping detailed records will
pay off big time for you whenever you revisit the bench to load more ammo up.  It also saves time in the R&D department, because it has already been done,
you just have to execute the loading process at the bench.
    Breaking the reloading process into steps is critical to comprehending what is going on without having an information overload.  I realize that this
article presents a mass of information that will be hard to process if taken in all at once.  I would tell you to start at the top, go one step at a time and
you will have a successful loading experience.  After all, you can't put powder into a case with no primer, no better than you can load a bullet into a case
without powder.  Within each of these steps you are going to find small things that will make the process go faster and smoother for you.  This might include
the layout of your loading bench or having a system in place for keeping the correct amount of ready brass available for your shooting needs.  Experience
will teach you a lot of this, and you will find that going off script is normal too.  Stuck cases, broken depriming pins, and stripped screws will all happen
to you at some point in time.  Being ready for these situations to happen comes from experience as a loader.  The security you feel from having your ammo
readily available with the stroke of a press is relieving.  Finally, you know you are getting a better hand crafted product for cheaper than something
stuffed together at a factory. 




Brian Eickholtz



What's going on this month in the hunting department? Let me Tell ya!

Welcome, Bass Pro Shoppers! Today, I'm going to share a special deal! It's a Stack-On Strong Box Computer Safe with Electronic Lock. It's on sale for $99.97 starting March 11 and ends on March 31. Come on in and get it! Regular price is $114.99. 

Features include

  • Extra-wide opening allows storage of laptop computers
  • Great for pistols and ammo
  • Easily programmable electronic lock
  • Trouble key override
  • Low battery indicator
  • Foam-padded bottom
  • Pry-resistant solid plate steel door
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stack on


A Simple Guide to Late Season Predator Hunting

Late season predator hunting is the perfect opportunity to get out in the field when all the other seasons are closed. If you like the outdoors, predator hunting is a good way to get out and try a new, exciting way of hunting while trying to call a coyote into shooting range.  This is also a great time to witness wildlife and to be out in the woods doing what you enjoy.

This sport does not take much for preparation. Most of your standard deer/turkey camo will work and possibly even one of your existing guns.  The gun I like to use is a Remington 700 in .223.  It is a big enough caliber to take down a coyote and the ammo is not expensive. There are other calibers you can use that will work just fine.  If you are hunting heavy cover or terrain that will make your encounters up close and personal, you might also consider a shotgun loaded with buckshot, or perhaps a coyote specific load such as Dead Coyote.

You will need some predator calls to get them to come into range.  Mouth calls would be the least expensive way to go.  The mouth calls I usually carry on me are a howler, rabbit in distress, and a mouse squeaker.  You can also purchase any of the several electronic calls on the market, which come pre-loaded with an assortment of sounds available at the touch of your finger.  Perhaps the best known name in the market is FoxPro, which is my personal preference, but there are countless others from Primos, Johnny Stewart, etc.  Not unlike any sport, you need to practice your calls before you hit the field, there are some great DVD’s to give you a head start on calling tips.

The next thing to consider is when to go.  There are certain times that are best to call these predators in.  Coyotes are most active during the early morning and towards the end of the day right around sun down until dark.  You can also hunt coyotes after dark, especially if there is snow on the ground and good moonlight present.  I prefer hunting during the daytime. 

        Now you are ready to go to the field.  I prefer hunting on colder days.  After a storm or a cold spell, the coyotes will be hungry, as they have to eat to stay warm. The places I like to hunt are usually the same places I deer hunt. You still have to play the wind, just like you would deer hunting.  When you enter a field, if possible, enter up wind. Try to find an elevated area so you can see some distance, and keep the wind to your advantage.  Coyotes will almost always circle downwind of a call before approaching, so keep the wind where they will have to circle in front of you to do so.  It is better to not to go too far in to start, as you could spook them before you even get set up. You can always move farther in. I like to give myself at least 20-30 minutes to each stand. Do not be afraid to move farther in, sometimes you have to get closer for them to come in.

       When calling make sure you start out with a lower volume the first round of calling, just in case you may have happened to set up right on top of one.  If you don’t receive any response, you can increase the volume in the following rounds. I like to call for about 2-3 minutes, and then rest for 2-3 minutes, and then start over.  Be ready as soon as you start calling, as it isn’t uncommon to have them come running immediately.  You will not call them in every time, but do not get discouraged, if you call them, they WILL come!


Offset Your Ammo Cost: Part 2

     Throughout my last blog I explained the items that you would need to start loading your own ammunition for rifles and pistols.  In the next couple of weeks we will take an in depth look at how you get from empty brass to ammunition ready for the range and field.  The topic of today’s discussion will be brass preparation.  If you plan on starting out with new brass, this information will not come into play until you have shot some ammo and collected some empty casings.  If you have ever done any reloading before, then you know that brass preparation is an essential part of the loading process that demands more of your time than any other aspect of loading, especially if you are loading for rifles.  However, having brass readily available is one of the biggest cost saving aspects of loading your own ammo.

                                                                                            Here are a couple of essential tools for brass preperation: a case trimmer and tumbler.

Step 1: Tumbling Brass

    Add Turbo Charger to your media to get a high luster finish even after you've cleaned thousands of cases with your media. The first thing that I do when I get back from the range is load my tumbler up with media and throw my empty brass from the day in it.  I usually use the Lyman Corncob Case Cleaning Media, but there are plenty of options out Lyman corn cob media works great for cleaning cases.there.  The great thing about this media is it seems to last forever especially if you use the Lyman® Turbo Charger Media Reactivator periodically.  This will add luster back to your brass and it does not take as long to clean.  One trick that I always use when tumbling brass is cut up a used dryer sheet into four squares.  Drop the squares in with your media and brass and all of the dirt will stick to the dryer sheets instead of your tumbler and media.  Tumbling time will be about 2-5 hours depending on how much brass you have and the freshness of your media.  The brass should look shiny and clean when you get it out.  When you are satisfied with the brass, turn the tumbler off and sift the media into a small bucket or container and make sure that none is left inside of your casings.  I usually tumble all like brass together and try to avoid mixing brass because cases become entwined together and do not get fully cleaned when mixed.


Step 2: Sizing and Decapping

            Here is a sizing die for a .223.  Notice the decapping sticking out the bottom of the die.  This die sizes and decaps your cartridge all at once.Now that you have clean brass, you can begin sizing and decapping.  Both of these steps are achieved with one stroke of the press.  Refer to the picture on the left to locate your sizing die.  Read the instructions included with your die for setting it up into your press and install the appropriate shell holder onto your press. 

     For rifles, lay your brass out on a lube pad as shown in the picture and spray a light coating of case lube on them.  Roll them around a little bit and they are ready to be sized.  Also spray just a little bit of lubricant inside of your die.  ***DO NOT over lube your casings because bad things can happen.  A very light coating is all that you need.  Any more and your brass will dimple on the shoulders and could get stuck in your die***.  Place the brass into the shell holder and steadily pull the lever down until it reaches the bottom.  Steadily raise the arm of your press again.  You will feel some resistance as your brass comes out of die when the collate holding the decapping pin exits the neck of the case.  Inspect your case to ensure that the spent primer has been punched from the case.  If not, screw the decapping pin farther into your die and run the brass through again.  Also check your case for dimples or abnormalities.  If anything looks split, dimpled or incorrect, dispose the case and go to the next.  Shooters that use a bolt action gun may prefer to use a neck sizing die.  This type of die will extend the life of your brass but cannot be used in a semi automatic gun or a gun that is clip fed.  If you shoot the same cartridge out of multiple guns, you will need to keep that brass specific to each gun if you are neck sizing.Lay your brass on a lube pad to keep your area neat and clean.  I recommend a spray lube because it is easier to deal with.

     If you read the last article, I recommended buying a carbide die for pistols.  If you followed this advice, skip the case lubing for sizing your pistol cases, put them in the press and start punching primers.  If you bought a steel die for your pistol, be sure to lube your cases before running them through your die or you could end up with trouble.  As far as case lubricant goes, I prefer some type of spray lube.  It seems to be less messy and easier to use than the liquid form.  In addition, it is easy to control how much is getting onto your cases so you don’t over-lube them. 

Step 3: Case Trimming

     Adjust your caliper to the maximum case length and check each case to see if they are under that length or need to be trimmed.Now that you have your cases cleaned, sized, and decapped it is time to trim them back to their original factory length.  This step is usually not necessary when loading a straight walled cartridge.  So for pistols, this step can usually be skipped unless you are shooting a high pressure load.  Measure a few until you are comfortable that they will fall under the maximum case length shown in your reloading book.  If you are loading rifle ammunition, set your calipers at the maximum case length and lock them into place.  Measure each brass case that you have resized to make sure they are under this length.  For example, .223 has a maximum case length of 1.760” with a trim to length of 1.750”.  Ideally you want your cases to fall in this range, but you definitely do not want them to exceed the maximum case length.  Sort them between cases that exceed the maximum case length and cases that are under the maximum case length.  Each trimmer will be set up a little different so set yours up as instructed in the manual with the product.   Always remember to start out cutting a little long and make fine adjustments until you can consistently reach the length that you are targeting.Set your trimmer to with a case that you know the length of and make fine adjustments from there. For example, I will always use a case that is about 1.759” to set my initial trim to length and adjust my trimmer from there. After you trim a case use a deburring tool to deburr and dechamfer the inside and outside of the case mouth.  It only takes about a half a turn on each side to properly smooth the case mouth out.  After you get your trimmer set to trim to the right length, always check cases periodically to make sure that you’re trimming consistently.     Whenever I get through trimming cases I always like to send the brass through the tumbler again to get rid of any brass shavings or case lubricant left on my cases.  You do not have to leave them tumble for as long, a half hour or hour should suffice.  Once that is finished, sift the media from the cases and inspect the flash hole of each case to make sure that no media got caught in it.  If your flash hole is obstructed, use a tack or pin to punch out the object before continuing. 

     Once you have done these three steps, you have completed all case preparation needed to load your brass.  Always inspect your brass carefully for any major dimples, splits, or bulges.  Check the rim of your cartridge to make sure that it is intact and don’t take any chances on brass.  If it looks bad, pitch it!  Brass is usually somewhat easy to come by and a trip to the local range can get you restocked quickly.  If you pick up unknown brass or are given brass by someone, always run a magnet over it before putting it in your dies.  If it sticks to the magnet, DO NOT attempt to reload it because it is a steel casing that will damage your dies.  If you have more brass than you plan on reloading immediately, put them in a cool dry place for storage.  I prefer to vacuum seal my brass that will not be loaded promptly.  Plastic sealable bags and ammo cans work great too.  Add some silica packets to the bags or cans to insure a dry climate for your brass.  Hopefully these tips will help you on your way to loading your own ammo.  Next time we will add primers, powder, and bullets to your shiny clean brass.

-Brian Eickholtz          


Offset Your Ammo Cost: Part 1

     If you are a hunter or shooter then you have probably seen an increase in the cost of keeping your guns loaded.  Ammunition prices have basically tripled over the last ten years. There are several reasons for this including high demand throughout the world for metals found in ammunition like brass, copper, and lead.  Ammunition is also an item that stays in high demand and, if you've been shopping in the last few weeks, you may be having a hard time finding exactly what you need or like to shoot with your gun.  Like with most industries, ammo is produced in batches based on what is forecasted to sell.  If more ammo is sold than anticipated and the stock runs out, it may be gone for weeks or months.  If you like to hunt or shoot waiting months for ammo to arrive is not an option.  Luckily, there is another option that will make your shooting and hunting more rewarding and cost efficient than ever: loading your own ammo.  

     Reloading is a great process to have knowledge of.  Understanding how your ammunition is loaded can be critical in making your gun shoot to its full capabilities.  In fact, a skilled loader can load bullets that will shoot much better than standard factory loads.  It doesn't take a rocket scientist to learn how to do either just a little attention to detail.  The only downfall of loading your own ammo is that there is some start up expense, but this will be offset by what you save in no time.  Getting started loading your own ammo is as simple as stopping by your local Bass Pro Shops and speaking with the experts in the Hunting department.  I will provide you with a starting point and tell you what works best for me to help get you pointed in the right direction.

     There are several basic items that you will need to begin loading ammo:  a press, scale, caliper, case trimmer, case tumbler, dies, powder dispenser, and most importantly a reloading manual.  You can purchase these items separately or in one of the great kits that we offer in our stores.  Generally, I recommend people start out with a kit.  You will get most of the basic hardware you need to get started, but you will usually have to buy additional items along the way.  For example, if you are loading new brass then a case trimmer and tumbler will not be necessary because you have no case prep work to do.  However, you will want to add this to your setup down the line because having the brass is going to save you quite a bit of money as opposed to buying new brass each time.   Loading dies, which resize your case and seat bullets, are specific to each cartridge and you need a different one for each caliber you plan to load for.  If you  decide that you only want to load for .223, that will be the only die that you need.  You can purchase additional dies as necessary and the dies are universal to be accepted into any standard press.  The last and cheapest component you will need to load is a shell holder which even comes with some dies that you buy.  Finally you will need the parts for your round:  bullets, brass, powder, and primers. 

     Before buying a setup for reloading, analyze what you are loading for.  Generally you will save the most money on large or uncommon calibers.  If you are loading for an AR-15 or a semi automatic pistol that you put a lot of rounds through, you may consider a progressive press.  You will be able to load much faster but you may lose that custom accuracy that comes with loading on a single stage press.  Personally, I load my .223 and 9mm with a single stage press and I still save quite a bit of money plus I always have ammo available.  For loading straight walled pistol calibers, make sure that you buy "carbide" die sets!  This is extremely important and will save you time and money because you do not have lubricate your cases before sizing them.  I will speak more about that in the next blog, which I will walk you through the loading steps for both rifle and pistols.  I will be specifically talking about .223 and 9mm, but you can apply the information I will give you to anything that you need to load. 

     For a beginner I would check out a couple of different kits and pick the one that suits your needs.  The most cost effective way to go is the Lee Breech Lock Challenger kit for $149.99.  Another Great choice is the Hornady Lock N' Load Classic Reloading Kit for $319.99.  My favorite kit, though, is the RCBS® Rock Chucker™ Supreme Master Reloading Kit sold at Bass Pro Shops for $359.99.  It combines a great press with excellent accessories that you will need to start your loading.  All of these kits come with a press, scale, hand priming tool, and several other extras.  Now go pick you out a kit and get the proper bullets, brass, primers and powder so you will be ready to load when I post my next article showing you how to put everything together.  Refer to the all important reloading manual as to what you will need if you have questions about what powder, primer, or bullets you need!


-Brian Eickholtz


Turkey Ammo- Which one??

Ok, you have found the perfect spot for your Spring Turkey hunt. Your mouth call practice has paid off since you have a nice Tom strutting towards your decoys. All that is left here is to pull Mr 12 gauge up and claim your trophy. But the hunt is not finished, this is where your gear can really make or breat your outing. Your choice of choke and ammunition can be the difference between going home happy or going home hungry.

   Today we have several very good choices in 12 gauge ammunition made just for Turkey hunting. What will matter here is how to match up our barrel and choke tube with the right ammunition to get the best results. Let us start with a true Turkey shotgun.

    Most devoted Turkey shotguns have a shorter barrel length that allows better swing in tight quarters such as a hub blind or other available cover. With that short barrel it is recommended that you use an “extra full choke tube”. This will allow tighter patterns at longer shooting ranges. For this type of shotgun the best choices in ammunition are Winchester, Remington, HeavyShot and Kent. These shot shells use a conventional plastic wad that spreads at the front soon after leaving the barrel. Patterns will be very good from 30 yards out to 50 yards. You will even be able to make kills farther out then 50 yards!

    So you want to hunt Turkey, you have a shotgun, but it is not a true Turkey gun. No problem, look at both ammo and chokes to get started. Install that improved cylinder choke tube and look at two other brands of ammunition. Hornady and Federal use a different wad in their shot shells. This wad does not open at all, but rather has a cone that expands when it leaves the barrel; this cone is at the base of the wad. This allows the wad to stay with the shot load longer yielding a tighter pattern. So you need not purchase a choke tube, only correct ammunition to work with your gun. If you have a Turkey gun and want to use the Federal or Hornady loads you should buy a different choke tube, improved cylinder is best.

    Now that you have matched your gun and ammunition it’s off to the range! This part is most important; always check your patterning at your expected shooting distance. This will confirm all is ready for your hunt. Now pull the trigger on that nice Tom Turkey and start warming up the oven!