Ten Quotes to Ignore About Treestands

Rod SlingsRod Slings, is Founder/CEO of Hunting and Shooting Related Consultants LLC and retired Iowa Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Supervisor.

Over the years of investigating treestand falls and interviewing the victims, their families and evaluating the scenes, a number of quotes come to mind. These are quotes to remember, but never follow. Please learn from these with the “Note” of explanation:

 

  1. He always said, “Those safety harnesses are way too restrictive. I like my freedom to move around.”

Note: Over one million treestands are sold each year. Each stand includes a safety harness; look for only stands that are Treestand Manufacturer's Association approved, with the logo on it. Do not alter the harness. The harness provided or purchased separately is designed to save you from falling to the ground.  Read all manufacturer's instructions before use. Your goal is to get back on to your stand as quickly as possible if you fall.  See: Dr. Norman Woods’s study on suspension trauma:

http://www.fallsafety.com/wpcontent/uploads/2013/03/NormanWoodsSuspensionTraumaALethalCascadeOfEvents.pdf

  1. “I looked at the treestands in the store and I knew I could build one almost as good.”

Note:  Homemade stands come in all shapes and sizes, everything from old shipping pallets to untreated plywood that are nailed into the tree to hold it up. Your best safety investment is a manufactured stand that will provide you with a safe and secure platform when manufacturer's guidelines are followed. Don’t take a chance with your safety! Your life is worth more than a pile a lumber.Treestand safety

  1. “I don't know who put this stand here or when; I was just checking it out to see if it was still safe.”

Note:  Never trust a stand that you have not helped hang or made yourself familiar with each detail of how it has been secured. The longer a stand is exposed to the elements, the more risks you are taking. The worst thing you could do is climb into an unknown stand in the predawn hours and put yourself at risk, based on someone else’s carelessness.

  1. “I didn't unload my gun before I pulled it up to my treestand because the noise might have spooked a deer.”

Note: Never hoist or lower a loaded firearm from your treestand. Always check and double check your firearm to make sure it’s unloaded. When using a muzzleloader, make sure the cap or ignition system is removed. Use a haul line to raise and lower your hunting implement, including bows, crossbows and all firearms and equipment. Never allow the muzzle of a firearm to be lowered into the dirt, snow or mud.  Remember, attempting to raise or lower any type of equipment in hand or attached to your body may cause risk, which may result in injury or worse.

  1. “I was wearing my harness, but I guess I had a little too much slack in my tether.”

Note:  Make sure you always follow the manufacturer's recommendations when ascending, perched in your stand or descending. When you allow too much slack in your tether, you risk not being able to self-rescue yourself back into your treestand. Your primary focus must be to get back onto your stand as quickly as possible. Your anchor point that you attach your tether to must be above your head when sitting in your stand.

  1. “It just takes too much time to use all that safety stuff; I just wanted to get in my tree quick I as I can.”

Note: If you plan to hunt again, and return home safely after each and every hunt, you will follow all of the safety guidelines and utilize the equipment needed to stay safe in the woods. Planning your hunt means allowing enough time to not only get to your stand, but also secure yourself safely. Use three points of contact when using a ladder. Use a lineman’s belt, a line that you hook your harness into when ascending and descending. Always stay connected to a safety anchor. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones.  One slip and you will change not only your life, but put a great amount of stress and burden on those around you.

  1. “I can’t believe I fell asleep and fell out of my stand.”

Note: It has been said that a hunter in a stand becomes “one” with the woods when hunting from a treestand. There is an almost a hypnotic state of mind that takes place when surrounded by the natural beauty hovering above the forest floor. As this relaxed transition takes place, it is imperative that all safety equipment is in use. Don’t become a statistic!  

  1. “I laid on the ground all night after I fell out of my stand. My legs wouldn’t work, my phone was in my backpack up in the tree, so I couldn’t call for help.”

Note: Always carry a communications device on your person. Make sure you always have service from the location you are hunting. Carry it in a chest pocket, so you can get to it when you need it. File a “hunt plan” with your family or friends, so they know exactly where you are hunting and when you expect to get home.  That way, rescue and law enforcement have a much better chance to find you, if you need help.

  1. “I unhooked for just a second, lost my balance and fell.”

Note:  Always stay connected. Maintaining the same sequence of events each time creates a routine.
“I always do it this way” is a very good method to maintain good safety practices. That one second of disconnect could cost you a lifetime of suffering. Always staying connected to an anchor point protects and insures you and will help you defy a thing called gravity.       

  1.  “I heard there were two kinds of treestand hunters, those that have and those that will.”

Note: Falls from elevated devices result in significantly more injuries than hunting-related shootings. The safety equipment available to keep hunters that hunt from elevated devices safe has increased greatly over the past years. If you talk to those who “have” fallen, you will hear them say, “I didn’t think it would happen to me!”  Learn from the tragedies of others, don’t become a statistic!

Please hunt safe this fall. Remember to acquire the necessary equipment to keep your hunt safe.

You owe it to yourself and your family.

__________

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Hunting Story Told Right: Mike’s Safari

So what is cool about this story is that it combines a lot of things I have talked about before and rolls it into one big awesome adventure. This is the story of our very own Mike’s hunting trip to Africa. And he knows how to tell it right!

Mike has been with us for a while now and it seems like he has been talking about this trip ever since he joined us. I’ve had the pleasure to talk with him about where he is going, what he is taking and so on. Well he took that trip, not too long ago, and came back with some awesome trophies!

So let’s go over the basics of his gear. Mike only wanted to take one rifle with him, so the caliber he chose needed to be able to cover all of his bases. And his choices of animals ranged from kudu to warthog and a bunch in between! He went with the .300 Win Mag! (Hey didn’t I write a blog about that caliber? Or two?!) Mike picked out the Winchester Model 70 (a classic) and it served him well! It was the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation anniversary edition. On top of that bad boy, he threw on a Vortex scope. I have spoken before about how awesome these products are and Mike backed that up. His scope only needed three clicks to be dialed back in after all that travel. His Professional Hunter (PH) also said how impressed he is with their scopes are… and that he personally owns four.

Also, get the luck of this guy! He entered in for a chance to receive a case of ammo (your choice of caliber) and WON!!! Seriously!? My best friend and his dad took a trip to Africa and a huge expense was the rounds they needed to practice with before their hunt! Mike used Barnes Triple Shock in 180 grain and they worked like magic. They dropped every animal taken, except one, in one shot where they stood. This is great for the animals because it is humane and it is good for the PH so they don’t have to chase after a wounded animal.

It was a two week trip, four days of which were lost to travel. After landing in South Africa, they spent days at Kruger Park. Here they went over spotting and stalking basics. The PH wanted Mike to know what he was going to be looking for and how to get close to it. This is a simple concept but is something everyone should do! The things you learn at that time can make a huge difference later. Mike also insisted on doing all the hunting in a stalk. There was the option to shoot from the vehicle, but Mike abstained from this. Good for him! Mike also was able to see a lot of the wildlife he was not there to hunt and got a lot of awesome pictures. This is great so he can have something to show people who do not condone hunting. You always want to be mindful and respectful of people’s mindsets. Don’t go showing bloody pictures to anti-hunters because it only makes us more enemies!

From Kruger, Mike hunted in an area west of Kimberly. He took seven animals while there. Most of them were taken at least two hundred yards away. This speaks highly of Mike and his skill and the caliber, firearm and scope he had with him. Below will be pictures of Mike with his animals, the kind of animal, range it was taken (if he could remember) and what it would have scored. Over there, they have their own form of scoring. The Professional Hunters Association of South Africa  (PHASA) has guidelines for each different animal and what it would rank as. Hunting there is extremely different than here as Mike was able to take three animals in one day!

Mike noted that there was a lot of walking involved, and that they found a poacher. This individual was “looking for firewood” but just happened to be carrying around a bow and arrow… and didn’t have any wood… kind of illegal.

Anyways, enough words. Let’s bring on the pictures! Enjoy!

Red Hartebeest (200 yards) Bronze

Black Wildebeest (297 yards) Silver

Springbok (X) Silver

Warthog (500 yards, rested position) Not scored

Gemsbok (200 yards) Didn’t score

Blesbok (240 yards) Bronze

Kudu (200 yards) Didn’t score. It was missing three inches from one horn but would have been a Silver. This is Mike’s favorite trophy because just look how thick its horns are and how cool it looks.

Awesome job, Mike!

-Giddy-Up!!

Enjoy these other pictures too!

 

 

 

 

 

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Is Robin Hood a better archer than Bill Jordan?

Were the archers from the Middle Ages better bowman than modern professional hunters like Bill Jordan? Before we answer this question we must look at a brief history of the bow and arrow.

Who invented the bow and arrow? Answering that question is equivalent to answering who invented fire or even the wheel. However, we can look at the history of the bow and find some interesting technologies that we use for hunting and sport today.

A recent discovery in South Africa puts the invention of the bow and arrow about 71,000 years ago.  Arrowheads as well as spear heads were found in Pinnacle Point cave located outside Cape Town, South Africa. This is an important discovery about how sophisticated Homo sapiens (modern humans) early on. The oldest Homo sapiens archeological find dates back a little over 200,000 years ago.

                                              

 

The invention of the bow and arrow can be an important step on why homo sapiens out competed their rival the Neanderthals, who were much more stronger then they. The bow and arrow would allow modern man to attack from a distance instead of battling the Neanderthals up close.

Amazing, we are using the same tool that ancient man had used 71,000 years ago hunt and for warfare. But are we really? How strong were these early bows? How accurate were they?

No one really knows about the earliest bows. All that remains are the broadheads that were made of stone. The bow itself is as long been biodegraded back to dust.

                                            

 

So we need to flash forward to a more modern era to understand the sophistication of early bow and arrow technology. In the England during the middle Ages, the longbow rained supreme - to some historians – is when bow and arrow technology leaped forward.  Warfare in the middle ages long today as more to do with resources than how many soldiers you have. The longbow and its precision and the highly trained archers allowed countries like England to win against countries like France who had an abundance of resources http://www.history.com/topics/british-history/robin-hood/videos/robin-hood-and-the-longbow#

In the middle ages, Archers were able to kill a man from over 200 yards away. They did not have rangefinder nor sight pins. Today modern hunters are lucky to hit a deer from 70 yards.  Longbows from the middle ages had a draw weight of 150lbs or more. Why is there a big difference? What made middle age era archers so much better than modern ones? Are today’s improvements like the compound bow, sights and release inferior to the longbow of the past?

 

I think the same analogy holds true with firearms like the Kentucky Long Rifle.  American Patriots were able to hit a man size target at 200 and up to 300 yards with open sites. Today a hunter with an inline and a scope can maybe hit consistently that 300 yard mark, and they would never think about going traditional. This same analogy holds true when comparing the archers from today to archers from the middle Ages.

                          

Here is the big difference:

  1. Archers from the middle Ages learned at a very young age.
  2. It was life or death, either in battle or to hunt for food.
  3. It was a way of life. They did it everyday.
  4. They could not afford to miss their target. Arrows were expensive. Although some would argue they are today, but in reality we do not have to make them by scratch. Nor would it cost us two chickens and a goat for the use of the blacksmith.

          

We may not be as good as they were, but we do not have the time to do it everyday nor do we have the life threatening stimuli to force us to be better.  We do it for FUN! So bring on the advances in technology and the gadgets, we need them.
 

 Wayman, Erin “Early Bow and Arrows Offer Insight into Origins of Human Intellect.” November 7, 2012 – Online Smithsonian Magazine http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/early-bow-and-arrows-offer-insight-into-origins-of-human-intellect-112922281/?no-ist

Wong, Kate “Oldest Arrowheads Hint at How Modern Humans Overtook Neanderthals” November 7, 2012 -  Online Scientific America  http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/2012/11/07/oldest-arrowheads-hint-at-how-modern-humans-overtook-neandertals/

Military History Monthly , “ The Longbow- Medieval Weaponry” Online http://www.military-history.org/articles/medieval/the-longbow.htm

Americas First Freedom- NRA Publication, Online http://www.nrapublications.org/index.php/15308/gun-banners-believe/

 

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Firearm Ownership Heritage

During the last few decades the focus of firearm ownership has been surrounded mainly in the social political spectrum. Firearm rights and the right to protect oneself have taken center stage. However, there is an additional attribute that compliments the importance of firearm ownership- heritage. We have had a long history of sporting firearms which has been overshadowed by the modern media. However, it is still alive today and the staff at Bass Pro Shops in Portage, Indiana can help guide and teach you.

 

The following is a film titled “Making of a Shooter”. You must understand the significance of the film;

  1. the film is from 1946,
  2. it is sponsored by the top firearm and ammunition companies,
  3. it is color which is a big deal from a film from 1946,
  4. it is big on firearms safety,
  5. it is family orientated,
  6. overall for the time period the quality is superb

 

The video contains shooting sports and bird hunting. There is not any deer hunting due to the fact that in 1946 deer were not plentiful and very scarce.

http://youtu.be/aBqlDXBq8zw

In the firearms department at Bass Pro in Portage, Indiana, we strive to keep this heritage alive.  Our staff is made up of individuals of different backgrounds and knowledge. Some of our staff is from past generations when skeet and trap shooting was at its peak in popularity. Other members are more from current generations when deer hunting, modern sporting rifles, and duck hunting is the popular choice (thanks to the boys at Duck Commander).

 

We have a wide selection for firearms for all your sporting needs past and present. Come on in and bring the whole family.  Many are on sale now for the fall classic.

 

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Easy Tips for Cleaning Your Firearms

As we move towards hunting season a quick reminder to all that your firearms need to have a quick cleaning even if you have not used them since last season.

With the new cleaning systems available a quick cleaning won’t take too long. The “boresnake system” allows for a one swipe and done barrel cleaning. Using the traditional rod system takes just a bit longer but either way a quick cleaning of the barrel, and an inspection and lubrication of the action should be done before heading to your favorite field.

After use a more thorough clean is necessary. When cleaning any firearm first check to see that it is unloaded. Many accidental shootings occur while cleaning a loaded weapon.

When using the rod system, I prefer to use a brass bristle brush first to break any particulates loose in the barrel. Caution: never reverse the direction of the brush in the barrel; always push the brush completely through the barrel before reversing the direction. The newer spiral wound brushes are excellent for use on smooth bore weapons such as shotguns, but will not get into the groves of the rifling. Then a swab or a patch with a bore cleaning solution should be used, followed by another dry swab or patch until you have a clean swab or patch after use. At this point a very light coat of gun oil should be applied to give the cleaned barrel a little protection.  Note that a very small amount of oil is all that’s needed.

When using a boresnake system, all the steps above except the oiling may be accomplished with one swipe of the boresnake. An additional feature of the boresnake is that it may be used from the action towards the end of the barrel, eliminating any particulates being “dumped” into the receiver area. Again, a small amount of gun oil should be used to protect the bore of the barrel.

Cleaning the action is a little more complicated. Refer to your owner’s manual for disassembly instructions. Modern ammunition is much cleaner than in the past and a complete teardown isn’t always necessary. Inspect your receiver area, and using a can of compressed air (the type used on computer keyboards) removes some of the accumulated grit. If your action requires a complete cleaning, tear down the action and clean individual parts with solvent, drying with a soft dry cloth and following that a light coating of oil should be applied. Remember that a lot of oil isn’t always best.

Modern firearms can give the user many years of service, but nothing will extend the life of you firearm like proper maintenance. If at any point you find something that doesn’t seem right with your firearm, please consult a gunsmith.

Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World carries a complete line of gun cleaning products. For any questions or tips just ask your Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World hunting professional. They are here to help make your hunting season a successful and an enjoyable one.

And always remember: Safety First.

 

Written by our own hunter Mark Neathery

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Why it Matters: Hunting

So this month we are running our huge Fall Hunting Classic event/sale at Bass Pro. It’s a great time to stock up on gear and information. It’s awesome having people come in to get outfitted for their big hunt this year. Out here in Arizona we have some of the best big game available and work on a lottery system for most tags. Getting drawn is a huge thing, and somehow a good number of our associates got tags. So now I get to watch my coworkers and customers get hooked up for their hunts.

There is always a certain sparkle to someone who is going on a hunt. Lord knows I had it a couple years back for my first big game hunt. Every lunch break was spent asking hundreds of questions to my buddies in the Hunting Department. And now I can even pass on my limited knowledge to people.

And you know what, that is something that matters. Hunting is an important tradition for many reasons. And for that I am making it the focus of this month’s Why It Matters blog.

Hunting has always been an important aspect of human life. Our ancestors needed to hunt in order to survive. Nowadays we have been able to ranch or raise livestock to fill dinner plates worldwide.  But still, every year people continue to go outside to harvest animals for food. Some would ask why? There are many ways to answer that.

One, because it’s in our nature. We would not have survived this world without hunting for previous generations. Just like they say there is a wolf inside all domestic dogs, there is a hunter in every human. No matter how far we are removed from the outdoors by cell phones or whatever, it is still instinctual. Just like we fear what is lurking in the dark.

 Two, because unlike buying meat in a grocery store that came from some commercial farm somewhere you are getting your meat from nature. Deer are not being pumped full of hormones to speed up their development. Elk are not on a conveyor belt never seeing the outdoors. Pheasants’ feet are allowed to touch the ground and roam freely. The health reasons for eating grass fed or cage free meats are even more indicators for why we should be eating game meats.

Three, it helps keep the balance of things. This is for nature itself and us humans. We can get back to our roots and take a break from the over-stimulation of everyday life when out in the field. We can actually focus on something that matters, like getting meat on the table for winter as opposed to “shooting off that really important email”! Humans have had a huge impact on nature, both good and bad, and our role in it is still being figured out. In areas where we have removed the natural apex predator we must hunt animals to prevent over population and diseases that are possible. In places where the predators outnumber the prey, we need to reestablish the healthy balance between the two. Arizona’s antelope population gets hit hard by coyotes and in these areas there is a concentration of predator hunting to help the antelope.

Four, it pays. Not only does a hunting trip pay off in a memory, a great time and hopefully food to consume but it helps fund outdoor conservation. It’s the money paid in fees, tags, licenses, firearms, ammunition and other hunting equipment that funds the federal and state agencies that handle our outdoors. If you think PETA is out there helping clean up the outdoors or watch over populations of animals, you are wrong. It is the kinds of people like volunteers of local hunting clubs that put forth the efforts that matter. And whether you are a meat hunter or are just looking for a trophy to hang, it’s the license they buy and the trips that they take that do the most for animal conservation. Without hunters, a huge income of the monetary needs that is required would be lost.

Now one could keep on going with this list, but that’s enough for one blog. I’ll let it all simmer for you, and maybe share it with someone. If you have a strong opinion on why it matters, comment below! We’d love to hear from ya. Remember, United We Stand!

-Giddy-Up!!

Previously:

Getting Outdoors

Picking Up
 

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Next Chance for Next Generation

So for those of you who do not know about Next Generation, it is our outreach to get the youth interested in the outdoors. We at Bass Pro know that it is vital to get kids into the outdoors to preserve them. Every year we run several events that are focused towards the Next Generation.

This month, as part of our Fall Hunting Classic, we are having your next chance to get your kids involved in the Next Generation. As usual our events are 100% free! Here are the details below:

 August 9th and 10th

Noon-5PM each day we will have our Daisy BB Shooting Range up and running and our free photo download. Parents/Guardians will have to sign a waiver for children under 18 years of age to participate in the Daisy BB Shooting Range.

Noon-4PM we will have a craft available to be colored both days as well. While supplies last of course, and they are super cute so don’t delay!

The first 100 kids to complete the activity punch cards each day will receive a free giveaway!

There will also be two seminars about “Fall in the Outdoors” held both days at 2PM and 4PM.

What is also awesome is that this weekend we will also host a Women’s Hunting Workshop on Saturday, August 9th at 3PM. I love this. I believe it is essential, just as much with the youth, to get women interested in outdoor sports. The first 25 women to attend the workshop will receive a free giveaway (must be 18 years or older). Attendees will also be able to register for a chance to win a RedHead folding knife or pair of Oculus binoculars. The winners will be drawn at the end of the workshop so don’t be late.

-----Now this goes straight out to the fathers/husbands right now. Guys. Seriously. Take this opportunity! Think about it, you get to go to Bass Pro Shops. You get to hopefully inspire your children and wife to get into your passion. It’s free. They can win stuff! They will be busy for hours, WHICH! gives you enough time to get up to the Hunting Department and snag that firearm that you’ve been wanting without getting busted. (Have blankets in the back of the car to hide it of course!)-----

We hope to see  you there!

-Giddy-Up!!

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Take Someone: Shooting

Everyone tends to have their own passions in life. Usually the best part of a passion, is sharing it with someone else. I mean that is usually how relationships are built. If you meet someone you intend to spend time with in any way, you usually see if your passions match up. And sometimes someone will have never taken part in what you love to do most at which point you offer to introduce them to it.

One of my passions is recreational shooting. I love it. I honestly consider it one of the best forms of stress management, ever. And I believe everyone (no matter how they feel about the subject) should know how to safely handle firearms. You can be the most anti-gun nut out there, but you should still know how to safely handle a firearm and if need be make sure the safety is on and it is unloaded.

One of my sisters was very anti-gun. She couldn’t stand the fact that I owned one. It was a sore subject between us, but I came to find out that she had never shot one before. So here was my chance to introduce one of my own family members to one of my passions. (If you have this similar situation, follow what I did and it should work for you too.) I reasoned with her that she can hate them all she wants, but should still know how to handle one safely. And I enticed with the reward of me taking her out for dinner if she were to come to the range with me and just shoot one bullet. Love it, hate it- didn’t matter- I would take her out to any restaurant she wanted.

So off we went to the club that I belonged to. There you must watch a safety video if it is your first time shooting (smart). This focus on safety above all else helps one get into a proper mindset. One of the most effective ways to teach firearm safety is called TAB+1. It stands for:

T-Treat every firearm as if it is loaded.

A-Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.

B-Be aware of your target, what is in front of it and behind it.

+1-Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.

Also always have eye and ear protection available.

I gave the run down to her and loaded my pistol. The target was probably 10 feet away, and that doesn’t matter. I made sure she was set in every way possible and even put my hand on her back to know I was right there for her. She raised the firearm and fired. She immediately put it down and stepped back. (Looks like this was going to be a short trip to the gun range… Oh well, hope she doesn’t choose anything too expensive…)

She turned around and said “THAT WAS AWESOME!”

From then on we made dozens of trips to the range together. It was a great time for us. And each time we always focused on safety. It got to be where she would notice people being unsafe and could call it out.

Here was a passion shared with someone that took a real hold. And you too can do the same. Shooting can be “one of those topics” but as long as you follow a few, easy steps it can be a shared passion.

SAFETY- Always keep safety in mind. This will help keep you, your companion and everyone else in a good mind frame. Teach the TAB+1 or go over it before you shoot each time. Discuss how safeties and releases and the reloading process works. Keep the amount of different firearms and calibers out to a minimum.

THINK- If you are going to take a smaller framed person shooting, don’t hand them a .44 Magnum. Think about the person(s) you are going to take and what would be a good match for them. Personally I wish I had introduced my sister to shooting with a smaller caliber then .45ACP but it was the only firearm I had at that time.

WATCH- Shooting can cause fatigue. You’ll notice it yourself if you have been at the range for a while. Always watch and see if they show any signs of shooting fatigue. And just watch to be safe!

TALK- Talking going with the whole safety part but beyond that as well. You don’t have to get too technical with new shooters but discuss what is going on. Knowledge is power. Encourage who you are taking shooting in simple ways. They don’t have to hit the bull’s-eye, like many new shooters think they must. They are there and that is the most important thing.

On my last trip to the range, the lane next to us had a younger man introducing (I believe) his mother to shooting. I watched over him as he went through everything that I discussed above. He emphasized safety above all else and kept it as stress free as possible. I waited until she had shot a few times and introduced myself. I asked if it was her first time (it was) and how awesome I thought she was for being there. I am not sure if she has been back since, but I am going to bet that the little encouragement I gave and the training her “instructor” was giving her has made her more prone to the idea of going shooting again.

-Giddy-Up!!

Check out my check list for going shooting for other helpful hints.

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Sighting In

Every year we have a slow period between hunting seasons and are stuck waiting for the next season. There is one thing we can do to fill our time to help prepare for the up coming hunting season, and have a little fun doing so: sighting in your optics.

With hunting in mind I will be going over some basic tips on how to get the best accuracy and precision out of your set up.

First will be a proper mounting: we want to make sure everything is tight and seated properly; any movement at all will cause a huge issue and prevent an accurate shot. Some people like to use  Loctite on their screws.  Be sure to use removable (Blue) Loctite, as Red Loctite will cause the screws to permanently set, which will cause a great deal of trouble if you decided to change optics. Once the bases and rings are properly set and your optic is mounted we will take the firearm to the range.

If you have the proper tools to bore sight, then that should be your next step. If not your local Bass Pro will bore sight it for you. When bore sighting you want to start at 25 yards and adjust your windage and elevation screws on your scope. A habit I got into was to tap the screws lightly to help set the cross hairs. Now that the optic is bore sighted at 25 yards it should be on paper at 100. With a few more adjustments you should be spot on and ready for the next season. There are tons of products to help with sighting in, like the Pursuit Boresighter Kit. This will make future jobs easier and you would be able to sight in many different firearms. So what ever your hunting make sure your on target with a proper sighting.


 

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A Man Named Browning

In today's firearm market we have a lot of different choices in what we purchase, but what makes each manufacturer different from all the rest?  Is it machining?  Quality of metals?  Or perhaps simply how much love they put into their product?  Or is it all a matter of opinion?

With the research I have done one manufacturer caught my attention above the rest: Browning.  There is quite an interesting history behind Browning and how they became what they are today.  Not to mention, they are responsible for producing my favorite shotgun: the A-5. 

In 1855 a boy was born who would change the world of firearms. This boy would eventually design some of the most well known and arguably the best designed guns in modern firearms history.  We credit the design of firearms like the 1911 pistols and .50 caliber machine guns to the boy we all know as John Moses Browning.

Browning started making guns at a vary young age, the first gun he created was when he was 13. He contributed in furthering the design and quality of many different kinds of firearms including lever actions, single shots, and side by side shotguns.  What he is best known for, however, is his auto-loading firearms. He made many different kinds of auto-loading firearms like the .50 Caliber BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle) and the 1911 to name a few, and my all time favorite the Auto-5.    

The Auto-5 was created in 1895 and was put into production in 1900.  The Browning Auto-5 is a long-recoil operated semi-automatic shotgun.  Shells are stored in a tubular magazine under the barrel.  When a chambered shell is fired, the barrel and bolt recoil together (for a distance greater than the shell length) and re-cock the hammer.  As the barrel returns forward to its initial position the bolt remains behind and thus the spent shell is ejected through a port on the top of the receiver.  Then the bolt returns forward and feeds another shell from the magazine into the action.  So as Remington Model 11 Shotgunyou are firing the gun, the barrel slides into the receiver, (an action which is still seen in firearms such as the Barrett family of long-range weapons).  The A-5 has a system of friction rings that control the rate of recoil.  Setting these rings correctly is vital to optimal shotgun performance; and also to ensure a long life of the weapon by controlling excessive recoil.  The friction rings are set based on the type of load to be fired through the gun.  If you wanted to shoot a low brass round you can adjust the spring to fire without any hang ups or jams, and when you're ready to hunt with high brass you set the spring back and can have the same feeding reliability.

The Auto-5 came with lots of extras for its time as well.  One of these features is a magazine tube stop which stops any shells from loading in to the receiver when the action is cycled and the chambered round is removed.  This is a very useful feature, and adds safety when crossing fences, as you can safely de-chamber a round without completely unloading the firearm.  It also helps to change different loads with quickly and easily.  This feature is still in use today on the Browning Maxus.

The Auto-5 remained in production for nearly 100 years, stopping in 1998.  Browning has since re-released a very similar firearm, although it is now simply called the A5.  This shotgun has stood the test of time and has influenced the hunting world as we know it.  Although the design of this firearm is old and it may not win any beauty contests, its hump back design makes it very unique (and identifiable) and its reliability is still nearly unmatched.  If you're looking for a great gun with an even more impressive history the Auto-5 is a no-brainer.

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Firearm Safety

Firearm safety is the most important part of owning or shooting a firearm.  Many places offer Hunting Safety classes for free. Some states even require people born after a certain date to take the class before purchasing a hunting license.

Safety doesn't have an age limit. Even experienced shooters should take all precautions while handling firearms.

Firearm safety should be top priority whether you are in the woods, at the range, or at your home.

The NRA lists firearm safety as:

  • ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
  • ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
  • ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to shoot.

Here are a few more important rules to add:

  • Treat every firearm as if it were loaded.
  • Don't rely on the firearm's "safety".
  • Always be sure of your target and whats beyond it.
  • Never point at anything you don't intend on shooting.
  • Always keep the action open except while actually hunting or preparing to shoot.
  • Never climb a tree or fence with a loaded firearm.
  • Wear eye and ear protection while shooting.
  • Regular cleaning is required to ensure everything can work properly.
  • Do not use alcohol and/or other drugs while handling a firearm.

There are many other safety tips for handling firearms, but always pay attention and follow these basics.

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Women's Basic Handgun Class: A MUST!

So last year Bass Pro Shops partnered with Solutions Group International to start offering classes at certain locations. Our store here in Arizona was one such store. (I did a little blog on this last year.) Solutions Group International (SGI) are experts when it comes to training both civilians and professionals in a multitude of tactical and practical skill sets. One that we will be holding again in our store is the Women’s Basic Handgun Familiarization Course.

For 2014 we are looking at holding a class at our store every over month. We are looking at the following dates:

Feb. 19 - April 20 - June 8 - Aug. 10 - Oct. 19 - Dec. 7

 Here is a little breakdown of the class as well:

10AM-2PM

This is a beginner program designed specifically to empower women who have had little or no exposure to firearms. The course starts in the classroom with a general discussion on the familiarization of firearms, safety, and the fundamentals of marksmanship. We gradually develop the new shooter to a level where they are able to safely and confidently handle and fire their handgun in a controlled environment.

Course Topics: Firearm Familiarization, Safe Handling of Firearms, Fundamentals of Marksmanship, Weapon Presentation, Loading / Reloading, Malfunction Drills, Range Safety Rules and Range – live fire exercises.

Gear List:

Handgun (if you have your own bring it – if not, they will provide one for you along with the necessary equipment at no additional charge), holster, stiff pistol belt, three magazines, speed loaders, moon clips or speed strips for revolvers, magazine holders, wraparound eye protection, ear protection, water bottle.

Handgun, Ammunition, Eye and Ear Protection, and Range Fees are included for all women shooters. SGI has some of the best male and female firearm instructors in the country.

I would strongly encourage any woman or anyone who knows a woman interested in firearms to take this class. I intend for my fiancé to attend one of them.

To schedule a class contact Solutions Group International at: 877-844-8744 Or at:

http://shop.solutionsgroupinternational.com/products/sgi-womens-basic-handgun-course

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Let’s Talk Turkey (youth day!)

My oldest son and I start off every turkey season with a youth day hunt. Youth day turkey season begins in Virginia this year on April 5th. This is available for hunters 15 years old and younger. Visit http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/hunting/regulations/turkey.asp for more information.

Spring gobbler is a fun and exciting time of the year to be in the woods. There are all of the smells of spring, leaves are budding on the trees, and the warming weather has you feeling like winter has finally ended.  Before long we’ll be hearing sounds of big old long-beard’s gobble drumming through the woods from high above in his treetop roost just as the sun is peaking over the mountains in the distance. The evening before our big hunt we’ll be out there just before dark watching just to see where he’s going to roost for the night. We’ll be careful not to get to close! This isn’t long-beard’s first rodeo so we can’t let him bust us! With a little luck he’ll still be there in the morning. We’ll be there waiting and listening before daylight for that tell-tale sound of old long-beard’s gobble that will come quickly after my son blows on his Redhead locator call. If he is still where we put him to bed, we’ll quickly get set up and perhaps do a little soft calling just so he knows we’re interested in doing business. Too much calling and we’ll spook him. With a little patience and a lot of luck, he’ll leave his hens in the roost at daylight and head our way. You’ll know he’s almost committed by the sounds of his wings pounding the ground as he lands and the rustle of the leaves as his dance begins. Strutting as he circles ever closer in our direction with an occasional gobble to confirm he’s also interested. Hopefully he’ll get closer and closer until he’s in shotgun range and at that point I’ll whisper “take um!” and my son will release a single 20 gauge round in his direction! Success? We’ll soon find out.

Until that day there’s still homework to be done. “Homework” yes, there’s homework, but it is enjoyable and rewarding. Weeks before the season starts almost every evening we’ll get on the ATVs and cruise around our farm scouting, looking for birds and watching them. I’m making mental notes of things like what the birds are feeding on, which fields they frequent, how many toms are in the group and where they like to roost. For me, it’s homework that’ll pay off big in the upcoming weeks when I’m calling the long-beards in for one of my buddies or a guest. But for my boys, it’s spending time with dad and doing cool things that many kids will never experience.  Not to mention, this is a special time of the year for me to spend time with my sons and build some memories.

Will our homework pay off? Only time will tell. But, my son and I will be out there on opening day as well as many of my buddies with they’re sons and daughters. So I encourage all parents who have sons and daughters old enough to safely handle a firearm to take them on a turkey hunt.            

If you don’t have property of your own to hunt on, that’s not a problem. Virginia has 39 wildlife management areas (WMA) and 203,000 acres available to all licensed hunters. I’ve personally participated in many successful WMA hunts. Visit http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wmas for more information. 

Hope to see you out there!

Chris Krammes

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Legal Heat Coming to Bass Pro Shops Altoona

Concealed carry permit classes are returning to Bass Pro Shops Altoona!

Concealed firearms permit classes will be offered by Legal Heat starting May 3. According to the company, this one class will qualify you to obtain a permit for Iowa, but also the popular Utah and Arizona permits.

(Not from Iowa? Visit Legal Heat's web site and check out their classes around the country in over 12 states and 50 retail locations, including several Bass Pro Shops in Nebraska, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia!)

Why the Utah or Arizona permit? According to the company brochure, the Utah and Arizona concealed firearm permits are widely recognized in the U.S., and between the two of them are honored by 35 states. As you can see in this map from Legal Heat's web site, the red states do NOT honor Iowa's permit. Four of those states are Utah, Arizona, Minnesota and Washington.

Legal Heat graphic - States that reocgnize Iowa's permit

The Utah permit is recognized in Minnesota and Washington and Arizona is recognized in New Mexico, so acquiring the combination of the three permits allows you to carry in 36 different states.

Legal Heat - States recognized with combo of three permits

The 3 1/2 hour classes, from 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., emphasize state and federal laws, including firearm laws and self-defense laws, from one of the largest known providers of concealed carry training in America. Class participants will receive everything they need to obtain a permit, including passport-sized photographs, a CD with several training videos, and pre-addressed envelopes. PLUS, at the Altoona classes, onsite fingerprinting services will be available for a small additional charge.

The classes are only $75. Register for the May 3 class online at www.mylegalheat.com or stop in the store at the Customer Service Desk. Keep an eye on their web site for registration opening for May 31 and June 28 classes!

Concealed Firearm Permit Classes - 9:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
May 3
May 31
June 38

 

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Iowa Youth Turkey Season Around the Corner

by Rod Slings, Retired Iowa DNR Law Enforcement Supervisor
Hunting and Shooting Related Consultants LLC

 

 Rod SlingsIt’s time to introduce that young hunter to turkey hunting during the Iowa youth spring wild turkey hunting season, which begins April 5, 2014.  The Iowa 2014 youth spring wild turkey hunting license is valid statewide and may be issued to any Iowa resident who is 15 years old or younger on the date the youth purchases the license. The youth license may be paid or may be free to persons eligible for free licenses. If the youth obtains a free landowner/tenant license, it will count as the one free license for which the youth’s family is eligible. 

On March 14, 2014, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad signed house file 2067, allowing unfilled youth tags to be used during any other wild turkey hunting season until the tag is filled or the seasons end, whichever comes first by the youth hunter. This is in effect for the 2014 spring wild turkey seasons.

An adult who possesses a valid wild turkey spring license must accompany each participating youth hunting license for one of the seasons. The adult must also have a hunting license and have paid the habitat fee (IF the adult is normally required to have a hunting license and to pay the habitat fee to hunt). The accompanying adult must not possess a firearm or bow and must be in the direct company of the youth at all times. A person may obtain only one youth turkey hunting license but may also obtain one archery-only license or one combination shotgun-or-archery license for season 4.

Iowa youth turkey season dates are April 5-13, 2014. The daily and season bag and possession limit is one bearded (or male) wild turkey. The method of take and other regulations allow that wild turkeys may be taken with shotguns, muzzle-loading shotguns with pellets no larger than number 4s or bows.  All other spring wild turkey hunting regulations for residents shall apply.

There had been some brief discussion about the requirement of wearing blaze orange to and from the hunting blind.  This proposed requirement did not become an administrative rule or law. 

HUNT SAFE!

Rod Slings is a partner with Hunting and Shooting Related Consultants. He was with the Iowa DNR for 35 years as a supervisor in the DNR's Law Enforcement Bureau. He is an active proponent of hunter safety and education through international leadership, instructional, and speaking opportunities for organizations such as the International Hunter Education Association, the National Wild Turkey Federation, and the United Nations.

__________________________

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Matching the Gear Bag to the Event

One of the best feelings in the world is being able to go to the shooting range and just plink away for a couple hours. The problem is that many times people are not aware of how heavy their equipment is until they are at the range and lugging it from the car. The right equipment is needed for each type of shooting a person could be doing in a day, whether that be testing out the new shotgun or plinking with the old .22 there is always a bag for the job. The right range bag can make all the difference when the activity is shooting.

A day out shooting pistols is definitely a favorite of many shooters. A gear bag that has many compartments for those extra magazines is a must. Also a good gear bag for the day out shooting pistols is going to need a large main compartment where ammo boxes can be stored easily. The last thing a day at the pistol range bag needs is a good storage area for the pistols themselves. A great range bag for the day out at the pistol range is the RangeMaxx® Pistol Range Bag. With its extra pockets and large central compartment this bag has everything a shooter could need for a day at the pistol range, and the bag has a convenient shoulder sling to keep the weight manageable.

bag

When the air starts to warm many people start their routine of taking the shotgun out to the range for a day shooting clays. This day at the range is a little easier to prepare for because there are fewer needed components for the shotgun. So what is really needed in a good shotgun range bag is a large compartment where different boxes of shells can be kept separate from each other, and the spent shells can be carried. A good example of a shotgun range bag is the RangeMaxx® Deluxe 4-Box Carrier. This carrier has the extra pockets needed for those pesky choke tubes and the large central compartment for a few boxes of shells and room enough for the empty shells when the shooter is finished.

bag

After a day of work and running around town isn’t it nice to just grab a few guns and head out to the range. There are gear bags specially designed for these days, where multiple firearms will be used of all different calibers. When the day calls for pistols, shotguns and rifles a gear bag needs a lot of space. The pistols need safe storage as do their magazines. The ammo needs a large area for the different boxes to be stored and there needs to be some extra space for the spent casings after the trip is over. A great bag for this all around shooting day is the RedHead® 1856 Range Bag. This bag has the space needed for the storage of multiple boxes of ammunition as well as side pockets large enough to hold pistols and their magazines, as well as room enough for the spent casings after the day is out.

bag

A day at the range is a great joy for many people. Finding the range bag of choice should not be the hassle that keeps someone from going. Here are some great choices for different kinds of days at the range. As always happy hunting and good luck! 

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Outdoor Skills Tips: Wild Turkey Hunting Shotgun Tips

Outdoor Skills Tips

Once you’ve decided you’re ready to take up wild turkey hunting, there are a lot of considerations that must be taken.  In this blog, I’ll discuss the basics in choosing a firearm, choke tube and shot shell before you venture out on your hunt.

turkeys

I’ll be honest and say that if you and I were to own the same model shotgun, with the same model choke tube and same shot shells, they probably will not pattern the same.  So, there lies the challenge.  What do you use?

Shotguns:

If hunting with a shotgun (rather than archery) you don’t necessarily have to have a “turkey shotgun”.  You can use basically any type of hunting shotgun.  Most people prefer 12 gauge but I use and prefer my Benelli M2 in 20 gauge with a 26” barrel (that thing is super light and patterns quite well!).

You can use about any shotgun, as long as the barrel is threaded so that you can remove and replace choke tubes in the barrel. Pictured below is a Beretta A300 with the choke tube partially out.

a300 threaded tube

Notice how you would use a choke wrench to remove your choke and install a turkey choke of your choice. Keep in mind that turkey shotguns don't have to have threaded tubes; if you have a fixed tube shotgun with a full choke that patterns well enough to do the job you can use it. I have a friend that uses the very first shotgun he ever owned, a Browning 30" barrel fixed choke, he has harvested several toms with this old gun. Threaded barrels allow you to use one gun for multiple reasons.

Here are some shotguns in our upcoming Spring Hunting Sale.

Berretta A300

stoeger

I particularly like this Turkey / Predator special by Remington. All setup and ready to go out of the box.

Remington Turkey Predator

Even an all black gun will work well, most shotgun manufacturers make these color options. The Benelli Super Vinci is a great choice.

benelli vinci

Choke Tubes:

It can be a bit overwhelming when you are looking at choke tubes to turkey hunt.  There are many manufacturers out there and they all want your business.  The cost range can be as cheap as $25 and can go up to nearly $100, even higher on custom shop choke tubes found on the internet. My advice on purchasing a coke tube is to go ahead and spend a little more and get a good quality choke.  I’ve tried turkey chokes in all parts of the price range.  I’m currently using an Indian Creek Black Diamond choke tube in my Benelli M2.

BlackDiamondChoke

It is a higher end choke tube and it has proven to be effective. If you arent looking to come off the hip with a large investment for your turkey choke, here are some great values in the upcoming Spring Hunting Sale.

Selectiontubes

Turkey Shot Shells:

When I talk to customers about what shot shell to use, I’ll be honest with them and say that it’s challenging and sometimes frustrating when it comes to choosing your shells.  There are many choices out there for turkey hunting shot shells.  There are different brands, different shell length, different shot sizes.

Brands:

Basically, all of the major shot shell manufacturers are making shells for wild turkey hunting.  Choosing a brand is part personal preference but it also has to do with what shoots best in your gun.  Note that my next blog will cover basics in how to pattern your shotgun.  Part of that discussion will have more info on brand choice.

Shell Length:

Turkey shot shells will have more recoil when fired than your standard dove/quail or target load will have.  Take recoil into consideration especially if you’re setting up a gun for a youth or a small framed individual.  A 3½ inch 12 gauge turkey shell most likely isn’t a good choice for them.  If someone small is using a 12 gauge, consider a 2¾ inch or maybe a 3 inch shell.  Better yet, consider that 20 gauge for a small framed individual.  As I stated earlier, I use a 20 gauge with much success and I use 3 inch shells.  That combination has a fairly light amount of recoil.  An even lighter recoil option is a 20 gauge with 2¾ inch shells.  Also remember that longer shells in length will have more pellets available to strike the target, but it will also increase the amount of felt recoil when shooting your gun.

Shot Size:

Traditional shot sizes for turkey hunting are #4’s, #5’s and #6’s.  There are some manufacturers that are now mixing different shot sizes together in each shell to produce a “blend” of shot sizes.  Below is a chart that shows the differences in diameters in each.

Turkey Shot Sizes

In considering what size to choose, keep in mind that #4’s will have fewer number of pellets inside each shell, BUT #4’s will have more energy, or knock down power at a further distance.  So, if you attempt to shoot a bird at 50 yards with shot size #4’s, you’ll have less pellets available to strike the bird in the kill zone, which is the neck and head but it will have more energy, or knock down power that the smaller #6’s.  On the other hand, if you shoot at a bird at 50 yards with #6’s, you’ll have more pellets available to hit the kill zone but will have less energy.  So, it comes down to preference in knock down power at further distances or more pellets at shorter distances.

pattern

To help determine what size shot to use in your gun, it’s VERY important to take the time and buy a few different brands and a few different shot sizes “pattern” your gun.  To pattern your gun, you’ll set up paper targets and shoot at different distances to determine what shoots best in the set up you’re considering in you gun. If you prefer an actual turkey to shoot at we sell these lifelike Redhead 12" targets.

turkeytarget

  • Special dual-color, flake off technology makes it easy to pattern your shotgun for turkey season
  • Flake off technology provides an explosion of color that can be seen from great distances
  • Kill area shots show florescent green behind turkey image
  • Misses show bright white behind red background
  • Self adhesive to stick to almost any backstop
  • 12'' turkey head image
  • 10 targets to a pack

 Patterning your gun can be come fairly expensive, but it will be worth it in the long run.  if you plan to take your wild turkey hunting seriously and take it to the next level.  If you’ve got a friend willing to pitch in, you can share some of the expense if you both shoot the same gauge shotgun.  You and your buddy can pitch in to buy a few different brands and different sizes of shot shells and go out and pattern your gun to see what shoots best in each or your firearms.  In my next blog, I’ll discuss tips for consideration when you go out to “pattern your shotgun”.

Happy Hunting!

~Richard Plonk

Hunting Lead

 

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Why Air Guns?

by Wes Gudenkauf, Hunting Lead, Bass Pro Shops Altoona

Over the past year or so, as we all know, rimfire ammunition has been in short supply. With spring fast approaching, everyone is ready to get outside to do some shooting. An air rifle makes a great alternative to the never-ending search for .22 Long Rifle.

An air gun can come in just about any configuration that a person could want. From the beginner's Daisy Red Ryder to Gamo Whisper Fusion and even on to Pre-Charged Pneumatic (PCP) rifles capable of extreme accuracy, better than their rimfire relatives, at only a fraction of the cost to shoot. Calibers include .177, .20, .22, and .25, just to name the most common. 

  • Multi-pump rifles. These are common just about anywhere that sells air guns, ranging from around $50 to $100. They generally shoot dual ammo, meaning pellets or BBs, in .177 caliber. These are a great option for backyard can plinking or the occasional pigeon hunt at close range. However, the Benjamin 392 is a .22 caliber that I think stands out in this category.  It fires a .22 caliber Rabbit in the crosshairspellet at 950 fps (feet per second) with eight pumps and is extremely accurate at ranges of 20-30 yards. At a price of $189.99, it is at the top of its class. 
  • The next step up will be the single-stroke, spring gun. These are the guns like the Gamo Silent Cat all the way up to their Varmint Hunter. These guns are also usually in .177 or .22 caliber, but do not shoot BBs. They can fire anywhere from 900 all the way up to 1450 fps. Yes, that's faster than a .22 Long Rifle. These are popular for pest control under 40 yards, and can be extremely accurate with the right pellet. 
  • Most manufacturers are developing Nitrogen Piston (NP) guns as well. Contrary to popular belief, some of the spring guns I talked about above are actually quite loud, with decibel readings up over 100 decibels. A .22 Long Rifle operates at 134 decibels with standard 1200 fps ammo. With that being said, even the loudest air gun is still considerably quieter than a .22. Just don't be deceived when an air rifle is advertised to be "quiet." The advantage to a Nitrogen Piston gun over a spring-operated is that the NP guns are about 20% quieter. With a .22 caliber pellet, the Benjamin Trail NP can operate at 950 feet per second -- more than enough energy to dispatch squirrels and other varmints!
  • The final category are the PCP or Pre-Charged Pneumatic. They have an internal reservoir that is filled with either CO2 or High Pressure Air (HPA) from a paintball tank, scuba tank, or high-pressure pump. Once these guns are filled, they provide anywhere from 20 shots in a .25 caliber capable of taking down coyotes less than 50 yards, to 70 shots in .177 caliber, making it easy to fill the rifle up with air for an afternoon of hunting or an hour at the range honing your shooting skills. Prices range anywhere from $120-$500 for commercially available rifles, like the Crosman RepeatAir 1077 with a 12 round rotary mag, and, just like regular firearms, the sky is the limit. Pre-Charged rifles often come with a shrouded barrel, which acts to muffle the report of the rifle. These guns can be so quiet you may wonder if they even went off until you see the target fall. 

Pellets for these rifles usually run about $12-$15 for 500, with more or less expensive varieties available. With that being said, it's about half the cost of .22 long rifle and they're always available. 

One last thing about the air gun - they might be neighbor friendly. Many cities allow the use of air guns within city limits. Please check with your local law enforcement before air gunning in city limits. 

Happy Shooting!

______________

Wes has been shooting and hunting since he was seven and, like most other hunters, his first rifle was a pellet rifle. He always enjoyed airgun hunting and recently became involved with the sport again. Wes is a competitive shooter in trap and skeet, USPSA (United States Pistol Shooters Association) open class, and IDPA (International Defense Pistol Association).

 

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Youth Hunt For Wild Turkey

The Youth Wild Turkey Hunt weekend will be held April 26th and April 27th.  This a great way for junior hunters to spend time in the field with experienced adult hunters.  They gain knowledge and learn to become to safe and responsible.  Here are a few details from the DEC to follow:

Youth ages 12, 13, 14, or 15 years of age, holding a hunting license and a turkey permit may participate.

All youth hunters must be accompanied by an adult as required by law for a junior hunter.

a.  Youth 12 or 13 years of age must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or person over 21 years of age, with written permission from their parent or legal guardian.

b.  Youth 14 or 15 years of age must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or person over 18 years of age, with written permission from their parent or legal guardian.

c.  The accompanying adult must have a current hunting license and turkey permit.  He or She may assist the youth hunter (including calling), but may not carry a firearm or longbow, or kill or attempt to kill a wild turkey during the youth hunt.

d.  The youth hunt is for spring turkey hunting only and is a two day weekend hunt.  The youth hunt will always precede the start of the regular season by at least 3 days.  Check the turkey season page www.dec.ny.gov or the Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide for season dates.

e.  The youth turkey hunting is open in all of upstate New York (north of the Bronz-Westchester County boundary) and Suffolk County.  Shooting hours are from 1/2 hour before sunrise to noon.

f.  The bag limit for the youth hunt is one bearded bird.  This bird becomes part of the youth's regular season bag limit of two bearded birds.  A second bird may be taken in upstate New York (north of the Bronx-Westchester County boundary) beginning May 1st.

g.  All other wild turkey hunting regulations remain in effect.

 

Staff Safe Out There and Have A Great Time !

Robin Piedmonte - Events Coordinator

Robin Piedmonte - Events Coordinator

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Giving Back

By: Jerry Costabile

On February 8th, I was part of a “Learn to Hunt Rabbits” program that was put on by the Wisconsin DNR, at Richard Bong State Recreation Area in Kansasville, Wisconsin.

The hunt was put on by the Richard Bong Naturalist Association and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. It was held on the park property, which has hundreds of acres of hunting open to the public. I know for a fact that the area we were going to hunt is loaded with rabbits, and I was just as excited as if I were going to hunt! There were five hunters and five mentors. The hunters for the day were Ben, Nathan, Hunter, Annie and Jay. Our Mentors for the day were Adam, Brandon, Michael, my son Kyle and myself.

Being a certified Hunter Education Instructor, I was asked to teach a firearm safety class and a class on hunting rabbits. Along with my classes, there would be classes on state laws and regulations that would be instructed by two state Conservation Wardens, Brandon Smith and Michael Katzenberg. There was a class on the biology of rabbits by Adam Holcomb from the Naturalist Association.

We had a special guest speaker, Mike Corbett, on hunting with beagles. Mike was to bring a really special guest, but because of the snow depth, we didn’t get to meet his dog, Nugget. He still gave a great presentation with a film of an actual rabbit hunt with Beagles.

After a lunch provided by the Naturalist Association, we were ready to hunt! After everyone was given a blaze orange vest, complements of the Naturalist Association, and blaze orange hat, complements of Bass Pro Shops, Gurnee, IL, we were off! I was concerned about the new snow on top of the old snow, and the ability to hunt in a way that we could flush the rabbits to the hunters that were positioned ahead and in safe locations. Well when we got to the first area to be hunted, the snow was deep; I was in snow up to my mid thighs! It was all that we could do to just get thru the drifts and get to the cover. The rabbits were there, lots and lots of tracks and rabbit m&m’s (droppings), but it was very difficult to get into the thickest cover where there was less snow. This is where all of the fresh sign lead to and we were not going to get there, too much snow. The effort was there, but the opportunities were not.

A group decision was made to go back to the classroom for a short break and rehydration and then to head to another location. The snow was already taking its toll on us, we only hunted for about an hour and we looked like we had been at it all day!

When we headed out for round two, I was feeling a little disappointed because with the conditions, I didn’t think our opportunities would be many if any. Upon arriving to our hunting destination, we grouped up and made the walk a few hundred yards back to a heavy brush covered area that had good rabbit sign everywhere. I could see that if we were going to see a rabbit, this was the spot! While everyone was getting into position to start, I could see a very fresh set of tracks that led into the cover we were about to get into. I put Nathan, my hunter, into a good position to see and it was open enough that if Bugs showed himself, he would get a shot. Our “dogs” Kyle and Ben, were just about to the brush that the fresh tracks led into and I told Nathan “Be ready” and sure enough, out he came, the first rabbit of the day! Nathan did a great job getting his gun up and because of the rabbit’s speed, a very ethical decision not to shoot. It just wasn’t a good shot opportunity and because of the deep snow, I knew that the rabbit wouldn’t go far and might give us another chance. As we moved to get ahead of the “dogs”, there was a shot off to our right. It might have been the same rabbit, but we weren’t sure so we kept moving ahead. Once Nathan and I got to an area that gave us a good vantage point and a safe location, we got ready only to see the guys walking up to us and no rabbit ahead of them.

Well we regrouped with the others and found out that Annie got the shot, but the rabbit got away! We made our way to the nature center took some pictures, shook hands and said good buy. I was hoping to demonstrate field dressing and share a couple of recipes, but the rabbits at Bong Recreation Area survived the first “Learn to Hunt Rabbits”.

On the way home, I had some mixed emotions, I was a little disappointed because I am usually successful at rabbit hunting and really wanted the day to be a great memory for our first time hunters. But I was also very proud of the fact that maybe, just maybe, I helped in a small way to keep a tradition alive. I reflected on the introduction to the sport to my boys and the fun we had, even when the rabbits were better than we were. I am now completely into the sportsman stage of my outdoor life, this is where the success is based on the experience, the memories, the friendships and the feelings of satisfaction of just being able to show others why I love what has been created for us all, the great outdoors.

There is something special in giving back to something that has rewarded you with so much. From teaching others, to protecting the resources, I know that for the rest of my days afield, it won’t be about what I harvest, but about what I can do to give back.

 

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