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There are hundreds of gun manufacturers throughout the world and the companies that are known to us; either invest a lot of money in their advertising or just simply make fine firearms. Some manufacturers however achieve both these points and much more by producing outstanding firearms, with beautiful designs, and overall great performance.

Browning, Marlin, ArmaLite, Colt, Remington and Savage are just some of the names that may sound familiar to you or you might have used their firearms while out on a hunt or at the shooting range. Personally, I have actively used firearms for well over two decades and some include the names listed above and still I find it difficult to consider myself an expert in this field, because of all the advancements in the industry.

Today, I am an ordinary fellow that really enjoys small game hunting but I also lead a very busy life which includes unexpected expenses and bills. So when considering a new purchase, the cost of a firearm is without a doubt one of key factors that can affect anyone’s decision. Then of course you also have to think about many other points such as the design, its performance in the field, including both federal and provincial regulations/laws with concerns to munitions being used by that particular firearm or the game you are pursuing. Performance points can be identified as the range of the firearm in various conditions or its overall durability and many others.

I have used the Remington 870, my collection of .22’s from Savage and Cooey for various small game and I absolutely enjoy them; now I wanted to add some flare to my hunts and my choice this year was the T-Bolt Composite Target/Varmint in 17 HMR from Browning.

I spent weeks studying the T-bolt and comparing the rifle to similar types made by Marlin and Savage; the Browning may have been more expensive but I liked the fact that the action was a pull-back instead of the bolt-action like the others; which I find makes it easier to stay in a good shooting position without having to move too much to reload another round in the chamber. I also really liked the features of the Double Helix rotary magazine allowing for a reliable reload with its design; you also have a second magazine tucked away in the butt plate for quick access. Although the T-bolt does not have iron or a bead sight this did not matter to me as I plan to put on a scope.

Because I hunt hare, coyote and groundhog the 22 inch heavy varmint profile barrel was the best choice for my hunting scenario. Some manufacturers are better than others, but ultimately they are all legitimately good, if not they would not be able to sell firearms. My advice is to identify your requirements for your hunting scenario and then set out to buy the firearm you really want regardless of the price. If you find yourselves having to save up like I did for a few months and buy quality, then do so. Not only will you benefit from this great firearm but future generations will also.

Here are some examples of hunting scenario choices:

Barrel length and type, for example heavier barrels provide more accurate shots; keep in mind your federal and provincial or state regulations. It is also easier to walk through thick brush with a shorter barrel.

Look and feel or design, this is really a personal preference with concerned to drawings on the stock, having different gunstock types and grips.

Ammunition, again keeping regulations in mind, whether you want to take close or long distance shots and the type of the game you will be hunting will affect your choice. If you look up rifle cartridges in Wikipedia they have a great photo/chart with various rounds listed. Velocity and range also fall under ammunition and the firearm being used.

Carrying capacity, reloading and firing speed; magazines of any kind will facilitate the ease of reloading to ensure you can shoot rapidly in the event that the game is moving quickly in front of you. Magazine designs can affect the types of loading and can help avoid jams or double feeds.

Game types, know which firearms can be used for the type of animal that you are pursuing and then inform yourselves on the type of firearm that is best suited and most efficient for that hunt. Duck hunting is a good example; I would recommend semi-automatic shotguns over pump-action because of the increase in speed it provides when reloading allowing for a quicker release of your 3 shells.

Conduct a lot of research and talk to fellow hunters who have a lot of field experience and also store owners and pro’s.

Be safe.

When you are thinking of buying and you are not quite sure; you may find yourselves doing research on the web which is not a bad thing, but you can easily drown in all the information that is found on discussion or web forums. And besides what are the chances of that person providing you with their opinion ever going on a hunt with you? Heck! They may not even hunt the same type of game as you or may just go to shooting ranges.

Choose wisely & have a great hunt!

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The skyline was bright pink and the sun wasn’t fully up yet but my hunt had already started a half an hour before sunrise. I was all geared up and ready to go. The car was locked and then I carefully placed my magazine into the Enfield rifle and started my way up a dark forested trail surrounded by fog. This was familiar territory for me as a small game hunter still-hunting up the trail but this stalk though was quite different from the others and it was only going to last a few minutes because my sights were not on a snowshoe hare or grouse but rather on a buck. Over a period of three weeks, I was going to spend a total of twenty-eight hours in my tree stand at the trails end.

The author Larry Koller wrote about snowshoe hare hunting and said that it was reserved for the tougher individual, who was able to withstand the cold for long periods of time during the winter months and that without dogs it was almost an impossible harvest. Also that getting close enough to hare for the shot was even more difficult. I had to be the judge of this and find out for myself and with concerns to the cold, well I am from northern Ontario. Several hunts later, I finally found the white on white ghost and harvested one in the dead of winter without the use of dogs.

Furthermore he wrote about hunting from a tree stand or sitting on a stump and said it had “no connotation of skill” and that it was not in a sense a true form of hunting. Once again I had to find out for myself what he truly meant. So, I signed up with a local outfitter for this year’s deer season.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion and some of us who have the privilege of being able to write about it and even sell books are truly lucky but not necessarily right. Sure, if we want to keep the hunt “raw” or in its purest form; still-hunting a deer and harvesting is really something to be proud of but I believe there are more risks involved. The truth is safety is a factor and when you have thousands of anxious hunters that head into Crown land trying to harvest a deer; in which case your orange vest may not suffice to protect you unless it is made of Kevlar.

Tree stand hunting does have its dangers such as the risk of falling asleep or accidentally slipping while coming up and down the stand. During my first ten hours in my tree stand, I was told by a property owner that on the same weekend a hunter had fallen in his stand and that his rifle which was by his side and loaded with no safety on went off and almost struck him in the head and he could have lost his life. I still believe that tree stand hunting has its advantages when you are considering safety.

When you sign up with an outfitter and are assigned a tree stand, that area is yours and if there is someone else there besides you, they are trespassing and are most likely a poacher. Therefore the risk of accidentally shooting another hunter is lower compared to still-hunting through the woods, especially if you look and study your target before you shoot and know what is beyond it.

I was standing very still in my tree stand for about an hour, with my arms resting on the front cross-bar and aiming directly to the north across from my blind. I moved my head slowly to look toward the west after hearing some branches crack off to my left and when I turned back to my original aiming spot a deer was standing right in front of my stand about one hundred yards out. She had made her way down the trail heading east and she gave me the impression that she had just dropped out of the sky. My crosshairs from the scope were perfectly aligned and right on target but she had no antlers, she was a doe, so this was a no shot for my tag.

So, I put down my rifle and I took out my mini binoculars and watched her for about three-quarters of an hour and then she disappeared behind some pine trees just on the edge of the swamp to the east. Tree stand hunting can give you the impression that you are playing the lottery and it is a once in a million chance but with the use of bait and a lot of time your chances of success are increased. You are not out of the woods yet, because you are still at the mercy of the deer.

If the weather is not right such as being too windy then the deer will not roam as their scent is being spread around and it is one of their weaknesses with concerns to predators such as wolves, bears and coyotes. If you fail to mask your scent they will not come either and deer do look up, so do not move around too much. The skill levels required to still-hunt may be slightly different from tree stand hunting but having skills, such as the ability to remain still, mask your scent and ultimately and taking an effective shot does require some level of skill and it is in fact still hunting.

I have about eight hours remaining in my stand with still a chance to harvest a buck, but whether the small gamer like me succeeds or not, I have learned that patience and skills are most definitely things you want to have with you on the stand.

The link below was really great for techniques: Outdoor Adventure Network

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