Archive for the ‘Firearms’ Category

FINDING A PLACE TO HUNT WATERFOWL   1 comment

 

Soon waterfowl hunters will be sneaking into their blinds as the black and orange streaks of the pre-dawn hours begin to appear in the sky. They have planned for this day in anticipation of great shooting opportunities.

Many hunters spend the early fall days driving roads and making calls to landowners to get permission to hunt their land. This is sometimes without much success.  Others plan to hunt public blinds in hunting areas owned by governmental bodies such as the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and various federal lands.  Sometimes in the latter case due to demand exceeding supply they are unable to find a place to hunt as supply often exceeds demand.  They can still turn to private hunting clubs.

Throughout Illinois there are private waterfowl hunting clubs. Access to some is limited to members while others are open to the public on a daily fee basis.  Lists of clubs are attainable from local tourism bureaus, Chambers of Commerce, their websites and advertisements in newspapers and hunting magazines.

It is a good idea to talk with people who hunt there before making a commitment.   It is also a good to talk with others who live in the area such as employees of sporting goods stores and anyone in the hunting goods business.  It is impossible to go into an area and know what bird hunting success you might expect.  But, you can talk with people who live in the area and they can tell you what birds are present and what they are doing.  You can do this both before and during the season.

Many clubs welcome hunters bringing their own dog to retrieve downed birds. Other clubs prefer to use their own dogs and still others do not feel a dog is necessary.

Most hunts are from blinds on land and/or water or from pits.

The amenities provided at clubs can vary significantly. Most clubs provide transportation to and from the hunting sight, set up of the decoys, heated sheltered blinds and often provide snacks or even meals.  Most provide a caller who is a combination guide, sometimes teacher, and is in charge of the hunt.  He usually works for tips.  All the hunter needs to provide is his shotgun, shells and warm camouflage clothing.

All hunters are required to possess an Illinois General Hunting license, an Illinois Waterfowl Stamp and Federal Migratory Bird Stamp. It is a good idea to purchase them prior to the hunt as not all clubs have access to them and it is usually too early in the morning to purchase them locally.  The Illinois license and stamp are available online but the Federal stamps are available the US Post Office or most other federal offices.

 

 

Advertisements

CONCEALED CARRY AND THE OUTDOORSMAN   1 comment

Kevin and his two pre-teen sons find a scenic camping location with a waterfowl in a remote location. As they pitch their tent, have dinner over an open fire and settle in for the night, four drunken teens announce their presence.  The location is a favorite drinking location for them.

The teens, embolden by their drinking decide to evict the family. As the discussion becomes more threatening and the teens encroach on the campsite.  Kevin pulls his pistol and points it suggesting that perhaps the teens may want to find another location.  They decide to leave rather than risk a shot from an angry father.

Once the invaders are safely out of sight, Kevin packs up his children and gear. They safely leave what could have been a very serious situation.

This parent protected his family thanks to his right to concealed carry.

Stories such as this spotlight the need for concealed carry for the outdoor recreationist as well as potential victims of crime in urban areas.

However, before you carry your concealed weapon on your next outing there is some precautions needed.

To begin with some states have laws prohibiting carrying while in the field. For instance a state might ban bowhunters from carrying a firearm in the field regardless of the reason.  Some governmental agencies prohibit handguns at all times on their parks and refuges.  Still other states do not recognize concealed carry permit from other states.  This is reciprocity.

If you are traveling from one state to another it is important to know the law in all the states through which you are traveling. Your permit might be valid in your home state and the destination state but you might be traveling through another state where it is not valid.

How can you keep up with the ever changing laws that might affect your carrying protection while in the field? One of the best sources of current information regarding concealed carry is the website of United States Concealed Carry Association (www.USCCA.com).

They also have an App there as well so that you can access the information on your phone while in the field.

One of the easiest ways to get information on reciprocity is the State Reciprocity Map (www.usconcealedcarry.com/travel/).

Another valuable website is the Safe Gun Travel site (www.safeguntravel.com/).

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS CELEBRATION OF NATIONAL HUNTING & FISHING DAY   Leave a comment

Dock Dog 0002

Each year on the fourth Saturday and Sunday in September 25,000 to 40,000 sportsmen and their families travel to the campus of John A. Logan College for The Southern Celebration of National Hunting and Fishing Day. They are attending an event designed to teach hunting and fishing skills as well as the ethics, safety and conservation issues associated with them.

Last year’s attendance set a record of 44,000 people attending this, the largest National Hunting & Fishing Day celebration in the nation.

This year’s event takes place on September 26 and 27, 2015. Admittance and parking is free. Food is available from a variety of venders on the campus at nominal prices.

This year Pappy’s Outdoor is the official title sponsor. Other major sponsors include Williamson County Tourism Bureau, Good Guys Motors, McDonalds, Black Diamond Harley-Davidson and the Friends of Crab Orchard.

Children’s activities include a youth goose calling contest as well as archery, shooting sports and fishing. Local sponsors provide the activities free. Volunteers provide instruction and adult supervision.

Dogs and waterfowl activities figure prominently in the celebration with demonstrations by dock dogs, agility dogs, retrievers, search and rescue dogs, police dogs as well as coon and fox hounds. Instruction on training and nutrition for dogs is also available.

The waterfowl calling series begins with the Don Gasaway Youth Goose Calling Contest on Saturday. A number of duck and goose calling contests attracting youth, professional and amateur callers follow during Saturday and Sunday.  They end with the Tim Grounds Southern Illinois World Open Goose Calling Championship on Sunday. A variety of cash and merchandise prizes are available to the contestants.

The High School Bass Fishing Contest involves individual as well as team competition in a fishing contest held on Crab Orchard Lake with the weigh-in held at the Celebration grounds. Area high schools can enter two boats with four anglers and two coaches. The coaches are in the boats but do not fish. The school with the heaviest total weight of bass wins a trophy. There is a penalty for any fish that die. The angler with the largest bass also wins a trophy. Other trophies go to second, third, etc.

Tents erected on the college campus will house some 200 venders. New this year will be an archery tent sponsored by Kevin’s Archery Center, Ava, IL. An adult and a youth shooting range will be inside along with a number of archery manufacturer’s representatives. Instruction will be available along with a chance to get questions answered.

Other activities include wildlife and nature art show, seminars on fishing, game preparation and outdoor cooking as well as a buck skinner’s village with tomahawk throwing area. Displays provide instruction and information about Taxidermy, ATV, RV, boats, deer antler measuring, trapshooting, archery, and a special fishing display.

The Outdoor Art & Heritage Show returns this year inside the college Gymnasium, Skylight Lounge and front lobby. It promotes participation in outdoor recreation through artistic, cultural, natural history, entertainment, and an expanded deer display. Exhibitors include artists, taxidermists, museums, collectors, authors, musicians, not-for-profits, and makers of specialty foods.

Vendors interested in participation should contact Ron Allen as soon as possible. Vendor space is limited and sells out each year. Ron is available at 217-725-7602 (cell), 217-787-8862 (home) or by email at allen92@comcast.net.

Free information regarding motel accommodations and points of interest is available from Williamson County Tourism Bureau, 1602 Sioux Drive, Marion, Illinois 62959 or by calling 1-800-GEESE-99. Information is also available online at VisitSI.com, the Williamson County Tourism Bureau website. The e-mail address is info@VisitSI.com.

HEARING PROTECTION FOR THE SHOOTER   1 comment

SoundGear_Instant Fit_hand

Anticipation is high as the geese circle the field before cupping their wings for landing.  As they approach the decoys and are about 10 feet above them, the guide shouts get them boys.

We all rise and begin firing.  As the birds start to fall, a blast from the right explodes just a foot or two from my right ear.  The pain is sudden.

The ability to hear takes a few hours to return but it is apparent I have lost some of my hearing.

Up to this point I have never given much thought to the loss of hearing one experiences from loud noise such as gun shots.  It just seemed to go with the territory.  Reading about it never really hit home.

Following this experience some 15-years ago, I began using hearing protection on the shooting range but had trouble using anything available in the field.

Foam inserts keep falling out and also hinder conversation with companions in the field.  Muffs also block some talking and are hot and uncomfortable in warm weather.  More recently muffs that electronically block sound at certain levels are more like what I seek.  Conservations with companions are possible but they are still bulky and hot under certain field conditions.  They work on the range but under hunting conditions they are less desirable.

At a recent Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers Cast & Blast event Lance Kraemer of Starkey Hearing Technologies (www.starkey.com) introduced us to a new ear plug called SoundGear produced by their company.  Their company seems to specialize in high-Definition sound enhancement.

The product is an all-digital electronic hearing production item that comes in three styles.  The one I prefer is an ear plug fitting in the ear canal.  They also make a behind-the-ear model and a custom molded model.

SoundGear_Instant Fit_on ear

It fits into the ear canals and stays put unlike the problems I experience with foam plugs.  The unit is smaller and has a baffle type appearance.  A very small (#10) hearing aid battery delivering up to 140 hours of protection powers the electronics.  If continuous protection is not required you simply remove the battery from the device and re-install it later when needed.

Plugged into the ear it allows protection from loud blasts such as a high-powered rifle yet allows one to hear normal conversations.

Once home it was imperative that I test it out on the range as I sight-in my rifle for the next week’s hunt of exotics in Texas.  It works similar to the electronic muffs I use normally with more comfort and flexibility.  The units stay in place unlike foam plugs.

A few days later in Texas, the opportunity to test SoundGear in the field meets with similar success. I even get to test them in rain conditions.  They work perfectly.  I am sold on this product.

CHOOSING A SHOTGUN FOR A GIFT   1 comment

Kids Shooting0002

The season of gifting is fast approaching. For some it might include the gift of that first gun for a child.  There are some basic considerations in gifting a firearm.

The first consideration is the proposed use. It may be for waterfowl hunting, upland game hunting, sporting clays, trap, etc.

Then there is the size of the person who is going to use it. If it is a woman, the problem is not as great as with a youngster who will continue to grow.  It is important to choose a gun that will not beat the person to death with the recoil.  Nothing is more discouraging to a novice shooter than being beat up by the weapon.

Shooting like all activities must be fun for the beginner. The smaller the shooter the more the recoil will abuse them.  This can be a catch twenty-two situation.  The more mass of the weapon, the greater the recoil.  The heavier the mass, the more difficult it is to carry and aim.

Recoil, however a genuine problem, is vastly overrated as a problem.

Adolescents and women do not suffer the degree of ills from recoil that men complain about. They are more likely to listen to instruction and have not been brainwashed into expecting a recoil problem.  Women and adolescents are more inclined to ride with the push of the recoil.  They have good shooting techniques with a flexible shooting stance.

In addition to the gauge of the shotgun, it is important that a weapon fits the person using it. If the stock is too long or too short, the angle of the stock to the barrel gives the individual the wrong sight picture when aiming.

Things like the length of pull or pitch need checking. A gun that fits properly improves the accuracy of the shooter and is an excellent way to reduce recoil.  A good gunsmith can help with fitting a shotgun properly to the person who will use it.

Single shot guns cause one to become a better hunter in terms of taking shots that are very ethical and getting into better position to make a killing shot. Because you do not have any back up shots with the single shot, you pay more attention to your first shot.  You only have the one chance to make a mistake or drop a bird.

Mentally, if you walk into the field with a single shot, you are thinking differently than if you have a repeating firearm or an over/under shotgun.

The single shotgun is not just for a beginner’s weapon. It is a weapon for the most advanced hunter as well.  As we examine the very high end of ethical hunting and it becomes more about the quest than the completion of it.  A single barrel shotgun adds to the challenge and teaches one that he does not need a repeater because he is a hunter.

Single shot hunting is light tackle hunting. Light tackle hunting with a small gauge weapon is probably the pinnacle of the sport as well as a good choice for the novice.

3 BEST RED DOT SIGHTS: A COMPARATIVE STUDY   Leave a comment

Vortex_Strikefire

 

aimpoint-9000sc-2-moa-with-rings (1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Mark Griffin

I am no expert in reviewing hunting gears but I am a typical user of red dot sights. Like many users I prefer testing various devices before I can zero down on the right one. The red dot sight application is limited to recreational shooting and defending the home front. In addition my application is limited to the AR 15 16” .223 carbine. In order to find a perfect red dot sight for this firearm I opted for three sights: Aimpoint 9000SC.

Vortex Strikefire and Millet ZoomDot. But before I explain my experience, here’s a brief about what I was looking for in a red dot sight. I am not searching for absolute accuracy for 600 yards or for playing with range and wind adjustments for a perfect shot. Rather the red dot sights help me to view with both eyes open and acquire target acquisition even when I am moving. However, here is my experience in testing the three red dot sights:

Vortex Strikefire Vortex is an interesting device that as it is suitable for varied people. It is packed with 2x magnifier, color and brightness controls, soft touch on and off button, and a feature that enables the use of a trendy flip flop cover and night vision. This is one of the USPs of Vortex Strikefire. You can use the device as a Night Vision Device (NVD). The adjustments in this red dot sight are easily accessible and its clarity is average. I would not call this the best sight available like so many other reviews. But yes, there are certain advantages of these devices. One of the drawbacks that you would notice is that when using with the AR 15, the system becomes quite heavy. If you consider it from shooting position the entire system looks quite bulky too. This happens due to the battery, lens cover, electronic controls, elevation and wind adjustments.

The red dot is not the best one available in market although the cover is splash proof. You will have to deal with it to get it right.

Aimpoint 9000SC This is the best part. I loved using Aimpoint red dot sight. This time I tested Aimpoint 9000SC. The first thing that attracts your attention is the camo available with this device. The camo is build like a tank which has double mounts and clicking switch. This is another device which is perfect for the AR15 platform. What impressed me is the brightness of the sight that is a bit higher than the other available models. However, Aimpoint has developed it as a device that will work perfectly with calibers more than .223. However, what can put you off is the weight.

Millett ZoomDot Now here is a model that is lightweight, compact and is packed with a dot size that is easily adjustable. But what puts you off is the projector for the red dot. It trespasses into your field of view while aiming at the target. I did not notice it until I aimed at the target while viewing through the opening left of center. The problem arises because of the shape of the aperture which is not a perfect circle. This affects the accuracy of the device. This was not really desirable from an either perfect model. Another irritating factor is the cleaning kit. I wish the device is available without it.

At the end if I have to conclude I will go with Aimpoint. I have used the Aimpoint CompM4 Red Dot Sight before and have found it quite effective. The best thing about the 9000SC is that there are no compromises made with this sight except that it is on the heavier side. The main feature where it beats the other two is the brightness factor and its battery performance.

PUBLIC LAND TURKEY HUNTING TIPS   2 comments

Turkey 0001

Modern day turkey hunters enjoy some of the best turkey hunting.  Some overlook this opportunity because they do not have a place lined up to hunt.  Illinois also has some of the country’s best public land turkey hunting.  The public land hunting programs have and are used as models by many wildlife management agencies of other states.

The public land hunting opportunities help to meet the demand that cannot be met by private property.

Illinois hunters can receive several permits for the single spring season.

Application forms are available from the IDNR Permit Office in Springfield or on line at the IDNR website: http://www.dnr.state.il.us.  Most IDNR regional office also will have them available.

Additional state regulations and site specific rules can be obtained by contacting the public land site and from the Illinois Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations.  The later is available free from the IDNR online at the above website.

Like most hunting, public land turkey hunting requires one to know the habits and habitat of the birds.  It is important to know how turkeys react under hunting pressure and different weather conditions.  Weather, the type of cover and having the proper hunting equipment all play a part in finding birds.

Experienced public land hunters learn to concentrate their efforts on areas that do not receive human traffic.  Hedge rows offer concealment opportunities for birds that become call shy early in the season.  Another such cover situation is any brushy areas next to grain fields.

Weather during turkey season is a real iffy proposition.  Passing cold fronts bring with them spring storms.  The time just prior to the passing and just after a storm usually means that the birds will be actively feeding.  Grain fields, or any other place where spilled grain might be found, are good places to seek out Mr. Turkey.  Out of the way roads offer promise of feeding birds.

Scanning the woods is another tool of the turkey hunter on public land.  One not only scans the property looking for birds but also for other hunters.  In the interest of safety it is wise to know where your fellow hunters are and what they are doing.  Any movement in public land hunting should be done slowly and with purpose.  The best rule of thumb is to move only when entering or leaving the woods.  Never use a turkey call when entering or leaving the hunting area.  It is too easy to be mistaken for a turkey moving through the brush.

If you should spot another hunter moving toward you it is recommended that you whistle softly.  It will not spook turkeys or the other hunter but will make him aware of your presence.  Do not wave lest he mistake you for a bird.

Once in place it is wise to begin calling with soft calls.  This is particularly true after the birds have been hunted for some time.  The birds have been hearing lots of calls and tend to regard hard calls as danger.

Soft calls attract a gobbler’s attention out of curiosity.  The purr calls whether hen or fighting purr calls get older birds to respond in response to their desire to dominate their territory.

Well hunted areas can be totally unproductive on any given day.  That does not mean that there are no birds, only that they are not responding to calls.  This could be the result of the gobbler being with a hen or are not paying attention to hen sounds because they have become call shy.  The next day one may find turkey hunting productive in the very same area.

Even pressured birds are aggressive in the spring.  By sitting still and listening for the sounds of the woods, it is possible to hear the disturbance of leaves as gobblers move about in search of hens.  In their pursuit of hens, with which to mate, the gobbler will strut and drum giving away his location.

With a little scouting of the area you plan to hunt, and by paying attention to safety while moving about in the woods, one can enjoy a very fruitful experience hunting turkeys on public land.

%d bloggers like this: