* About this time of year most small-game seasons are well underway ..
. or over with for that matter. The prospect of cleaning the ol’shotgun and putting it in the gun cabinet for nine months doesn’tsit too well with most of us but it’s something we kinda’resign ourselves to every year. Upland gunners needn’t hiberatewith the end of the Christmas holidays, however, thanks to the hundredsof commercial hunting preserves now operating in 45 states and sixCanadian provinces. One could, of course, get into a heated debate on whether or notfee-type gunning on private preserves is the “real thing,” orthat it just might represent what all hunting will be like by the end ofthis century .
. . but why do it? Fee-type hunting is a reality and hasbeen for several decades; it’s just becoming more popular in thesedays of dwindling acreage and increased hunting pressure.
I’vefound that those who dislike the prospect of fee hunting do so primarilyon principle, not because they’ve done it and found it wanting inany way. They somehow find paying to hunt is . .
. well, un-American.Now I’ll grant you that in theory, free hunting has fee huntingbeat all to hell, but if the quality of the hunt on public lands is suchthat there’s a competing party a hundred yards to either side ofyou as you work a cornfield, and you don’t get a single shot allmorning, just how much satisfaction do you get knowing the experiencehadn’t cost you a cent (other than the cost of your license, gas toget there, shells, and part of the original investment in your shotgun,clothes, boots, etc.
)? Our enjoyment of the outdoor experience shouldn’t hinge on howclose we come to “filling out” or how many shots we get, butfor most of us it’s certainly a consideration! I mean, when wasthe last time you heard someone actually brag about not seeing game orgetting a shot? So, although it shouldn’t be our paramount concern, oursuccess as hunters certainly contributes to our enjoyment of the sport.When couched in those terms, the prospect of paying so that we’llat least be guaranteed shots at pheasant, quail, chukar, flighted ducksor whatever, is not the least bit repugnant; at least it shouldn’tbe. After all, when you think about it, we pay for quality experiencesin all other facets of life. It costs much more to dine, for example,at a “Four Seasons” than it does to eat at a “DirtyFork.” Or to sit in the front row instead of the bleachers. Sowhat’s wrong with paying for a really great day of hunting? Now big-game hunting is something else again.
The desire toprovide a “sure thing” for both themselves and their clientsby confining game to small, fenced-in areas is sometimes too much of atemptation for some “outfitters” to resist. Any hunter worthyof the name is just as appalled by such shenanigans as any non-hunterwould be, and rightly so. With upland game however, there’s no such confining of thegame or the feeling you’re hunting under artificial circumstances.In fact, most preserves belong to the North American GamebirdAssociation (NAGA) and as such subscribe to the following standards: 1. The area should be good hunting country, with a blend of naturaland cultivated cover. 2. Pheasants, quail and chukars should be full-plumaged, more than16 weeks old and of the same color and conformation as birds in thewild. 3.
Mallards should be similar in weight and plumage to free-rangingmallards and capable of strong flight between release and rest ponds. 4. Well-trained dogs should be available to guests to reduce lossesof crippled game. Some preserves charge for the number of birds bagged, others forthe birds released in your fields that day, and still others for asporting chance to bag some birds when accompanied by a guide. Fornon-residents, a hunting preserve license may cost only a fraction ofthe price of a regular non-resident license. In some states, no huntinglicense at all is required. A state-by-state listing of hunting preserves with location, seasondates and game available can be obtained free from the National ShootingSports Foundation.
Just send a stamped, self-addressed envelope toNSSF, Dept. GA, P.O. Box 1075, Riverside, CT 06878. The listingincludes the name, address and phone number of the preserves as well asthe species of birds stocked–most often pheasant, quail, chukarpartridge and mallards. LYMAN RELOADING WEIGHTS Every reloader has wished at one time or another for a set ofweights against which he could verify the accuracy of his own powderscale. Periodic checks of the zero setting and throwing a bullet or twoin the pan to see how it registers is okay as far as it goes, but justbecause a 180-grain bullet checks out at 180 grains (or close) on yourscale doesn’t mean it’s just as accurate throughout its range.
Unless one owns a .17 Remington, chances are most handloaders don’thave bullets lying around that weigh less than 50 grains with which tocheck their scale. And accuracy becomes more critical when in the 10and 15-grain range needed for handgun reloads. Comes Lyman to the rescue. The orange guys have come up with aCheck Set consisting of 10 weights totalling 210.5 grains; one .5 grain,one 1 grain, two 2 grain, one 10 grain, two 20 grain, one 50 and one100. The denominations have been chosen to allow checking a scale atvirtually any weight within its range.
The weights are manufactured in accordance with National Bureau ofStandards’ Class F Tolerances. The set, packaged in a linedplastic box, includes forceps which should be used to avoidcontamination of the weights. It has a suggested retail price of$19.95. BROOKS’ “ROCKY BOOTS” Though the obvious scope of this column is to deal primarily withguns and shooting-related accessories, there’s a lot of ancillaryitems important to shooters and hunters that will warrant mention herefrom time to time. Like boots for example. In case you haven’tshopped for a pair lately, the design and composition of”huntin’ boots” has changed dramatically in just the lastcouple of years. In fact, I’d venture to say there have been moretechnical advancements and just plain changes made in footware since1980 than there were the previous 80 years.
Running shoe technology hasbeen combined with new construction techniques and materials like GoreTex, Thinsulate, and Cordura nylon, to make boots that are remarkablylight, warm, waterproof, and need no breaking-in . . . well, almostnone. One of the finest examples of state-of-the-art boots ismanufactured by the Brooks Shoe Company under the “RockyBoots” name. I’ve been putting a pair of Rocky’s CamoStalker GT’s through the mill the past couple of months and theyare truly remarkable.
The GT is an eight-inch boot featuring speedlacing; an orthotic inner sole that’s removable and washable; aCambrelle liner cushioned with Thinsulate insulation inside a waterproofsock of Gore Tex. This in turn is covered with a Cordura Nylon outerskin protected at the heel and toe by waterproof leather. The wholecomfortable combo, which sits atop a Vibram sole, weighs in at 38 ouncesfor a pair of size 9’s. About the only application for which I find this type of bootunsuitable for is the kind of rock climbing encountered in sheep andgoat hunting; they just don’t have quite the rigidity and lateralsupport, nor the abrasion protection needed for the ankles when goingover boulder-strewn scree slopes.
For more general upland and big-gamehunting in either prairie and mountain country, Rocky’s GT’sare eminently well-suited. The GT’s are but one of many models and styles comprising theextensive Rocky lineup and are available through retail outletsnationwide and through catalog firms like Cabela’s. For a catalog,write ’em at Rocky Boots, Dept. GA, 45 Canal Street, Nelsonville,OH 45764. SUPER SET SCREWDRIVER Seems I’m always calling to your attention some new, just-outscrewdriver set designed to make life a little easier for us guntinkerers. The way to go these days is with the single handle or driverand interchangeable, magnetically-held bits. Over the past couple ofyears we’ve seen several such kits appear on the market but thelatest and most comprehensive by far has been introduced byBrownell’s, the gunsmith supply house in Montezuma, IA (Route 2,Dept.
GA, zip 50171). Called the Magna-Tip Super Set, this kit has a bit to precisely fitevery conceivable screw on any sporting firearm ever made. It shouldanyway, ’cause it comes with 52 bits, 39 of which are for screwslots of various widths and thicknesses, plus 10 Allen head and threePhillips head bits. It all comes in a compact, compartmented case thatneatly holds a stubby and a regular handle plus all the bits. The Super Set retails at $59.50 which ain’t cheap, but if youlook at it as being the last screwdriver you’ll ever have to buy,it’s not out of line. Then, too, the bits are guaranteed; if onebreaks or bends, Brownell’s will replace it free the same dayreceived. NEW HORNADY HOLLOW POINT Hornady’s got a new 100-grain 7mm hollow point varmint slugthat looks real good.
Compared to the 115 and 120-grain 7mm varmintbullets offered by most other makers, this new one from the Grand Islandgang is the lightest .284 slug going. Like all Hornady’sHP’s, this one’s got a beautiful sharp point to maintain ashigh a ballistic coefficient as possible given its relatively lightweight. Inside its secant ogive nose, six inner grooves in the jacketgive the desired frangibility.
I’ve never been one to use light bullets in game calibers forvarminting; they’re simply not as efficient downrange where thevarmints are compared to heavier ones for the same caliber. For thosewho don’t have a special varmint rig, however, or who just enjoyusing their game rifle as much as possible, these light, frangible bullets in the .270, 7mm and .
308 calibers are the next best thing. I imagine you’d get some really stratospheric velocities outof the 100-grain slug in a 7mm Remington or Weatherby Magnum but I seethis one better suited to the 7×57, 8mm-08 and .280/7mm Express. Iwould think 3,400-3,450 fps are possible in the two smaller 7’s;3,600 in the .280/7mm Express.
In the belted magnums though you’rebetter off staying with a heavier bullet like Hornady’s 120-grainspitzer which can be pushed out at 3,500 fps; that’s fast enoughunless you’re bent on vaporizing them critters. Besides, it’slots easier on the ol’ tube. UNSINKABLE DECOYS Anyone who’s ever hunted over decoys knows that sooner orlater a shot at a low-flying bird or the dispatching of a cripple on thewater is going to put a stray pellet or three into one’s prized”dekes.” Soon thereafter you’ve got a drake listing tostarboard or maybe a hen with her stern in the air. In any case,perforated decoys, if they don’t sink out of sight entirely, give aphony appearance to one’s spread.
To the rescue comes Cabela’s, the big mail order outfitterbased at 812 13th Street, Dept. GA, Sidney, NB 69160. Cabela’shas come up with what they call a “bulletproof” decoy. Theybase that claim on the fact they fired three shots into one with a3-inch Magnum 12 gauge from a distance of 20 yards after which they sayit was still “riding high, dry and handsome.” These new “Bulletproof” decoys, which have weighted keelsand are self-righting, owe their buoyancy and durability to their beinginjected with closed-cell polyurethane foam. The outer shell is apolymer plastic finished in excellent color and feather detail. Cost forthe standard size in mallard, pintail or bluebill is $49.95 per dozen;the same three species, plus black duck, does for $59.
95 per dozen inthe magnum size. Write Cabela’s for their catalog; it’s gotlots of good stuff inside . . . and at good prices. FIBERGLASS RUGERSTOCK The many fans of Bill Ruger’s Mini-14 have a new fiberglassreplacement stock to consider. Mitchell Arms, Dept GA, 1800 Talbot Way,Anaheim, CA 92805 is now offering a structural foam stock finished inblack which comes complete with a recoil pad and a push-button rearsling swivel. Mitchell says his SP stock (Special Performance), needs nogunsmithing and that your Mini-14 will just drop into his replacementhandle with no sweat.
This SP stock shaves no weight from the nominal6-1/4-pound heft of the factory, but the Ruger’s short trigger pullis increased 1-1/2 inch with the longer replacement stock. I must admit Mitchell’s SP handle does give the Mini-14 awicked, businesslike look. Cost is reasonable, too–$69.95. Mitchell’s also marketing stainless steel replacementmagazines of 20, 30 or 40 rounds for the Mini-14 in a choice of blued ornatural finish.
The 20-round number will set you back $15.95; theothers $24.95 and $29.95, respectively. NEW LIFE FOR THE .41 MAG. Boy, what a difference a year makes in the life of a cartridge!I’m speaking of the until-recently moribund .
41 Remington Magnum.Two years ago there were a lot of folks who wouldn’t have given youthe proverbial plugged nickel for the future of this potent handgunround. Now it’s a whole new ball game. Introduced in 1964 in the Smith & Wesson Model 57, the .41somehow failed to capture the imagination of handgun hunters as well aslaw enforcement agencies, the latter being the primary reason for the.41 Magnum in the first place.
Thus the .41 limped along for 19 years. Personally, I’ve always felt the .
41 Magnum made more sensethan the .44 in that it was better suited to a broader segment ofhandgunners. In full-power loads it’s easier to handle than the.44 . .
. though admittedly not by a great deal, yet in terms ofstopping power, penetration or any other criteria you care to use,there’s virtually no difference. But, like I said, it justdidn’t catch on; rather, it hung on until Ruger announced last yearit would chamber both the Redhawk and Blackhawk revolvers for the .41Magnum.
Then all hell broke loose. Marlin quickly followed suit byspringing its Model 336 lever-action rifle in .41, followed by DanWesson’s new six-shooter. Then Federal announced it would for the first time begin loadingfor the .41 in the form of a 210-grain JHP at 1,300 fps (from a 4-inchvented test barrel). Now, the latest to jump into the flurry ofactivity around the old/new .
41 is Winchester-Olin with a mid-range175-grain Silvertip HP. Said to produce 40 percent less recoil thanfull-power .41 loads, this new offering exits a 4-inch vented testbarrel at 1,250 fps and develops 607 foot pounds of energy. Compared toa full-bore .41 which has a 210-grain slug clocking 1,500 fps andgenerating 1,050 foot pounds of energy, this new Winchester round shouldbe very similar to shooting full-power .357 Magnum loads.
Don’t look for all this new-found interest in the .41 Magnumto end anytime soon. It looks as if the relative practicality andpotential that the .41 has always offered to both law enforcement andsportsmen is finally being recognized.