* 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’t
sit too well with most of us but it’s something we kinda’
resign ourselves to every year. Upland gunners needn’t hiberate
with the end of the Christmas holidays, however, thanks to the hundreds
of commercial hunting preserves now operating in 45 states and six
One could, of course, get into a heated debate on whether or not
fee-type gunning on private preserves is the “real thing,” or
that it just might represent what all hunting will be like by the end of
this century . . . but why do it? Fee-type hunting is a reality and has
been for several decades; it’s just becoming more popular in these
days of dwindling acreage and increased hunting pressure. I’ve
found that those who dislike the prospect of fee hunting do so primarily
on principle, not because they’ve done it and found it wanting in
any way. They somehow find paying to hunt is . . . well, un-American.
Now I’ll grant you that in theory, free hunting has fee hunting
beat all to hell, but if the quality of the hunt on public lands is such
that there’s a competing party a hundred yards to either side of
you as you work a cornfield, and you don’t get a single shot all
morning, just how much satisfaction do you get knowing the experience
hadn’t cost you a cent (other than the cost of your license, gas to
get there, shells, and part of the original investment in your shotgun,
clothes, boots, etc.)?
Our enjoyment of the outdoor experience shouldn’t hinge on how
close we come to “filling out” or how many shots we get, but
for most of us it’s certainly a consideration! I mean, when was
the last time you heard someone actually brag about not seeing game or
getting a shot?
So, although it shouldn’t be our paramount concern, our
success as hunters certainly contributes to our enjoyment of the sport.
When couched in those terms, the prospect of paying so that we’ll
at least be guaranteed shots at pheasant, quail, chukar, flighted ducks
or whatever, is not the least bit repugnant; at least it shouldn’t
be. After all, when you think about it, we pay for quality experiences
in all other facets of life. It costs much more to dine, for example,
at a “Four Seasons” than it does to eat at a “Dirty
Fork.” Or to sit in the front row instead of the bleachers. So
what’s wrong with paying for a really great day of hunting?
Now big-game hunting is something else again. The desire to
provide a “sure thing” for both themselves and their clients
by confining game to small, fenced-in areas is sometimes too much of a
temptation for some “outfitters” to resist. Any hunter worthy
of the name is just as appalled by such shenanigans as any non-hunter
would be, and rightly so.
With upland game however, there’s no such confining of the
game or the feeling you’re hunting under artificial circumstances.
In fact, most preserves belong to the North American Gamebird
Association (NAGA) and as such subscribe to the following standards:
1. The area should be good hunting country, with a blend of natural
and cultivated cover.
2. Pheasants, quail and chukars should be full-plumaged, more than
16 weeks old and of the same color and conformation as birds in the
3. Mallards should be similar in weight and plumage to free-ranging
mallards and capable of strong flight between release and rest ponds.
4. Well-trained dogs should be available to guests to reduce losses
of crippled game.
Some preserves charge for the number of birds bagged, others for
the birds released in your fields that day, and still others for a
sporting chance to bag some birds when accompanied by a guide. For
non-residents, a hunting preserve license may cost only a fraction of
the price of a regular non-resident license. In some states, no hunting
license at all is required.
A state-by-state listing of hunting preserves with location, season
dates and game available can be obtained free from the National Shooting
Sports Foundation. Just send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to
NSSF, Dept. GA, P.O. Box 1075, Riverside, CT 06878. The listing
includes the name, address and phone number of the preserves as well as
the species of birds stocked–most often pheasant, quail, chukar
partridge and mallards. LYMAN RELOADING WEIGHTS
Every reloader has wished at one time or another for a set of
weights against which he could verify the accuracy of his own powder
scale. Periodic checks of the zero setting and throwing a bullet or two
in the pan to see how it registers is okay as far as it goes, but just
because a 180-grain bullet checks out at 180 grains (or close) on your
scale doesn’t mean it’s just as accurate throughout its range.
Unless one owns a .17 Remington, chances are most handloaders don’t
have bullets lying around that weigh less than 50 grains with which to
check their scale. And accuracy becomes more critical when in the 10
and 15-grain range needed for handgun reloads.
Comes Lyman to the rescue. The orange guys have come up with a
Check 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 one
100. The denominations have been chosen to allow checking a scale at
virtually any weight within its range.
The weights are manufactured in accordance with National Bureau of
Standards’ Class F Tolerances. The set, packaged in a lined
plastic box, includes forceps which should be used to avoid
contamination 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 with
guns and shooting-related accessories, there’s a lot of ancillary
items important to shooters and hunters that will warrant mention here
from time to time. Like boots for example. In case you haven’t
shopped for a pair lately, the design and composition of
“huntin’ boots” has changed dramatically in just the last
couple of years. In fact, I’d venture to say there have been more
technical advancements and just plain changes made in footware since
1980 than there were the previous 80 years. Running shoe technology has
been combined with new construction techniques and materials like Gore
Tex, Thinsulate, and Cordura nylon, to make boots that are remarkably
light, warm, waterproof, and need no breaking-in . . . well, almost
One of the finest examples of state-of-the-art boots is
manufactured by the Brooks Shoe Company under the “Rocky
Boots” name. I’ve been putting a pair of Rocky’s Camo
Stalker GT’s through the mill the past couple of months and they
are truly remarkable. The GT is an eight-inch boot featuring speed
lacing; an orthotic inner sole that’s removable and washable; a
Cambrelle liner cushioned with Thinsulate insulation inside a waterproof
sock of Gore Tex. This in turn is covered with a Cordura Nylon outer
skin protected at the heel and toe by waterproof leather. The whole
comfortable combo, which sits atop a Vibram sole, weighs in at 38 ounces
for a pair of size 9’s.
About the only application for which I find this type of boot
unsuitable for is the kind of rock climbing encountered in sheep and
goat hunting; they just don’t have quite the rigidity and lateral
support, nor the abrasion protection needed for the ankles when going
over boulder-strewn scree slopes. For more general upland and big-game
hunting in either prairie and mountain country, Rocky’s GT’s
are eminently well-suited.
The GT’s are but one of many models and styles comprising the
extensive Rocky lineup and are available through retail outlets
nationwide 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-out
screwdriver set designed to make life a little easier for us gun
tinkerers. The way to go these days is with the single handle or driver
and interchangeable, magnetically-held bits. Over the past couple of
years we’ve seen several such kits appear on the market but the
latest and most comprehensive by far has been introduced by
Brownell’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 fit
every conceivable screw on any sporting firearm ever made. It should
anyway, ’cause it comes with 52 bits, 39 of which are for screw
slots of various widths and thicknesses, plus 10 Allen head and three
Phillips head bits. It all comes in a compact, compartmented case that
neatly holds a stubby and a regular handle plus all the bits.
The Super Set retails at $59.50 which ain’t cheap, but if you
look 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 one
breaks or bends, Brownell’s will replace it free the same day
received. NEW HORNADY HOLLOW POINT
Hornady’s got a new 100-grain 7mm hollow point varmint slug
that looks real good. Compared to the 115 and 120-grain 7mm varmint
bullets offered by most other makers, this new one from the Grand Island
gang is the lightest .284 slug going. Like all Hornady’s
HP’s, this one’s got a beautiful sharp point to maintain as
high a ballistic coefficient as possible given its relatively light
weight. Inside its secant ogive nose, six inner grooves in the jacket
give the desired frangibility.
I’ve never been one to use light bullets in game calibers for
varminting; they’re simply not as efficient downrange where the
varmints are compared to heavier ones for the same caliber. For those
who don’t have a special varmint rig, however, or who just enjoy
using 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 out
of the 100-grain slug in a 7mm Remington or Weatherby Magnum but I see
this one better suited to the 7×57, 8mm-08 and .280/7mm Express. I
would 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’re
better off staying with a heavier bullet like Hornady’s 120-grain
spitzer which can be pushed out at 3,500 fps; that’s fast enough
unless you’re bent on vaporizing them critters. Besides, it’s
lots easier on the ol’ tube. UNSINKABLE DECOYS
Anyone who’s ever hunted over decoys knows that sooner or
later a shot at a low-flying bird or the dispatching of a cripple on the
water is going to put a stray pellet or three into one’s prized
“dekes.” Soon thereafter you’ve got a drake listing to
starboard 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 a
phony appearance to one’s spread.
To the rescue comes Cabela’s, the big mail order outfitter
based at 812 13th Street, Dept. GA, Sidney, NB 69160. Cabela’s
has come up with what they call a “bulletproof” decoy. They
base that claim on the fact they fired three shots into one with a
3-inch Magnum 12 gauge from a distance of 20 yards after which they say
it was still “riding high, dry and handsome.”
These new “Bulletproof” decoys, which have weighted keels
and are self-righting, owe their buoyancy and durability to their being
injected with closed-cell polyurethane foam. The outer shell is a
polymer plastic finished in excellent color and feather detail. Cost for
the 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 in
the magnum size. Write Cabela’s for their catalog; it’s got
lots of good stuff inside . . . and at good prices. FIBERGLASS RUGER
The many fans of Bill Ruger’s Mini-14 have a new fiberglass
replacement stock to consider. Mitchell Arms, Dept GA, 1800 Talbot Way,
Anaheim, CA 92805 is now offering a structural foam stock finished in
black which comes complete with a recoil pad and a push-button rear
Mitchell says his SP stock (Special Performance), needs no
gunsmithing and that your Mini-14 will just drop into his replacement
handle with no sweat. This SP stock shaves no weight from the nominal
6-1/4-pound heft of the factory, but the Ruger’s short trigger pull
is increased 1-1/2 inch with the longer replacement stock.
I must admit Mitchell’s SP handle does give the Mini-14 a
wicked, businesslike look. Cost is reasonable, too–$69.95.
Mitchell’s also marketing stainless steel replacement
magazines of 20, 30 or 40 rounds for the Mini-14 in a choice of blued or
natural finish. The 20-round number will set you back $15.95; the
others $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 you
the proverbial plugged nickel for the future of this potent handgun
round. Now it’s a whole new ball game.
Introduced in 1964 in the Smith & Wesson Model 57, the .41
somehow failed to capture the imagination of handgun hunters as well as
law 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 sense
than the .44 in that it was better suited to a broader segment of
handgunners. In full-power loads it’s easier to handle than the
.44 . . . though admittedly not by a great deal, yet in terms of
stopping power, penetration or any other criteria you care to use,
there’s virtually no difference. But, like I said, it just
didn’t catch on; rather, it hung on until Ruger announced last year
it would chamber both the Redhawk and Blackhawk revolvers for the .41
Magnum. Then all hell broke loose. Marlin quickly followed suit by
springing its Model 336 lever-action rifle in .41, followed by Dan
Wesson’s new six-shooter.
Then Federal announced it would for the first time begin loading
for the .41 in the form of a 210-grain JHP at 1,300 fps (from a 4-inch
vented test barrel). Now, the latest to jump into the flurry of
activity around the old/new .41 is Winchester-Olin with a mid-range
175-grain Silvertip HP. Said to produce 40 percent less recoil than
full-power .41 loads, this new offering exits a 4-inch vented test
barrel at 1,250 fps and develops 607 foot pounds of energy. Compared to
a full-bore .41 which has a 210-grain slug clocking 1,500 fps and
generating 1,050 foot pounds of energy, this new Winchester round should
be very similar to shooting full-power .357 Magnum loads.
Don’t look for all this new-found interest in the .41 Magnum
to end anytime soon. It looks as if the relative practicality and
potential that the .41 has always offered to both law enforcement and
sportsmen is finally being recognized.