2022 The Year Of The Revolver

So my yearly firearm purchase for 2022 was a Ruger New Model Super Blackhawk .44 magnum with a spring kit and pachmayr decelerator grips. The barrel is stainless steel and is 10.5” long.

Now I realize not everyone is going to care as much about the revolver as I do. But what I want to do with it might be found a bit more interesting. I will be using this gun for rifle season, yes I have my permit which allows me to do so. I’m going to be leaving my trusty 300 Winchester magnum in the safe. And only hunting with my .44 magnum SBH.

Why? I may as well explain this early on rather than explain it later down the road in another blog post. Handgun hunting is not a new thing and it’s not extremely rare either. I have been very interested in magnum revolvers and hunting with them for several years. Getting a whitetail with a revolver has been a personal goal for quite sometime. I’d love to tag a monster buck that I dropped with my pistol, however I will most likely have doe tags to fill as well, so either would accomplish my goal as far as I’m concerned.

My plan is simple, practice a shit ton and go hunting. Fortunately the revolver is already set up the way I want it, with the only possible change being the sights. I haven’t decided if I want to change to a hi-viz sight or maybe a scope. The factory sights aren’t terrible but in my opinion are the only area lacking.

I will periodically post an update, and talk about how my shooting with the gun is coming along, and any changes to the revolver or adjustment in my gear to better accommodate me for handgun hunting rather than hunting with a rifle. Right now I plan to have my back pack, shoulder holster and my bino harness on me. So… I will be looking into the best way to have everything I need and the simplest way to carry it all. Hopefully I will be 100% ready before deer season gets here.

Remington 770 .300 Winchester Magnum

I saw a Remington .300 Winchester magnum with a  whopping $259 price tag. Black composite stock, blued barrel and a Simons scope included. At the local wal-mart. My immediate thought was that I should buy it. But what do I need so much gun for? I kept looking at the rifle nearly every time I returned to the store. I mean to the point my wife was annoyed with me and may have even been questioning my sanity. I finally decided I’d buy it after Christmas so it wouldn’t affect my family’s holiday.

But my wife (then fiancé) bought it first. Then left it at her parents house to open in the evening of Christmas hoping to keep me in the dark for just a little while longer. But as soon as I saw the box I knew what she had done. I excitedly opened my new Remington model 770 chambered in .300 Winchester magnum.

After doing a little research online I was disappointed to see, the Remington fan boys had very little good to say about this rifle. Mostly complaining about the locking bolt design. I hate to admit it but I instantly thought a little less of the gun. Not to the point I wasn’t going to use the rifle but I became a little leery of it because of the comments regarding the eminent failure of the bolt. But I kept telling myself “it will be fine, keep it clean, oil it and use good ammo and everything will be fine.”

It came time to sight the rifle in finally. And the 770 was a blast to shoot! And it wasn’t long after taking the gun out of the case I was shooting a two inch three shot group at a hundred yards. No we aren’t talking about award winning but not bad and that group would close in a bit with some tweaking. I’m not the guy to take pictures of my shot up targets so you’ll have to take my word for it on this.

Hunting season came and in and the first year carrying the .300 I didn’t see a buck and didn’t have doe tags. The next year I made my longest off hand shot and dropped a doe at 300 yards. A couple days later I dropped another doe at 40 yards. And the third year carrying the rifle I dropped another doe at about 100 yards. I will never hesitate to take the Remington 770 .300 Winchester magnum out in the deer woods. “Keep it clean, oil it, use good ammo and everything will be fine.”

 

 

 

Time to move on?

Rifle season this year wasn’t the season I’d anticipated, however it was a successful one. I did manage to put a nice sized doe in the freezer. And was taught how to process my deer myself, something I had never done before, despite hunting for 25 years.

 

The 2021 rifle season I thought we were prepared for. I upgraded gear, bought all the things to do the thing. My boy and I found the perfect spot, which was difficult because the property had been select cut for timber and all the tops and had been left laying everywhere. Leaving shot selection limited at best.

The opening day rolls around, we hurried into our blind as quietly as we could. Just to find our blind was no longer standing. We had unintentionally put the blind on private property. We had crossed the property line by about six feet. The property owner came through after we set up and put new signs up the property line. When they came upon my blind they took it down neatly and set it on the property I have permission to hunt. My mistake. I appreciate that my blind was not destroyed. We made the decision to hunt from our old “brush blind” for the day. And saw nothing except the occasional squirrel.

 

The second day started off extremely slow from the old blind. And collectively made the decision after not seeing anything within a few hours of sitting to ease our way around the brushy field and see if we could find some deer moving through. Yep, we saw ‘em, as they broke from their position and rain across the field as if they had seen Sasquatch himself. But it was just me and my step son. We slowly continued on. We traveled a hundred yards or so from where we spooked the first two doe and I turned around to see another doe standing at the wood line. I ask Jaysen “do you see her?” no response. I look over my shoulder to see my him still looking in the other direction. So I quickly shouldered my Remington .300 Winchester magnum and put the crosshairs right behind her shoulder, squeezed off a shot and watched her crumple and fall. She tried to struggle to her feet. I handed off my rifle, unholstered my .357 revolver and put her down. Then the job of cleaning, dragging, and hanging. The skinning and cutting was done the next day.

 

The rest of the season was spent watching the field of brush hoping to see another deer in range and broadside. It wasn’t that simple. And as much as I hate to admit it, we blew some shots, and never saw antlers. Sadly all the shots we took were on spooked and fleeing deer.

 

 

I have come to the conclusion that the hollow we would usually hunt is now just a travel corridor all the mature hardwoods are gone, the food supply has been essentially destroyed. But near invisibility can be achieved due to all the tree tops being left to lay. Bedding is in no short supply with all the brush in the field. So it’s possible they are stopping off for a nap too, but they don’t seem to be staying long.

 

This season has left me with this question running on repeat through my mind “is it time to find a new property to hunt?”

Off To A Bad Start

With Pennsylvania’s 2021 rifle season approaching rapidly, I want to tell a story of a deer season I started completely wrong.

 

It was 2018 and there were a couple things that were going to be different. To start, I would be hunting with Jerry, who is now my father in law, who due to health issues can’t hunt alone. Also I would be hunting a new property, where Jerry has hunted for years, instead of my family’s farm. And not a new thing but important to note, I was going to be hunting with my Rossi single shot .45LC handgun.

 

The plan was simple. Take my first buck with a handgun while hunting my family’s farm. A property I know intimately. But Jerry had a property local to him and myself, so the plan changed. I had never stepped foot on this property until the day before the opening day. But I found what looked to be a good spot. I had sign surrounding me, deer trails, a couple rubs with hardwoods in front of me and a brushy field behind me.

 

In Pennsylvania, to hunt with a handgun, you must have either a sportsman’s permit or a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Both of which I had in my possession at the time and both were expired. Unfortunately I made this discovery the night before the season opener. Admittedly this is something I should have checked in advance but for one reason or another I failed to do so. So rather than risk a fine or the loss of my hunting privileges I decided to leave the pistol in it’s case for the opener and take a rifle instead. Next problem was the only rifle I had, that was adequate to take a whitetail, was my Swiss model 1911 straight pull bolt, military rifle (pre K98) that was rechambered in .308 Winchester. The problem was I had never shot the rifle before. But I knew it would fire, and being used to shooting open sights, I was confident I could get the job done humanely. For the record I still would have preferred taking a gun I was familiar with and knew how it performed. But at the time I didn’t want to miss the first day of the season and decided to carry the .308. I’ve never put myself in that situation since then.

 

It’s early morning and I’ve made my way to my spot. A tree that I’m sitting at the base of, in the low light of the predawn, and a light rain. I load my rifle under the light of my headlamp, and the gun doesn’t feed rounds into the chamber properly. Fortunately after some fiddling and panic it feeds one round into the chamber leaving only one round in the magazine. That will get the job done, I figured. And now it’s time to wait for shooting light.  As I sit, getting more wet, the dark starts to turn to light. And to my relief, almost immediately deer start moving around me.

 

With the deer moving right off the bat, my excitement grew as I carefully scanned the landscape in front of me for a shooter buck. It didn’t take long.  All of a sudden off to my right a twig snapped, as I whirled around to see what broke the silence I realized there’s a buck peering around a tree not fifty yards from where I’m sitting. As my heart beats out of my chest I can clearly see he’s a legal deer. I shoulder my rifle, sights dead on his shoulder, I’m hoping for just another step or two for a better shot into his vitals. It doesn’t take long, he’s moved forward and now with my sights right behind his shoulder I squeeze off a shot. The buck spins to his left and runs uphill and stops directly in front of me, thankfully the gun feeds the next round and I shoot again. He drops. And despite all the set backs I managed to tag a nice eight point.

 

 

 

Though he may have been only an average PA eight point, I couldn’t have been happier with the results.

Tracks and Yaks!

As much as I didn’t want to do destination reviews, I feel like I have to write a post about Tracks And Yaks in Frostburg, Maryland. My wife, two boys (5&13) and myself took an overnight trip to Frostburg. We started our Saturday by getting up and heading over to do some rail biking. Despite it being a chilly morning we had a great time! The views were beautiful and the ride was entertaining enough to keep our boys engaged for the duration of the trip. Which honestly can be a challenge, itself. With a constant slight downhill grade moving along at a rather brisk pace took very little pedaling or effort really. But what stands out the most is how we were treated. The entire staff was informative, eager to answer questions and pleasant to talk to and spend time around. I cannot say enough good things about the staff at Tracks And Yaks. If you find yourself in the area of Frostburg, Maryland and need something to do, this is a fantastic option!

I Will Tell You Why I Hunt

Now I could tell you, that I hunt  purely for the conservation of a wild animal. And I could tell you it’s because my father, uncles, grandfathers and grandmothers all hunted. All of which is true. However my reasons are a bit more selfish,  but also more complicated.

Hunting to me is great way to help put healthy food on the table for my family. And considering that we were hunters and gatherers long before grocery stores were an option to provide nourishment to our loved ones, I would say hunting is a much more primal connection to our food and our past. It could be argued that hunting is in our DNA.

The challenge of the hunt is also a big reason for me to return to the forests and fields year after year. Where are the deer and turkey? Walk into the woods without scouting for sign and see how things go. I have slacked in this department and failed because of it. Haven’t practiced with the bow or rifle all year? This is a great way to discover your sights are off. Wounding an animal out of laziness and unpreparedness is not excusable. This may seem harsh but it’s true. The animal does not want to die, we are taking its life and should be doing so as humanely as possible. It’s not just the challenge of finding game.  But also the challenge of mastering a craft and making it an ethical way of taking game.

Pride, accomplishment, call it what you will but the feeling I get every time a meal of wild game is served to my family and friends is enough to keep me hunting for a thousand lifetimes.

Summit Pack-it hat

   I received a Summit pack-it hat from Chaos Headwear/  CTR Technical.  Which to be more specific is a lightweight and breathable bucket or boonie style hat.

   I received a Summit pack-it hat from Chaos Headwear/  CTR Technical.  Which to be more specific is a lightweight and breathable bucket or boonie style hat.

   I wore the hat while out running my Black Lab. It was not the best weather of the summer. It was a chilly, breezy and wet, “wish I would of stayed home”, kind of day. I was surprised that such a lightweight hat could provide a layer of insulation and comfort in such dismal conditions without making me feel overheated or sweaty. For me it was the best choice of hat for the day and weather.

 

   So far I like the hat a lot. Sun protection and sweat wicking are great, and even though it was probably not intended it did provide some comfort in the wet and windy conditions mentioned above. This hat will definitely be worn again.

   I wore the hat while out running my Black Lab. It was not the best weather of the summer. It was a chilly, breezy and wet, “wish I would of stayed home”, kind of day. I was surprised that such a lightweight hat could provide a layer of insulation and comfort in such dismal conditions without making me feel overheated or sweaty. For me it was the best choice of hat for the day and weather.

 

   So far I like the hat a lot. Sun protection and sweat wicking are great, and even though it was probably not intended it did provide some comfort in the wet and windy conditions mentioned above. This hat will definitely be worn again.

The Camp We Didn’t Know We Wanted

My wife and I began a journey we didn’t expect. A year ago we started kicking around the idea of possibly getting a camp. From very early on in our relationship, I mentioned wanting a camp. But things hadn’t worked out in the past. She wasn’t immediately sold on the idea, but wasn’t opposed to the possibility either. So I began passively browsing the internet to see what was available.

We began looking into our options. First was buying. But did we want to buy land and use our camper and eventually build a cabin or did we want land with a cabin already on it? Buying outright was quickly crossed off the list. We would like to buy another home relatively soon so a mortgage wasn’t the best option. Now what?

Leasing was a possibility. By this time we had looked at camps in different areas of Pennsylvania.  But the leases we found didn’t fit our budget or liking for whatever reason.

We wanted somewhere that our family of four could enjoy together. But also hoped it would provide us the ability to enjoy some of our hobbies as well like hunting, hiking and fishing.

So one day we stumbled across something interesting. A man was selling a camper with 2 leased sites at a long term campground. Turns out the guy was advertising a bit more than he could deliver. But we already had a camper and this place had open sites. We contacted the campground and took a look at the options we had there. And began the process. What we ended up with was two sites with electric, great neighbors, a social area for my wife and I, and a place for our kids to make new friends and memories. Also the campground is right along the West branch of the Susquehanna river, state game lands are a stone’s throw away and Curwensville lake and rails to trails aren’t far away either. We checked all of our boxes and more. All with a total yearly lease of $1250.

This is not an option we thought we would be so happy with and I think it is an avenue worth exploring. Especially if you’re on a budget. So if you are searching for a camp, here’s an option you might not have considered.

 

 

 

Rubber Necker box call From Beaver Creek Game Calls

Full transparency, I am on the Beaver Creek Game Calls pro-staff. However I am not getting paid to write this nor am I required to. Furthermore this is not a full review of the call, just my opinion of it after using it in the field.

The box portion of the call is made of black walnut and the paddle is Purple Heart. The Rubber Necker is a premium grade call. And by all appearances I have no reason to disagree.

I also want to say most of my turkey calling experience is with diaphragm calls. I’m not a terrible caller but I’m far from a professional. Consider this my disclaimer.

The Rubber Necker box call never failed me. It was a rare occurrence not to get a response to my calling, and it made me more confident in my calling. Everyday in the turkey woods I’d have the responses I’d hoped for. The box call just worked for me. Yelp, cluck and purr everything sounded great. T he thing looks great too!

Thunder Chickens Win Again

This was going to be the season I bagged that giant, strutting tom all turkey hunters dream of. This was going to be the season I got it right. I even picked up a new shotgun just for the occasion. A Stevens model 320 which has proven to be a reliable, budget friendly pump gun. I even ordered a Gobble Stopper Xtreme choke tube from Tru-glo. And my Beaver Creek Game calls “Rubber Necker” box call arrived just in time. This season was in the bag.

Back to the choke tube. The Stevens 320 uses a Browning Invector standard thread pattern. I could already see the feathers fly. Except I ordered the choke tube for a Browning Invector Plus; it is not the same threads as the standard. My replacement wouldn’t arrive until after the season started. Lesson learned!

The season opener, May first, finally arrives. Up at 4:30 am, off to a section of State Game-lands that I know to hold turkey. I get set up and start playing music with the new Rubber Necker. I’ve got a gobbler love struck almost immediately. But try as I might, he was more interested in the hens in front of him than the one trying to lure him away from his flock. With a noon cut off and no commitment from “Mr. Tom” I decide to try another setup. As we work our way down a hillside to a patch of trees, suddenly there’s a bird. We change routes, head uphill slightly and across the hillside. There is a gobbler and his mate, 45 yards away and staring right at us. I know I can make the shot. I also know the pattern is going to be much wider without the turkey choke. I fired and…MISSED. I sent what was about to be my first turkey on a mad dash to the nearest brush pile.

The rest of the season went in a similar fashion. Set up, call, gobbles in response, but no commitment from tom. My setup was always just a bit off. What was to be a sure thing, turned into a learning experience in a hurry! And that’s okay with me. There’s always the Fall.