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The Duck Hunting Journal - Xtreme Flyways

 

The other day I was catching a flight on a small plane to another airport to board another. Now, the redneck in me should have named this airline "Backwoods Air." I say this because as I boarded this commercial airliner, the seats looked like them old fabric lawn chairs that grandma used to sit in on the fourth of July. You know you're on a small plane when the pilot looks back at you mid flight and says, "hope you don't mind us spraying a few fields on the way." That's when the thought hit me...I wish I had the money to buy this plane. HA! I'm just kidding. I was so nervous I didn't know whether to scratch my watch or wind my butt.

Filming duck huntsDuck season is right around the corner and we are busy filming new episodes of Xtreme Flyways. This month we will be chasing blue-winged teal, trying to lay down great footage of our hunts (with a few tips and techniques along the way). Filming a duck hunt takes a good amount of patience, which is something that I'm missing. When the season is in, I'm wound up tighter than a jock strap on a preacher. I just can't slow down. But once we get a few hunts under our belt, things seem to run smoother.

The weather has been cool all summer.  Now all of the sudden, right here at the beginning of teal season, it wants to get hotter than two hamsters farting in a wool sock. I tell ya, if a cool front doesn't come through up north pretty soon it's going to be tough. But we are so dedicated that we never give up or give in. If the teal won't come to us, we'll go to them. Sometimes you have to press the envelope a little to be a successful duck hunter. A wise man once told me, "Adam, if there is a mountain to be climbed than damn-it, start climbing." I have no idea what he meant by that, but it made me think of all those tough duck hunts that I've had and how great they turned out. If I would have stayed home in the bed on those hot days in September I would not be where I am today.

It's during this time of year that we basically fine tune everything from dogs working, communication in the blind, shotgun techniques to how to cook bacon and eggs while hunting. We do all of this before regular duck season hits so that our mistakes are minimal. Teal only fly for a few hours in the morning so its not so hard to beat most of the heat. Don't stay home. This is the perfect time of year to Adam Brassfieldtake your family and kids to the duck blind and enjoy duck hunting. Us duck hunters where born for such a time as this. We will prevail and we will succeed.

Over the next several months I'll use this blog to give updates or journal entries on Xtreme Flyways, where we are hunting, and how things are going. Our Beretta shotguns will be doing most of the talking, but every now and then we'll let you in on how our team is doing in the blind. Until then I hope your season starts well and, for crying out loud, if you are killin' ducks and I ain't, then email me where you are hunting!

You can follow Adam and Xtreme Flyways at www.berettausa.com/xtremeflyways

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This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not necessarily represent Beretta.

Don’t Forget to Breathe - Four Breathing Methods for Shooters

 

I wake up, burrowed in my sleeping bag, and I feel a chill on my nose and cheeks. I open my eyes and see the silhouette, on the tent, made by the moon light through the tree branches. Suddenly the hair on my arms and neck stand on end as I hear a bull elk bugle in the night. My heart rate quickens as I become excited for the day’s hunt.

The morning is spent climbing, hiking, calling, maneuvering, circling, trying to think on a bull elk’s level and outsmart him. I scurry up a hill. I climb closer, hauling my gun as I maneuver over fallen trees. My heart is pounding and my breath is quick as I try to breathe the thin air. I glance over a knoll to see the bull. He is within a hundred yards from me.

The bull elk screams a bugle that makes my already pounding heart jump in my chest. I duck behind the embankment and try to calm my breathing. Now is the time. He is within range. I have to make a good shot.Whether you are shooting a paper target or hunting a live animal, you want to remain steady.

Don’t forget to breathe -

Whether we are at the range shooting targets, or in the field hunting, breathing is important. We want our sight, scope or pin to be on its mark when we pull the trigger.

Education, shooting positions and firearms are all very important to shooters. Breathing is a very important factor as well. We all breathe. From the day we were born we have unconsciously learned to breathe in and out. That natural motion can help or hinder during shooting.

Controlled breathing is a necessity in shooting accuracy. When you breathe in and out your chest rises and falls. This movement can cause your gun barrel or arrow sight to float on its target. Your breathing may cause you to move at the exact moment you pull the trigger to fire.

Sometimes when you are hunting, you get excited and/or the terrain and conditions cause your heart rate to accelerate. Your breathing becomes more rapid and harder to control. If you hold your breath, you may become light headed and your shot may be off target. It is important to practice your breathing techniques as you practice shooting positions at the range.

There are multiple methods of breathing during a shot. The best thing to do is practice them and determine which works best for you. Once you’ve determined your breathing technique, practice it so it becomes instinctive when you are under pressure.

  1. Exhale & Pause - When you are in shooting position, put your cheek against the stock of the gun. Take in a deep breath. Exhale just a portion of that breath, pause briefly and pull the trigger. The pause should allow you to hold your gun barrel and sights in perfect alignment on the target at the very moment the gun fires.
  2. Inhale & Pause – Relax and practice steady breathing. Double check your shooting position. In your rythm of relaxed breathing, inhale. When your lungs are about half full, pause and pull the trigger. The inhale and pause is similar to the exhale and pause method. Your gun barrel and sights should be in perfect alignment on the target at the exact moment the gun fires.
  3. Full exhale – Make sure you are in proper shooting position. Breathe slowly to relax. Focus on your target. As you breathe naturally, and you are at complete exhale, pause when your lungs are empty and squeeze the trigger.
  4. Breathe Naturally – Breathing naturally takes the focus completely off of breathing technique. You do not  pause at all. Focus on your form and your target as you breathe naturally and squeeze the trigger. Sometimes being consciously focused on breathing can increase heart rate and breathing patterns. The natural breathing technique takes the focus off and you begin to unconsciously form a habit of correct shot timing.

When you are pausing, remember just that. It is a pause, not a hold. When a shooter holds their breath, their muscles tighten and their heart rate can change. This will dramatically change the accuracy of a shot.Practice breathing while working on various shooting positions.

While you are practicing, if you become short of breath, stop. Re-group and practice your natural, relaxed breathing. It is important to steady your breath to decrease the amount of movement your body is making. If you are able, step back. Take a deep breath in. Then exhale and then reacquire your target.

These are basic breathing techniques. I have friends who are Olympic shooters. These elite marksmen practice a technique in which they pull their triggers in between heartbeats. These amazing athletes are extremely practiced and in tune with their shooting. Most of us can only aspire to that level of shooting control. 

In our journey to becoming perfect shooters, we can practice shooting positions, techniques and of course, breathing.

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This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not necessarily represent Beretta.

Summer Camping Fun

 

Butterfield Lee CkOne of the great things about growing up in Arkansas is living so close to the Ozark Mountains and the great camping trips we had there. Our usual spot was a 1-2 hour drive from home depending on which way we had to go in to the camp.

When I was a kid every summer as soon as school let out and sometimes sooner if we could get away, a bunch of us would hit the woods to go camping. Our fall deer camp doubled as our favorite summer camping spot. We usually had at least 2 Jeeps full of dads, uncles and kids. There were several time we had as many as 15-20 of us camped out.

In the days before seat belt safety we were usually all in Dad's CJ5 Jeep. My dad drove, another dad rode shotgun, our tent, all our gear and 5 kids were all crammed in the Jeep. Three of us had to squeeze in the back of the Jeep on top of our gear, one kid was in the dad’s lap in the passenger seat and one kid rode on center console. We also had the doors off the Jeep. I miss the good old days when we could do stuff like that without getting a ticket.

rock hole

As soon as we reached our campsite, we would pile out of the Jeep and hit the woods or the creek. We usually went straight to the creek if it was running any at all. Our camp was on a high bank above a creek over looking a spring fed hole of water that hardly ever went dry in the summer.

Inevitably one of us would fall in the creek within 5 minutes of getting there which was usually fine, but on those spring and fall trips it was a might chilly.

On the hot summer weekends we usually just played in the creek. Other weekends, especially closer to deer season, we would spend a lot of time squirrel hunting and checking for deer sign or just hiking and exploring.

While we didn’t hike in to our camp, our camping was primitive with no conveniences of any kind. We drove nearly an hour from the main road to our camp where the road ended back then so it was isolated. We used the water from the creek for cooking, doing the dishes and sometimes drinking.

ozark mountains foss

Steaks were our customary Friday evening dining choice. We didn’t bother with anything healthy like vegetables. Just the steaks cooked out over the campfire and had cookies or Little Debbie snacks for dessert. There is something about a campfire steak that makes it taste so much better. The rest of the time we lived off bologna sandwiches, snacks and sodas.

We usually set up a tent and the dads and younger kids would sleep in the tent. My camping compatriots and I usually slept on the ground out under the stars. Bugs never did seem to bother us much when we were sleeping on the ground. Sometimes you would wake up with a spider or some other bug crawling across you face that you just swatted away. Other times the mosquitoes were so bad that you had to sleep with something covering your head to keep them away. The rest of the time we just scratched a few bites and went on. And we loved every minute of it.

copperhead snake resized 600

We rarely saw snakes. I guess we made enough noise to scare them off. But there was one time one of us almost stepped on a copperhead that was about 3 foot long which was the biggest copperhead we’ve ever seen. Most of the larger copper heads you see around here are about 18” long. I helped my friend’s dad skin it out. Even with it's head cut off, that copper head kept striking at us. 

The most fun of all that we had were the vines that grew on the side of the mountain behind our camp. We would find a good thick vine with a clear area down the hill and swing from it. The side of the mountain was steep enough that we could swing out and be really high up. There was only one bad incident with the vines. Early one summer we hit the woods and the first thing my buddy did was run up the hill, grab the old vine from the previous year and swing out. He swung all the way out and just started back when the rotten vine broke. He landed tail first on a pointed rock. I think he might have broken his butt.

Despite some of the minor bumps, scratches and bruises, we all had a whole lot of fun, weekend camping was our most favorite summer past time. I hope a lot of you got to do the same, and if you get a chance take your kids out camping.

What are some of your great camping memories?

You can follow me on Twitter @thejasonparks

Pictures via:
http://www.ouachitamaps.com/Butterfield.html
http://tripwow.tripadvisor.com/slideshow-photo/ozark-mountains-by-travelpod-member-graybeard-foss-united-states.html?sid=10398652&fid=tp-2 
http://arklahomahiker.org/2012/05/22/butterfield-hiking-trail/
http://www.wanderingherpetologist.com/spot-copperhead/ Could you spot the copperhead?

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This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not necessarily represent Beretta.

Hunting the Honey Hole Tree

 

 

Thompson Center RenegadeMy dad bought me my black powder rifle when I was 12 years old, which was my first deer rifle (before this I had been using a 20 gauge shotgun). We were in the sporting goods section at the store, when I noticed it on sale. I don’t remember how much it was, but it was too good a price to pass up. I ended up with a .54 caliber Thompson Center Renegade.

I got the rifle after deer season was over, and I spent the months leading up to the next muzzleloader season practicing with it. I was extremely excited about hunting that year because it was going to be my first time getting to deer hunt in a stand alone. By the time muzzleloader season arrived, I was a crack-shot with my new rifle.

We loaded up the Jeep and headed to the woods the Friday before opening morning (Dad took me out of school early to go hunting). When we got to deer camp we were greeted with my uncle, Paul, telling us about a bear that came under his tree while he had been bow hunting that morning. He said the bear caught his scent and came right up to the tree he was in then stood up and leaned on the tree on its hind legs and watched him for about five minutes before moving on. After giving the bear time to move on, Paul climbed down and hightailed it back to camp.

There were a lot of hunters in camp that weekend so I ended up hunting with Dad opening morning because all the stands were taken. We didn’t see anything. Paul killed a buck about daylight. He field-dressed the buck, dragged it back to camp then went back to his stand and killed another buck about an hour later. Since he was tagged out, Paul suggested that I hunt his stand that evening. My chance had come.

I got in Paul’s stand about 2 o’clock that afternoon and settled in to wait. I didn’t see anything all afternoon, and I had watched like a hawk due to that bear being around. The sun started to dip down behind the top of the mountain behind me, so I decided to call it a day. I removed the cap, tied my string to my rifle and started lowering it out of the tree. My rifle was about halfway down when I heard a noise. I looked up and saw a spike coming down the trail towards me.

shooting tce muzzleloaderI have no idea how that deer didn’t see or hear me trying to get that rifle back up the tree. However I did it, that spike kept coming at me. I jammed a new cap on the nipple with trembling fingers, drew down on Spike and dropped the hammer. Smoke and fire blew out the end of the barrel as the rifle boomed, and I couldn’t see a freaking thing because of all the smoke. I heard the deer running then a crash.

I reloaded with shaking hands and probably spilled half the powder then hustled out of the tree. After a little bit of looking I found him. He had run about 30 yards down the bench and keeled over. I had killed my first deer with a perfect heart shot.

About 5 minutes later, my dad came walking down the bench from the direction the spike had come. Dad had pushed Spike along the bench ahead of him on his way to get me. I am not sure who was more proud, Dad or me.

Three bucks were taken from that tree in one day that year and that was how the legend of the Honey Hole Tree started. That may not sound impressive compared to where you hunt but that never happens hunting in the Ozark Mountains, where a deer camp of 10 men might tag 2-4 deer on a good Opening Morning or sometimes all season depending on the year.

We killed more deer out of that tree over the next several years, but never again so many in one day. We don’t hunt in that area anymore, but one of these days I plan on going back. Those memories are some of my most treasured.

How old were you when you first went hunting?

 

You can follow Jason on Twitter @thejasonparks and Instagram @jason_parks_brothers_farm.

Second image via http://www.backcountrychronicles.com/top-3-reasons-shoot-hunt-muzzleloader/

 

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This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not necessarily represent Beretta.

Deer Hunting Gear

 

By Jason Parks – Guest Contributor

Sunrise in the Ozarks
When it comes to going out into the woods, there are some items that you really need to have with you no matter what, like matches, water, knife, flashlight, etc. When it comes to hunting, that list gets expanded somewhat.

I feel that I pack like my wife when I venture out into the deer woods. Then I see all the stuff my friend Boone takes with him and don’t feel so bad.

Here is a list of what I carry with me when I go deer hunting.
 
My rifles: I mainly hunt with my Remington 7400 Carbine .30-06 and my Marlin Model 1895 .45-70. I prefer larger caliber rifles when hunting due to my preference of trauma and knock down (if you hit them hard enough with a big enough bullet, the deer will go down). I don’t hunt in any location that one of these two rifles can’t get the job done. I have a few others that I pull out occasionally to play with. Last year I hunted with an Enfield Mk III SMLE .303 rifle manufactured in 1915. 

My Backup: Hunting on crutches in an area that has fresh bear sign has made me a little cautious. I don’t venture too far out into the woods on the crutches but it takes me a good 10 minutes to get back and forth from my 4 Wheeler and stand. A few years ago I started packing my Ruger Blackhawk .44 Magnum. This is an older model Blackhawk manufactured in 1968. I can’t help it. I have an affinity for older guns. I also have the goal of taking a deer with my Blackhawk if the opportunity presents itself. In the mean time, the black bear we nicknamed Tux because of the white patch on his chest is still roaming around and this fat boy on crutches can’t move very fast. Be sure to check out a pic of Tux I posted at the bottom.

My pack: If you are going into the woods, you most likely will be taking a back pack with you. I like back packs,  but I prefer a shoulder pack because of the ease I can access my gear when I have it on. This year I bought a surplus Yugoslavian Combat Pack from Liberty Tree Collectors that can be used as a back pack or shoulder pack if you rearrange the straps. It has 2 inside pockets and plenty of room to carry everything I need.

My Belt: I use an old Army web belt to carry my canteen, my Recon Tanto knife, my Ruger Blackhawk .44, a small pouch and sometimes my small binoculars. I like my old belt and have had it since I was 5. At the rate I am going, it will probably only fit for a few more years so I am going to keep using it until it doesn’t fit any more.

My knives: I use a BuckLite III folding knife that I keep in my pack for my field dressing and skinning. It takes a while to get a good razor sharp edge on a Buck but once you do, it will stay sharp through field dressing, skinning and boning out for at least two deer and is easy to get the razor edge back. I also carry a Cold Steel Recon Tanto fixed blade on my belt. I like this knife because it has a very heavy blade that is good for chopping. It also makes for a pretty good skinning knife. Again it took a while for me to get a good edge on it, but once I got it sharp, it has stayed sharp. It also doubles for my camp/survival knife of choice.

My Water: I use a plastic canteen in an insulated canteen pouch on my belt. Whatever you do, carry some water with you. You never know what might happen that might keep you out longer than you planned. I have been on too many Search and Rescue calls where when our team got to the lost folks, the first thing they asked for was water.

My Flashlight: On my recent hunt in Texas, I shot a nice 8 point Whitetail Deer and dropped him where he stood. There was another deer with a limp and deformed rack that hung around after I shot so I sat still and watched him until dark. When I finally got up to look for my deer, I found that I flash light wasn’t in my pack (I still don’t know where it is). On my first trip to the store after I got back from TexasI picked me up a new flash light for my pack. I don’t recall the exact model but it is a MiniMag LED light that runs off 3 AAA batteries and will throw a 170 lumen beam out about 75-100 yards. By the way, I did find the deer finally with some help and a borrowed flashlight.

My Matches: Just in case you get stuck in the woods unexpectedly, it is also a good idea to carry matches (or lighter) and tinder of some sort like a bird’s nest, laundry lint, and cotton balls covered in petroleum jelly or anything else to help get the fire started. I carry a lighter all the time and strike anywhere matches that I keep in a pill bottle in my pack.

Non-latex Gloves: I keep a box of non-latex gloves in my truck to stock or hand out during a Search and Rescue or Medical Reserve Corps incident and to have on hand at work. During my Texas hunt I used gloves for the first time to skin and process a deer. As soon as I got back, I put a pair in my pack to have to field dress my next deer. Using gloves makes everything less messy and cleaning up is a cinch.


My Binoculars: I have two different binoculars that I use – one big and one small.  I like to scope the farthest edge of my visible area and try to catch a look at the deer coming in before they get too close. I have had too many deer suddenly appear in range with no warning so I have made looking harder, farther out a priority in my hunting. Plus I can’t hear worth a flip so seeing them first is the best option I have to getting the drop on a big buck.

My Grunt Call: After hunting in Texas for the first time this year, I am starting to become a believer in grunt calls. I have not had much luck with them here in Arkansas but after getting a small buck to come to me and having a big buck follow the smaller guy right up to me, I am have done more grunt calls in the Arkansas woods. I lost my old grunt call somewhere between home and Texas and didn’t realize it was not in my bag until opening morning of modern gun season and missed the chance to try to grunt in another nice buck. I now have a new one, but haven’t been able to call in a big buck yet.

My Mask and Gloves: I use a mesh mask and mesh gloves that are marketed for turkey hunters to keep my face and hands from being seen. When I was squirrel hunting as a kid, I noticed that I could see my hunting buddy’s hands and face when he moved through the woods even though I couldn’t see any other parts of him. Deer see movement better than anything else, the flash of a hand moving or a face turning will give away a hunter more often than not unless they are covered. I like the masks best, but you can also paint your face like a Navy SEAL. Whichever you prefer.

My Toilet paper: My Dad told me about when he was a kid and my grandfather took off into the brush to do his business and used a handful of weeds to clean up. Those weeds turned out to be what we call blister weed (I am not sure of the actual name of the plant.). That blister weed lit him up for several days after that. Ever since I heard that story I never go into the woods without TP. I prefer Charmin Ultra Tough in case you were wondering. 

What gear do you carry while hunting in the woods?

Tux reaching for the feeder.
For the record, I also carry the TP in case I have a chance run in with Tux.
This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not necessarily represent those of Beretta.

Check out www.BerettaUSA.com and make sure you follow Beretta on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

InstagramIf you have any questions or want to contact me, you can follow me on Twitter @thejasonparks. I don't tweet a lot but I do enjoy keeping up with other shooters and hunters on Twitter and on Instagram. 

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Smoke Sticks

 

By Jason Parks – Guest Contributor

Smoke sticks, better known as black powder rifles or muzzle loader rifles, are a fun and challenging way to deer hunt. You can also hunt squirrel or dove hunt with a black powder shotgun if you want to diversify a little, or even hunt with black powder pistols.

For what is supposed to be a primitive weapon, black powder rifles have come a long way in the last decade. Now you have breach open rifles with shotgun primers, pyrodex pellets and sabot bullets. Granted you can reach out a lot farther with these rifles than you can with a traditional muzzle loader  but I am not a big fan of the new in-line muzzle loading rifles. I just like old guns I guess. I have considered upgrading to a flint lock but have never gotten around to it.

I assume that most of you know what a muzzle loaderrifle is, but just in case, a muzzle loader is exactly what is sounds like: a rifle you load from the muzzle that is fired by an external hammer and primer cap. This is pretty much what every gun was before the invention of paper and cartridge ammunition and the new guns to shoot them. The more well known muzzle loaders in Americaare the Pennsylvania and Kentucky hunting rifles and the Springfield military rifles which were later converted to breech loader rifles.

My muzzle loader is a Thompson Center Renegade .54 caliber rifle. Why .54 caliber? It was on sale. Most in-line black powder rifles are .50 caliber as are most traditional muzzle loaders  However there are a lot of other calibers available in the traditional style muzzle loaders such as .36, .45, .58 and even .72 caliber.

To shoot a black powder rifle you need some supplies: powder (powder flask is optional), power measure, caps, patches, lubricant, bullets, ball starter and a cleaning kit. Most hunters have what is called a “possibles bag” that they use to carry a lot of this around in.

Loading and shooting a black powder rifle is fairly easy. The best way to learn how is to get someone who does it to show you. There are probably some YouTube videos you can watch. However you learn, I would like to encourage you to give it a try.

I would also like to encourage you to go the traditional route to help preserve the spirit of primitive hunting that in my opinion is lost when you use a modern in-line black powder rifle.

Here are some tips that I have learned through the years:



  • Make sure your rifle is empty before you load it. You can do that by popping a cap with the rifle pointed down range in a safe direction.
  • Fire a cap on an empty barrel to prep your rifle for loading by drying out the nipple. I like to add a little powder in the barrel to help dry out the barrel on damp mornings.
  • Another way to make sure your rifle is unloaded is to mark your ram rod to show “Empty”.
  • Mark your ram rod to show loaded as well. I have mine marked to show when the bullets seated all the way for different grain loads i.e 60 grains, 90 grains etc.
  • Some (maybe all) traditional black powder rifles (like mine shown) will probably shoot round balls more accurately than sabots compared to in-line muzzle loaders that will shoot sabots better than round balls. Mine does.
  • Never, ever stand over the barrel of your rifle when you pour in your powder especially after you have just shot it. Having a stray spark lighting up the powder while you are standing over the barrel will ruin your day.
  • Always use a powder measure. Never pour you powder straight into the barrel.
  • You need to lubricate the patch so that the patch and ball goes in easier. There are commercial lubricants available. I put the patch in my mouth and get it wet with saliva instead of using messy lubricants. It works. Unsanitary? Probably, but it hasn't killed me yet.
  • When you are ramming the bullet down the barrel, be sure not to grip the ram rod too high. You will most likely break the ram rod if you do. A grip about 6-12" above the barrel works best. Also you will eventually accidentally pull the rod too far out and will jab your hand with it so get ready for it. 
  • Always make sure your bullet is properly seated in the barrel, tight against the powder. When ramming your bullet in you will eventually get to a point where you do not have enough ram rod to grip properly. When you get to this point, take your ram rod, place it in the barrel, raise it about half the length of you barrel and throw it like a spear down the barrel. Do this multiple times. This basically taps the bullet into place with the momentum of the ram rod. When the bullet is seated, the ram rod will bounce.
  • If you fire the rifle and the cap pops but the rifle does not fire, KEEP THE MUZZLE POINTED IN A SAFE DIRECTION! Sometime the rifle will go off a second or three after you have pulled the trigger. I have had it happen to me several times and have seen it happen several more times.
  • If the rifle does not go off after about 10-15 seconds, replace the cap with the rifle pointed in a safe direction and try again. Wet weather and condensation is usually the culprit when this happens.
  • Keep your rifle's hammer in the half-cocked position while you are in your stand so that  if you happen to snag the hammer and it snaps down it will stay in half cock and you will not accidentally discharge the rifle. The half-cocked position of the hammer will keep the hammer from striking the cap and will not fire if the trigger is pulled. Basically, it is the "safety" of the black powder rifle. 
  • Never, ever carry your black powder rifle loaded with the hammer down on a cap. Snagging the hammer and snapping the cap with fire the gun. See the previous note.
  • Hard core black powder shooters clean their rifles after every shot. Muzzle loader rifles are dirty and that will affect your accuracy. I don't do that. I clean mine after about 8-10 shots or every 3-5 years whichever come first.
  • Lastly, I do want to encourage you to try hunting with a muzzle loader if you don’t already but I also want to encourage you to practice and hunt with someone who has experience with muzzle loaders until you get the hang of it.

That’s all I have on black powder rifles for now. As I finish this up today (October 19, 2012), muzzle loader season opens tomorrow and my truck is loaded and ready to go. I will see you all when I get back hopefully with a buck and if not, a lot of pictures.

Do you have any tips or lessons learned that you want to add to my list?

    


Check out www.BeretttaUSA.com and make sure you follow Beretta on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

You can follow Jason on Twitter @thejasonparksand on Instagram @jason_parks_brothers_farm 

This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not necessarily represent those of Beretta.

Make sure you follow Beretta on FacebookTwitter or YouTube

 

This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not necessarily represent Beretta.

What A Weekend!

 
By Brad Wilson - Guest Contributor

Hunting season!  I had the pleasure of spending the weekend chasing dove with a great group of guys. My younger brother is getting married in a few weeks so myself and a few of his friends put together a bachelor weekend at a friends ranch just outside of Weesatche, Texas.  There was great food, clay targets, shotguns, rifles, pistols, a decent number of dove, and an all around great time with some good people.

The weekend looked like it might have been a wash in all literal sense of the word.  Friday night and Saturday morning was an ongoing rain event that dropped 2-5" of rain in the area.  Saturday afternoon the rain came to a halt and the timing couldn't have been any better.  We were able to get a few rounds of skeet in before we all went out in the field to put a minor dent in the Texas dove population.  The final tally of birds in hand was 9 mostly due to the birds being spread out from the weather.  We stayed out until dusk and then made the short drive back to the barn.

Upon arrival at the barn we found that my dad, the cook for the weekend, had carved up the brisket that had been on the pit for about 12 hours as well as 6 beer can chickens accompanied with a pot of beans.  One thing about Texas country boys, WE CAN EAT!  Within an hour all the food was devoured, cold beverages were being consumed, washers were being thrown, and college football was on the big screen.  It was definitely the absolute best bachelor weekend I have ever been lucky enough to attend.

I'm dedicating this post to my brother.  Jared, I hope that your marriage is filled with good times and an eternal bond with a wonderful woman.  You are a hell of a man and I am thankful to be able to call you my brother.  I am extremely proud of you, and I love you.


Brad Wilson is an avid outdoorsman targeting waterfowl and saltwater fish and is a guest contributor for the Beretta Blog.  He can be reached on Twitter or YouTube.

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This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not represent those of Beretta.

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This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not necessarily represent Beretta.

Dove Season Opener

 


Dove Season Opener
By Keith Hollar – Guest Contributor

This year I got the opportunity to go on a dove hunt.  It was me first hunting trip. Part of the reason I started to get into clay shooting was so I could at least hit something when I went on this hunting trip.

So after meeting early in the morning on the day before dove season opened and loading up the trucks my dad, me and six other guys set out on the about four hour drive to Parker, Arizona.  We arrived at the vacation house that belongs to the brother of the guy who sets up the trip every year, Neil, to turn on the air conditioner and unload the vehicles.  We wisely decided to wait until the early evening to go out scouting since the afternoon temperatures were in the low 100’s.  We drove out on Indian land and scouted a couple areas south of Poston, Arizona that evening and made a decision on where to go the next morning.

At the early hour of 4:30 a.m., with the temperatures already in the high 80’s, we got on the road for the almost 45 minute drive to the spot we chose to start the opening day on.  We all spread out into different areas of the field to try our luck.  As things got light there weren’t that many birds flying around and not a lot of shotguns going off either.  By the end of our time out hunting that day I only got one bird and I think we only had 17-18 birds between the 8 of us.  From what the guys who had done this before were telling me, this was definitely not normal and it was probably the monsoon rains that had come a couple weeks before and drove the birds off.


On day two we decided to go to about the same area but to a location that we were getting some success.  We got there early and set up.  I selected a bush that would come to find out was not the wisest choice.  While I did bring down another two birds, the mosquitoes ate me alive.  I had at least a hundred, and probably more, bites even though I was wearing long sleeves, pants and bug spray.  It was over a week before they finally stopped itching.  As he traditionally does Neil made us dinner this second night.  Normally he does it on opening day but because of the low amount of birds we got he had to wait until the second day.  The recipe he chose was a wild rice, mushroom, celery, white wine and dove casserole.  It was pretty good.



The third and final day we decided to try a completely different location.  This was met with about the same results, not a whole lot.  I hardly saw any birds and only shot at a couple and missed.    Over the three days I only shot a little over a box of shells.

Overall I had a pretty good time, although I was glad to get home after being out of town for most of August.  I do think it is something I’d like to do again, although the 100 degree weather was a little tiring.  Maybe next year I’ll try my hand at quail.

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This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not necessarily represent Beretta.

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This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not necessarily represent Beretta.

A Man's True Best Friend

 
By Brad Wilson - Guest Contributor

As I sit here trying to figure out what I plan to let flow from my fingers on to the keyboard, I look up on the wall at the beautiful pintail that came from a stellar trip to the Laguna Madre.  Then I start to think about the fat greenhead that is resting on a piece of driftwood on my buddy John's wall in his living room.  That particular bird was taken off of a marsh pond in the back lakes of Trinity Bay.  As I think about hunts that I have been on and cold boat rides, beating the crowd to the public spots and hot September mornings waiting for that huge wad of teal to grace our presence, I know there is something that I am suppose to be typing but I just can't pinpoint what it is.  I then get a nudge from Aeva, my yellow lab.  Whether she is wanting to go outside or if she is really trying to tell me "daddy, tell 'em about ME" is beyond me, but it is the nudge that I needed.


See, Aeva has been with me longer than my wife, longer than my kids, and longer than most of my guns that are in the gun safe.  She is a hell of a water dog and has served me better than any dog I have ever had, and it is a pleasure to call her family.  She has probably made in the upwards of 1,000 retrieves from the Lower Laguna Madre to the upper reaches of the Lower Trinity River.  She is not just my dog, she is one of my best friends.

That pintail that rests on my wall was taken on a hunt with a fine group of guys that I had the pleasure of sharing a blind with.  It was getting close to dark and I had told my group that we would be heading in after the next volley.  I knew that the pintails in this particular area were using this flyway to head into the fresh water ponds after a long day of sitting in the salt marsh.  About 10 minutes before legal shooting time was up I caught something out of the corner of my eye.  This particular single bird was about 150 yards up and locked up on the decoys.  I let my guys know that we had a hot one committed and to get ready.  At about 60 yards for some unknown reason the fat sprig decided this was not the place for him and decided to backpedal and get the hell out of dodge.  That's when I dent a prayer shot up and connected.  The bird folded up and started falling.  When it hit the water all you heard was a thud followed by a huge splash.  At that point the bird righted himself and started to swim.  I went to heel Aeva up, but she was already by my side so I sent her on one of many missions that we have shared together.  She gets within 5 feet of the bird when he starts diving on her.  At that point all the training and time that we have spent fetching dummies in the pond was thrown out the window.  You see, Aeva has a natural instinct that any hunter would pray for.  With her tail in the air like she was on point, Aeva started swimming in circles waiting for the bird to surface.  HE popped up about 3 feet from her snout and immediately went back down.  This seemed like it was going to be a lost bird.  He popped up again about 4 feet from her and went back down, but this time Aeva did something that can never be taught in any training program.  Aeva dove in the 4 feet deep water with determination on her side.  She was down for a good 10 seconds when she rose from the depths of the bay with one of the nicest pintail drakes I have ever seen in my life!  She came back to my side, tail wagging, and released the bird in my hand when I gave her the command and then went back to her spot in the blind and sat waiting.

That day brought a tear to my eye as I knew that what I had, my best friend, my companion, my family was one of the best retrievers to have ever walked the face of this earth.  To say I was proud is a huge understatement.  Words can not describe the feeling I had.

As she lays at my feet right now, I look down at the 9 year old yellow lab and start to wonder how many more years she can do this.  How many more retrieves does she have in her?  When is it time to call it quits?  That is an question that only she will be able to answer, but I know that she will be a hard charger until that day comes.

I dedicate this entry to my dog, Aeva.  SHe has taught me many things in life, and she has been there for me no matter what.  She stands by my side and thinks I hung the moon and for those very reasons I owe this entry to her.

Brad Wilson is an avid outdoorsman targeting waterfowl and saltwater fish and is a guest contributor for the Beretta Blog.  He can be reached on Twitter or YouTube.

Make sure you follow Beretta on FacebookTwitterYouTube.

This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not represent those of Beretta.

Make sure you follow Beretta on FacebookTwitter or YouTube

 

This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not necessarily represent Beretta.

Top 10 Reasons I Hunt

 
By Brad Wilson - Guest Contributor

As a new hunting season approaches there are a ton of things that run through my head in preparation for what is to come in the next few months.  Is the boat ready to go?  Are the decoys rigged up?  Did I make all the repairs on equipment that needed to be made?  Last week I was out in the garage answering all these questions.  I pulled out my old blind stool and sat down in it and started thinking about things.  One question that kept coming back to me was WHY?  Why do I go to the extents that I do to chase fowl?  Why do I spend the amount of hard earned money on this sport?  Why do I wake up at 3:00 AM to run a boat for 30 minutes in 30 degree weather, trounce through marsh mud that rivals some of the deepest quicksand around, and then spend 45 minutes setting out decoys just to shoot some waterfowl?

Here is my top 10 reasons I do what I do to chase waterfowl.

10.  The smell of gunpowder at sun up as a group of greenwing teal buzz the decoys.

  9.  I have a chance to be out on the water. Growing up on the Gulf Coast, I have saltwater running through my veins!

  8.  Seeing a bird crumple in mid air after I pull the trigger on my Beretta A400 Xtreme!

  7.  Watching my yellow lab, Aeva, charge hard after that bird that just crumpled.

  6.  Enjoying a hot cup of coffee and a blind breakfast during that first lull.

  5.  Because duck breast, jalapeno, and cream cheese all wrapped in bacon and grilled tastes Mmmmmm Mmmmm GOOD!!!

  4.  Knowing that I am in GOD's country and I am doing what he intended for me to do.

  3.  I am able to share that blind with some of my closest friends.

  2.  I can spend time with my kids that I cherish so much.

And the number one reason I do what I do to chase waterfowl:

Passion!  I have a passion for the outdoors and everything that it stands for.  I have passion for sharing those times with my kids and friends.  I have a passion for what God has graced me with.

I take this time to be thankful for those ten things and many others that I am afforded in this great nation and have been so graciously given by the Man upstairs.

So what is on your top 10 list?


Brad Wilson is an avid outdoorsman targeting waterfowl and saltwater fish and is a guest contributor for the Beretta Blog.  He can be reached on Twitter or YouTube.

Make sure you follow Beretta on FacebookTwitterYouTube.

This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not represent those of Beretta.

Make sure you follow Beretta on FacebookTwitter or YouTube

 

This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not necessarily represent Beretta.

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