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Let's Go Duck Hunting

 
by Adam Brassfield - Pro Staff Contributor

Duck season is here! Seems like it has been forever. I know you have not heard from me in a while but I have been traveling all over the U.S. conducting hunting seminars. It is funny because in certain places people are so excited about the sport of waterfowl hunting then there are others that it goes over like a pregnant pole vaulter.

Yes, everyone has their sport or hunting adventure but if you have never experienced the sound of wings whistling eight feet over your head or watching a group of mallards fall in your duck hole then you are missing it let me tell you.

Many of us have had to listen to all of our wonderful politicians lie like two dogs fighting over a bowl of green beans. I would rather stare at the sun with my binoculars than to sit and listen to that mess. That is why I am so glad hunting season is here. My Beretta Xtreme is itchin' to bark and bark is what it is about to do.

Have you seen the duck reports this year? They are unbelievable! Mallards have had a huge increase and just about every duck has high counts. It is going to be a great year for all of us. This is our opportunity to get someone into the sport that has never experienced what you and I have in the duck blind. Over the course of the seminar season I have met more people who have never been duck hunting. This is not good.

We have to step up to the plate this season and give them a good reason to quit watchin' what the hell is wrong with all the Kardashians! Our sport is incredible, the outdoors are beautiful and we should start acting like it. Take a friend, your children and, God forbid, take your wife to the duck hole. Let's not put it off until the next year.

Adam can be found on Facebook.


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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.

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.

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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.

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.

Breathe, Breathe, BREATHE!!!

 
By Brad Wilson - Guest Contributor

You have gone out and spent $1600 on a new shotgun, $25 on a box of the "best" shells, and $2000 on a prime duck lease.  Opening morning rolls around and that first group of blue wing teal completely commit to your $750 decoy spread.  You pull up, stick a bead on the beak of a bird, and BOOM, BOOM, BOOM...nothing falls!  What's the problem?  I mean you bought the best of everything so shouldn't the birds just drop like rain?  One thing you forgot which happens to be the only free thing in your arsenal, AIR!  After the jump we will talk about how breathing, or not in most cases can determine a kill or a whiff.

When I first started hunting waterfowl really hard, I had a good friend that just so happened to be an excellent shotgunner.  When I say excellent, I mean the guy doesn't miss.  I have seen him have 3 shells loaded up with a 4th in his hand and limit out on teal during our early season with 4 pulls of the trigger in about 4 seconds flat.  My jaw dropped on that hunt.  Matt happens to be an excellent mentor to a lot of folks including myself when it comes to the outdoors.  One thing he taught me early on in our ventures is that my breathing was what makes me miss.  I would get so frustrated after a volley and only having 1 bird drop from my 3 shots.  What Matt pointed out to me was that when I would go to pull up, I would actually hold my breath.  Concentration is actually lost by doing this.

Now one might compare this to the breathing techniques of a sniper.  Honestly you would be comparing apples to oranges.  A sniper's breathing techniques require him to hold his breath between inhaling and exhaling for up to 10 seconds at times.  In this frame set the shooter is attempting to get himself into a relaxed state and thus connect with his target.  If he can not get himself into a relaxed state then his breathing exercise is repeated.

In a waterfowling situation, the shooter is actually very active and does not really have time to pause his breathing.  What is actually done is repetitious and uniformed breathing during the shooting process.  Holding your breath from the time you pull up to the time you take the last shot could potentially be 5-10 seconds.  Now sitting at your desk, recliner, or whatever it is that you are sitting in while reading this I want you to start holding your breath and stand up and act like you are taking shots at decoying birds.  Don't worry, we're waterfowlers and everyone thinks we are crazy to begin with.  I'm sure that duck call hanging from your rear view mirror gets a look from people every day.  Now how do you feel after the "shots" you just took.  I bet there are some that have no change, some that have to take a relief breath or 2, and then there are probably a few of us bigger boys that need to sit back down.  Relate this to your concentration in the blind while taking your shots and you can now see why breathing is important.

Next time you are in that layout blind in the stubble of a corn field, remember to take those breaths.  After all, your freezer depends on it!


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.

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.

Shotgun Shells: The Ins and Outs of Selection (Part 3)

 
By Brad Wilson - Guest Contributor

We now have a basis of how factory loads perform vs hand loads and a good understanding of how to figure out what load works best in your gun.  Now we will take a look at a few factors that we can manipulate in order to fine tune what we are working with.  Choke tubes and recoil pads, we'll take a look at them after the jump.

One of the first things that people like to change when they buy a shotgun is the choke tube.  There are a few manufacturers in the game that produce some excellent products.  I have personally shot some of the best choke tubes on the market and swore by a couple of them and it could have potentially been a huge mistake on my part.  My initial fault the first time I shot an aftermarket choke tube was due to me shooting it in the field on a hunt out of a buddies gun.  My shot to kill ratio on a couple of vollies actually went up and it really made me think it was because of the tube.  What I didn't take into consideration is the fact that I was shooting a different gun with a different setup.  Shotgun fitment is the number one reason people miss.  I have heard it too many times, "Do you think this gun will be good for me?" My reply is first and foremost GO FIT THE GUN!

Now don't get me wrong, aftermarket choke tubes can really improve your shot to kill ratio especially when your standard tubes that come in the gun do not have much research put into them.  This is the main reason I shoot a Beretta A400 Xtreme. There was so much engineering and field testing put into the OptimaChoke HP tubes that I don't have to go out and spend another $50-100 for an aftermarket tube.  It comes in the package!  The patterns through this gun are outstanding and produce a very high percentage of pellets on target while patterning the gun.  It is just one more reason this gun has my reliability stamp of approval.

The other thing we will talk about is recoil pads.  A lot of guys feel that follow up shots are more accurate when there is less recoil.  I will agree with this to a certain extent.  Recovery time between shots is vital in certain situations in the blind.  One thing the shooter should remember is a rushed shot is a missed shot.  IF you can concentrate, remember to breathe, and place your shots correctly then less recoil is a great deal.  Until you can get that down then your second and third shots are pointless.  My dad taught me this at an early age by letting me shoot a single shot 20 gauge.  His theory was my shot selection would be better if I only had 1 chance.

Now I can utilize this and become a better shot. The recoil reduction in my A400 Xtreme  is above and beyond anything else on the market and was the final piece to the puzzle for me.  Add to that the ability to change the length of pull with the extra butt pads, and you have a gun that can be tailored to just about anyone straight out of the box.

This wraps up my 3 part "class" on shotgun shells, how to select them, and how to manipulate their performance.  Hopefully your next trip out to the duck blind will be more productive with these extra tools in your blind bag.


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.

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.

Shotgun Shells: The Ins and Outs of Selection (Part 1)

 

By Brad Wilson - Guest Contributor

How I love my hand loads!
In a previous entry by fellow blogger Adam Brassfield titled “Shell Selection for Waterfowl”, Adam talks about what size shot he would typically use for different types of waterfowl.  What he based everything off of was the size of  bird he would be chasing that certain day.  Adam laid down some great groundwork for new and old hunters that sometimes get mislead on what size shot they should be using.  This is the first thing everyone should take into consideration when choosing shot.  I would recommend reading that post as he has some great information in it.

For the next few segments we will take it a step further now that you understand that using 3.5” BB during early teal season is akin to bringing a SCUD missile to a boxing match.

I could honestly go on for hours and probably lose your attention with everything I am about to throw at you so for the sake of time and attention I will break this up into 3 different segments.  Factory VS hand loads, patterning, and what you can do to manipulate variables to achieve the outcome you are looking for.

After the jump I will talk briefly about factory ammo as well as hand loads….
So the first thing that you need to understand is that sometimes factory ammo can be more of a gimmick than a tried and true performer.  I personally jumped on the Black Cloud bandwagon when it first came out like many others and for good reason.  The ammo was marketed based on the wad design that would not allow the shot to leave the cup (wad) until about 10 yards from the end of the barrel.  This improved long range shots due to the tight patterning and left people in amazement at the shots they were able to take.  What people didn’t understand is that the shot loaded into the shell was no different than any other conventional steel shot.  The misconception lead to folks using the BC on decoying birds, and a lot of misses came as a result.

Then came Hevi Steel by Environmetal.  This stuff is what I like to run if for some reason I run out of my home loads and don’t have time to crank out a few boxes before the next hunt.  When you really look at the physics of this load you begin to understand that this type of load makes more sense because of its actual knock down power or terminal momentum.  This load uses a mix of hevi shot and conventional steel to achieve its effectiveness.

The ultimate way to get the best ballistics out of your gun is hand loading.  I started hand loading last year and haven’t looked back.  I can load heavy, light, fast, slow, or any combination of these to achieve my desired results.  My most recent load is running at 1750 fps with #4 conventional steel in a 1oz 2.75” load.  This has enough terminal momentum to drop ducks out to 45+ yards.  With this kind of performance, all my buddies are asking me to start loading boxes up for them!  I am now a firm believer in hand loading all of my ammunition.

In the next segment of this topic we will be talking about how to find out what works best out of your gun.  Patterning different shells is the key to success!  That Black Cloud just might be the best option for you out of your current configuration.

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.

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.

First Lady of Duck Hunting

 
by Adam Brassfield - Pro Staff Contributor

Painted nails, pretty earrings, gorgeous lips and an itchy trigger finger. She is a knock out in a dress and a sharp shooter from the blind. Her Beretta Xtreme is her instrument and killin' greenheads is her passion. Yes, she is absolutely amazing!

For so many years it was never a thought. I mean: the one where you could see a female, day in and day out, in the duck blind. With all the nasty weather and mud, the thought of ever seeing a woman showing me up was a long shot. Then I met Natasha and my whole world changed. Seriously, when you think of a lady duck hunting you think of a backwoods, tobacco spitting woman whom you may or may not mistake for Clay Aiken. But I have to be the first to tell you: I was floored.

The first time she went duck hunting with me I thought it was a nice way to "give back" and something real good to look at, other than the other three mildly disgusting gentlemen that work with me. She shot a wood duck and a few others and looked as though she belonged out there, but I wanted to put her to the test so, the next week in our duck boat, we three guys let her come again...big mistake! She out-shot all of us and she is an incredible professional of the sport. What? I did not know if I should ask her to marry me or throw her out of the boat. I did both.

Watching this beautiful lady shoot greenheads out of the sky, give commands for the dog to retrieve them then load her Beretta without even asking, did nothing short of making me want to have kids all over again! The other two guys are ugly enough to burn a wet mule, so I knew I had a chance. She has changed our company and she has changed this industry.

Natasha is living proof that women have a place in the gun and hunting world. Not only are they coming but they have already arrived. Have I mentioned she shoots a Beretta? I have died and gone to duck hunting Heaven.

Adam Brassfield is a guest contributor for the Beretta Blog. He can be reached on Facebook.
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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.

Did You Say Duck Dog?

 
by Adam Brassfield - Pro Staff Contributor

When you think waterfowl retriever you think Labrador. For years and years this has been the choice for most duck hunters. A few may have gone with the stubborn Chesapeake Bay retriever but, for the most part, black, yellow or chocolate has been the question. Labrador breeders have been busier than a set of jumper cables at a redneck funeral.  Fasten your seat belt because there is a new bread of retrievers coming.


Meet Joey. He is a full blooded English Springer Spaniel. Now, I know what you're thinking: "this guy is dumber than a wedding invitation!" Listen closely: I would put him up against any Lab any day in a hunting situation. I got him when he was around 12 weeks old and started training him myself. At a year old he entered his first hunting season. He absolutely blew me away, as well as everyone else who hunted with me. Never broke, never got cold, never whined and he retrieved over 300 ducks in his first season. At a year and a half he is on full hand signals.


Let me be clear, I am not taking anything away from the mighty Labrador. They are amazing dogs, when well trained. But the intelligence and longevity of the Springer is unmatched. I have owned several duck dogs and this is the first that I am writing about, so that ought to tell you something. They are smaller, quicker, smarter and live longer than the Labrador. When it comes to ice or severe weather, I have Joey on film breaking ice for over 200 yards retrieving a Mallard that sailed on a guy that couldn't hit water if he jumped out of a boat. It was colder than a brass toilet seat in the Yukon!


The art of duck hunting is ever-evolving with the new guns like the Beretta A400 Xtreme, new duck boats, new decoys, new shells, and I could go on and on. It is obvious that, somewhere down the line, a new duck dog was coming. I took a chance on Joey and it was the best decision that I have ever made, when it comes to a hunting dog. The look on your face after reading this is probably like a rat eating guts off a wire brush, but focus. A wise man once told me to do something you have never done in order to see something you have never seen. To get information on where I got Joey go to Upland Meadows Springer Spaniels.

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Adam Brassfield is a professional guide and guest contributor for the Beretta Blog. He can be reached at H.U.N.T.E.R.S. 24/7 WATERFOWL and on Facebook.

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Let's Talk Shot Selection

 
by Adam Brassfield - Pro Staff Contributor

Have you ever been hunting with someone who just takes the world's worst shots? How about someone who messes up the easiest of hunts? Well, I know a few people like that, too. Some of them can't help that they are dumber than a coal bucket. I mean nobody wants to spend theis hard-earned money on guns, shells, dogs, decoys, waders and maybe a guided hunt just for someone to mess it all up at the moment of truth. Sometimes there is no help for someone who would screw up a one car funeral.

Shot selection is the most important part of duck or goose hunting. Being able to figure out when the best opportunity is to smoke that duck or goose is sometimes a big challenge. In most groups a single person is elected to do this job and make the call for everyone to shoot. No pressure, but don't screw up or you will be swimming with the fishes! Patience is the key, which is something that I have none of. In every aspect of life patience is not an option. For me to learn this conduct of life in the duck blind was at first impossible. However, as a youngster, the first time that I pulled up too quickly and found a boat paddle connected to my ear, I kinda learned the idea.

The thought that waterfowl hunters would even think about not letting that bird get close enough to read their mail before they shot was as scarce as duck teeth. Oh, but they are out there. If duck or goose hunting were just about seeing how far I could shoot then sail a bird and getting busted because I pulled up too quickly, there would be a lot more pros out there. Waterfowl hunting is an art. It is painting a picture in your mind of what you will shoot at or move to and then carrying it out with passion. I get so frustrated with people who take 50 and 60 yard shots with choke tubes the size of a .50 caliber mortar shell, then get aggravated when they can't find their duck or have trouble shooting a limit. 

Practicing the art of back-paddling and having a little patience will help any waterfowl hunter. For crying out loud, go hunting with someone who knows what they are doing. Watch when they give the signal to shoot. See where the birds are and how they got there, then start putting your own plan in place. Shot selection is easy but we can make it very difficult if we develop bad habits. Trust me: some hunters have two brains; one is missing and the other is looking for it. Excellence is your best "plus one." Find that one thing that you do well and add good shot selection to it. It will make you a better hunter.

Adam Brassfield is a Guest Contributor for Beretta. You can follow him on Facebook.

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

The Toughest Waterfowl Gun Ever!

 
By Adam Brassfield - Pro Staff Contributor

Every single duck season I listen to hunters swear by their gun. They say it is the toughest gun ever made. Then about two weeks into season they are swearing at it, throwing it in the truck and changing stories. I only have one response: "If you are up to your butt in alligators, it is hard to remember that you just came to drain the swamp." Translation, if you are not shooting a Beretta A400 Xtreme then you can wish in one hand and crap in the other to see which fills up faster!


The reason I say this is I used to be in that group. I shot guns because of the tradition of my family or I saw a long bearded man shoot one on TV. It is so easy to become an industry "go around". Shooting a different gun than you did last season. When the rubber meets the road there is only one that stands alone when the bad weather moves in, Beretta. Now, you probably are justified to say "he is really harping on that Beretta." Answer: Yes I am and proud of it.


There is a difference in someone being paid to say good things about a gun on television and someone who actually believes in what they are saying. Bottom line is, I have said this before, tough hunts don't last but tough guns do and that is why I shoot the Beretta A400 Xtreme.

I leave you with this story. Towards the end of the season we hunted a day where the weather was everything from snow to hard sleet with the temps in the upper teens. Two of the men hunting with us that morning were shooting another gun that has to do with an eagle and by the end of the hunt they were shooting our Beretta's because there guns would not cycle in the extreme conditions. The moral of that story is if you are shooting a hammer then everything is a nail, but if you lie down with dogs don't cry when you get the fleas.

A true duck hunter has to get to a place in his life where he swallows his pride and decides he is going to shoot the best. I know this because I had to do it myself. So, go get you a Beretta A400 Xtreme and quit getting advice on the color of your car from a blind man.


Adam Brassfield is a Guest Contributor for Beretta. You can follow him on Facebook.

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

Shell Selection for Waterfowl

 
by Adam Brassfield - Pro Staff Contributor


When I wake up at 3 a.m. to go hunting the first thing I do is grab my Beretta A400 Xtreme and make my way over to the equipment corner.Now, I try to keep everything organized but for me that is a task that is flatout impossible. My mother once told me that if my head was not attached to myshoulders then I would find a way to lose it. Let’s face it I am a redneck. Notall rednecks lose everything but I mowed my yard last summer and found my boat.

I find a way, half asleep, to get my feet in my Lacrosse waders and put my Realtree Max-4 on so that I can check out my blind bag andwhat is in it. Most of the time is empty nutty buddy wrappers and crackers.There should be however my duck or goose call and a box of shells that I amgoing to use.

Did you know that over 80 percent of all waterfowl hunters pickthe wrong shells for the bird they are hunting? For instance I went earlyseason teal hunting with a man that used 2 shot and every time my dog broughtit back to me he would have to go back again to get the other half of the duck.Back in the day the old timers did not even know what non-toxic or steel shotwas. Today we have many selections.

Picking a shot size on a shell has many factors. Am Ihunting in a field or timber? What size ducks am I shooting? How far will myshot be? This is why most shell boxes have selection guides on the box to helpyou. But if you are like me reading directions has never been a strong quality.That is why my kitchen table leans slightly to the front left and I had fourscrews and two brackets left over after putting it together.

When I hunt small ducks like teal and wood ducks I liketo use 4 or 6 shot in my Beretta Xtreme. If I am hunting the “fat daddy” greenheads and similarsized ducks my favorite size is 3 shot. However, if I am hunting in a largefield unit I will occasionally use 2. Goose hunting, no question BB shot andeven then I have seen some Canadian Geese up north that I wish I had a deerslug in the chamber.

In the coming days we will be talking a lot about duckhunting but until then feel free to contact me at my website www.hunters247waterfowl.com or follow me on Facebook.

Again, if you have not shot the new Beretta A400 Xtreme you are simply missing out. It is the best waterfowl shotgun EVER made!

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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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