Robert Pogson

One man, closing all the windows.

Posts Tagged / hunting

  • Feb 28 / 2014
  • 6
firearms, hunting

Making 12 Gauge Slug Rounds

What do you do with old shotguns with lead-only barrels? I intend to use one for killing deer with 1 ounce slugs and killing grouse with 1 ounce loads of shot. The latter is easy. There’s lots of data around. Slugs are a different matter. One can use the Lee 1 ounce slug in place of shot and do pretty well (~1250 ft/s for 1500ft-lb of energy), but with heavier charges of slower powders, one can do a lot better (~1600 ft/s for 2400 ft-lb of energy), 50% better. These slugs have a ballistic coefficient ~0.06 so they are devastating to about 50 yards and useful to ~100. Lee gives a bunch of loads:

How about that Blue Dot stuff? That’s a very stiff load. See it on YouTube:

I don’t have Blue Dot powder (tm Alliant) but I do have some old HS-7 which is the same as WW571 (Winchester) which has very similar data for heavy shot loads as Blue Dot in identical cases (WAA) with identical wads.

The Alliant data is for 1150 and 1200 ft/s going left to right. Likely the 1250 ft/s charge would not fit in the case because Blue Dot is more bulky than HS-7. The CB wad is a substitute for WAA12R. Lyman data for a 525 gr slug (1.2 ounce):

Hull Powder Charge Primer Wad Velocity Pressure
Federal Gold Medal Blue Dot 46.5 Win 209 WAA12R 1544 9,900
Federal Gold Medal 571 42.0 Fed 209A Fed 12S4 1429 10,700
Federal Plastic Hunting Blue Dot 44.0 Win 209 WAA12R 1408 7,300
Federal Plastic Hunting 571 42.0 Fed 209A Fed 12S4 1405 9,900
Winchester AA Blue Dot 44.0 Win 209 WAA12R 1474 9,200

The Lee one ounce slug is about 0.64″ long and 0.68″ in diameter so it will pass through a full choke in a plastic wad. Unfortunately, the HS-7 is much more dense than Blue Dot, so I have to improvise. I could just add a bit of wadding to take up the 0.32″ missing from the 1.5 ounce of lead shot but the pressure would likely be far too low. HS-7 and Blue Dot like higher pressures to burn reliably or they leave a lot in the barrel. For a semi-auto that’s very bad because it will rapidly gum up the breach or gas-system. So, I need to increase the charge above 36.5 grains by at least 10%. I have tried as low as 34 grains in a 1 ounce wad but get rather loopy trajectories and the occasional squib. With more than 34 grains of HS-7, I begin to have trouble crimping the cases. One guy solved the space problem by shortening the hulls… He found 42 grains HS-7 worked very well with WAA12R in Remington hulls. I don’t have any of those hulls but 42 grains should be good in my hulls using some corrugated cardboard wadding. More space, less pressure… With such a slow-burning powder this space should not affect the ultimate pressure versus distance relation but it may reduce the peak pressure.

In my digging on the web, I found an article about loading the Lee 1 ounce slug in a WAA12R wad with a 1/8″ nitro card over the powder with a mysterious “powder X” that occupied 3cc. No mention of the charge. Only that 3cc of powder made a good crimp in “Winchester AAHS 12 ga hulls”, two-piece hulls… I find plenty of those at the range. Folks recommend against using those because the base-wad may separate and cause an obstruction of the barrel. Oops! 3cc charges are not listed in Lee’s table, above, but it’s in the range of 44 grains of 571 powder (44 X 0.068 = 2.99) or 42grains of HS-6 (42 X 0.0712 = 2.99). He got decent accuracy. Something the size of Federal 12s3 wads might do. I have to experiment.

I conclude that the only wad I have that is usable with HS-7 for a heavy hunting load is WAA12R which is too short so I will have to add wadding. For safety, I will try crushable corrugated cardboard wads which give the powder more room to expand promptly. I tried to make a 20 gauge cutter by heating the head of a defective 20 gauge hull to soften the plastic for removal. Two or three discs cut from cardboard boxes should take up the slack until firing. That worked well but the tool was too fragile for punching with a hammer. Others have made similar cutters for turning in a drill-press. A brass head failed on the third wad. A copper head lasted about a dozen wads. I’ll have to buy a better wad-cutter ( less than $10 ) or buy some 20 gauge fibre wads. They are less than 1 per card. While I am at it, I could also buy some Blue Dot and WAA12 wads. Blue Dot is only $40/pound, here, and ~$20 in other places, which comes to about 12-23 per shot. The end result will save more than $0.50 per round compared to retail slug rounds.

Another possibility is to buy some Federal 12S4 wads (shorter wad and slug more powder than the Lyman 525) according to the data, but there does not seem to be a local source…

See also “Casting and Reloading 12 Gauge Slugs”

Some results: We went to the bush and checked out several loads with a Remington 1100 full-choke lead shot barrel. The “old” load we used of 34 grains HS-7 under Versatec wads broke clays at 40 yards. We then switched to heftier loads with WAA12F1 and 36 grains. Worked pretty well. We then used 40, 43 and 46 grains of HS-7 under WAA12R wads with hand-cut corrugated cardboard wads under the slug. Point of impact rose a few inches with the increasing charges. With 34 grains, we were aiming at the top of the clay, but with 40+ grains we had to aim for the bottom of the clay. Recoil improved significantly (sore shoulder + headache)… but only 1 petal fell off and most wads fell about halfway to the target close to the line of sight. Hulls were ejected firmly to about 10 ft from the standing shooter, showing that the Remington 1100 was comfortable. The hulls and recovered wads were in pretty good shape. We did serious damage to a bunch of clay targets resting in the snow so the group-size is <5 inches, good enough for deer at that range. Will break out the chronograph and a proper target next time. I will also try to use the proper wad-cutter instead of scissors…

  • Jan 14 / 2014
  • 2
firearms, hunting, technology

Killing Badgers

This story further confirms that my ancestors were right to flee England more than a century ago. It’s a madhouse…

“The total cost of policing the badger cull pilot has been confirmed as nearly £2.5m – or about £1,311 per badger.”

Do the maths. Rational people would allow locals to roam the landscape with varmint rifles and knock badgers off for exercise. A decent calibre is 222 Remington. A 50 grain bullet costs about 10, powder, another 10, and a primer 3. The cartridge case can be reused dozens of times so it’s $free. That leaves a cost of 23 per badger. Perhaps you need to dig a hole to bury them. I could throw that in for $free, too.

So, the UK is getting the government crazy people deserve and demand, making nonsensical rules, implementing insane policies, and getting the job done in the most inefficient manner possible. Next they will require badgers be given appearances in court before execution… (SARCASM). Likely the government of UK does not trust locals with firearms and feels the taxpayers are slaves who can’t complain if the money was wasted.

See BBC News – Policing badger cull cost '£1,311 per badger'.

  • Nov 22 / 2013
  • 6

Just When We Thought The Canadian Firearms Registry Was Dead…

Like a zombie in a “B” movie, the Canadian registry of long firearms (mostly rifles and shotguns) is back in the news.

LaPresse, a newspaper in Quebec, obtained a recent copy of the actual registry, which I am examining. It contains partial postal codes and no personal information, just information about the entry in the registry. Interestingly, LaPresse doesn’t seem to use that other OS and a CSV and .sql file show PostgreSQL was used in their analysis.

It’s laughable. Length of barrel is an integer… Perhaps that’s OK in millimetres, but machinists work in much smaller units. Is a firearm with 0.01mm more barrel identical? Can you see some criminal getting off on this technicality?

select calibre from registre_armes where calibre ilike '22%' group by calibre limit 20;
22 BR REM.
22LR/44-40 SHOT
22-250 SALVAGE
22 65 55 AND 6/6.5 MIM
22 LONG & 20GA
(20 rows)

Yep. There’s a unique identifier…

select shots from registre_armes limit 8;
Multi shots
Multi shots
Multi shots

There’s another…

How about “barrel_length”?
select count(barrel_length) as nulls from registre_armes where barrel_length=0 group by barrel_length;

Yep, 9294 firearms in there have no barrel-length. That could be because a firearm in Canada is legally just the receiver…

select calibre,type,shots from registre_armes where barrel_length=0 limit 10;
calibre | type | shots
| Rifle | 0
| Rifle | 0
| Rifle | 0
| Shotgun | 0
| Handgun | 0
| Handgun | 0
| Rifle | 0
0 | Handgun | 0
| Shotgun | 0
| Rifle | 0

Yep! There are some unique identifiers.

Strangely, Canada has engulfed the USA and I didn’t even know…
select province,count(province) as howmany from registre_armes group by province;
province | howmany
PA | 739
FL | 430
AZ | 154
MT | 428
LA | 74
AS | 1
AB | 1073768
NM | 184
AK | 651
NC | 569
BC | 984074

Anyway, if we restrict the dump to Canadian provinces and territories…
select province,count(province) as howmany from registre_armes where ('BC' like province) OR ('AB' like province) OR ('SK' like province) OR ('MB' like province) OR ('ON' like province) OR ('QC' like province) OR ('NB' like province) OR ('NS' like province) OR ('PE' like province) OR ('NS' like province) OR ('NF' like province) OR ('YT' like province) OR ('NT' like province) OR ('NU' like province) group by province;
province | howmany
QC | 1727171
ON | 2398800
NT | 20787
MB | 381318
PE | 24853
YT | 27122
AB | 1073768
SK | 460190
BC | 984074
NF | 214216
NU | 12902
NB | 293669
NS | 310791

select count(province) as total from registre_armes ... ;

Can we at least answer the age-old question, “What is the most popular calibre of firearm in Canada?”
select calibre,count(calibre) as popularity from registre_armes where ('BC' like province) ... group by calibre order by popularity DESC;
calibre | popularity
22 LR | 742570
22 | 599728
12 | 516942
12 GA X 3" | 317282
12 GA | 207216
30-06 SPRG | 204668
12 GA X 2 3/4" | 194396
303 | 175496
12 GAUGE | 169725
410 | 151480
30-30 WIN | 136231
12 GA X 3 1/2" | 128211
410 GA X 3" | 126224
308 WIN | 123006
303 BRITISH | 122176
50 PERCUSSION | 104292
308 | 98754
9MM LUGER | 98207
30-30 | 95891
270 WIN | 95107
30-06 | 89411
.22 | 88561
20 | 81741
20 GA X 3" | 74159
300 WIN MAG | 71416
7.62X39 RUSSIAN | 71112
357 MAG | 68040
22 CAL | 66617
7MM REM MAG | 65987
45 AUTO | 61072
22 CALIBRE | 58036

Nope, because “calibre” is vague/ambiguous/uncertain to these guys. Is it the diameter of the bullet? the bore? or is it the chambering? Who knows? Who cares? This thing is almost useless except to employ clerks and waste everyone’s time.

What about the most popular length of barrel?
select to_char(barrel_length/25.4, '99.99') as inches,count(barrel_length) as popularity from registre_armes where (barrel_length > 300) group by barrel_length order by popularity DESC ;

inches | popularity
22.01 | 504108
27.99 | 473379
24.02 | 407491
20.00 | 304897
25.98 | 296042
30.00 | 237902
18.50 | 155264
20.98 | 117983
17.99 | 70745
20.47 | 68790
22.99 | 58662

At last! Something useful. Rifles with 22 inch barrels are popular, just ahead of those 24 inchers. Was that information worth $2billion? ROFL! Gasp! …

Maybe it’s all some kind of bad joke. Just for fun, I looked for 8×57 in there…
select calibre,count(calibre) as popularity from registre_armes where calibre ilike '%8X57%' group by calibre order by popularity DESC;

calibre | popularity
8X57 | 569
8X57J MAUSER | 151
8X57MM | 130
8X57R MAUSER | 128
8X57JS | 121
8X57 MAUSER | 85
8X57 MM | 72
8X57 JS | 39
8X57JRS/16 GA X 2 3/4" | 35
8X57S | 35
8X57MM MAUSER | 29
8X57JRS | 24
8X57RJS | 23
8X57RJS/16 GA X 2 3/4" | 23
8X57JR/16 GA X 2 1/2" | 17
8X57 IS | 10
8X57 MM MAUSER | 10
8X57. | 9
8X575 | 9
8X57JRS/12 GA X 2 3/4" | 9

That goes on for 231 variations and misses the 8mm stuff. Want to read something to bring you to tears?
select calibre,count(calibre) as popularity from registre_armes where calibre ilike '%7%mm%rem%mag%' group by calibre order by popularity DESC;
Finds 545 unique and differing representations… %6.5%55% finds 710 variations on 6.5X55. Is any court in the land going to send a man to jail for the data that’s in this database? Does this little tour make you feel safer? See how it works? If there is ever a hit on this database it still takes hundreds of hours of work to verify stuff for any legal purpose. Any decent lawyer could find hundreds of avenues whereby real criminals could get off based on the rate of errors here.

Remember the powers that be telling firearms owners that registration was good for them so that lost/stolen firearms could be returned to them? Check this out:
select count(id) as howmany from registre_armes where (recovered_date < '2013-11-22') AND ((lost_date < '2013-11-22') OR (stolen_date < '2013-11-22')) ;

Out of 8 million firearms only 4928 were "recovered" (different from returned to owner...). Meanwhile 48969 were recorded as stolen and 22828 were recorded as lost. So much for that argument...

8 million entries and the province of Quebec wants to keep it alive...

UPDATE Doing some further research for the most popular cartridges for deer:

Calibre popularity
.30-’06 402102
.303 British 393696
.308 Winchester 268471
6.5X55 Swedish Mauser 24119
8X57 Mauser 15365

That’s about right. Anything available as military surplus either in firearms or ammunition is likely to be popular as a deer-cartridge. Some even use .223 Remington these days as marginal as it is. It is sad that Canadians neglect the 8X57 Mauser. Properly loaded it is a superior deer-cartridge to either .30-’06 or .308 simply because of the larger diameter bullet. It takes less powder to do the same damage and deer are rarely encountered at very long ranges needing higher velocities to reach. Lower velocity is desirable for close encounters to reduce damage to meat. Certainly lots of 8mm rifles were available after WWII but many were rebarreled to .30-’06. The Swede is just rare because only a few were ever made for military use. It works too. New rifles can be purchased in any of these calibres, carrying on the tradition of the cartridges if not the rifles.

  • Nov 12 / 2013
  • 0

Opening Day of My Deer-hunt

The first day was forecast bitterly cold weather in a wind. As it turned out the wind was mild and I barely survived. My feet were the only warm part of me, buried in wool socks and felt boot-liners. It’s just hard to dress for -12C temperatures. Hunters have to be able to lie in wait and to walk around while being able to operate a rifle. I’m still shivering.

Today I will stay home and warm up. The rest of the week is much warmer so I will go again.

The place we usually hunt turned fruitless. There were day-old tracks and few of them. In the evening “prime-time” we heard a lot of gunfire from another location. Evidently the deer have moved further back into the forest, probably because of the weather. We will adjust. Yesterday there were a lot of hunters because it was a long weekend. Tomorrow we should have the bush mostly to ourselves.

One thing I saw yesterday was a couple of very rude and illegal hunters. They drove their truck right past our stand during the evening prime-time. In that place, motor-vehicles are not permitted for any purpose connected with hunting except retrieval. These guys were hunting and they messed up the last 15 minutes of our day when we had the best opportunity to bag a deer. Scum!

We met a hunter who was hunting deer with an SKS carbine. He reloaded with 150 grain bullets but the thing definitely is not a modern deer rifle, being more like the ancient 30-30. Still he claimed to be able to kill deer at 350 yards with such a loopy trajectory and with a bullet that probably would not expand at that distance. Most deer are encountered within 100 yards, and the rifle is OK for that. The 30-30 takes deer to 200 yards with special soft, blunt bullets. The .308 delivers more energy to 250 yards than the SKS has at its muzzle. It’s energy that kills deer. You want at least 1000 ft-lb of it at impact. The .308 can deliver that to 440 yards while the SKS is done by that measure at 200 yards.

I prefer firearms like the 8X57 Mauser which will fire bullets that will penetrate and expand past 300 yards. I did test my latest batch of ammunition. The bullets were dead on for accuracy and did not over-expand on close targets nor fail to expand on distant targets. I was using a very old batch of powder measured out using a new scale.

All seems well for tomorrow.

  • Oct 06 / 2013
  • 0
firearms, hunting

Some Days Are Just Better Than Others

Nearly 40 years ago a rifle was purchased, brand new. It was a 7mm Remington Magnum Winchester Model 70. It was topped with a Weaver T16 target scope and 1000 Sierra MatchKing bullets were bought to do some semi-serious target-shooting.

The thing never shot better than 2 minute groups, what you could have obtained from some run of the mill military surplus rifle with iron sights… That scope fell apart under the recoil. The objective lens stayed in place while the rifle recoiled, breaking the objective retaining ring. Another scope, a RedField, was bought and it developed a rattle. All kinds of ammunition was tried from expensive factory-loads to tenderly made handloads. The barreled action was carefully bedded in the stock with epoxy to make a perfect fit… Nothing worked. The thing was put in storage for decades…

Today, a third scope was attached, a store-brand-made-in-China scope. This is one of two very tight groups obtained at 100 yards with Sierra 168 HP MatchKing atop 56 grains of Vihtavuori N-160. target_2013-10-6_S168BTHP

The image was rotated and scaled with GIMP and centres of bullet-holes were located by mouse:

There, this is the best group this rifle has ever fired and we had three like that in one day. We tried several batches of ammunition. One commercial batch from Winchester produced a good group and the load listed above gave two more. To understand the significance of this if you are not a shooter, consider a deer standing 400 yards away. We could fire five shots in a row into its heart without a miss. With the worst group of the day, about two inches diameter at 100 yards, we could put every bullet into the vitals, the heart and lungs. With a bit more testing, we should be ready for hunting in open country next month. We still have to choose a hunting bullet between 140 and 175 grains in weight. The Sierra 175 grain GameKings are the likely choice. The 140 SP bullets we tested were not as accurate and tend to over-expand on close shots. We expect to see deer over 300 yards away by guarding a long opening. For stalking, we can use a much more flexible firearm like 8X57 Mauser with 170 RN bullets.

It’s a great day when real progress is made and things work as they should.

  • Sep 09 / 2013
  • 3
firearms, food

The Group

On the weekend, we did a bit of shooting. In particular, we were trying some new bullet-propellant combinations to develop an accurate long-range load for deer. From ballistics we chose Hornady 165 SPBT and IMR4064 to do the job. 42 grains of this powder is used by many target-shooters. It’s a mid-level load according to my data. Having lots of similar bullets in Hornady 168 HPBT (not hunting bullets but match bullets) we fired a couple of groups. The last group was four shots fired from rest at 100 yards:

round X (in) Y (in)
1 0 0
2 -0.885 1.020
3 -2.915 .925
4 -3.450 0.690
Standard Deviation 1.418 0.399

groupFor hunting, this is quite satisfactory as the vital zone of a deer is nearly a foot in diameter, but we can do better. The rifle is known to have shot ~1 inch in the past. With new/better components and some care, it should do so again. Clearly there is a problem with windage. Shooting from rest revealed the potential in the tiny vertical spread.

One possibility is the ammunition which was reloaded from random brass. I just weighed each case (as fired, primer in), but I have not segregated the cases. I think the last four are the ones but I can’t be sure…

Case Mass (grains)
IVI ’74
1 187.0
2 187.0
3 188.3
4 186.9
5 188.1
6 186.0
7 186.1
8 188.7
9 187.3
Standard Deviation 0.88
10 166.0
11 167.1
12 167.2
Standard Deviation 0.54

It’s not clear that case capacity had much to do with it, particularly at this short range. I will reload cases and group them by weight next time. Another possibility is barrel vibrations. I could load down 0.5 grain and see whether that makes much difference. I can play with all the variables except the shooter… Stay tuned. One or two more visits to the range should have us loaded for deer. Most deer are shot around 100 yards but this rifle should be usable to 350 if one is encountered in the open.

  • Apr 17 / 2013
  • 5
firearms, hunting


Lead is a cheap and plentiful metal. It is a waste product of the nuclear processes in stars and radioactive decay. The universe has recycled lead as a metal we can mine as sulphides, carbonates or as metal. Man recycles lead from scrapped batteries, roofing, pipes etc. Some of it eventually ends up in percussion caps and bullets used by shooters.

Besides the low price, lead has several very useful properties for shooters:

  • the high density, 11.34 g/cm3, which makes projectiles have a higher ballistic coefficient and deliver more energy to the target,
  • malleability, being very soft, lead is easily swaged into the shape of a bullet with modest pressure, and also easily deformed on impact to deliver a bigger wound,
  • low melting temperature, 327C, making it feasible to form bullets by casting, and
  • ease of alloying with antimony or tin to make harder bullets where required.

Copper, on the other hand, has a much higher melting temperature, is much harder and more expensive while having a lower density (8.96 g/cm3).
“Even though the Arizona Game and Fish Department distributes copper ammunition free to hunters, a small number continue to use lead. As a result each year up to half of the wild Grand Canyon condors require chelation treatment to remove high levels of lead from their blood.
"It is critical that we take mandatory actions to remove it from ammunition and require less toxic alternatives, said Sandy Bahr from the Sierra Club.
"Requiring non lead ammunition for hunting on public land would be an important step in limiting lead exposure for condors and other wildlife," she added.”

see BBC News – Lead bullet fragments poison rare US condors.

Sigh. Lead has the important disadvantage of being toxic to workers handling it, shooters firing it and ducks and condors eating it. Still, it will be a major expense to replace it followed with higher costs in the future and lowered performance on game. For example, a .308 Winchester can easily kill deer to 350 yards without adjusting sights for range while copper bullets although they may start with higher velocity because of the lower mass will slow faster. Copper bullets, except for energy delivered downrange are superior in performance but have a much greater cost:

There is some misinformation about all this on the web. For example, in long-range hunting country, the government of USA tested .30-’06 with lead and copper bullets at 50 yards! Clearly, this is the wrong rifle/bullet combination for hunting at such ranges. I always use a heavier/slower RN bullet for hunting in such situations because lead splashes like water at the very high velocities. One should not use a high-power rifle with high-velocity bullets at less than 100 yards. In bush most kills are at such short ranges. One should use hardened cores at least in such cases.

Because hunters are using the wrong rifles/bullets should not be used to justify the higher cost of copper. Education about better choices is key. I would recommend light high-velocity lead bullets only for long shots like 200 yards or greater. If you are in mixed open/bush country, have a heavy RN bullet in the top of the magazine and faster pointed bullets for open situations.

If you hunt with a rifle, use proper tools and you should not have to worry about lead fragments.

  • Apr 06 / 2013
  • 1

A Man And A Rifle

Since I was little, I’ve always enjoyed a good rifle. I suppose it’s for the same reason boys throw stones. A good rifle throws a tiny stone with great range and accuracy. Some men spend great time, money, energy and care doing that. Recently I had the opportunity to fire a rifle older than I am. It’s a Mauser 98k virtually in mint condition after all these years because it was not used in WWII and was in storage for many decades. It’s not the best, most accurate or most powerful of rifles but it is an excellent deer rifle, delivering great stopping power to 350 yards without adjusting sights.

A man carries the rifle, loads it, aims at the target and squeezes the trigger. The rifle then leaps to life accelerating the bullet and recoiling. No man can truly tame that. The rifle does its own thing. A great rifle like this does it very well.

Commercial ammunition in North America is whimpy for this cartridge because there are 8X57J barrels around which are smaller in diameter… Handloaded ammunition is necessary to get the best performance from this rifle. This rifle loves IMR4064 powder and shoots most accurately with 170 to 220 grain bullets. My favourite bullet for hunting in bush is Hornady 170 RN. In open country the 150SP gives much better range. 220 grain bullets give best accuracy for target-shooting but they are scarce.

comparison of 150SP and 170RN in 8X57JS

Hornady 150SP (red) delivers about the same energy 100 yards farther than 170RN (blue)with similar height of trajectory.


900 ft-lb is the recommended minimum for deer

Beautiful, isn’t it?
It was made in a time when German craftsmanship was still prevalent and factories were not being bombed back to the Stone Age. It was shipped to Spain in the hope that Spain would be an ally of Germany but the Spaniards were tired of war so they kept it in storage. I was privileged to touch such a fine work of art. I fired a couple of rounds of hunting ammunition of calibre 8X57JS and 170 grain round nosed bullets. I have seen deer just drop where they stood in the bush with that combination. I think it is superior to the much more popular .308 Winchester and the more usual 150 grain pointed bullets. You can’t beat the original sometimes.

One of my shots hit the target right where I aimed. The other was a bit further away… Either would have killed a deer promptly. I will work on my consistency over the summer. My increased hiking distances are a start towards a successful hunt this fall.

  • Mar 09 / 2013
  • 4

Shooting an Oldie But a Goodie

Today I was privileged to shoot an ancient “Commission Rifle”, a rifle designed by a committee in the 19th century. It was crude by any measure these days but far superior to many designs of the day. Key developments in the design were a very nice 8X57J cartridge very similar to the modern 8X57JS still in production today. I made up two groups of rounds to test the tolerance to pressure and to test the accuracy. No signs of pressure emerged in a range of loads for 150 grain bullets. A moderate load with a fixed charge produced reasonable accuracy for off-hand shooting in the standing position. Even a young lady with little experience managed to shoot a group small enough for deer to 200 yards.

The rifle was a joy to shoot. The stock was obviously made for real people to hold. Even thought the load was powerful enough to dispatch deer to 300 yards, recoil was moderate and a young lady fired several rounds with no discomfort. 120 years has scarred this rifle but it still does the job at normal hunting ranges in the bush. Accuracy could likely be improved with heavier bullets and slower-burning powders in the badly worn bore.

  • Feb 17 / 2013
  • 9

Hint: When Hunting Pythons, Use Bait

"You can go out there for days and days and days and not see one python," snake hunter Justin Matthews said last month. "I don’t care how much experience you have. It is going to take some luck."
see Plenty more where those came from — final take in Fla. snake hunt is 68 pythons –

Achh! With possible 10K+ pythons to be culled in the Florida Everglades, people have been walking around looking for patient and camouflaged hunters… That’s just stupid. I have never seen a python in the wild and don’t want to but they are snakes and I know how snakes hunt, by smell… Hint: Use bait and guard the bait, 24×7. Pythons also sense heat so it may help to have live mammalian bait.

These snakes hunt in the trees and swamps so make a trail of scents at the boundaries of forests and swamps and leave the bait where you can watch it. Watch the snakes pile on. Be patient. Snakes move slowly but waiting and letting them come to you is much more efficient than walking miles where your motion alerts the snakes to be still and their camouflage developed over millions of years works for them.

Many years ago I had plenty of experience with garter snakes. They live in similar although colder terrain and they hunt by smell. Let a frog, earthworm or small fish come withing metres of them and the tongue (the sense organ) will flick more and more rapidly with the head moving from left to right to judge direction as they home-in on the prey. When they are really close and the tongue touches the prey, they lunge and it’s all over. They can catch a jumping frog in mid-air. Amazing.

Once again, knowledge is key to a successful hunt. I have been hunting more than 50 years. Simple things like knowing what the quarry is doing makes the job much easier and faster.

Here’s how not to do it. You can see a snake tracking a rat here. See that tongue flicking? That’s what it uses to hunt. If you want to hunt snakes you have to guard the bait at night, too. Smell and heat-sensing work best then.

Smell can also be used against the pythons using dogs.
“So far Jake and Ivy have located 19 pythons, one of which had 19 eggs.”
Two dogs did better than 1000 humans walking around.

  • Jan 07 / 2013
  • 0

News For City-Dwellers: Wolves Are Predators

“The Sakha agriculture ministry says 16,111 reindeer were savaged by wolves in 2012 – a 4.3% rise on 2011. That meant a loss to reindeer herders of more than 150m roubles (£3m; $5m), as each reindeer is worth about 10,000 roubles (£205; $328).
see BBC News – Russia: Raids by wolves spark 'emergency' in Sakha.

When a new species (humans) is introduced into an ecosystem, the usual predator-prey relationships are upset and must be adjusted. In this case, caribou were domesticated and must be protected by humans. Humans are in direct competition with wolves and the only solution is to hunt/trap the wolves in order to maintain a new balance. A country filled with starving wolves is neither safe for agriculture nor human habitation.

This may be news to city-dwellers who think of wolves as cute and cuddly ancestors of lapdogs. This may be news to city-dwellers that humans have to kill animals they don’t intend to eat but it is reality. City-dwellers should remember this the next time they conceive an idea to purge society of hunters and trappers and their tools, firearms and traps.

  • Dec 07 / 2012
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Florida Tries Culling an Endangered Species

Florida is offering rewards on Burmese Pythons found in the wild in certain places to see whether the numbers can be controlled using the public. This is despite the fact that the Burmese Python is endangered in its native range. Really folks, capture them and deport them. Make the world a better place. If it’s worth $1000 to inspire killers, would it not be worth $25 or so to return one to Asia?

“Earlier this year, researchers at Virginia Tech University, Davidson College and the U.S. Geological Survey reported that populations of rabbits and foxes have disappeared and numbers of raccoons, opossums and bobcats have dropped as much as 99%.”

see Florida tackling python problem with hunting contest –

Certainly, it would be very difficult to capture some pythons but offering a bounty greater for live specimens than dead ones would be a flexible way to handle that. One could also promote the population of prey-species with breeding programmes or create natural barriers around protected areas for prey-species to make the “problem” disappear. Eco-tourism for pythons could more than pay for the costs of saving the pythons.

When I was a boy on the farm there was a “problem” with a shortage of hares, our prey. My father cut firewood in the forest and instead of scattering brush began piles of brush/tree-limbs. The “problem” disappeared as the hares had an abundance of tender shoots for food all winter and a hiding place from foxes, coyotes, owls, their predators. We had so many hares, I used to harvest 4-6 every day before school to feed my family. As the pythons can swim and climb and pass through small openings, protecting prey-species would be challenging but not impossible. Design enclosures for feeding/breeding that prey-species could exit but pythons could not enter. One could even create python-detectors that would repel the pythons along some perimeter.