“GUN SOCKS” FOR REVOLVERS?

Some few weeks ago I decided my accumulation of handguns was sufficiently large that I needed a more secure storage for them than in desk drawers or hanging in the holster when I didn’t have them locked in my main safe while traveling. As if just to answer my question, my wife had a small Sentry Safe that she hasn’t used in years, but still had the combination to, that has now been deemed my handgun safe and holds my 4 (for now) Ruger revolvers, plus ammo and accessories – speed loaders, extra cylinders, etc. I could not find a commercial handgun rack which accommodated scoped revolvers – which all of my Rugers are – so I made one of scrap wood that does the job for me. However, I worried about the wood “marking” the finish of the guns, and more about avoiding corrosion with them enclosed in such a small space.

My first solution was to purchase silicon impregnated “cleaning” cloths for each gun. With one of these wrapped around the revolver and secured with a rubber band, it seemed very well protected. BUT, this involved wrapping and unwrapping each time I took the piece out to shoot, or just to admire. Last week I saw “socks” for handguns for sale in a Midway USA ad, apparently made of the same silicon infused cloth. The price for these was minimal – especially for the protection they offer – but I already had a cloth for each gun! Luckily, my wife is handy at a lot of things, and I enticed her to sew 3 sides of each cloth together to make a sack. My Rugers all have 7 1/2″ barrels, and the ensuing sacks cover the gun – and scope – up to the grip. The first cloth I had purchased was a bit larger, and it worked better for the older Super Black Hawk with a variable powered scope that is a bit longer. The socks will also protect from “marking” by the wooden rack, and scuffs or scratches from various things.

"Socks" made by sewing 3 sides of a silicon gun wiping cloth together are easy to slip on even a large revolver before storing.

“Socks” made by sewing 3 sides of a silicon gun wiping cloth together are easy to slip on even a large revolver before storing.

If I had not already had the cloths on hand, I would have gladly bought the sacks from Midway – but then I would have had more wiping cloths than I really needed. Of course, the cloth the sacks are made from also will still see service as a wiping/cleaning cloth. High hopes for my handguns staying in better shape in the future!

Posted in Rifles and Other Things That Go Bang! | Comments Off on “GUN SOCKS” FOR REVOLVERS?

ANTLER GROWTH AHEAD OF SCHEDULE?

When do our Texas coastal deer begin to develop antlers? My inquiring mind wanted to know – especially after I got game camera pictures of what I thought might be early growth, possibly due to the very wet winter and spring in our area?

This buck is probably showing a "normal" start of antlers for late spring?

This buck is probably showing a “normal” start of antlers for late spring?

The buck in this picture seemed to be showing antlers early to me, even realizing they were only “just begun”. The TPWD website has some good info on antler development that told me April and May might be the normal time for “horns” to start to show (I know, antlers are not “horns”, strictly speaking).

While this is not likely the same buck, the picture was taken only about a week after the first shot - definitely in early May.

While this is not likely the same buck, the picture was taken only about a week after the first shot – definitely in early May.

This picture of what could well be a different buck, although taken in the same specific area, shows a lot more growth, and marks him to me as a good “prospect” for the coming season, as his head gear should get even larger. TPWD says during the period of peak growth, antlers may increase by up to 2 1/2″ PER DAY! All the rain we have had so far in 2015 has probably helped create more forbs and other deer food, and also added to the general health of all wildlife in our area – as they have not had to hunt for a drink of water!

By the way, the TWPD website has very good time progression photography of a penned buck as his antlers are developing, but I like mine so far of a wild, native deer. I will try to get and post more shots of him as he becomes, “the best that he can be”.

Also, while not really proof of anything, the second picture shows the buck around a supplemental “mineral feeder”.

Posted in Deer Hunting | 1 Comment

Drought Looks To Be Over For Now?

After the last week or so, I am again reminded of the DU rep at the TOWA conference in Corpus last February, who told us that climate scientists were certain Texas was in for 30 -40 YEARS more of drought! I thought it rather prophetic that it was raining outside the hotel as he spoke to us. This morning’s weather shows the entire state of Texas under a flash flood watch, as well as all of Louisiana,and parts of Mississippi, Oklahoma, and a lot of the remaining Southeast US. North Texas went from severe drought to severe flooding in a matter of hours.

This game cam shot shows over a foot of water on what is normally dry land. No, that isn’t SUPPOSED to be a fish feeder!

With apologies to Johnny Cash, this is normally dry land, over a foot deep in the picture.

With apologies to Johnny Cash, this is normally dry land, over a foot deep in the picture.

Same spot after the water went down.

Same spot after the water went down.

The pigs are rather happy the drought is over!

The pigs are rather happy the drought is over!

Posted in Picture Of The Week | Comments Off on Drought Looks To Be Over For Now?

FINDING A PLACE TO HUNT?

Newcomers to Texas, as well as out-of-state visitors, often complain about the lack of opportunities for “public” hunting. Much of this is justified, as the majority of hunting land in Texas is privately owned. People from many other states – especially in the west – are accustomed to many acres of public land which can be hunted at no charge for those who can obtain permits. I especially hear complaints from those who wish to hog hunt, because they have heard all the stories of nuisance hogs damaging farmlands. They expect to be welcomed as a solution to this problem. The hard reality is that many landowners are reluctant to throw their property open to all comers, because in many cases the hogs do less damage than allowing “strangers” free access. What I have heard is that hogs don’t leave gates open, they don’t steal or damage equipment, fences or gates, and they don’t leave piles of trash and litter behind. There are also liability issues, and that may really be the elephant in the room – hogs don’t carry guns, so they don’t shoot many head of livestock, “by mistake”. Now, not all hunters do these things, but some certainly do. Since most owners of a fairly large property expect to earn income from their substantial investment in land, in a down economy hunting income can help to pay the bills. Deer hunting on private land can be especially expensive, because the animals are often given supplemental food, and such things as stands and feeders do not come cheap.

A hunter who had moved here from Florida recently took me to task over this subject, and had some very unkind things to say about our state. He wanted to try hunting in Louisiana – where he had heard it was much easier to find a place – or go back to Florida to hunt. I doubt he will have much better luck in Louisiana, and the only hog hunters I know in Florida pay to hunt on leases.

Some property owners charge a fee for hog hunting, also – which is certainly their right. Those who do not own land often have trouble understanding this, and some get pretty upset about it. To those folks I will promise them that demanding hunting access, or becoming angry about it is certainly NOT the way to get a place to hunt! Many hunters DO get invited to hunt hogs at little or no cost, but these are usually the ones who either know the landowner pretty well, or have demonstrated that they can reduce the hog population somewhat, while respecting the property. The plain fact is that “sport” hunting is not the most effective method of reducing the number of hogs in an area. A combination of trapping and hard hunting with dogs is usually much more productive. Even shooting hogs from helicopters is not that great, as the animals soon learn to associate the sound of the chopper with danger, and get very hard to find. Since they are often mostly nocturnal, anyway, after the first big hunt, they will hunker down in thick brush until the danger passes.

So, if a hunter wants to operate on private land, and doesn’t have close friends of family who own suitable property, a hunting lease is about the only answer. Many deer leases will allow their hunters to shoot hogs outside of deer season, and might even encourage this at no extra charge. Almost certainly, deer hunters are encouraged to kill every hog they see during the season. I know hunters who lease land just for hog hunting, and usually at a lower cost than a deer lease. There are also “day lease” type operations that specialize in hog hunts.

What confuses many would-be hog hunters is that since hogs are considered an undesirable species, with no closed season or bag limits, and with hunting legal day or night by almost any means imaginable – there is a feeling that more hog hunting would be encouraged. I know of one outfitter who does very successful night hunts who told me he had even gotten calls from hunters out of state who not only expected to hunt for free, but thought there food and lodging should be provided, possibly even the use of a vehicle during their stay! I don’t hunt a lot in other states, but would almost bet this is not the case elsewhere!

Another problem is that the state of Texas, while bemoaning the “Hog Problem”, actually does little to encourage more hog hunting, and is actually still pursuing the idea of poisoning feral hogs. Some hunting is allowed on state lands, in Wildlife Management Areas, for instance, but no night hunting or baiting is allowed, nor the use of dogs – limiting the success of those who would like to take advantage of this opportunity. I discussed this yet again with Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept. personnel last February at the Texas Outdoor Writers Association Conference in Corpus. When I pointed out that there were hunters from all over the Untied States who would like to come to Texas and hunt hogs, one gentleman said it sounded as though I should go into the hog hunting business myself – which I certainly would if I had enough property to make it feasible.

My advice to someone really wanting to hog hunt would be to explore public land opportunities. The TPWD website will have information about hunts on State Parks and Wildlife Management Areas, and they are also trying to get landowners involved in a sort of hunting co-operative. County Agents and even Game Wardens can sometimes help find landowners who would be open to hog hunting on their properties. There are websites that list hunting leases all over the state, and some ads can be found in hunting magazines.

Hunting in Texas can be expensive, but hunting in Texas can also be very, very good!

If any readers know of more hunting opportunities in Texas than I have suggested – or even actually are seeking hunters to shoot hogs on their land, please let me know and I will try to help both sides out.

Posted in General Hunting, Trends and Regulations | Comments Off on FINDING A PLACE TO HUNT?

DECENT, REASONABLY PRICED HUNTING SHOULDER HOLSTER

One drawback to having several handguns of differing sizes and shapes is that to carry them afield requires a holster to fit each of them – which generally means about as many holsters are required as handguns. I personally like shoulder holsters for woods work, as they keep the gun off my belt and out of the way, yet easily accessible when I need it. My Ruger Super Redhawk .480, however, does not fit the same holster as my 1911’s, Nor do that revolver and my Super Blackhawk .44 mag work in the same holster – even though both are scoped, with 7 1/2″ barrels. I have a leather holster designed for scoped revolvers that works well with the .44 mag Super Blackhawk and its 2X x 7x variable, but does not handle the Bisley Hunter with the 2X Weaver scope, due to the mounting position in relation to the hood portion of the leather that covers the scope. After looking at several holsters from several manufacturers, I found the nice looking leather ones to be expensive, and normally not suited for use with a scoped gun unless custom made. About now I discovered – through an Amazon search – a camo fabric shoulder holster by Federal that was padded, appeared to be the size I needed for the Redhawk, and very reasonably priced.

This reasonably priced shoulder holster from Holsterman provides both protection from the elements for my Ruger Super Redhawk .480, and easy access to the gun when it is needed.

This reasonably priced shoulder holster from Holsterman provides both protection from the elements for my Ruger Super Redhawk .480, and easy access to the gun when it is needed.

The holster is large enough to stow this Ruger Super Redhawk in .480 Ruger with its 4X Leopold handgun scope easily.

The holster is large enough to stow this Ruger Super Redhawk in .480 Ruger with its 4X Leopold handgun scope easily.

Sold by Holsterman, this model carries the big double action well and has a security snap to make sure the gun stays in place. Mine does not have a covering flap, but I think that is offered as an option. I may change the angle of the belt loop at the bottom, but that is not a big deal – and certainly will not require as much modification as my leather shoulder holster did.

Another big plus is that my Bisley Hunter Blackhawk works very well in this holster, also. This means I can swap the two handguns I will be hunting with the most without having to change holsters. The tie down strap for this rig is secured by Velcro and is easily adjustable.

Works for single actions, also, as this Ruger Blackhawk Hunter with 2X Weaver scope demonstrates.

Works for single actions, also, as this Ruger Blackhawk Hunter with 2X Weaver scope demonstrates.

The holster has no problem accepting the Super Blackhawk, even though the size and position of its scope cause problems for other holsters for scoped revolvers.

The holster has no problem accepting the Super Blackhawk, even though the size and position of its scope cause problems for other holsters for scoped revolvers.

Posted in Product Evaluations | Comments Off on DECENT, REASONABLY PRICED HUNTING SHOULDER HOLSTER

CLASSY 1911 GRIPS!

Everybody knows by now that I have a “thing” for really nice wood grips on my handguns, right? Well I recently became aware – through the Ruger Forum, actually – of an excellent grip maker from Johnson City, Texas. Zane Thompson – Lone Star Custom Grips – has a good eye for wood, and the talent to turn it into exceptional grips for revolvers or semi-automatics. Since I am pretty well caught up on nice wood for my single action revolvers, I contracted Zane to make a set for my Taurus 1911. Of the wood he happened to have on hand, he suggested Burl Mesquite, and after looking at pictures both of the actual wood he planned to use and of other grips he had done with similar wood I told him to go ahead. Got them today, and I think they certainly improve the looks of my pistol!

Lone Star Custom Grips made a set of fancy 1911 grips for me out of Burl Mesquite

Lone Star Custom Grips made a set of fancy 1911 grips for me out of Burl Mesquite

Of course, the Taurus PT1911 is a “budget” 1911, but a good one. With features normally found on custom 1911’s, like checkered front and rear straps, high beaver-tail grip safety, ambi slide lock safety, front and rear cocking serrations, front rail for mounting a light, “commander” style hammer, and a lightweight trigger, it looks good and certainly mine has functioned nearly flawlessly since I’ve owned it. Mine is a brushed stainless finish that I prefer on a woods gun, but the blued examples I’ve seen were also very attractive. I liked the dyamond wood grips I originally replaced the factory black plastic ones with, but these mesquite handles are even better. They aren’t checkered, because I did not ask for that, and with the back strap of the magazine housing checkered and the Pierce ribber finger groove inserts under the wood grips feeling even better than the front strap checkering, they are not likely to cause a slippery hold on the pistol.

Mesquite is good for more than burning under meat, it also makes "smokin'" pistol grips!

Mesquite is good for more than burning under meat, it also makes “smokin'” pistol grips!

Might need another set of these for my Para 1911?

Zane Thompson: LoneStarCustomGrips.com
Johnson City, Texas

Posted in Product Evaluations | Comments Off on CLASSY 1911 GRIPS!

MO’ HOG HUNTING STUFF!

For those who can’t get enough of hog hunting – or reading about it – The May issue of Texas Outdoors Journal has an article of mine about preparing a “Euro” mount of a boar’s head – with pictures to illustrate the process. Then, in June, TOJ will feature my article on the various types and uses of pig pipes. If you have a chance to read these, and enjoy them, please feel free to contact Bill Olson, the publisher/editor, and tell him so. Also, the rest of the magazine in both issues is of top quality!

Posted in Hog Hunting | Comments Off on MO’ HOG HUNTING STUFF!

NEW ERA OF RED SNAPPER BATTLES BEGINS

Amendment 40 to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation ct is set to take effect June 1, 2015. This is the legislation which provides for Sector Separation in the recreational fishery for snapper. No longer will the total snapper quota be divided between recreational and commercial fishermen, now a further division will be made between recreational fishermen on private boats versus those who fish aboard Federally licensed for-hire (charter) boats. Those in the for-hire sector who supported this expect their sector to get a “larger piece of the pie”, and it looks like they will initially be correct. The “seasons” for each sector are expected to be announced tomorrow – May 1, 2015 – and my sources tell me the private boat anglers will get 10 days, beginning June 1. The season for Federally permitted charter boats will also begin June 1, but will last for 44 days.

For those who might question the logic of such a move, be aware that most of the leading Environmental and Conservation groups – those who always seem to be against ANY fishing – are in support of it, even though it seems at first glance to be contrary to the purposes.

The CCA has, I think, already filed a lawsuit in an attempt to stop Amendment 40 from being implemented, and at lest one group is poised to file a suit of their own in support of Amendment 40. State licensed fir-hire boats without a Federal Reef Fish Permit will be limited to fishing the shorter private boat season.

For many years the goal of NMFS has seemed to be to get all fishermen warring against each other – and with this measure they may finally succeed.

Posted in Regulations & Rules - Saltwater Fishing | Comments Off on NEW ERA OF RED SNAPPER BATTLES BEGINS

Custom Lacewood Ruger revolver grips!

I asked Carl of Privates Custom Grips to build me a set of custom grips from a piece of Lacewood that used to be on my beloved old 31 Bertram, and they of course came out a lot better than the ones I tried to make myself! Wish I had enough of this wood to make grips for all my single action revolvers! Meanwhile, these will grace my .45 Colt Blackhawk!

These Lacewood grips were made by Caro of Privates Custom Grips from wood off my old 31 Bertram.

These Lacewood grips were made by Carl of Privates Custom Grips from wood off my old 31 Bertram.

Lacewood had patterns no other wood can really equal, in my opinion.

Lacewood has patterns no other wood can really equal, in my opinion.

Lacewood has iridescent “flakes” in its structure that give contrasting brightness and views from different angles and in differing light for a very beautiful effect. Doing a little research, I found that “Lacewood” could actually be one of several woods, such as the Australian Silky Oak, or even American Sycamore. No matter which wood is used to begin, it is quarter-sawn to create the crystalline effect that gives the wood it’s unique appearance, known variously as rays, scales, or flecking. Some Lacewood sold commercially comes from Europe, but most used in the US now comes from a wood grown in Brazil. Carl could not have gotten a better “fit” for my Blackhawk if I had done the right thing and sent him the grip frame to work with! Many custom grip-makers will not use a wood furnished by a customer, as it often is not as suitable as the owner thinks it might be. I had salvaged this piece from scraps left off a restoration project on a 72 foot custom sport-fishing yacht many years ago, and used about an 8″ circle of it as a base for the big Marine compass in my boat, to set it off from the teak of the instrument panel. For some reason that I can’t recall, I was able to save this piece of wood after the boat was destroyed by Hurricane Ike – so it has a “legend” to go with it’s attractive appearance.

Another view, with slightly different lighting.

Another view, with slightly different lighting.

These grips will be “in the family” for many years to come, and maybe now and again I’ll look at them and remember my beloved Bertram!

PrivatesCustomGrips.com

Posted in Rifles and Other Things That Go Bang! | 14 Comments

REVIEW COMING FOR NOAA’S MARINE RECREATIONAL INFORMTION PROGRAM

This review and having needed changes implemented are what many of us with an interest in Gulf of Mexico Recreational Fisheries have been begging for a long time!

NRC to Conduct Review of MRIP Progress and Improvements

NOAA Assistant Administrator for Fisheries Eileen Sobeck announced this week that the Agency is committed to working with the National Research Council (NRC) to conduct an independent review of the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP).

The decision comes at the recommendation of the MRIP Executive Steering Committee (ESC), and was announced in conjunction with the release of the new National Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Policy 2015-2018 National Implementation Plan.

The timing of the ESC recommendation coincides with the recent launch of the new mail-based Fishing Effort Survey (FES). Improvements incorporated into the FES address a major concern raised in the NRC’s 2006 review of NOAA’s recreational catch and effort data collection, estimation, and reporting methods. By sampling from comprehensive lists of postal addresses, as well as lists of licensed anglers, the FES maximizes coverage of the population without sacrificing efficiency.

The FES complements previous work we have undertaken to address other NRC concerns. This work includes fixing a mismatch between the way catch data was collected and how those data were used to make estimates; removing sources of bias from the design of angler catch surveys; developing the National Saltwater Angler Registry to support FES sampling; and working to engage a broad array of scientists, managers, and stakeholders in every aspect of the MRIP process – from the priorities we set, to the studies we conduct, to the way we share our data.

As outlined in the annual MRIP Implementation Plans, the improvements to date do not represent an endpoint in the MRIP process. Rather, they are milestones in what is intended to be an ongoing cycle of evaluation, research, and implementation that will ensure NOAA’s data collection methods continually evolve to meet the changing needs of scientists, stock assessors, managers, and stakeholders.

The NRC review will provide an objective, independent analysis of our response to the 2006 recommendations, which were incorporated into federal law as part of the Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization Act. It will also detail our progress in meeting our commitments to Congress
and the recreational fishing community to address these issues through a process that is scientifically sound, statistically robust, collaborative, and transparent.

The ESC anticipates that the NRC assessment will be concluded in time for the results to be included in the next NOAA Fisheries fishery-dependent data collection program review, which is a part of the regular five-year cycle of the Agency’s Science Program Reviews.

Learn more

To learn more about the improvements MRIP is making, visit our website at www.countmyfish.noaa.gov.

Posted in Regulations & Rules - Saltwater Fishing | 1 Comment